We speak a lot about shonen and seinen since those are the two anime genres that usually come with fandom the most. However, we must not forget shoujo, which is also a very popular genre. To be honest, I’ve personally never really enjoyed romance. However, over my journey through anime, I’ve bumped into some really entertaining shoujos.
It doesn’t matter if you, like me, never really cared for romance. These shoujos will make you want to be a high school student again (if only our lives in high school were as flawless as in a shoujo, that is). The series I’ve chosen are funny, entertaining and more profound that you might expect. This list is not in any sort of order, I can’t really choose!
Ao Haru Ride
Synopsis: Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to “reset” her life as a new high school student. Because she’s cute, she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a misunderstanding, she couldn’t get her feeling across to the one boy she has ever liked, Tanaka-kun. Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won’t be jealous of her. One day she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but now things can never be the same again.
Episodes: 12 episodes + 1 movie
This is probably the most profound series out of the five. Unlike others of its same genre, Ao Haru Ride is not based on romantic clichés that seem to have come out of a 15 year old dream. This series is actually pretty realistic. Instead of being just another perfect love story, Ao Haru Ride tells a story that could actually happen in real life: misunderstandings, external circumstances, friendship issues and the courage to be yourself during high school are some of the topics that are treated in this anime. Ao Haru Ride is about “what could have been”, second chances, daring to have hope and trying again.
B Gata H Kei
Synopsis: Yamada is a lascivious 15-year-old high school student who makes it a goal to have sexual relations with 100 different guys. However, her insecurities as a virgin herself lead her to reject every guy who attempts to make a move on her. To overcome this mental barrier, she searches for an inexperienced guy who will be her first. She makes his classmate Takashi Kosuda the target of her seductions, without realizing that she might actually develop true feelings of love for him.
OK, we kind of cheated here: B Gata H Kei is actually a seinen. However, the romance and comedy is strong in this one so I couldn’t help but to see it as a shoujo too. B Gata H Kei is probably the funniest shoujo of this list. Just reading the premise, you can already deduce that this series is going to be filled with plenty of awkward and funny situations in which an inexperienced virgin tries to act all seductive without getting too nervous herself. It’s a very sweet story that revolves around the importance of your first time, being confident and not feeling pushed towards doing something you don’t want to do. The series is able to create a constant desire in the audience to see Yamada accomplish her goal once and for all.
Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji
Synopsis: The story centers around Erika Shinohara, a vain 16-year-old girl who tells her friends about her romantic exploits, but she actually has no boyfriend. She claims that a handsome boy in a candid photo is her boyfriend, but it turns out that boy is a schoolmate named Kyouya Sata. She has no choice but to make him her fake boyfriend. Unfortunately, Sata may look like a sweet person, but he is actually an ultra-black-hearted sadist. Sata takes advantage of Erika’s weakness and treats her like his dog.
This was the shoujo that I enjoyed the most: I watched it in 2 days! But hey, I have a thing for tsundere boys, what are you gonna do about it? Anyone who’s had her heart broken and got played with will get especially attached to this series because Erika’s pain is so raw and real. The relationship between Erika and Sata is not perfect, it’s a constant struggle. Despite the fact that she can come out as a bit obnoxious and annoying sometimes, you’ll still find yourself rooting for her.
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
Synopsis: Nicknamed “Dry Ice,” Shizuku is seen as emotionless and cold by her classmates and someone who only cares about studying. When she meets Haru, he immediately decides that they’re friends. Shizuku is touched by his innocence and his lack of knowledge towards human relationships. Though known as a violent and uncontrollable monster, Haru also has a kind and gentle side. He immediately declares his love for Shizuku, but it takes much longer for her to realize and accept her own feelings towards him. Together, the two previously unsocial beings help each other learn how to care for others and make friends.
I’ll always save a special place in my heart for Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun since it was the first shojo I ever watched. Any girl who’s not interested in romance and relationships will feel identified with Shizuku. Haru is a very mysterious person and you will find yourself constantly trying to figure him out. The same happens with Shizuku, who finds in Haru a puzzle she cannot solve and therefore spends half of the episodes wondering what it is that she feels for him. The series also plays with the typical “now I love you”, “now I’m confused”, “now I love you again”… it’s a constant back and forth and you will just want to lock these two in a room to make them figure out what they really feel for each other.
Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
Synopsis: Misaki Ayuzawa is the first female student council president at a once-all-boys-turned-co-ed school. She rules the school with a strict discipline demeanor, but she has a secret: she works at a maid cafe due to her family’s circumstances. One day, the popular A-student and notorious heart-breaker Takumi Usui finds out her secret and makes a deal with her to keep it hush from the school in exchange for spending some time with him.
Female protagonist in shoujo animes are usually super cute, dreamy and romantic, which is one of the main reasons why this series is different. Misaki is a very strong and independent girl who doesn’t let anyone treat her as an inferior. This series offers an interesting take on high school romance as this is just not a love story, but the story of Misaki, her family and the struggles she goes through to take care of the people she loves. In that sense, Usui is not her main interest, nor is their relationship the main focus of the story. Even though there are some cliché scenes, it still feels different from the rest. The fact that it’s longer than the rest of the shoujos in this lists also means that it’s a slow burn.