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Shounen Manga has been the leader of the pack, carrying the manga culture to such a high altitude of success that it's impossible for the momentum to stop any time soon. There is another genre however that speaks volumes (no pun intended) and to a very large demographic, which are the shoujo manga. Shoujo or 少女 in Japanese refers to the young female, who make up a very large chunk of the very popular manga enterprise and continue to rise on the Oricon charts in popularity. Honey's would like to celebrate the sheer popularity of the shoujo genre with our top 10 shoujo manga for everyone to enjoy, so grab your favorite warm beverage and relax as we hop right in.
10. Hapi Mari / Hapi Mari: Happy Marriage!?
- Mangaka: Enjouji, Maki
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Josei
- Volumes: 10
- Published: January 8, 2009 - June 8, 2012
Kicking off our top ten on our shoujo manga list is Hapi Mari. The story looks at Chiwa who, in order to assist her father agrees to an arranged marriage with the president of the company. The man, Hokuto, is someone who she doesn't know but Hokuto's grandfather insisted that the two tie the knot. In Chiwa's eyes the arrangement isn't much of an issue, but Hokuto seems to think otherwise and so the two must learn to overcome their differences in a story of romance, comedy, and compassion that will lead the two on a crazy adventure of love.
Hapi Mari is one of the more recent shoujo manga on our list and it's become quite a successful series that, just two months ago, there was a live action movie that was created here in Japan. The story emphasizes the importance of letting go of ones own insecurities, and coming to understand the values of what a relationship can do to create unity and harmony within the universe of love. Chiwa's quirky character paired with Hokuto's more restrictive personality seem off putting initially, but eventually it's the power of love that overpowers just about everything and brings two people together to create a world of happiness.
9. Bokura ga Ita
- Mangaka: Obata, Yuuki
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 16
- Published: April 13, 2002 - February 13, 2012
High school love is always an integral time for just about anyone, since it's during this chapter in your life that you begin to learn the ins and outs of what relationships are all about. The story looks at Nana who ends up falling for a boy named Yano. Rumors ran throughout the school grounds that Yano could get date any girl due to his popularity and charm, but initially Nana had other opinions in mind. With the school year moving forward and emotions flowing, Nana eventually starts to see a side of Yano that many other girls never get a chance to see, which eventually takes them on a personal adventure of love and discovery.
This story is truly a beautiful one because it speaks of the emotions we often encounter when dealing with someone we like. As humans we deal with fleeting emotions that sometimes are hard to control, especially when in the heat of the moment. Bokura ga Ita shows us that we should embrace these finer moments, because they emphasize the importance of self discovery and throughout the course of our lives we learn to embrace the emotions we have to make us better individuals. Love is extremely powerful and can turn even the strongest of individuals into the most tame and soft spoken with very little effort. We highly recommend this manga as it will educate you on the basis of love and provide you with a nostalgic experience that will have you wishing you were back in high school again.
8. Glass Mask / Glass no Kamen
- Mangaka: Miuchi, Suzue
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 49
- Published: January 1976 - Present
This classic shoujo series is all about love, passion, and competition where Maya has dreams to become the leading actress in the very popular stage play “The Crimson Goddess”. Maya wants to prove to herself and most importantly her mother that she's more than capable of taking on the role, and will show the world what she's made of. Unfortunately Ayumi, her rival, has different plans as she too wants the very same role as Maya, and so the two set out on a quest to see who receives the legendary role. Maya then finds herself tangled in a romantic web when she meets the young president Masumi, who acts as her supporter but over time the two discover more about one another, and so her career and love life start to take true form.
Suzue created a wonderful story about a woman who didn't stop at nothing in order to serve her purpose in life. Her passion burned so brightly that it inspired so many around her, and captivated those who saw her performing on stage. This was such a positive message to a generation of women who at the time, were struggling with society's inequality and drove many to become more open to the idea of embracing their passion to move forward. Even to this day, Glass mask serves as an incredibly powerful manga that enforces the truth that passion can be found in just about anyone, and through that passion you'll discover love in more ways than one. Maya strives to achieve and obtain something she truly believed in, and through that dedication the universe gave her exactly what she desired and more in the form of success and love.
