Reading manga is no longer just a niche hobby. Nowadays, it’s grown to have billions of readers worldwide! These Japanese comics span every genre you can think of. With so many different stories and worlds to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming. So why not take it by genre first?
Shoujo is one such popular genre of manga. It literally translates to “young woman,” which means it refers to any manga that appeals to young women readers. But don’t let the name fool you! With heartfelt character development and nuanced and intricate worldbuilding, shoujo manga can appeal to anyone.
There’s a reason why shoujo is one of the most popular kinds of manga out there! It’s existed for almost as long as there have been manga readers in the first place. Shoujo also covers a wide range of sub-genres: from romance, fantasy, coming of age, action, and so much more!
If you want to learn all about the best shoujo manga of all time, then read on!
The 23 Best Shoujo Mangas You Need To Read
Don’t know where to start when it comes to shoujo mangas? Well, we’ve got your back! Here we’ve compiled just 23 of the absolute best shoujo mangas you can read. Each of these stories is a unique representative of the genre and will definitely have you flying through the pages.
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Yona of the Dawn
- Snow White with the Red Hair
- Skip Beat!
- Kamisama Kiss
- Our Wonderful Days
- Fruits Basket
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Lovely Complex
- Love Me, Love Me Not
- Dengeki Daisy
- Ao Haru Ride
- From Me to You
- Skip and Loafer
- House of the Sun
- Daytime Shooting Star
- Last Game
- High School Debut
1. Ouran High School Host Club
How could we talk about shoujo manga without mentioning Ouran High School Host Club? This manga is a certified classic and trailblazer when it comes to comedic coming-of-age stories.
The story centers around Haruhi, a high school student who one day finds herself in the Ouran High School Host Club room. This club was formed by a small group of boys who host female clients by entertaining them with tea, cakes, and of course, their charm! After an incident happens, Haruhi has no choice but to work for the club. There’s only one problem: she’s a girl, and the Ouran High School Host Club is only for guys!
Hilarity and hijinks ensue as Haruhi has to pretend to be a boy to charm her way into the club. With an engaging plot and a memorable cast of characters, Ouran High School Host Club proves it’s a beloved classic for a reason.
2. Yona of the Dawn
On the other side of the spectrum, we have this fantasy adventure manga. Yona of the Dawn is the story of the exiled princess Yona who longs to go back and save her kingdom. As the only daughter of the human-shaped dragon named Kouka who conquered the Kouka Kingdom, Yona knows it’s her destiny to reclaim the throne.
But of course, that’s no easy feat. She has to fight her way to get back to her kingdom, and on the way, she meets a dashing man or two who spice up the journey. Yona of the Dawn is a tale of intrigue and deceit, a political power-play that will have readers on the edge of their seats!
Up next we have another unbeatable classic: Maid-sama! This story is all about Misaki Ayuzawa, an ambitious young student who is determined to live a life of greatness. Her path toward success is foiled when her mother falls sick. Suddenly, Misaki doesn’t just have her school life to deal with; she also has to work to support her mom!
Resourceful Misaki finds a part-time job at a maid cafe. From that point on, the story gets filled with twists and turns that we won’t spoil! All we can say is Maid-sama is definitely a story you need to check out.
No one quite captures the nuance and ennui of being a young woman as the mangaka behind Nana. This story follows two young women with the same name but very different lives. One day, they meet by chance, and a deep and heartfelt bond is forged as the two strive to support and take care of each other through their ups and downs.
One Nana is a happy-go-lucky girl who’s undeterred by her bad luck with love. The other Nana is a headstrong young woman who’s a member of a rock band. These two form an unlikely friendship and sisterhood that has withstood the test of time.
5. Snow White with the Red Hair
If you want a tome for the ages, then you will definitely fall in love with Snow White with the Red Hair. With over 26 volumes and counting, this manga is one of the longest ones on this list! This fantasy adventure follows Shirayuki, a herbalist from the Tanrabun Kingdom.
