The 25 Best Manga With A Female MCThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Being sometimes a little scarce in today’s main genres, female characters have been the driving force behind many of the greatest series ever created.
While a distinction is often made between shounen and shojou, those two genres aren’t set in stone as starring exclusively male or female protagonists.
However, the common misconception of “girls = romance” and “boys = action” is still very present.
And it unfortunately means glossing over some of the most interesting manga characters (and series).
But I guess that’s why I’m here, eh?
Here’s a ranking to refresh your memory and offer some suggestions to check out.
25. Paradise Kiss
Writer & Illustrator: Ai Yazawa
Here’s a short series from the early 2000s for those who can appreciate a good coming-of-age story.
With five volumes, Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss is a well-known josei manga.
The story is led by Yukari, an arrogant but passionate soon-to-be model on an identity quest.
Unlike your typical romance, Paradise Kiss revolves around ambition and career, which makes its female protagonist all the more fascinating.
It’s a manga about romance and working your butt off.
What’s there not to love?
24. Your Name
Writer & Illustrator: Ranmaru Kotone
Yes, the manga.
I’m not cheating, I swear!
Adapted from the homonymous animated film and novel, Your Name is a genuine story of perseverance.
Along with young teenager Taki, the series stars Mitsuha – a girl who is tired of her hometown and dreams of breaking free.
But as she spends time in someone else’s shoes through a bizarre chain of events, Mitsuha slowly learns to appreciate what she already has.
A true lesson in living life to the fullest.
23. Cells at Work!
Writer & Illustrator: Akane Shimizu
Let’s mix things up with a little biology!
With countless spin-offs popping up left and right, Akane Shimizu’s Cells at Work! has taken the world by storm.
As you might have guessed, this manga stars, well… cells.
Here our main worker is a red blood cell, represented by a clumsy girl who is hellbent on doing the best job she can.
In the ruthless fight against bacteria, not everyone manages to remain so bubbly and cheerful, which makes this endearing blood cell’s adventures so entertaining!
Biology enthusiasts with a thing for comedy manga, this one’s for you.
22. Daytime Shooting Star
Writer & Illustrator: Mika Yamamori
And back to classic shojou territory with a daring but charming series.
Mika Yamamori’s Daytime Shooting Star is the story of Suzume, your typical country bumpkin who’s thrown into the unfamiliar heart of Tokyo.
With her parents traveling, this airhead gets the opportunity to live with her uncle, attend a new high school, and bond with a bunch of interesting people.
One of those people is her young teacher who also happens to be a dear family friend.
For the first time in her quiet life, Suzume has to deal with quite the unusual feelings – but thanks to the help of her new buddies she doesn’t have to do it alone.
21. Sayonara Football: Farewell, My Dear Cramer
Writer & Illustrator: Naoshi Arakawa
If there’s a genre that truly lacks female protagonists, it’s sports.
Thankfully, Naoshi Arakawa helps set things right with his lovely series, Sayonara Football.
We follow the steps of Nozomi, an extremely skilled soccer player who after years of watching the boys play from the sidelines, finally gets her time to shine.
As she reaches high school, Nozomi decides to join a girls’ roster where she can, at last, put her skills to use for one single goal: winning.
The journey won’t be easy.
But with her drive, this high schooler can achieve anything.
20. The Ancient Magus Bride
Writer & Illustrator: Kore Yamazaki
Set in a world of magic, Kore Yamazaki’s The Ancient Magus Bride follows a rather strange premise.
At its center is Chise, an orphan who’s auctioned for a ridiculous sum due to her innate affinity for the universe’s mystical elements.
Surprisingly though, being purchased by an intimidating magus named Elias Ainsworth with an animal skull was a blessing in disguise!
Taken under Elias’ wing as his eventual bride, Chise learns to harness her power – and is given the means to find her place in the world.
It’s is an enchanting tale of love and kindness that has more to offer than what meets the eye.
19. Love Com (Lovely Complex)
Writer & Illustrator: Aya Nakahara
For all the tall girls and short guys out there.
