Shoujo manga can be very refreshing to read. It also contains a wide selection of genres, with most of them involving romance but others also having premises that include magic girls, slice-of-life, and more.
We have already covered the shonen manga series and also made a list of seinen manga, so creating a list featuring the best manga titles from the shoujo category was the next step. And that’s what I did in this article!
The shoujo category is one of the most popular genres of the media; it is indeed one of those categories that can be difficult to explore, especially for newcomers that know nothing about the world of manga. In short, the term “shoujo” means “girl,” and the titles in this category are targeted toward young female audiences under 18 years old.
Even though it is a very niche category, it still features titles that fall under multiple genres, and there are several shoujo manga series that have become very popular since their debuts. Thus, I want to share with you what I believe are some of the best titles you can read if you want to indulge yourself with shoujo titles.
Best Shoujo Manga Series in 2023
1. Kaichou wa Maid-sama! by Hiro Fujiwara
Seika High School used to be an all-boys school, but this recently changed in the last couple of years. Even then, at present, only 20% of the students are girls, and, to make a positive change for her female comrades, Misaki Ayuzawa became the student council president.
She does her best to make the school a more comfortable place for the other students and shoulders the expectations of both students and teachers. However, she secretly works in a maid café, when working is forbidden by the school’s rules. This secret is witnessed by the most popular male student of the school, Takumi Usui, and he decides to keep the secret, but this results in a series of events involving both of them.
As a very popular manga in the shoujo category, I believe Kaichou wa Maid-sama can be an excellent place to start if you are a beginner. It’s also relatively easy to read since it only consists of 18 volumes!
2. Yona of the Dawn by Mizuho Kusanagi
To switch things up, let’s talk about Yona of the Dawn. This shoujo manga relies not only on romance as one of its core foundations but also on the action, adventure, and fantasy genres with a pinch of historical drama. It’s also longer than most series, with 26 volumes to enjoy.
Yona was the sole princess of the Kouka kingdom. She leads a relatively peaceful life inside the well-known Hiryuu castle, having everything a member of the royalty could enjoy, from fancy clothes to the most extravagant food.
Everything changes when she’s betrayed by a person she used to trust unconditionally. She decides to trust an old legend involving legendary dragons and, to save the kingdom, she embarks on a journey alongside her bodyguard, Son Hak, to recover what she lost and save the country she adores.
3. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
After her mother dies in an accident, Tohru Honda is sent to live with her grandfather. Being a little senile, her grandfather decides to renovate his house so Tohru can live with him. But she takes the challenge to live by herself and takes a job to pay for her expenses, only managing to pay for a tent to live in a forest.
One of her classmates, Yuki Sohma, tells her that the forest was part of the land that the Sohma family owned. Yuki decides to take her with him and help her out, but during an event involving another family member, she discovers that the Sohma family is cursed. The family members turn into animals related to the Chinese Zodiac when they have contact with a member of the opposite sex.
4. Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
Sailor Moon is probably one of the most famous shoujo manga series one can read, released in 1992. The series introduces a complex plot that develops as you go on, introducing even more characters as you read.
At first, however, the series starts following Usagi Tsukino as she establishes a friendship with a black-talking cat called Luna. Luna gives Usagi a brooch that allows her to turn into Sailor Moon, a soldier who is fated to save the world from the forces of evil aiming to destroy Earth and the universe as we know it.
Usagi eventually forms a team of other Sailor soldiers, including Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus. They also eventually discover the truth behind their powers and why they were chosen to be Sailor warriors, all while they fight the malicious Dark Kingdom.
5. Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori
Ouran High School Host Club is often referred to as one of the classics of the reverse harem genre, and of course, it also features tons of comedy and drama.
As the name implies, the series introduces Ouran High School as one of the most elite high schools, and our main protagonist, Haruhi Fujioka, attends it thanks to a scholarship. One day, she accidentally visits the Ouran host club, a club of hosts composed of students that entertain clients with their charisma, primarily aimed at female clients.
To her regret, she breaks a vase that is estimated to cost around 8,000,000 Japanese Yen, which is close to $80,000! Since most of the club members believe Haruhi is a man at first, they make “him” work to pay for it, discovering her innate talent as a host. Of course, the truth is eventually revealed, and Haruhi’s relationship with the other club members will only get more complex.
6. Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki
In Kamisama Kiss, Nanami Momozono was pretty much abandoned by her father after he incurred a massive debt due to gambling and lost their house in the process. Finding herself homeless in the middle of a park, she saves a young man from a dog, who then rewards her with two things – a house and the right to become a goddess.
