A manga discussion podcast focusing on shojo (and josei!) series that make your heart go doki-doki. Covering classics like CLAMP’s “Cardcaptor Sakura” and Yuu Watase’s “Fushigi Yuugi” to newer favorites like Kazune Kawahara’s “My Love Story!!” and Hiro Fujiwara’s “Maid Sama!”
Shojo & Tell host Ashley McDonnell discusses one series per episode with a rotating shojo superfan. (And sometimes, a shoujo superfan.)
Shojo [or shoujo] manga: Japanese comics made for young women. A breath of fresh air after reading 72 volumes of “Naruto.” The underappreciated sibling of all those same-y never-ending shonen titles.
Covers volumes 17-23 of FRUITS BASKET by Natsuki Takaya
The curse has finally broken! And did you hear there’s going to be a new FRUITS BASKET anime?! Great. We don’t talk about that on this podcast! (This is a MANGA podcast, after all. And this episode was recorded before the announcement.) But don’t worry, massive Furuba fan and Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman and Shojo & Tell host Ashley find plenty to talk about in the last third of the series (this concludes our trilogy of podcasts!). Jacob explains why Akito is such a compelling character, and he and Ashley delve into the series’ handling of gender overall. But most importantly, Jacob and Ashley finally get to talk about ALL THE SHIPS (including some that didn’t sail) in the most massive Shipping Corner to date. Obviously, Kyo and Tohru OTP.
NOTE: Apologies for the subpar audio quality in this episode. The Skype connection was worse than usual, and unfortunately Jacob’s local track was corrupted. There is at least one instance where Jacob cut out for several seconds. It is easy to infer what he said from where he picks up, but it’s still not great. Sorry again!
Covers volumes 9-16 of FRUITS BASKET by Natsuki Takaya
Massive Furuba fan and Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman is back to discuss the middle third of Takaya’s classic with Shojo & Tell host Ashley. Most of the dark, dark Sohma family secrets have been revealed this time around, and Tohru is in turmoil over Kyo’s fate. But we’re saving most of the Kyo talk for the third and final podcast! This time, Yuki’s struggles shine after his confrontation with Akito. The particular pains of motherhood — with Tohru’s mother complex and many of the Sohma’s crummy parents — are scrutinized at length. And Jacob explains how FRUITS BASKET accurately captures the cyclic nature of abuse. It’s a heavy episode, but then, there’s also talk about how the play “Sorta Cinderella” is very funny. Try not to cry too much, alright?
Discusses the first volumes of AO HARU RIDE by Io Sakisaka and KIRA-KUN TODAY by Rin Mikimoto
After September brought no new shojo manga series debuts in the US, October has brought two! Shojo & Tell host Ashley McDonnell and her bestie Asher Sofman have differing opinions on the quality of this month’s debuts. They discuss the wackiness of KIRA-KUN TODAY and what makes Io Sakisaka’s much-hyped AO HARU RIDE special. Whether you like talking birds or childhood crushes, strange depression or persistent melancholy, there’s probably something here for you between these two series.
Covers volumes 1-8 of FRUITS BASKET by Natsuki Takaya
At the height of the mid-2000s manga boom in the US, there was no bigger series than FRUITS BASKET. And this story about orphaned Tohru Honda and the Sohma family curse has endured, getting a very special rerelease in recent years. For a series this influential, we brought on one of the biggest Furuba fans of all: Anime News Network editor Jacob Chapman. We discuss why FRUITS BASKET left such a lasting impression, who our favorite Sohmas are, how Tokyopop and Yen Press’ translations compare, what the curse really is, Kyo’s “true” form and the search for what’s real, Furuba’s message about belief in others, particularly as it relates to religion and family, and much, much more. Most importantly, obviously, we answer the question: Yuki or Kyo? And just think: This is only the first of three episodes about Takaya’s masterpiece.
