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Highly Recommended Manga: The Best of Shoujo and Josei Genre
Hi everyone! It's been a real while since I wrote something! I already have this list from a long time ago but I only found the time to write about it now. Gladly sharing my list of the best shoujo and josei manga I've read so far. I said shoujo and josei but there are actually a few shounen titles mixed in here. I included them anyway because of all the shoujo feels I felt while reading them. These will all surely make your go doki-doki! Hope you like them! :D
16. Shishunki Bitter Change (Shoujo, School Life, Gender Bender)
Shishunki Bitter Change is one of the cutest thing I've actually read. The story is about Yuuta Kimura and Yui Ootsuka, who accidentally swapped bodies during an incident when they were still elementary school students. Three years later, they still haven't figured out how to return to their original bodies but have coped up since after learning about each other as time passed by.
The story is a bit slow-paced but the manga has nicely narrated how the characters have grown in the past three years and how they're currently handling the situation with all those budding feelings (from whom and for who I won't tell haha) that they're still trying to understand and accept. Overall, I believe this one is a must-try.
15. Taiyou no Ie/House of the Sun (Shoujo, Slice of Life, Romance)
Taiyou no Ie is also among one of my favorites and is probably one of the sweetest manga I've come across. The title literally translates to "House of The Sun," and true to its title, the story is warm, as are the main characters of the story.
Mao Motomiya (17 years old), the female protagonist of the story, decided to leave her house after her parents separated. She was asked by her childhood friend Hiro Nakamira (23 years old), the male protagonist, to live with him.
Despite their age gap, their relationship isn't that awkward but feels just naturally cute. The chapters are finely written too, with just the right amount of drama I need. So if you're really into shoujo, this one is also something you shouldn't miss!
14. Strobe Edge (Shoujo, School Life, Romance, Drama)
If I can categorize this manga, I think Strobe Edge would belong to the rarest of gems. It tells the story of Ninako Kinoshita (main female protagonist), who falls in love with with a guy who already has a girlfriend (Ren Ichinose, main male protagonist). Ninako realizes her feelings for Ren early on but decides to keep it hidden, but you know, things just tend to happen (sorry won't spoil!). Anyway, what's interesting is how similar the two of them actually are and how they slowly find out about this, with the help of the second leads in this story.
I read Ao Haru Ride (from the same mangaka as Strobe Edge, Sakisaka Io) before reading this one and I always thought even until now that Ao Haru is really, really good but I personally think that Strobe Edge is more unique, and it also left a deeper impact on me. Strobe Edge scenes were very well executed and there was less cliche than your average shoujo manga. The main characters are also very cute and our female lead is like a walking ball of sunshine! Anyway, if you want something lighter (Ao Haru Ride was heavy for me, the tone was even too dark sometimes), this would actually be a better choice than Ao Haru!
13. Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (Shounen, Comedy, School Life, Romance)
Yankee-kun to Megane-chan was one of the first few manga I really fell in love with. The plot is about Daichi Shinagawa (male protagonist), a delinquent high school student who met a former delinquent, Hana Adachi (female protagonist) who is now convincing him to enjoy and live their high school life to the fullest.
This series was just so beautiful, I got super hooked into it! The characters were all adorable, the humor was great, it was long but not as dragging as Yamada-kun and the 7 Witches, and the romance was really my kind of love story - except that the ending was such a disappointment. I would have ranked this higher if not for that utterly devastating ending but oh well, all in all, everything except the ending is that good that I was able to get over it eventually and am still highly recommending people to experience this masterpiece.
12. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge/The Wallflower (Shoujo, Comedy, Drama, Slice of Life)
I really didn't want to watch this at first because of the art but thank the heavens I gave this a try (yes I watched the anime first and only started reading because the episodes weren't enough)!
Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge is about a girl named Sunako Nakahara (main female protagonist), who started living with four dazzling and beautiful creatures in the form of Kyohei Takano (main male protagonist), Takenaga Oda, Yukinojo Toyama, and Ranmaru Morii. For everyone's reference, Sunako hates anything radiant and beautiful, be it the sun, the stars, or human beings. Thus begins her life of suffering, as the four boys aim to transform her into a perfect lady to get free rent from Sunako's aunt who owns the house in which they all live.
