Top 10 Shoujo Ai Anime [Best Recommendations]

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Now, now, a lot of you silly know-it-alls just raised your eyebrows after reading the title of this article, but bear with us with for a moment here. The term “Shoujo-Ai” is never used in Japan as a type of category of anime. “Yuri” is the only category. But in the West, it categorizes anime that tells non-sexual relationships between girls, or simply used to categorize anime with girls love, be it subtext or not. Overall, the definition of “Shoujo-Ai” is pretty vague and it’s sometimes hard to differentiate itself to “Yuri.”

But we’re not here to debate over the word! And since we’re Western fans, we should at least recognize that Shoujo-Ai is a category that is used throughout everywhere.

To make this list differentiate itself from our Top 10 Yuri anime, we’re going to list anime that has some lezzy vibes that never develop into full-blown romantic relationships, or at least the girls have yet to confess and get accepted by their partner. So here we go!

10. Morita-san wa Mukuchi. (Miss Morita is Taciturn)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2011-December 2011

High school girl, Morita Mayu, is a bit more reserved than the others. Her classmates see her as a silent girl who doesn’t like to talk and is someone who stares them in the eyes, but in reality, Mayu thinks too much before she speaks, often ending up losing the opportunity to speak up. Regardless, though, Mayu is a happy girl with lots of friends in school, and surprisingly enough, her friends understand Mayu just by body language alone.

Nothing much going on in this anime other than Mayu interacting with her friends without saying a word. While it’s typical slice of life, most of the jokes revolve around them getting way too close with some blushing on the side. With Morita being awkwardly silent to everything, like not reacting to something that’s intimate, the boys can only wonder if there’s something behind all that body contact. You can’t blame them, though.

“Girls are nice… aren’t they?”

9. Kiniro Mosaic

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2013-September 2013

Shinobu did a homestay in Great Britain when she was younger and developed a fetish for blondes, and an obsession on anything Western culture, despite her difficulty learning English. One day, Shinobu received a letter from Alice Cartelet, a very close friend who she was staying with overseas. The letter says: “Shinobu! I’m coming to Japan!” With Shinobu’s friend coming, things will start get interesting as she learns English… and ends up failing because she’s too distracted by those golden locks.

You’ll start to notice a pattern here: If you make an anime with an all-girl cast, and it’s funny, there’s a 99.99% chance that you’ll see lots of subtext. Kiniro Mosaic is a prime example of this with the girls give off this lezzy vibe. Yeah, Shinobu’s attraction to anyone blonde way look borderline obsessive, but some of the character have genuine attraction to one another, especially the resident tsundere and love-stricken girl Komichi Aya and her fondness of her childhood tomboy-friend Inokuma Youko. Now come to think of it, Youko is the girl version of a clueless love interest.

8. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka? (Is the Order a Rabbit?)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2014-June 2014

Hoto Cocoa arrives at the cafe Rabbit House in a small Europe-esque town, expecting rabbits. Cocoa actually lives and works in that cafe, and along the way she meets new friends, new challenges and a brand new life.

When it comes to the shoujo ai or girls love aspect, there are tons of it here like Cocoa who always dotes on Chino by being her big sister, and Chino, a silent-type girl who finds Cocoa’s incessant dotting someone troublesome or cute. Or Kirima Sharo, who has a huge crush on gun-otaku, Tedeza Rize. Though nothing romantic ever happens, it’s cute to see these girls interact with each other.

7. Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2014-June 2014

The story revolves around a timid girl, Nekoyama Suzu, who loves dogs and is overly friendly, and an air-headed girl, and Inugami Yachiyo, who loves cats. Upon their first meeting at school, they find themselves strangely attracted to each other, and with their everyday antics, Yachiyo’s friend, Hiiragi Aki, has to sometimes fix the chaos they’ve caused.

It’s cute to see two girls attracted to each other mainly because they feel like the animals they love. The anime is more or less a rom-com type when Suzu is attracted to Yachiyo by sometimes going full tsundere, and Yachiyo hatching up plans to sedu—pet Suzu, only to be yanked by the collar by her friend, Aki. It’s too bad each episode is very short.

6. Strike Witches

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2008-September 2008

Strike Witches is set in an alternate 1944, where the world found alien invaders instead of the Axis. These invaders are called the Neuroi, and mysteriously appeared before humanity in the year 1939. It is unknown where the Neuroi came from and why they are here, but it is a fact their relentless attacks drove people from their homes and countries.

To combat the Neuroi threat, Humanity has devised a new type of weapon that harnesses magical energy, and in order for these weapons to work, they gathered every magic-using witches from around the world. These elite group of young witches are called the Strike Witches, and they are the first and last line of defense against the Neuroi threat.

This may sound too serious and you’d be right, but Strike Witches is mainly a fanservice anime with lots of panty shots, butt shots, even nudity, and a good amount of yuri fanservice. There are lots of obvious couples in the anime too choose from. There are girls that are vaguely gay, but there’s no denying our lovable tsundere Frenchie Perrine H. Clostermann is the gayest girl in the cast. She’d practically give herself to her beloved, Major Sakamoto Mio.

