Date the girl who is affected by the moon. Date the girl who is antithesis of the moon. You rarely see her at night, lest the night sky is dark and obscured. Date the girl who is only seen in the daytime. The girl who can never moongaze with you on a chill autumn evening. “I miss the Sun” she always says, while in its very presence. Date the girl who is conceivably the moon. The girl who shines with an earthly glow, and smiles at you with a haunting smile. She is always looking up with sorrow, and saying she must go. Date the girl who is the moon.
Lists like this are always really difficult for me, because I’m not sure which aspects of shoujo you’re looking for–are you looking for something like Sailor Moon, the magical girl part of shoujo? Or looking for cute relationships/romance part of shoujo? Or just really pretty art or a strong focus on female characters part of shoujo?
So, hopefully keep in mind that this is a) an entirely subjective list of shoujo manga I like and b) that I’m probably hedging my bets a little as to what aspect of shoujo you’ll like.
- Koukou Debut / High School Debut - One of my favorite shoujo manga ever, where the main girl is bold and brash and her soul is basically on fire 24/7, so she’s really passionate and loud and completely, utterly wonderful for it! The basic premise is that she was a total tomboy in middle school, so she wants to be more traditionally girly when she gets to high school, enlists a cool boy’s help, and of course they fall in love because nobody could NOT fall in love with her. It sounds like it could be terrible, but it’s actually GREAT, because it’s not really about changing her, but about Haruna being Haruna and that’s why she’s wonderful. FAVE FAVE FAVE. I am forever bitter that this never got an anime. ;__;
- Kimi ni Todoke - I love everything about this series, how adorable the main character is, how she’s weird and shy and socially awkward and the popular boy in class sees past that and totally likes her and they’re adorable nerds over each other and are the sweetest, cutest couple ever when they get together! But also this manga is only half about their relationship, it’s also about Sawako’s friendships with her two best friends and THEY ARE ALL AMAZING TOGETHER, I love them all. ;__;♥ It’s also got a lot of great humor and I love the art once the manga really gets going.
- Fruits Basket - Another manga that’s only partly about a ship, but also about the main character and the relationships she has with a multitude of people, different relationships having different tones. There’s a strong storyline about abusive families here, how nobody fucking wins when everyone is getting hurt, so that might not be for everyone to read about, but I love this manga a lot. It inspires a lot of intense shipping (as any reverse harem manga is likely to) but I loved it for Tohru’s determination to be sweet and kind and gentle always, that her heart is big enough for everyone and that there are people who can keep that kindness in their hearts even when they’ve been through a lot of shit.
- Kare Kano / Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou - Another manga that gets into some pretty angsty stuff (including a nearly over the top abusive past for the male lead), but I loved the characters and the pairings so very much that I was entirely charmed by this series. I love Yukino, I love her ambition and determination, I love that she’s so entirely irritated by the male lead at first, but that they actually work their shit out with talking to each other and stuff! It has a lot of humor, but mostly it’s one of those “JFC WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO MY FEELINGS” kind of manga. *__*
- Skip Beat! - I love this one entirely because I love the main character so much, that she’s treated badly by a hot guy who she wanted to date but he just sort of strung her along to use her and then dumped her badly, so she’s fucking FURIOUS and she’s going to become an even bigger star and then laugh in his face! Stuff happens along the way, not how Kyouko expects it, of course, but my favorite thing about this manga is that I never got the impression that she was supposed to be bad for feeling the way she did, that there are other things she does wrong (like getting into acting for the wrong reasons, that she needs to get her head on straight about why she’s in this business), but never that she should just let go what that dick did to her or that her feelings of anger aren’t totally valid. Plus, okay, yeah, I ship her with like half of the cast.
- Cardcaptor Sakura - This one tends to be aimed at a younger crowd, since the main character Sakura is still in middle school, but it’s beautifully drawn and it’s super sweet and lovely and has some excellent worldbuilding. It’s a CLAMP manga, but it’s back before they went off the rails for me, this is one of the best of their words, where shit goes down and it can be full of feelings, but you know it’s going to work out and people will be happy. A young girl gets pulled into a bunch of magical shenanigans and slowly grows into the most powerful wizard ever and always, always remains a sweet, supportive, adorable girl. Plus, the secondary characters are all FANTASTIC.
These are all fairly popular/well-known manga, though, so if you want more obscure recs, my best suggestion would be to Google for “shoujo manga recs” or hit up MyAnimeList in the manga section, find your fave shoujo manga, and start checking out the recommendations tab.
I can say that I liked what I’ve read of Dengeki Daisy, Kaichou wa Maid-sama, Beauty Pop, and Akatsuki no Yona. I’ve heard good things about Lovely Complex and Akagami no Shirayukihime. And I enjoyed MeruPuri and Marmalade Boy, but they’re not necessarily for everyone. Hopefully, this can at least give you some good ideas! ♥ And anyone who wants to should feel free to chime in with recs for shoujo manga and why they’re good reads, because I’m always open to recs for this genre! :D