So first of all, wow, this shit can get dark. I always think it’s funny people think shoujo manga is all fluffy romance and rainbows, when even the most popular shoujo manga seems to have like, horrible abuse, people getting blinded, small children getting the shit beaten out of them and psychological drama.Shoujo can be a lot more intense than shonen, is what I’m saying. Every single character in this manga has issues upon issues.
Also l love that even though this manga puts a lot of emphasis on Tohru’s relationship with the boys and it’s about romance and stuff, there’s an equal emphasis on the importance of female friendship and relationships? Tohru adores her Mom so much, and holds her up as like, her role model and the person who made her who she was. She’s always quoting her Mom’s wisdom and looking to her Mom for comfort, and she’s determined to make it through high school for her Mom. And her mother’s not conventional either, she’s an ex-gang leader who was a legendary asskicker, but totally devoted herself to her daughter and became a loving responsible person. And then Tohru already has two best girlfriends who love her to death and would do anything to protect her, and they get chapters about how they met and came to love each other and even as the manga goes on, Tohru still consistently treats them as just as important as her love interests and sneaks into dangerous places to help her pining friend the same way she goes all out to help the boys. And Kagura knows Kyo likes Tohru instead of her, but doesn’t resent Tohru for it and they’re friends.
And you know, I see a lot of this in shoujo manga? Even romance stuff has such an emphasis on postive relationships between women? And women thinking of each other as pretty or admiring each other? I wonder if it’s the culture or the genre or the fact it’s written by women…certainly, since it’s considered normal in Japan for young girls to have crushes on each other (though they’re expected to “grow out of it”), that might account for the fact girls freely think of each other as cute and gush over each other’s prettiness instead of it being cause for jealousy. It’s just interesting.
I also think this is an example of a love triangle not really being annoying, and I think that’s because (so far) Kyo and Yuki haven’t fought over Tohru or pressured her to pick one of them. And that’s really the element that makes love triangles annoying- the entitlement, the forced drama, the misogyny. We either have dudes pressuring the girl, forcing a girl into a decision, kissing her without her permission, saying “hey I’m entitled to your love” (Twilight, Hunger Games) and yet if the guy’s the center of the triangle, he totally gets away with playing around with the two girls (Korra). But Yuki and Kyo are just happy to be around Tohru because she’s such a good friend, and even though they’ve both admitted to themselves they love her, and they fight over literally everything else they’re not fighting over who “gets” her. Like, they respect her too much for that. Nor are they pressuring her- Kyo even said if she falls in love with someone, he’ll cooperate. This might change since I’m only on volume 13 but, so far, I really like that aspect.