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Since lately I've been in romance reading/watching mode ( Damn you Marimite! it's all your fault x( ) I've started thinking about which genres got the best romances. And so I decided to grade the 4 demographics genres, at how good they are at pulling love stories (this blog takes into account both mangas and animes) .
1.Josei - After some long thinking I decided to give the first place to this genre. While most stories are inferior in overall value to Seinen, in terms of Romance they are almost unbeatable (Spice and Wolf beats Josei,but this ranking isn't decided on just a single title ) . Very complex, rich characters that's one of the most oustanding features of Josei. Beatiful stuff like Honey and Clover, intriguing mangas like Tramps like us are really enjoyable experiences. I'm not too fond of stuff like Nana or Paradise Kiss, since I believe they get too close to border between romance and soap opera, but even those stories were good. Generally speaking, Josei is smallest of the four groups, but it also has lowest chance of bad title.
2. Seinen - first of all I have to take a note here, that Seinen got 2 different "branches". One is something I don't consider seinen, since it's more of a evolved shounen - stuff like Seiken no Blacksmith or Sumomo Momomo, where the only reason it's called seinen is slightly excessive violence and/or nudity. And there is the other "branch" - stories dealing with mature themes and deeper psychological circumstances (good examples are Oyasumi Punpun and Love Roma ) - and this is the type of Seinen I'm talking about.
In terms of story Seinen probably beats Josei, but since it's not as capable of delivering deep character emotions, I gave it a second place in my ranking. Generally this titles tend to either have very unusual stories, or lean towards unusual approach of normal stories. It's biggest advantage is probably the fact, that those stories seem very realistic, even if they are set in magical worlds ( Spice and Wolf for example ). Examples of great Seinen romances are previously mentioned Spice and Wolf, Love Roma and REC.
3.Shounen - good shounen romances are scarce, I'll admit that. But once they manage to get good they are hard to rival in terms of sweet story. They don't go for mature content like Josei and Seinen, nor they employ the lack of realism most of shoujo tends to use. Titles like Toradora or Hatsukoi Limited leave very high impressions, without much negative emotions.
Still that's only the cream of the crop. Unfortunately most of the genre is haunted by one of the 3 major flaws. One is tendency to change into Harem. There aren't many thing that can spoil good romance so much, as the situation where 5 girls like one guy, and there aren't many hard feelings between them. Second flaw is often connected to first - wimpy main character. Shounen romances usually have the worst male leads possible - dense, wimpy, undecisive and annoying are only some of the adjectives that fit them. Finally the third flaw many shounen romance have is the lack of realistic emotions.
4. Shoujo - the weakest of the 4 demographics genre, in terms of romance (ugh.. fangirls, please don't kill me? kkthbye). The best of the shoujo titles are flawed versions of josei. They can't deliver comparable results either in the terms of story or in terms of realistic approach ( oh I could get started about how stupid was latest valentine development in Skip Beat, but it would be too spoilerific :] They are on similar level as top of the Shounen romances, but they tend to employ more drama, some of it very unreasonable. They also often have troubles with good character development - or rather it takes them more time, than the other genres. Good examples of great shoujo romances are Skip Beat and Kare Kano.
But that's not why Shoujo is at the last place. As I mentioned before - the top of this genre is comparable to top of Shounen, so it should be a tie, right? The problem is everything that isn't the top. Bad shounen romances tend to get stupid, but bad shoujo romances are nothing less than soap operas. Nonsensical situations , swaying emotions, cliche and predictable developments - that's common occurence for many shoujo romances. Also shoujo is probably the only genre (apart from hentai) where raped woman, for no real reason, can fall in love with the rapist. You don't believe me? Go read Sensei no Okiniri, or Love Celeb. Or wait, erase that - they are crap, don't read them.