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I have been reading manga since about last October. I realize that's less than a year, but I can read a lot of stuff in that time. And I have been working on four series faithfully (SDK, Saiyuki, Vagabond, and Death Note) and am starting another (Blade of the Immortal). (I will not count Basilisk because IMO, it sucks.)

And I thought to myself, y'know, Cho, these are all shounen manga.

The trouble is, I'm not real girly, so I need some help here ...

To give you some idea of the issue: I read science fiction and fantasy, and I don't like squishy fantasy with sweet widdle unicorns either (P.C. Hodgell and Tanith Lee both have some real kick-ass unicorns). I used to practice martial arts (Aikido, and Uechi Ryu karate, if anyone's keeping track). I'm not scared of bugs, spiders, or snakes. I code HTML by hand. I don't wear lacy stuff and ruffles, and the makeup and perfume get used maybe half a dozen times per year. You get the picture ... .

But I hate being at a loss when people are talking about use of frames (or no frames) or backgrounds or whatever as being "typical of shoujo manga." I need to get educated!

So I would very, very much appreciate some recommendations for classic shoujo manga that will make me understand what folks are talking about, and preferably not send me screaming for the hills, dying of pink/fluffy/cuteness/ruffles/sparkles.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Comments

( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
telophase
May. 9th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
Fruits Basket, naturally. If you can get past the heroine's being a sweet, sappy doormat in the first volume and get interested in the incredibly broken people who surround her (she's got two very good non-doormat girl friends who show up early on), it's a great series.

CLAMP's xxxHolic and Clover (the second OOP) are the only CLAMP works I ahve not been allergic to. Clover has stunning graphic design, and tells the story out of chonological order. Complete in 4 volumes. xxxHolic has stylized art with touches of Art Nouveau and deals a lot with traditional Japanese folkloric creatures. You may want to slap the main character, though, as he's incredibly clueless and very brittle about that. These two series of CLAMP are less traditionally shoujo, however.

If you're into character, Ai Yazawa's Nana is very good.
chomiji
May. 10th, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)

Broken people are always good (... uh oh, wait, that doesn't sound right ...   o_O; ). And this is the second time that Clover has come up (Sanada mentioned it a while back). I wonder whether abebooks.com can come through for me on manga the way they have on SF&F and kid's books.

I like character in regular books ... and of course there's a fair amount of it in Saiyuki (and in SDK, surprisingly).

Thanks for the recs! I'll be running out to pick up the latest SDK in the next few days - I'll have to see what else the comics shop has.

meganbmoore
May. 9th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
*points to her LJ*

Basara. Art's not much(thouh it gets markedly better), story is awesome and definately NOT "dying of pink/fluffy/cuteness/ruffles/sparkles." It's literally about 2 leaders in a war who fall in love while travelling in disguise(heroine's guise is actually reality-an orphan girl travelling from place to place, while her normal role is pretending to be her dead brother. hero's is essentially that of a travelling peddler.) It's not a "cleverly foiling the enemy in near bloodless coups so that it'll be easy for the lovers to team up against a greater evil and float off in a cloud of shojo sparkles" war. There's death, a lot of it, and they literally destroy each others lives. And...urm...my favorite manga.

"Wallflower" is quite fun and, in a lot of ways, it's a dark parody of the shojo sparkles and fluff books...it's about 4 bishounen(a playboy, an antisocial guy far too fond of fighting for his own good [who'd either get along far too well with Onime no Kyo or they'd try to kill each other, hard to judge which] a girly boy[sorry Yuki, but you are] and, of course, the serious one who's in charge of it all) who are promised free rent if they can turn the landlady's niece(an anti-social, horror-everything loving girl who watches movies so gory they're banned from Japan and causes lightbulbs to explode just by walking by and gets nosebleeds at the sight of pretty people) into a lady. Naturally, they figure out pretty quickly that it's a lost cause and, much as she freaks them out, they rather like her the way she is. It's a very odd sounding book, but excellent.

uhm...

*starts rummaging*

There's Skip-Beat, about a girl who followed her boyfriend to Tokyo from their home town only to learn that he just wanted a housekeeper, and sets out to get her revenge(another one that's hard to describe, but it always cracks me up)

Also, very much not Shojo, but you might like Bleach. The character interactions sometimes make me think of the SDK characters.

I'll energetically second Fruits Basket...it does have a lot of the cutesy stuff you were talking about, but get a couple books into it and scratch the surface, and there's a lot of darkness there...it's essentually about an overly cheerful and innocent girl(who's regharded by such by the characters) who gets involved with a family with a dark curse and an extremely abusive head of the household, and she teaches many of the family members, who have essentially been beaten into believing they're worthless, that they do have worth and they start learning to take their lives back.(to avoid getting into it too much)

Y'know...I read a lot of shojo, but a lot of the times, the sparkles and such try MY patience...
meganbmoore
May. 9th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
ps
got sidetracked by FB. You might like Chika Shiomi's stuff: http://meganbmoore.livejournal.com/244640.html
chomiji
May. 10th, 2007 03:01 am (UTC)

:-D   Well, yeah, I knew you'd have some good advice for me on this topic! (Especially since you've been kidding me about my love of carnage ... .)

