I’ve been reading Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun lately. Since it’s 4-koma, it’s a great little manga to pick up and read a few pages here and there whenever I need a laugh. I’m having a great time with it. And because of it, I have been thinking about Shoujo anime more and I wanted to remember the ones I liked.

So I went to my AniList, sorted by rating (which means nothing because past Irina has weird tastes in anime that I don’t always recognize) and decide to go from the top-rated and pick my top 5 shoujos.

And let me tell you, I really don’t watch much shoujo at all. In fact, I gave up and added some Josei just to be able to come up with a top 5. But it’s not entirely my fault. Almost nothing is Shoujo. Even Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is actually a shonen, apparently. Whaaaa??

Anyways, after sifting through a lot of stuff these are the top 5 anime on my watched list that other people also consider as shoujo (or Josei…)

5. Revolutionary Girl Utena

The demographic on this one seems debatable. I have seen it listed as shoujo, josei and shonen. But the manga seems to always be considered a shoujo so let’s go with that. Besides, Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of those anime that really made me think about femininity and what it means to me and as such leaving it off this list just seems wrong.

Also, why isn’t it higher? See what I mean about past me having no taste in anime?

In any case. Revolutionary Girl Utena has made a very strong impression on the anime watching public and pushed the boundaries of what a shoujo could be. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a try. It’s weird and also quite wonderful.

4. Given

The first Josei on my list. Why is it considered for older audiences when there is nothing spicier than kissing in the entire manga and anime? I’ll give you one guess.

Given was my surprise hit of the season. Having been at best indifferent to the manga, I wasn’t expecting much out of the anime but I fell in love with it. All of it. The characters, plot and even sappy love story all drew me in. I would watch another season any time and I am happy to include it on my list of favourite shoujo (and Josei) anime!

3. Ouran High School Host Club

I was so relieved to see this was in fact a shoujo. I think it would have rocked my world if I found out it was a seinen or something. Ouran High School Host Club is one of the first anime I remember watching as an adult well before I started this blog. And it sort of embodies everything I think of when I think of shoujo.

A strong and well-defined female lead. A bevy of pretty boys embodying a lot of the stereotypes traditionally considered attractive in boys. A light and breezy love story and just a bit of drama here and there.

What I’m saying is the Ouran didn’t do anything revolutionary at all, it just did what it did quite well. And for that, it’s one of my favourites.

2. Sarazanmai

The second Josei on my list and after seeing that Penguindrum was a Seinen I did not expect this one to make the cut. And once again, I’m not sure why it did. Anime demographics are a mysterious thing. That’s why I enjoy looking them up once in a while. It’s always full of surprises.

I do believe that the exact same story could have been put together with three girls instead of three boys and nothing would have been lost. And I really loved Sarazanmai. I sort of wish they would release the gender-bent version. I want to watch that show.

1. Natsume’s Book of Friends

To the great shock of everyone, Natsume’s Book of Friends is my favourite shoujo. I recently read through xxxHOLiC and because the two were so similar I thought that it would be one too but no, it’s a seinen. This tells me that young men would probably really enjoy Natsume’s Book of Friends! Yup that’s what I got from that.

Natsume is an experience and a comfort. I love it dearly. It is the only manga that I collect and read as it gets published. I’m not even sure what I would do with myself if a new season of the anime got announced. I would probably just radiate pure happiness in the form of disco lights and vanilla scent for a month or so. You may think I’m exaggerating but I’m pretty sure that exact thing will happen. Go ahead and prove me wrong Shuka!

So you may be wondering what all these anime have in common. And I am wondering that as well. One thing I’m starting to notice is that shoujo anime may just not be what I think it is.

Do you have a favourite Shoujo? Is it this shoujo? Actually, that should have been my number 1 pick as well. But if you have a beloved shoujo that is not on my list (Yona comes to mind) do let me know. I was a little disturbed by the lack of shoujo on my watch list…

14 thoughts

  1. I can’t really name many shoujo anime I like, but I’m a huge, huge shoujo romance manga fan. I guess maybe Fruits Basket counts as Shoujo, now that I think about it, and I really should watch season 2. Also, the collector’s edition volumes of Fruits Basket look stunning. I’m getting distracted.

