Shoujo cliché, the other man (Round Robin Topic)

First off if you haven’t already checked it out you might want to read Hinano’s post on this.
Blissmo’s post on this
Saimaisama’s post on this
Ria’s post on this.

Every now and then, a woman likes to read a little romance, be it something sweet and gentle or smutty and sexy. But even when reading or watching either extreme in the world of romance there seems to be one rule that hold true for the majority of titles out there. When faced with a love triangle, the heroine will lose any brain cells she was born with and pick the guy who treats her like crap and this seems to be particularly true of anime and manga.

Look at Tohru in Fruits Basket for example, while Kyo isn’t a complete asshole he isn’t exactly the prince charming Yuki is now is he. He’s often rude to Tohru, snapping at her and making her feel like she’s upset him half the time, so why does she end up falling for him?

In the case of Tohru, while both Yuki and Kyo are emotional messes, Yuki is the one who holds it together a bit better. So in this case the nice guy loses out, because the bad boy can’t handle his emotional baggage as well. Tohru feels that Kyo needs her more than Yuki does, sorry Yuki, if you’d been a bit more emotionally constipated you’d have won the girl!

I guess you could also use this argument to explain why Sakura Haruno pines after the emo prince himself, Sasuke Uchiha. Although, unlike Kyo from Fruba who actually seems to be a genuinely nice guy underneath who really cares for Tohru, but sucks at expressing it, Sasuke is that type of bad boy who really is all about himself. So why does Sakura keep going after someone who continuously rejects her and belittles her, when she has someone who already loves her and thinks the world of her in Naruto?

Well for starters never underestimate a pretty face, and as annoying as the Uchiha brat can be, we can’t deny the fact the guy has got it going on in the looks department. Then there is the fact that he’s super skilled and badass. I guess if you have looks and awesome skills, girls will overlook things like calling them annoying every time they flutter their eyelashes at you.

So Sakura is stuck on him because he’s super cool and needs someone to help him through all his emotional trauma. Naruto unfortunately isn’t even a blip on the radar, because while he fits one of those criteria, since the poor boy is an orphan, he isn’t cool and well Sasuke’s entire clan was killed so his emotional trauma is thus higher than Naruto’s and so Sasuke needs her more. Is anybody starting to see a pattern here?

So does this make these girls stupid? It would be easy to say yes, but I think you also have to take it on a case-by-case basis. For a lot of these girls I think the reason they pick the bad boy is rooted in their own self-esteem issues and has nothing to do with stupidity.
In both the examples I put forward I said that the girl picked the guy who she felt needed her the most. In doing so, this helps to raise their self-esteem, because they feel useful, wanted, like they can make a difference. If you don’t have good self-esteem, why would you pick someone perfect who is going to be constantly reminding you of the fact that you are flawed? How many times in a shoujo manga do, you see the heroine question why the guy would even want to be with her, because really she is so out of his league. In picking the bad boy with issues, they are at least picking someone flawed and therefore not perfect like themselves.

Although while I think this works for Tohru, it doesn’t work out so much for Sakura since Sasuke isn’t actually trying to win Sakura whereas Kyo obviously likes Tohru.

In order to explain Sakura’s actions I’m going to bring up another point concerning our shoujo heroines, namely their age and experience. In Sakura’s case, she’s very young and has absolutely no experience of love and that rings true for a lot of shoujo heroines. She clings to this romantic ideal of Sasuke, the cool good-looking guy only to have that shattered when he leaves and betrays the village, because basically she doesn’t know any better. She’s a shallow little girl who doesn’t know any different something that changes with a little maturity.
To her credit as she’s grown up physically its nice to see that Sakura has grown mentally too and I think she’s starting to get that in his own way Naruto, the nice guy is cool too ^-^ Its amazing what a difference a little growing up can do.

Of course, there are plenty of grown women who go for the bad boy too, which just goes to show you can’t ignore the element of excitement. One other reason the bad boy wins out over the good guy.

Take poor old Houjo from InuYasha (I will have to state I don’t think that even I could date him, he really is just TOO nice) He’s always there for Kagome with a smile and some helpful item to improve her false bad health. Now Kagome did almost fall for his ancestor who exhibited all his qualities, but in the end, it was InuYasha who won out. Similarly, Kouga treats Kagome a lot more nicely than InuYasha does, and yet Kagome has always and will always see him as just a friend. This is despite the fact that InuYasha is sort of two timing her and is often being gruff towards her.

Again, though InuYasha like Kyo isn’t a complete asshole, once again he’s emotionally constipated and very bad at expressing his feelings. But, he’s cute and a hell of a lot more exciting than boring old Houjo, oh and his swords bigger… sorry I couldn’t help that one!