Certain aspects of Basara sound like me at my weirdest online roleplaying phase about 10 years ago, so I may eventually try it. My main issue, from what you've said about the art, is that it might not illustrate the type of stuff I'm trying to learn. And Bleach is another issue altogether ...

Heh, the girl in Wallflower sounds like what my friend's younger daughter is trying to grow into ... at 12, she looks like Wednesday Addams in leggings (or skinny jeans) and a big T (all black, of course).

I'll have to check out the selection at the local place when I go get SDK 22 (Akari! Yay! Shiseiten goodness!). Thanks!

meganbmoore
May. 10th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
I only kid you for your love because I share it...

Basara has its share of no panels and sparkles in such, it's just that it's not drowning in it like some others.

Wednesday Addams...yes, a very fair comparison(she was probably Sunako's idol as a child)

SDK...yet another book that hasn't shown up at waldenbooks yet...

Way you said bleach was another issue altogether interests me...
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)

Sorry about the delay here ... I'm in a tough crunch at work, reworking a large-ish section of the intranet site (Human Resources) for a Tuesday deadline (and preview to the in-house customer on Monday).

Bleach seems to be cute tough guys (and girls), big ensemble cast like SDK, mystical stuff - so I had already figured I might eventually go for it. That's why I said it was different - because in this post, I was asking for recs on stuff I was really not sure I'd like, so I wanted to get some advice before going there.

meganbmoore
May. 11th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's why I said it separately...just figured that if I was doing recs anyway...

The problem with this post is that I just can't make myself rec something I'm not sure someone would like...
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 04:38 pm (UTC)

Well, I might like some of them - it's hard to tell. I like some kids' books, that are mainly considered girly - Noel Streatfield, for example, whose books I still haul out for comfort reading. (But that's because the kids in her books are all serious about what they are doing - whether it's ballet or [in Petrova Fossil's case] aviation - and you get lots of nice nitty gritty detail about it. And also they are team stories - it's just that the family happens to be the team.)

meganbmoore
May. 11th, 2007 04:51 pm (UTC)
Oh, I think you'll like some shojo(incidentally, I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier, but I'll add a second voice to the Ouran rec) I just worry that you'll scar yourself for life actively looking for some of these. I suppose if you REALLY want the extremes of the genre, you could look at Arina Tanemura's(I think that's her name) stuff...Zodiak P.I., Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne and Gentleman's Alliance. It's positively drowning in the excesses of the genre...it doesn't get much more shojo than giant eyes, excessively long, flowing hair, flowers spontaneously popping up in most panels, melodramatic angst and wallowing in ttrrrrruuuueeeee wwwwuuuuuvvvvv.

Urm...yeah...Ouran and FB is my rec for what you're looking for though, and Skip-Beat, as I think you might like those.
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)

>> I just worry that you'll scar yourself for life <<

Awwwww. heart!

With all the kindly people I have looking out for me here, I don't think so ... everyone has been very good about noting my 'druthers in their recs.

chomiji
May. 22nd, 2007 07:39 pm (UTC)

(BTW, with ref. to Bleach, I think you'll enjoy this cartoon that Telophase just completed)

bad_mushroom
May. 9th, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
I'm a big fan of Kaze Hikaru, personally. Also Hot Gimmick. Sick and twisted, yes, but SO INCREDIBLY GOOD THAT IT WILL MAKE YOUR EYES BLEED.

I would also recommend the Princess Tutu manga, but it's crap. Watch the anime instead--now that is some seriously kick-ass awesome girly shojo. I don't even watch anime anymore and I love it.
chomiji
May. 10th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)

Your Hot Gimmick rec made me smile - it's nice to see someone else who's not afraid to get VERY VERY ENTHUSIASTIC! I'll have to check it out (assuming they have it down at the store ... or failing that, at Borders, but I try to buy from the nice geeky people when I can).

The chances of me watching anything video are slim to none ... I'm so out of the habit, and I'd rather be reading or writing to folks online in my little bit of free time ... but you're not the only person I've heard mentioning Princess Tutu (it's the one with the duck, right?).

bad_mushroom
May. 10th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
It's great, in a really screwy way. Heh, yes, enthusiasm.

Oh, same with me. But PT is just so good that it's doable, for some reason.
sanada
May. 10th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
Ahaha, I've got to admit that I hate most shoujo manga, but luckily "shoujo" is defined entirely by what kind of magazine the story was originally serialised in, not the content or art style... so there's a lot of variety. And in the US they sort of lump shoujo and josei manga together... they also make more of a differentiation between shoujo and light Boy's Love series here, while in Japan those are likely to run in the same magazines and be marketed as "shoujo" (harder Boy's Love is in separate magazines, though).

