Since very few shojo anime become beloved titles across age and gender demographics, the ones that are celebrated tend to be titles that have always been popular within the genre. Because of this, many shojo anime end up surprising viewers who went into these viewing experiences with low expectations.
Whether these anime turn the shojo genre on its head or incorporate unconventional elements that breathe new life into the genre, these titles have proven that varying from the archetypal shojo narrative can have a great payoff. Despite less-than-ideal first impressions, these shojo anime have undoubtedly proved themselves as impeccable titles within the genre.
10/10 Kamisama Kiss Refreshingly Incorporates Supernatural Elements Into The Shojo Genre
Often described as a perfect mix between Inuyasha and Fruits Basket, Kamisama Kiss follows the kind-hearted Nanami as she is forced to pay the price of her father’s immense debt when she is kicked out of her home. In the process, Nanami befriends a strange man named Mikage, who anoints her to replace him as Earth Deity as thanks for her kindness.
Due to its supernatural themes, many viewers went into Kamisama Kiss with low expectations of whether these supernatural themes could mesh well with the shojo genre. However, viewers were pleasantly surprised by how well these opposing forces complemented one another, making Kamisama Kiss a longtime favorite for many fans.
9/10 My Love Story!! Is Not Like Any Other Love Story
While slow-burn romances can be frustrating to watch when the couple has clear feelings for one another, this classic trope is flipped on its head in My Love Story!!. The anime centers around a muscular, intimidating guy named Takeo, whose crushes always fall for his charming best friend, Makoto. This all changes when Takeo meets Rinko, a soft-spoken girl who develops feelings for Takeo.
My Love Story!! is made unique by its wholesome depiction of a requited, unspoken love that is ultimately sparked by Makoto. Such an untraditional love story made fans fall in love with the anime series, despite initial conceptions that My Love Story!! was sure to be just like any other shojo anime.
8/10 Maid Sama! Pleasantly Surprised Viewers With Low Expectations
Although Maid Sama! is often recognized as one of the most popular shojo anime of all time, fans were not initially drawn to the anime. Much of this is due to how viewers thought Maid Sama! was guaranteed to be nothing special as a shojo anime with conventionally attractive male and female leads.
However, this changed when audiences were acquainted with Misaki, a young woman whose unmatched dedication and competitive nature set her apart from the typical soft-spoken, damsel-in-distress female protagonist that is showcased across most shojo anime. Since Misaki doesn’t allow herself to get lost in Usui’s pursuit of her, Maid Sama! is a rewarding slow-burn romance that never gets old.
7/10 From Me To You Lives Up To Its Successful Source Material
From Me to You had all the makings of a typical shojo anime, and its immensely successful manga made fans believe that the anime adaptation would never live up to its source material. Regardless, viewers were pleasantly surprised by From Me to You due to the cute, refreshing love story it tells.
Audiences continue to sing the anime’s praises as a work that effortlessly encapsulates a high school romance that enables the main couple to grow alongside one another both as a couple and as individuals. Despite being released over a decade ago, From Me to You continues to hold a special place in the hearts of shojo anime fans.
6/10 My Little Monster Offers A Refreshing Twist On A Played-Out Trope
The trope of the good, studious girl falling for the carefree bad boy has played out time and time again, and many works that use it add little to nothing interesting to the played-out trope. However, this is not the case for My Little Monster, which follows the unlikely bond that forms between the academically rigorous Shizuku and the cheerful delinquent Haru.
While anime that follow this trope are often slow burns, Haru’s brash romantic actions early in the anime and Shizuku’s reluctance to acknowledge her growing feelings for Haru make My Little Monster unique. Because of these factors and much more, My Little Monster breathes fresh life into the shojo genre despite fans’ initial doubts about the anime.
5/10 Say “I Love You” Proves That Shojo Anime Can Impeccably Tackle Real-World Issues
Another trope that has been used time and time again that rarely gets used in inventive ways is the trope of the popular, charismatic guy falling in love with the shy, socially awkward girl. While anime that use these tropes can be a bit frustrating to watch since they typically feature female protagonists who are damsels in distress, Say “I Love You” is an exception to the rule.
Since Say “I Love You” started off like any other shojo anime that utilizes this trope, fans went into the anime with low expectations. However, audiences were pleasantly surprised by the anime’s ability to tackle real-world issues like learning to love oneself and overcoming eating disorders.
4/10 Orange Is An Emotional Watch That Exceeded Viewers’ Expectations
Since Orange tackles serious subject matter like overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts, it can be an emotionally draining watch and is certainly not for everyone. However, the anime is perfect for viewers who want to truly empathize with the characters on screen.
One compelling aspect of Orange that many viewers didn’t know how to regard at first is how the adolescent female protagonist is able to communicate with her 26-year-old self. While some fans think the anime doesn’t adequately address how such communication is possible, viewers who could overlook this detail and appreciate Orange for what it is continue to turn to it when they need a good cry.
3/10 Lovely Complex Proves That Shojo Anime Don’t Need To Weave Unbelievable Love Stories To Be Successful
Many viewers are drawn to shojo anime that explore unrealistic, fantastical love stories that act as temporary escapes from reality. Because of this, fans initially overlooked and underestimated the slice-of-life shojo anime Lovely Complex (also known as Love Com).
Regardless, Lovely Complex is a prime example of how shojo anime don’t need to be complete departures from reality in order to be beloved staples within the genre. From focusing on a compelling, unconventional take on the friends-to-lovers trope to reminding viewers of the inherent harm of judging a book by its cover, Lovely Complex is a rewarding watch from beginning to end.
2/10 Kokoro Connect Compellingly Combines Supernatural Elements & Conventional Shojo Tropes
Since Kokoro Connect features the supernatural element of body-swapping, audiences were skeptical of whether it would measure up to more conventional classics within the shojo genre. Despite this, Kokoro Connect soared above viewers’ expectations as an anime that boasts fully-realized characters that are easy to root for.
While the supernatural elements Kokoro Connect highlights are not groundbreaking in and of themselves, the anime made plot lines that centered around these topics compelling to watch unfold. If viewers are looking for a shojo anime with psychological horror elements and are willing to overlook some rather cringey moments, they are sure to enjoy Kokoro Connect.
1/10 Yona Of The Dawn Is A Refreshing Watch Due To Its Strong Female Lead
The shojo genre often gets a bad rap due to its tendency to highlight passive female protagonists that are easily influenced by dashing male leads. However, Yona of the Dawn breaks the shojo mold by featuring a female protagonist who is willing to look beyond her selfish motivations for the benefit of her loved ones.
Another compelling aspect of the anime’s female lead Yona is her abrasive side, which notably manifests in the fierce death glare she unleashes upon her enemies. Despite viewers’ initially low expectations, Yona of the Dawn continues to be lauded as an underappreciated gem within the shojo genre.
NEXT: 10 Best Shojo Anime With The Worst Reputations