One of the biggest successes on television and DVD over the last few years has been the rise of anime, or Japanese animation. From the genre-defining classic Akira to the latest Sailor Moon tales, this form of television originated from comic books, yet has found its latest and arguably biggest success on the small screen in the West. Yet despite a perchance for robot gun suits and psychotic megalomaniacs giving off the idea that anime is a decidedly male genre, there are a host of more female-friendly anime that proves otherwise.
With a younger and female-oriented demographic in mind, shojo (or shojou as it's occasionally called) anime is finding a large audience for whom romance and love stand head and shoulders above robotic destruction. Such is the popularity of this newer anime that the DVD's can make a perfect gift for those female relatives or friends of yours that wouldn't normally spare anime a single minute of their time. Some of the most popular are:
Telling the story of Tohru Honda, this series has been a runaway success in America and is the tale of the orphaned heroine's adventures with a family that's been cursed. Depicting the rather unfortunate ways that the members of this family change into animals of the Chinese zodiac whenever they're hugged by a member of the opposing sex, it has strong story lines and extremely funny situations for its extremely likeable characters.
Often known by its English name "The Mysterious Play", this is the story of a girl called Miaka who finds herself in ancient China due to a special portal in a book that she is reading. The inhabitants of this ancient world she finds herself in declare her a mighty Priestess, and tell her that her destiny is to invoke a god, by collecting the Celestial Warriors of the time, thus saving the world. However, she keeps getting transported back to her own time, and has to combat that predicament as well as the ancient one.
A more mature anime, this depicts the tale of an angel who is more rebel than innocent, who is reincarnated into the body of a young boy, Setsuna Modo. A tale of the fight between good and evil for the boy's soul, it's a dark and foreboding story.
A mixture of fable and surrealistic fantasy, this much-loved anime tells the story of Ahiru, a young ballet dancer who is smitten by the school's lead male dancer, Mytho. However, there's a slight problem - Ahiru is a magical duck with superhero powers! With a touching storyline and a warm feel, this is a definite favorite of shojo anime.
Here Is Greenwood
Set in a more realistic world of a boarding school, Here Is Greenwood is the story of a doomed love affair, as the hero Kazuya Hasukawa falls in love, only to see the unrequited object of his desire marry Kazuya's brother. What follows is the story of Kazuya's adventures at the school, which include some crazy characters, as well as his scheming brother being the head of the infirmary, and it makes for an enjoyably madcap story.