Paradise Kiss is one of my favorite josei manga, although the art style is very stylised and original and not really "typical" shoujo. But it's a short series and is worth reading - the protagonist is a normal girl who falls in with a bunch of art students and becomes their fashion model. She starts dating a gorgeous, confident design student guy immediately and feels way over her head when the relationship turns sexual and gets exponentially more complicated. I liked it because instead of the usual sappy, weepy romance, the love story aspect of Paradise Kiss is volatile, bittersweet and occasionally cruel.

If you can tell the characters in Fruits Basket apart, it's not that bad (except for one character that I simply despise). The heroine has eyes the size of dinner plates that can stare vacantly into the depths of your soul - doesn't get any more shoujo than that, hahaha. But I found myself either disliking or utterly disinterested in all of the main protagonists and all of the high school student council drama... the attraction for me was the big, dysfunctional family, which is the focus of the first half of the series as new relatives are introduced. Something about Fruits Basket is likable despite the cliches and the author's insistence on pairing up EVERYONE in a very predictable, J.K. Rowling sort of way. I tend to like Fruits Basket fanfic more than I like Fruits Basket itself.

I guess Petshop of Horrors is technically a josei manga because it runs in a josei mystery magazine and is stylistically shoujo, but there's no cutesy romance (although the mutal attraction between the loud, perverted cop and the snarky, effeminate pet store owner is deliciously gay and impossible to ignore.) The storyline is a series of connected episodes centering on exotic, supernatural pets that invariably turn on their abusive owners in messy ways - sounds formulaic, but the beautifully detailed art, the awkward relationship between the protagonists, and plenty of banter and amusing one-liners make it a fun read. There's also a decent amount of good fanfic of the series, which is a big plus.

I'm a CLAMP fan (although sometimes I don't know why, ahaha...) so there's quite a few series I could recommend - xxxHolic has incredible, unusual art and lots of references to Japanese mythology. Some people find the main character's high-strung personality to be annoying, but I think he's funny. Like CLAMP's other currently running series, Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, xxxHolic is a crossover with every other CLAMP series - personally I find the crossover bits forced and irritating because it's hard for a series like that to stand alone, but thankfully it's minimised in xxxHolic and it's possible to read it without feeling bombarded by not-so-clever self-referential crossreferences (like in Tsubasa...).
sanada
May. 10th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)
wow, i had to cut this for length...
Another fun-but-very-dark-in-later-volumes CLAMP manga is Tokyo Babylon, which centers on a young, naive exorcist, his bubbly, fashion-obsessed sister, and a kind, flirtatious vet who also happens to be a sadistic assassin. The series feels a little dated and 90s-ish (which is 80s-ish in Japan, lol) since it's a rather early CLAMP work. It was really influential, though - popular series by other mangaka, like Descedents of Darkness and Angel Sanctuary, owe a lot to that early CLAMP art and story style.

Fushigi Yuugi - Genbu Kaiden is sort of a prequel/side story to the extremely popular shoujo series Fushigi Yuugi, only unlike the original, the heroine is actually likable - the basic premise of Genbu Kaiden is that a girl is magically transported from the 1920s to ancient China, where she's a legendary priestess who has to collect a team of attractive bishounen guardians. The original Fushigi Yuugi is basically the same thing (only the girl is from 1990s Japan) but it feels sort of sophomoric... like Fruits Basket, it's the supporting cast that really makes it stand out and you're better off just ignoring the central romance. Actually, the central romances in both series are extremely similar now that I think about it, differentiated only by which heroine you personally find more irritating... hehe... But the heroine in Genbu Kaiden is more mature and doesn't become the standard passive shoujo sterotype.

Oooh, and not-technically-manga-but-still-worth-mentioning-as-shoujo-because-I-love-stuff-set-in-mythic-China is the novel series The Twelve Kingdoms by Fuyumi Ono, which was the inspiration for an anime series a few years back. The anime adaptation was slow-moving and not particularly gripping so the series doesn't have the recognition here that it does in Japan, where the books were popular. Tokyopop has started to pick up some Japanese "light novel" (illustrated serial fiction) series and publish them as young adult books (I hate the term "young adult", because the stories are often just as rich and complex as "adult" fiction, just with younger protagonists... it's basically a marketing distinction). But anyway, The Twelve Kingdoms just came out last month and it's definitely not kittens-and-rainbows shoujo fluff... it starts with the standard Japanese schoolgirl (average, insecure, weepy) who gets dragged against her will in a Chinese-inspired mythological world where she has no food, no money, no friends, and everybody seems to want her dead. It gets interesting as she slowly drops her meek, ideal-daughter persona and has to fight to survive.

My friends read a lot of shoujo, so their favorites are Hana-Kimi, The Wallflower, Ouran Host Club, Boys Over Flowers, Ayashi no Ceres, and Absolute Boyfriend... um, I couldn't really get into any of them enough to read past the first volume (if that), but at least they weren't too incredibly painful...
chomiji
May. 10th, 2007 03:16 am (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...

Hee, welcome back to my LJ, you busy person! I thought I might hear from you on this, but WOW!!! What a treatise! >HUG!!!<

Is "Kaiden" from "Gaiden"?