At first, Nanami does not believe his words, but when she arrives at the “house,” it appears to be a temple, which is home to Tomoe, a familiar of the previous god who doesn’t want to accept Nanami as his new owner and master. Nanami will then try to prove to other gods that she can become one. She will face the many struggles the spiritual world faces because of technology’s development and the abandonment of faith.
7. Skip Beat! by Yoshiki Nakamura
This story of Skip Beat! begins with the tragic story of Kyoko Mogami, a 16 years old girl who flees from home with her boyfriend, Sho, all to continue their relationship and help Sho fulfill his dreams of becoming a singer.
Poor Kyoko regularly works to pay for all expenses while Sho slowly becomes a famous singer. Still, the dream is shattered when she witnesses Sho flirting with his female manager, claiming that Kyoko is nothing but a servant to him. Feeling furious rather than sad, she takes it upon herself to take revenge by achieving Sho’s dream of becoming a star, joining a talent company known as LME under Tsuruga Ren, a man Sho despises.
Things don’t go as planned since Kyoko has lost her capacity to love, which, according to Tsuruga Ren, is necessary to become a star. Thus, he makes her join a group called Love Me, which is dedicated to helping talents find themselves and develop self-love and love toward others.
8. Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka
The main character of Ao Haru Ride, Futaba, has always been popular with boys, which has cost her her friends on many occasions. For her high school debut, she decides to change her attitude to be less feminine so that other girls wouldn’t get jealous of her. But in her new school, she meets with the only boy she had fallen in love with, Kou, a boy who transferred before she could even confess her feelings.
This troubles her since Kou’s attitude has changed considerably, as he has become a much colder person. Surprised by his new attitude and the personality he used to display back in the day, she now doesn’t know whether she still loves him or not. So she tries to get closer to him to decipher her feelings.
9. Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina
This manga ended up becoming one of the classics of the shoujo genre, thanks to both its manga and its anime adaptation, two popular pieces for enthusiasts of both fields. Moreover, the manga is finished, so you can binge-read it without issues!
Kimi ni Todoke tells the story of Sawako, who is often called Sadako by her classmates as a reference to the girl in the movie “The Ring,” mainly because of their incredible resemblance. Even then, Sawako is a very kind and gentle girl who thrives on being of help to those surrounding her and dreams of making many friends.
Sadly, this is almost impossible because of her classmates’ prejudice against her. Things begin to change when Sawako makes a new friend, Shouta Kazehaya, a popular and cheerful guy known for his kindness. Thanks to this friendship, Sawako starts opening her shell and making even more friends as both slowly develop deeper feelings.
10. Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP
This title is one of the legendary shoujo manga series on this list, mainly because of how popular it was worldwide back when it was serialized. Most people don’t know that the manga title is much different than the anime, with the manga developing the relationship between the characters in more detail.
Cardcaptor Sakura introduces the young girl Sakura as she discovers a book filled with cards. This book is protected by a guardian named Kero, a small and yellow cat-like creature with wings proclaiming that it is now Sakura’s responsibility to complete the book since most cards are missing. They might cause a catastrophe if nothing is done.
Sakura then receives the power to use and seal the cards, and alongside Kero and her best friend, Tomoyo, she will recover all the cards, also known as Clow Cards. Along the way, she will eventually meet her rival, Shaoran Li, a direct descendant of the creator of the cards, Clow Reed.
11. Kase-san Series by Hiromi Takeshima
Yui Yamada is a timid student who enjoys gardening and regularly cares for the school’s garden. Tomoka Kase, on the other hand, is a very athletic girl. They become friends, and this friendship slowly develops into a romantic relationship. This series follows their struggles and the many things they will face as they live as students.
12. High School Debut by Kazune Kawahara
Haruna gave her best for the softball club of her secondary school. Now that she’s in high school, she wants to mix things up and achieve a new goal – get a boyfriend and fall in love. The thing is, she has never been into fashion or trends, so she has no idea how to become more attractive, something she considers essential to achieve her goal.
She casually meets and befriends You Komiyama, a popular senior who teaches her how to become more fashionable and attractive. But the transaction has a condition – Haruna can’t fall in love with You under any circumstances.
13. Banana Fish by Akimi Yoshida
This shoujo manga series’ premise revolves around two words, “Banana Fish.” At first, the story introduces a soldier in 1973 in Vietnam, and this specific soldier mutters the two words. Afterward, back in New York, Ash Lynx receives a mysterious gift from a homeless man as he says the same exact words.
Eiji is then introduced as he arrives in New York to research the world of gangs, and he meets Ash. Both of them will find themselves involved with the world of the Mafia, all for the sake of discovering the truth behind “Banana Fish.”
