Best of Shoujo

Silly as it seems, but Shoujo (literal trans. young girl) manga / anime / TV drama / movies have definitely impacted and influenced me quite a bit. Be it towards my understanding of Japan’s culture, or becoming one of my motivations towards learning Japanese.

I’m also not absolutely sure why I love Shoujo so much. But I guess it’s probably because of the likeable and relatable female leads, the cheesy and romance, the out-of-the-world storylines, and the ドS (do-S i.e. one who gets pleasure from oppressing; sadistic) and ツンデレ (tsundere; a colloquial term, to mean being cold normally but can get very passionate when intimate; hot-cold personality) personalities.

I’ve come up with my personal Best of Shoujo list, and also included some bonuses as I think those are really worth recommending too!

Hana Yori Dango (花より男子 Eng: Boys Before Flowers)

Manga: 1992 – 2004 (37 volumes)
Anime: 1996
TV Drama: Taiwan (2001, 2002), Indonesia (2002), Japan (2005, 2007), Korea (2009), China (2009, 2010), Turkey (2013), India (2014)
Movie: 1995, 2008 (same as Japan drama cast)

Needless to say, this makes it to the top of my list. It was immensely popular back in the early 2000s because of Taiwan’s F4, but I first knew about this series because of its anime. Subsequently, I fell in love with the Japan TV drama series, starring none other than Matsumoto Jun of Arashi and Inoue Mao. I loved their chemistry and in particular, the second series in 2007 and the movie in 2008.

If I hadn’t done my research on this, I wouldn’t know that there was a movie released in 1995! I just watched it and found it interesting because it shows what’s popular in that generation. To note, the leads of the movie, Uchida Yuki, Tanihara Shosuke and Fujiki Naohito are actually still pretty popular and active actors now!

What makes me love it?

  • The development of friendship, and the relationship between Tsukusa and Tsukushi
  • The love-hate relationship you’ll develop for the male lead, i.e. Tsukasa
  • The gorgeous settings in the Japan TV drama

Recommended: Hana Yori Dango, Hana Yori Dango 2, Hana Yori Dango Final, Hana Yori Dango (1995)

Kimi ni Todoke (君に届けEng: From Me to You)

Manga: 2006 – ongoing (27 volumes)
Anime: 2009, 2011
Movie: 2010

I first fell in love with this series because of the anime. I found Sawako so adorable and likeable! In a way, I related to her story of being mistaken. Kazehaya, who eventually developed liking for her, is also one of the shyest male leads ever. Hence, their interactions are always so cute!

I loved the anime so much that I made my first purchase of Japanese manga. Then I started following the series and I loved the manga even more! It details a lot more than the anime and the illustration is superb. However, the movie adaptation was quite a letdown despite having popular personalities like Miura Haruma and Tabe Mikako headlining it. Reason being because the movie lacked the essence of the characters.

What makes me love it?

  • A good balance of romance and friendship – not only focused on Kazehaya and Sawako, but also on the stories of their friends
  • Very 純愛 (pure love)
  • The personalities of both Kazehaya and Sawako

Recommended: Kimi ni Todoke (anime), manga

Boku no Hatsukoi wo Kimi ni Sasagu (僕の初恋をキミに捧ぐ Eng: I Give My First Love to You)

boku no hatsukoi.jpg

Manga: 2005 – 2008 (12 volumes)
Movie: 2009

I remember shedding buckets of tears for the movie. The love story between Mayu and Takuma is so heart wrenching. In particular, I loved the way the movie adaptation rolled out. There are several significant differences between the movie and its original manga, but I felt the movie’s depiction was more realistic. On the other hand, the manga was a little draggy.

This is also one of Okada Masaki’s works that left a deeper impression.

What makes me love it?

  • The melodramatic portrayal of ‘first love’
  • The transient nature of life brought out in a very poetic way
  • The ups and downs in the relationship

Recommended: Boku no Hatsukoi wo Kimi ni Sasagu (movie)

Ookami Shoujo to Kuro-ouji (オオカミ少女と黒王子 Eng: Wolf Girl and Black Prince)

Manga: 2011 – 2016 (16 volumes)
Anime: 2014
Movie: 2016

I first watched this anime before the movie caught my attention. I got to watch it for free during last year’s Japan Film Festival Singapore 2016. I think the Black Prince has possibly overtaken both Tsukusa (Hana Yori Dango) and Kazehaya (Kimi ni Todoke) to become first in my Shoujo male leads’ list. I love his singlemindedness and passionate love for Erika when he made that realization.

Unlike the movie adaptation of Kimi ni Todoke, I felt that movie adaptation of Ookami Shoujo was appropriate and has its merits. One being the leads’ chemistry was awesome (Yamazaki Kento and Nikaido Fumi), the is that the briefness of the movie also didn’t shortchange the narrative at all. In fact, some of the key scenes were super well done.

What makes me love it?

  • The development from an unrequited love (from the girl’s end) to a mutual one
  • The male lead’s ドS but adorable behavior
  • Puppy love ❤

 Recommended: Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji (movie), anime

Itazura na Kiss (イタズラなKiss Eng: Mischievous Kiss)

Manga: 1990 – 1999 (23 volumes)
Anime: 2008
TV Drama: Japan (1996; Love in TOKYO 2013, 2014), Taiwan (2005, 2007; Miss in Kiss 2016) Korea (2010), Thai (2015)
Movie: 2016, 2017

Simply by looking at the sheer number of TV drama and movie adaptations, no one can deny that Itazura na Kiss is possibly one of the most popular Shoujo. Despite its manga series’ end in 1999, the adaptations have never stopped. It includes adaptations as recent as this year! I’m quite looking forward to the Japanese movies if they become available.

The new cast for the movie looks interesting, but the best adaptation for me would be the Taiwan series in 2005 & 2007, coming is second is the Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in TOKYO in 2013 & 2014. Surprisingly, the cast of the newer Japan TV drama adaptation was very fitting. I loved how Miki Honoka creates this ‘upgraded’ version of Kotoko, and the casting for Naoki (Furukawa Yuki) was just perfect too. And very much alike the other adaptations, the significant difference in height was just right.

What makes me love it?

  • The resilience of Kotoko
  • Naoki’s passion, especially in second series of both the Taiwan and Japan TV drama adaptations
  • Since this is a completed manga series, the development and growth from high school to working life was dynamic and engaging

 Recommended: Itazura na Kiss ~ Love in Tokyo 2, It Started with a Kiss

Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu (逃げるは恥だが役に立つ Eng: We married as a job!)

nigeru 1.jpg

This is one of the latest shoujo manga adapted Japan TV drama series. It’s quite a typical development between the male and female lead. But what’s hot in the topic is actually the series’ ending song, Hoshino Gen’s Koi. The dance has inspired so many people to upload their own covers! Been a while since that has happened after PPAP (lol).

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (月刊少女野崎くん Eng: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun)

gekkan shoujo.jpg

Strictly speaking, this doesn’t fall under Shoujo category. But I love it because of its humour and its semi-satire take on Shoujo related content. It’s an original 4-panel web comic. If you can read Japanese, you can even read the latest free on their website!

Best of Shoujo

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