I may be a shoujo manga reviewer, but there is a deep love for anything shounen in my heart. The first anime I ever watched was Naruto and I’ve been hooked ever since. Soon, I got into shoujo as well through a mutual friend and I fell in love with it. It was after this that I realized that I am unable to watch just one type or the other by themselves. I need a good balance of both for my entertainment purposes and I think that others may benefit from watching a type of anime they aren’t used to. You may really be a pure-action sort of person, but trying out a different type of show my benefit you more than you think.
As a super fan of both types of anime, I’m here to help! Read on for my thoughts on what a shounen lover may like about shoujo and what a shoujo viewer could get from shounen series!
One of the problems I have always had with only watching action series is the pacing. I am a marathoner at heart and I’ve watched sets of 300-500 episodes in a row at times. Watching this many episodes is, of course, tiring, and all of us who do so can admit that things can feel a bit monotonous. In longer series, battles can last ten episodes with little change and arcs can fall into similar patterns. The frequency of filler episodes can also be obnoxious when you want to get on with the proper story. Shoujo anime is very good with pacing. They often have far fewer episodes and the plot can move at a very quick pace compared to action series. Many plots are limited to a single episode with quick resolution and because many series are generally light-hearted and entertaining at all times, and there is less of a pointless filler feeling.
Another problem I have with a shoujo withdrawal is that shounen can be super serious, full of supernatural occurrences, and lacking in the romance department. Now, I understand that shoujo is made for romance, but I have seen plenty of action anime that succeed in this department without losing their purpose. Watching shoujo will obviously help with romance and it is especially good for those desperate shippers who are looking for some actual rewards after watching their ships take a backseat for 200 episodes (*cough* *cough* Naruto and Bleach anyone?). Most of the shoujo anime I watch are also hilarious and comforting after watching a bunch of dark action. The kids are typically fairly normal and easy to relate to which can be a nice break from chasing around exorcists all of the time.
Ironically, a huge problem I have with watching too much shoujo anime all in a row is pacing as well. Shoujo can get tiring after a while because the events are so normal. It is usually up to the characters to spice up the plot, and if they fall flat, it can be hard to be motivated to watch. I often have to pick up a shounen series to watch every couple of episodes because I get bored of the normalcy. This is a perfect reason for a shoujo lover to start a shounen series. They are very exciting and usually end in cliffhangers that keep you invested. They are very easy to get through quickly because exciting events are always happening.
Shoujo can also get tedious with the repetitive nature of the main storylines. Many are unique enough to sustain themselves, but it can seem like there are a lot of dramatic cultural festivals and Christmas parties as well as many ridiculous misunderstandings that occur solely because of dishonesty. There can also be a lot of annoyingly stereotyped characters that can get frustrating. Although many of these problems occur in shounen as well, it is nice to be able to watch somebody face off against a world-threatening problem instead of choosing who to ask to the dance. There is something inherently satisfying about seeing the crap get beaten out of somebody until they unleash the ultimate power and kick the bad guy’s ass. I never get tired of watching shounen characters beat all the odds in such a fantastic way. The storylines of action shows are also repetitive, but just switching to a different genre is really helpful to break up the monotony.
For any shoujo lovers looking for a good starter shounen series, I have a couple recommendations. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is really good because it has lots of action, yet the battles are usually restricted to a reasonable amount of episodes. The plot is really well thought out and there is enough real romance to sustain a person’s romance quota. Durarara!! would also be good because it is heavily focused on characters and their everyday lives. Action is incorporated often, but it is a character driven show like many shoujo anime are and it can be a nice way to incorporate a bit of light shounen.
Ouran High School Host Club is a great shoujo starter because it is absolutely hilarious and doesn’t focus heavily on romance. The show pokes fun at many popular shoujo tropes in a really great way and the main heroine is normal and easy to relate to no matter your gender. I would also recommend Princess Tutu. It follows a shounen-like pattern in its regular battles and fantasy story. The plot is very well done and complex, and the characters are strong enough to leave romance out of the important issues. The use of fairy tales and music in this anime are also fantastic.
I don’t feel fully entertained unless I watch both of these genres. Hopefully this post will help some of you find out what kind of balance you need as well. What are you waiting for, otaku? Bust out the Netflix queue and get started with widening your outlook!