Twelve Kingdoms is something that I thought I'd get eventually anyway, just because it sounded good. I think for my Cho-education project, it's looking like Fruits Basket (just because it sort of epitmomizes the genre, from what everyone is saying) and XXXHolic (because CLAMP is important and because I might actually like it). And then I'll see how much else I want to go into ... I mean, I've still go yea-many volumes of Vagabond to go!!!

They're holding my SDK 22 at the little comic book store in Silver Spring. Wheeee! There's a scene with Yuan in there, isn't there? I want to work on that fic, and I wanted more of his voice before I did it.

sanada
May. 10th, 2007 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...
*laugh* Yeah, I really went overboard!!

Actually, in the sense of Fushigi Yuugi and Saiyuki, "gaiden" is written as 外伝 ("outside story") so it's literally just "side story" - a lot of manga will have gaiden chapters, like Yukimura's story in SDK. I guess Fushigi Yuugi was making a pun on "gaiden" with "kaiden", which is written as 開伝 ("open story"), like in the sense that it's been unsealed or something. Hehe, but you're right, often you'll see the same word with alternate k/g spellings depending on whether it's a in a compound and being influenced by a previous sound~

Oh yeah, Twelve Kingdoms is definitely good. Your daughter might like it too! I'm just pissed now that we've got to wait another yeaaar for the next volume... and I can't watch the anime to find out what happens because the story is different. x__x

Hehe, yeah, for better or for worse, Fruits Basket is what a lot of shoujo is like, and it's cute and enjoyable despite the flaws. Some of the characters are very memorable! (read a couple of volumes and it will be very, very obvious who my favorite character is... enough that I've absorbed some of his mannerisms...)

And xxxHolic is probably CLAMP's most accesible, interesting offering lately. It's also very uh, CLAMP-ish in that it's slashy and people are always losing eyes... (so many eyes get lost in CLAMP manga that it feels like a running gag!)

I *think* Yuan shows up in 22... I'm looking forward to seeing how he comes across in the official translation, too! I didn't even know it had already been released - I went looking two days ago but I didn't see it.
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...

SDK 22 was officially released on the 8th. Alliance has been pretty good about having things right on the release date, at least since I started caring (e.g., for SDK 21 and Saiyuki Reload 7).

You shouldn't have made the comment about the eyes ... I'm sure that once I start reading xxxHolic, I'll suddenly remember your saying that and have a vision of Bontenmaru in whatever scene I happen to be reading ...   o_O;

I made a new Yun-yun icon for "LOL" occasions, using that little extra cartoon where he's watching Shinrei and Hotaru play shogi ... well, anyway, Shinrei is playing shogi - God knows what Hotaru is playing!

sanada
May. 11th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...
Yeah, unfortunately Borders and Barnes and Noble just don't care... and the local independent comic shops all seem sort of anti-manga.

*laugh* I've developed a disturbing fetish for eye-gouging thanks to manga!!

Aww, Yun-yun!! So cute!!
rachelmanija
May. 11th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...
The heroine of Genbu Kaiden studies naginata, by the way.
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)
Re: wow, i had to cut this for length...

Very cool! In Aikido, once I qualified for the advanced classes, I did some weapons work: swords (using bokken and shinai) and jo. I was lousy with the swords, but OK with jo. Perhaps my soul is that of a priest or peasant rather than a (male) samurai ... .

artillie
May. 10th, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
Ouran High School Host Club is pretty damn good. It's about a girl who goes to a private school on a scholarship. Looking for a quiet place to study, she walks into the Host Club (think.. I don't know, man-geisha), gets mistaken for a boy, hit on, and, when she's trying to escape, knocks down an $80,000 vase. So the club makes her dress as a boy and entertain girls to pay off her debt. Her thoughts are: "I kinda enjoy having girls hassle over me. It's cute. Guess I'm a little bent that way. Maybe I'll use "ore" when referring to myself. Yeah..."

Fujioka Haruhi is a fantastic heroine--she's so nonchalant and practical and doesn't care that she's surrounded by her own personal harem beautiful men, which is so rare for a girl in shoujo. I could sing her praises to the heavens. The boys in the Host Club can be complete idiots, and she calls them on it (but they forgive her because they think she's adorable). And you can actually tell the boys apart, which is always a plus.

I'm also partial to Kare Kano, because it isn't dripping with angst, which I appreciate.

Another good one is Land of the Blindfolded. It's a bit slow--it's very slow--but it's charming. I have a soft spot for people who can see the future.
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)

Well, it sounds like Ouran High School Host Club might be the next one after FB and XXXHolic, because I might like it (whereas I'm trying the other two primarily because they seem to be classics of the type).

>> Maybe I'll use "ore" when referring to myself. Yeah ... <<

Hee! Thanks to asking Sanada many, many questions over the past few months, and the wonders of the WWW, I actually know what you're talking about! See, I have been trying to educate myself ...

>> I have a soft spot for people who can see the future.... <<

:-D   I thought of you yesterday because I was making an icon with Sakuya in it. (She's looking distressed, and the caption is "I see crazy people ... ")

oyceter
May. 11th, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
Huh, I think everyone got the recs I usually rec!

