Shojo Anime That Put the Big Three to Shame

Some shonen and seinen manga fans have criticized shojo anime for being too stereotypically “girly” without ever diving in to see what the demographic has to offer. However, there are plenty of anime and manga that trump even the most iconic shonen titles.

There are plenty of great shojo anime that have interesting plots, and characters with much better narratives than the iconic “Big Three”. Here are three shojo anime that are arguably better than the sensational shonen titans.

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The Big Three and How They Earned Their Title

The Big Three refers to three very popular anime — Naruto, one piece, and Bleach. These series fall under the shonen demographic — a title given to series meant to appeal to teen boys and young men — but captures a much broader audience. Naruto and Bleach have already concluded, and One Piece will soon enter the story’s final arc. One Piece, Narutoand Bleach are also partially responsible for popularizing anime in the west and making anime as well known as it is today.

The Big Three is known because of its immense popularity among anime and manga fans. Naruto, One Pieceand Bleach all started out as manga series and were soon adapted into three separate animated television series. The Big Three are also well known for how lengthy their storylines were. the Naruto manga finished at 72 volumes, Bleach with 74 volumes and One Piece currently has well over 100 volumes. While these series are great and have their own unique characters and storylines, there are some anime fans who think the Big Three are vastly overrated.

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Sailor Moon (1992 – 1997)

The Big Three have strong characters and monstorus fanbases, but, Sailor Moon Trumps the Big Three in various areas. the Sailor Moon manga has been completed for many years, starting in 1991 and ending in 1997 with 18 volumes. The anime aired a year later in 1991, lasting for a little under a decade before reaching its satisfying conclusion in 1997. Much like the Big Three, Sailor Moon has an extensive and intricate plot line. It also has many movies, video games, and other types of media, creating additional lore for the beloved shojo series.

The characters of Sailor Moon set it apart from the Big Three in many ways. The protagonist, Usagi Tsukino is an average teenager like many well-known shonen heroes. Where Usagi differs, however, is in her role as a magical girl, and the responsibilities that come with it.

Despite their many differences, Sailor Moon shares many of the same qualities that popularized the Big Three. Sailor Moon heavily focuses on the power of friendship and has a protagonist some fans may consider overpowered. Sailor Moon is also very popular among young girls and women, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say it is one of the reasons anime became so popular among western fans.

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Banana Fish (2018)

Despite having a male lead and an almost entirely male cast, Banana Fish was published in a shojo magazine. This may come as a surprise to some fans, but the gender of the protagonist or characters doesn’t matter when it comes to demographics. Banana Fish doesn’t have much in common with any of the Big Three, but, a series doesn’t have to have fantastical action and otherworldly powers to tell an amazing and thought-provoking story. the Banana Fish manga was written by Akimi Yoshida in 1985 and finished in 1994. Over two decades later the animation studio, MAPPA, released an anime adaptation for Banana Fishpulling in old and new fans.

Banana Fish features a story people can relate to and explores deep-rooted, emotionally-provoking trauma and grief with much more care and nuance than any of the Big Three. That isn’t to say the Big Three don’t talk about trauma at all throughout their stories. the Naruto series handles isolation and loneliness much differently than Banana FishNaruto was isolated from his peers because he was “annoying” and adults thought he was a monster. Ash had his childhood ripped away from him by almost every adult male in his life and was groomed into doing sexual favors for much older men.

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Blue Spring Ride (2014)

the Blue Spring Ride manga was first published in 2011 and the series came to an end in 2015 with 13 volumes. Blue Spring Ride couldn’t be further from the Big Three, but it still has better narrative storytelling themes and a more concise plot that keeps the reader interested from start to finish. One of the Big Three’s largest downfalls was each series lasted far too long. Many people who grew up with Naruto or Bleach ended up dropping it after the first few seasons because it kept going without an end in sight, Both series were bogged down by filler episodes, which many fans disliked as well. This issue is less likely to happen with a much shorter, completed series like Blue Spring Ride. That said, the Big Three still have a dedicated fanbase who are, or were, willing to wait for the latest release.

Blue Spring Ride may not be as popular or as well known as the Big Three, but the series also didn’t last for well over a decade. Blue Spring Ride deserves recognition for its distinct characters who don’t need superpowers to set them apart from others. And came to an acceptable, succinct conclusion within a reasonable timeframe. Blue Spring Ride proves mangaka do not have to create a convoluted series with an unmemorable amount of characters to keep fans interested and wanting more.

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The Big Three earned their title for a reason and are great anime in their own right. But, there are definitely some shojo anime that give fans enriching experiences with stories that explore deep, emotional aspects of their character.. Sailor Moon, Banana Fishand Blue Spring Ride are some shojo anime with much better pacing and character development than the Big Three.

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