Shoujo is a very popular genre of anime. It typically caters to girls and usually centers around a female heroine. The situation this heroine deals with varies from anime to anime. One girl might have to save the world while another must get an A on a test. Some might have to do both; it’s tough being a shoujo heroine. There is also an element of personal growth to the main character.
This article looks at the shows that I feel are the best works in the genre. They’re are ranked on plot, characters, and memorability. Don’t be too disappointed if your favorite isn’t on this list because there are far too many shoujo titles in the anime world.
Sailor Moon was one of the first shoujo anime to be syndicated in North America and has garnered a large following.
It centers around Usagi Tsukino (a.k.a Serena in the original English dub) who transforms into Sailor Moon, a soldier of love and justice. However, in her daily everyday life she is a clumsy cry-baby. As Sailor Moon she is joined by the Sailor Scouts who each represent a planet in the Solar System. The show suffers from a monster-of-week syndrome but does have a lot humor, compelling characters, tragedy, romance, and it introduced a generation of children to anime.
It also got a reboot that started in July 2014 called Sailor Moon: Crystal. It got a third season that corrected some of the issues that the first two seasons had.
The Vision of Escaflowne
When The Vision of Escaflowne first aired in North America it was marketed for boys. The network executives failed to realize that they had a shoujo title on their hands.
The story is about Hitomi Kanzaki, a young high school girl that gets transported to another world called Gaia after she accidentally gets involved with Van Fanel. He is a young prince who recently became the king and followed a dragon to Earth. On Gaia, Hitomi gets involved with the war that is occurring there.
Escaflowne pretty much has something for everyone; lots of action, drama, adventure, romance, tragedy, and fun. Plus it is a classic anime.
Escaflowne is currently getting a rerelease in North America and a new dub.
Fushigi Yuugi quite possibly has every imaginable shoujo trope that has ever existed. Which speaks to the influence of this anime.
The anime revolves on Miaka Yuuki, who is a lovable underachiever. One day she and her best friend, Yui Hongo, get pulled into a book called the Universe of the Four Gods. Miaka becomes the Preistess of Suzaku while Yui becomes the Presitess of Seiryuu. Both of them must gather the seven warriors of their respective gods in order to summon them and have their wishes granted. However, the countries they each represent are at war, making them enemies. They are also rivals in love for Tamahome, one of Sukazu Seven. He and Miaka have one of the most beautiful romances in anime. They start off as friends and their feelings develop into an irresistible love story. They also say each others names a lot, which is one the jokes of the show. This gag gets made fun of in the OVA.
Fushigi Yuugi has a lot of drama, a ton of romance, quite a bit humor, and quite a bit of tragedy.
Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke is a sweet high school anime that focuses on Sawako Kuronuma. Sawako is a sweet yet timid girl who desperately wants to make friends but her classmates are put off by her creepy looks as they liken her to Sadako from the Ring series of movies. She idolizes Shota Kazehaya, a popular boy, for his cheerful personality. However, when Shota starts talking to her, she starts trying to actively make friends and a budding romance starts to grow.
Kimi ni Todoke is a sweet anime that has lots of great and wonderful characters.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena centers around Utena Tenjou, a tomboy who as a child was saved by a prince. She was so impressed by him that she decided that she wanted to be just like him and be a prince herself. As a result, Utena is a very nobel young lady.
She inadvertently becomes involved with the student council, who all duel each other to be engaged to the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya. Utena becomes engaged to Anthy and duels any who challenge her to continue the engagement.
Utena has a lot of drama, romance, and lot of humor. It’s a really captivating anime that has gorgeous animation.
Full Moon wo Sagashite
Full Moon wo Sagashite follows 12-year-old orphan Mitsuki Kouyama, who dreams of being a singer. However, she has terminal throat cancer and refuses to have surgery that would damage her vocal cords. The reason for this is that she made a childhood promise to her dear friend that the next time they meet they will be closer to their dreams. However, two shinigami (death gods) inform her that she only has a year left. To fulfill her dream, the shingami transform her into a healthy 16-year-old version of herself called Full Moon so she can be a pop idol and sing to fulfill her promise.
Nana revolves around two young women with the same name who meet on a train while moving to Tokyo to follow their dreams. Shortly after moving there, the two become roommates. The two Nanas, Nana Komatsu and Nana Oosaki, both seem to be as different as can be but they learn that they have more in common than they think and they form a very strong bond with each other.
