Where Are the Shoujo Anime?

I don’t know when was the last time Shoujo anime became prominent. For some time, there has been fewer and fewer series of this demographic turned into anime counting the remake of Fruits Basket. Did something change? Maybe.

If you’re like me who keeps up with seasonal anime, you could already guess what are the most popular ones as of this writing. It felt like a void exists between anime that keeps pumping out every season. Don’t get it? I’ll give you a question: Do people talk about Shoujo anime frequently? The answer may vary from where you come from.

Personally, the demographic seemed to have suffered from being buried to the more in-demand ones and some people don’t admit they love it. Googling the term “Shoujo anime” will give you mixed results. Why? Some anime can be mistaken as a shoujo even if it came from a magazine intended for a different demographic. It has these (common) elements:

  • A pastel, bright, or warm color palette
  • Characters are designed in an effeminate way
  • Characters who are innocent to each other
  • Takes place in a school
  • Has a romance plot (most of the time)

This is like the bare minimum of what the demographic is like yet there are underlying themes which can be on the same level as its other counterpart, Shounen. Shoujo anime can even trick you to learn gut-wrenching lessons in the most mundane way possible. Some follow its own color palette. Heck, it can be full of action too! Does anyone still know its mature form, Josei? Anyone?

Moving on.

behind the sea
If you know which scene is this from, you know your shoujo.

A number of manga were turned into Live-action movies or dramas to save production costs. However, since the manga was adapted in a different medium the licensing costs of having it screened in other countries is low. The accessibility of them becomes harder to get with how it’s specifically intended for Japanese audiences only. We’re quite lucky Fruits Basket’s anime remake will tell the full story in animated form because the production committee knows there is demand for it and the creator has full rights this time.

Also, you can have a shoujo anime without relying on a female lead. Best example: Banana Fish. On paper, the very premise looked like it could’ve been published in a seinen magazine with the presence of hard-to-swallow topics. And if you look into the publication history, it came from Bessatsu Shōjo Comic, not from any other magazine.

I remember I tried watching Children of the Whales when it was airing and I dropped it. It had it all: a fictional setting with an excellent use of colors. Characters are distinct having their own flare. Yet, it wasn’t able to utilize it to the full potential and most of the characters felt too dry. Even pacing issues was apparent in the first three episodes. When it ended, no one felt the need to revisit it again. A waste. After all, it’s how if it can stay good.

I would wish this form of anime would be talked about again. I know this is hard to be granted but the current landscape is too saturated. Everything feels the same, and there hasn’t been an era for Shoujo anime since the early 2010s. Trends come and go, they say.

Are there any reasons you think why Shoujo anime has been out of the spotlight? Are there personal biases that keeps you from liking it? Let me know.


18 thoughts on “Where Are the Shoujo Anime?”

  1. Shoujo animes focus too much on romance as the center point. Even though sailor moon story is about love, or has it as part of the plot. There are far more actions to grab non shoujo fans. I don’t think joesi gets enough attention, there probably are quite known ones, I’ve yet to come across it. Good post rand!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would’ve been nice if the demographic tried to shake things up. Too much romance will make me feel bloated. Only thing is, those stories might be stuck to manga and never had the chance to become an anime. It’s a curse that needs to be lifted.

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      1. Agreed! I think that shoujo is falling behind a bit because people want to see the romance and something a little more. That being said, there are a lot of gems that I believe would do well with an anime adaptation. However, I would want these series to have well-done adaptations with good animation. In order for this to happen, it would require a large budget. Unfortunately, shoujo doesn’t really get that kind of budget.

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  2. I feel like shojo is something that most people enjoy more in manga form. It’s a genre that does feel largely written off as ‘popcorn entertainment’, easy to consume, sweet, and easy to forget. It doesn’t help that many shojo tend to cycle and recycle character designs, plots, locations, etc making them less distinct. I think right now the demand isn’t there for a new shojo anime since Fruits Basket’s reboot is getting the hype and the comics are in a bit of a rut. I haven’t seen a major smash hit series in a bit, but here’s hoping something breaks soon!

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    1. I’m not that well-versed into reading Shoujo manga but you make a good point. ‘Popcorn entertainment’ is what I could describe most of the other existing anime with the exception of some of course. Not only that, has there been a popular shoujo manga recently? That could be another reason why it can’t be an anime. And yes, I’d love to see another breakthrough shoujo anime after Fruits Basket. There’s always something more of what it can offer.

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      1. “Popcorn Entertainment” seems to be very popular in the past few years. For better or worse. To be honest even living in Japan, I haven’t seen a really big shojo title. They are some that certainly rank better then others, but nothing super popular constantly sold out. Hence, why I think the anime industry should step up and make a shojo original! (One can dream!)

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I have to agree. I have a lot of Shjo manga. The stories are fun to read. One of my all time favorite series is Skip Beat! simply because it has so much to it. The characters are so well developed, and the story is so great. They did make an anime for it, but it was incredibly short, and they stopped it right before everything got so much more amazing in the series(this series is great from the get go, but it gets extra juicy later). I was mad, and it was upsetting. The series is still going too.

      I have other shojo mangas too and what is nice is that most of the series are usually 10-15 volumes. They are good stories, but they aren’t dense, and can wrap up well. I love that. I can re-read them if I need a comfort too.

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  3. I’ve been re-watching ‘The Vision of Escaflowne’ and even in a show that can also clearly appeal to a typical shounen audience, the differences in storytelling and character feels so clear, and it’s something I miss for sure.

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  4. A new shoujo anime film just came out, Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare and it’s by the same creator as Ao Haru Ride. I agree that shoujo’s last peak was in the early 2010’s with hit titles like Maid-sama and Kimi ni Todoke but even then, shoujo anime are often only adapted for 12-13 episodes.

    I love the demographic (shoujo and josei are my faves!) but I do think shoujo needs to get out of its romance box and shake things up a bit. While there are many romance anime that came out the past couple seasons, a good number of them are categorized as shounen or seinen and offer something more than romance in its mix. I haven’t watched it but something like Yona of the Dawn where romance and a bit of action is part of the story may interest viewers into shoujo.

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    1. I did remember seeing Yona of the Dawn mentioned here and there but it has the curse of never having a sequel at all. That’s a series I want Shoujo anime to be more prolific on. Doing its own thing and being good at it. If I remember correctly, there was one recent shojo anime, Midnight Occult Civil Servants. Except it got ignored so much that I didn’t know it actually exists. I do not know why it got that lukewarm reception.

      The film, while made by the same creator as Ao Haru Ride, plays it by the books and it had a live-action movie alongside the anime movie just released at different schedules. Without seeing both, I guess the live-action got more attention. It could’ve been like a good reintroduction but it never made waves.

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      1. I saw a few episodes of Midnight Occult Civil Servants while it was airing (Winter 2020, I think? Or Fall 2019.) I wouldn’t even know it was actually shoujo had I not checked MAL just now! It was an okay show and it got an OVA too, which is also something I noticed with shoujo. Some don’t even get adapted into a full 12-episode series.

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