When it comes to classic shojo manga, America has gotten the short end of the stick. Most manga companies haven’t given a chance to shojo series that started before the 1990s. What little has been released has been unfortunate: many of the classic shojo series that have come to the U.S. are incomplete (Swan, Bride of Deimos, From Eroica With Love), or out-of-print (Please Save My Earth). Because so many of the most influential and popular shojo series from the 70s and 80s haven’t come over here, I haven’t been able to read them, especially since I don’t like reading scanlations online. Therefore, I sometimes feel as though I’m missing out on some of the best shojo has to offer, simply because of their age. Thus, I’d like to highlight some of the classic shojo titles I haven’t had the chance to read but wish I could.
Tokimeki Tonight: A series about a junior-high school girl named Ranze, who has a werewolf for a mother and a vampire for a father. Although her parents fear that she doesn’t have any powers, Ranze discovers that she can turn herself into a copy of any object she bites, which makes leading a normal life very difficult. Adding to the complications is Ranze’s crush on Shun, her school’s star athlete and a normal human…or is he? The series ran for 30 volumes from 1982 to 1994, and has an anime adaptation that debuted the same year as the manga. Tokimeki Tonight seems very sweet, and the deluxe releases of the manga are so pretty that the covers alone make me wish I could read this series.
Ace o Nerae!: Alongside the fact that there isn’t much classic shojo manga licensed in North America, there also isn’t much of a market for sports manga. Ace o Nerae! (Aim for the Ace!) fills both of these voids in it’s depiction of Hiromi Oka, a high-school tennis player who hopes to become the best in the sport. She admires Reika Ryuzaki, the ‘Madame Butterfly’ of the tennis court who is known for her graceful playing style, and is advised by a coach who urges Hiromi to not let anything distract Hiromi from tennis: including love. The series also follows the struggles of Hiromi’s opponents, who eventually become friends with Hiromi. Ace o Nerae! ran for 18 volumes from 1973 to 1980, and has been animated several times with two animated television series in 1973 and 1979, and two OVA series in 1988 and 1989. The series was parodied by Studio Gainax with the 1988 OVA series Top o Nerae! (Gunbuster).
Hanasakeru Seishonen: Although I haven’t heard of too many people who are familiar with this series, Hanasakeru‘s combination of romance and political drama is highly appealling to me. The series is about Kajika, a 14-year-old girl who is the daughter of Harry Brunsworth, the owner of a huge corporation. At his request, Kajika enters a ‘marriage game’ in which she must marry one of three men selected by her father. However, she must find these men on her own, without any clues from her father, and as she discovers their identities she becomes intertwined in the politics of Raginei, a struggling country one of her suitors is the prince of. While the 12-volume manga ran from 1987 to 1994, an anime adapation didn’t appear until 2009, so hopefully there’s a slim chance that the anime will be licensed.
Candy Candy: It’s funny that recently there has been a resurgence of Candy Candy considering the fact that the series has never been officially released in the U.S. Set in America during the early 20th century, Candy Candy is about a girl named Candice (Candy) who is taken into an orphanage. She is adopted twice over the course of the series, and the manga follows Candice when she goes to London to go to school, then later when she becomes a nurse in Chicago during the first world war, while highlighting the men she falls in love with over the course of her life. Many series parody Candy Candy (especially Candice’s blonde pigtails), but I’d love to read the original to see what all of the fuss is about. The series ran for 9 volumes from 1975 to 1979, and was animated over 115 episodes from 1976 to 1979.
Ouke no Monshou: Known as Crest of the Royal Family, the series stars Carol Lido, an American teenager who is studying archaelogy in Cairo. She, along with her family, is cursed, and they are sent to Egypt 3,000 years in the past. There she meets Memphis, a seemingly cold-hearted pharaoh whom she eventually falls in love with. However, Memphis’ half-sister Isis is none too pleased at Carol’s presence, since she was supposed to marry Memphis herself. The manga started in 1976 and is still running, with an alarming 56 volumes released to date. The plot seems similar to the wonderful manga Red River (which, admittedly, started almost two decades later) – and that’s exactly why this series intrigues me.
Glass Mask: A series about the dramas of the acting world, Glass Mask (Garasu no Kamen) follows Maya Kitajima, a teenage girl who is passionate about becoming a professional actress. Told by her mother that she’s worthless, Maya hopes that through acting she’ll be able to find herself and prove her worth to the world. Meanwhile, Maya’s rival Ayumi Himekawa has always been admired and hopes to become a success in acting without the help of her prominent parents. While I’ve heard that Glass Mask can be very dramatic, it’s premise somewhat reminds me of Skip Beat!, which is a series I really like. The second best-selling shojo manga of all time, Glass Mask is one of the most popular shojo series of all time, and at 48 volumes, it’s still running.
The Rose of Versailles: The queen of 70s shojo manga, Riyoko Ikeda’s The Rose of Versailles is one of the most influential shojo series of all time. Set during the French Revolution, the series follows Oscar Françoise de Jarjayes, a female who dresses as a male to serve as the Royal Guard to Marie Antoinette and the rest of the royal family. The series is famous for it’s representation of sexuality and gender, and contains many elements that have influenced yuri manga. The series lasted 10 volumes and ran from 1972 to 1973, and was later animated in 1979. However, the series’ age is not the only factor that may be contributing to it never coming to America: I’ve heard that Ikeda herself is preventing the series from being licensed.
There are many other classic shojo series that I not only want to but feel I should read yet probably won’t be able to legally. If there are any classic shojo series you’re interested in that remain unlicensed, feel free to comment!