*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post Series. Enjoy!
I love reading romance manga. It doesn’t have to be in the shoujo genre. As long as there is good romance in the story, I’m in. For many shoujo manga fans, sizzling romance and hot characters are big turn-ons but that doesn’t mean that we don’t look for the personalities of the characters. No matter how hot the romance is and no matter how good-looking the characters are, if they have crappy personalities with no redeeming qualities, I’ll drop the manga without second thoughts.
One of the shoujo clichés that I absolutely abhor are weak, damsel-in-distress, crybaby-types of female leads. Ugh! Get a spine, girl. Don’t just wait for that hot guy to come rushing and rescue you from those bitches and bastards who keep on bullying you.
That’s why I love reading manga with strong female leads. “Strong” for me is not only limited to physical strength alone, although that’s a big plus. For me “strong” can also mean mental and emotional strength. It can also mean talent in a particular field. There must be a stable foundation in a heroine’s character where she can draw strength and courage by herself without needing the hot guy to rescue her all the time.
So here are the first 10 romance manga that I personally recommend with strong or talented heroines. Please note that the titles in this list are not limited to the shoujo genre. Enjoy!
10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 1):
10. Tokyo Crazy Paradise (東京クレイジーパラダイス)
By Nakamura Yoshiki (仲村佳樹). To be honest, I didn’t like this manga as much as other fans who keep on recommending this. It has a good and interesting premise. It has many elements that appeal to me, namely the futuristic and gender bender ones. The romance is a little slow for my taste at the beginning, but the sexual tension is HOT! Love it! The female lead, Tsukasa, is not physically attractive. She looks like a boy; in fact, she dresses like a boy but man, she’s strong. She’s an excellent fighter which is a huge plus. Despite what TCP fans may think, this manga is an acquired taste. Either you love it or you don’t.
9. Five (ファイブ)
By Furukawa Shiori (ふるかわしおり). You know I’m a huge fan of reverse harem series, right? Well, rejoice my fellow dear reverse harem fans because Five is, yes, a reverse harem series. Woot woot! The art style takes a little time of getting used to but it’s a really good romance manga. Hina, the female lead, transforms into a strong fighter whenever she gets drunk on coffee. I know, right? Drunk on coffee? But it’s manga, folks, so anything can happen. I love that Hina can take care of herself, but I don’t mind that five delicious guys are more than ready to protect her. It doesn’t have the best story, but the characters are really appealing.
8. Hana ni Arashi (花に嵐) / Flower in a Storm
By Takagi Shigeyoshi (高木しげよし). Oh my gosh. I love this manga! It’s short but oh so delicious. The characters are beautiful! Everyone looks like models. What sane shoujo fan can resist this manga? The female lead, Riko, possesses super strength and super speed. She can jump down buildings unscathed—literally! She’s more bad-ass than the male lead, Ran. But I’m not saying that Ran is a pussy. Not at all. He’s hot, and I love how single-minded he is in pursuing Riko’s heart. I wish there were more chapters, but at the same time I’m quite satisfied with the ending.
7. Kaichou wa Maid-sama! (会長はメイド様!)
By Fujiwara Hiro (藤原 ヒロ). If you call yourself a romance manga fan and you haven’t heard of Maid-sama!, then we have a problem, my dear. To be honest, I’m not too fond of the premise, especially about Misaki being portrayed as a strong and bossy class president but privately is actually submissive—well, sort of. Maybe it’s because I’m not overly fond of maid-themed series. I love the romance between Misaki and Takumi, but overall the series just feels a bit too shallow for my taste. I’m just being honest. It’s fun and mostly light-hearted, but I just wish there was more depth to it, if you know what I mean.
6. Hot-Blooded Woman (열혈여아)
Manhwa by Hwang Mi-Ri (황미리). This is one of my most favourite romance series that I love reading again and again. The supernatural element of body transfer works smoothly with the romance, in my opinion. Ha Ji, the female lead, is already bad-ass in her original albeit unattractive body. But when her consciousness transfers into the body of rich and beautiful Aram, she becomes a femme fatale. The male lead is so funny, as he tries to play it cool and suppress his intense attraction to Ha Ji (in Aram’s body). There’s a lot of fighting scenes with heavy theme of school delinquency. I’m also quite satisfied with how it ended. The main couple stays together even when Ha Ji returns to her original unattractive self. Highly recommended!
