I loves me some shoujo. O US comic corps, you missed this boat hardcore (except for the mighty and independent Xaime -- YOU totally got it in many many ways!) (OK let me be fair and suggest that Chris Claremont did not necessarily miss it either on his original run on the X-Men... but even so). Love comics as presented in the late 60s and early 70s? Fun for me to pick up and enjoy but in perhaps a different manner than might have been intended. Of course I have enjoyed many comics over the years, but I did not know how very much more I was missing on one or another level.
Let us further elaborate to emphasize that I lean towards josei in particular. (Side note to mention how much it aggravates me when wiki "contributors" feel that their best available contribution is to solely hit things such as "citation needed", even moreso when it involves things such as eyewitness testimony / "I WAS THERE" / "this is about ME" / "you need a citation suggesting that blue is a color why?", but I digress.) It has been mentioned that there is a correlation between the size of eyes and the depth of innocence in anime/manga, which I have found to be true [citation needed, har har]. Put it this way: I am less attracted to storylines that have eyes the size of planets and the characters owning them being all chibi style all the time. For brief spurts to assist humor or particular expression? Ab-so-lutely.
Peach Girl: o how I love thee, let me count the ways. NOTE: DO NOT READ PLOT INFO AT THE AMAZON LINK IF YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE SERIES -- not relevant to first actual volume and very specific which is to say spoilerific. Vaguer yet more relevant spoilers OK for you to know: when I handed over some of the fan subs of the anime before it was released, the first 1-4 or 6 episodes are titled "SAE IS SUCH A BITCH!!" There is eventually genuine pain over which boy to choose, amongst several other things. And, regarding the two boys in question? They are both so very awesome in different ways that I literally could not decide which way I'd rather have our heroine jump, so to speak. While the manga-ka in question is a true mistress of the outrageously over-the-top dramatic plot twist, there is much here that is very, very genuine. Quite an intoxicating combo, let me tell you.
NANA: I am very clear from various input from various sources that this one by far isn't for everyone -- honestly and intending no judgment, this may be because much of it is in truth too realistic and / or subtle for many's taste in this particular format. I adore this story and both of the Nanas in question. It could be said that sweet, emotive and fluff-headed Nana K is its heart -- but that aloof and complicated Nana O is most definitely the soul of this story, if so. Delightful contrasts, beautiful complicated friendship, dazzling mosaic of relationships and complications and inner thoughts surrounding it, with a great cast of characters. Two girls, same age, same name, moving to Tokyo at the same time for wildly different reasons whose contrast only become more poignant over time. That this is not just heavy on the romance, but on the friendship and the character development of the entire cast and the illusions that "romance" might bring no matter how astonishing a given love story... whoa. Yazawa, I salute you!!!
Tramps Like Us: It's not all that often, particularly in romance comics and particularly what is offered in way of English-translated Japanese comics thus far, where one gets to see female characters expressed as being flat-out crude. Oh don't get me wrong, in fact nearly everyone in our heroine Sumire's life tends to see her as intimidating -- tall, lovely, graduate of both Tokyo University and Harvard. But she's a real person with a smoking habit she tries to hide and smother, loves for wrestling and videogames, a desire to live in her PJs and just to be rude and crude and not so glamorous as she puts so much effort into. There is angst for her such as Japanese men including her fiance not wishing to marry anyone taller, more talented, etc -- I mean I am sure this scenario never occurs in any other culture ever. Somehow she ends up adopting a cute and mischievous young guy living in a box on the street, bringing him back to her home and naming him after her childhood dog, and attempting to pretend to the outside world, her "pet" and herself that, um, she just has a dog, is all. Of course, that "Momo" is the only person she feels she can be truly herself in front of, that he himself has a complicated and amazing life of his own, and several thousand other plot twists is a given. Also, the art is a bit more quirky than one might otherwise see! In a good way, I assure thee.
MARS: Yeah, um, never mind our heroine, I think most given readers are totally on the floor (in a good and in fact not humor-filled way) when our hero disingenuously kisses a statue of Mars during one of their early encounters -- and I couldn't begin to examine the million reasons why. Shy beautiful talented girl. Rebel-type guy with a rivetingly complicated past and many qualities of his own to recommend him. Mad love, and crazy plot twists. Swoon.
Sensual Phrase or Kaikan Phrase: Whoa. Like MARS on many basic levels -- admittedly not necessarily as good overall, MAD sexual tension and then some, and far more concerning popular music rather than fine art and motorcycles. Shy beautiful talented girl in this case is an amateur become accidentally pro lyricist, writing for hot hot troubled singer, who has a theory that he should tease her towards writing even hotter songs. Because, you know, her being demure virgin only makes them all the more interesting and complicated, dontcha know. Okay, until he is less concerned with that particular factor. Mixture of personal and professional interests, total teenage girl wish fulfillment, occasionally absurd to an untenable degree plot twists -- and a connection true and smokin' hot enough that several of these volumes are not just marked Mature, they are sealed in clear wrapping. Which has somehow miraculously not melted. Japan's complete unconcern with Christianity other than that it makes it interesting to say have bands such as Lucifer AND Jesus for mere plot points also happens to be in effect.
Hot Gimmick: As previously mentioned, TOTAL CRACK once one finally breaks down and reads it. Looked like a reversal of Tramps Like Us that seemed pretty creepy and did not whatsoever appeal to me; this did not turn out to be true. Girl is blackmailed into being "slave" of a nearby neighbor. Guess what? This is far more appealing and charming than one could imagine, and has more to do with a certain notable lack of social skills (and ongoing unadmitted crush dating since elementary school, I will spoil that much) than anything more sinister. Be clear, creepiness does ensue there but not to an untenable degree -- even if it does come close at times, along with a bazillion mesmerizing plot twists. Please note, I found one of these plot twists somewhat more creepy than the original premise as I understood it, and for that reason I have the final manga but NOT the novelization with the alternate ending. Because, yuck, even under the explained circumstances.
Fruits Basket: An anime series I found snuck up upon one with far more depth than expected... I have the first two volumes of the manga and clearly, from the depth here, need to read much more.
Boys Over Flowers: This is a great story, that I actually found more addictive in the live action series.
I will also note that I find Discount Anime DVD to be the kindest-priced manga anywhere. Particularly if one likes to read a lot, and, well, I DO!