Friday, 21 March 2014

Top 6 shoujo anime & manga series

Hey there everyone, I hope you're all doing well! A few of you have been asking on instagram, what 'girly' anime I would recommend for some of you to check out (because you either want something new to watch or you think it would be the perfect genre for you to get interested in). The genre most of you seem to be talking about is shoujo anime and manga.

Shoujo manga is something usually aimed at girls from the ages of about 10 years old through to young adults, that focuses on relationships between characters and the emotions of each character (though people of any gender and age usually enjoy watching or reading shoujo just as much as the target audience). Shoujo is technically not a specific genre but rather hosts a range of different genres. Another genre that might make an appearance in this list is josei manga. Josei usually covers a similar concept as shoujo but is aimed at older women (I believe from about the ages of 15 through to about 45!). Though again, people of any age and gender enjoy josei manga and anime just as much as the intended audience.

I have decided to ensure that all 6 series that are listed will have both an anime and manga. I'm presuming people who haven't read much or haven't watched much manga or anime will be reading this list so I wanted you to have two options when it comes to starting a series.
This list will be in no particular order and will only be from the list of anime and manga that I have read myself. You can check out my animanga list here. I will also not be including any series that I have mentioned in my previous anime post (Anime to begin with..) which you can read here. I have done this just so there is a larger variety for you all to choose from :)

1. Pretty Guardian Sailormoon ☆ (Sailor Moon)

I couldn't not include this on my list. I can't express my love for Sailor Moon enough and I urge everyone to watch and read it as soon as possible. I'm not going to give a brief over-view of the series because I'm sure the majority of you know what its all about.  Now I know most of you probably watched Sailor Moon growing up, but you seriously need to re-watch it in Japanese. The english dub that you probably watched as children was so poorly done it's embarrassing to watch now. Not only were the voice actors incredibly irritating but the company cut a serious amount of episodes and censored a whole bunch of unnecessary things.  A lot of people I know won't watch Sailor Moon again as they believe it to be 'childish'. Trust me, go and watch the uncensored version and you will not be disappointed. Naoko Takeuchi is a seriously amazing artist that really pays attention to detail. The Sailor Moon manga has some of the most exquisite art I have ever seen and I'm yet to find a shoujo (or magical girl series) with as much beautiful art as Sailor Moon. The manga is also quite different from the anime produced, so maybe check that out if you've recently re-watched the anime. I would also recommend watching and reading Sailor Moon before the release of the 20th anniversary reboot series that will be released some time this year (we are still waiting for exact dates!). I would also recommend having a quick read of Naoko Takeuchi's Codename: Sailor V which is a two volume series about none other than Minako Aino (Sailor Venus).

2. Kobato. 

Kobato. is a manga (and anime) series produced by Clamp (you might recognise the name from none other than another childhood favourite- Cardcaptor Sakura). I am a huge Clamp fan and Kobato. is definitely one of favourite Clamp series. For those of you that don't know, Clamp is basically a group of four wonderfully talented women (hell yeah- girl power!) that create some seriously amazing series (their art is so incredible and is recognised in the animanga community even by those people that aren't Clamp fans!) You can have a sneaky peak at a very large list of their series here. Kobato. generally isn't one of their more popular works but I think people that dismiss this series as 'too stereotypical' or again, 'childish' need to understand the serious meaning and story behind Kobato.  Kobato Hanato is a sweet, gentle, kind and incredibly naive young girl that has a contract. She wants to go to a very special place and to do this she must fill a very cute and ominous bottle with people's "healed hearts". Kobato must fill this bottle before four seasons pass, otherwise her wish to go to this 'special place' will not be fulfilled. Whilst Kobato is what one would call a typical shoujo heroine, I did not find her annoying at all (which is a common problem for me) and she goes through some amazing character development. I also loved majority of the other characters in this series especially her cute, cuddly and grumpy companion and guide Ioryogi who just happens to take the form of a stuffed toy. I hope you all fall in love with Kobato. just as much as I did- it's a pretty short series so definitely something to watch or read for those of you that are short on time! This series has not been dubbed yet so your only option is watching with subtitles (not that I'm complaining), but the manga has been translated for us!

3. Kuragehime ☆ (Princess Jellyfish)

*Insert happy, high-pitched and incredibly catchy opening song here* When I started watching Kuragehime I was a little skeptical. From what I'd seen on my tumblr dashboard it seemed a little over the top and ... weird. But when I sat myself down one rainy night when I was supposed to be doing homework (most likely a maths assignment of some sort) I was pleasantly surprised. Not only are all the characters very weird and over the top (just like I expected) but they are also really relatable (at least for me anyway) I found myself looking for little bits of my personality within each of the characters. I also laughed so much that my mum came bounding into my room wondering why I was causing such a racket (sorry, mum!). Kuragehime is a josei series that focuses on the residents of an apartment complex called Amamizukan. The tenants of Amamizukan are all otaku women and no men are allowed to stay in the complex. Each resident in the complex has her own obsession and the main protragonist, Tsukimi Kurashita just happens to be fixated on Jelly Fish (an explanation as to why is seen in the anime/manga). Tsukimi (like most of the tenants of Amamizukan) is an especially awkward young adult who is terrified of attractive people (aren't we all?) and social interaction. We follow her story as she meets the fashionable Kuranoske Koibuchi  who just so happens to be a cross dresser and the illegitimate son of a politician. Just a side note, the english dub of Kuragehime is actually pretty well done in my opinion. Featuring the instantly recognisable voice of Maxey Whitehead as Tsukimi (yeah.. you know the one! Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). As weird as it sounds, Kuragehime is so enjoyable to watch and with the range of colourful characters present through the series I'm sure you will fall in love with at least one of them like I did (weird obsessions and all).