While she may look naive, Shirayuki is one tough cookie. She proves this when the local Prince Raji disrespects her! Shirayuki rejects him, but as a consequence, she has to flee the kingdom and change her identity. When she finds herself in the arms of the neighboring kingdom’s prince, Shirayuki’s story becomes even more adventurous.
Inspired by European fairy tales, Snow White with the Red Hair is a deeply engrossing read that will transport you straight to the kingdom of your dreams.
You May Also Like: 17 Boy’s Love Mangas Recommendations
6. Skip Beat!
If you want a story about complex power dynamics, ambition, and revenge, then Skip Beat! is definitely the manga for you. We follow 16-year-old Kyouko Mogami, a lovestruck teen who’s fallen head over heels for her childhood friend Shoutarou “Shou” Fuwa.
When we’re in love, we tend to do irrational things–especially teenagers! Hopelessly dedicated to Shou, Kyouko follows him all the way to Tokyo to support his dream to become one of the most popular idols in the entertainment industry.
But when she realizes he thinks of her as nothing more than a housemaid, Kyouko vows to get her revenge by getting into the entertainment industry herself and beating Shou to become the top idol! Skip Beat! is a fun-filled shoujo manga that will have you entertained from start to finish.
You May Also Like: The 27 Best Romance Mangas
Heartfelt coming-of-age stories? Check. Sweet and subtle romance? Check. A dash of supernatural? Check! Orange has it all. This classic shoujo manga manages to blend different genres without ever coming across as jarring.
Here we follow a tight-knit group of friends, at the center of which is high-schooler Naho Takamiya. One day, she receives a letter claiming to be from her future self. Future Naho desperately explains that her biggest regret in life was failing to save the boy named Kakeru Naruse.
This becomes even more intriguing when on that same day, a boy named Kakeru Naruse transfers to their school. He quickly becomes part of Naho’s friend group, but the secret from the letter never leaves Naho’s mind. Does she believe it? Why does Kakeru need saving? And more importantly, can Naho do it to undo the mistakes of her future self?
8. Kamisama Kiss
Kamisama Kiss is the story of two unlikely friends who cross paths and form a strange-but-unique bond. Nanami Momozono was just sitting on a random park bench when she met a curious man up in a tree. Apparently, this man was hiding from some vicious dogs who were chasing him! Intrigued, Nanami decides to save him.
As a token of gratitude, the man offers a house for Nanami to stay in after learning about her homeless situation. When she agrees, she finds out that that was no ordinary man. His house is not just a house, but an extravagant shrine of worship for a god!
9. Our Wonderful Days
If you’re a sucker for the friends-to-lovers trope, then Our Wonderful Days is definitely for you! This wholesome manga is full of charm from start to finish. We follow a tight-knit group of friends from rural Japan as they experience all the trials and tribulations of growing up. As they grow older, their bond just becomes stronger, until two of the girls develop something more than friendship.
Our Wonderful Days is a subtle yet beautiful story about young love and self-discovery. The charm and elegance of the Japanese countryside is captured on every page as you follow the story of the four young women.
You May Also Like: Best Japanese Romance Dramas
10. Fruits Basket
Next up we have another classic shoujo manga that has withstood the test of time: Fruits Basket! We follow the story of Honda Tohru, recently orphaned and looking for a place to stay. She’s taken in by the eccentric Souma family. But little did she know, the Souma family are not your regular oddballs. In fact, they actually hide a big secret!
The Soumas come from a long line of cursed–or blessed, depending on how you look at it–people. When one of them touches a member of the opposite sex, they suddenly turn into animals of the Chinese zodiac!
Fruits Basket is a hilarious yet heartwarming tale about found family and learning to accept who you are.
In Horimiya, the “opposites attract” trope is taken to another level. Here we follow two protagonists who couldn’t be more different: Kyoko Hori, a popular honor student whose home life is filled with the responsibility of taking care of her adorable younger brother, and Izumi Miyamura, an introverted teen with a rich inner life who hides his tattoos and piercings when he’s in school.
