In a sea of wildly popular shonen titles, it can be hard for even the best shojo to stand out. As a result, shojo anime doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. While shojo manga is quietly thriving, fewer titles are getting anime adaptations.
Nonetheless, several shojo anime have stood the test of time and set the bar high not just for shojo, but for anime in general. These anime paved the way for future shojo titles and proved that shojo is not a genre to be overlooked. From titles that explore heavy topics and tragic stories to series that exist as pure entertainment, shojo has something for everyone.
10/10 Kaichou Wa Maid Sama! Is a very enjoyable romantic comedy
Maid-Sama! is the ultimate romantic comedy for any shojo fan, featuring one of the most iconic shojo lead roles of all time. The series masterfully balances comedy and romance, and while not all story elements have aged well it is now a perfect guilty pleasure.
Misaki is recognized as the iron-willed student council president of a rowdy, male-dominated student body at a school that has recently gone coeducational. She maintains a reputation as a strict and diligent president, but harbors a secret that would tarnish this image forever: she works in a maid café. When this secret is discovered by the most popular boy in school, antics ensue.
9/10 Fruits Basket (2019) sets the bar for modern shojo
The original 2001 Fruit basket was already a shojo staple, adapted from an incredibly popular manga series by Natsuki Takaya. However, many fans felt that the original anime never really did the manga justice, nor was it able to complete the story.
Fruit basket remake came at a time when shojo anime production slowed, overshadowed by the popular shonen series. Fruit basket (2019) was able to take full advantage of improvements in animation over the past two decades to revitalize the shojo anime genre and set the bar for modern shojo anime.
8/10 Cardcaptor Sakura is a clip classic
Clamp is a group of manga authors known for their iconic art style featuring beautiful characters with classic shojo eyes. While Clamp has created several successful works, arguably their most popular remains Sakura card sensorwhich follows Sakura Kinomoto as she sets out to retrieve a set of magic cards that could cause great mayhem.
Sakura card sensor is another staple of the magical girl genre, boasting surprising depth and a character-driven narrative. The series has much lower stakes than other magical girl series like Sailor Moonbut manages to thrive with its smaller-scale focus and even poke fun at some of the girl’s magic tropes, such as the typical costume transformation.
7/10 Ouran High School Host Club is an absolute game
A staple of the golden age of shojo anime, early to mid 2000s, Ouran High School Host Club had a lasting impact on the genre, especially the reverse-harem subgenre. The series follows Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student who excels at a prestigious academy for the sons and daughters of Japan’s elite. Finding herself entangled in the school’s quirky Host Club, Haruhi experiences many adventures along the way, while acting as a male host.
Ouran High School Host Club is a solid choice for an introductory anime for new shojo fans: it’s hilarious, goofy, and the romance mostly plays a secondary role (at least in the anime). The series is very self-aware and parodies many classic shojo tropes. Fans are also anticipating the live music reboot that will open in Tokyo and Osaka, sealing the series’ enduring relevance.
6/10 Orange travels well in time
Orange is a rare series that manages to use time travel on a small scale to foster narrative and character development without the many pitfalls that often come with it. Orange is a series that will strike a chord with any shojo fan and sets the bar high for romance-sci-fi mash-ups.
When Naho Takamiya receives a letter addressed by herself, her world changes. The letter perfectly describes the day she is about to have and further hints at some regrets her future self has, which the present Naho might reverse.
5/10 Revolutionary Girl Utena Deconstructs Magical Girl
Revolutionary Girl Utena is credited with influencing Rebecca Sugar and her creation of the Steven Universe series, and has had a lasting impact since its release in 1997. The series can be seen as a deconstruction of the shojo and magic girl genres, as well as a deconstruction of gender roles. It’s known for her exploration of queer and feminist themes.
Revolutionary Girl Utena follows Utena Tenjou who is inspired by a prince who saved her at a young age. Her goal is to one day become a prince herself. The series revolves around a system of magical fencing duels and features heavy surreal imagery that begs fans to wonder if this is actually happening or if it’s all in the characters’ minds.
4/10 Yona Of The Dawn is more than a romance
Yona of dawn is a popular manga series that has been around since 2009. The series received a one-season anime adaptation at the end of 2014, which was so popular that fans demanded a second season and eventually three OVAs were created as a result. .
The series masterfully blends historical drama, swoon-worthy romance, and political intrigue. Yona starts off as a spoiled princess who loves her handsome cousin, Su Won. When Su Won assassinates Yona’s father and assumes the throne, Yona is forced to take responsibility for her actions and become someone her kingdom could rely on.
3/10 Your name has become a worldwide phenomenon
Makoto Shinkai was already famous in Japan for films like 5 centimeters per secondbut your name really elevated his work to international heights. Released in 2016, your name is one of the highest-grossing anime films of all time, even able to rival the works of Hayou Miyazaki.
A founded fantasy, your name takes the trope of the body-changing romantic comedy and uses it to create a highly emotional, character-driven story. Mitsuha and Taki wake up one day in each other’s bodies, and furthermore, it starts to happen intermittently at random. As the two learn to adapt to this phenomenon, they discover that more is at stake than they initially thought.
2/10 Banana fish might be the darkest shojo
Banana Fish is a popular and influential manga series from the 80s and 90s, which finally received an anime adaptation in 2018. Although it is primarily a shojo, Banana Fish covers much heavier topics and themes and incorporates more action and violence than typical shojo, giving it niche appeal for different audiences.
Ash Lynx is a seventeen-year-old gang leader in New York. Ash with Japanese journalist Eji Okumura, unravel the mysteries behind the words “banana fish”. Grave and dark, Banana Fish set the bar for another kind of shojo anime.
1/10 Sailor Moon is the quintessential magical girl
Sailor Moon is unquestionably a cultural phenomenon. The series is credited with revitalizing the magical girl genre incorporating popular shonen story elements – such as an increased focus on action and combat sequences, transformations, and having a team instead of a solo protagonist – integrated into a female-oriented story.
The series was incredibly marketable, which also influenced its successors. There is no doubt that Sailor Moon had a lasting impact on shojo anime. The series has also remained largely relevant over the past three decades and received a remake, although not the best-received, in 2014.