*This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Post Series.  Enjoy!

Read:  10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 2)
Read: 10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 3)

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.

tokyo crazy paradise

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.

five manga

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.

hana ni arashi manga

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.

kaichou wa maidsama manga

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!

hot-blooded woman manhwa

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.

red lion

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.

last game manga

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!

skip beat-kyoko-and-ren-kiss

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.

red river - anatolia story

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.

Read:  10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 2)
Read: 10 Recommended Romantic Manga With Strong Female Protagonists (Part 3)

Happy reading, my fellow romance manga fans!  Cheers!


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Published by Arria Cross

Blogger at fujinsei.com since 2014. Currently a webnovelist. Check out my work "His Genius is a Superstar".

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  1. gokusen, i watched the drama version and loved shun (matsumoto jun), but there was no romance as such ( i mean that 1 last scene where shun says he is up for competition too). is the manga different?


  2. Omg, I’ve read some of these mangas that you’ve recommended. It really shows you have good taste ❤️ I’ll rely on your other recommendations from now on 😊


  3. Thanks for the recs,I’m always in search of strong female characters,they aren’t so easy to find!I would like to add some more: Haikaran ga tooro,one of the best anime of my childhood,Benio Hanamura was one of my fave female leads(and the males are all bishes!)
    Mizutama Honey Boy,is a very cute manga I’m reading at the moment,the female character is very strong and the the male one is a guy who loves cute things and acts very girly,I just love how both of them are out of the usual cliches about gender.
    Gakuen Ouji is another reverse harem(one of my fave genre..when done it right!)the drawings are HILARIOUS,Rise is very strong minded and I just love her (I’m Team Akamaru..he’s just soo cool!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tricia! Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.

      Oh my g. No, I haven’t read most of these yet. I like gender bender anime! I’m going to check these out…I’ll hunt for them. I started Gakuen Ouji before but dropped it…I don’t remember why. Will have to check it again. Anyway, thank you!


  4. Im only familiar with gokusen (live action) and maid-sama (anime ver). I need to watch gokusen again since I only watched it for a few episodes bedore since I was in college back then.


  5. i’m searching for more mangas like Basara, Vanilla ice, Tokyo crazy paradise etc. so really thanks for this list! However I haven’t seen SAVER. It’s definitely a MUST READ, highly recommended! The main protagonist Lena is a very strong girl ^^ and there’s romance too! great story & beautiful art style ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maria, you’re very welcome! I didn’t include “Basara” here because I haven’t read the manga yet. I only watched the anime, which I hear didn’t finish adapting the rest of the manga. But I still love it! As for “Saver”, I’ve only started reading it a couple weeks ago, long after I already completed this list. And yes, I agree that Lena is a very strong girl. . .very beautiful too. I haven’t finished reading it yet. There will be a third part of this list, and I know that there are still a lot of awesome romance manga out there with strong heroines so I’m still compiling for another list in the future. If you have any recommendations that you don’t see in my lists, feel free to tell me. I’ll be delighted. Anyway, thank you very much for dropping by. I appreciate it. Cheers!


  6. Fantastic list. Gokusen I want to be released in the U.S. so badly, and I plan on reading Red River really soon. So excited, especially with your recommendation!


    1. I know, right? Gokusen was so good! The art was really crappy, I’m sorry to say, but the story was AWESOOOOOOME~~~~~
      As for Red River, oh my gosh, I’m blushing just remember how I first read is as a child. My parents were really pretty liberated for letting me choose the books I read. But thanks to them, I think I got an open mind. Oh well. Anyway, go read it! You’re an adult so yeah. . .you can handle it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. RoV was definitely a revelation for me. I contribute it with restarting my love of anime a few years ago. Watch with caution – the theme song is going to get stuck in your head.

