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 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?