Getting into Shōjo Anime: Some Good Starters

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.


Final Thoughts

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.

Death Note: The Anime is Better Than the Manga

Is there snow in forecast or is it Anime Season? I’m sure our resident anime/manga geek Season appreciates the joke at her name’s expense. She’s going to break down why the Death Note anime is better than the manga. Take it away, Anime Season.

Usually, it’s the other way around, right? The manga typically doesn’t include huge filler arcs and has a more consistent flow than the anime. Typically. In the case of Death Note, not only does the format in which it’s presented in the anime suit it better, the ending has a more accurate depiction of a certain character in the anime than the manga. Spoiler alert. Let’s get started.

The first issue with the Death Note manga is the type of storytelling Ohba is presenting. Death Note is a detective story with supernatural elements and is dialogue heavy. I mean very dialogue heavy. Page after page of the Death Note manga contains blocks of text as each of the characters expresses their thoughts. This doesn’t allow for good flow in the manga since it’s easy to zone out in the sea of text. I had to go back on several occasions just to appreciate the artwork (which Obata did an amazing job of). In Death Note 13: How to Read, Ohba states that he cut down on a lot of the text. Dude, what did you originally have? Never mind. I don’t want to know.


As far as the anime goes with the dialogue, that much of it is fine. As a viewer, one doesn’t have to read the text (unless you’re watching it subbed) and can just listen and watch the characters’ reactions. Since it’s animated in this format, even if the characters talk a lot, they’re also moving and doing other things. For instance, L is always stacking or making something out of, say, coffee creamer pods, while he talks. This keeps the viewer engaged while progressing the story. The manga does show this, but since it’s depicted in a panel and the reader is focused on what L is saying, it gets lost. There is a segment in the manga (I believe it’s in volume 11—don’t quote me on that) that has several panels of pictures, showing what each of the characters is doing. More of that should have been included.

My second point contains major spoilers. Read at your own discretion. The ending in the anime made way more sense than the ending in the manga. For those who have seen Death Note in both formats and disagree with me, hear me out. In the anime, Light runs away, wounded, and collapses on a staircase in a warehouse, with Ryuk writing Light’s name down in his Death Note, killing him. In the manga, Light has a panic attack after getting shot several times and begs Ryuk to save him. Ryuk still writes Light’s name down in his Death Note and kills him. Ryuk killing Light was foreshadowed in both the manga and anime versions, so that was fine. Light freaking out in the manga and begging Ryuk for his life was not. That isn’t Light’s character. In Death Note 13: How to Read, Obata states that he wanted to express all of Light’s pent up emotions in one huge psychological breakdown. Basically, he wanted to draw Light in anguish just because he could. Again. That isn’t Light’s character.


A cult dedicated to Light (Kira) was also shown at the tail end of the manga. Why? I can understand that people still worship his ideals, but this makes it look like there’s going to be a part two to the story. I don’t think there will be twelve years after the final volume was published, but this is unnecessary. This is something the reader can infer based on the general public’s reception to Light throughout the series.

I’d recommend the Death Note anime over the manga, but that doesn’t mean the manga is horrible. I don’t think the Death Note concept suits the manga as well as it does the anime. For those who have seen the anime and are looking for something to read the manga will definitely keep you occupied for a while.

Did we miss anything? Do you agree with our arguments? Do you prefer the Death Note anime or the manga? Let us know in the comments.

3 Lists of 3 Anime

Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since this anime geek has gone on a tangent about anime and she’s raring to dive in with a three lists of three. This week’s three lists of three will look at various anime. All three lists of three will have similar themes, but look at different aspects of that theme.

Spoiler alert: some endings may be revealed. Ready to geek out over anime?

Overlooked anime


Paranoia Agent (2005)

Paranoia Agent may be a bit of a mixed bag since most of the reviews online are fan-made. That being said, Satoshi Kon is better known for his movie, Paprika. Paranoia Agent may seem nonsensical and weird for the sake of being weird at first, but as the series progresses, the audience learns that everything happens for a reason. Each occurrence in Paranoia Agent bears significance to future events, and eventually, the end of the series. The continuity in this series is detailed. If this one doesn’t sound appealing, the “happy” opening theme is certainly memorable.


Ranma ½ (1989)

Rumiko Takahashi is best known for her series Inuyasha. While Inuyasha isn’t a bad series, it contains a lot of tropes, and, wrap me in a straitjacket, but I don’t remember much of the story. Ranma ½ uses some of these tropes while taking a comedic spin on them (such as Akane being a tsundere (kind-hearted but beats up the object of her affection) and Ryoga constantly getting lost). Since Ranma switches between male and female, the series puts traditional gender roles to the forefront. The characters find themselves in hilarious situations and I think the series deserves more credit.