    In terms of favorite manga genre, that’s hard to say. I still have only just started to dip my toes into manga. Growing up even anime was hard to come by, and manga was practically impossible. Blockbuster and Sci-fi’s Saturday Anime were my two primary sources of finding new properties, and neither carried manga. As such it has never been a core part of my fandom, and now the manga scene has exploded so much it is hard to sift through without guidance.

    Of what I have read so far I think my favorite work is Osamu Tezuka’s Astro-Boy/Tetsuwan Atomu, which I guess is science fiction. It reminds me a lot of reading Jack Kirby’s incredible work at Marvel in the 60s – the pace is completely breakneck and it feels like it is on an entirely different level in a creative sense than a lot of the work which has followed after it. Sometimes when I read a modern comic or manga issue/volume, I feel like there were maybe one or two cool ideas in the reading. Astro-Boy just has great, creative, and wild ideas in practically every panel. Tezuka was just one of those great creative personalities, and even if not all of his ideas were winners (Astro-Boy gets refueled how? In his where?!) a lot of them were full of immense creativity.

    …so, science fiction.


    1. Rose of Versailles is already on my to-watch list. Thanks! I see. So when did you start watching anime & reading manga?

      Oooh. Astro-Boy has been a big part of my childhood. Tezuka is such a big figurehead in the anime industry that it’s inevitable that we hear about him. I think I watched a documentary about him. It was great. Can’t remember the title, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aaaaw, come on. There’s no ancientness when it comes to anime fandom. We’re all fans here. My uncle is an occasional fan and I used to watch anime with my dad.


  8. Great post! I’ve read them all aside from Five, Gokusen and Sora wa Akai Kawa no Hotori. Thanks for the 3 recs, Five sounded especially interesting…There’s one with a strong female lead that I LOVED and I don’t know if you’ve read it: Basara. I highly recommend it! Absolutely love manga with strong female lead, physically and/or mentally. That’s also why I really like manhwa by Hwang Mi-Ri. Too bad I can’t seem to find the completed version of a lot of them…T-T whenever it happens I’m hit with a terribly painful feeling. I think I never got to complete Red Lion either? I was so disappointed because it was so good.

    I loved Tokyo Crazy Paradise. I didn’t even realise it was by the same author of Skip Beat! (WHICH I LOVE LOVE LOVE EVEN MORE) until I suddenly thought, hang on a sec, this art style is verryyyy familiar. It looks like….skip beat? I would always say that I love Kaichou wa Maid-sama! because it was one of the first shoujo and manga that I’ve read and I loved it at that time so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. =P

    I remember reading Last Game until I got caught up and haven’t read it since, I should get back to it, it was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh. I love Basara! Unfortunately I haven’t read the manga, only watched the anime which didn’t adapt the rest of the manga, I believe. Ooooooh. Thanks for reminding me about this great series. Indeed, the female protagonist from Basara is perfect for this list. But she’s not in this list or any of the two upcoming ones because I haven’t read the manga yet. I’ll read it one of these days. Ah, I’m so excited.

      Red Lion was so good. I hope that you get the chance to finish it. As for TCP, yes, it was created by the same manga artist as Skip Beat! I liked TCP enough, but not nearly as much as Skip Beat!.

      Last Game just finished. (inwardly squeals) I haven’t read the last chapters yet, but I’m planning to reread the whole thing from start to finish. It would be more awesome that way. Anyway, thanks for dropping by. I appreciate your comment. Keep on reading manga. Cheers!

      P.S. Read Five! It’s good.


      1. YOU SHOULD READ THE MANGA! I didn’t even know it had an anime? But I was SO extremely happy when I found this manga, it was gold, the heroine is greeaaaat.
        I agree Skip Beat! is better. Though the mangaka did amazingly with both. I reckon the love triangle was done so incredibly well in skip beat.
        Wait seriously? Then I gotta re-read last game again and take it to the end this time!
        I’ll definitely get to reading five =P

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will. I’m in the middle of a BL phase, so all I’m reading right now are yaoi/shounen-ai manga. Once I’m over with this phase, I’ll read “Basara”. Oooooh. I’m so excited. Yes! It has an anime, but the animation is quite old and I know that you’re quite particular with art style and animation so you might not like it as much. Yes, Basara’s heroine was awesome. She’s bad-ass. I love the relationship between the hero and the heroine and how they’re enemies in society. So thrilling!

