Skip to main content

18 Popular Tropes in Shoujo Anime

I've been an online writer for years. I have many different interests, ranging from anime and Japanese culture to animals and art.

Kyo, Tohru & Yuki, Fruits Basket

Kyo, Tohru & Yuki, Fruits Basket

Tropes in Shoujo

Try as you might you just can’t escape tropes in media. They are there in all their over-done glory. Some are so ingrained within narrative structure that it’s weird when the tropes are subverted or not there or when the work is actively poking holes in them and yet those tactics are in of themselves now a tropes. No escape.

However this page isn’t looking at the subversions or reversals of tropes, this page looks at the popular tropes in Shoujo works. It should be noted right away that shoujo itself is not a genre it’s a demographic that is targeted to teenaged girls as the distinction of demographic comes from magazine publications.

A shoujo work can be horror while a shounen, geared for teenaged boys, can be a high school romantic comedy. There are some aspects of narrative and visuals that separate a work from being considered shoujo and shounen and it’s not tropes.

This page surveyed 40 shoujo works that as of July 2022 are popular as in they have a large number people who have seen them. It does not mean they are excellent works of fiction, though a lot of them are very enjoyable, nor does it mean they important works within the type, although some are. They just have a large viewership.

Tropes are Character Focused was used to gather the tropes from each selected shoujo series and the tropes with the highest amount of frequency made up this list. There are some consideration made though to the tropes that are listed.

These listed tropes are more narrative and character focused rather than tropes that are more hallmarks of anime, such as Bishounen, Tsundere, Official couples, beta couple etc. Such tropes are prolific in shoujo and anime but not as interesting for such this sort of list.

Also literary devices such as allusions to other works, irony, foreshadowing etc are not listed either. And lastly, tropes that are inventions of the production or evolution of works like title naming conventions, credits changing, audio, the artwork getting better over time are not part of this list. Though there are tropes here that visual based.

One more thing this list may not be super accurate as there are inconsistencies in the lists on I tried to be as thorough as possible. It drove me crazy but these tropes are overly represented in shoujo works so that is something. Just know there are way more than 18 tropes that could have been on this list but this list is all in fun and 18 is a good number.

Manga and Anime and reboots were all considered as part of the shoujo titles.


Takumi Usui, Maidsama

Takumi Usui, Maidsama

18. The Chick Magnet

Ladies can not resist this trope. This trope draws them in without much effort as the Chick Magnet is effortless charming. This trope and its reversal are considered to be a form of wish fulfillment by the author because who doesn’t what to be desirable with no effort.

The reversal of this trope is the Dude Magnet.

However given that most shoujo works are written by woman the Chick Magnet could be used as means for making the main character and the would be object of desire for the Chick Magnet even more desirable by association. As they are so wonderful that the most attractive person wants them instead other people.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Maid Sama, Vampire Knight, Bokura ga ita.

Shizuku Mizutani, My Little Monster

Shizuku Mizutani, My Little Monster

17. The Luminescent Blush

The Luminescent Blush is a stylistic blush that is used to convey deep embarrassment or to show a character being deeply affective by someone or something. To further illustrate how intense the feelings are the blush has hot burning glow for visual impact.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Sailor Moon, Kiss him not me, Blue Spring Ride.

Nanashima, Kae & Mutsumi, Kiss mim not me

Nanashima, Kae & Mutsumi, Kiss mim not me

16. It's Not What it Looks Like

This is a super common trope especially in romantic-comedies which many shoujo works fall into genre wise. It's typically a misunderstanding with one of the love interest. It can be used for either comedy or add in more drama. It also doesn’t necessary have to be a romantic misunderstand but some jump in logic without much context that could have been corrected with communication instead of jumping to a worse case scenario or just the wrong conclusion.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Kimi ni Todoke, My Little Monster, Ore Monogatari.