This manga is really one of my all-time favorites because it is simply heartwarming. Honestly, the other characters are just average but Sunako and Kyohei were just so wonderfully made that the series would survive with just the main characters around. Haven't even finished this because they stopped updating so if anyone finds Chapters 136 onwards, please please please share with me! :D
11. Ao Haru Ride/Blue Spring Ride (Shoujo, Romance, Drama, School Life)
Ao Haru Ride is a story about the high school reunion of Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Mabuchi who were once middle school classmates. After meeting again, they both found how much they both changed, and later on they will find out the reason for these changes, as well as how to cope up with everything so far, and their present feelings for each other.
I would describe Ao Haru Ride as bittersweet, it's really good but there was just too much drama for me to handle. That's not to say I didn't like it, it's just that this isn't something I would like to read over and over again, compared to Strobe Edge.
10. Last Game (Shoujo, Comedy, Drama, School Life)
Last Game is a really sweet poor girl-rich guy story, without the Ouran-level riches, about Mikoto Kujou and Naoto Yanagi. Kujou, our female lead who happened to be poor, transfers to Yanagi's school and they become classmates. She beats her in every single damn thing and he wants revenge, only to fall for her so early in the story.
I won't spoil anymore but this is really one of the sweetest and most heartwarming manga stories I've read, with similar feels to Taiyou no Ie. Just prepare yourself for a really dense female MC but all in all, this is highly recommended for me.
10. Last Game
9. Hirunaka no Ryuusei/Daytime Shooting Star (Shoujo, Romance, School Life, Drama)
Hirunaka no Ryuusei is the student-teacher love story of Suzume Yosano (high school student) and Satsuki Shishio (her homeroom teacher). It's the usual story of the main female MC transferring from the province to Tokyo, meeting new friends, a love interest, and then a love triangle later, except that this, isn't you usual love story. AT LEAST NOT MY KIND OF STORY.
If you'll allow me to be honest, well, this manga gave me cancer. It was really good! My typical and ideal shoujo: well-drawn, clear art, heart-throbbing, this is literally everything that is good about Shoujo, until well, no spoilers really, you just gotta read it.
8. Kuragehime/Princess Jellyfish (Josei, Fashion, Romance, Comedy, Gender Bender)
You have to believe me when I say that this is one of the most beautiful josei manga out there, and really, I mean everything is beautiful about this manga: the characters, the art, the plot, the anime adaptation, development, name it, they got it.
The story centers on the lives of our female otakus living in one apartment, fearing and despising everything beautiful, until they meet our godess Kurako. Kuragehime is about understanding and embracing beauty, and opening up to a world our characters didn't know until now. All the characters are sweet, adorable, fluffy, and innocent, who'll teach us a thing or two about beauty, life, friendships, and love.
7. Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji/Wolf Girl and Black Prince (Shoujo, Shool Life, Romance, Comedy)
Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji is a shoujo manga about Erika Shinohara, a high school student who pretended to have a boyfriend by showing a random guy's photo to her friends. The guy in the photo, Sata Kyouya, of course, turned out to be someone from the same school. He agreed to pretend as her boyfriend, as long as she follows whatever he orders.
This is a typical mean tsundere guy and highly positive and energetic girl story but this one is really lovable and honest and sweet. I never found the MCs annoying and the way they responded to the conflicts presented in the story is something I really liked. Personally, the problems and resolutions that happened throughout the story felt natural and wasn't forced, something that I especially liked in this manga. If you're looking for something cute and light, this is definitely for you! :)
6. Kimi ni Todoke (Shoujo)
Kimi ni Todoke is definitely one of the sweetest and most heartwarming stories out there. It tells the story of Sawako Kuronuma, a shy, honest girl but an outcast in her class, and Shota Kazehaya, the exact opposite of Sawako who is bright, outgoing, and loved by all. Despite being polar opposites, they began liking each other's company, and with the help of Kazehaya, Sawako makes new friends and opportunities, and experiences.
The supporting characters have interesting narratives too. A few times their stories even felt more refreshing than the MCs. It was initially light and all fluffy but would get more serious as the plot progresses. All in all, I really think this is one of the best! I love almost everything about it, the art, plot, and the characters of course. Be sure to check this one out if you haven't yet!
5. Sket Dance (Shounen)
I think Sket Dance is a real masterpiece and a definite must-read in the school life/slice of life genre. The manga centers on the SKET Dance/Club with Bossun (Yusuke Fujisaki), Himeko (Hime Onizuka), and Switch (Kazuyoshi Usui) as members. They aim to help people in need, and get requests and cases throughout the series.