As the title suggests, Aya Nakahara’s Lovely Complex strives to tackle complexes.
Way taller than her classmates, Risa sticks out like a sore thumb. However, she’s not shy one bit!
She’s weird and impulsive, but also the kind and genuine friend everybody wishes they had.
Through her growing bond with a shorter-than-average boy, Risa hopes to make progress in an unrequited crush.
Whether or not those endeavors work out, nothing will take her down.
18. Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War
Writer & Illustrator: Aka Akasaka
Surely you’re familiar with this one, right?
Currently, Aka Akasaka’s Kaguya-Sama happens to be one of the most popular manga series at the moment – thanks to its mix of awkward romantic chemistry and absurd comedy.
Often from the eyes of Miyuki, school president, the series mainly revolves around Kaguya, a seemingly cold-hearted girl with a softer side.
Too proud to admit her own feelings, Kaguya is always concocting the most ridiculous machinations to force a confession out of him.
With its twist on the tsundere archetype and its amazing ensemble cast, this series has something for everyone. Definitely give this one a try.
17. Komi Can’t Communicate
Writer & Illustrator: Tomohito Oda
Yes, the title Komi Can’t Communicate is a little self-explanatory.
Created by Tomohito Oda, this slice-of-life manga revolves around high schooler Shouko Komi, who suffers from extreme communication problems.
Always the center of attention because of her looks, Shouko wishes the floor would just open up and swallow her.
(Don’t we all?)
This all changes as she bonds with a classmate who’s set on helping her reach her goal of making a whole 100 friends.
Will she succeed, or is her social anxiety too big an obstacle?
Guess we’ll see.
Writer & Illustrator: Saburo Uta
Now for something a little more… spicy…
Being the most popular yuri series right now (as of this writing), Saburo Uta’s Citrus isn’t your typical shojou.
At first, Yuzu is happy going and a rebellious city girl. She follows the common route of being transported into a new life, with a new school and new acquaintances.
However, everything takes a weird turn when she realizes her uptight council president (Mei) is actually her step-sister!
Not ideal, but manageable, right?
Well it would’ve been, if only romance hadn’t made its way between the two girls to give the ordeal a whole other meaning.
I sure hope they’re not gonna act on those new impulses…
15. A Bride’s Story
Writer & Illustrator: Kaoru Mori
Set in 19th century Asia, Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story recounts the journey of Amir, a young nomadic woman travelling the land with her recent husband, a 12-year-old boy, and his family.
This historical manga, while navigating very archaic themes and traditions, still manages to tell a fascinating and engaging tale.
Mainly because Amir, despite being a romance protagonist, happens to be kind of a badass!
Incredibly skilled in horse riding and archery, the 20-year-old is an amazing hunter who quickly adapts to her new life.
A Bride’s Story and its female MC are everything one would not expect from a historical slice-of-life story.
It’s inspiring in more ways than one.
14. Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
Writer: Homura Kawamto
Illustrator: Toru Naomura
If you thought you’d seen it all when it comes to manga, think again.
Because with its crazy premise, this here is a very special series – and its main character Yumeko is just as peculiar.
Set in a private high school that revolves around (you guessed it) gambling, Kakegurui is a disturbing psychological thriller about every sin you can possibly imagine.
And no one is happier with this madness than Yumeko, who constantly counters greed and malice with sheer insanity.
To the point of scaring her peers.
The protagonist is never afraid to put even her own well-being on the line. All for the sweet adrenaline that comes with risking it all on a card flip.
If you’ve got the nerves, this manga’s for you.
13. Ouran High School Host Club
Writer & Illustrator: Bisco Hatori
Wait guys, it’s not cliche if it’s a reverse-harem, right?
Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club is the story of Haruhi, a tomboyish girl who scores a scholarship to a prestigious academy.
As if she didn’t already have a lot on her plate, Haruhi’s school life becomes even more complicated when she stumbles on a forgotten club comprised of a few boys.