The characters in Nana are brilliantly developed and compelling and the show is one of the more pleasant mature anime titles.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club is an infectious anime that is plagued with lots of great characters, humor, and sheer craziness. It’s just a very fun show that has a lot of heartfelt moments. So it’s really no wonder why this anime is one of the most popular ones today.
It focuses on commoner Haruhi who attends Ouran High School, a school for the super rich. One day while looking for a quiet place to study, she wanders into the Host Club’s room. After breaking a vase, she is forced to became a host to work off her debt. The contrast between the pragmatic Haruhi and the rich boys of the Host Club, mainly Tamaki, brings in lots of great comedic moments.
Akatsuki no Yona
Akatsuki no Yona is a very recent anime that technically isn’t done yet (still hoping for a season two.) So why is it so high on this list? Yona combines a lot of things that are great about modern anime with elements and styles from older anime, like humor, action, and lots of drama. The humor in the show is prevalent as everyone has their comedic moments, which is refreshing.
Akatsuki no Yona, or Yona of the Dawn, is about a young princess who witnesses the murder of her father by her cousin and major crush. She is then sent off on a quest to find four people who possess the blood from legendary dragons to aid her. It is essentially a reversed harem but all the characters are very likable and fleshed out. Yona herself gets a lot of personal growth throughout the series.
Rose of Versailles
Rose of Versailles has had lot of staying power for an anime. It was released in 1979 and is still popular today. It’s one of the few anime to be adapted for the stage and performed by the world-renowned Takarazuka Revue.
Rose of Versailles takes place in France prior to the French Revolution (1789-1799.) The story centers around Oscar Francois de Jarjayes. Lady Oscar was raised as a boy to inherit her father’s position. She was trained in sword fighting and other forms of combat and is one of the more accomplished fencers in the court. She is a member of the royal guard and is personally responsible for the safety of Marie Antoinette. The series deals a lot with Oscar being caught up in the intrigue of the French court, being torn between her loyalty to her queen, her country, her identity, and her denied femininity.
Rose of Versailles has wonderful character development, lots of drama, tragedy, romance, and emotional depth.
Ayashi no Ceres is probably the darkest shoujo anime that is mentioned here. It follows a sixteen-year-old girl named Aya Mikage. On her birthday, she and her twin brother, Aki, visit their grandfather. It’s there that Aya discovers that she is the reincarnation of Ceres, a celestial being. Because of this her family wants to kill her. Ceres and Aya occupy the same body but they have developed separate personalities and desires. Ayashi no Ceres has a lot of dark elements but at its heart it’s a love story with lots of love triangles, tragedy, and depth.
Ceres gets pushed off the list despite being a great show with some weirdness towards the end. It just doesn't have the same memorability or popular quality that could push some other titles off the list. I would still recommend it and it was hard to keep it off this list.
I also want to give a shout out to Gakuen Alice and Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. They were both cut from the list back in earlier versions of this article.
What are your favorite Shoujo Titles?
lord licorice on August 24, 2020:
snow white with the red hair!!! by a few inches yona of the dawn is a really close second
OOO on September 18, 2019:
I love akatsuki no yona
Oo divalicious on December 30, 2017:
Akasuki no yona is extremely nice! I have to admit
Alexis on December 26, 2016:
Everyone is saying Yona of the Dawn, or also known as Akatsuki no Yona is a rlly good anime, and I agree! Its my mosted favorite anime since adventure, romance, and comedy are all blended in very well. If you like action too, I definitely recommend this anime!!
YouKnowMe on October 23, 2016:
Akatsuki no Yona is the best (hoping for season 2)
Kira on August 04, 2016:
This is a shit list tbh.
Ao Haru Ride.
WHERE ARE THESE?
Rachael Lefler from Illinois on March 28, 2016:
The only one on this list I haven't seen is Atsuki no Yona, but it sounds awesome!
bluemaroon on March 28, 2016:
Akatsuki no Yona is the best of them all! Sucks there aren't alot ahoujo anime like it, with action, fantasy and than a little shoujo ai
Lyssette on June 10, 2015:
This was nice and useful I liked it
Ayu from Sorajima on April 01, 2015:
Will try Atsuki no Yona, thanks for this! :)
Rachael Lefler from Illinois on March 20, 2015:
Here's a tip, have a text and picture for each entry on your top ten list :p