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What's your opinion of Harlequin comics?

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Post #295469
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2:37 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1000

I love shoujo and have since I was ten, but I've never been much into the romance novel scene. Still, I'm surrounded by people who are, and I've always been struck by the similarities between shoujo/josei and Western romance novels. There are fluffy ones for preteens, stylish, modern ones for teens, and smuttier ones for older girls. Even the attitude of the fandom towards their hobby is very similar.

All this time I had no idea Harlequin, probably the largest and most-known publisher of trashy romances, has been publishing manga based on their novels since the 1990s! They have talented Japanese artists and have until very recently been marketed squarely at the Japanese public. In the past few years, Harlequin has been taking advantage of the new Western fascination with manga and having their manga reformatted translated into English and categorized as either Harlequin Pink (more shoujo, for teen readers) or Harlequin Violet (more smut or josei, for older readers). They have also put out a few OELs done by Japanese artists and read right-to-left. (The ones that are on the market so far are not their best, in my opinion.)

What is your opinion of Harlequin having manga made of their novels? Do you think Harlequin comics are any different from typical Japanese shoujo and josei?

Last edited by akari_mizunashi at 6:56 am, Jun 6

Post #295504
user avatar
Crazy Cat Lady

4:09 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1850

I haven't read the Harlequin manga due to bad impressions left by Harlequin romance novels in the past. I read a TON of them back when I had time to read everything I could get my hands on, and they definitely tended toward the formulaic and superficial. Maybe that's changed in the last 10-20 years, though? Anyway....there are much, much better romance novels out there. (~_~)

As for the Harlequin manga, my *expectation* is that they're about on the level of some of the more formulaic and superficial shoujo/josei published in the regular manga mags. If I found one lying around, I'd probably read it purely out of curiosity, but I'm not interested enough to go buy (or even download) one. laugh

"[English] not only borrows words from other languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways, clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary."
-James Nicoll, can.general, March 21, 1992
Post #295544
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Fruit Salad

7:27 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1354

I am not one who reads shoujo smut or harlequin. And I am not even interested in the majority of shoujo and josei romances. But hopefully the harlequin manga will have better writing skills than your MINAMI Kanan and the like since they are adapted from Western novels. And hopefully the art also is more lookable (yet again, I won't read them so it doesn't matter to me).

Last edited by base_coat at 6:26 pm, Jun 6

Post #295548
user avatar

7:39 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1000

I've got a low tolerance for most modern romance novels anyway, but Harlequin definitely is some of the worst. (-_-) I'm under the impression that they're created by machine like in 1984 - pull a few levers and out comes a ready-made plot!

Plot and writing talent is a little less important in manga, though, because the art quality can pull it back up. I've only read two Harlequin mangas - one official translation that I bought and a scanlation I downloaded. Both were more melodramatic than most shoujo, I think, but no less (or more) cliché. The art in the scanned one was good, but the art in the bought one was mediocre at best.

In general, though, they're mostly indistinguishable with other fluffy shoujo and josei.

Post #295549
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Fruit Salad

7:43 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1354

Plot and writing skills are also important in manga. At least if they put efforts in these areas, hopefully there are more reasonable and consistent, and less blatant and dull plots and less stupid and awkward characters and their behaviours.

I have no opinion on Harlequin novels since I haven't read any of them. I am never against any type of trashy entertainment or melodrama. I think the crap in shoujo smut is probably related to culture and gender in Japan. I am not sure. So I guess stories from the West would be better?

Last edited by base_coat at 7:58 am, Jun 6

Post #295556
user avatar

8:14 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1000

Plot and writing is definitely important in manga, really the most important part. But because art also plays such a big role in the final product, I think the story is less important than it is in a traditional novel.

I haven't read any Harlequin novels through either, but I have friends and family that like them. The Harlequin manga I read had most of the same submissive female/dashing male one gets used to, but I think the women were a little stronger-minded or at least more Western-minded.

For the record, though, I don't think "trashy" means the same thing as "smutty", and I love melodrama along with all of the above. biggrin

Post #295557
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Fruit Salad

8:31 am, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1354

Trashy doesn't mean smutty. There are trashy movies, TV shows, music, etc. You get the idea. It doesn't even have to have a negative connotation. You hear people say, "I like____[insert cheesy pop/dance pop artist's name]. The songs are trashy but I like them!"

I thought Harlequin novels were similar to Hollywood's romantic comedy movies. But I could be wrong. Maybe other publishers' are?

What I was saying is that they are novels that get published after all and at least they shouldn't be too blatant and awkward no matter how formulatic they are, otherwise anyone can be a writer.

Last edited by base_coat at 6:10 pm, Jun 6

Post #295652
user avatar

5:53 pm, Jun 6 2009
Posts: 1000

You know, it's been a while since I read a Harlequin comic. I decided to read A Prince Needs a Princess again today to refresh my memory. And my heavens was it formulaic. But it was formulaic in an American way. The male lead is more masculine than in most shoujo, naturally. There were shopping sprees and makeovers and expensive restaurants and stunning vistas and quick-snatching-just-before-falling as are apparently necessary elements of the Harlequin-type romance. It wasn't really melodramatic. Just very cliche. Then again, the people that actually read Harlequin novels probably don't care about cliches. And the art was pretty solid josei style. Anyway, it's not really anything worth spending much time on unless you adore Harlequin.

Post #601248

11:23 am, May 30 2013
Posts: 17

Not worth the time. Trashy. Cliched. No originality.

Post #601251
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Manga Crusader

11:45 am, May 30 2013
Posts: 51

I read them and honestly, if you ever expect for there to be a decent and 'original' plot in a harlequin story, then you are barking up the wrong tree.

In fact I think they are a great little read, they are only usually only 129pgs long, so they are a quick read when I don't have a lot of time to spare. Technically, they lack things like original plot and such, but also I think they are good because they do offer a fantasy and escape from reality because, lets be honest, no-one is going to marry an actual prince XD

And just to say it again, because it seems like people don't understand, if you want ORIGINAL, then why are you reading Harlequin?! And lets remember that most of these Harlequins are manga adaptation of their novel counterparts, so if you have a problem with the plots, take it up with the original authors.

Last edited by himexcherry at 1:41 pm, May 30

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Post #601254
user avatar

12:18 pm, May 30 2013
Posts: 537

I have read a few Harlequin manga - well, let's say, I've tried reading them - just because I wanted to know what the tag "Harlequin" means. I didn't know the name derived from a certain publisher until I found this thread. Thanks for the information smile

Anyway, Harlequin manga are the worst, lifeless stories I've come across (e.g. Maddie's Love-child by Miranda Lee). Not even the most generic Shoujo (e.g. Yuuto no Shinro Kibou by Daiku Tomoko) or Josei (e.g. Otona no Yoru no Otogibanashi by TODA Megumi) can surpass their degree of stupidity when it comes to character development and storytelling. They are literally the incarnation of penny dreadfuls into manga.

As I also read Shoujo and Josei, I have to say that they do differ from Harlequins. Even if you look at more classic Shoujo (e.g. Honoka ni Purple by SAITOU Chiho), which resemble Halequin manga artwise, they give off a distinctively different vibe. Maybe it's due to the Halequins' westernized settings but generic Japanese Shoujo still have this fluffy background feeling, if you know what I mean. Like the mangaka's mindset has unconsciously incorporated the concept of "moe" and the ideals of a "Yamato Nadeshiko" which Harlequin authors lack.

Last edited by Tripitaka at 12:13 pm, Oct 12

"Stories are what death thinks he puts an end to.
He can't understand that they end in him, but they don't end with him."
- Ursula K. Le Guin, Gifts

To be savoured:
- Blood Alone by TAKANO Masayuki
- Otoyomegatari by MORI Kaoru
- Gangsta. by Kohske
- Seishun Kouryakuhon by AKIZUKI Sorata
Post #605273

1:43 am, Jun 28 2013
Posts: 11

I always thought they were "manga for newbies especially aimed towards housewives." The stories are the exact same as those cheesy romance novels you can find in the microscopic book aisle at the grocery store or convenience store.
I think its more fun reading a manga (cause u get to scan it visually to see its interesting or not) compared to reading a few passages here and there.

I'm still said they are ruining the fun in reading manga making those cheesy romance stuff thats only one volume. Makes me upset they make people ignore the classics of manga.

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