The Site

This shrine was created in August 2015 during the week of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower and is my first character shrine.

Yuyuka Nekota Yuyuka means a lot to me on a personal level. As someone with a lot of pride and great need of control when it comes to certain aspects of life, her character really speaks to me: The way she is written effectively demonstrates why it might be easier to show others a false self rather than risking for your true self to be misunderstood, but also why it might not be a good idea to maintain such a mask at all times. The quiet way her feelings for Mamura are resolved and the way she reflects on them in her side chapter also gave me the validation and perspective I needed to look back on some of my own feelings and experiences… It’s perhaps the first time in fiction that that particular message reached me, if not the first time I came across that message. As with Suzume’s monologues in Daytime Shooting Star, that quietness touched me much more than any blunt message would have. My appreciation of Yuyuka, however, goes far beyond this personal significance.

In the hands of a capable writer, one of my favourite personality traits to come across in fiction is pride — more specifically, pride as an integral part of a character: something that manifests itself in a variety of situations, positively and negatively, noted by both the character in question as well as the people they interact with, and especially in the way it affects their personal relationships. Now, male pride often seems to get highlighted in narratives, fleshing those characters out while acknowledging their complexity and willpower, even if such stubbornness may be misplaced (something that such narratives may even criticize). In contrast, I rarely come across female pride that is handled with nuance: A lot of times, female pride is written solely as arrogance and conceit — as a flaw, or as something that serves to pit women against each other — rather than a sense of self, and the self-respect and dignity that come with it. To add insult to injury, such pride is, more often than not, written as something to be “conquered” (especially with “tsundere” girls being such a popular archetype), just as women are entities to be tamed.

Similarly, when I compare current mainstream shounen to shoujo series with singular protagonists, I often feel the same neglect when it comes to female friendships. Male friendship is something that tends to be depicted as mutual inspiration that continues to grow and is reinforced (if not straight-up glorified) throughout the narrative, whereas female friendship may be treated as a given — a kind of accessory to the protagonist, to put it bluntly — rather than being highlighted and allowing both characters to mature by continuously learning from each other.

Of course, part of this is also a question of genre and setting: The most prominent shounen series are arguably action adventures, and the most prominent shoujo series are high school romances. (There’s a lot more to it, but these are usually the first genres that the two demographics are currently associated with.) Still, I would say that the above is applicable even just within high school settings: Boys yell at each other about their resolve as they work towards their own goals, whether they’re friends or rivals (or both), whereas girls tend to be either friends or rivals, and are most commonly seen having fun together or supporting each other. This is not to say that one has more value than the other (as that’s not the case at all) — but as far as narrative highlighting is concerned, the former often leaves more of an impact than the latter. In the former, both characters in the equation also tend to be acknowledged as persons of their own, whereas female friends that support the protagonist may never be presented as fully realized characters.

Even if you narrow it down to high school shoujo stories, female friendships usually take the backseat to the romance that unfolds: Whether there’s just the protagonist’s romance (and the rivalries that come with it), or whether the side characters have romances of their own, those developments receive much more focus than the relationships between the very girls who support each other. Romantic relationships pop up and develop, whereas female friendships are already established and remain stagnant. Romance being a big focus of such stories does not justify this — as mentioned under Review, the coming of age element is just as important to those stories.

Meeting Yuyuka was a breath of fresh air: Here’s a character who is fundamentally proud, and whose pride isn’t something that needs to be fixed from the root, but only insofar as it keeps her from growing. Here’s a character who grows into the role of a friend, and becomes a genuinely good friend who matures alongside the protagonist, a relationship that wasn’t and isn’t always smooth, and wherein both characters continue to learn not just from, but about each other — because they aren’t an item, and they don’t take each other for granted, because they are people with stories of their own. Here’s a relationship where you can feel both characters pulling each other along from start to finish. After experiencing someone with as much force as Yuyuka, it’s no wonder that I have a hard time being content with some depictions of female friendships in shoujo manga. For all of Daytime Shooting Star’s shortcomings, I think the relationship between Yuyuka and Suzume truly is something to be cherished.

Metamorphosis In Control was made as part of BAB’s Metamorphosis Challenge. I chose to write about a character whose metamorphosis consists of emotional growth and maturing — which isn’t so much her turning into something or someone else, but her shedding a layer of skin to reveal who she truly is. Metamorphosis is often associated with literally changing into something new and thus advancing to the next stage, something that is true for Yuyuka (someone who learns to embrace honesty without using pride as a shield, and to voice their feelings even if the outcome cannot be changed or is uncertain), but a major part of her character’s realization is also being who she has been all along and showing the world her true self without fear. It’s interesting that this kind of development is often found in fictional characters with low self-esteem, something that is met with “stop worrying about what others might think of you!”, but as Yuyuka shows, there are other reasons why one might want to hide one’s real face.

Credits Textures used are from Lost & Taken. The tutorial for the background CSS was found here. Paint the Town and Comic Neue serve as content fonts. Elysa did the fade-out of the header for me. Thanks also goes to flutterjump for suggesting the fashion section!

Linkage

If you would like to link this shrine, feel free to use one of the following buttons and direct it to http://yuyuka.oubliette.nu/! Please do not direct link buttons.

If you own a site with a subject by Mika Yamamori or a female best friend in a high school shoujo as its focus and would like to affiliate, please message me!

Ramen & Miniskirts is Sarah’s shrine to Chizuru Yoshida from Kimi ni Todoke. Chizu shares the role as a close female friend to the series’ protagonist with Yuyuka, and whether or not you’re familiar with the series, Sarah’s shrine gives you a great impression of who Chizu is, covering all kinds of aspects that may be part of your everyday life too. If you enjoy shoujo series set in high school, especially those with well-written female best friends, this shrine makes a very pleasant read!