My personal favorites are Yazawa Ai's Nana (she also wrote Paradise Kiss, but I don't like it as much but Yazawa is one of my favorite mangaka EVER) and Takaya's Fruits Basket. You may want to get a little used to shoujo before Fruits Basket; a lot of my shounen-loving friends were really turned off by it at first (though I'd still read it eventually, because underneath the Sweet Tarts cover, it is incredibly good). I adore Nana, but again, there is the focus on the romance, and some people find Nana K. too girly.

Wait, OMG NO ONE HAS RECCED YUKI KAORI! This must be remedied!

Um, so just as a warning, Yuki Kaori is TOTAL AND COMPLETE CRACK. I do not use the allcaps lightly! Angel Sanctuary is complete now, and it is INSANE and has reincarnation and love and hate and twins and genderbending and incest and Luficer and boys who are swords and I love it to pieces. On the other hand, the panel layout is dreadful. It gets better, though.

There's also The Cain Saga and Godchild, which are actually the same series but marketed separately because Viz is stupid. Cain goes from 1-4 (parts 1 and 2) for a total of five vols. and then Godchild picks up after that, but they're being published simultaneously. I've been reading them totally out of order, but it is ok with me. The art is gorgeous and it is PURE CRACK.

Um, on the other hand, if you don't like Gothic excess and insanity, I would stay away from Yuki Kaori. In her favor, there are no sparklies and fluffies and hearts, unless they are bleeding, poisoned hearts of DOOM.

CLAMP's X/1999 is also gothic excess, but as a warning, it's unfinished at 18. Grrr. But it's very pretty and has stuff like apocalypses.

I haven't read Ouran, but the anime is actually more fun once you know some shoujo tropes, because they completely make fun of them. So that may hold for the manga as well.

So... I dunno. A lot of the recs you're getting are for sweet high school romances, which I adore but you might not? Or you might want something a little less shoujo-shoujo for your first shoujo?
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 04:50 pm (UTC)

>> love and hate and twins and genderbending and incest <<

See, this is why I was sad that you didn't get into Godstalk, because the series ends up with a lot of this kind of thing ... ;-)

>> it's very pretty and has stuff like apocalypses <<

Sounds like it came out of Telophase's infernally addictive story generator!

I'll have a look at Cain and Godchild when I go to the comic store - I'd like to see the art. (Heh, maybe that's what I'll request of the Mr. for Mother's Day - a manga spree at Alliance Comics!) Angel Sanctuary is something that for the past several months I've picked up, read the back covers, and then put back cautiously, rather as though I was afraid it had become stuck to my fingers and wasn't going to let go ... it wants me for some reason ...

Thanks awfully for stopping by and giving me squeeful recs!

rachelmanija
May. 11th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
I would also highly recommend ES (Eternal Sabbath), which... might not technically be shoujo. But the character designs, though not the panel layouts, are very shoujo. It's a psychological thriller about a young man who can walk into the minds of others, and the woman scientist who is immune to his powers. Gorgeous, haunting art, especially of the mindscapes; interesting, non-stereotypical characters; spooky story with some thought-provoking undertones.

In a totally different vein, I adore the very shoujo Her Majesty's Dog, which is vaguely like Buffy except the heroine's power is word-magic rather than ass-kicking; she takes her duty to lay ghosts very seriously, and doesn't quite understand human interaction. She is protected by a dog-demon who mostly looks like a handsome boy; he's in love with her.

PS. How did you like Uechi-ryu? I just started studying kobudo (bo, at the moment) in a style derived from it; I did Shotokan before.
chomiji
May. 11th, 2007 07:53 pm (UTC)

Wow, so many things to check out ... head explodes with possibilities!

ES sounds good, and meganbmoore (commented above as well) had also been talking about Her Majesty's Dog a while ago. I'll have to see what the budget and time will allow (because I'll want to review all of them, too ... )

Uechi Ryu was interesting. I enjoyed the depth and history of it, but the instructor (a youngish ex-Navy guy) and my physical limitations (although I am quite strong, I am clumsy and not very flexible) were a bad combo. I had a rough time with it - the best he ever said of me was "You do with your mind what others do with their bodies." The kata were very interesting, and the drills in stuff like strikes gave me a good grounding in that sort of technique.

I liked Aikido much better: the fact that we were always learning with a partner (after the technique demo) meant that the senior students could, if need be, physically move me into the correct position - and I ended up learning much faster than with Uechi Ryu. But the Uechi Ryu meant that I was very good at ukemi (attacker technique) - once I learned to fall and roll. So I could actually bring something to the others in terms of helping them punch or chop properly (thereby making the defense - which is mainly what you learn in Aikido - that much more effective).

Uechi also gave me my best martial arts story. One evening after my younger sister (taller and more graceful than I) joined the dojo, the instructor was expounding on the Kung Fu animal styles whose moves had been incorporated into Uechi Ryu, and how they were best suited to certain types of physiques. "You," he said to a tall, muscular guy, "are a tiger. And you" - to my sister - "are a crane ... ."

