Happy Top Ten Tuesday, you guys! This week’s theme is all about the visuals, so anything to do with graphic novels, comics, etc. Now, along with books and games, manga is actually my other big love, and I’ve wanted to make a list like this since forever. 🙌
I actually read a mix of shounen (boys’) and shoujo (girls’) manga, but decided to narrow it down to just shoujo manga for this list, especially because I think shounen is more popular and people tend to hear about them more (Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Attack on Titan, etc.).
I’ve also included some keywords so you’ll have a better idea about the manga and whether or not it’s your kind of thing. Even if you’re anti-manga, I hope that you give this list a chance. 💖
1) Last Game – Amano Shinobu
He’s rich, he’s smart, girls gather around him all the time, and he has always gotten first place on his exams… well, until Kujou transferred in his primary school class. She was quiet, plain, and poor, yet not once has she failed at beating Yanagi, both in academics and sports!
Yanagi has made it his life goal to defeat this girl Kujou, and ten years later, as they enter high school, he just might finally win! This is the story of their last game.
STATUS: Completed, 11 volumes.
KEYWORDS: friends-to-lovers, rivals, childhood romance, age progression, college.
WHAT I LIKE: It’s funny, it’s light-hearted, it’s sweet, and all the characters are three-dimensional. Sure, there’s a ‘mean girl’ that makes an appearance a bit later in the series, but even she is given depth. And the romance? 100% squee-worthy. 😘
2) Skip Beat! – Yoshiki Nakamura
Kyouko Mogami lived solely for her childhood friend Shoutaro “Shou” Fuwa. She follows Shou to Tokyo so that he may realize his dream of becoming a famous singer. When his dream is realized, Kyouko overhears the truth behind his decision to bringing her with him: he was using her as a maid.
Shocked and enraged, Kyouko swears to take revenge by outdoing him in show business. With a new look and a new attitude, she joins LME, the agency where Ren Tsuruga (Shou’s rival and the #1 actor of LME) works, in the hopes of achieving her goal of destroying Shou’s pride.
Along the way, she discovers her true self, makes new friends (and enemies), and finds herself at the heart of some interesting situations that will change her life, and the lives of all others involved, forever.
STATUS: Ongoing, 38 volumes out.
KEYWORDS: show business, acting, revenge, slow romance.
WHAT I LIKE: Kyoko is probably my favourite protagonist ever thanks to her crazy determination, hard work, and absolute focus on herself. The romance is a slow burn and the series, overall, is much more about Kyoko’s career than her love life. The updates are super slow and can be frustrating, but it is so, so worth it. This is probably my favourite manga out of all the ones on this list. 😊
3) Blue Spring Ride – Io Sakisaka
Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to “reset” her image and life as a new high-school student. Because she’s cute and had a demure personality she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a series of misunderstandings and mishaps, she couldn’t get her feeling across to the one boy she has always liked, Tanaka Kou.
Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won’t be jealous of her. While living her life this way contentedly, she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but that they cannot go back. Will Futaba be able to continue her love that never even started from three years ago?
STATUS: Completed, 13 volumes.
KEYWORDS: childhood friends, love triangle, first love, high school.
WHAT I LIKE: I actually enjoyed the beginning volumes a little bit more, but that’s just because nearing the end, I was much more in love with The Guy Who Did Not Win the Love Triangle than The Guy Who Did. Still, the art style is cute, there’s a focus on friendship, and overall it’s a heart-warming, innocent read. 💕
4) Daytime Shooting Star – Mika Yamamori
15-year-old country girl, Suzume Yosano, has to move to Tokyo to live with her uncle due to her father’s transfer. She bumps into a mysterious man who ends up taking her to her uncle’s place after she gets lost.
Turns out, Suzume will be seeing him a lot more often once she starts school because… he’s her homeroom teacher!?
STATUS: Completed, 12 volumes.
KEYWORDS: high school, age gap relationship, student-teacher relationship, first love, love triangle.
WHAT I LIKE: The art style is beautiful, and the age-gap relationship is explored very, very well. I have to admit though that I was also rooting for The Guy Who Did Not Win the Love Triangle in this one, so it broke my heart a couple of times. 😅
5) Fruits Basket – Natsuki Takaya
Tohru Honda, an orphaned high-school girl, is taken in by the wealthy Shigure Sohma when he realizes she has nowhere else to go. However, the Sohma family shares a secret, and it isn’t long before Tohru discovers that there’s a reason why her classmates, Yuki and Kyo Sohma, never let girls get near them, and never talk about their lives before they lived with Shigure. And before she knows it, Tohru has become so tangled up in the lives of each member of the Sohma family that she couldn’t leave even if she wanted to.