Covers all of MAGIC KNIGHT RAYEARTH by CLAMP (that's six volumes across MKR I and II)
Take a trip to Cefiro, grab a sword, and get in a mech in this wild and beautiful Clamp classic. Asher and Ashley do a character walkthrough that’s mostly gushing about how pretty everyone is (Eagle! Lantis! Umi! Fuu! Hikaru! That's only 1/100th of the number of characters in this six-volume manga!), debate whether Princess/Pillar Emeraude committed suicide and how this relates to controversies over assisted suicide, and of course, fail to escape hitsuzen because everything is hitsuzen. Plus, the Ashes solve global problems that plague many nations, laugh at how many characters/places are named after cars (AUTOZAM! CLEF!), and fawn over how cute all the (problematic) ships are.
Covers volumes 12 through 19 of BANANA FISH by Akimi Yoshida
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: BANANA FISH fan Marion goes on an epic rant about The Ending of the series. Seriously! What?! WHY?! Who thought this was okay!? Marion and Shojo & Tell host Ashley also discuss the role of women in Yoshida’s series, touch on the importance of found families, walk through all the ships we’re given in the end (obviously, OTP is Ash and Eiji), and ponder why Blanca has such broad shoulders. Plus: Did Ashley cry while reading the short story “Garden of Light” on the bus? You’ll just have to listen to find out.
Covers volumes 1 through 11 of BANANA FISH by Akimi Yoshida
It’s a perfect day to discuss BANANA FISH, the revived classic about how everyone — except some select gang members and an innocent Japanese boy named Eiji Okumura — wants to kill the brilliant and beautiful and deadly Ash Lynx. Shojo & Tell host Ashley found the biggest BANANA FISH fan in Marion, and together they discuss the literary and political history Akimi Yoshida’s work draws from, the representations of race and queerness in the story, answer some of your questions about how the modernized anime compares to this very ’80s manga, and list favorite Ash and Eiji moments. Plus, Ashley and Marion take plenty of time to discuss Ash’s transformation from River Phoenix to Nurse Barbara.
Discusses the first volume of SHORTCAKE CAKE by Suu Morishita
We’re back for our second preview guide, covering this month’s new shojo manga series debut of SHORTCAKE CAKE. Viz Media’s mobile app developer Jeff Ruberg and host Ashley review and react to this first volume, digging into its fresh pop aesthetic, which boy is the cutest, Ten’s really long hair, and more. Should you pick up this volume, or should you just go pick up a piece of shortcake instead? Find out here.
Covers CLAUDINE by Riyoko Ikeda (it’s only one volume long!)
Though Riyoko Ikeda’s classic manga featuring a transgender protagonist originally came out in 1978, it was officially released for the first time in English in the summer of 2018 (40 YEARS LATER!). S&T host Ashley asks Jocelyne Allen, the translator of CLAUDINE (and many other manga), about the use of gender pronouns and other translation challenges with this work that's set in early 1900s France, originally published in 1970s Japan, now being translated for late 2010s America. Plus, Jocelyne and Ashley walk through Claudine’s three romances, ponder if queerness coupled with tragedy are implied to be cyclical, and take a gender quiz that begs the question: Could Claudine be a mech?
Covers all of PRETEAR by Junichi Sato and Kaori Naruse (four volumes)
Remember back in 2001 when the PRETEAR anime was the cool new shojo? Did you know there was a manga that’s actually pretty vastly different than that anime you remember so fondly? May Fisher-Guest (host of the Digimon podcast Lost in Translationmon) and ever-present host Ashley get into the differences between the anime and the manga, dissect the series’ connections to the fairytales SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS and CINDERELLA, talk about the cyclic nature of suffering, and fawn over how hot Hayate and the other boys are (the art is amaze!). In addition to an epic shipping corner, May and Ashley also answer the ultimate question: Which one of the seven dwarfs are you?
Discusses the first volumes of FRUITS BASKET ANOTHER by Natsuki Takaya and SACRIFICIAL PRINCESS & THE KING OF BEASTS by Yu Tomofuji
Welcome to our first preview guide! What's a preview guide, you ask? Our preview guide episodes will cover the first volume of newly released shojo/josei series (in the US), providing first reactions about the manga (mixing review with our normal discussion format). These will be shorter episodes that come out in addition to our normal bi-weekly, in-depth series discussions. More shojo talk! What could be better?
