The New York Times covered shojo manga in an article titled Manga for Girls. Most of the article reads like the typical news coverage of manga that I’m used to seeing in mainstream media – an explanation of what it is and discussing the popularity of manga in bookstores.
The article outlines some of the plots that are typically found in shojo manga, and spends a few paragraphs discussing the shonen ai genre, referencing Fake.
Susan at Chicken Spaghetti was wondering about the article’s alarmist tone. I do think that the author spends a bunch of time outlining plot points that parents may object to, and there’s a general sense from some of the librarians quoted that there haven’t been many challenges to manga in libraries yet, but there probably will be more complaints in the future. I think this is correct – I would not be surprised if there are more attempts to pull manga off the shelves of libraries in the future. I do think that parents may be surprised by some of the content in manga, especially if they are only familiar with comic books from their own childhoods (Archie comics or superhero comics). There are also cultural differences which may lead to some misunderstandings of some of the stories portrayed in manga.
The author tends to focus mostly on some of the storylines in manga that are somewhat sexual in nature, I would have liked to see a bit more balance in the titles mentioned. I know that shonen ai and yaoi books are really popular, but when I’m tired of reading shojo, I enjoy some of the books that focus on comedy and daily life like Yotsuba&! and Love Roma. I wonder if someone not too familiar with manga would assume after reading this article that most titles focus on pretty young men smooching each other, when there are really quite a variety of shojo titles out there to choose from.
I liked seeing all the librarians quoted who are very active in reviewing and promoting manga, I recognized several names from the Graphic Novels in Libraries List. I thought that the last part of the article was a good summary of some of the future plans of the manga publishers. Overall, I thought it was a good article, and my quibbles center around the titles the author chose to emphasize.