Shōjo is the best. It’s a category of manga and anime targeted primarily toward young girls, and it can be any genre as well, from romance to horror to fantasy. It’s — generally — light-hearted, character-driven, and gives me warm, fuzzy feelings. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in this genre, but I have a large list of series I have read/watched over the years. Read on for seven Shōjo romances that made me kick my feet and giggle.
Note: I will also explain why I recommend these series, so there will be spoilers.
Wakamura Sachie lost her mother, and her estranged grandfather was the only one who could take her in. But it turns out her grandfather is a Yakuza gang leader! She wants to keep her life as normal as possible, but Rakuto, the most popular guy at her new school, is her new bodyguard. Over time, she falls in love with him. But since he’s part of her grandfather’s gang, he isn’t allowed to tell her how he feels. Now Sachie has to adapt to her new situation and fight for her love.
Sachie is tougher than she seems, and while she does struggle to adjust, she isn’t completely out of her depth. She works hard and isn’t afraid to scold people if she thinks they’re wrong or doing something wrong. Her dynamic with Rakuto is funny, and while it does take them a while to get together, it doesn’t feel overly drawn out.
Koizumi Risa and Ōtani Atsushi have complexs about their height: she’s too tall, he’s too short. They also don’t get along, but they’re stuck together at every turn. And when they each fall for the other’s best friend, they make a promise to help each other with their crushes. Along the way, they grew closer and eventually became friends. Will this progression in their relationship become something more?
Koizumi and Ōtani’s banter is hilarious, and they don’t stop even after they get together. They go through a lot before getting together — Ōtani rejected her twice, he was oblivious to his own feelings, and a lot of jealousy from both sides — but it’s worth it in the end. They ultimately support each other while staying true to themselves and their relationship. If you want a great romantic comedy, this is the best one.
The apothecary Shirayuki has unusually bright red hair that attracts a lot of unwanted attention. The latest is that of the prince of Tanbarun, her home, who wants her for himself. She escapes into a neighboring kingdom and meets a man named Zen and his two companions in the woods. But just who is Zen? And how can he help Shirayuki?
Shirayuki refuses to give up her dreams and independence even after she and Zen get together. They get together fairly quickly, but it doesn’t feel rushed. Their relationship is built on mutual love and respect, and they work on supporting each other no matter what. They operate on equal footing despite social differences, and they refuse to listen when others make negative comments about their relationship.
Kuronuma Sawako has struggled to fit in her whole life. With her dark hair, quiet nature, and creepy smile, she reminds people of a horror character named Sadako, and they all avoid her. The truth is she’s a kind, shy girl who longs to make friends but can’t change people’s minds about her. Everything changes when Kazehaya Shōta, the most popular boy in school, befriends her. As their relationship progresses, so do her friendships with others. But is this enough to break her curse?
This is one of the most beloved shōjo, and for good reason. The progression between classmates to friends to lovers is well-paced and believable, and they’re just so cute together! This series also shows their friends’ love lives, their failures and successes, as well as the importance of their friendships.
Gōda Takeo is a big guy with a kind heart. He falls in love easily, but all the girls want his good-looking best friend, Sunakawa. He accepts this fate and continues to stand by his friend. That is until he rescues a girl named Rinko Yamato from a groper on the train. His life changes, and when they keep meeting, he falls in love with her. But with Sunakawa always with them, will he be able to take a chance at love?
Most shōjo protagonists are girls, so it was refreshing to see a boy as the protagonist. Takeo has a heart of gold, and he thinks of others before himself. He put his feelings aside to try and get Yamato with Sunakawa after he mistakingly thought she liked him. But when he and Yamato do get together, it’s so sweet, and they’re super cute together.
Yoshioka Futaba had always thought that boys were only annoying and loud, so she never went near them. Her view changed when she met the quiet Mabuchi Kou in middle school and started crushing on him. But by the time she realized her feelings, he was already gone. He moved away because of family problems. He reappears again during high school, but he seems different. Is he truly the boy she liked?
I am a sucker for the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, especially if they drifted apart at some point. They both changed from middle school: Futaba hides her true self in order to fit in, and Kou is sarcastic and rude. But they’re drawn to each other again, and they have to relearn the other. Their love changes them in the best ways, and they feel more able and willing to express who they are.
Hori Kyōko is a smart, popular girl at school. Her classmate, Miyamura Izumi, is considered gloomy and boring, and people even go so far as to call him a “loser fanboy.” But one day, Hori finds out that there’s a secret side to Miyamura: he has several piercings and tattoos (not to mention he’s gorgeous). Miyamura also finds out Hori’s secret: she’s a plain, average girl who takes care of the home. As they fall in love and learn more about each other, they realize that everybody has different sides to them.
They start to fall in love after learning about the other’s true selves rather than who they pretend to be. And it’s just a show about teenagers falling in love for the first time and how strange, uncomfortable, and awkward it can be. But it’s also about how they learn to be the other’s partner, learn how to make it work out, and the importance of communication.
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