Shoujo is one of the most popular demographics of anime, boasting famous titles such as Sailor Moon, Princess Tutu, and Fruits Basket in their archives. And a major genre of shoujo anime is romance, making up a vast majority of series. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here’s a countdown of the top three anime that the genre has to offer*.
3. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん
This series is a perfect showcase of shoujo tropes. The titular character, Nozaki, is a manga artist whose work is serialised in a popular girl’s magazine, and life definitely imitates art. He takes inspiration from his surroundings, but is somehow oblivious when Sakura Chiyo confesses her love for him. She tries her hardest to win him over, offering to help him edit his manga to get closer to him.
What’s beautiful about this anime is that there are very clear cut pairings. There’s no interference with the relationship development so the audience can just enjoy watching it grow. The main three pairs are extremely different so there is a variety to choose from, but all of them work well together.
With a diverse cast, this critical examination of the stereotypes in romance manga has something for anyone who loves shoujo anime.
(For more about Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, click here.)
2. Ouran High School Host Club 桜蘭高校ホスト部
Of course this is included on the list. Widely cited as a series which should have been granted a second season; Ouran High School Host Club tells the story of Haruhi Fujioka, a poor honors student enrolled in the prestigious Ouran Academy. When she accidentally breaks an extremely valuable vase, she is coerced into joining the school’s host club to pay off her debts.
This is the harem anime for people who don’t like harem anime. Even if Haruhi unwittingly makes two thirds of the host club fall for her, there’s a sense of inevitability with who the endgame couple is. Unlike many shoujo heroines, she doesn’t become overwhelmed by the attention and instead she isn’t afraid to call out the other hosts when they’re being ridiculous. Given that it’s a reverse harem, the gender roles are challenged, especially as Haruhi is disguised as a boy for the majority of the series. This anime also provides one of the best quotes about gender that has ever appeared in a shoujo series, or any series for that matter:
“I don’t really care whether you guys recognize me as a boy or a girl. In my opinion it’s more important for a person to be recognized for who they are rather than for what sex they are.” (source)
Haruhi just wants to study, and unlike the boys, has no interest in dating. Which is exactly why it’s so much sweeter when she realises that she actually fell in love along the way.
1. Ore Monogatari 俺物語
Takeo has never been popular with the ladies. Whenever he’d had feelings for someone, they’d always be more interested in his best friend, the handsome Sunakawa. So when he starts falling for a girl he’d rescued from a groper, he’s convinced that she’s not interested. But Yamato is already head over heels, and it’s not for Sunakawa.
If shoujo romances were cakes, then Ore Monogatari, or My Love Story, would a red velvet cupcake; a little bit unconventional and incredibly sweet. Gone is the trope of the ikemen protagonist capturing the heart of the heroine, and instead the muscular giant with a heart of gold is the one who gets the girl. Most of the drama stems from the characters’ own insecurities, not believing that they deserve to be as lucky as they are. To even the most hardened of hearts, it’s difficult to not root for Takeo and Yamato, because they both honestly want the best for each other. The comedic timing is perfect, and the visual gags are what really make the series. Even the side characters get their own chance to shine, with them each getting their own special episodes, and a Valentine’s Day episode for good measure. It may seem a little bit too sweet at times, but if there’s one anime that’d go overboard and make it work, it’s Ore Monogatari.
(Full review coming soon)
*All content in this article reflects the opinion of the author.