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Manga Before Flowers — 10 Underrated Shojo Titles

I conferred with Michelle Smith to come up with a list of 10 shojo manga (& manhwa) we felt were currently flying under the radar.  Some are my personal favorites, some are Michelle’s, and some are simply well regarded by manga bloggers whose opinion we both trust and respect.

Feel free to chime with any shojo titles you feel deserve a little extra attention!

1.  Adventures of Young Det, by Gyojeong Kwon, published by Netcomics.

Young Det

Description by publisher: In a medieval kingdom, within a fantasy universe completely unlike our own, they tell the legend of two adventure-loving boys from the countryside who set out on an epic quest to slay a powerful and fearsome dragon that threatened their world. The Tale of the Feramores elaborates the origins of the two heroes Det and Osen as they begin their journey, finding romance and battling their way to glory. Discover with them the wonders of their world, the horrors that afflict it and the struggles endured by a new mankind. Live the magic that flows through it all!

2.  Monkey High, by Shouko Akira, by Viz.

Monkey High

Description by publisher: Haruna Aizawa thinks that school life is just like a monkey mountain–all the monkeys form cliques, get into fights, and get back together again. The school that she just transferred to is no exception. There’s even a boy called Macharu Yamashita who reminds her of a baby monkey!

3.  Moon Child, by Reiko Shimizu, published by CMX.

Moon Child 1

Description by publisher: Will a half-mermaid, half-human girl bring an end to the feud between humanity and the mer-people — or bring about the destruction of all life on Earth? As a merman named Shona is returning to his birthplace to spawn, he meets a young human, Jimmy, who suffers from amnesia. Together, Jimmy and Shona set off to find the missing girl. Will they be able to avert a mysterious prophecy, or will finding the secret of Jimmy’s identity delay them enough to set Earth on the path to destruction?

4.  The Name of the Flower, by Ken Saito, published by CMX.

Flower 1

Description by publisher: Devastated by the loss of her parents, 18-year-old Chouko loses her will to live. After staying with several different relatives, she settles in with a handsome young writer named Kei and finds solace in tending to the flower garden. Kei’s a solitary person who doesn’t quite know how to deal with this emotional young woman, but Chouko’s dedication eventually leads him to accept her presence. Will their mutual affection grow into something more.

5.  Shinobi Life, by Shoko Conami, published by Tokyopop.

Shinobi life 1

Description from back cover: Energetic and strong-willed.  Beni doesn’t care if she lives or dies as long as her death will result in embarrassing her arrogant father!  But one day she suddenly encounters Kagetora, a ninja who’s fallen from the sky and swears complete loyalty to her — as her bodyguard.  Kagetora has time traveled from a long, long time ago, and has devoted his life to protecting Princess Beni.  Little does Kagetora know that this Benis is not the real princess… Can true love and honor survive after a centuries-long time warp — ina crazy modern world?

6.  Silver Diamond, by Shiho Sugiura, published by Tokyopop.

Silver Diamond 1

Description by publisher: Rakan is a lonely orphaned teen with an unusual attraction to flowers and plants. Chigusa is his surprise guest, who arrives mysteriously one day out of nowhere. Together, these two uncover secrets about each other–including the fact that Rakan may be a special prince who Chigusa insists on protecting at all costs!From master storyteller Shiho Sugiura, comes a unique tale of adventure and emotion as two unlikely friends try to get used to new surroundings…and to each other.

7.  Two Flowers for the Dragon, by Nari Kusakawa, published by CMX

two flowers for the dragon

Description by publisher: Nari Kusakawa cooks up a funny and romantic new adventure. Teenage Shakuya is the next head of the Dragon Clan – and she can actually turn into a real dragon. As if that’s not enough, she also finds herself with two fiancés! The first vanished years ago and has now returned, but the new guy is not about to step aside. So Shakuya will wait a year, then marry the man she loves the most. Magic tattoos on both of Shakuya’s hands, will help her to decide. Each one represents one of her suitors and as her love grows, so do her tattoos!

Story continues below

8.  V.B. Rose, by Banri Hidaka, published by Tokyopop

VB Rose

Description by publisher: Something old, something new, something velvet, something blue…Shocked and heartbroken when her beloved older sister announces that she’s pregnant and getting married to (in Ageha’s mind) the most boring man alive, Ageha stumbles onto the job of a lifetime–helping to make her sister’s wedding dress. Velvet Blue Rose is a super-exclusive bridal design shop run by Yukari and Mitsuya, two super-hot guys. When Mitsuya, the pattern-maker at V.B. Rose, hurts his hand, will Ageha jump in to save her sister’s happy dream of marriage, in spite of her own reservations? Frills and fancy fill this blissful new series from the creator of I Hate You More Than Anyone and Tears of a Lamb!

