While it is aimed at young girls and can depict any topic, nothing says romance like shojo manga. Whether capturing young infatuation and love at first sight, offering slice of life stories and even the supernatural, shojo manga stories have it all. In an effort to remind readers of their own past crushes, we’ve collected 10 romantic shojo manga series. Longtime shojo fans should find something new on this list for their shelves and new fans will learn how charming the genre can be.
1. The Gentlemen's Alliance Cross by Arina Tanemura. (Viz Media)
Tanemura is usually associated with Full Moon o Sagashite, but this mad-cap series offers so many shojo tropes—among them a love triangle, a main character with a tragic backstory, an ex-yankī (or former delinquent) character, just to name a few--that somehow manage to fit together and work, it’s really something to behold.
2. Maid-sama! By Hiro Fujiwara. (Viz Media)
This series features Misaki, the first female student president of a former all-boys school, who is nicknamed the “Demon President” by the boys at her school because of her strict reputation as a boy-hater. But she has a secret—she works part-time at a maid café—that’s discovered by Usui, the most popular boy in school. He starts out a thorn in her side—she’s trying to keep her job secret—but eventually love blossoms.
3. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun by Izumi Tsubaki. (Yen Press)
The only 4 panel comic on this list, Tsubaki’s series begins when high school student Chiyo confesses her love-interest to her crush Umetarou Nozaki, who unknown to Chiyo happens to be a popular manga artist. Of course, he misunderstands, assumes she’s a manga fan and gives her his autograph. Later, still ignorant of her feelings, he ropes her into becoming his assistant. A very funny series with a wacky cast of characters, this shojo manga also treats readers to a “behind-the-scenes” look at how manga is created.
4. Wild Ones by Kiyo Fujiwara. (Viz Media)
Recently orphaned Sachie finds out that the grandfather she thought was dead is actually alive and she goes to live with him. But there’s a problem: he just happens to be the head of a Yakuza gang, in other words, he’s a gangster. Shenanigans ensue as she tries to keep the people at her school from finding out. But that becomes difficult when her grandfather assigns her a bodyguard who just happens to be the most popular boy in school.
5. Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki. (Viz Media)
In this series, our main character Nanami helps out a strange man who repays her by letting her stay at his home. His home turns out to be shrine and she learns that she has now taken his place as its resident god. As Nanami becomes more involved with the gods, their world, their traditions, and Tomoe, one of the shrine keepers, she falls in love and it quickly becomes a much deeper story.
6. Takane & Hana by Yuki Shiwasu. (Viz Media)
If you can get past the 10-year age difference between the lead characters (she’s 16, he’s 26), then you’ll discover a hilarious series featuring nonromantic, sibling-like friends far too concerned with one-upping each other than to do anything silly like fall in love. Hana is saucy and Takane very endearing despite his unusual combination of arrogance and naivety.
7. S.A (Special A) by Maki Minami. (Viz Media)
An ordinary girl has to deal with a group of elite kids in a special club at an exclusive private school as she strives to be better than her rival. If you’re a fan of Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club, give this a shot.
8. The Heiress and the Chauffeur by Keiko Ishihara. (Viz Media)
Set during the Taisho era of Japan (1912–1926), this short (2 volumes) and sweet series features Sayaka Yoshimura, a young heiress, and Shinobu Narutaki, the family’s longtime chauffeur. On the surface, their difference in social status alone prevents any thought of romantic connections, but rumors about the two abound.
9. Beauty Pop by Kiyoko Arai. (Viz Media)
A group of boys determined to be top notch beauticians band together give makeovers to a group of handpicked, beautiful girls at their school. The female lead, Kiri, is also a hairstylist and she isn’t happy about the shallowness of all this. She uses her talents to help girls considered too “ugly” for makeovers by the boys have a little more self-confidence. Despite the series’ unfortunate premise, it also challenges gender stereotypes and treats the boys who want to become beauticians in Japan as perfectly normal, as it should.
10. Mermaid Boys by Yomi Sarachi. (Yen Press)
In this shojo manga retelling of The Little Mermaid–this time with a male twist–Naru, a merman prince in an underwater kingdom, isn’t interested in marrying any of the local mermaids. He’s fascinated by Nami, a human girl, and with the help of a sea sorcerer trades his fins for a set of human legs. Now as short, scrawny boy, he has a year to make a connection with her or he’ll turn into sea foam. Of course, the sorcerer has other plans.