5. Red Lion (레드 라이온)
Manhwa by Kim Yong Seon (김용선). Like Hot-Blooded Woman, I love reading Red Lion again and again. This manhwa is also reverse harem, so you can just imagine my excitement about this series. The female lead is an excellent fighter. . .she’s actually very renowned, or should I say infamous for her fighting skills? Like Hot-Blooded Woman, there are a lot of fight scenes. It’s really good. I highly recommend this.
4. Last Game (ラストゲーム)
By Amano Shinobu (天乃忍). This manga is so adorable! It’s like Special A, but it’s the female lead, Kujou, who’s always on top of everything while the male lead, Yanagi, is the one constantly trailing in second. And like Special A, the female lead is dense towards the male lead’s feelings for her. And when I mean dense, she’s really dense. She doesn’t realize that Yanagi loves her romantically for a long time. She thinks that all of the things he’s doing for her is because they’re close friends. I love Kujou. She’s physically strong, extremely smart and disciplined. She’s also well-versed in self-defense. Ya go, girl! Although I kinda like how she looks uninterested and emotionless, I’m not too fond that she wears the same darn blank expression almost all the time. The art style is pretty nice; it’s cute, sometimes too cute that it looks kiddie-ish. I recommend this series.
3. Skip Beat! (スキップ・ビート!)
By Nakamura Yoshiki (仲村佳樹), the same mangaka who created Tokyo Crazy Paradise. Oh my gosh! This manga is HOT!!! I absolutely freaking love this manga! It’s one of my favourite romance series. Nakamura-sensei’s art style greatly improved here compared to TCP. The bishies are delicious! Yum! The female lead, Kyōko, is not that strong physically compared to Tsukasa (TCP), but she has tons of mental and emotional strength. What I love the most about her character is the perfect combination of fierceness and innocence. Hatred and revenge are the big driving forces of her character especially in the early part of the series, but Nakamura-sensei makes it so that it’s funny rather than depressing. This manga is hilarious. The romance is hot without needing to cross the threshold of smut. Must read!
2. Gokusen (ごくせん)
By Morimoto Kozueko (森本梢子). This is not shoujo, but it’s nonetheless one of my most favourite romance manga ever. It’s super bad-ass. I actually watched the live-action drama series first, starring the beautiful Nakama Yukie (仲間 由紀恵) as the heroine, Yamaguchi Kumiko. For a long time during my early teens, I had the biggest crush on Arashi member Matsumoto Jun (松本 潤) who played Sawada Shin in the TV drama. I LOVE this series! There’s an anime adaptation but it only adapted the early part of the manga. I wish they would adapt the rest. That would be fantastic. Gokusen is pretty sympathetic to Yakuza life, but it doesn’t shy away from its dangers. I love entertaining fight scenes, and this is abundant with them. The art style is not the best; in fact, it’s downright crappy especially in the early volumes, but fortunately it gets better throughout the rest of the series. Yamaguchi Kumiko is not only an excellent fighter, but she also has the mental and emotional strength that even the toughest of men would envy. She’s a character that I absolutely would love to emulate. The romance between Kumiko and Shin is so adorable! The ending is awesome! Highly recommended!
1. Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori (天は赤い河のほとり) / Red River / Anatolia Story
By Shinohara Chie (篠原千絵). The first time I read this manga, I was literally a kid. I was on the edge of puberty, but barely. I randomly bought the first volume when the cover caught my eye at a bookstand. Thinking it would be like Doraemon or Dragon Ball, imagine my shock when I opened the book and there were naked, entangled limbs staring in front of me. Oh my. In addition to the anime Fushigi Yuugi, this manga is one of the greatest corruptors of my childhood innocence. The female lead doesn’t start out strong. In fact, there are many moments when I was irritated at her especially at the early part of the series. But as the story develops, so does her character. She becomes stronger, not so much physically but a great deal on the emotional level. She becomes more regal and beautiful. Please be warned that this contains mature content. And when I say mature content, I mean sex, sex and a lot of SEX. Absolutely recommend this! Oh gosh. Just writing about this is making me want to reread it.
And that’s it for Part 1 of this 3-part post series of my Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists. Tune in for my next set of 10 recommended romance manga coming up next Saturday. So if you know of a romance manga with a strong female lead that you don’t see in today’s list, perhaps you’ll see it on Part 2.
Happy reading, my fellow romance manga fans! Cheers!
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