7. Marmalade Boy
- Mangaka: Yoshizumi, Wataru
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 8
- Published: May 1992 - October 1995
Marmalade Boy is a story that at first may seem strange to some, but once you dive deep into it you'll find the treasures that lie beneath. We spend time with Miki and her kooky family as her parents suddenly decide that they want to move in with another couple, thus swapping spouses. This odd scenario creates a world of turmoil for Miki as she now must live under a roof with four parents and her step brother Yuu. Now Miki must deal with all of the drama not only inside of her home as well as school, but now she must deal with her influx of emotions that are being torn between her long time crush Ginta, and her step brother.
This love triangle is a roller coaster ride of emotions that takes Miki's life in many directions. Her parents swap spouses, new men enter her life, and friends are constantly facing troubles of their own. Marmalade Boy speaks of the troubles we go through as teenagers, coming to cope with our own emotions while under the supervision of our parents. Miki is a young girl with a lot on her plate, and so she must learn to confront the issues that are front of her, while still maintaining the right attitude when approaching the topic of love. Her parents aren't really helping as much, so Miki must understand that relationships come with various challenges, and in the end your heart will guide you towards making the right decision.
6. Ao Haru Ride
- Mangaka: Sakisaka, Io
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 13
- Published: January 13, 2011 - February 13, 2015
Yoshioka was well known in her middle school as being extremely attractive, and the object of obsession for many of the boys. The girls however began to develop jealousy and shunned her a number of times. Despite the negativity she endured, it never stopped Yoshioka from moving forward and focusing on the one person that mattered most: Her classmate Tanaka Kou. Fast forward several years to high school where now Yoshioka has grown more mature in her ways, but this time behaves differently compared to her past experiences. Her tomboyish behavior garners her attention so much so that, a very attractive boy notices her. That very same boy is none other than Kou, who too has changed not only his family name but his appearance.
Ao Haru Ride or Blue Spring Ride in English is such a heartfelt story of a woman who wanted nothing more than to spend her days with the one person who she truly admired. Jealousy and resentment led her to rethinking her life, but in truth, her life was everything that it needed to be. Sakisaka wanted to show us that we should never let external conditions govern your internal universe, and when it comes to love our very actions speak much louder than the words of those who speak ill of us. When love finds us we should learn to embrace it and never let go of it despite what we go through.
5. Chibi Maruko Chan
- Mangaka: Momoko Sakura (Miki Miura)
- Genres: Comedy, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 15
- Published: August 1986–June 1996
We simply cannot have a shoujo manga discussion without throwing in the very popular Chibi Maruko-Chan series, which has grown to become the fifth best selling shoujo manga ever created. This wonderful story looks at nine year old Maruko who is just trying to live a good life, but runs into personal struggles with laziness, avoiding homework, and being disorganized. Her sister is totally different where she tends to be very tidy and well kept, and so Maruko must learn from her surroundings to become a better person and be a better role model going forward.
Momoko Sakura stated that this entire story of Maruko-chan was all based on her own life growing up, and wanted to inspire other young children to learn from their upbringings to become brighter individuals in life. This became an inspirational story to many because it came from a true and honest perspective, and provided the reader with something that can be shared with many. These types of personal life struggles are what resonate longer in the hearts of many because we've all been there before, and so the only way to become your greatest version is to share your experiences for everyone to embrace and love.
4. Sailor Moon / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon
- Mangaka: Takeuchi, Naoko
- Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 18
- Published: December 28, 1991 - February 3, 1997
Tsukino Usagi is a 14-year-old ditzy, and whiny girl who currently attends junior high. She's not really a child prodigy, often failing her tests, and is often reprimanded by her family for her abysmal results. All of this changes however, after a day of unfortunate events, Usagi is startled when she encounters a black cat that can speak in Usagi’s native tongue. The cool cat, Luna, grants Usagi the power to transform into the powerful Sailor Moon, a fighter who is to protect the citizens of the world against the Dark Kingdom and its devilish ruler, Queen Beryl.
