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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogShojo Manga: The Ultimate Guide!

Shojo Manga: The Ultimate Guide!

By Anna Ayvazyan
January 19, 2024
A shojo style picture of a woman in glasses near cherry blossoms.

Sailor Moon, Kimi ni Todoke, and Fruits Basket are familiar titles any manga or anime fan knows. The one thing all these titles have in common is that they belong to the shojo demographic subcategory of storytelling. If you love fluff, cuteness, and romance, you’ll find your favorite story within this amazing genre! 

What is shojo manga?

In Japan, different types of stories are made for specific groups of people based on their age and gender. One of these categories is called shojo, which means young girl. Shojo is mainly for teenage girls or young adults.

A shojo girl cooking in the kitchen.
“Shojo” means “young woman”. Image via Shutterstock

Shojo manga, which are Japanese comic books or graphic novels, is about romance, relationships, and personal growth. These stories usually have a girl as the main character. Even if you’re not a teenage girl, you might still enjoy reading them because the themes are relatable, nostalgic, and fun! This genre is usually found in notable magazines made just for Shojo stories, but you can also read them in published manga books. The idea of shojo stories goes back to the Meiji era, a long time ago.

A girl dressed in a suit working at a desk.
Shojo manga is usually targeted at younger girls. Image via Shutterstock

At first, most magazines had stories anyone could enjoy, regardless of gender. However, as time passed, more and more girls wanted to read stories made explicitly for them. So, in 1902, the first magazine exclusively for shojo stories, called shōjo-kai, was created.

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Why is it popular?

After shojo-kai was created, many other magazines with shojo stories started popping up. As a result, there was a significant increase in publishing, and many artists wanted to share their manga in these magazines.

Moreover, shojo differed from other types of stories because it focused more on the characters’ emotions than what they did. In the beginning, guys mostly wrote shojo manga, but in the 1960s, more and more girls started becoming manga artists.

A woman wearing a dress on a beach at sunrise!
Shojo manga is popular worldwide! Image via Shutterstock

When girls started drawing shojo stories, a new genre called roma-kome (romantic comedy) became popular. This type of story wasn’t usually written by guys who wrote shojo, but girls and their readers loved it. This led to creating different sub-genres still loved today, like magical girls (think Cardcaptor Sakura) and moe (like Yotsuba&!).

People still love shojo stories today because they have exciting plots, expressive artwork, and stories that make you feel something. Whether it’s about finding love, making friends, dealing with tough times, or figuring out the challenges of growing up, Shojo has something for everyone! If you want to read something light and heartwarming, check out some Shojo manga!

What are some popular shojo manga I should read?

If you’re stuck on what shojo manga to check out, don’t worry! Some titles have been popular in Japan from the 90s to now! 

Mars (1995-2000)

Mars is a series written by Fuyumi Soryo. The series was published from February 1996 to December 2000. The series is critically acclaimed and is considered one of the best Shojo manga for romance and melodrama. The story follows Kira Asou, a timid girl who enjoys drawing.

Kira and Rei from the manga "Mars".
“Mars” is about a beautiful romance between a shy artist and a rebellious racer. Image via Zerochan

One day, her schoolmate Rei Kashino, a playboy, approaches her and asks her for directions. She draws him a map, but wary of his intentions, she runs away. Rei becomes captivated by her drawing skills and begins to feel drawn to her.

Although Kira is initially put off by his advances at school, she also starts to see Rei in a new light and asks him to model her drawings. If you love romance stories focusing on psychology, a slice of life, and drama, this series is for you! 

His and Her Circumstances (1995-2005)

His and Her Circumstances is a manga series written by Masami Tsuda. The series was published from December 1995 to May 2005. In Japan, the manga is usually called Kare Kano – a shortened version of the Japanese title. The story follows the protagonist, Yukino Miyazawa, a class representative and a trendy girl in her school. Although well-liked and friendly, she is also incredibly vain and loves being the center of attention.

Yukino and Soichiro from "His and Her Circumstances".
“His and Her Circumstances” is about two students who learn to trust each other and themselves. Image via Gatercrashers.fan

So when Soichiro Arima, her male classmate and main rival, gets the top score in all her classes, she becomes furious. She decides she hates him and must do whatever she can to reclaim her status as the queen bee in the class. However, she never anticipated that Soichiro would confess to her! What follows is a fuzzy story mixed with comedy and romance. If you love the genre of high school lovers with a hint of Riverly, this series is for you!

Choking on Her Love (2022)

Choking on Her Love is a series Iwashita Keiko wrote in October 2022. The story follows the art student Hibari Akanishi, who has a busy schedule and is trying to balance working and studying.

Hibari and Gaku from Choking on Love.
“Choking on Love” is a romantic comedy at an art school! Image via Twitter

She also has a unique, trendy fashion design project, which stresses her. With so many things to juggle, she has no time for love … or so she thinks. Her life is turned upside down when an eccentric boy, Gaku Sausei, appears.

Gaku Sausei is a member of a rock band and a fellow art student who is totally opposite in personality to Keiko. The two clash on almost everything, yet they start feeling drawn to each other. You’ll love this series if you’re into romance, especially the classic enemies-to-lovers trope! 

Why is shojo manga influential?

Shojo manga is essential because it uniquely targets young girls coming to terms with adolescence. Many stories are undoubtedly light-hearted, allowing for a temporary escape from our stressful and busy lives!

A shojo image of a woman swimming in the water.
Which shojo manga is your favorite? Image via Shutterstock

Therefore, we can learn about life and how we interact with others through shojo. Whether it be a rival to lovers, magical girls, or a slice-of-life story, there’s something for everyone! What’s your favorite trope? Let us know in the comments below! 

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