He was interrupted by the class clown: "Awww! If she gets to be a crane, I wanna be a backhoe!"

freeradical9
Nov. 24th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
Ooh, did you ever get to watch/read 12 Kingdoms? That's one I'd rec as well, though the pace at times can be a bit slow.

You're probably not looking for suggestions any longer, but just in case: ^_^

Genju no Seiza is a good one (by the same mangaka as Petshop of Horrors)--The king of a small mythic country is reincarnated in modern-day Japan. The immortal beast-guardians of the half-Japanese teenager come looking for him one-by-one, and most of them aren't very friendly.

Wolf's Rain is pretty but it's only two volumes and I'm not sure if it's technically Shojo or not (published by Kodansha). Post-apocalyptic wolves on a journey searching for wolf-heaven.

Decendants of Darkness, aka Yami no Matsui is good (although it gets decidedly odd towards the end, and has been abandoned by the author, incomplete). The series focuses on individuals who work for the Ministry of Hades, an bureaucratic branch of the underworld that helps escort the dead to their final resting places.

Finally, the thing by CLAMP that I'd recommend is actually RG Veda (their first work). Like Saiyuki, this is (loosely) based on somebody else's prior work, primarily Vedic mythology. Lots of battles, tragic losses, and very complex relationships.

The list probably highlights the fact that I really enjoy shojo stuff that tends towards the dark and/or epic with plenty of UST, and also goes to show that I'm not long on the typically shojo dinner-plate eyes, hearts, and sparkles, except maybe for Furuba.... ^_^
chomiji
Nov. 24th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)

I'm always looking for manga suggestions! But having said that, I don't know if I'm going at start any new series for a bit ... I seem to be on plotline overload. I have FMA, Monster, and Eternal Sabbath all sitting about, and can't seem to make myself get back into any of them. Furuba should end in a few more volumes, and Wild Adapter also seems to be getting toward a stopping point (although given Minekura sensei's rate of output lately, Samurai Deeper Kyo - which is on vol. 31 of 38 and is coming out every other month - may finish first!

I read the first two manga/novel volumes of 12 Kingdoms and really liked it ... but I've heard that it's become a casualty of TokyoPop's reorg, and no more will be published ...   :(

(BTW, any more thoughts on Red Hills? I'm interested in which bits are working for which people ... .)

freeradical9
Nov. 25th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
But having said that, I don't know if I'm going at start any new series for a bit ... I seem to be on plotline overload.

Haha, I understand that. I've been experimenting with Bleach, D-Gray Man and Angel Sanctuary, and while in all three cases I respect the storyline and enjoy the art, none of those series has really anchored my interest. I'm intrigued that you've been reading FMA--I saw the movie when it came out a while back, and always thought I'd enjoy the manga given the time to explore it.

I read the first two manga/novel volumes of 12 Kingdoms and really liked it ... but I've heard that it's become a casualty of TokyoPop's reorg, and no more will be published ... :(

Nooooo! I hadn't heard that. Man, that's depressing. (The anime is also very good, with gorgeous art, but it's nice to read the written version, which came first.) Ah, I was so happy that TokyoPop had been publishing the books, too. *sigh*

chomiji
Nov. 27th, 2008 04:43 am (UTC)

Oh, yeah ... I have the first two vols. of D-Gray Man too!

I like Bleach, although large portions of it are big, dumb, and loud - creme de le shounen, as it were. The mangaka comes up with surprising little character insights from time to time, though. There's a reason why someone like incandescens, who writes really smart fanfic, is so attached to Bleach. (If you poke through those springkink listings at the link, you'll find a few Saiyuki fics too.)

freeradical9
Nov. 28th, 2008 02:58 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah ... I have the first two vols. of D-Gray Man too!

Of the three titles I'd mentioned, that is probably the one I'd be most likely to follow-up on if I had more time. I love the morphing boots, the gothic-style art, and the fact that at least a few of the bad guys are more than cardboard cutouts.

(If you poke through those springkink listings at the link, you'll find a few Saiyuki fics too.)

Mmm, yeah. I'm familiar with her work through springkink. She writes some really great stuff. (And she's so prolific! Geez, I wish I had the ability to churn out fic so fast!)


smillaraaq
Nov. 25th, 2008 04:57 am (UTC)
Whee, comment-necromancy!

