wMay 28, 2008

Panel Report: Shoujo Bodies

Panel Report: Sponteaneous Panel: Shoujo Bodies ♦ 7:30pm, Saturday

Most bodies in shoujo manga are thin and wispy, with an emphasis on androgyny. Many of the men tend to lack muscle definition (think Yuu Watase), while the women are much less curvy than their shounen manga counterparts. What does this mean to us? What other body types are there in shoujo manga? We will hopefully talk about gender-bending, cross-dressing, body image, and the fashion industry. Suggested series to discuss: After School Nightmare, Paradise Kiss, Walkin' Butterfly, Angel Sanctuary, Fruits Basket, W Juliet, Rose of Versailles, and Princess Knight.

This panel was organized by and , and it was pretty awesome. For some reason, I don't talk much at Wiscon panels, so even though this one was less than 10 people, I still didn't say much. In my defense, I was quite tired, but still very excited. What follows is basically a list of titles of manga series, with the small amount of commentary I wrote down. Again, I was tired.

also wrote up this panel with a better summary than I did, and also caught some series titles that I missed.

Princess Knight is apparently the first shoujo anime, made by the creator Astro Boy, etc. The Japanese title is Ribbon Knight. The protagonist is a woman whose father wanted a son, and thus raised her as one. It sounds very much like the premise of the manga/anime series Rose of Versailles, although this one of course came first.

After School Nightmare sounded just plain awesome. The protagonist is an intersex character who wants to be male, but is biologically female from the waist-down. He menstruates. The plot sounds just plain awesome, with students encountering their worst nightmares at their school, after class. It was noted that girls' nightmares often involved aspects of themselves, while boys' nightmares were usually something else.

Baby & Me - a story in which a male protagonist is used to discuss traditionally female problems: how it can suck to care for a baby because you can't easily hang out with your friends, go to school, or date.

NANA - I've already read ~15 volumes of this series and watched the anime. The narration style of the story was mentioned, in that it is two women having a conversation. In NANA, the plot is driven by internal character development, but music and fashion and the characters' appearance is still very, very important.

Mars is an older series that starts off with the female lead being a timid character afraid of the world because of abuse. In one particularly notable scene, she describes this abuse to someone else, who sympathizes, "You must have felt really scared." The protagonist replies, "No, I was furious," with some violent imagery on the page. Then, this valid anger of the woman is set aside, and the story then focuses on the male lead.

We discussed briefly how male characters often experience physical trauma (losing an eye!), while female bodies are often left untouched. Women are also not often scarred permanently, whereas male characters are.

In Rurouni Kenshin, a scar on the cheek is used to mark the protagonist (who has a round face and therefore feminine features) as a man.

Other series that were mentioned:
Princess Princess (at an all-boys school, some boys must cross-dress into frilly clothing so that the other boys have something to look at)
Walking Butterfly
Rose of Versailles (I have watched most of this)
Angel Sanctuary
High School Debut
Hana Monogatari (1920s book, where shojo manga gets its style from)
The Tale of Genji (a novel)
Kitchens - Banana Yoshimoto Link!

The Nanami's egg episode in Revolutionary Girl Utena is totally all about menstruation and pregnancy. The pregnancy, I got. The menstruation, I missed. I need to rewatched Utena.

Whee! I'd love to read After School Nightmare and Princess Knight, for sure. I intend to check out the other stuff, too.

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scribbled mystickeeper at 9:59 PM

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