14. Orange by Ichigo Takano
Orange is an interesting shoujo manga series because it introduces many different topics, some of which can be rare to find in the world of shoujo titles, such as depression and future messages.
At first, we have the story’s main character, Naho, as she receives messages from the future predicting an event involving a transfer student named Kakeru. Ignoring the message, she approaches Kakeru and invites him to hang out with her and his friends, which results in something terrible happening.
Naho receives more letters afterward, and believing the reality she’s facing, she decides to follow the letter’s instructions, as they claim that Kakeru will commit suicide in the future. Things will become even more complex as more of Naho’s friends are introduced to the title’s premise, and Kakeru’s past is presented to everyone.
15. Lovely★Complex by Aya Nakahara
As the name implies, the story introduces a relationship filled with complexes. Firstly, we have Risa, a very tall girl who enjoys playing video games and can be timid. Secondly, we have Atsushi, a small young man who, even though he’s shorter than most, is the ace of his school’s basketball club.
Risa and Atsushi are close friends and enjoy spending time together, even when they initially would get at each other’s throats. Because of the difference in stature, people often refer to them as the dynamic duo of the first year. As they eventually reveal to one another their crushes, they decide to help one another to fulfill their love lives. And, of course, things will not go as they initially intended.
16. Nana by Ai Yazawa
Nana is one of those classic shoujo manga series that sadly has not been finished yet, at least its manga counterpart, due to a long-lasting hiatus. Even then, reading it can be an enjoyable experience, and it is often considered one of the most mature takes on the shoujo category.
The tale introduces two different characters who are named Nana. Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki are pretty much opposites but become friends during a train trip and eventually end up sharing an apartment as roommates.
Nana Osaki is the singer of a punk band named Blast, whose members include Nobuo, Yasushi, and Shinichi. Blast slowly gains popularity as they are invited to do more shows, but things become pretty hectic. Both Nanas will get involved with the world of music and the harsh reality that comes from love and dreams.
17. Cheeky Brat by Mitsubachi Miyuki
Yuki Machida has always lived her life hiding her true emotions since she, as the elder sister of five, has had to be the “responsible” one. She’s also the manager of her high school basketball team, adding more responsibilities to her daily life, and to her discontent, the team’s captain and her crush, Kido, has gotten himself a girlfriend.
Here’s where the male lead enters the play, a student named Sho Naruse, one year younger than Yuki. He joins the basketball team and is constantly making fun of Yuki until he eventually becomes aware of her feelings for Kido, and instead of making fun of her, he decides to help her out.
And, as you might have guessed, this relationship slowly turns into something else, even after Yuki graduates from high school.
18. My Love Story!! by Kazune Kawahara & Aruko
Takeo has always struggled with his appearance and physique. As a high school student, he’s much taller than your regular adolescent, and his body is also much wider. Although he is popular among men, his presence makes women feel intimidated.
And this, of course, has caused some trauma, mainly because the girls he had fallen in love with had never been interested in him and would always fall for his handsome best friend, Makoto.
Things begin to change when he saves a small girl from being harassed on a train, falling in love with her. Due to his lack of self-confidence, things don’t go as he would like, but the girl, Rinko, seems more than determined to get closer to Takeo. An adorable, unique story between two wholesome people!
19. Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty by Megumi Morino
The story of Wake Up, Sleeping Beauty can be incredibly heartwarming but, at the same time, quite emotional. It is also very beginner-friendly since it only consists of 6 volumes, summing to a total of 26 chapters, which is a pretty good entry point for anyone wanting to read something short and accessible.
The story follows Tetsu as he decides to get a new part-time job at a mansion, which is, according to many, “haunted.” Thanks to his carefree attitude, he decides to take the job, eventually finding a small building where a girl seems to reside.
Tetsu gets very close to this girl, quickly developing feelings for her. But, during their next meeting, she seems to have completely forgotten about him. He only thought this was a cheap excuse to dump him, but things are much more complicated, as he learns later.
20. Natsume’s Book of Friends by Yuki Midorikawa
This series is one of those legendary shoujo manga titles that manage to achieve a large audience and a considerable amount of volumes, with more than 28 volumes to read. It is also widely known thanks to its anime adaptation, which is also quite popular.
Natsume’s Book of Friends tells the tale of Takashi Natsume, a young man who can see ghosts. This is thanks to her grandmother, who had the same ability. Before passing away, she gave Natsume an old calligraphy book that she called “The Book of Friends,” containing the names of many spirits and apparitions that she managed to subdue and control.
