You may not know this about me and if you actually knew me you’d be surprised by my love of Shōjo manga and anime; as a late 20’s male who spends his Sundays mostly watching the NFL and CNBC I’m not exactly the targeted demographic of these series. However that being said I really do love “girly” manga and anime and in fact enjoy them just as much as the mecha and Shōnen shows I so often write about. So to switch things up a bit between Naruto and Gundam articles I thought I’d write about a topic that seems to get less press around these parts then it should.
Kaichou wa Maid-sama!: This certainly fits in the category of comedy ever men can like. Starring Misaki Ayuzawa as the first female Student Body President of a formerly all girls school she takes it upon herself to protect the female population from their less then civil male classmates. To do this she rules with an iron fist; in fact she is less a President then an elected dictator with the full power of a fictional Japanese disciplinary committee backing her. However due to coming from a less then well off family she has a secret job as an Maid at a Maid Cafe where she assumes a subservient role serving her totally male clientele.
Once this secret is discovered by Takumi Usui the almost too ideal popular boy at school, she fears her double life is destroyed. However despite knowing her secret Takumi aids her in keeping her secret and becomes a valued confident and eventually the man in her life. Now despite their more creepy borderline stalkerish early encounters Misaka and Takumi are always on totally equal footing. Because of their co-equal relationship the show (and gags) flow organically and feel actually real despite the less then believable circumstances. Really for a fantastic escape from reality you can’t do much better the Kaichou was Maid-sama!
The Vision of Escaflowne: I’ve written about The Vision of Escaflowne a few times due to the fact it’s one of my top five favorite animes of all time and the most important anime in my introduction to the medium. In fact I’d say if it wasn’t for this show I’d almost certainly not be writing this article right now. Now to get the elephant out of the room YES The Vision of Escaflowne is a Shōjo anime if you disagree well... you clearly don’t know the genre.
Anyways despite being outwardly about Van the King of Fanelia the true heart of the series flows around Hitomi Kanzaki a high school student pulled by destiny to save a world. Despite its outward trappings of the mecha genre Escaflowne is a story of love, dedication, and war. Beautifully animated The Vision of Escaflowne even now remains a treasure to behold. Beyond that however despite some narrative misques in the third act the story stands up to everything that has come before. Even after nearly twenty years this remains one of the best animes ever produced.
Sailor Moon: I really won’t go into too much detail on this particular series as its been done time and time again. However Sailor Moon’s importance cannot be overstated as in many ways it paved the way for every series on this list. Previous to Sailor Moon it was an open question of if anime marketed to girls would actually be a success. The show’s initial run was a mixed bag however over time it became clear yes it could sell. All around the show is just a lot of fun and hopefully the episode count doesn’t scare you off.
Skip Beat!: Ya... not going to lie I’m watching this right now. The story of Kyoko Mogami a girl who built her entire life around her childhood friend/assumed husband Shotaro. However once Sho (his stage name) become an insanely popular singer/idol/celebrity and drops Kyoko like a sack of potatoes; this results in Kyoko’s awakening of her “Pandora’s Box” of darkness and decides to seek revenge by becoming even more popular then him! Following this she becomes an actress at an agency that rivals his own where she meets Tsugara Ren the outwardly perfect celebrity who is in fact quite troubled himself. Hinjinks ensue.
What makes this franchise so popular though is Kyoko quickly moves past her stated goal of revenge. Although it flares up from time to time she dedicates herself to becoming a better actress and through that a self actualized human. In short it’s a story of a girl growing up and moving away from a broken heart and realizing that she can love without giving everything to her man.
Revolutionary Girl Utena: To be honest I tend to avoid writing about Utena if I can help it due to its more then surreal and metaphysical nature. However a article called Shōjo Amazing! would just be incomplete without it so I’ll have to work through my issues. Utena is another example of simple premise but broad story when the main character Utena Tenjou must fight a series of challengers to protect the “Rose Bride” from harm.
Utena is not unique in its use of animation to convey story themes but it is unique in it’s sheer amount of them. Really every episode is full of references and allusions to works of amazing importance to the English canon such as Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, and even the best of the Republican Roman tradition Cicero. It’s an anime that makes you think while keeping you enterained. In short it’s a masterpiece.
Cardcaptoror Sakura: I could early include most CLAMP series on this list but that would be boring and long. So I’ll include only a couple (I Promise). The plot of Cardcaptor Sakura is a simple one a young girl is tasked by a plush toy/Magical winged Lion (Yes Kero-chan is AMAZING) to capture the Clow Cards and become their masters; thereby fulfilling her destiny passed down through blood. Okay now that I think about it, not really so simple but still entertaining. Through the series she must overcome various trials and tribulations including the quazi-antagonistic attitude of her rival/eternal partner Syaoran Li.
Again like most on this list despite being outwardly about magical issues the heart of the story (like most CLAMP manga’s) revolves around growth. In this case Sakura grows from being an admittedly talented young girl into one of the most powerful mages of all time. However more importantly during the journey she finds out more about herself and her place in the world. The fact its a mastery of the medium of manga and anime is why it was a travesty that for decades a true version of the anime wasn’t available for Western release.
You can see more of my views here.
Ouran High School Host Club: This has been getting some well deserved attention recently here and as such I won’t go into too much detail. Basically I’ll say this the series is so good it spawned its own genre. Previously to Ouran High school Host Club the reverse harem genre was populated by one good girl five bad boys. Now we find one good girl five actually good guys. Apparently it’s popular to watch and read enjoyable characters you’d actually want to interact with in reality. Go figure...
X(/1999): I promised only a couple of CLAMP Manga and here is my second. Easily CLAMP’s darkest manga/anime it’s a sequel to the more yaoi themed Tokyo Babylon and is the account of the battle for the end of the world. As an apocalyptic manga the series is a dark one with multiple deaths and some seriously thought provoking stuff; CLAMPS favorite theme of destiny vs free will is a key component. Furthermore unlike most series on this list this is an ensemble cast with almost enough characters for most people to find SOMEBODY to like. I personally like Subaru and Kamui.
This series is in my personal opinion the mostly beautifully animated and drawn series in all of the CLAMPdom, I’m not lying when I say I just sit in my bed and look at some pictures on the page for way longer then I should it’s really that well drawn. Sadly the only draw back of this series and it’s a huge one is this it’s been on indefinite hiatus for over a decade with perhaps only 3-7 chapters left to be made. This is a story of the end of the world without an ending and its EXCRUCIATING CLAMP does this often but this is without any doubt their worst offender.
Well I hope you all liked this little write up. If you think I missed anything PLEASE leave it in the comments. As always reading your thoughts are the best part of writing.