Hundreds of rewarding new anime series are released every year, all of which subscribe to unique storytelling genres that spotlight niche content that might otherwise not receive attention. One of the most popular genres of anime and manga is shojo content, which caters to young female audiences, typically emphasizing romance and relationships.
There are plenty of shojo series that opt for low-hanging fruit that doesn’t do anything new with the genre, but the reverse is also true and some shojo series will leave their audiences pleasantly surprised, despite mixed receptions.
ten Cardcaptor Sakura finds a comfortable rhythm for her Magical Girl Mayhem
Sakura card sensor is definitely one of the greatest shojo series to come out of the 1990s and it still stands out as a signature of the magical girl genre. Sakura card sensor doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it’s easy to get caught up in its gripping storyline where Sakura is tasked with collecting a running total of dangerous Clow Cards.
Sakura card sensor is guilty of leaning into stereotypes, but it’s still a satisfying introductory shojo series that never lacks heart. The tarnished reputation of Sakura card sensor has a lot to do with the anime’s blatant English dub, which removes almost half of its episodes.
9 Phantom In The Twilight welcomes a brave girl to a dark and dangerous world
ghost in the twilight tells an original story that isn’t adapted from any source, which helps its supernatural premise stand out a bit more. A young girl in London encounters a gateway to a dark world full of malevolent “Shadows”, where she feels a strange sense of purpose.
Finely drawn villains with confusing motivations are some of the biggest deterrents in ghost in the twilight, but the 12-episode anime is also starting to show signs of deterioration in its animation department as the series draws to a close. These are frustrating deterrents, but they’re still not enough to ruin the show or its chance to see it again.
8 Natsume’s Book of Friends Celebrates the Reassuring Rhythms of Her Supernatural Structure
Some of the most enduring anime are those that embrace warm atmospheres and episodic storytelling rather than serialized action. Natsume’s Friends Book is 74 episodes of relaxing bliss that make it the perfect recharge anime. The shojo series centers on Natsume, a special person who can see and communicate with spirits, making her the perfect recipient of her grandmother’s supernatural book.
Natsume helps release those lost spirits where they belong, giving the show an appealing formula. This structure is comforting, non-repetitive, and is further enhanced by its artistic visual aesthetic.
seven Sabage-Bu! Forces its audience to grapple with troubling questions through this survival game
Sabage-drunk!otherwise known as Survival Game Club!, combines shojo storytelling with the popular trend of death games that has grown over the past decade. These are extreme sensitivities to reconcile, which is one of the main reasons why Sabage-drunk! has a controversial reputation.
The series deserves serious credit for the way it names a villainous character as the protagonist, which may turn off viewers, but is vital to the anime’s overall message. These abrasive elements mean this shojo series isn’t for everyone, but each of the show’s distinct decisions are intentional.
6 Fruits Basket mixes romantic misadventures with a silly supernatural twist
Tohru Honda’s life is changed forever when she is taken to the Soma household and enters Kyo’s orbit. The only problem is that the Soma family suffers from a strange curse that causes them to turn into Chinese zodiac animals whenever they are hugged by the opposite sex.
The first attempt of a Fruit basket the anime came out in 2001 with a 26-episode run that doesn’t cover the entire manga, though it’s not without its charm. 2019 Fruit basket the reboot is the better version in every way, which should come as no surprise as it more than tripled the time it took to tell this moving story.
5 Vampire Knight finds his strength through his supernatural influences
The majority of shojo series get lost in romantic or bittersweet romances, which means the more action-focused shojo fare is always going to stand out more. vampire knight is a 26-episode shojo series that finds its strength in the different tones and genres it adopts.
There’s no shortage of slice-of-life school antics, but the larger narrative concerns itself with whether vampires and humans can live peacefully together in this frayed society. vampire knight is often criticized for its flimsy and boring characters, but it’s a shojo series that doesn’t overshoot its goal and its diverse interests help elevate its story.
4 Jump Beat! Bring revenge and retribution to his revisionist romance
The entertainment industry, especially the performative world of idols, is rich material for anime series to explore. Jump Beat! is a fun series that begins in a way that most shojo anime would conclude. Kyoko selflessly supports her idol boyfriend, Shotaro, only to learn that he doesn’t value her properly.
An entertaining revenge story stems from this lopsided romance, which is a welcome change of pace for a shojo series. Jump Beat! is frequently attacked for its art style and dialogue, but it brings so much more to the table.
3 Happy Sama! Uses her heroine’s secret shame to open her heart
The shojo genre beautifully highlights how opposites can attract and the myriad misunderstandings that can be sparked by awkward encounters between the opposite sex. An incendiary secret can be a strong ingredient for the success of an anime.
Happy Sama! stares Misaki Ayuzama, a hard-working student council president, whose hidden job at a maid cafe threatens to be exposed. These stakes are not that high and there is a tendency for leads in Happy Sama! wearing thin, but there’s still a comfortable energy to it, especially as Misaki gradually comes out of her shell.
2 3D Kanojo: Real Girl shows how no one is beyond redemption
Social outcasts are ripe protagonists for shojo series and Kanojo 3D: Real Girl tells a touching and authentic story about the importance of connection over 12 tight episodes. As for character development and story, Kanojo 3D: Real Girl is not so imperfect.
However, the biggest problem audiences have with the shojo series is its uninspired character designs, and lackluster animation and soundtrack. These concessions are drastic and hold Kanojo 3D back to being a shojo classic, but it’s far from a broken anime and there’s still plenty to enjoy in every episode.
1 Sailor Moon’s legacy turned it into a signature Shojo series
Sailor Moon is an anime institution that’s still going strong after three decades and has led to a wealth of additional material like live stage shows. Sailor Moon is arguably the prototypical magical girl shojo series that chronicles its heroine’s double life as she wards off evil and enjoys the freedom of her everyday teenage life.
Sailor MoonShojo’s impact on shojo series receiving English dubs cannot be understated, but it’s not without its flaws. There are many understandable concessions in the original Sailor Moon 1990s, many of which are smoothed over in the series reboot, Sailor Moon crystal.
NEXT: 10 Shojo Series Everyone Thought Was Josei