Sailor Moon is just one of those shows that you can't seem to let go of. It reminds you of that one toy you had as a child that just brought out every bit of happiness out of you, and made your day that much better. The romantic comedy of Sailor Moon really brought the show to life, as it focused not only on Tsukino's love journey, but also her relationships with the Sailor Moon team. Every moment brought a lot of excitement and made you forget about everything happening in the world, while laughing at her clumsy approach to romance but still getting what she wanted in the end.
- Mangaka: Yazawa, Ai
- Genres: Drama, Music, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 21
- Published: May 26, 2000 - May 26, 2009
Everyone in life has experienced some rough moments, and would just like to start fresh in a different world far from their own. That's exactly what Nana Komatsu decides to do as she moves to Tokyo in hopes that she can create a new beginning and leave the past far behind her. On the other end of the spectrum lies Nana Osaki, who arrives in Tokyo at the exact same time, but with aspirations to become a popular rock idol. Despite coming from different walks of life, the two connect through fate and we follow their lives, as they learn about the wonders of love, sex, music, and more in this fantastic story of companionship.
Yazawa has stated multiple times that she'd like to continue on with the series, but due to multiple health related issues, she's had to put the extremely popular series on hold. This hold however has lasted well over seven years and now fans of the series are foaming at the mouth, wanting to know just what will happen in the constantly changing lives of both characters. Despite the hiatus this series has so much to offer in terms of overall entertainment. What really captivates the audience is how different the style is when compared to the usual shojo format in that, Nana is full of sex, drugs, and situations that are mostly catered to a more mature audience. It’s for that reason so many readers of the series are so infatuated with the strong connection between the characters, because they discuss issues that we should definitely not be afraid of.
2. Cardcaptor Sakura
- Mangaka: Clamp
- Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 12
- Published: May 1996 – June 2000
Sakura is a student who discovers that she possesses magical powers after releasing a special batch of magical cards that had been sealed away for years. Sakura must now retrieve all of the magic cards in order to prevent chaos from destroying the world. Sakura must team up with other characters throughout the show to learn more about the cards, and to uncover the truth behind why they were created in the first place.
Cardcaptor Sakura deserves its top two spot because it was able to capture such a wide audience in such a short span of time. The message was very clear in the show, and it was to encourage young girls to follow their dreams, and learn to explore the very world they live in to seek the answers they need to prosper. Sakura was such a fantastic role model and continues to be in Japan, as her current manga is still ongoing and continues to positively influence a young generation of determined individuals to make a difference.
1. Hana Yori Dango [Boys over Flowers]
- Mangaka: Kamio, Yoko
- Genres: Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
- Volumes: 37
- Published: October 1992 - April 2008
There's a very good reason why Hana Yori Dango is the best selling shoujo manga in history, while taking home the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shoujo back in 2006. The story is not only full of laughter and drama, but the message being told through each chapter is what struck a chord with every reader. Makino grew up in a less fortunate environment but had the determination to change that all for her family and herself. She enrolls in an elite school that catered to a more wealthier crowd, and her life from here starts to take an incredible turn as she now must deal with love, compassion, and confusion all at the same time.
What catapulted this series into instant stardom was that it left a powerful message behind, which was that money doesn't amount to happiness, and what matters in the end is your passion and purpose to strive for better. Makino came from a poor family and had very little to live by, and for this reason it led her to stand up for herself to ensure that her family no longer had to go through any more ordeals. Through her struggles she ends up not only finding her meaning to live, but also love, which is what everyone desires for in life. Her tales of a difficult beginning which then lead into a world of self discovery, maturity, and great friendships are what really make this story resonate extremely well.
Just because shoujo is catered more towards a female audience doesn't mean that males cannot pick up and enjoy them also. One great thing about shoujo is that, compared to the very popular shounen, it looks more at the real life aspects pertaining to building relationships, finding love, and creating long lasting friendships. We can learn so much from the world of shoujo, since it captures a lot of the details that we often miss when surrounded by all the superheroes in the shounen world. While this list can only fit 10 of the most celebrated shoujo out there, Dengeki Daisy is another honorable mention that we feel you have to go out and buy, so be sure to read it and let us know what you think! If you have any great shoujo manga that you feel should be on the list, let us know by leaving your comments below! As always, for your sweet manga fill, always be sure to stay updated at Honey's Anime. See you again soon!