    I can name one Shoujo manga that I really, really enjoyed: Love so Life. If you’ve never read it, it’s about a young girl who babysits for a news reporter that had to suddenly take care of his niece and nephew. She (obviously, it’s a romance show) slowly falls for him, and it’s all very well done I think. I remember reading this on the bus after long days of internship teaching and I was worried some of my students saw me cry in public 😛

  2. Trying to decide what’s shojo or not can be frustrating sometimes. By strict definitions the only thing that matters is the demographic of the magazine where the manga is published, so even a flowery love story can technically be a shonen if WSJ or Shonen Sunday happens to carry it. But then you get into manga that switch in mid-run (shonen to seinen seems to be the most common change), manga that run in magazines without a demographic target, and anime that don’t come from manga at all, and eventually it just makes you want to throw your hands up in the air.

    Escaflowne, one of my favorite anime, is one that kinda falls in that nebulous area. Technically it’s anime-original, but it also got two manga adaptations, one a shonen version and one a shojo version. Personally I count it as a shojo just because it feels very shojo despite the giant mechs. Same with Princess Tutu, which got a short manga run in a shonen magazine after the anime was already over but really feels like classic shojo at heart. So I’d count my top five shojo anime as something like:

    Escaflowne
    Cardcaptor Sakura
    Princess Tutu
    Fruits Basket remake
    Kare Kano

    Although I’m probably forgetting something anyway.

  3. Utena aside, MAL tells me my top three shoujo are Nana, Kare Kano & Hotarubi no Mori e. Surely you must’ve watched the latter by now?

    Nozaki-kun completes the top five, because it’s a goddamn shoujo & I won’t hear otherwise.

    1. I have not!!! I’m afraid I will be sad for some reason. But I love Kare Kano, why isn’t it on the list. Past Irina is a moron

  4. It doesn’t surprise me that Given is josei. At the start of the season Mafuyu already had a relationship behind him, and they’re all university age characters. Shoujo romances tend towards first love stuff, and usually has a highschool/middleschool setting (there are sub-divisions). It’s definitely the same demographic as, say, Nana (and unless I’m very mistaken, that’s josei, too – and as we see below, I can be very mistaken).

    But in the end, there are always manga that could be both and end up in whatever magazine buys them. So I’m thinking there’s a huge could-be-either zone. I personally could see Natsume do well with any demographic. I wonder if there are manga that switched demographics without changing content? It’s possible.

    My problem with such a list would primarily be that I just don’t know what shows are what demographic. I’m very often wrong. And it’s not even always easy to research. For example: Is Tonari no Kaibutsu kun shoujo or josei? It’s apparently published in a magazine called Dessert. German Wikipedia says it’s a josei magazine; English Wikipedia says it’s a shoujo/josei magazine (and I don’t know how to interpret the slash). MAL tags it with shoujo. That’s good enough for me, so it goes onto my list. If there’s anything to take away from this here, I’d say that we shouldn’t read too much into the divisions. I also really liked Kimi ni Todoke. I’m pretty sure that’s shoujo.

    I quite liked A Little Snow Fairy Sugar, too, but it turns out that’s shounen.

    Akatsuki no Yona turns out to be shoujo; I loved that one.

    And I’m really looking forward to Fruits Basket concluding next season (well, starting to conclude next season; it’s probably going to be two-cour). That’s shoujo, too… isn’t it?

    Shugo Chara was fun, though I’ve only seen one season so far.

    I thought the underrated short Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note was a shoujo mystery, but it appears to not be a manga, but a series of novels so it’s out of that entire loop; wikipedia calls them “children’s novels”, but that could still fit in the younger shoujo tier, I think? (There’s no demographics tag on MAL.)

    At that point, I think I’d have given up, so adding some josei by design takes the pressure off and is a move I approve of.

    1. I also have no clue. I just went through my list and looked up the demo of anything I thought might be shoujo. I was 90% wrong…

    2. Kodansha’s Japanese site calls Dessert shoujo. NANA is also shoujo.

      Anyway, Ouran is a lot of fun. And Sailor Moon will always be a classic for me and hard to dethrone as my favorite even though it’s not the best.

      1. I still haven’t seen NANA and I don’t know why I forgot about Sailor Moon. I guess I assumed Magical Girl was shonen

  5. Those are some great picks! I think Ghost Hunt is my favourite shoujo anime, though Sailor Moon and Fruits Basket would have to be on that list, as well.

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