Shoujo is a part of the manga industry that is primarily directed towards girls of teenage years, but since its inception shoujo has grown from being the shows that only girls watched to the cream of the crop for any anime or manga fan, making the best shoujo anime.
While shounen anime like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z might be the gateway anime for a lot of otakus, shoujo anime like Fruits Basket and Beastars are the deep-rooted classics that hold the attention of real anime fans.
The shows on this list prove that shoujo anime is a part of the anime world that has become essential viewing these days because of the intricate plots, engaging stories, and relatable characters. Also, they question the need that humans have to connect and bond themselves with other people and the trials and tribulations of those connections.
15. Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
This rom-com is set in a prestigious high school where the two heads of the school council are constantly on war but not for status or power but to see who will be the first one to confess their love for another.
The two protagonists in the show come from opposite spheres of the world. Miyuki Shirogane is the student council president who comes with no money and power, who had to fight and claw his way to the top of this prestigious school without any help.
Whereas the titular character of the show, Kaguya Shinomiya is from a rich family and powerful background, someone who hasn’t worked for even a day but always molded herself into the shape that the people around her wanted her to become.
The love between these two is undeniable but the war between them is way more entertaining and brings to light many discussions about class struggle and high school lives.
14. Boarding School Juliet
Just like the title says this is an anime based on the play ‘Romeo and Juliet by William Shakesphere, which is constantly ripped-off whether it be books, movies, or anime. But instead of the usual opposing families trope, there is another twist to the story.
While there are many shows, movies, books that have shifted from the initial families conflict to adopt more nuance to the story, Boarding School Juliet does a 180 to the whole situation. The pair are divided into dorms that are filled with neighboring nations with opposing factions competing in various school activities.
But this doesn’t stop love, just like the greats before them, Juliet Persia and Romio Inuzuka fall deeply in love with each other and now must hide it from all the people around them, while highly competitive rounds of school activities push them to oppose each other constantly.
13. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
The premise for this one may look like a cliche and filled with tropes on paper but has a deeper meaning and mature themes. Our protagonist is a high school student who happens to notice his senpai, who is wearing a bunny girl outfit that is invisible to everyone but him.
The opening guarantees multiple love interests and a sense of this being an ecchi anime series but you would be fooled. This anime shows not the ecchi and harem that every other anime does, but this asks questions about the impact of high school and media and phones on young minds.
Teens and kids in this universe are afflicted by Puberty Syndrome, while the show doesn’t tell us what this does or how it affects the individual, the viewer can see.
The Bunny Girl Senpai, Mai is a popular model and actress who takes a hiatus because of the toll that it has taken on her life. This results in Mai being invisible to the public eye entirely which leads to more depression for her.
This anime uses its supernatural aspect to showcase real-life troubles and tribulations that high schoolers deal with which affect their futures in a long-lasting way.
12. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun
This one is so on the nose with the shoujo anime stuff, that it is genuinely intriguing to watch the creators make up more and more jokes about the shoujo manga industry and the fans.
When Chiyo Sakura finally conveys her feelings for Umetarou Nozaki, he thinks it is because of the shoujo manga that he writes that she is confessing her love to him, but this time Sakura wants him to look at her, not as a fan but lover.
A fan she remains and she becomes an assistant as well, but this turns out to be the best thing for their relationship to blossom. In each episode, they go on adventures to find the inspirations for Sakura’s shoujo manga.
While the premise might be too simplistic and an over-drawn approach for a show, the creators make this a fun and enjoyable ride with colorful characters and tongue-in-cheek commentary about mangakas in general.
11. Kageki Shoujo
This is a heartfelt take on the cruel and competitive world of Japanese Opera singing, while it also showcases the mental health issues that various people in this industry have to suffer just so they can perform on stage.
The central protagonist, Sarasa is a cheerful and optimistic girl who is too tall and too loud to become a real actress in the Opera world, or that is what everyone around her says but she is determined to pursue her dream of one day becoming the best of the best in Opera.
Through the journey of Sarasa, getting admitted to a prestigious school and making friends, and doing school events, we see a wide variety of problems, both physical and mental that these women go through to survive the harsh nature of competitiveness that is often attributed towards the arts and culture industries.
10. Hi-Score Girl
What happens when the person who keeps beating you at the arcade turns out to be your one and only. In this anime, your usual neighborhood boy, Yaguchi stumbles upon Akira, a girl who seems to be the prim and proper high society girl, beating his scores left and right.
With countless nods to the video games like Street Fighter and Streets of Rage, this anime will make you want to dive deeper into the realm of video games. The sensation that you felt when in an arcade you used to beat the hi-score of any game is rekindled in this anime.
This anime brings the two protagonists closer together through the years of teenagehood and adolescence through these games that make them appreciate and value each other’s companionship and eventual love.
9. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for an Otaku
The most mature and realistic depiction of love in any anime, Wotakoi is very clever with its beginning, the whole premise of the story is that two friends who are bonded by the extremities of their love for Otaku stuff decide to date just for the fun of it.
This rolls into the building of a connection unlike any other while also struggling through the trials that love and a relationship brings with it unannounced. The chemistry between the two leads is magnetic and worth visiting the show.
But the real fun begins with the bunch of side characters from the co-workers of the two leads to the younger brother of the male lead and the random otaku they meet online, everyone knows something or the other about being an otaku and also struggling to keep up their personal life because of it.
8. Yona of the Dawn
A classic fantasy anime set in the ancient period of samurai and kingdoms of Japan, this shoujo anime is a bit different from the rest. With a lot more action than your average anime, Yona of the Dawn is also a reverse harem that nails every one of the male lovers that are behind Yona.