Cases and conflicts are mostly stand-alone stories, and often gets resolved in one or two chapters, but the plot is solid and the arcs are seamlessly connected. The strength of Sket Dance as a manga lies in the narrative of its characters, and the portrayal not just of the MCs but of the different groups in setting as well. I especially loved watching Sket Dance's team work, character development, and relationships with the supporting characters. You'll also find several characters with some really captivating backstories.
For a shonen manga, it had a perfect blend of comedy, drama, with just the right amount of romance. Well I would have loved a bit more romance, but given that friendships and the characters' dreams are more central here, I guess it should be fine. This is definitely among my top favorites!
4. Horimiya (Shounen)
Horimiya, (full title: Hori-san to Miyamura-kun) made it to top 4 because this is the most feel good thing I've ever read. It's about the fun but weird relationship (yes weird, and mostly Hori's fault though) between protagonists Hori Kyouko and Miyamura Izumi. The story begins when they both discovered that they are not who they try to appear to be in school, kept this as a secret, and learned more of each other.
What I especially like in this manga is the absence of the usual drama, misunderstandings and cliche conflicts found in most stories. Horimiya sets itself apart by being able to tell a an excellent storyline despite the absence of the cliche elements found in manga series of a similar nature/genre. Horimiya could be the most refreshing title among romantic, comedy, and slice of life genre. Also, almost forgot to mention that this one is tagged as shonen.
3. Kimi no Iru Machi/A Town Where You Live (Shounen)
Kimi no Iru Machi (english title: A Town Where You Live), tells the lives of Haruto Kirishima and Yuzuki Eba as high school students. The story begins with Yuzuki helping Haruto to earn the love of his long time crush Nanami Kanzaki, and how the two main characters grew more closer instead. They eventually became a couple but met problems along the way. The story would continue with the main characters moving to Tokyo, and then eventually them as college students. There would be several new character additions at this point, and eventually, it will tell their lives as adults.
It is unexpected that I found Kimi no Iru Machi is one of the best love stories I've read given that I hate, hate, hate harem a lot. There was also too much fan service which I'm personally not a fan of. What probably made me love this was how realistic the story felt, and how each stages in the main character's life was distinctly and uniquely told. The drama was yes, bad for my heart, but the struggles of the characters felt damn real. So yes, this is definitely my kind of drama. And like Horimiya, this is also a Shonen manga.
2. Chihayafuru (Josei)
Now we're down to my second best romantic drama, Chihayafuru, which is probably my best josei pick at the moment. The manga is about competitive Karuta (a Japanese card playing game using Karuta cards of 100 tanka poems printed in yomifuda and torifuda) revolving around the lives of the three main characters, Chihaya Ayase, Taichi Mashima, and Arata Wataya. It tells the story of how they became friends through Karuta, and later on, how Karuta still plays an important role in their lives as high school students.
The series will definitely make you appreciate Karuta as a sports and get you more interested in Japanese culture if you aren't so into it yet. The story will focus on the formation of Misuzawa High School Karuta Club and its members. Main elements are team work, and their relationships within the team, and towards other Karuta clubs and societies. What I love about Chihayafuru the most is how the games and matches are beautifully told in both the manga and anime, but of course I'd love the see the end game of the romance in this above all. Chihayafuru is still ongoing, and this is definitely on of the few titles left that I'm still closely following. If you haven't tried this yet, I'd recommend you to watch the anime first before trying the manga out because Karuta scenes are action-packed and for me, best seen animated.
1. Akatsuki no Yona (Shoujo)
We're finally down to the best shoujo manga of my life: Akatsuki no Yona. This is about Yona, former princess of the Kingdom of Kouka, who was chased out of the castle with her childhood friend and bodyguard, Son Hak. The two begin their journey by searching for the four legendary dragon warriors in order to survive and help the Kingdom of Kouka.
Despite being tagged under shoujo, the plot and action is more akin to several shounen manga. Every single element in this story is finely told, from the art, characters, setting, and plot. I think this is Mizuno Kuzanagi's best work yet, and it continues get better each chapter. All the character have come a looooong way from when they were first introduced, and we keep on getting surprised at each turn of events. The fantasy element fits the story perfectly and further spices up things, and the romance, God the romance keeps on getting better each update!
If you haven't seen or read this yet, you may find the pace slow in the beginning but when it picks up, you won't be able to stop reading anymore (I warned you). Akatsuki no Yona is definitely my One Piece in this genre!