So far, most of the bad boys I’ve mentioned haven’t seemed all that bad really, but there are mangas with boys who basically rape girls and yet they end up getting the said girl because they forgive them. Realizing that the poor babies are just in need of some help and didn’t really mean to hurt them (excuse me while I vomit).

Sadly, while this seems farfetched, it happens a lot in real life too and again I think it boils down to girls with low self-esteem and no experience. You will find that guys, or girls who suffer abuse be it mental or physical at young ages tend to have troublesome relationships in their future. They go from one relationship to the next continuing the cycle of abuse, because it’s all they know, they think that is how love is supposed to be. They are either too broken to get themselves out or too emotionally stunted to know anything different, because they’ve never been shown anything different.
And again, those who are abused have little self-esteem, and so in their minds they don’t deserve the godly, beautiful good guy, they belong with their abusive pretty boy. After all, they are grateful this cute guy even wants them.

Its very sad, but very true, I’ve known and know some girls like that and until they start to think better of themselves and realize they deserve better for themselves, that they deserve that nice guy, they’re always going to be setting themselves up for heartache if they are going after guys like Sasuke.

If they’re going after a Kyo or InuYasha type, well at least those guys actually seem to have a genuine good heart underneath that bluster.
Moving on, if all girls are drawn to the bad boy, then what’s the point of even bringing in the good guy, why have a love triangle in the first place? Well as much as the blasted things can be annoying, if written right they can add great tension and drama to a manga or anime. While it seems statistics are in favor of the bad guy, you can never say with 100% certainty the girl won’t see sense and go for Mr. nice guy. It’s also a nice way of strengthening the main relationship as the guy fights harder for her and it helps to solidify the girl’s feelings for the guy she likes once she gets over her brain fart.

Sakura for instance is starting to wake up to the idea that grown up Naruto is both pretty and well maybe a bit better for her than Sasuke.

So don’t always think the nice guy loses out fellas! I’ve flirted with a few bad boys, I’ve even dated one, but I soon got tired of his antics.

I picked a nice guy and I married him! I met him at 21 and was married to him by the time I turned 22. I never hesitated when he asked me to marry him and I’ve never regretted the decision to turn down other interested man candy who were sniffing around when I met my husband. This is even despite the fact we were separated by an ocean for the majority of our dating and I could quite easily have gone off with a few bad boy types.

He’s sweet, gentle and romantic, loving and incredibly thoughtful. He’s protective and caring, he doesn’t treat me like crap and he never fails to make my heart flutter with all the little things he does to show me he loves me. And I’ll tell you something girls, a lot of those bad guys suck in the bedroom since all they care about are themselves. Get yourself a good nice guy, who’s all about making you feel good, and well enjoy the mind-blowing sex!

But of course, the best relationships are where both parties compliment each other, where they both want the best for each other, kind of like Sano and Mizuki in Hana Kimi and Yoh and Haruna from Koukou Debut. They have to be two of the cutest couples I’ve ever seen in shoujo mangas. And neither girl gets their head swayed by other guys, even though the guys they are dating are pretty damned nice ^-^

Unfortunately those kinds of shoujo’s are in the minority and the girl picking the bad boy type happen to be in the majority, I guess the exciting appeal of that bad boy is just too strong!

So I guess to summarize, the bad boy will win if the girl is naive and lacking in experience or has low self-esteem. But if you get yourself a strong heroine who is sure of herself, she’ll pick a nice decent guy. As long as people keep reading, these cliches are always going to be around, which I guess makes sense since the same thing is happening daily in real life..

28 thoughts on “Shoujo cliché, the other man (Round Robin Topic)

  1. I think the issue with Fruits Basket is Kyo is the male “tsundere” (aka the Oranyan) and typically those characters always “win” in animes (with the exception of Clannad lulz but that’s a game adaptation so whatevs) I only cheered for Kyo because Yuki seemed a bit obnoxious with his whole princely thing, and well I like cats over mice 😉

  2. Hmm…to me the love triangle solution in Fruits Basket always made sense since Kyo was the only one who liked Tohru anyway (at least in the manga0. I don’t really think it’s a bad boy vs. good guy thing. Besides, Yuki and Kyo are pretty much on the same level with their messed-up-ness they just display it in different ways.

    But I think what you say at the end is very true. My best friend who’s been going around with guys that treat her like crap for years finally found herself a nice guy. It took about five tries, but she finally saw the truth! It’s mostly just a lack of experience and all that.