4. Kimi Ni Todoke: From Me to You

Kimi Ni Todoke has been one of the most popular shoujo series in the past few years. I think you'll struggle to find someone within the animanga community that either hasn't watched it or at least hasn't heard of it. It's a classic shoujo romance, one of the more 'stereotypical shoujo' stories in my opinion (that doesn't mean it's bad, I think it actually adds to the charm of this series!). If you want a taste of the shoujo/romance genre but aren't too sure what to watch, this is a good place to start. The main character Kuronuma Sawako (who is called 'Sadako' by her peers because of her resemblance to the character from the horror film The Ring) is struggling to make friends in her senior years of schooling. She is constantly misunderstood and accidentally scares her classmates all the time, much to her despair. Despite the creepy stereotype Sawako has accidentally  developed for herself she is actually a kind, sweet and very timid girl who only wants to be liked by her peers and to make friends at school. Soon enough we learn about how she 'idolizes' one of her classmates Kazehaya Shota for his kindness and social skills and when he begins talking to her, her whole life begins to change! She begins to become more accepted by her peers and even begins making friends with people! Kimi Ni Todoke is one of those series that makes you feel wonderful as you watch it. A story about romance, friendship and young adult life that is very difficult not to fall in love with! Whilst there is no english dub for Kimi Ni Todoke yet (I'm sure they will dub it eventually), the Japanese version is wonderful to watch and the cast is easily recognised by those of us that just so happen to watch a lot of anime in Japanese.

5. Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket is something I just couldn't leave off of this list! Anime fan or not- many people have watched this or at least heard of it before. Whilst the anime isn't exactly an accurate or particularly amazing adaption, it does have it's own certain charm. If you are planning on reading/watching this (and I really recommend that you do) I would probably watch the anime first. Yes that's right, I'm wanting you to watch something before reading it. I personally think that it's easier to like and enjoy the anime if you don't know the differences that have been put in place. Once you've watched (and more than likely enjoyed) the anime then you can read the manga and be pleasantly be surprised with the differences and the continuing story line. I'm actually a fan of the english dub of Fruits Basket, though I know many animanga fans really dislike it. I've watched both the english dub and the Japanese version and I really couldn't choose between the two so it's up to you to decide which you want to watch! It's hard to give a basic plot line for Fruits Basket without giving too much away but we basically follow the main protagonist Tohru Honda as she struggles with some pretty heavy life situations. For reasons explained in both the anime and manga Tohru begins living in a tent and supporting herself by working as well as attending her senior years of schooling. That is until she is practically adopted by one of her classmates Yuki Sohma and his cousins Shigure and Kyo. Little does poor Tohru know, the Sohmas live with a curse. Each member of the family is possessed by one of the twelve Chinese zodiac spirits (with the exception of Kyo who just happens to be the cat) and they turn into their respected animal whenever their emotions are running high (stressed, weak, etc) or when they are hugged by someone of the opposite sex. Sounds a little strange I know- but it's a truly charming story that will make you go through so many different emotions as you watch the characters development and watch as the story progresses. By the way, if you are reading the manga I would recommend getting some good old tissues at the ready.. you have been warned!

6. Cardcaptor Sakura

I'm sure you recognise the name, or maybe you might recognise the atrocious english dub opening song. Again, this simply had to be on this list! One of Clamps most popular and most recognisable series Cardcaptor Sakura has a special place in everyone's heart. Yes, I know most of you will be a little skeptical if you haven't watched it before, but it's not just for children and has some seriously deep characters that you are bound to relate to! I would recommend watching this in Japanese, because just like the dub of Sailor Moon, a whole lot of good stuff has been censored and cut out of the original english dub (though they have recently released the un-cut version for us). The manga has also been re-released in the past few years (it had been out of print for a long time) and volumes have been placed together to create four omnibus editions! Basically, Sakura Kinomoto is your average ten year old elementary school student- she hates maths but loves her friends, sports and food. Everything in Sakura's simple life get's a lot more dangerous and exciting when she accidentally awakens a set of magical cards known as the Clow cards. Each Clow card has been named and created by the powerful sorcerer Clow Reed (any Clamp fan will easily recognise this name!) When activated, each card takes it's own form and has it's very own abilities. Sakura and her friends Tomoyo Daidouji and Syaoran Li must capture and defeat all the cards before they wreck havoc on their fictional city, Tomoeda. Cardcaptor Sakura is such a timeless anime and manga and I will undoubtedly continue to re-watch and re-read this series until the very end.

Phew- that was such a text heavy post! I hope I didn't bore you all too much. If you have any blog post suggestions/recommendations please leave a comment below!

Thank you for reading!
Love from Maddie xoxo