Yona, the protagonist, is the titular character of the show who is the princess of the kingdom that we are witnessing growth in the anime. All she wants is to protect her kingdom from the threats of the world.
The romantic element of the show comes from the various men who assist her in her goal of protecting the kingdom and the comedy comes from the adorably cute and often hilarious remarks that Yona is subjected to by her countless male courtiers.
One of the best romance anime to air, Horimiya is the story of the love between Hori-San and Miyamura-Kun and the budding romances of the people around them. Starting as a free webcomic on the Internet and then being adapted to a manga and then being adapted into this amazing anime, this story holds something really special but also nothing special.
A coming of age story about a normal group of teenagers attending a normal high school who are still figuring out what normal means to them. Hori and Miyamura both live double lives in and outside of their schools that nobody knows about until their paths collide.
Living another life, both connect on a deeper level than any of the people that they know of, and as time passes by they form a connection that rings the bells of their heart and strums the strings in their chest. Horimiya is a bliss to watch and an even grander bliss to experience.
6. Banana Fish
This is the most action-packed shoujo anime on this list. A crime drama revolving around Ash and Eiji. This is an adaptation of the 80s manga which influenced a lot of shonen, seinen, and shoujo manga as well as brought a new perspective to the Boys Love genre.
Ash is from a distinctive background, being left by his parents and then being raised by the mafia boss, at 17 he has his gang who are determined to figure out what his brother mentioned since his return, ‘Banana Fish’. This is the mystery encircling the lives of Ash as well as Eiji, a Japanese photographer who gets caught up in the mess that Ash has started.
It is a complicated and comprehensive story tackling mature subjects like gun violence and addiction which any sort of summary will never be able to make the viewer understand the nuance of the show.
If you love anthropomorphic creatures living their life in a real-world with stakes and decisions that are going to change their lives forever, then Beastars is tailor-made for you. Set in a high school, this is the love story of a wolf and a bunny and a pretty amazing one at that.
This is something that you will never see replicate in anime, the metaphors that they garner through just being themselves, a wolf, and a bunny is mind-blowing. The way they are depicted does go to show that there is so much more to romance shows than just the outer layer of affection.
This show deals with really horrifying truths and realizations about the state of our being. Is it true when people say that love doesn’t have any bounds and can pass through any and everything, not just the opinion of others but the nature of your being? These are the questions that Beastars answers and delivers.
4. Yuri on Ice
Another one from the Boys Love genre is a story that took the hearts of many men and women, just because of the way it looked and felt to watch this anime. It is genuinely one of the prettiest animations that you will ever see and the story just helps to elevate that status.
The show that took the Internet by storm, Yuri on Ice is well about Yuri, an ice figure skater getting back into shape and form to once again be on the ice. This story is one of the best LGBTQ+ representations in any anime, showing the relationship between student and master, Yuri and Victor, and their blossoming love for figure skating and each other.
The romance is classy and elegant just like the figure skating performances which are animated to perfection. Just hoping that we get the next season of this amazing instant classic as soon as possible.
3. Fruits Basket
For Fruits Basket, I would highly suggest you see the 2019 redo of the manga adaptation than the oldie but goldie 2001 because of the story’s completion and much more rounded character arc. This show also follows the same approach as Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood or Shaman King, remaking the series to continue the story that manga is trying to tell.
A true to formula love story, Fruits Basket follows Tohru who is currently residing in the same house with the popular boy of her school. But this house is a little different from the rest, being that the Soma clan has beautiful men who transform into animals when hugged by women, this dynamic brings hilarious situations to come to life.
The manga was a breath of fresh air when it launched and is praised as one of the most influential romance mangas of all time. The story has some of the most adorable characters you will ever find in anime and the story takes twists ans turns which leave you wanting ever more from the creators.
One of the most heart-wrenching and tear-jerking picks for a shoujo anime. Orange introduces us to Takamiya Naho, who receives a letter in the mail addressed to her, from herself 10 years in the future. This sets off the journey of Naho to uncover what must have happened in the future that she had to send herself this letter.
This story is about how Naho’s future self, guiding her to protect from harm in the future which she begins by predicting the arrival of Kakeru, the new transfer student who gets involved in Naho’s circle, and how this builds up to Naho and Kakeru to share a deep and loving connection.
The story is an honest depiction of how high school lives and bonds that you make in that period can truly ruin your life, as this guide that Naho has received is about preventing Kakeru’s eventual fall into depression.
1. Sailor Moon
The best in anime, period. Sailor Moon is a franchise that has been an influence for a lot of media that showcases women’s empowerment. Being the only anime that was airing at the time that had a female protagonist fighting against the evils of the world, Sailor Moon is a special show.
The original magical girl, Usagi is dragged onto a planetary fight between forces when she decides to help the cat Luna who Usagi saved from a car accident. Now she has to master her techniques, get good grades and go off to the adventure of a lifetime.
But only getting better at fighting and defeating monsters isn’t the only thing that Sailor Moon is tasked with, finding the long lost Moon Princess, assembling all the other Sailor Guardians as well as finding the Legendary Silver Crystal is now the responsibility of young Usagi, all to save the planet.
With its massive appeal in the Japanese as well as American market, this is the best and the most definitive way to start your shoujo anime journey and transform yourself into Sailor Moon.
This list is just the beginning to get into shoujo anime, with the best and brightest in the world of anime. With more and more top-quality anime releasing every season, it is a pool full of amazing shoujo anime waiting for you to dive in.