Damn, I wanted to post a lot of stuff during my week off, but I was depressed over my financial situation and didn't feel like writing. :( Yes, I will at least inquire about getting a job somewhere this week.
Anyhow, there's this odd article over at Anime News Network about a new shoujo manga magazine in Japan aimed at a male audience, Futuabasha publishing's Comic High. What's odd about it? Nothing really, except that "shoujo manga" means "girls' comics". There's nothing wrong with guys liking shoujo manga; I'm currently buying GALS! by Mihona Fujii and Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, both aimed originally at teenage girls in Japan. But... how can you have girl's comics aimed at boys? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of calling it "shoujo manga"? Not all shounen manga (boy's comics) are mindless fighting or "fan service" (gratuitous T&A); there are plenty of so-called shounen manga, like Izumi Matsumoto's Kimagure Orange Road, that are character and relationship-driven in a way identical to some shoujo manga. This just further proves that "shoujo" is a largely meaningless label.
I was pleased by this response I wrote in the ANN forum.
Ugh, all it points to, really, is that *nobody* has any idea what "shoujo" actually means anymore.
Eh, one can claim that both this magazine and CLAMP's shounen forays like Angelic Layer, Chobits, and XXXHolic, are blurring the lines between shoujo and shounen, but, really, the lines have been blurred for years and "shoujo" and "shounen", for a lot of titles "in the middle, somewhere", are just arbitrary designations based solely on the magazines in which the comics appear.
I'm trying to figure out what male-oriented shoujo would entail... my best guess is that they'll take certain specific style elements more common to shoujo, like large-eyed girls, symbolic flowers, thinner lines, and minimalist-shading (yes, I know there are shoujo manga that don't use those vague rules), but they'll change the mathematics of the situation, so that, instead of reverse-harems (a lot more guys than girls, like in Fushigi Yuugi or Fruits Basket) or rough equilibriums (about the same number of guys and girls, like in GALS! or Marmalade Boy), we'll have... erm... reverse-reverse-harems, or, more simply, "harems" (one guy, many girls... like... umm... Tenchi Muyo, but more flowery).
Maybe they'll also tone down the yaoi relationships and bring the ambiguous friendships between females up a notch or two. Unless they figure, and I have no idea one way or the other whether or not this is true, that a disproportionately high number of the male readers of shoujo are gay or bisexual (or "fluid"... or plain old "bi-curious"), in which case, I suppose, they'd keep the yaoi content more or less the same but try and make the relationships a little more reflective of the true experiences of the gay/bi male reader and not just cater to the fantasies of the yaoi fangirls. (Note that I said "disproportionately high", by which I mean, compared to the incidence of homosexuality or bisexuality in the general population, not "the majority of male readers" or even "the plurality". In any event, I said that I have no idea, I was just floating that scenario.)
Or they'll have stories like Marmalade Boy, but told from the point of view of the guy (in which case it would be like the half-hour Marmalade Boy "movie"). Or maybe just stories where the protagionist is a female, but one guys can relate to; strong-headed and independent and not going around whining about Tamahome all the time... a heroine whom is more Ran Kotobuki (or Utena Tenjou) than Miaka Yuuki.
Also, on a similar topic, and I don't feel like starting a new post to point out this article, Jesse Betteridge talks about why he thinks shoujo anime would work on Canadian TV. He also makes an interesting observation, that there are a heckuvalot of commercials for feminine hygiene products during YTV's broadcasts of Inu Yasha, indicating that YTV or their sponsors looked at research on who exactly was watching Inu Yasha and they found that the audience for that show is overwhelmingly female, even though, in Japan, Inu Yasha is a boy's comic/cartoon (though it's from Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Urusei Yatsura and Ranma ½, whom was one of the first women to make it big in a male-dominated field of manga). Yeah, I can vouch for that; anecdotally, in pretty much every blog I've ever read where the writer is a fan of Inu Yasha, the writer is a female fangirl of the series.