5 Recommended Shojo Manga: Girls Comics You May Have Never Read
Japanese comics are still evolving today, following their unique courses. Among its many genres is “Shoujo Manga” (meaning “girls comics”), whose readers are primarily girls or young females. Its history, however, is long and it reaches back to the 1930’s. “Shoujo Manga” is uniquely Japanese – I would like to introduce five works from this genre this time.
“Haru & Kiyo”
Koharu Miyamoto is a modest, unpretentious girl, but she is almost six feet tall. Kiyoshiroh Mineta is the best student in their school and popular with the girls, but barely five feet tall. A tall girl and a short boy fall in love and start dating. They share a variety of experiences through their love, friendship and school lives, filled with many events and unexpected happenings.
This is a stereotypical love story. Young lovers and their friends will go through their high school experiences, filled with joys and youthful worries.
“Himitsu – Top Secret”
This story’s stage is set in the near future where a technique has been invented to extract memories from the dead. “Institute of Science Police” is a branch of the law enforcement that observes and analyses the memory of the dead, and its 9th Forensic Medicine Laboratory is known as “No.9” in short.
Ikkou Aoki is assigned to “No.9”, where Tsuyoshi Maki leads the team. This is a suspense story, where two of them work together to solve mysteries of crimes.
If a technique allows an access to the memories of the dead, it should help them solve any heinous crime. But the technique also brings back people’s suffering and anguish. An intellectual warfare sparks between the Science Police and the brutal criminals. This story presents a dark, immoral world, like “Silence of the Lambs” starring Jodi Foster, or “Seven” with Brad Pitt.
Soma Clan secretly carries a burden of an ancient curse – they suddenly transform into an animal of the Chinese Zodiac when they are hugged by someone of the opposite sex. Toru Honda is an orphaned girl who starts living with the Soma family. She ends up learning the Soma’s secret accidentally.
Cats have a sad history of not being one of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Kyo Soma is possessed by a spirit of a cat with an inferiority complex. Toru and Kyo work together to remove the ancient curse from the Soma Clan, sometimes cooperating or other times fighting.
This story is like “Vampire Diaries”, a drama series about being in love with a vampire. An ordinary girl’s life intertwines with that of several men with special abilities. The curse of the Chinese Zodiac has an intricate, rich design and its mystery gradually reveals itself as the story unfolds.
“Hana yori mo Hana no gotoku – More Flowery than a Real Flower”
This story evolves in the world of Noh, a traditional theater art in Japan that is uniquely Japanese. Noh is a form of classic drama performance and its history is older than Kabuki’s. Aiba Family is one of the families in which the art of Noh has been handed down generation after generation.
The story’s main character, Norito Sakakibara, is a grandson of the current Aiba Family Master and he has been trained to perform the central role in Noh plays since his early childhood.
Even Japanese people are not very familiar with Noh performance today. The story depicts Noh’s unique world in detail, and it follows the main character and his young fellows in their struggle to establish themselves in the world of tradition and its own value systems.
“Doubutsu no Oishasan – Dear Animal Doctors”
Masaki Nishine, the main character of this story, has been admitted to the Veterinarian School of H University by chance, which is located at the northernmost tip of Japan. His nickname is “Hamuteru” (his given name’s kanji characters are read in a funny way). This story depicts “Hamuteru” and his friends’ life at the university.
“Hamuteru” and his buddy Chobi, a Siberian Husky, became quite popular in Japan when the story was released, and a Siberian Husky boom ensued as a result. It’s a comedy and each episode completes a short story in this format.
For example, Akio Nikaido is Hamuteru’s best friend and a classmate. Despite his being a student in a veterinarian school, he hates mice with passion and he cannot touch them! Thus he has to overcome this handicap in order to handle mice properly in the class experiment. A veterinarian school, where this story evolves, forms somewhat unique environment compared to regular university settings. Unusual events take place in such a place and they capture audience’s attention and enthrall them.
Unlike widely popular “Naruto” or “Dragon Ball”, works of “Shoujo Manga” are rarely released in the international market, unfortunately. However, “Shoujo Manga” has also a wide variety in its settings and story lines, and some of them might surpass famous boys’ comics in their appeal. How about giving it a try? It’s definitely worth trying.