Naoki & Kotoko,  Itazura na Kiss

Naoki & Kotoko, Itazura na Kiss

15. The Anguished Declaration of Love

Love hurts, especially when one has pent up emotions and can’t tell the one they are in love with how they feel. Sometimes, however they just got to tell them despite all the obstacles in their path.

This is where this trope comes in. The confessor leaves everything on the line even if it means rejection or ruining the relationship they all ready have with their beloved. This kind of confession can be aggressive, reproachful, tearful etc.

Sometimes the Anguished Declaration of Love works and sometimes the confessor is let wanting depends on the story.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Yona of the Dawn, Soredemo Sekai wa Utuskushii, Fruits Basket.

Tamaki, Ouran High School Host Club

Tamaki, Ouran High School Host Club

14. Bishie Sparkles

Bishounen are a hallmark of most anime varieties but especially in shoujo works. This trope is also used with non-bishounen attractive characters as well. The idea is that beautiful people are so radiant they sparkles and the use of a sparkle visually does not obscure the beautiful ones.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Wallflower, Fruits Basket, Lovely Complex.

Naho Takamiya & Kakeru Naruse, Orange

Naho Takamiya & Kakeru Naruse, Orange

13. Cannot Spit it Out

This trope is all about withholding vital information for whatever ever reason. Whatever the information is it important to the plot progressing whether that is romantic or saving the world. It is basically a means for padding out the plot maybe adding drama especially if there is a will the won’t they dynamic at play. Or it can be used if a character has conflicts about saying the information because of their loyalties.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Kamisama Kiss, Ore Monogatari, Itazura na Kiss.

Kero, Cardcaptor Sakura

Kero, Cardcaptor Sakura

12. The Big Eater

The Big Eater trope is exactly as its name implies a character can eat a large quality of food often in a short period of time. This trope is used for comedy effect as typically in a shoujo works the Big eater is diminutive which is suppose to add to the comedic nature of the gluttonous trope.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Ouran High School Host Club, CardCaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon.

Nana Osaki

Nana Osaki

11. Gratuitous English

Very simply it’s when a character peppers in English into the conversation by a lot. Or it’s just in the theme song or visually on clothing. English is considered a trade language so it is easy recognized to people who are non-fluent. Typically English is used to jazz up the work to a degree.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Shugo Chara, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Cardcaptor Sakura.

Kyouya Sata & Erika Shinohara Wolf Girl & Black Prince

Kyouya Sata & Erika Shinohara Wolf Girl & Black Prince

10. Green-Eyed Monster (Jealousy)

Jealous with a touch of envy personified. The phrase comes from Shakespeare’ play Othello. Envious and jealous characters add a lot to any give dynamic in a narrative. This trope plays very well with a Love Triangle as it adds much drama and characterization. It not always used for romance but character can be jealous for other envied traits.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Skip Beat, Sukitte ii na yo, Ootome game no hametsu.

Tomoe, Kamisama Kiss

Tomoe, Kamisama Kiss

9. Even the Guys Want Him

Similar to a Chick Magnet but the charisma and attractive is so much that as the name of the trope suggests that it so much that even men want the character regardless of preference. He is that amazing.

The counterpart of this trope is Even the Girls Want Her.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Maid Sama, Banana Fish, Kamisama Kiss.

Shirayuki & Zen, Snow White with Red Hair

Shirayuki & Zen, Snow White with Red Hair

8. Oblivious to Love

With this trope a character is too dense to notice romantic overtures towards them. Either the clueless character believes that it's only friendship, or that they are unworthy of attracting love, denial, they just too dense or other reasons.

It’s a trope that plays well in tandem with other tropes and can add lots of comedy and misunderstandings or drama and heartbreak or all of the above.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Yona of the Dawn, Special A, Ouran High School Host Club.

Ume Kurumizawa, Kimi ni Todoke

Ume Kurumizawa, Kimi ni Todoke

7. Clingy Jealous Girl

Cute and desirable but all except the one she clings to with an iron grip. She will stares daggers at all who even try to get in the way of her and the object of all her desires.

