|In Library Wars, Kasahara's tallness--specifically her|
|being taller than her leading man--is a recurring motif.|
|It is handled cutely--and Kasahara herself grows to|
|appreciate her height. Dojo never minded.|
A common trope in romance (and unfortunately in reality) is when a potential suitor decides to "nobly" sacrifice his dream of a beautiful woman hanging on his every word by "settling" for a smart, plain girl. The potential suitor as well as the plain girl's family, friends (and presumably her hamsters) then expect her to be profoundly grateful, even indebted to him, for his choice. Even if he himself is totally ordinary looking. And even if he himself is so tedious it makes her brain want to die.
Mr. Collins is alive and well.
American romance struggles with this issue. Heroines are sometimes beautiful, sometimes plain, sometimes average, sometimes cute, sometimes unusual. Sometimes, as in Persuasion, beauty is in the eye of beholder (Wentworth is convinced at the end that he never said anything disparaging about Anne's looks). Sometimes, as in The Grand Sophy, Sophy's extroverted hutzpah accompanied by handsome looks make such a strong and disarming first impression that issues of looks rarely enter the story (kudos to Heyer--this approach is somewhat unusual). Sometimes, as in Jane Eyre, looks are not supposed to be the point (since Rochester is supposed to be "not handsome" and Jane is supposed to be "plain") yet keep cropping up as Rochester and Jane compare themselves against possible rivals.
And the list goes on.
|Ukes in Yugi Yamada's manga are often|
|quite gentle looking. Sometimes they are|
|are actually more like Seyun (see below)|
|but Shoichi is as gentle as he looks.|
It's the sort of thing that makes one understand why teenage girls go all Gothy and read depressing literature about people falling out of buildings or killing everybody at the prom.
My problem: I like romances. I'm also enough of a realist to know that human beings being what they are, looks have and are and will be common discussion fodder, not only in the media but in literature and art (I draw my own personal line at gossip based on comparative statements).
|Seyun is a sweet-faced uke who fights|
|like a demon. The disparity is part|
|of the plot/relationship.|
For instance, male characters in yaoi (with some exceptions) are often handsome, tall, and reserved (Darcy all over the place). These traits are mentioned. However, at the back of the comments is the soft implication that standing out for being so handsome is nice and all but couldn't it be kind of, well, show off-y?
The same is true for beautiful girls in shojo. Is it really such a good thing?
That is, the cultural default isn't handsomeness. The cultural default is being ordinary. The beautiful girl and handsome guy are certainly the objects of attention (squeals and adoration) but that attention can backfire.
Ordinary people don't have to apologize for being ordinary, which seems, considering the number of ordinary people in the world, a far more civilized approach than not.