With incredible character development and an always-entertaining dynamic, Horimiya is a funny and entertaining read about not judging the book by the cover.
12. Cardcaptor Sakura
Even those not into anime and manga know about the iconic Cardcaptor Sakura! We follow the bright and energetic Sakura Kinomoto as she goes through one action-packed adventure after another.
Sakura is not your ordinary 10-year-old. One day, she gets entangled in a fantasy adventure as she meets a magical creature called Keroboros in school. Keroboros asks for Sakura’s help in catching different creatures called Clow Cards before they wreak havoc on Sakura’s elementary school!
You May Also Like: The 19 Coolest Shonen Mangas
If you want a funny, quirky genre-bending story, then look no further than Nichijou. This manga takes the slice-of-life genre and turns it onto its head as each chapter is filled with hilarious–and often meta!–hijinks!
Nichijou follows two groups of people: a group of three high school girls and another trio made up of a child genius, her handmade robot, and a talking cat! These two groups are both hilariously quirky and each of their fun adventures becomes wildly entertaining and absurd for the reader.
14. Lovely Complex
Enemies-to-lovers is one of the most fun romance tropes out there, and nowhere is it more entertaining than in Lovely Complex! This story is all about Risa Koizumi and her arch-nemesis Atushi Ootani. Unfortunately for her, Ootani is harboring secret feelings for Risa’s friend!
But Risa learns she can use this to her advantage. Since she also has secret feelings for Ootani’s friend, she decides to team up with him so they can both help each other out. But it turns out, their respective crushes fall in love with each other instead!
This rivalry soon turns into a friendship as the two stick together and try to turn their destinies around. And as they get closer and closer, they start to admit that they’re more alike than they once thought.
You May Also Like: The 23 Best Seinen Mangas Not To Miss
15. Love Me, Love Me Not
Well-developed female friendship is one of the hallmarks of a good shoujo manga. In Love Me, Love Me Not, we follow Yuna and Akari, two teenage girls on opposite ends of the personality spectrum.
Yuna is the hopelessly romantic, head-in-the-clouds kind of girl who believes she’s destined to have the perfect romance. On the other hand, we have Akari, the headstrong and confident gal who lives life to the fullest.
Drawn in a soft and retro 90’s style, Love Me, Love Me Not is a beautiful story about growing up, the power of friendship, and everyone’s journey to self-discovery.
16. Dengeki Daisy
Dengeki Daisy is a tale about unlikely heroes and the dangers surrounding idolatry. When high-schooler Teru’s older brother dies, she is mysteriously left with a cell phone. Inside is the address of the peculiar character named Daisy, whom Teru’s brother promises will take care of her.
Daisy does just that. Daisy becomes the source of Teru’s strength and tenacity as she deals with grief from her brother’s passing. But one afternoon, an accident at school leads Teru in working for the suspicious school janitor. As their relationship develops into master and apprentice, Teru starts questioning if it’s really Daisy she should idolize.
17. Ao Haru Ride
If you want to be on the edge of your seats praying for the romance to finally happen, then Ao Haru Ride is for you! Also known as “Blue Spring Ride,” this shoujo manga is the best when it comes to realistic and addictive romance tropes.
Sixteen-year-old Futaba is shocked when her childhood friend and first love, Kou, returns to their hometown after a long time of living in Nagasaki. However, it seems like Kou is not the same boy she remembers. Something happened in Nagasaki that forever changed the trajectory of Kou’s life.
As the two try to reconnect, we see a mature and bittersweet story start to unfold. Ao Haru Ride is the perfect story about opening up, deeply-rooted bonds, and breathtaking romance.
18. From Me to You
In high school, one of the worst things in the world is feeling misunderstood. Fifteen-year-old Sawako Kuronuma is constantly misunderstood by her own peers. Mocked for her appearance, she’s even nicknamed “Sadako”! Absurd rumors follow her wherever she goes, with random people claiming she can see ghosts and curse people.
Because of such notoriety, Sawako isn’t exactly what you’d call the popular girl in school. But despite all of these, deep down she’s actually just a cute and kind girl who’s eager to help out her classmates.
