Shoujo is one of anime’s most beloved and popular genres. The recent success of projects like the Fruits Basket movie, Prelude, proves how timeless the genre is and how much it still has to offer. With a wide array of potential stories and an increasingly broad appeal, shoujo is here to stay.
Over the years, the genre has delivered some timeless tales that remain popular years after their endings. These conclusions were often happy, sometimes sad, but always compelling, delivering suitable resolutions to their iconic characters and leaving fans with a bittersweet sense of loss.
In the pantheon of tragic anime, Candy Candy has a place of honor. Following the romantic and everyday misadventures of the titular character, Candy Candy is an icon of ’70s anime.
Candy is a compelling and sympathetic protagonist. Her romantic misfortunes often dip into melodrama, but her story remains largely irresistible. Throughout the show, viewers see her fall in love and suffer heartbreak while striving to remain her cheerful and innocent self. In the end, she finds her much-deserved happiness, although it takes a different form than she — and the viewers — had anticipated.
Heidi, Girl Of The Alps
Based on the beloved classic Heidi’s Years of Wondering and Learning by Johanna Spyri, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, is among the most iconic anime of the ’70s. The plot centers on the titular character, her early childhood in the Swiss Alps alongside her beloved grandfather, and her eventual trip to Germany to stay with a wealthy family.
Heidi, Girl of the Alps, is as wholesome a show as it gets. The story often threatens to turn into tragedy but never does, resulting in a pleasant and timeless entry in the shoujo genre. The ending is everything fans could ask for, reuniting Heidi with those who matter and signaling a promising future for the sweet character.
Fruits Basket is not only among the highest-rated manga of all time but also one of the most beloved anime adaptations. The kooky premise follows Tohru Monda, who discovers the thirteen members of the Sohma family are cursed to turn into the Chinese zodiac animals when coming into contact with members of the opposite sex.
The original anime ended in 2003 on a bright note for Tohru and the Sohma brothers, Kyo, Yuki, and Shigure. The curse looms large over Fruits Basket, but the ending sends an uplifting message. Fruits Basket received a reboot in 2019, but the original adaptation remains highly regarded by fans.
Zero No Tsukaima
Featuring a classic enemies-to-lovers storyline, The Familiar of Zero centers on ‘Louise the Zero,’ who is terrible at magic. When summoning her familiar, she ends up with Saito Hiraga, a boy from modern Japan. Their relationship evolves throughout the story, from animosity to friendship to love.
The Familiar of Zero is a classic love story, enhanced by the impressive world-building around it. Both main characters are flawed, struggling to connect but remaining somehow drawn to each other. The story is a slow burn, but their love is worth the wait, and their ending will satisfy romance fans looking for an old-fashioned happily ever after.
Snow White With The Red Hair
Snow White with the Red Hair featured a wide cast of likable characters that easily became fan favorites. The plot centers on Shirayuki, a herbalist with striking red hair who escapes to a neighboring kingdom after rejecting Prince Raj’s offer to become his concubine. Beginning a new life, Shirayuki eventually falls in love with Prince Zen against the court’s wishes.
Blending elements of the classic fairytale with a modern twist, Snow White with the Red Hair quickly enchanted fans. It ends on a bittersweet but satisfying note, with the couple not together but not completely separated. It’s a realistic conclusion to the story and the promise that there is a future for Shirayuki and Zen, albeit later rather than sooner.
With an intriguing premise and beautiful animation, Plastic Memories is an iconic part of shoujo anime. However, it’s also among the saddest romantic anime, giving it a bittersweet vibe. The story follows the blossoming and unlikely relationship between a human and an android nearing the end of her life.
Mixing elements of classic sci-fi with romance and traditional shoujo sensibilities, Plastic Memories is unique, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking. The ending will crush many fans, but it’s still a logical and meaningful conclusion to a narrative that always had tragic elements at its core.
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions has a singular premise that makes it among the most creative and curious shoujo anime in recent memory. The story follows a teenage boy experiencing grandiose delusions who finds common ground with others who think and feel like him.
Exploring themes of mental health, identity, and maturity, the series delivers a satisfying journey for its main characters. Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions has an ending that might seem slightly abstract or confusing but ultimately sticks to its central themes and delivers its final thesis; imagination is the greatest tool people have to brighten and inspire their lives.
Spice And Wolf
Spice and Wolf follows a merchant who joins forces with a female wolf deity to travel around a medieval-like world. Their adventures on the road provide much of the show’s story, with episodes exploring themes of faith, duty, and commitment.
Unlike other medieval fantasy shows, Spice and Wolf focuses more on the day-to-day lives of the characters than their larger-than-life exploits. The ending might seem somewhat rushed, but it drives the show’s main ideas home and presents the promise of a brighter future for its two protagonists, providing that their adventures will continue, even if audiences can no longer witness them.
The ’90s delivered some of the most memorable shoujo anime ever, but none come close to Sailor Moon. The magical girl story by excellence, Sailor Moon tells the story of Usagi Tsukino, who, along with her friends, becomes a Sailor Soldier tasked with protecting Earth against a parade of colorful yet dangerous villains.
Sailor Moon juggles a villain-of-the-day format with a larger, season-long arc involving a major enemy, leading to a final confrontation against an almighty foe. In the end, Usagi and her great love, Tuxedo Mask, get their happy ending and share a kiss under a full moon. And, after years of fighting bad guys, it’s nice to see them finally seal their love.
Toradora! is one of the most iconic shoujo anime in recent memory. A tale of confused love, the story follows Ryuji and Taiga, who agree to help set each other up with their crushes, only to develop feelings for each other. With a vibrant cast of characters and a timeless setup, Toradora! became instantly iconic.
Ryuji and Taiga have a unique relationship, and their dynamic is the reason for the anime’s success. Their happy ending came on their own terms after a series of misunderstandings and obstacles. The show was always more about the journey than the destination, which made it all the more difficult to say goodbye.
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