There’s a misconception that any shoujo anime will only feature ensemble cast of young, attractive, male protagonists around a single girl that they try to please. Or, reverse harem, as some would call it. This, is not true. At all.
Although the term shoujo itself is a demographic that’s targeted towards young girls—much like shounen, aimed for young boys—it can be enjoyed by anyone who’s up to watch/read mesmerizing, adrenaline-pumping, and entertaining stories. And I enjoy these anime, as much as I do for shounen‘s: My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan, Haikyuu!!, and The Promised Neverland.
Their plot might be less engaging, but they are, equally amazing.
Orange, emerges on the surface as a typical anime about friendship and romance entangles these six. But, it’s not. The story starts off with a grim reminder that one of them is no longer with them in the future, and that, the female protagonist somehow sent a letter to her past self (current time in anime) to prevent this.
So that, she could have noticed the details. To not be ridden with guilt and regrets when it hits. To dive into a tragedy that has haunted, and has eaten away at one of them. To learn, to emphatize, and to save a life.
So that, they could watch the sunset of the same colour again.
Chihayafuru, is the embodiment of sports (karuta, a traditional Japanese card game) and slice of life genre. With inter-school trainings, competitions and national matches similar to any other sports anime, it retains the element of peaceful high school life: dynamic interaction between the characters—especially with the side characters—and their development that shape steadily, as they all add up to making their story more interesting.
The female protagonist, beautiful but tomboyish, falls into love with the world of karuta; she was inspired by a boy with glasses, and alongside a diligent top scorer friend of her, the trio started their journey. Yet, it soon falls apart. Now in high school, she yearns to gather new members for the karuta club, train with them, and with the impending national championship.
So that she could realise her dream—to reach the top, and become a karuta queen.
#5 My Little Monster
My Little Monster is eccentric. The delinquent-like and over-the-top male protagonist who gets shunned by others, confessed his feelings to an diligent and emotionless girl—no friends, and only cares about her grades—who dropped by to give him his homeworks.
And well, they begin to learn more about emotions and feelings of each other, attract and repel like magnets, have their shares of cute and/or awkward heart-thudding moments, while staying true to themselves. With a few side characters thrown into the mix, I could only say that the story becomes more entertaining than it already has.
So yeah, they cute, especially with the matching chibi art and the blushes (when there’s any):
#4 Snow White with the Red Hair
Snow White with the Red Hair, takes the setting of encounter and development between a prince and a village girl to another level. Escaped from a lord that targeted her for her red hair, the female protagonist met a prince and his two aides that rescued her.
While enriching her knowledge on herbs, she aims to be a court herbalist in the prince’s country while trying to repay their kindness with her own efforts. Hard, honest effort as to prove that she doesn’t need sympathy from others; and that, she could strive on her own.
It’s, in essence, a medieval romance with a twist.
#BONUS!: Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light
A girl met a masked immortal sprit in forest when she was young. He befriended her, under one condition—that she, cannot touch him no matter what, and nor can he touch her. Under one promise that tie them both, on every summer holiday, she would come to visit him in the forest, and spend time with him.
A short movie with only about 45 minutes long, this story is captivating in capturing the theme of love, and discovering the various interpretations the word holds.
#3 Natsume Yuujinchou
Natsume Yuujinchou, is the prime example of how bittersweetness can be tasted in stories. Taking the premise that the male protagonist has been a loner since he was young—rejected by family, friend because of his ability to see spirits (youkai)—it’s all the more melancholic when he approaches the lonely spirits and set them free.
He has a book that he inherited from his grandmother—who dueled and stored the spirits’ name inside. As he encounters/be encountered by spirits come looking for it, he meets a cat-like monster that promised to be his bodyguard for a condition.
And so, the world of various, numerous heartwarming stories begin to be uncovered by the duo, as we learn and watch by their side.
#2 Yona of the Dawn
Once a sheltered, defenseless princess, the female protagonist is forced to trample on a journey with her bodyguard when her kingdom is betrayed, taken over by one of her beloved cousion. Escaping from his deadly pursuit, she tries to gather more forces to reclaim the throne, and build her ideal kingdom while discovering stories that are captivating and heart-tugging.
I’m genuinely surprised at how great the plot evolves, given that there are ensemble of male cast inside, yet none of them is disregarded as simply being there for the sake of it. And, how the female protagonist trains to become stronger throughout the plot, while trying to maintain her ability to emphatize: this delicate balance is just worthwhile to be watched, and experienced from her perspective.
#1 Fruits Basket (2019)
Wow. Just wow.
Fruits Basket, is as beautiful as it is painful. A girl lives in a tent, due to a tragedy that befalls her. However, after accidentally uncovering the secret of Souma family—that they can transform into Zodiac animals upon contact with members of opposite sex—she is recruited as a housekeeper, living with three of them as she learns their past, and the stories of other Zodiac members.
Embracing others’ loneliness and layered sadness with her kindness, she’d come to learn how precious warmth is to them, as they try struggle with the chains that restrain them to the ground. But, just how much she can bear, and to what extent, she is willing to?
I apologise for the basket of fruits. And, I definitely hope that you’ll give these a try; which, if you did, what do you think about them? Are they worth the recommendation?