It sounds as if Anime Season will take a break for the foreseeable future but before she leaves for an extended Otaku O’clock, she agreed to share her list of some good starter Shōjo anime. For those of you not in the know, Shōjo roughly translates to girl and Shōnen means boy, so we’ll be trading some ninjas wielding oversized swords for romance and slice of life stories with this list. Take it away, Anime Season.
My other write ups tend to explore Shōnen anime more than Shōjo anime. Shōjo isn’t a genre I watch as frequently but the following series are accessible in most legal streaming services (because, you know, Japan is cracking the whip on those illegal services, man).
Fruits Basket (2001-2003)
When it comes to starter Shōjo anime, Fruits Basket was one of the first ones I thought of. It has the basic Shōjo structure: Girl must live with—or near—a bunch of guys for plot related reasons, girl befriends the guys and doesn’t want to leave them, and a love triangle ensues. This structure sets up romance that most Shōjo series are known for.
However, in the case of Fruits Basket, there is a strange element that sets it apart from other Shōjo anime. I’ll spare the details since it’s included in every synopsis one can find about Fruits Basket. Since a lot of Shōjo have that romance structure there are some that added in an extra element to make themselves more unique. Fruits Basket incorporates the Chinese Zodiac, teaching viewers what each Zodiac is and encouraging them to learn more about it. It’s also pretty accessible and can be found through multiple streaming services. It’s easy to get into and helps one get accustomed to the Shōjo genre.
Fruits Basket has a straightforward story and continuity. For those who are just getting into anime and want to explore the Shōjo genre, Fruits Basket is one I’d recommend.
My Love Story!!/Ore Monogatari!! (2015)
If one is interested in cute plots featuring role reversal, My Love Story!! is a good start. It has an easy-to-follow storyline featuring the stereotypical best friend character in Shōjo anime as the lead. The main character Takeo wants focuses on getting a girlfriend, but none of the girls like him. His best friend Makoto has zero interest in girls, but every girl falls for him. Forget girls. Makoto has zero interest in anything. I don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to smack that bored look off his face.
Eventually, Gōda finds a girlfriend, Rinko Yamato, and a series of events follow. Gōda performs chivalrous acts and Rinko’s friends don’t approve of him because of his looks. The story is full of cute character moments (such as Rinko baking sweets for Gōda and him gushing over her baking) and takes the time developing each character. I’d recommend it for those looking for something that has a simplistic structure and good storyline.
Revolutionary Girl Utena/Shojo kakumei Utena (1997)
Who wants to be a prince? In the case of Utena Tenjō, that’s all she’s dreamed about since she was rescued by a prince at age eight. Eventually, she joins Ohtori Academy where she gets into the Dueling Game (challenges to possess the Rose Bride—Anthy—to “revolutionize the world”). Throughout the series Utena duels to protect Anthy while making friends along the way.
This series is a blend of Shōjo and Shōnen elements (such as the action scenes and the protagonist rising to be the strongest character). The series focuses on Utena’s nobility and features her aiding other characters. It has good character development and isn’t too long, spanning thirty-nine episodes. If nothing else, Revolutionary Girl Utena is worth the watch since it features a strong female protagonist who beats all the guys. I’d recommend it not only for those looking into the Shōjo genre but for those who enjoy strong female progatonists.
Not only are Fruits Basket, My Love Story!!, and Revolutionary Girl Utena great for those who are just getting into the Shōjo genre, but they’re rewatchable. I’ve found myself turning on Fruits Basket in the background on my tube TV I had mounted on a metal folding chair while doing my freshman science homework. Maybe that was more than you needed to know about my high school life.
Know of any other good Shōjo starter anime? Let us know in the comments.