READERS PLEASE NOTE: This article was published
Not every beautiful guy is good at heart
Shoujo anime is a subcategory of anime mainly targeted towards younger females. It is known for being centred around love and romantic conflict. Popular shoujo anime includes Sailor Moon, Fruits Basket, and Ouran High School Host Club. Shoujo anime is fun because it involves exaggerated romantic worlds that we can fantasize about. However, no matter how swoon-worthy characters may be it’s unrealistic to base life on cartoons no matter how much they influence us. Though it may be easier to archetype people and situations, human beings are more dimensional than the TV tropes we’d like to associate with them. I learned that the hard way through my experiences.
The idea of a prince on a white horse is a prevalent fairytale idea of romance. In shoujo anime, the idea is similar where instead of a prince there is a prince-like male love interest. The word bishounen literally translates to “beautiful boy.” The idea works like the halo effect, where one good trait of someone influences people’s perception of their other traits. In the bishounen case, it’s assumed that because he’s beautiful he’s a good guy.
I met someone who I thought was very good-looking during summer school last year and they completely crushed my perception of this trope. I was wrapping up a conversation with a boy about a book he enjoyed and I was about to head out the door before he stopped me. He pointed to his foot and said he was bleeding and then proceeded to fake-limp around the room. The whole time we were walking to the subway he was groaning about his bleeding foot. He kept saying, “Every step is pain.” I was baffled as to why he was making such a big deal about it, especially since he showed me his ankle and there was only a tiny spot of blood on it. In any case, I found myself consoling him.
I told my mother and my friends about the guy and they told me without a second thought that he was trying to seek my sympathy. I recalled how earlier in our conversation he joked about being “a compulsive liar.” It didn’t take me long to register that not every pretty-looking guy is good at heart.
The jerk with a heart of gold
This idea is that the rough-around-the-edges love interest is a misunderstood soul who is seeking someone who will finally understand him. The better definition of what he’s seeking is a girl who will tolerate his toxic behaviour because of her infatuation with him.
When I was in middle school there was a boy that all the other boys followed. It didn’t take long after I transferred to the school that he began bothering me. He said things that would count as sexual harassment towards me. I firmly believe it was because he had turned his attention to me that that was why his other friends also began bothering me and my friends as well. However, there was one boy who was on my side and he ended up getting into a fight with that boy. They threw desks, metal clanging against each other, across our math classroom and were circling each other, wild-eyed, while our usually-gentle math teacher screamed for them to stop.
I excused all of that jerk’s behaviour because sometimes he would be nice to my friends and me. As far as I’ve heard, he hasn’t changed. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself not to count on him having a heart of gold.
That soulmates are easy to find
There is a cliche scene in shoujo anime where a girl will be running late for school while a piece of toast dangles from her mouth. That girl runs around a corner and crashes into the boy who is destined for her. The unrealistic expectation is that soulmates aren’t difficult to get.
I received a proposal from a young man who lived in Dubai. His family had connections with my dad’s side. I had received his biodata, a sheet explaining his occupation, height, hobbies and more. He wrote in his biodata that he could juggle and I referred to him as ‘the juggler.’ Last December, I went to Dubai to visit family and my parents wanted to have dinner with him and his family. I told them strictly that I had no interest in this guy. Dinner was good but I ruined it. I had never known anyone who could juggle so I asked the guy to juggle while I filmed him. My dad had thought I was interested in the guy and teased me. I was very upset.
I showed my cousins the video and told them about how there was no chemistry during dinner and they said that the guy didn’t seem right for me. I wholeheartedly agreed and it turns out that the guy didn’t even want to leave Dubai so that proposal went down the drain.
That was my failed version of running around a corner with toast in my mouth. Finding a soulmate isn’t as easy as one dinner with next-to-no conversation. Huge life decisions like marriage take effort and time.
Shoujo anime is filled with sparky-eyed characters and dreamy romance but after contemplating it I can now say, in the scope of my life, it’s not realistic. Sometimes the bishounen in your life sucks, and the jerk you met was never a secret sweetheart and you could run around the corner a thousand times and you still wouldn’t bump into your soulmate. I’m fine with all that. We live in the real world and real people can be flawed, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find someone right for you.