Aimed by definition at a young female audience, shoujo is probably the epitome of the genre preferred by the ladies! Just like every other genre, it comes with a lot of sub-genres, featuring a big range of different themes. What characterizes shoujo anime is a lighthearted atmosphere, the importance of certain themes such as friendship, love, and family, and – more often than not – a happy ending.
If it's true that shoujo anime can vary a lot for their themes, and sub-genres, it's even truer that we can define three major types of shoujo anime: those involving romance, typically set in high school; those featuring magical girls trying to save the world; and those who focus on male characters, which very often lack the romance part altogether.
In this article, we'll explore these three types of shoujo anime, so stick with us until the end, and enjoy the ride!
The Shoujo Romance Type
Shoujo romance shows are those types of anime in which there's a heroine as the main protagonist, usually in her teens, who experiences her first love. The pattern is almost the same for every shoujo of this type, therefore the most important thing is the originality of the characters, and how the plot is developed. Typically, shoujo romance features the hardships that eventually will bring our heroine and her love interest together. These shows are a roller-coaster of feels as they portray very relatable situations – love triangles, unrequited feelings, misunderstandings – that every girl comes to face during her teens. Below an example of a shoujo romance worth watching!
Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2014 – Sep 2014
Ao Haru Ride is a perfect example of a shoujo romance anime! The story revolves around Futaba Yoshioka, a girl that tried to reset her image the moment she stepped into high school. Due to certain reasons, she became a tomboy, until one day she encounters once again Tanaka-kun, the boy she had a crush on during junior high. However, through the years Tanaka became a person Futaba no longer recognizes.
Still harboring feelings toward Tanaka, step by step, Futaba will come to know what kind of event made him an introvert. Our heroine will have to face different hardships, and struggle a lot. Ao Haru Ride is a trip into teenage years and back, in a vortex of feelings. Its originality lies in a non-conventional heroine like Futaba, and a big range of other very well-developed characters surrounding her. Ao Haru Ride is a must-see among the shoujo romance shows!
The Magical Girls Shoujo Type
The magical girls (mahou shoujo) shoujo anime involve girls who are able to use magic. Typically, the girls can transform into magical superheroes who defend humankind from evil forces. The constants in these kinds of shoujo anime are a transformation sequence, frilly battle costumes, and a weapon. Romance is involved in these shoujo anime, even though it's usually in the background. Let's see an example!
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jul 2014 – Jul 2015
Sailor Moon is the epitome of the magical girls shoujo anime! Our protagonist is Tsukino Usagi, a 14-year-old girl in junior high whose life is turned upside down after meeting Luna, a cat able to talk. The concatenation of events following that moment lead Usagi to become the Moon Guardian fighting against the enemies who are looking for the Silver Crystal. With a magical brooch, she turns into Sailor Moon, but she is not alone in this: throughout the show, she will encounter the other guardians who will help her through the mission!
As we said up above, Sailor Moon wields all those elements characterizing a magical girls anime. The guardians transform with a long sequence after which they wear outstanding costumes, plus Sailor Moon's weapon is a very cute Moon Stick. Another important trait in this show is the romance; in fact, each of the guardians has a love interest, but the most important is Usagi's love interest, who will make her struggle a lot. Basically, these kinds of shows have a typical shoujo pattern, enriched with magic and evil enemies!
The Shoujo Involving Male Protagonists
Let's close our exploration talking about a different type of shoujo anime. We're referring to those shoujo shows featuring male protagonists, that can involve romance, or not. For example, Natsume Yuujinchou is a shoujo anime, with a male protagonist who can see the spirits, but the show lacks the romantic element altogether. On the other hand, Nijiro Days is a shoujo anime featuring four male protagonists in their teens, struggling with their first love. What characterizes this type of shoujo anime is that the male characters are very compassionate toward each other (it isn't uncommon to see “bromace”), and the themes can vary a lot. Yet, even though they feature male characters, you can't expect to see action-packed scenes, long fights, and all the other things you would in a shounen anime. Here's an example!
Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun (Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jan 2013 – Sep 2013
Hakkenden is a good example of a shoujo anime featuring male characters who are very compassionate with each other! Shino Inuzuka and Sousuke Inukawa once died when their village was turned to ashes, but then they came back to life thanks to some lucky circumstance, and at a high price. Both of them have a peony-shaped birthmark, and one day the Church shows up in front of them, forcing the two on a journey bound to find the other six people sharing the same peony-shaped birthmark. The eight guys are the dogs of the East, with an important mission to carry out!
While debating important topics such as loneliness, loss, and the likes, Hakkenden follows these guys through their mission. Sousuke is the older-brother type of character helping Shino with all his might, and Shino sticks to Sousuke all the time. “Bromance” in this show is the keyword, as even the other male characters act overly friendly toward each other. Hakkenden is a slow-paced shoujo anime, mixing together a lot of emotions, and gradually getting to the point.
This is it! Our exploration among different types of shoujo anime comes to an end. We picked those shows explaining very well the differences among the anime labeled as “shoujo”. As you can see, the word shoujo can include a lot of different sub-genres and themes. This is proof that shoujo doesn't always imply a typical romance between teenagers, but it's a genre that varies a lot, much like any other. We hope you'll find this article useful somehow, and don't forget to share your thoughts below. See you next time!