Everything changes when the popular boy Kazehaya suddenly starts talking to her. For the first time in her life, Sawako feels truly seen. From Me to You is a lovely story about not judging based on appearances, unlikely friendships, and finding yourself.
19. Skip and Loafer
By plot standards, Skip and Loafer looks like your average shoujo manga about a group of friends navigating high school. But what makes this story stand out is its oozing amounts of charm! Skip and Loafer is a hilarious yet heartwarming story about a wacky cast of characters learning more about themselves and each other. What’s more, Skip and Loafer focuses more on friendship rather than romance!
We follow Iwakura, an ambitious high-schooler who just moved to Tokyo. While Iwakura has big plans for herself–including someday becoming the mayor of her hometown–she’s surprised to find out that things don’t always go to plan. Luckily, she’s surrounded by a great group of people ready to support her–even if that’s not how it seems at first.
Skip and Loafer is entertaining slice-of-life at its finest. It’s witty, charming, and oh-so-entertaining just to see Iwakura and her friends live their daily lives!
20. House of the Sun
If you’re a sucker for the found family trope, then House of the Sun is definitely right up your alley. Our main protagonist Mao has been experiencing household difficulties ever since she was a child. To escape her turbulent home, she stays with the Nakamura family instead. The Nakamura family takes her in as one of their own and for the first time in her life, she feels like she has somewhere to belong. All seems well and good until one day, the Nakamura parents die in a tragic accident.
Now a high school student, Mao wants to put her past behind her. She’s once again on her own as her parents have separated and her father decided to remarry. But one day, she reconnects with her childhood friend, Hiro Nakamura. Learning about her predicament, Hiro invites Mao to live with him. What ensues is a deep and unforgettable bond between two people healing from their past and an incredible story about the families we make for ourselves.
You May Also Like: All The Different Types Of Mangas
21. Daytime Shooting Star
Suzume’s entire life thus far has been spent living in the Japanese countryside. But when her parents decide to move to Bangladesh following her father’s job relocation, Suzume has no choice but to move to the big city and live with her uncle.
Tokyo is a lot to take in for someone who’s always lived in the province. On the way to her uncle’s house, Suzume gets lost in the confusing whirlwind of the city! Lucky for her, a stranger comes to her rescue. But she later finds out that that stranger is actually her homeroom teacher at school!
22. Last Game
Last Game is an entertaining story about two rivals who always push each other to do their best. Naoto Yanagi has it all. He was born into a wealthy socialite family and has always been praised for his brains as well as his looks. He’s never lost to anyone and has always been on top–that is until Mikoto Kuujo transfers into his class.
Mikoto is the complete opposite of Naoto. She comes from a poor background, is extremely practical, and has no desire to befriend other people. But for the first time in his life, Naoto’s top spot is challenged. This lights up his competitive spirit as he forms a one-sided rivalry with Mikoto. On the other hand, Mikoto is completely unfazed.
Last Game is a wildly amusing story about two characters with a strange yet witty bond.
23. High School Debut
Lastly, we’re ending this list with a sweet and funny story: High School Debut! As a high-schooler, Haruna Nagashima feels like her entire life has just begun. She throws herself into the sport of softball while also dreaming about one day meeting her potential boyfriend! The only problem? She has no idea where to start!
On the first day of school, she accidentally runs into her school’s most popular boy, You Komiyama. That’s when Haruna has the bright idea to get You’s help! Because of You’s handsome looks and great popularity, Haruna knows he’s the perfect guy to help her. You agrees to teach Haruna everything he knows about love and dating. The only catch? She must not fall in love with him.
Did you like our take on the best shoujo mangas? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
Shoujo manga is one of the most diverse and beloved genres of manga for a reason. At times sweet and heartfelt, and other times thrilling and exhilarating, shoujo manga spans the whole breadth and depth of human emotion. That’s what makes those stories so engaging!
If you liked this, make sure to check out our recommendations on the best Smut & Hentai Manga!