Mushi-Shi (2005)

Mushi-Shi is one of the stranger series out there. The main character, Ginko, travels from town to town, dispelling supernatural/fantastical occurrences that are causing problems. Mushi-Shi is easy to get lost in with its unique stories and visuals, and calming sound effects. This series is a good escape from reality and doesn’t receive a lot of attention.

Overrated anime


Sword Art Online (2012)

This one seems like it should be obvious, right? Depending on who you ask, Sword Art Online is either their favorite anime or their least favorite. I’ve heard someone say they like the light novels (books that have manga images but read like chapter books) as opposed to the anime, which I’m willing to give a go, since I’ve heard the original source material has better writing. Regardless, Sword Art Online has an inconsistent storyline that had an unnecessary number of episodes in the beginning. They should have condensed most of Season 1 into a couple of episodes as opposed to nine or ten. There are some things Sword Art Online does well, such as having the characters grow attached to an AI, which questions values. On the other hand, it doesn’t show the psychological effects of being trapped in an artificial world, not knowing who your true allies are. An anime that does a better job of this is Btooom!, which one of the characters has a mental breakdown.


Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu) (2015)

I’m going to be honest. I love Assassination Classroom. I even have a Nagisa hat and tee shirt of the gang. The reason Assassination Classroom made this list is primarily because of Koro-Sensei. He says he wants to educate the kids and asks them to kill him while simultaneously saying they’ll never be able to kill them and dampening their self-esteem, which is contradictory. Why would he build their confidence and smother it at the same time? On top of that he’s threatening to blow up the world. It isn’t clear throughout most of the series whether he cares about these kids and wants them to aspire to something, or if he’s busying himself with being a teacher so he won’t get bored. Granted, they explain his motivation toward the end of the series, but it isn’t timed well. This is right before—spoilers—Koro-Sensei dies. Despite this, they do an excellent job of giving each of the characters an adequate amount of screen time, which is difficult to do with twenty plus characters.


Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Chances are if you’re into Shojo anime, there’s a good chance that this series has either been trafficked to you from streaming services or is one of the top results from an online search. It certainly was one of my favorite Shojo anime for several years. I watched the series five or six times, listened to the soundtrack, and looked up fanart. Yeah, I went a little crazy. The point of it was to break down Shojo tropes and make fun of them. This didn’t get across well in the anime and it ended up fortifying those tropes. The manga did a better job of deconstructing the Shojo genre, but not by much. It had a lot of editor’s notes to explain what was going on. Anyway, back to the anime, which did have some good episodes, one example being episode fifteen: “The Refreshing Battle of Karuizawa!” This episode gives the audience some much needed character development, but the series is already more than halfway over by this point. Most of the other episodes stuck to character stereotypes and overused themes. We don’t need another Alice in Wonderland parody.

Anime that were popular when they came out but haven’t withstood the test of time


Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009)

Remember that time when Hetalia: Axis Powers had a slew of fanart and doujins being published on a daily basis? What happened between the early to mid-2010s that sent this series downhill? So, what happened? Maybe the gimmick got old. Maybe people started to realize what they thought was cute was actually offensive to a lot of people. Whatever the reason, Hetalia: Axis Powers isn’t nearly as popular as it once was.


Free! (2013)

When Free! came out it was hyped by gals and made fun of by guys due to the main characters being sexy high school boys in Speedos. I’m not joking. Its popularity lasted for a few years, even spawning another season, titled Free! Eternal Summer. The series itself was okay and didn’t have as much fanservice as I’d anticipated. They took the time to develop the characters to some degree. However, Free! dropped off the map a couple of years ago.


Bleach (2004)

I know. Bleach is still a popular series, but it isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be. Neither is Naruto for that matter. In fact, Naruto was originally going to make this list due to its poorly placed filler, but after looking at several polls, Naruto was the clear winner in the vast majority of them. Bleach had a lot of filler too, but the timing of the filler was better than Naruto, so it was easier to watch. The writing got progressively worse after the Arrancar arc and ended up being an endless cycle of Ichigo losing and regaining his powers. If they decided to end the series after the Arrancar arc, I think Bleach would have left a better legacy.

There are a lot of anime out there that could make these lists. Do you agree with the ones chosen? Which anime do you think should be included in these lists? Let us know in the comments.