The manga version of Wolf's Rain ran in a seinen magazine, although this is one of those cases where the anime came first (and is much better) so you can sort of argue the classification a bit. It's all dark and complicated enough that I think seinen is a fair cop. (Have you seen the anime? It's wonderful stuff and I've been reccing it to Cho for ages. If we can only manage to do a video night more often than quarterly... *grin*)

All the Fumi Yoshinaga stuff and other flat-out yaoi titles we've been passing around back and forth are technically shojo, of course! Other than the yaoi/BL/shounen-ai stuff, and the occasional dark-Gothic-crackfest titles, since I'm somewhat allergic to sweet high school romances, the shojo titles that tend to click best with me tend to be sprawling old-school historical melodramas like Rose of Versailles or surrealist meta like Revolutionary Girl Utena. Utena would be a pretty good one to look at because so much of it is about playing with and twisting and subverting a lot of the modern shojo tropes -- Magical Girl stuff with transformation sequences, school romance and emotional drama between high-school-girl cliques, etc. The art is very very shojo, with the flowing hair and big eyes and stylish clothes and roses EVERYWHERE, and I do mean everywhere...but it all just sort of lulls you into a false sense of security before the weirdness of the plot kicks in. From Eroica With Love might also be worth a look because while the plot is basically shonen-ai spy-caper comedy, the art is pure florid 70s shojo: big sparkly eyes, long flowing hair, incredible costuming and flowers all over the place. And speaking of classic shojo -- the 70s was really the golden age of the genre -- one that I have not yet read but Cho might perhaps like is Swan, which is visually classic shojo but plotwise is a blend of shojo romance-and-rivalry melodrama with sports-manga style training and ambition and competitiveness, as it follows the story of a young girl working towards her ambition is to become a top-ranked ballerina.

RG Veda is gorgeous, but it's a good thing you don't do too much video watching because the OVA is one of those that's been condensed to the point where it's choppy and well-nigh incomprehensible. You also pretty much have to leave anything you might know about Hindu mythology at the door, because about all they really took from the Rig Veda are some proper names, and those have all been phonetically Nipponized to the point where they're not always immediately recognizable. :)

Also, while it's technically seinen, Inubaka might be worth a glance -- if not for the fanservice pin-ups and occasional panty shots, the art and storylines here really would pass for shojo, but shojo that's more concerned with young characters out on their own trying to succeed in first jobs and challenges to their doggy-related skills rather than romance. It's fairly fluffy, but quite endearing -- Suguri is one of those sweet-but-horribly-naive heroines, but I find her likeable rather than annoying because she's not some weepy doormat; she's spunky and determined and a hard worker.
freeradical9
Nov. 26th, 2008 04:07 am (UTC)
Whee, comment-necromancy!

@o@ (How'd she *do* that?)

The manga version of Wolf's Rain ran in a seinen magazine

Ah! Thanks for clarifying. It's one of the ones that I didn't quite know what to call it. The pretty character designs combined with the lack of fanservice (except for the tight clothing) and the open-to-interpretation relationships of the wolves all muddy the waters. The anime is *wonderful* (although I'm embarrassed to say that I actually haven't finished the last 3 disks of the series yet)--I'd definitely second the recommendation to watch the anime.

Ooh, I didn't think of Utena, but you're right on the mark with the overwhelmingly-shojo-with-underlying-weirdness description.

RE: RG Veda it's a good thing you don't do too much video watching because the OVA is one of those that's been condensed to the point where it's choppy and well-nigh incomprehensible.

Agreed!

You also pretty much have to leave anything you might know about Hindu mythology at the door

Ahaha! (Everyone always seems to use the term "based on the Rigveda", and I incorrectly interpreted that to mean a stronger link than apparently actually exists.) :)

Ooh, I recognize most of those other suggestions, too. All except for Inubaka Ah, the covers for that series are so cute! ...I might have to check that title out for myself. :D
smillaraaq
Nov. 26th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
@o@ (How'd she *do* that?)

I AM SNEAKY LIKE NINJA! *giggles*

Wolf's Rain is a huge favorite of mine, but I'll be very curious to hear what you think when you finish it because I know a lot of fans were kind of frustrated about the ending. (I loved it, but it's very ambiguous and that seems to be a big love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing.)

And Inubaka is really surprisingly sweet and endearing (well, at least to crazy dog people...it might be a little easier to resist if you're not weak for cute pups.) Aside from the odd little bits of seinen fanservice of cute young girls in cute and sometimes-skimpy outfits, it's really got the feel of a shojo series without any of the more annoying tropes of useless, doormat heroines and such. There are some classic shojo romantic elements -- Suguri has a bit of a schoolgirlish crush on her handsome boss, another one of the regulars (a cute young Korean musician) has a massive crush on her, and there's a bit of a revolving stable of bishie minor characters who wander in and out of the plot and sometimes catch her naively starry gaze. But for the most part it's more of a slice-of-life, Suguri's working to become more skilled and independent in her first job and first time living away from home: romance just isn't the main thing on her mind. There's no real symbolism or deep subtext here, or crack, or massive angst, no grand huge plots, just a lot of heartwarming little stories about dogs and the sometimes eccentric people who love them.
freeradical9
Nov. 27th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)
I'll be very curious to hear what you think when you finish it because I know a lot of fans were kind of frustrated about the ending.

I'll let you know--a month or two ago, I found the compiled version (volumes 5-7) at BestBuy, so I have it in the house right now, just haven't had time with all the crazy things happening this fall to manage to watch it yet. I think I know where it's going, since I read some spoiliers on-line a while back, I have a feeling that I'll be one of the love-it-no-matter-what types. ^_^

...just a lot of heartwarming little stories about dogs and the sometimes eccentric people who love them.

