Valentine’s Day & White Day in Manga
For the next few months I’ll be introducing you to the various categories of manga. From Josei to Shounen I’ll give you a brief overview of the category and some prime examples from today’s translated material. By no means will this be the most elaborate or expansive journey through the cultural phenomenon (I suggest you look up the book Manga: the Complete Guide by Jason Thompson, though a couple years out of date, its a wonderful beginner’s guide as well as resource for manga lovers) but it should serve to help you at least distinguish the differences in each category.
To get you warmed up however, and since its the month of love, I’ll talk about a concept found in almost every single shoujo or school-set manga: Valentine’s Day and White Day. Valentine’s Day is of no surprise to western readers, but White Day is a uniquely Asian custom celebrated on March 14th.
On Valentine’s Day a girl presents the boy she likes with chocolate--there by announcing her affections. On White Day however, the boy is then obligated to present the girl who’s chocolates he accepted, with a token of his own interest (usually that costs more).
In shoujo manga, especially the ones centered around romance, you will often find a guy who is loved by a great number of girls and be presented with more chocolates then a store has to sell. Here’s the trick--if he doesn’t publicly acknowledge the gift, then he doesn’t have to return it come March 14th!
The linked holidays are often exploited for comedic results in both Shoujo (girl’s comics) and Shounen (Boy’s comics) manga as a female character labors over her perfect Valentine’s Day gift or the male character tries to avoid the holiday at all costs. In the TokyoPop manga Fruits Basket (by Natsuki Takaya) the character of Kyo is so scared of being presented with chocolate from his overly ardent admirer Kagura that the mere mention of the holiday has him violently trying to escape to the mountains. Conversely in the CLAMP short anthology The One I Love, the short story of ‘Courage’ examines a young girl’s need to confess her feelings on Valentine’s Day because its such a special day.
That’s it for this month, come back next month when I tell you some more about what ‘shoujo’ is...and why the guys can sometimes be as pretty as girls!
Lexile is...your friendly, neighborhood otaku. She’s been known to wander aimlessly through bookstores, correcting customer misconceptions about manga for years--much to the chagrin of her tolerant friends and ire of the bookstore employees. You can find her at her personal blog Poisoned Rationality if she’s not busy with the mundaneness that is real life.