9.  Very! Very! Sweet, by Ji-Sang Shin and Geo, published by Yen Press

Very! Very! Sweet

Description by publisher: A spoiled brat from a wealthy Japanese family, Tsuyoshi is unceremoniously shipped off to Korea by his strict grandfather who tells him the family secret – they’re Korean! Sparks fly when the resentful high schooler arrives at the airport and shares an impromptu cab ride with Kang Be-Ri, a plucky girl who happens to be his new neighbor. Will the two ever get past their differences? And will Tsuyoshi learn to accept his new destiny?

10.  We Were There, by Yuki Obata, published by Viz.

we were there 1

Description by publisher: Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it’s first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.

Nanami starts high school with high hopes of making lots of friends. She develops a crush on the enigmatic Yano, but he may have too many secrets for her to handle.

Nanami Takahashi falls for Motoharu Yano, the most popular, carefree boy in class. For Nanami, it’s first love, but Yano is still grieving the death of his girlfriend who died the year before.


I really thing that Basara by Yumi Tamura is highly underrated. I really think it’s the art in the early volumes that turn people off. :( I admit I avoided the series for a while for the same reason, but once I did pick it up, I was blown away! It’s one of my favorites now.

I agree with all of the selections! :) Anything by CMX is often overlooked by people! They’re my dark horse for shojo–so far every shojo manga I’ve picked up by them has been fantastic.

Samantha — Great choice! I know Michelle is a big fan of Yumi Tamura and is always advocating for her 7 SEEDS to be licensed.

And yeah, I really have a fondness for CMX shojo — they just have a special something that often sets their titles apart.

Awesome list. I really like a lot of these titles. To add, how about… Kaze Hikaru! With the historical setting and politics and (relatively realistic) samurai, it’s not quite as sparkly as most conventional shoujo, though it has plenty of sparkly moments once you get into it. But it is just so full of awesome, I love the series more and more with each volume. And yet, it has so few readers!! My comfort is that the few readers it has all seem to be very enthusiastic fans.

I’m happy VB Rose is on the list, because it gives me a chance once again to proclaim the greatness of another series by the same author… actually, all the series by Hidaka Banri being published here deserve more recognition because they are all awesome. But I Hate You More Than Anyone is a story I can’t get enough of—I love the characters’ warmth and humour. I wish more people would give it a chance!!

Also… I feel like I don’t see much written about Me & My Brothers, but it is an incredibly sweet, warm, happy series that simply makes me glad when I read it. And with the final volume (11) coming out in March, it’s a great time to catch up and read it all at once! :D

(Oh, and one more for the CMX-is-awesome-and-I-wish-more-people-read-their-books category: Oyayubihime Infinity! Reincarnation! True loves! Butterflies and fingernail-painting! Only 6 volumes and so much fun!!)

Great list, Lys! Haven’t read Kaze Hikaru but it definitely sounds a thoughtful historical tale.

Oyayubihime Infinity was lovely, another CMX favorite was Penguin Revolution (and both have been completely released so it is easy to go and have a nice little marathon).

[…] for something to read? Danielle Leigh suggests 10 underrated shoujo manga in her latest Manga Before Flowers column at Comics Should Be Good, and Lori Henderson picks the […]

I think Paradise Kiss is vastly underrated, both as an anime and defintely in manga.
Ai Yazawa’s 5 volume gem is more entertaining and less drawn out than Nana (which I enjoy). There was something for everyone to enjoy in that.

I thought of Paradise Kiss but didn’t suggest it ‘cos it’s not actually shoujo, but josei. I guess we could’ve made an exception for it, though. :)

I’m glad to see some love for Very! Very! Sweet. I picked it up because I found myself strangely drawn to JiShang Shin and Geo’s Chocolat. I am sooo not the audience for these books but I can’t help seriously digging their art. Plus the ins and outs of character drama in V!V!S are delicious, fun, and addictictive.

Yes, oddly I really like both those titles even though on first glance they seem kind of shallow. However, V!V!S has some really surprising stuff going on in terms of cultural identity and acculturation, not to mention lots of great character drama as you mention. (I adored Chocolat but I know most people thought it was silly — I still hope that one day the creators finish it so I can get my ending!)

[…] Manga Before Flowers, Danielle Leigh and Michelle Smith choose ten underrated girls’ series, including two manhwa […]

*waves From Far Away banner*


January 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Swan is full of old-fashioned shojo goodness.

You SHOULD have made an exception for Paradise Kiss. It may be essence be josei, but I think it appeals to shojo readers anyway. I mean, Ai Yazawa did start her career out as a shojo creator and Paradise Kiss has many familiar components. But this little gem is short, funny, bittersweet, and boasts great art and storytelling. It haunts my mind as the sexiest, most mature, and beautiful coming of age story I’ve encountered, manga or not.

Actually, Paradise Kiss is not just an underrated shojo, but one of the most underrated manga (have you done that list yet? You should!). Maybe because it sounds like fluff, and was a little early for its time (josei was obscure when it was first published)… Not to mention it’s hard to find. But for all the love Nana gets from critics and consumers, you’d think Paradise Kiss would get more love.

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