Thanks to said book, Natsume is constantly being harassed by spirits, some of which are after its power, while others only want to achieve their freedom. Completely uninterested in the book’s power, he decides to help as many spirits as he can with the help of Madara, a powerful spirit with whom he makes a pact.
21. Snow White with the Red Hair by Sorata Akizuki
Snow White with the Red Hair, also known as Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, is a pretty good shoujo manga series. What I like about this specific manga is its perfect pacing, mainly because it’s not afraid of making things work for its characters.
Shirayuki is a beautiful herbalist well-known in the Tabaurn kingdom for her extravagant red hair. Eventually, the kingdom’s prince decides to make her a concubine just because of it, an idea that she really abhors.
To avoid this destiny, she escapes to the neighboring kingdom, coincidentally meeting and befriending the first prince, Zen. Interested in her, he appoints her as the court’s herbalist, and they become close friends as they keep interacting with each other.
22. My Little Monster by Robico
Shizuku is an incredibly serious girl who only worries about studying and her future. On the other hand, Haru is a very aggressive guy who was suspended from school after a fight. Due to him not attending school and Shizuku’s reputation as one of the top students, she’s made to deliver him notes from classes, and their relationship begins.
Since Haru is very bad at making friends and is quite innocent despite his “violent” attitude, he believes that Shizuku’s attitude towards him stems from his desire to become his friend. So he decides to attend school once more to get closer to her. This relationship becomes more profound with time, as Shizuku begins to change thanks to Haru, and Haru becomes more responsible thanks to Shizuku.
23. Those Not-So-Sweet Boys by Youko Nogiri
Midori has to work hard to sustain her family after her father left them with considerable debt. One day, she drops her wallet, which had the money for many of their expenses. A couple of students find them, already rejoicing at the money they found in it, and she can’t bring herself to claim it when three mysterious students help her out.
She becomes interested in the guy who returned her wallet and learns he, Ichijou, is her classmate. Ichijou, and the other two students, stop attending school at the same time. One teacher finds out about her job and decides to make a deal with her – bring them back to school, and he will remain quiet about it. She’s happy at first until she learns that Ichijou is not as nice as she initially thought.
24. Oresama Teacher by Izumi Tsubaki
Mafuyu used to be the leader of a gang in her previous school. After being arrested because of her attitude, her mother decides to appoint her to the Midorigaoka academy, far away from her home, all to fix her attitude and threaten to disown her if she ever gets into a fight again.
She decides to do her best to become the ideal lady, but things become complicated after she learns that her new teacher, Takaomi Saeki, is an old friend of hers and the main reason she became a delinquent in the first place.
25. House of the Sun by Taamo
Mao has always lived in a household filled with conflicts, as their parents seemed to fight whenever they could. She, however, found a paradise in the Nakamura household, playing with her childhood friends. Things go sour after Hiro Nakamura’s parents die in an accident, leaving Hiro, Daiki, and Hina behind.
Time passes, and Mao’s father remarries, making her feel she has lost her place. She ends up meeting with Hiro, and both of them live alone since Hiro’s siblings ended up living far away; Hiro invites her to live with him until she feels confident to live with her father once again, and thus, they slowly start to develop feelings with one another.
The thing is, Mao’s a lot younger than Hiro. So the struggles between the two will be present in their relationship’s progress, complicating things even more when Mao’s brother enters the scene.
26. Love So Life by Kaede Kouchi
There are a couple of titles around the shoujo category which involve the wholesome relationship you can find in a family and slice of life, and when it comes to Love So Life, that’s also the case.
Shiharu is a young high school girl with a part-time job at a daycare, and the twins Akane and Aoi are deeply attached to her. Seiji, Akane and Aoi’s caretaker, quickly notices this attachment and decides to hire Shiharu as their babysitter.
At first, the relationship seems to be only a professional one. Still, as they get closer, they slowly uncover their past and feelings, and Shiharu discovers that she is gradually getting attached to her makeshift family.
27. The World of Machida-kun by Yuki Andou
Although he often appears to be perfect in many fields and has a deadpan expression, Machida is a student who acts kindly towards others, and as he often says, the people he loves love him back.
He eventually becomes acquainted with a classmate named Inohara, who claims to hate people, and although she wants to be left alone, Machida often finds himself drawn toward her. This is a very wholesome story about Machida’s kind world.
Shoujo can be an incredibly interesting category to read, not only because it showcases a lot of romance but because it can be a lot more than just that, adding a lot of wholesomeness to the world of manga.
If you want to read a heartwarming story with compelling characters, I believe there’s no better place to start, as shown in this great list featuring some of the best shoujo manga series right now!
More Manga Recommendations: