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Recommended Shôjo Manga

This page had not been updated for years, but now that a sizable amount of shôjo manga has been translated into English, it seems a good time to

Here is a short and by no means complete list of shôjo manga that are widely considered to be "classics" and/or are personal favorites of mine. They are listed according to artist name in Japanese "A-I-U-E-O" order in the following format:

SURNAME Given-name, Title, Publisher, Magazine-it-appeared-in, date(s)-of-original-publication, number-of-paperback-volumes. Brief description.

Thanks to Kitsune for providing most of the comments (Her's are those followed by a "[K]"), and to Tony, for letting me filch one of his comments.

In some cases there may be more than one edition, with different numbers of volumes. Due to practical constraints, information is given for only one edition. If a title is accompanied by an image, the volume information is for the edition pictured.

COVERAOIKE Yasuko, Eroika yori ai o komete ("From Eroica With Love"), Akita, Princess, ??? 1978 to ??? 1988, 19 vols. The first shôjo manga to develop a following among English readers, this classic spy thriller pairs two beautiful men who seem to provoke a certain, um, stimulation in the imaginations of many female (and maybe some male) readers, both in Japan and abroad.
COVER AKISATO Wakuni, Nemureru mori no binan ("Sleeping [Male] Beauty"), Shogakukan, Petit Flower, March 1986 to July 1986, 1 vol. One of the most realistic depictions of gay life I've seen in a shôjo manga, and one of the first to deal with A.I.D.S.
COVERARIYOSHI Kyouko, Suwan ("Swan"), Shueisha, Weekly Margaret, #47 1976 to ?? , ?? vols. A classic ballet manga and a girl growing up story. [K]
COVERIGARASHI Yumiko, Kyandii Kyandii ("Candy Candy"), Kodansha, Nakayoshi, ?? 1975 to ???, ?? vols. Candy-Candy tells the story of an orphan, Candies White. Rather than focus- ing on mushy first-love (although it does have it here and there), Candy- Candy focus on Candy's and her friends' developments as they grow into adults. Reading Candy-Candy, one can almost believe the story really happened somewhere once. [Tony]
COVERIKEDA Riyoko, Berusaiyu no bara ("The Rose of Versailles"), Shueisha, Weekly Margaret, Spring 1972 to Autumn 1973, 10 vols. A sweeping, epic romance that follows the tragic career of Oscar, a crossdressing woman raised to be a warrior and doomed to die defending Marie Antoinette and the French crown.
COVER IKEDA Riyoko, Orufeusu no mado ("The Window of Orpheus"), Chuokoronsha [originally Shueisha], Weekly Margaret/ Monthly Seventeen, January 1975 to August 1981, 4 vols. Another historical classic from Ikeda...involving, um, a crossdressing woman caught up in a revolution. But this time it's the Russian Revolution! Any similarity to Berusaiyu no bara is strictly coincidental. ("Aizouban" edition).
COVERIKENO Koi, Tokimeki tunaito (literally, "Palpitation Tonight"), Shueisha, Ribbon, July 1982 to ??, ?? vols. Dad's a vampire and Mom's a werewolf, but the daughter is just an ordinary highschool girl, or so she believes. [K]
COVERICHIJOH Yukari, Dezainaa ("Designer"), Shueisha, Ribbon, February to December 1974, 1 vol. Intense! Once you get past the goofy 'seventies fashions, there's no escaping this tragic tangle of hatred and love.
COVERICHIJOH Yukari, Yuukan kurabu ("The Leisure Club"), Shueisha, Ribbon/ Ribbon Original/Chorus, Spring 1981 to present, 16 vols. to date.
COVEROHSHIMA Yumiko, Banana bureddo no puddingu ("Banana Bread Pudding"), Shueisha, Weekly Seventeen, 1977, 1 vol. (From Asahi Sonorama) Now that Ira's older sister is getting married, who will take her to the bathroom after ten p.m. and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" outside the bathroom door in order to protect her from the beautiful, androgynous, child-eating clown? Will marrying a closeted gay man help? Matt's personal favorite.
COVEROKANO Reiko, Fanshii dansu ("Fancy Dance"), Shogakukan Petit Flower, October 1984 to July 1990, 9 vols. If you're into 'eighties New Wave and/or Buddhism, you might enjoy this quirky, funny tale of angst and dharma.
COVER OZAKI Minami, Zetsuai 1989 ("Desperate Love 1989")/Buronzu ("Bronze"), Shueisha, Margaret, September 1989 to present, 11 vols. to date. Why must I be a teenaged pop idol in love...with another boy? Love knows no gender. It might even drive you to hack your own arm off. If you like your shônen-ai (or "slash") intense, look no further.
COVERKAWAHARA Izumi, Warau mikaeru ("The Smiling Michael"), Hakusensha, Flowers and Dreams, #3 1987 to , 3 vols. The girls who just cannot find their places in the most elegant and distinguished private girls' school quickly learn that they are not alone—in fact, there are three of them. [K]
COVER KIHARA Toshie, Yume no ishibumi ("The Stone Tablet of Dreams"), Shogakukan, Petit Flower, May 1984 to present, 16 vols. to date.
COVER KIMURA Minori, Poketto no naka no kisetsu ("The Season in My Pocket"), Shogakukan (Shueisha/Mushi Productions/amateur), Special Edition Girls' Comic/ Ribbon Comic/Ribbon/COM/ Monthly Funny/amateur publication, September 1969 to January 1976, 1 vol.
COVERKUBO Kiriko, Shinikaru hisuterii awaa ("Cynical Hystery Hour"), Hakusensha, LaLa, March 1982 to ???, ?? vols.
COVER KURAMOCHI Fusako, Itsumo poketto ni Shopan ("She Always Has Chopin in Her Pocket"), Special Edition Margaret, February 1980 to July 1981, 2 vols. First shôjo manga (well, maybe not) which features classical music and the protagonist actually plays piano. [K]
COVER CLAMP, Toukyou babiron ("Tokyo Babylon"), Shinshokan, WINGS/South, August 1990 to winter 1993, 7 vols. A boy exorcist SUMERAGI Subaru's story... continues to X (another manga by CLAMP). [K]
COVER KOUGA Yun, Aashian ("Earthian"), Shinshokan, WINGS/South, September 1987 to Spring 1995, vols. Angels helping out humans, or evaluating them. The plot is popular with many Japanese mangaka, from ISHIMORI Shohtaroh's "Nikyuu tenshi"(dattakke?) to TEZUKA Osamu's "Ribon no kishi". This particular one adds a hint of yaoi. [K]
COVER GOTOH Yukio & MAKINO Kazuko, Haitiin bugi ("The Late Teens' Boogie"), Shogakukan, Petit Seven, ??? to ???, ?? vols. A "growing pains" story about two highschool kids. The name "Shoh" (as in 'hishou') is quite popular among Japanese yan-mamas, but few of them know that it comes from this manga. [K]
COVERSAKURA Momoko, Chibimaruko chan (""), Shueisha, Ribbon, August 1986 to ???, ?? vols. A biographical manga about SAKURA Momoko as a third grader, one can read it and learn a bit about the life of a little girl in Japan in early 70's. [K]
COVER SASAKI Noriko, Doubutsu no o-isha-san ("Animal Doctor"), Hakusensha, Flowers and Dreams, January 1988 to ??? 1994, 11 vols. Hilarious, deadpan humor, set in Hokkaido University's veterinary school, and based largely on background research the artist conducted there.
COVERSHITOH Kyouko, Henkyou keibi ("Guarding the Frontier"), Shogakukan, Petit Flower, March 1988 to May 1992, 6 vols. A chronicle of an imaginary country by the frontier, where dwell ordinary people, young and old. [K]
COVERSHIMIZU Reiko, Mirukii uei ("The Milky Way"), Hakusensha, LaLa, April to May 1986, 1 vol. First of Jack & Elena series, where Jack meets Elena. The two are robots. They can live forever. Do they want to? Maybe yes, since they found each other. [K]
COVERSHOHJI Yohko, Seito shokun! ("Attention Students!"), Kodansha, Shôjo Friend, 1977 to ??, 24 vols.
COVERTAKAGUCHI Satosumi, Hana no asuka gumi! ("The Glorious Asuka Gang!"), Kadokawa, ASUKA, August 1985 to ???, ?? vols. Asuka used to be an ordinary girl in junior highschool until one day, to the surprise of the loving mother & father, she learns to fight back. [K]
COVERTAKEMIYA Keiko, Kaze to ki no uta ("The Song of the Wind and the Trees"), Shogakukan, Weekly Shôjo Comic, January 1976 to ??, ?? vols. The shônen-ai classic that was the first commercial shôjo manga to show two boys in bed...and they weren't sleeping. Heart-rending and beautiful.
COVERTSUCHIDA Yoshiko, Tsuru hime jaa! ("It's Princess Tsuru!"), Shueisha, Weekly Margaret, 1973 to ??, ?? vols.
COVERTSUMUGI Taku, Hotto roodo ("Hot Road"), Shueisha, Special Edition Margaret, Jan. 1986 to May 1987, 4 vols. Tsumugi captures the complex and subtle moods of a group of marginalized teenagers with extraordinary sensitivity. The influence of this master of minimalism on later artists can't be overstated.
COVERNASU Yukie, Koko wa Guriin-uddo ("Here is Greenwood"), Hakusensha, Flowers and Dreams, ??? to ???, 11 vols. Ryokuto Gakuen is the private boys' highschool, and Greenwood is the school dorm. If you have so many boys you bet you can get more than a few weird ones. [K]
COVERNARITA Minako, Eirian sutoriito ("Alien Street"), Hakusensha, LaLa, December 1980 to ???, 8 vols.
COVERNEKOBE Neko, Kingyo chuuihou! ("Goldfish Warning!"), Kodansha, Nakayoshi, ??? to ???, ?? vols.
COVERHAGIO Moto, Tooma no shinzou ("The Heart of Thomas"), Shogakukan, Girls' Comic, May to November 1974, 2 vols. The manga that changed my life. In a German "gymnasium," a boy struggles with the death of a boy who loved him by coming to terms with a new transfer student...who looks just like the dead boy.
COVERHIJIRI Chiaki, Iki ni yarou ze iki ni yo ("Let's Do It With Style"), Shueisha, Special Edition Margaret, July 1987 to ???, ?? vols. In a typical shôjo manga, a heroine is just another girl-on-the-block, and she falls in love with a boy of her dreams. Here our heroine Tomako is the school queen, and she falls, who was that again? [K]
COVERHIWATARI Saki, Boku no chikyuu o mamotte ("Protect My Earth" or "Please Save My Earth"), Hakusensha, Flowers and Dreams, Jan. 1988 to ?? 1994, 21 vols. To be honest, I thought it was going to be silly. I was wrong. Hiwatari takes the most implausible story and makes it utterly convincing, drawing you into a complex web of friendship, resentment, madness, jealousy. I cried a bucket of tears before it was over.
COVERHOSOKAWA Chieko, Ouke no monshou ("The Crest of Royal Family"), Akita, Princess, October 1976 to present, ?? vols.
COVERMIUCHI Suzue, Garasu no kamen ("The Mask of Glass"), Hakusensha, Hana to yume, January 1976 to present, ?? vols.
COVERMIZUNO Hideko, Faiyaa ("Fire"), Shueisha, Weekly Seventeen, January 1969 to July 1971, 3 vols. Although the theme of "freedom" seems corny today, after nearly thirty years Mizuno's skill and artistry still shine through in the first shôjo manga to deal with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll (not necessarily in that order).
COVERMICHIHARA Katsumi & MAKI Yuu, Teiou no niwa ("Garden of the Emperor"), Shinshokan, WINGS, March 1986 to May 1987, 1 vol. The first tankoubon of the seires "Joker", about an artificial-human cop Joker and a human cop who fall in love with each other. Sounds like romance? It's more comical than romantic, especially when Joker can transform into just about anybody, male or female. [K]
COVERYAMAGISHI Ryohko, Hi izuru tokoro no tenshi ("Heaven's Son in the Land Where the Sun Rises"), Hakusensha, LaLa, April 1980 to ??, 8 vols. (from Kadokawa Publishing) Yamagishi turns conventional historical wisdom on its head in this gripping, beautiful, and frightening drama set in the dawn of Japan's history as a nation-state. It was a classic before the ink of the last page was dry.
COVERYAMADA Mineko, Harumagedon densetsu ("The Legend of Harmageddon"), ???, Duo, September 1981 to March 1985, 6 vols. I probably shouldn't recommend people this manga, simply because once you get hooked to this "Harmageddon series" you'll have to read almost all of her works. Anyways, this particular story is about Nagato and how he becomes the king of Soma. [K]
COVERYAMATO Waki, Haikarasan ga tooru ("There Goes the Modern Girl"), Kodansha, Shôjo Friend, 1975 to ??, 8 vols.
COVERYOSHIDA Akimi, Kariforunia monogatari ("A California Story"), Shogakukan, Special Edition Girls' Comic, February 1978 to ???, 4 vols. **comments space reserved for Akemi-san^^**
COVERWAKATSUKI Megumi, Soo watto? ("So What?"), Hakusensha, LaLa, August 1986 to July 1989 , 6 vols. A girl receives a telegramme—"Your grandfather is gravely ill"; hops on the train and rushes to his home, opens the door and — the story begins. Ari and her ghost grandpa's home welcomes anyone, young and not-so-young, human and aliens alike. [K]

All images copyright their respective artists and/or publishers.

Matt Thorn ()
Cultural Anthropologist
Freelance Writer