Our inaugural series are FRUITS BASKET ANOTHER and SACRIFICIAL PRINCESS & THE KING OF BEASTS. Honestly, you know what you’re getting just from those titles alone, but Shojo & Tell host Ashley and her bestie Asher Sofman tell you their likes and dislikes and hopes and dreams. Can the world handle yet another FRUITS BASKET (without the gimmick that made the original such a success)? Does this new riff on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST have a uniquely compelling hook? Find out from the Ashes.
Covers volumes 9 to 17 of PRINCESS JELLYFISH by Akiko Higashimura
Don your armor (read: your prettiest, frilliest dress) and get ready to defend Tsukimi and all the residents of Amamizukan from corporate kidnapper Kai Fish. Guest Carrie McClain (an editor at Black Nerd Problems) and host Ashley list off the moments that made them cry in the second half, what clothes come to mean for the Amars, who has agency (and who doesn’t), and have one of the most epic Shipping Corners on the podcast yet. (Shu!! How dare you worm your way into our hearts like this?! HOW DARE YOU make us doubt Kuranosuke x Tsukimi for even a minute?!) Plus, in an author’s note, Higashimura questions why PRINCESS JELLYFISH is so popular in America, so Ashley and Carrie, as Americans, provide personal (and speculative) answers.
Covers volumes 1 to 8 of PRINCESS JELLYFISH by Akiko Higashimura
Chances are you’ve heard heaps and heaps of praise bestowed upon this manga about a jellyfish otaku whose life is changed forever by a crossdresser. That praise is HELLA ACCURATE. Carrie McClain (an editor at Black Nerd Problems) and host Ashley reveal how much they’ve become PRINCESS JELLYFISH otaku by fangirling all over the Amars and Kuranosuke, dissecting how Higashimura explores identity politics through the narrative and motifs in the art, and remind you that everybody, EVERYBODY, is an otaku. Yes, even straight-laced, stuffy Shu. He’s a Tsukimi otaku.
Covers all 9 volumes of THE FULL-TIME WIFE ESCAPIST by Tsunami Umino
What would it be like to get married as a job? Megan DeYarman (of The Manga Test Drive) and host Ashley dive into THE FULL-TIME WIFE ESCAPIST’s (very good) takes on alternatives to traditional marriage, family generally, and employment in particular (scheduling out twice-monthly hug dates may not be as weird and emotionless as it seems!). Plus, there’s plenty of gushing about the respectful representation of older virgins, a nice in-depth character walkthrough of the main cast (Mikuri, Hiramasa, Kazami, Yuri), and a helpful quiz to figure out what job Mikuri should be pursuing with her psychology degree.
We’re back to talk about the strange saga of FUSHIGI YUGI’s ending and how Tamahome became Taka, or Taka was always Taka but he allowed Tamahome to exist, one’s a shadow, something like that. Just trust us on this one. Ashley, Caitlin, and Jess also discuss how Miaka and Yui have matured after one of them was consumed by a dragon god (oh, they also graduated middle school), how a young Yu Watase may have been underestimating the power of shojo manga, and, most importantly, everybody weighs in on which of the Celestial Warriors has the best hair.
Watase’s classic stirs up a lot of feelings in this first Shojo & Tell episode to have three people voicing their opinions. The nostalgia goggles are definitely on for Ashley, Caitlin, and Jessica as they debate who the best celestial warrior is (NURIKO IS THE GREATEST! NO! TASUKI!), ponder the strange choice to have the Seiryu warriors be evil, and discuss how the isekai genre has evolved over the years since FUSHIGI YUGI (ugh, SWORD ART ONLINE). Other questions answered: Should FY get a new anime adaptation? Do luck and privilege intersect? Is GENBU KAIDEN the superior FY? Is love really war?
