Fall 2012 ~ Shoujo Kisses

October 8, 2012

This post discusses kisses as they appear in three shoujo series airing Fall 2012.

The Fall 2012 anime season brings us an unusually high number of shoujo romance series. Typically there is at most one shoujo title (excluding mahou shoujo titles, which are aimed at a younger viewer). But this time around we have three titles, and this gives us an opportunity we never had before to compare and contrast currently airing shoujo titles. (The three shoujo series this season are: Kamisama Hajimemashita, Suki-tte Ii na yo, and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun the titles have been presented in English as Kamisama Kiss, Say ‘I love you’, and My Little Monster, respectively).

Spoiler Alert: Although this post only looks at the first episodes of each of these three titles, I’ll be discussing the episodes as if you had already seen the first episodes of every one of these titles. If you want to get the full impact of seeing the shows for yourself, watch them before reading the discussion that follows.

The Girls

My main interest here is that every one of these shows ended with a first kiss, and that will be the focus of my discussion. To start, though, let’s compare our three leading ladies.

anime: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Name: Nanami Momozono

Tragic Backstory: Abandoned by no good father, who foisted his gambling debts onto her.

Headstrong = Yes: Even faced with death, she refuses to grovel for help, and thus becomes a true goddess.

anime: Suki-tte Ii na yo

Name: Mei Tachibana

Tragic Backstory: Was framed for death of class pet rabbit as a child. This taught her to never trust anybody.

Headstrong = Yes: Rather than submit to bullying, she strikes back (although she ends up attacking the wrong person).

anime: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Name: Shizuku Mizutani

Tragic Backstory: Was ostracized by kids because she didn’t care when class pet rabbit died.

Headstrong = Yes: Demonstrated multiple times, including studying while she was kidnapped, and telling Haru’s false friends off.

The Boys

anime: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Name: Tomoe

Bad Boy credentials: Fox demon

Saves the female lead in the first episode = Yes: Saves her from being eaten by an oni-baba … but only after Nanami forces him to do so.

anime: Suki-tte Ii na yo

Name: Yamato Kurosawa

Bad Boy credentials: Player

Saves the female lead in the first episode = Yes: Literally runs to her rescue. Saves her from stalker when Mei calls him for help.

anime: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Name: Haru Yoshida

Bad Boy credentials: Delinquent

Saves the female lead in the first episode = Yes: Comes to her help without being asked. Saves Suzuku from “kidnappers”, but ends up hurting her in the process.

The Kisses

anime: Kamisama Hajimemashita

Nanami X Tomoe

Context: Nanami grabs Tomoe and kisses him, thus binding him to her as her divine messenger and servant.

anime: Suki-tte Ii na yo

Mei X Yamato

Context: Yamato kisses Mei in public to display his ownership of her, and chase off someone else.

anime: Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Shizuku X Haru

Context: While on something like a date, after being in a sort-of relationship for a couple of months, Haru grabs Shizuku, and forcibly kisses her.

Conclusion

Right now I’m less interested in formula than I am in what sets these shows apart. So, yeah, we have three plucky girls with tragic backgrounds, who end up in relationships with a bit of a bad boy. The most obvious difference is in the depiction of power relationships.

In both Suki-tte Ii na yo, and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun the girl’s first kiss is “stolen”, but in Kamisama Hajimemashita, the girl is the one that does the stealing. Not only that, the anime, both visually and in dialogue, makes it clear that this gives Nanami power in the relationship.

Manacles of golden light appear, indicating that Nanami has bound Tomoe to her with her kiss.

In each of the other anime, it appears that the girl is the one that is bound. Certainly at the end of Suki-tte Ii na yo, Mei is in the weakest position of the three girls. It is quite possible that Yamato has kissed many girls before, and he kisses Mei expressly to indicate his ownership of her.

Yamato’s cold stare does not look like a man in love.

A kiss that says, “this girl belongs to me”.

Nanami is, of course, in the strongest position of the three, so that leaves Shizuku in the middle. That might seem a strange comment to some people who reacted strongly to Haru’s insensitivity (to put it mildly). Haru acts as a stalker, and even threatens to rape Shizuku at one point, so grabbing her, and forcibly kissing her has some disturbing connotations.

Rape jokes are never funny, and Shizuku looks terrified in this scene.

Given that Haru is rough with Shizuku, and Yamato passes himself off as the white knight, I can understand that some people will come to different opinions about the two relationships. I think the following two points need to be considered, however. First, while Haru and Shizuku have been involved in a (somewhat one-sided) relationship for months, Yamato has only known Mei for a matter of days. More importantly, Haru and Shizuku are on even footing, in that neither of them is experienced in friendship or romance, while Yamato and Mei are very unevenly matched, in that Yamato is a player, who regularly goes on group dates with various girls, while Mei is a complete outcast.

It isn’t unusual that shoujo titles address the power structures that are implicit in romantic relationships, but it is unusual that we have several concurrently airing series to compare side by side. It will be very interesting to see how the shows develop throughout the season.

9 Responses to “Fall 2012 ~ Shoujo Kisses”

  1. Cratex Says:

    Excellent post – very good contrasting those three shows, all of which I am following.

    It seems I’ve also made the same mental notes you have regarding the guys in these three shows.

    Yamato x Mei may well turn out well, and “that scene” between Haru x Shizuku was abrasive, but between the two I think the Haru x Shizuku dynamic is the more interesting, particularly having just seen episode 2 of Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun.

    Still, of the three, Kamisama Hajimemashita is the one I see as having the greatest potential for a good story – all those two have to do is look at each other and the sparks fly😉

    • Joojoobees Says:

      I also love the artwork in Kamisama Hajimemashita; it is very stylized, but looks great.

  2. starsamaria Says:

    The female protagonist’s first kiss in shojo series is almost never consensual. Whether it’s an accident Lovely Complex, Hana Yori Dango or forced Maid-sama, the main couple’s first kiss is rarely romantic. It’s interesting you talk about a power dynamic – because even though Nanami is Tomoe’s ‘master,’ she has to depend on him to learn more about the shrine and her powers, not to mention he can be quite cold to her, so I see their dynamic as similar to most contemporary shojo couples.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      That’s a fair point. I still think Nanami has unparalleled power in the relationship compared to the other two heroines, but it certainly is more complicated than total control.

  3. ntganime Says:

    Your comparison between “Tragic Back-stories” made me laugh. I’ve seen all three but the realization that two stories had females impacted by the deaths of class bunny rabbits only just now occurred. The contrast with Kamisama Hajimeashita is nearly absurd once I realized that. Now I am wondering what ever happened to the third grade girl from my past that allowed our class birds to die by letting them escape to freedom outside during a northern Canadian winter. A real life set up for a shoujo style romance perhaps?

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Wow, she probably didn’t realize at the time that what she was doing was writing her own ticket to a storybook romance. I still feel sorry for the bird, though. I doubt I could handle a SOUTH Canadian Winter!


  4. *didn’t realize that all three shoujo series which debuted this season already had a kiss on its first episode* Must be a new trend.


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