10 Best Shojo Anime That Don’t Deserve The Hate

Hundreds of new and rewarding anime series are released each year, all of which subscribe to unique storytelling genres that shine a light on niche material that might not otherwise receive attention. One of the more popular anime and manga genres is shojo content, which is aimed at young female audiences, typically with an emphasis on romance and relationships.

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There are lots of shojo series that go for low-hanging fruit that fail to do anything new with the genre, yet the reverse is also true and some shojo series will leave their audiences pleasantly surprised, despite mixed receptions.

10 Cardcaptor Sakura Finds A Comfortable Rhythm For Its Magical Girl Mayhem

Cardcaptor Sakura is certainly one of the biggest shojo series to come out of the 1990s and it still stands out as a signature take on the magical girl genre. Cardcaptor Sakura doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it’s easy to get drawn into its engaging storyline where Sakura is staffed with the retrieval of a running total of dangerous Clow Cards.

Cardcaptor Sakura is guilty of leaning into stereotypes, but it’s still a satisfying introductory shojo series that’s never lacking in heart. The tarnished reputation of Cardcaptor Sakura has a lot to do with the anime’s egregious English dub, which removes nearly half its episodes.

9 Phantom In The Twilight Welcomes A Courageous Girl To A Dangerous, Dark World

Phantom in the Twilight tells an original story that’s not adapted from any source material, which helps its supernatural premise stand out a little 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.

Thinly drawn villains with confusing motivations are some of the biggest deterrents in Phantom in the Twilight, but the 12-episode anime also begins to show signs of degradation in its animation department as the series reaches its end. These are frustrating deterrents, but they’re still not enough to ruin the show or its rewatchability.

8 Natsume’s Book Of Friends Celebrates The Reassuring Rhythms Of Its Supernatural Structure

Some of the most evergreen anime are ones that embrace cozy atmospheres and episodic storytelling rather than serialized action. Natsume’s Book of Friends is 74 episodes of relaxing bliss that makes for the perfect cooldown anime. The shojo series centers on Natsume, a special individual who can see and communicate with spirits, which makes him the perfect recipient for his grandmother’s book of the supernatural.

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Natsume helps free these lost spirits to where they belong giving the show an appealing formula. This structure feels comforting, not repetitive, and is further improved by its artistic visual aesthetics.

7 Sabage-Bu! Forces Its Audience To Grapple With Disturbing Questions Through This Survival Game

Sabage-bu!otherwise known as Survival Game Club!, combines shojo storytelling with the popular death game trend that’s grown over the past decade. These are extreme sensibilities to reconcile, which is one of the biggest reasons that Sabage-bu! has a contentious reputation.

The show deserves serious credit for how it appoints a wicked character to be its protagonist, which can dissuade viewers, but is vital to the anime’s overall message. These abrasive elements mean that 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 forever changed when she’s taken into the Soma household and enters Kyo’s orbit. The only issue is that the Soma family suffers a strange curse that causes them to turn into animals from the Chinese Zodiac whenever they’re hugged by the opposite sex.

The first attempt at a Fruit Basket anime happened in 2001 with a 26-episode series that fails to cover the entire manga, although it’s not without its charms. 2019’s Fruit Basket reboot is the better version in every regard, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since it has more than triple the amount of time to tell this moving story.

5 Vampire Knight Finds Strength Through its Supernatural Influences

The majority of shojo series get lost in romantic or bittersweet romances, which means that more action-centric shojo fare is always going to stand out more. Vampire Knight is a 26-episode shojo series that finds strength in the different tones and genres that it takes on.

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Slice of life school antics aren’t in short supply, but the larger narrative is concerned with whether vampires and humans can peacefully live together in this frayed society. Vampire Knight often gets criticized for its flimsy and annoying characters, but it’s a shojo series that doesn’t belabor its point and its diverse interests help elevate its story.

4 Skip Beat! Brings Revenge And Retribution To Its Revisionist Romance

The entertainment industry, especially the performative world of idols, is rich material for anime series to explore. Skip 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 properly value her.

An entertaining revenge story stems out of this imbalanced romance, all of which is an appreciated change of pace for a shojo series. Skip Beat! is frequently attacked over its art style and dialogue, but it brings so much more to the table.

3 Maid Sama! Uses Its Heroine’s Secret Shame To Open Up Her Heart

The shojo genre beautifully highlights how well opposites can attract and the myriad of misunderstandings that can be triggered by awkward encounters between the opposite sex. An inflammatory secret can be a strong ingredient for an anime’s success.

Maid Sama! looks at a hard-working student council president, Misaki Ayuzama, whose hidden employment at a maid cafe threatens to come to light. These stakes aren’t that high and there’s a tendency for the leads in Maid Sama! to wear thin, but there’s still a comfortable energy that it achieves, especially as Misaki progressively comes out of her shell.

2 3D Kanojo: Real Girl Highlights How Nobody Is Beyond Redemption

Social outcasts are ripe protagonists for shojo series and 3D Kanojo: Real Girl tells a touching and genuine story about the importance of connection over the course of 12 tight episodes. When it comes to character development and story, 3D Kanojo: Real Girl isn’t that flawed.

However, the biggest issue that audiences have with the shojo series is its uninspired character designs, plus the lackluster animation and soundtrack. These concessions are drastic and hold 3D Kanojo back from being a shojo classic, but it’s far from a broken anime and there’s still plenty to enjoy in each episode.

1 Sailor Moon’s Legacy Has Transformed It Into A Signature Shojo Series

Sailor Moon is an anime institution that’s still going strong after three decades and led to a wealth of supplemental material like live-action 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 life as a teenager.

Sailor Moon‘s impact on shojo series receiving English dubs cannot be underestimated, but it’s not without its faults. There are plenty of understandable concessions in the original Sailor Moon from the 1990s, many of which are smoothed out in the series’ reboot, Sailor Moon Crystal.

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