Anime News Network posted an interesting ranking from Japanese site Goo of what 500 women thought were the most overused shoujo manga tropes. As TV Tropes explains, tropes are not cliches, but when the whole manga is basically one of these main tropes after another…ugh. Bring something new to the table. A good manga needs at least one major difference or twist to help set it apart, especially in shoujo school life manga.
Some of my thoughts about the ranking:
- Scatterbrained lead was ranked number one. Glad I’m not the only one who feels that way. Throw in the main character being a glutton and afraid of lightning and I think we’ve covered most protagonists. Airhead who friendzones a guy is third while genki-types also ranked eighth, I see. Not many shoujo protagonists left who doesn’t meet all these criteria. One or two of these at most in a lead, please. Thank you.
- How did the main guy living with the main girl rank second? Over the main guy being rich/smart/almost perfect (prince), which was FIFTH? Guess the readers love perfect guys…
- Hands touching is fourth, but thankfully this is only a scene and doesn’t make up the bulk of a series like most of these other ones.
- Reunited childhood friend or first love can be the main love interest or the secondary love interest, so not too surprising.
- Love interest is the enemy at fourteenth. Am I the only one who wants to see more of this? Got to be more interesting than school princes. Although I guess “most popular guy is also a womanizer” is often considered by a shoujo lead as an “enemy of women”.
Other things I would add to the list:
- Fan clubs that harass the main character
- Ex-girlfriends being drop-dead gorgeous
- Guy and girl–usually who are off to a bad start–become seatmates
- “I’ve entered high school to find true love!” <–Seriously, I’m sick of this.
- Love at first sight (conversation)…but most of the time it’s the school idol anyway, so I guess it’s really included in the list.