2015 Shoujo Retrospective and Trends

I’ve been trying to organize this post into something, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. So… get ready for some more rambling. This post will only be about Japanese language shoujo manga.

I’ll start with some shoujo magazine news that caught my eye in 2015.

Series Moves:

  • “Pochamani” moved from bi-monthly Hana to Yume to monthly Betsuhana.
  • “Seiten Kickoff” was moved from quarterly The Hana to Yume to bi-monthly Hana to Yume at chapter 4.
  • “Twin Role” by Hitsuji Harumi moved from once every two months Lala DX to monthly Lala

Long Running Series that Ended:

  • “Love so Life” ended in Hana to Yume
  • “Hoshizora no Karasu” ended in Hana to Yume
  • “Library Wars — Love and War” ended in Lala

Notable Series that Ended:

  • “Wagashi no Anne” by Yoki Igari (A series about traditional Japanese candy makers) in Ane Lala
  • “Shuriken to Pleats” by Hino Matsuri in Lala
  • “A Hedgehog in Love” by Nao Hinachi in Betsucomi
  • “QQ Sweeper” in Betsucomi (relaunched as “Queen’s Quality”)
  • “Anne no Mago Mago Toshokanland” by Tachibana Higuchi

Notable New Series:

  • “Gozu Reigi Kisushite ni Kiteru” by Rin Mikimoto in Betsufure
  • “Library Wars” sequel in Lala
  • “Hanayome to Exorcist” by Keiko Ishihara
  • “Kegeki no Kuni no Alice” by Higuchi Tachibana (“Gakuen Alice” prequel)
  • “Koi wa Hito no Hoka” by Maki Minami
  • More “Vampire Knight” side stories in Lala DX

Magazines that Ceased Publication

  • The Dessert

Shoujo Trends

  • Overall shoujo was very conservative and gentle. There were very few new horror series and oneshots in non-horror magazines. There also there weren’t many psychological series and oneshots. In Lala and Hana to Yume for most of the year, all the new series were slice-of-life.
  • Toward the last quarter of 2015, the Hakusensha magazines started debuting lots of fantasy series. The two in Hana to Yume (“Niehime to Kemon”and “Souryuu to Sobayounin” reminded me of “The Magus Bride” lite. The Hana to Yume series started as oneshots
  • Even the fantasy series felt very safe, relying on kitsune or some other cute-eared ayakashi’s bride story.
  • Lots of new age-gaps series with a good amount of them having younger males pursuing older women like “Toshishita no Otoko no ko”. There were lots of student/teacher series and oneshots.
  • There were lots of rom-coms series and oneshots with men feeding and keeping house for women who can’t take care of themselves. Most of these series appeared in shoujo for women for publications like Ane Lala, Petite Princess, and the Petite supplementals.
  • Betsufure found its stride with a combination of character driven rom-coms that have dramatic underpinnings. The stories were couple-focused with fleeting love triangles (more like 3rd wheels getting rejected quickly.)
  • Lots of sports series and oneshots with the female MC crushing on the male team ace.
  • Terrible boyfriend series seem to be making it clearer that the guys aren’t complete assholes.
  • Modern, more universal comedy freshened up series, especially in Betsufure. The comedy felt less specifically “Japanese”.
  • The new drawing styles are drifting toward wispy lines, fluffy hair, and lots of blushing. A lot of character designs look like “A Hedgehog in Love” (though I don’t know what artist or series started this trend.)
  • Tankoubon covers have very little publisher branding and no borders in the designs. Many cover had romanji and titles and mangaka names in English.
  • Magazine covers got more cluttered. Text went in every direction.

Even though shoujo was safe this year, I felt shoujo magazines like Betsufure and Betsucomi had an excellent 2015. I guess I should say 2015 was a good year for typical high school shoujo.

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