the_sun_is_up: A lovestruck Tamamin from Girl Friends making a boob-grabbing gesture. (gf - grabby hands)
[personal profile] the_sun_is_up
Today I was taking a walk, and I got to musing about the fighting shonen genre. Now in Western culture (and I glean that Japanese culture is somewhat similar), we have this trope called A Man Is Not A Virgin, in which it's taken for granted that all post-pubescent male characters have already had sex at some point in the past, because if they hadn't, then it would be like soooo embarrassing you guys.

With that in mind, why are so many fighting shonen protagonists virgins? And not just regular virgins, but naive, oblivious, pure-as-the-driven-snow virgins, grew-up-in-a-male-monastery virgins, still-thinks-babies-come-from-the-stork virgins.

I realize that most fighting shonen series are minimal-to-nil on the romance subplot front, because teenage boys are not interested in reading about soapy relationship drama, or so I'm told. However I do seem to recall teenage boys being very interested in sex. It's one thing to have a shonen protagonist who has no steady girlfriend or hasn't noticed his female friend carrying a torch for him; it's quite another to have him be seemingly unaware that girls even exist and to completely avoid any sort of fooling around with the opposite sex.

Let's run through some examples: Ichigo — no girlfriend, and the only time he displayed interest in girls was when he freaked out at Yoruichi being a nudist; Goku — thought marriage was a type of food; Naruto — unusual in that he has a very loud crush on a girl, and his invention of the Sexy Jutsu demonstrates his interest in naked women, but since he raised himself, he still seems pretty naive on the birds-and-bees front; Sasuke — borderline asexual; Train from Black Cat — borderline asexual; Luffy — canonically asexual; Sousuke Sagara — okay his series isn't really fighting shonen, but I think he deserves a mention because he's a teenage action hero who is (you guessed it) borderline asexual. Light from Death Note is at least perceptive enough to notice the effect he has on girls and to exploit it for his own non-sex-related gain, but he's still another one for the borderline asexual pile. This pattern even shows up in GioGio's Bizarre Adventure — early in the arc we see Giorno at a restaurant with a bunch of girls swarming around him and offering to buy him food, but he tells them to go away because he'd rather be alone. Then when Trish shows up, out of the six boys, Giorno has the least amount of sexual/romantic tension with her. And from what I've heard, Allen from D Grayman, Natsu from Fairy Tail, and Juudai from Yugioh GX are all similar cases.

Even some fighting seinen series adhere to this trend. Guts and Vash are hardly oblivious to sex and romance, but they're still staunchly celibate for most of their respective series, despite Guts having almost every single female in the cast crushing on him.

In Mahou Sensei Negima, there's this arc that introduces aging pills, and the two male characters use them to age up from 10 to 15, which gets all the 14-year-old harem-ettes into a tizzy, because they keep crushing on the extremely bishie 15-year-old Negi and Kotaro, but then they'll belatedly remember that the boys are still only 10 years old on the inside. I remember someone on Fandom Wank quipping that aged-up Negi and Kotaro were like the quintessential shonen heroes: physically teenagers, but mentally children, especially when it comes to girls/sex/romance. (Kotaro in particular is still very much in the "girls have cooties" phase.) And I think that F_W person really nailed it. So many fighting shonen heroes have a mentality toward girls and sex that doesn't match up with their age, to the point where I start to wonder if they all have hormonal imbalances or something. Or they really are asexual. Or they're gay.

Speaking of which, this trend of the Chaste Shonen Hero is a major reason for why there's so goddamn much HoYay in the genre. A lot of these guys seem to be disinterested in and/or unaware of the opposite sex because they're too busy pouring all their energy into their intense obsessive rivalries and friendships with their male peers. I don't know, I have trouble picturing most real-life teenage boys being like, "No, I don't want to stare at boobs all day and get fawned over by sexy ladies, because I'd rather go daydream about rolling around on the ground, sweatily grappling with my arch-rival. Who is a dude." But that exact line of thinking is quite common in fighting-shonen-land.

This trend becomes especially bizarre when you look at the other side of shonen, the rom-com/harem/magical girlfriend/fanservice shonen, because those protagonists tend to be the exact opposite. Either they're gleefully unrepentant lechers, or they're accidental perverts who feel guilty about falling into cleavage all day long but nevertheless are keenly interested in making it with the ladies. Either way, your average rom-com shonen hero spends a lot of time thinking about boning. I don't know, maybe it's some kind of "I don't like to mix the flavors on my plate" kind of thing; teenage boys like fist-pumping action, and they like titties, but they don't like having both at the same time? Although the existence of the Panty Fighter genre proves that theory completely wrong.

Anyway I'm not sure why so many shonen protagonists are adorably clueless virgins, but I find this pattern interesting.

Date: 2012-10-03 06:53 am (UTC)
cypsiman2: I still believe in my dreams (Default)
From: [personal profile] cypsiman2
In the case of characters like Luffy, the asexuality/obliviousness to sex seems meant to be comedic, it is supposed to be funny that someone so popular with women would be so unaware and thus would not reap the benefits of their fortune.

In the case of characters like Juudai, the shows are so vigorously toyetic that relationships outside the context of the product being pushed do not exist for the protagonist.

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