        I know, right? I fervently wish for season 2 of Skip Beat! anime, but with each passing year my hope dies down little by little.

        Yes, same here! Maybe I’ll reread Last Game while I’m also reading Basara. So exciting!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Aaaaaw. Well, never say never. One day you might feel the urge to watch Basara. It’s definitely worth it, in my opinion. I actually just started rereading Last Game this morning. I’m so excited to finally finish it.


  9. You might like “Mars” and “ES: Eternal Sabbath” by Fuyumi Soryo. Both are sophisticated. Eternal Sabbath verges on literary. The first is primarily a love story while the second is science fiction dealing with what it means to be human. There are few sex scenes in either. In josei, I recommend mangaka Ohmi Tomu. There are a few others, but I may not recommend them because while they were fun the first time, I haven’t gone back to them or put them back half way through.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember reading the first 10 chapters or so of “Mars”. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t finish it. Perhaps I just forgot. Ahaha! Thanks for reminding me of it. As for Eternal Sabbath, I haven’t read it yet. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendations. Cheers!


    1. Yay! Good for you! Which ones have you not read yet? 20 more titles are coming up in the next two weeks. Thank you for dropping by. I appreciate it. Keep on reading manga. Cheers!


  10. You beat my idea of doing this haha I had been planning a list like this for a while but not quite ready to as haven’t read enough romance manga yet. But Awesome list out of yours I’ve only fully read Hana ni Arashi which was funny loved that XD. Maid sama I think I only read the first chapter of it’s on hold atm. and red river,,, wow I haven’t heard that manga in a long long time were talking years here, when I first moved countries spent a lot of time at the library our first two weeks in australia as we werent in a house yet and had no internet really. I saw this manga and read the first volume it was good XD thankyou for reminding me of something else to read my dear XD

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh! You can still do it. In fact, I want to read your version of this kind of list. I’m looking forward to learning what kind of romance manga you’ll include in yours. But of course take your time and read more romance manga.

      I know, right? Hana ni Arashi is great. It’s very short, but it’s good. I like reading it again and again. As for Maid-sama, I didn’t like it that much compared to other fans. But I liked it enough to include it in this list, I guess. And oh my gosh! You should read Red River. The art style is old, but it’s beautiful. It’s also a pretty long series, but worth it.

      I see. How many years have you been living in Australia? Anyway, since you’ve been very active on social media lately, it must mean that no internet problems anymore. 😉
      Thank you very much for dropping by, Lita. I really appreciate it. When you do write your own list like this, I’ll look forward to reading it. Take care. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You want to read my version?? haha maybe it’ll appear towards the end of the year my list I have many shoujo titles to still read 🙂 Hana ni arashi was a good read enjoyed that XD Maid – sama I started the manga read the first chapter so can’t give my verdict much on that one lol

        Red river yes ever since I read this post I want to read or hunt down for the volumes now XD OH I have been living in australia for over 10 years now XD

        yes no more internet problems for now which is good hehe XD

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Not my genre of choice, but I really enjoyed the anime adaptation of Rose of Versailles. Besides having a great setting in pre-revolutionary France and some really memorable characters such as the Duke of Orleans, the core relationship between Oscar and Andre was a big draw. Their actions by and large actually felt like they made sense in response to events and had some emtional truth to them. Not sure if it will make either of your next two lists, but definitely a great read and a classic series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, Rose of Versailles will not be on the next lists because I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my to-read list. Yes, I hear it’s really good so I’m really excited to read and watch the anime. Thanks for reminding it to me. So what’s your favourite manga genre?

      Liked by 1 person

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