Covers all ten volumes of STROBE EDGE by Io Sakisaka
First: STROBE EDGE is an amazing title, and we take many opportunities to remind you of this throughout the episode. How do you not want to read a manga called STROBE EDGE? If you need more convincing about how great this work from Io Sakisaka is, Alyssa (who runs the YouTube channel Anime Intensity) and Shojo & Tell host Ashley do a character conflicts rundown, discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of love triangles as a trope (also: Team Ren? Team Ando? Team Daiki? Why not... all of them? Or maybe we should be Team Ninako?), and gush about Sakisaka’s simple yet gorgeous art.
Covers volumes 9-16 of WE WERE THERE by Yuki Obata
Ultra super special guest Nancy Thistlethwaite, a senior editor for Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line, returns to do an in-depth character analysis of Nanami, Yano, Takeuchi, Yuri, and the rest of the crew in WE WERE THERE. (Host Ashley and Nancy may talk a little too much about Take, against their better judgment. Stop it, Take! Get out of here! Team Yano forever!) Memories, dreams, and metaphors like the internal compass are analyzed, Yano's t-shirts are harshly judged (Yano! You have better shirts than that!), and Ashley definitely overuses the word “poignant.” But seriously, this manga is really really poignant!
Super special guest Nancy Thistlethwaite, a senior editor for Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line, discusses the first half of the beautiful and devastating series WE WERE THERE with host Ashley. Nancy and Ashley get into why Obata’s work didn’t take off in America, which scenes punched them in the gut the most, why people who don’t ship Yano and Nanami just don’t get it, and find out which Disneyland Land Nanami is. Plus, you find out that Ashley really loves Yano’s t-shirts.
We’re going on a Japan trip! Ashley’s been on vacation in Japan for the past two weeks, and has gone on some manga-related adventures (and many non-manga-related adventures). She and her romantic partner/Viz Media employee/travel companion Jeff Ruberg discuss the Kimi ni Todoke exhibit at Tokyo Anime Center, how it compares to the ongoing Shonen Jump exhibit, what it’s like seeing the cherry blossoms and going to themed cafes, and generally what their favorite activity on this trip has been.
Covers all three volumes of QQ SWEEPER by Kyousuke Motomi
Spring is finally here! So Ashley and Laura prepare to start spring cleaning by first reading QQ SWEEPER. Which is legit about sweeping. Like, with a broom. A plain old broom. Sure, it's also about exorcisms and supernatural stuff and punching giant centipedes, but mostly, it's about sweeping. And it is SO GOOD. Ashley and Laura get to the heart of what a Cinderella story even is, why this series has a sequel called QUEEN'S QUALITY, the power of cleaning in real life and in metaphor, and take a quiz on how to properly clean your kitchen. (Sorry. Only your kitchen will be spotless. Kyutaro is very disappointed.)
Covers: I.O.N., SHORT-TEMPERED MELANCHOLIC AND OTHER STORIES, and MISTRESS FORTUNE, all by Arina Tanemura
Put on your frilliest dress and lace up as Loyola and Ashley discuss a bunch of one-volume manga from the author of FULL MOON O SAGASHITE. Which of these six short stories was the best? Why exactly did Tanemura think having a lecherous 14-year-old character would be fun? Should you forget your umbrella every time it rains so your crush will be forced to share theirs with you? All that and much more is discussed in this whacky episode. Spoilers: Ashley's favorite characters were definitely Tagosaku and the infamous Truck-kun. Also, Loyola and Ashley would like to apologize to any listeners who speak Japanese for their inability to pronounce names or terms correctly.
Covers all 6 volumes of THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM by Kyoko Shitou
Megan and Ashley discuss a very underappreciated title published by the now-defunct CMX. Many comparisons to “The Vision of Escaflowne” are made as discussions about dragons and fate ensue. Are the dragons a metaphor for nuclear weapons? Do Gaius and Badd have a thing for each other? Just what kind of leader is Asta, anyway? Why the heck did you never hear about this gorgeous manga?! All your pressing questions about just what the heck the Key to the Kingdom even is will be answered here.