As she learns more and more about the truth of the Sohma family and the nature of their secrets, she desperately searches for a way that she can save them. But what can one girl do, especially when it seems that she may have been part of someone’s plan all along . . .
Fruits Basket received the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award in the shoujo manga category and the “Best Manga” award at the 2007 American Anime Awards.
STATUS: Completed, 23 volumes.
KEYWORDS: curse, animal transformation, family, slow romance, tragedy.
WHAT I LIKE: The art style isn’t 100% my liking and neither is the protagonist, but Fruits Basket is super sad and emotional and just wonderful. It’s also very unique and doesn’t rely on the usual romance tropes, which makes it extra special. ❤️
6) Lovely Complex – Aya Nakahara
Risa Koizumi is the tallest girl in class, and the last thing she wants is the humiliation of standing next to Atsushi Otani, the shortest guy.
Fate and the whole school have other ideas, and the two find themselves cast as the unwilling stars of a bizarre romantic comedy duo.
STATUS: Completed, 17 volumes.
KEYWORDS: enemies-to-lovers, high school, comedy.
WHAT I LIKE: I’ve actually only reread this one twice (believe me, this is a small number because most others I’ve reread certain chapters at least four times), but I like that it’s a bit of a ball-buster with the whole ‘men have to be taller than women’ thing. It’s also funny and light-hearted, so good for a ‘I don’t want to be emotional’ read. 🙏
7) Horimiya – Daisuke Hagiwara, HERO
Hori is your average teenage girl… who has a side she wants no one else to ever find out about. Then there’s her classmate Miyamura, your average glasses-wearing boy in school and a totally different person out.
When the two meet unexpectedly, they discover each others’ secrets and develop an unexpected friendship.
STATUS: Ongoing, 10 volumes out.
KEYWORDS: friends-to-lovers, outcast, high school, couple growth.
WHAT I LIKE: It’s actually not 100% right to call this manga a shoujo manga as it is (I think?) listed as shounen, but since it’s essentially a love story between two characters, I’m including it here. Horimiya is funny, light-hearted and occasionally sad, and the development of the two leads — both their character and their relationships — is worth the read. 😉
8) High School Debut – Kazune Kawahara
When Haruna Nagashima was in junior high her life consisted of playing softball and reading comics. But now that she’s going to high school, Haruna decides to put all of her energy towards getting a boyfriend and having the high school romance of a lifetime.
To help in her quest, she enlists cute upperclassman Yoh Komiyama to coach her as she eschews her tomboy tendencies and turns herself into the kind of girl who can catch a guy. Yoh agrees, with one catch: Haruna had better not fall for him!
STATUS: Completed, 13 volumes.
KEYWORDS: high school, comedy, couple growth.
WHAT I LIKE: The two leads get together relatively early in the series, and we get to see how they solve problems and arguments in their relationship, something of a rarity in both novels and manga! It’s also ridiculously funny and has managed to make me laugh out loud quite a few times. 😂
9) Kamisama Kiss – Julietta Suzuki
Momozono Nanami’s dad, a man with a penchant for gambling, disappeared after accumulating a huge amount of debt. Thus, she was chased out of her house by the debt collectors.
When she met a timid guy being chased by a dog, he told her that he’d give her his house. She believed his persuasive talk, but when she went to his house… it turned out to be a shrine. Moreover, a guy with fox ears appeared, which made Nanami even more confused. What will become of homeless and confused Nanami?
STATUS: Completed, 25 volumes.
KEYWORDS: master-servant relationship, slow romance, fox spirit.
WHAT I LIKE: This manga is not the only manga where the lead girl is abandoned and now must live with shrine guardians/temple spirits/mythical gods, but it’s one of the only ones I know of that really took its time to develop the characters and their relationships. The art style is a bit jarring and somewhat inconsistent at first, but the story gave me quite a few ~feels~. ✨
10) Orange – Ichigo Takano
In the Spring she was 16, Takamiya Naho receives a strange, but detailed letter from herself, ten years in the future. At first she thinks the letter is a prank, but then the things written in the letter actually happen, including the new transfer student that sits next to her in class, Naruse Kakeru. The letter reads just like her diary entries, down to the same characters.
It is not till two weeks later, when Kakeru shows back up at school, that Naho finishes the letter. In the letter, her 27-year-old self tells her 16-year-old self that her biggest regret is that Kakeru is no longer with them in the future, and asks her to watch him closely.
STATUS: Completed, 5 volumes.
KEYWORDS: tragedy, high school, time travel, suicide.
WHAT I LIKE: Orange packs an emotional punch, and it’s not afraid to tug on your heartstrings. The premise is intriguing too and while mental health is never explicitly mentioned, the story does explore it a little bit.
What’s on your TTT this week? Leave me a link or let me know in the comments! 💗