No one believes me when I say I used to be a tomboy, I read far too much fluffy shojo manga for anyone to believe that! Shojo for those who don’t know is girls manga with storylines about romance, friendship and er… a bit of scandal. As I get a lot of requests from AUKN forum members to recommend some good shojo, I thought I would mention some of the best titles I’ve read here:
Chocolat – How far would you go to meet your favourite idols? Kum-ji takes this to a whole new level by joining a rival band’s fanclub in order to meet her idols, who always appear on the same TV shows. But as Kum-ji soon realises it’s hard to be a fan of a band you don’t even like. Extremely funny and flawlessly entertaining, Chocolat captures the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a fan. But this is fandom Korean style, so expect fan club fights, blackmail, angsty pop stars, rivalry and the surprising revelation that fanboys do exist! If you’ve ever been a crazy music fan (like I have) and travelled the country just to get a glimpse of your heroes, you will understand the feelings in Chocolat.
Imadoki! – Country girl Tanpopo moves to Tokyo when she is accepted into a prestigious high school where she wants to make lots of friends. Surrounded by wealthy classmates who look down on her, Tanpopo tries to make friends by starting a gardening club, roping in the most popular boy in school and the class misfits. An interesting manga about friendships in the modern world, which questions what it means to be a friend in a place where money, power and influence is the norm. Yu Watase’s best story by far, in my opinion.
Fruits Basket – This is the series that got me hooked on manga. About a girl named Tohru who lives with the Sohma family who have been living with a curse for generations, which transforms them into animals from the Chinese zodiac. You’ve probably seen the anime, so why check out the manga? There is so much more to the story that you never see in the anime. Heartfelt and moving, the young Sohma’s go through a lot of pain, but they also find the strength and courage to keep moving forward.
Hot Gimmick – Hatsumi has gotten herself into a bit of a fix. While buying a pregnancy test for her sister, she runs into her childhood bully, Ryoki, who blackmails her in to becoming his slave. Can Azusa, Hatsumi’s childhood crush save the day? Telling the lives and loves of three friends who live in the same housing complex, it’s a real page turner with jaw dropping cliff hangers which will leave you shouting, “You can’t end it there!” Trust me, I should know. It’s the manga equivalent of a really scandalous soap opera, but I like it.
Othello– “Have you ever thought about changing?” is Othello’s opening line. Many teenagers want to be someone else and Yaya is no different. Poor Yaya-chan is being picked on by her so-called school ‘friends.’ Enter Nana, the butt-kicking girl who doles out revenge with style saying, “Justice is done!” Nana’s approach to life is with a punk-rock spirit, doing whatever she wants. Worlds apart and polar opposites, can they have anything in common? For one thing – they are both the same person. Othello explores how people deny who they really are in order to fit in. It’s about finding the courage to be who you really are, even if it means going against the in-crowd.
Hana Kimi – No shojo manga list would be complete without at least one cross dressing series. American-Japanese Mizuki transfers to high school in Japan so that she can meet her high jump hero, Sano, but there’s a catch, she will have to dress up as a guy just to attend his boy’s school. As Muzuki soon discovers, it’s not easy being a boy, as she finds herself in a love triangle between two best friends. There’s an excellent cast of supporting characters including the school doctor Umeda and Sano’s angry little brother Shin. It’s a fun story about love, friendship and finding your dreams after you’ve lost them. The series has recently been adapted into a rather shameless but excellent Japanese drama.