Heh. Sounds good to me! :D It really does look like a cute series from what I've seen on line. I'll have to stop by the bookstore to thumb through some of the volumes and check it out. (As long as Chomiji doesn't mind me stealing her rec!) :)
chomiji
Nov. 27th, 2008 04:35 am (UTC)


>> As long as Chomiji doesn't mind me stealing her rec! <<



Heck, no! I like it when people come talk on my LJ. I'm just sorry I've been too preoccupied to come talk, too.



(And I imagine smilla was tracking this post, that's how she did it ... I found out that you could do that when I was watching a couple of items in the livelongnmarry charity auction.)


smillaraaq
Nov. 27th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
Hee, nope, it's much more low-tech than that...I don't even do email notifications because I hate the clutter and redundancy of seeing the same thing two or three times, so I only turn on tracking for very rare situations like the LLNM auctions, or the occasional conversation that's gotten so huge and sprawling that just scanning the post visually for new comments is too unmanageable. I just happened to check back in the post on FR9's journal after your mention of crossed-comments back on the comments to "Red Hills", and followed the link from there. XD

And so long as I've got you both here, another rec I made recently on the Saiyuki comm that you might have missed -- Summer Days With Coo. I just watched this last week and it's one of the best full-length animated films I've seen since, gosh, probably Spirited Away was the last thing that charmed and moved me this much. It really does have something of the feel of the quieter Studio Ghibli films -- there were bits that actually moved me to tears, but despite a lot of bittersweet scenes the overall mood was much more heartwarming and hopeful. It's absolutely lovely.
freeradical9
Nov. 28th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
I just happened to check back in the post on FR9's journal after your mention of crossed-comments back on the comments to "Red Hills", and followed the link from there. XD

So what you're really saying is that Smilla is clever like detective. ^_^

another rec I made recently on the Saiyuki comm that you might have missed -- Summer Days With Coo.

I totally missed it. Ah, the trailer is so cute! I adore the Studio Ghibli films, so if this has a similar feel to it, then I'll definitely have to track it down. Thanks for the rec!
smillaraaq
Nov. 28th, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
Well, I guess random detecting goes with the nickname! ;)

And Coo really does remind me a lot of varous bits of Ghibli -- except for a one big scene it's not as intensely mythic as something like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away, but the environmental themes and love for nature and tradition that you see in Miyazaki so often felt similar here, while the very realistic, non-sugarcoated human dynamics of Coo's adoptive family, schoolchildren, etc. reminded me of Isao Takahata's stuff. And of course magic creatures struggling to survive in a changing world of human encroachment and technology feature heavily in Pon Poko as well as Mononoke Hime...

(Let me know if you have trouble hunting down a copy and I can upload the version I eventually stitched together from files that were annoyingly uncompressed and posted in four parts...I'd be thrilled to buy a legit DVD but considering it only came out in Japan last year, I suspect any subtitled R1 release will be quite a while off, if ever...)
freeradical9
Nov. 29th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
Let me know if you have trouble hunting down a copy and I can upload the version I eventually stitched together from files that were annoyingly uncompressed and posted in four parts

I'll have to get back to you on that. I used to collect a lot of stuff fansubbed on VHS, but I know a lot of the subbers have moved to bittorrent and other methods of distribution; and I haven't yet managed to teach myself how to handle that type of file. If I can't find it, I'll let you know. I certainly appreciate the offer to share the completed version. ^^
smillaraaq
Nov. 27th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
Hee, steal away! Cho's already heard me babble about Inubaka before, but I figured it deserved to come up in any discussion of shojo-ish series that work well for readers who don't tend to like a lot of the common modern shojo tropes. :) I actually kept looking at in the stores for months because oooh, doggy title, and then putting it back because it just looked so sugary-shojo that I was afraid it would make my teeth ache; what finally convinced me to make the plunge was when a friend whose tastes tend to run very much like mine kept squeeing about it being her go-to manga when she wanted total feel-good braincandy cuteness. (It was the girl I pointed you at the other night, Cho, with the newly-adopted Pyr bitch...did I mention she ended up naming her Ammy? Yes, she's also the one who got me hooked on Okami...*grins*)

If you want a wacky canine-shonen rec to go with it, have you seen any of Yoshihiro Takahashi's stuff? They're basically like your typical violent-soap-opera international/multiethnic cast-of-thousands sort of shonen fighting series, except all the characters delivering speeches about honor and loyalty and fighting spirit before kicking the crap out of each other are dogs. Totally insane and entertaining if you like action-heavy shonen/seinen and dogs...alas, this is another one that's only available through dodgy means unless you're multilingual, as none of the anime have been licensed in English and only one of the manga series was licensed for an abortive three-volume eyeblink a few years ago (just long enough to get me hooked on the canine crack, damnit) before being dropped. (Funnily enough, the anime at least has played pretty much everywhere else in the world, and was a particularly big hit in the Nordic countries...just about all of the non-Japanese fansites are in Scandinavia. The fansubs I've got came from a Swedish group, with slightly-quirky English just adding to the oddball charm of it all.)
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