Roses are red / Violets are blue / Shojo is sweet / Here are strange ships
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a bonus episode where we asked various people to answer this question: If you could ship any characters across shojo series, who would you ship and why? The answers may surprise you. Especially since Ashley cheats and takes protagonists from a shonen manga instead.
Covers all 9 volumes of TOKYO TARAREBA GIRLS by Akiko Higashimura
This episode, Ashley and Amelia discuss a josei series for the first time on the podcast. What if, what if, we told you “Tokyo Tarareba Girls” is one of the best manga of the decade? What if, what if, you’ve never read a more relatable manga than this in your life? What if, what if, we told you to stop lollygagging around and read this manga right now? As you’ll find out from our heartfelt and earnest discussion, this story about women looking to settle down before they reach 40 will hit you hard in the feels. Also KEY SUCKS, Team Hayasaka forever!
In the 10 years between the publication of the second and third volume of “Millennium Snow,” Bisco Hatori went off and wrote this little-known manga called “Ouran High School Host Club.” How did that affect this short and sweet four-volume manga? How does this vampire and werewolf love triangle compare to the infamous Twilight Saga? (Hint: It's much better.) How does it handle the themes of morality and time? Ashley and Caitlin discuss all that, and much, much more.
Ashley and Loyola discuss a short manga from Matsuri Hino, the creator of “Vampire Knight.” It’s the first manga covered on the podcast that doesn’t have an anime adaptation, and given its strange mashup of Japanese, German, English, and random symbols, neither Ashley nor Loyola ever figures out how to pronounce ANYTHING! (as-tale? UH-stale? Who knows? Do you know?) There’s talk of tattoos and taboos, mirrors reflecting the past and the present, and fanfiction written about main character Airi’s favorite show, “Tales of Marriage on the Plains.”
Asher and Ashley are back to discuss the second half of Hiro Fujiwara’s modern masterpiece about Maid Latte. As promised, the Ashes discuss MAID-SAMA!’s portrayal of social class and the tension between the aristocracy and the meritocracy, lament that some characters end up in problematic pairings, and gush about how cute Misaki and Usui were during the hot springs trip (and later, when they exchange scarves — too freakin’ cute!).
After doing two classic shojo series, we’re finally covering Ashley’s favorite manga of all time: “Maid-sama!” Yes, Ashley’s favorite manga is about working in a maid cafe. Asher and Ashley discuss how liking a manga about maids is okay (also discussed: whether this manga is actually about maids), what this battle of the sexes story has to say about gender roles, and whether Misaki Ayuzawa and Usui Takumi make a good couple. Mostly, Ashley just rants about how Misaki is the greatest.
Jess and Ashley discuss “Cardcaptor Sakura” vol. 7-12, PLUS the first volume of the new “CCS: Clear Card Arc” manga! There's a debate about the merits of passive versus active heroism, Ashley likes Ruby Moon while Jess crushes on Yue, they take a very definitive Teen Vogue quiz to assess if Sakura and Syaoran are ready for their long-distance relationship, and — wait a second, there are like four student/teacher romances in this manga?! Oh, CLAMP.
Kyahhhh! It’s time to release the first episode about one of the most iconic shojo series ever! Ashley and Jess cover volumes 1-6 of “Cardcaptor Sakura” and discuss who is the best character (hint: Toya, but also maybe all of them?), how CCS represents every type of love you could think of (for better or worse), and come up with an excellent marketing plan to help CLAMP’s iconic series take advantage of the collectible card genre.
Ashley and Rose discuss how divergent the manga and anime of “Revolutionary Girl Utena” are, debate whether the manga is still a deconstruction of the shoujo genre, figure out which Disney prince Utena is, and ponder whether “Kill la Kill” is an homage to “Utena.” Somehow, even though Ashley’s middle name is Rose and she was talking to someone named Rose, jokes about being the Rose Bride don’t happen. Oops?