Sometimes this seemingly harmless lass is used for comedic effect and other times she is more insidious. She can also be used non-romantically like sister who adores her brother. The point is that she is an obstacle for the main couple and the cause of much drama and frustration

The counter of this is the Crazy Jealous Guy which is also a highly used trope in shoujo works as well.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Kimi ni Todoke, 3D: Kanojo, His and Her Circumstances.

Kyouya Sata & Erika Shinohara Wolf Girl & Black Prince

Kyouya Sata & Erika Shinohara Wolf Girl & Black Prince

6. The Jerkass

These types of character are so awful that they are just the literal worse. They have no shame and no empathy for others.

This is sometime used with the related tropes like Jerk with heart of Gold which means they do have good qualities similar in type to the popular Tsundere. Also there is the Jerk to nice plot, Adaptational Jerkass, Jerkass has a point and Took a level in jerk which when the character becomes a horrible person over the course of the story.

The character may start as jerk and morph into Jerk with a heart of gold pending on the narrative.

Mostly you the viewer are not suppose to like the Jerk character and you want them to get their comeuppance.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Nana, Brother’s Conflict.

Haruka Tenou & Usagi Tsukino Sailor Moon Crystal

Haruka Tenou & Usagi Tsukino Sailor Moon Crystal

5. Ship Tease

This is when a work drops hints to possible romances between characters. This could be that the author/production are listening to the fans and build up a possible pairing with no intention of seeing the characters actually being a pairing hence it’s a tease.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Donten ni Warau, Ghost Hunt, Tokyo Mew Mew.

Kyo, Fruits Basket

Kyo, Fruits Basket

4. The Berserk Button

The Berserk Button is trigger to something innocuous like a comment about a character's height, relationship status or really anything. It can turn a normal well adjusted sane character positively insane hence the usage of the word berserk.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Shugo Chara, Skip Beat, Cardcaptor Sakura.

Tomoyo Daidouji, Cardcaptor Sakura

Tomoyo Daidouji, Cardcaptor Sakura

3. Shipper on Deck

This trope refers to a character within the narrative who is actively shipping the main couple. They are typically a secondary character who either is a friend trying to play matchmaker to the couple who are some kind of denial about their feelings that everyone around can see or the shipper has romantic inclinations but wants their beloved to be happy.

Or it’s a means of sabotage as a means of paving the way for the shipper character to get with their object of desire by setting one of the couple up with another character.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Orange, Snow White with Red Hair, Skip Beat.

Zero, Yuki, Kaname, Vampire Knight

Zero, Yuki, Kaname, Vampire Knight

2. The Love Triangle

The Love Triangle, a ubiquitous trope where person A loves person B while person B pines for person C and person C well they long for person A. It’s common and the source of so much drama, misunderstandings and sometimes humor and sometimes a lot of humor.

It also has a myriad of subtypes to help spice up the dynamic and differentiate one Love triangle from another.

Of course this trope can move to other shapes like a dodecahedron which expands and complicate the story.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Vampire Knight, Fruits Basket, Kimi ni Todoke.

Hak & Yona, Yona of the Dawn

Hak & Yona, Yona of the Dawn

1. I Want My Beloved to Be Happy

This trope involves putting the needs of other before your own. Though very pointed the character puts the object of their desires before their own romantic inclinations.

They know a romance with their beloved is not possible for a variety of assumed reasons so they put the happiness of their person over their own. It meant to be seen as selfless but it can be lacking pending on the story or if the character could have ulterior motives for appearing selfless.

In some cases the person’s beloved may not know that that their happiness is being put ahead of someone else’s and this plays into other tropes like unrequited love.

Examples of this trope in shoujo works include Yona of the Dawn, Snow White with Red Hair, Natsume's Book of Friends.


Source: July 2022

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 RiverCygnet