  3. @ HinanoWell I can’t disagree with you there, cats are way nicer than mice. Rats however are pretty cute and sweet I kid you not! 🙂

    But I agree in regards to Kyo, Yuki was pretty obnoxious about his princely ways. But with Tohru I always thought he was rather sweet.

    Fruba is one of those weird manga where I don’t really mind that she ended up with Kyo, but I would have been happy if she’d ended up with Yuki.

    @FuyuMaiden, The whole Yuki seeing her as a mother figure thing came out of left field for me and I don’t really think its actually true. I think Yuki really liked her, but just felt he couldn’t win against Kyo and so just gave up. And yeah those two are both messed up in their own ways, that poor entire family is. The characters in her new one Hoshi wa Uta seem to be just as messed up!

    Eep I’m sorry about your friend, and what’s really sad is while its going on, they get really stubborn and won’t listen to their friends. Of course once the whole thing is over they feel like a fool, if only they had listened!

    But people have to make their own mistakes I guess, its the only way we learn sometimes. We just have to hope they aren’t tragic ones…

    I’m glad she’s a lot happier now. 🙂

  4. “Of course, there are plenty of grown women who go for the bad boy too, which just goes to show you can’t ignore the element of excitement.”

    Uh. Definitely true for me!! I can’t stop going out with the guys that break all the rules but suck when it comes to love and feelings and all that. LOL, I’ll try to do all you have suggested: “Get yourself a good nice guy, who’s all about making you feel good, and well enjoy the mind-blowing sex!”.

    Then again, those kinda characters like Yoh and Sano are hella hard to find, in my opinion. Hot, sexy, cool, and nice to date. :]] I dunno, maybe I’m looking in the wrong places… Good post!!

  5. Thanks ^-^ Yeah unfortunately some girls have to go through a lot of bad guys before they get their Sano, Yoh and lets not forget Nakatsu 🙂

    I went through at least 3 before Hubby-sama, although only the last one was really serious. And I think you learn from each one, because I knew early on Hubby-sama was a good one, because I knew what kind of things to watch out for!

    But they can be hard to find, after all I had to look on another continent! 😉

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  8. Sakura: Really? I thought it made perfect sense that Yuki just liked TOhru as a mother. Because of how he explained it, everything that felt wrong in their romantic relationship suddenly made sense. Besides, if he really liked Tohru, I’d think he fell for Machi too quickly. But I guess manga is like every other medium. It’s all up to interpretation.

    And my friend is a lot happier now. The only one that’s unhappy is me because she’s spending too much time being happy with him (ah, I’m kidding though, I’m happy for her too).

  9. I actually thought he did fall for Machi rather quickly! LOL yeah I think its all up to interpretation. Although I will say it was so long between releases over here that I may have lost a feel for the characters.

    I should go back and re-read it, but of course I’ll be reading with foreknowledge now. ^-^

    FuyuMaiden, ahh I know how you feel concerning your friend (Poor Onee-chan is being neglected Binky-chan! 😉 just kidding Imouto save your gas! )

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  11. I read a manga recently with a tsundere boy in it. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Boys Over Flowers, Hana Yori Dango? Well, the reason why the main heroine chose the tsundere guy, Tsukasa, over the nice(?) guy, Rui, was because Tsukasa had more personality. Let’s face it, Rui had about as much personality as a rock. The one manga I can think where the heroine chose the nice guy was…um….well, I can’t think of one off the top of my head. I thought I was going to Shinshi Doumei Cross but it kind of had a “harem” ending. It sucked.

  12. @Christina, I have to agree with you there. I read Hana Yori Dango too and well Rui was pretty damned bland. The way he was drawn sometimes he practically looked comatose!

  13. This is interesting, I never thought of Sasuke as a bad boy, but he may be. Self esteem really does play a part in all this, ’cause not many young girls really know who they are. When I look at Sakura running after Sasuke I laugh, but if I was her age, I may have done the same thing!

  14. @Ria, thats true enough, Sasuke technically wouldn’t count I guess since he doesn’t seem interested in dating at all. ^-^

    But since Sakura is chasing after him I thought she’d be really good for illustrating my point about age and experience.

    I agree if I were age maybe I’d be doing the same thing. I guess that’s why I find Karin so damned annoying.

    Sakura has really matured, she isn’t that pathetic little fangirl she used to be. I assume Karin is about the same age, so to see her fawn over Sasuke sometimes is just annoying.

    I really want Sakura to completely kick the crap out of Karin. Not so much because I hate her, but more for symbolic reasons. Considering how in her behavior towards Saskue, Karin is a lot like the old Sasuke. It would be like really getting rid of her old self if Sakura were to do that.

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