5. K-ON!

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: April 2009-June 2009

Hirasawa Yui is a rather, uh, eccentric young girl who entered high school as a freshman and stumbled upon a poster for the school’s Light Music Club, and it sparked her imagination to sign up. Being such a carefree girl, she joined the club without any experience in playing an instrument and went to the club to explain.

Disheartened, the current band members Ritsu, Mio and Tsumugi still wanted her to stay as member to prevent the club from disbanding. Yui’s imagination re-ignited once she tried out the guitar for the first time. This is the life of the Light Music Club.

At first glance, Yui has taken a liking for Asuza, to the point of obsessive adoration, but over time the two became close that they’re more like sisters than anything. However, the biggest surprise in K-ON! is the interaction between drummer Ritsu and guitarist Mio. They didn’t know it, but the two get along very well, so well in fact that Ritsu found out in the most unexpected way. We won’t spoil it to you, but music can excite the emotions with just the right lyrics.

4. Anne Happy♪

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2016-Ongoing

Tennomifune Academy is not your typical high school, for they have a special class for helping fix the students with misfortune or overall bad karma. Hibarigaoka Ruri is one of these unfortunate girls, and with her friends Hanakoizumi An and Kumegawa Botan, they must work together and bring happiness to their unfortunate lives.

Don’t be fooled at the rather gloomy story because Anne Happy is one of the cutest and incredibly funny anime that came out in 2016. What’s interesting about this anime (well, aside from the cute girls, and interesting story), is it quickly changed from a typical comedy slice of life into something yuri-centric. Around the 3rd episode, we are introduced to two supporting characters and the anime wasted no time in showing off that these two are so into each other. And it gets getting more intense in the next few episodes.

Sure the anime is still ongoing, but what we’ve seen so far, Anne Happy will be something yuri fans will definitely love.

3. Candy Boy

  • Episodes: 7
  • Aired: May 2008-May 2009

Candy Boy revolves around the everyday life of very close twin sisters, Sakurai Kanade and Sakurai Yukino, living together in Tokyo to attend high school, and their rather clingy underclassman, Kamiyama Sakuya, who has a crush on one of the sisters.

These sisters are so into each other, it hurts. This is one of the few anime that naturally convinces you to yell “KISS ALREADY!” because of the way they interact with each other, holding hands every single moment. And with the series ending without anything happening between the two is sometimes infuriating… in a good way. Eventually, things ended the way fans sorta wanted, but not enough for that “it’s finally official!” conclusion. Regardless if they’re a couple or not, Candy Boy is a sweet series about sisterly love.

2. Sakura Trick

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 2014-March 2014

Sakura Trick tells the love story of Takayama Haruka and Sonoda Yuu, and how they slowly build their newfound love for each other. Their love life isn’t really easy as they battle against a jealous big sister and hide their relationship from everyone… and Haruka is always finding ways to get a few smooches from Yuu.

The anime has two established couples, but there is another couple that could potentially reach the official yuri couple status once one of them stops being clueless and realizes her best friend has a crush of her. We’re talking about Yuzu and Kaede, arguably the most popular couple in Sakura Trick. Why is that? Well, it’s simple because Haruka and Yuu, and Kotone and Shizuku are already couples, so there’s nothing much to expect. On the other hand, Yuzu and Kaede have lots of room to develop. Currently their relationship is rather unrequited, but who knows, things will development!

1. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: October 2004-December 2004

Takamachi Nanoha is your typical third grader who happened to stumble upon a talking ferret who communicated with her telepathically. The ferret is actually a mage from another world named Yuuno, who accidentally scattered the mysterious Jewel Seeds around the city. Good job, Yuuno. Severely weakened, Yuuno convinced Nanoha to search for the Jewel Seeds in his stead by granting her magical powers to not only help him in the search, but also a way to stop monsters that are attracted by the Jewel Seeds. The monsters are the least of their worries because they’re not the only ones who are also looking for these seeds.

The Nanoha series has been known to be filled with yuri undertones that any anime fan will immediately notice. If you could check a list of the most popular yuri pairings, Nanoha and Fate are one of the most recognizable couples in anime.

Throughout the series, Nanoha has befriended another magical girl named Fate Testarossa, and ever since their fateful meeting, the two developed a bond that’s more than friendship. As these two grow, they end up living together sharing one bed and eventually adopted a child as their daughter.

Final Thoughts

The anime in this list represents Shoujo Ai, but also shows the vagueness of it. In the real world, Shoujo Ai and Yuri are just interchangeable, despite Yuri being categorized as pornographic in the West. If you ask someone what category Sakura Trick is at, chances are they’ll say Shoujo Ai. But if you ask someone else what category Sakura Trick is at, chances are they’ll say Yuri.

You can use either term, but we just want you to know that one category was made in the West, while the other one is the true category Japan uses.

So what do you think about the list and our rather brief lesson about Yuri? Please let us know by leaving a comment below!

Antoine Rizal


Author: Antoine Rizal

I've been an anime fan for as long as I can remember. Actually, anime is very much a part of me now for I have extended my reach beyond just watching them. I am a fansubber for more than 8 years now and contributed a lot to the anime community. Me and my group has translated shows, manga, drama CDs and doujinshi. Right now I'm learning Japanese so I can better serve the community and read interesting stuff about the Japanese culture as well.

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