Even within the niche shojo anime community, titles with not-so-great story material exist. These series are rampant with less than savory tropes, gullible or insensitive female leads, and predictable storylines. Other demographics like shonen and seinen have these issues as well, but shojo is more heavily criticized. Still, everyone has a guilty pleasure series that they enjoy.
Shojo anime have enough drama to fuel a soap opera. Love triangles, catty frenemies, and insatiable twists lurk in every corner. The storyline seems too ridiculous to believe, but it’s hard to ignore. Shojo anime like these are definitely flawed, but they may be a new favorite.
10 Boys Over Flowers Has One Of The Best Female Protagonists
Boys Over Flowers was widely popular in the early 2000s, with six drama series and a movie. The plot mirrors Ouran High School Host Club but is more complicated and even infuriating. Like Haruhi, Tsukushi Makino is strong-willed, intelligent, and independent. But her life changes drastically when she stands up to the F4, the school’s most elite.
The leader, Tsukasa Domyoji, retaliates, initiating relentless bullying from her classmates. Understandably, this anime would anger people even today. The harassment Tsukushi faces is unforgiving, but she refuses to submit to Tsukasa’s bad temper. She continues to push his buttons, eventually cracking him for the better.
9 Fans Looking For Pure Drama Should Watch Peach Girl
For fans wanting hair-pulling drama, Peach Girl is one of the best choices. Momo Adachi is rarely given a reprieve as she struggles to fit in. Her tan skin and bleached hair paint a negative image in her classmates’ eyes, and her “friend,” Sae Kashiwagi, is the rumors’ source.
Momo isn’t perfect by any means. Her naivety gets her tangled in all of Sae’s schemes, and she allows misunderstandings to cloud her judgment. But she has a great support system in Kairi Okayasu, the one who sees through the rumors and gives her the push she needs to accept herself. Sae is the perfect foil, driven by a desperate need for validation that’s almost palpable. If fans hate her by the end of the anime, she excelled as an antagonist.
8 Wedding Peach Couldn’t Surpass Sailor Moon
Unfortunately, Wedding Peach’s couldn’t match Sailor Moon’s booming popularity. It aired around the same time but couldn’t keep a consistent fanbase. Critics argue that Wedding Peach is a Sailor Moon ripoff, given the similar art style, thematic elements, and character designs. Even Sailor Moon’s voice actress, Kotono Mitsuishi, played one of the villains.
Momoko Hanasaki shares many of Usagi Tsukino’s traits: a clumsy, cheerful girl who loves her friends and family. The entire plot is also similar to Sailor Moon’s first season — Momoko and her friends must fight as “Love Angels” to keep the world from falling into the darkness. The storyline sounds cheesy, as it’s primarily centered around the power of love, but it does have its heartwarming moments.
7 Anonymous Noise Has Quite The Love Triangle
Unfortunately, not many people liked Anonymous Noise when it came out. The aesthetic was there, but two ambitious boys fighting over a dense girl is never a popular combination. The drama between them intertwines with the realities of the indie music scene, making for a frustratingly wild ride.
Childhood friends Nino Arisugawa and Momo Sakaki promised to meet again before he moved away. Years pass, but Nino never hears from him, but she continues to sing on the beach. Her voice attracts Kanade “Yuzu” Yuzuriha, who asks her to join his band after the previous vocalist leaves. Nino lent her voice as “Alice” but still clings to her childhood promise. She’s desperate to make her voice reach Momo, no matter how far he is, but Yuzu wants to keep her for himself.
6 Marmalade Boy Is The Epitome Of A Soap Opera
Marmalade Boy combines “family drama” with anime. It is a classic shojo, riddled with absurd problems at every corner. Still, there’s something about Marmalade Boy that kept fans hooked for all 76 episodes. The anime is like a soap opera, capturing the audience with the initial plot: Miki Koishikawa receives the shock of her life when her parents decide to divorce and move in with their new partners.
Miki’s new step-parents have a son of their own, Yuu Matsura, who goes to her school. Their relationship is awkward and rocky, but they start to fall in love. Coupled with a cast of flawed but entertaining characters, Marmalade Boy’s plot intertwines with more unpredictability, keeping newer fans on their toes.
5 Mischievous Kiss’ Protagonists Fight Like Cats And Dogs But Are Still Entertaining
The phrase “love is blind” is prevalent in Mischievous Kiss. Kotoko Aihara’s home is destroyed by a severe earthquake, forcing her family to move in with her father’s best friend until the repairs are completed. To her surprise, she’s now sharing a space with her crush, Naoki Irie, the handsome boy who coldly rejected her.
While the plot seems nonsensical, their comedic interactions are definitely toxic. Naoki is cruel to Kotoko, but despite her frustration, she refuses to give up on him. It’s not the best message, considering the anime’s demographic, but Mischievous Kiss can still be entertaining if viewers don’t take it too seriously.
4 Kiss Him, Not Me Is Not As Bad As People Think
Kiss Him, Not Me’s plot ruffled some feathers. After her favorite character dies, Kae Serinuma locks herself in her room for a week and refuses to eat. It triggers a complete transformation, catching the attention of four handsome boys in her class, two of whom she secretly shipped.
There’s no doubt that this anime is problematic. Before her transformation, Kae was seen as chubby, “unattractive,” and obsessed with BL. The boys vying for her affection — save for one of them — never paid attention but are now desperate to date her. However, Kiss Him, Not Me doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the manga continues with a more positive ending for Kae.
3 Wolf Girl And Black Prince Has A Toxic Male Lead
Even with its troublesome premise, it’s hard to hate Wolf Girl and Black Prince. It has the not-so-savory traits of a classic shojo, but it’s twisted in an almost comedic way. The protagonist is too gullible for her own good, and her love interest is far from a saint.
Erika Shinohara is desperate to fit in with her female classmates. However, all the girls have boyfriends, so she fabricates a lie by snapping a photo of a random boy. The boy in the picture, Kyoya Sata, is a handsome popular boy at her school. To make matters worse, Kyoya is not as nice as he appears to be.
2 Vampire Knight Is A Gothic Fantasy
Vampire Knight is problematic on many levels. The series showcases the hidden vampire world and the lengths they will go to keep their clan members alive. Fans had a hard time ignoring Vampire Knight when it aired in 2008. It scratched an itch other anime couldn’t replicate. It was a guilty pleasure; a gothic fantasy come to life.
Yuki Cross is well-loved. She had a loving adopted father, great friends, and a handsome older brother happy to dote on her. But her life quickly changed as she learned more about the mysterious Night Class. The animation and musical score are hauntingly beautiful compared to the shojo of its time. For fans looking for a not-so-typical shojo, especially during the Halloween season, Vampire Knight is a perfect choice.
1 Diabolik Lovers May Be Worse Than Vampire Knight
Diabolik Lovers is the epitome of “trashy.” Like Vampire Knight, it’s another romance that also works as a reverse harem. The gothic aesthetics and character designs are on-point, but the plot is just all-around terrible. Yui Komori’s father sends her to live in a mansion far from home while he travels overseas. To her shock, her new roommates are a clan of vampires: the Sakamaki household.
The brothers take pleasure in pushing her around, but something about her blood attracts them. Seeing how they mistreat Yui is uncomfortable to watch, even for a “romance” series. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Despite all this, Diabolik Lovers’ fans argue that the show is a much-needed guilty pleasure, putting aside its problematic story material.
NEXT: 10 Worst Trends In Shojo Anime, Ranked