No problem, though. Just turn back and walk away…
Is what I would have said if Haruhi hadn’t broken a precious vase, netting herself a huge debt that she can only pay back by working as a male host for female clients!
Yeah, I said male.
It’s a strange situation for sure. But if Haruhi is one thing, it’s resourceful…
Writer & Illustrator: Junji Ito
Who knew we’d have straight-up horror on this list?!
Remina isn’t the only Junji Ito manga to feature a female MC – but it definitely stands out.
This story starts off with a renowned Japanese scientist who happens to notice the presence of a strange planet entering the solar system.
Rejoiced by this amazing discovery, the man names the object “Remina,” after his own daughter.
But things go south when the population of Earth realizes that the wandering celestial body is not at all what it seems.
Who will the gullible and superstitious put the blame on?
After chaos breaks out, Remina is forced on the run, helped by various people while her apocalyptic world is literally out to get her.
This is a truly disturbing manga that you just can’t stop reading.
11. Akame Ga Kill!
Writer & Illustrator: Takahiro
I wonder who’s the female MC in this one…
Still popular as ever, Takahiro’s Akame Ga Kill! is known for its sometimes wholesome, sometimes absolutely brutal storytelling.
It’s a weird combination, but it works.
Despite its cliché clueless male protagonist, the story mainly revolves around Akame – the poster child for a group of mercenaries.
The victim of a tragic backstory, Akame is a cold and calculating swordswoman.
However, when she’s not busy striking down enemies with her katana, she tends to show her softer sides.
Despite her young age, Akame is a hardened fighter with nerves of steel.
Given her creator’s murderous intents towards his characters, she’s really gonna need those.
10. Vampire Knight
Writer & Illustrator: Matsuri Hino
Matsuri Hino’s Vampire Knight is quite definitely a staple of 21st century shojou manga.
The story is centered around Yuki (nope, not a vampire), a feisty and righteous student at Cross Academy, a school of both regular humans and vampires who only come out at night.
It’s a strange system, but it works.
Or does it?
Indeed, this status quo doesn’t last much longer, and, with the help of her allies, it’s Yuki’s job to conciliate the two worlds and defend the school from outside threats.
Don’t think of Vampire Knight as a childish story of vampires and romance – because it has a whole lot more to offer than that.
And yes, it did it all before Twilight.
9. Skip Beat!
Writer & Illustrator: Yoshiki Nakamura
Hey look! Another title with an exclamation mark!
A minor detail, you’ll say. But it happens to perfectly encapsulate the overall feel of Yoshiki Nakamura’s Skip Beat!
This shojou has it all.
Great comedy, romance, crazy but somewhat relatable events, and most importantly: a great female MC.
Set on a road to triumph over her backstabbing rival through the tough world of show business, Kyoko isn’t your regular girl.
Having spent her whole life working in her parents’ inn, the 16-year-old actress learns to appreciate the less utilitarian aspects of life with the help of mentors and friends.
Let’s see if she succeeds in her unusual attempt to rise to the top.
3, 2, 1, action!
8. The Promised Neverland
Writer: Kaiu Shirai
Illustrator: Posuka Demizu
Here’s yet another sensation from the 2010s.
It’s Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demizu’s The Promised Neverland.
Taking place in a curious orphanage ran by a mysterious woman, the series stars a trio of prodigies, the leader of the three being Emma, a fiery 11-year-old redhead.
After having lived at the orphanage all her life, Emma’s livelihood changes drastically when she discovers the truth behind her existence.
Here’s a hint.
It involves a lot of monsters.
In order to free her brothers and sisters from their captors, Emma embarks on a dangerous journey that will shake the entire world to its core.
She’s a gutsy kid, that’s for sure.
7. Sailor Moon
Writer & Illustrator: Naoko Takeuchi
You knew it was coming eventually.
The Dragon Ball of shojou.
I’m of course talking about Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon.
Having flourished into an incredible franchise since its inception in 1992, Sailor Moon initially tells the story of, well, Sailor Moon – the famous costumed super heroine!
When she’s not battling evil, Usagi appears as a very clumsy, scaredy, and all-around ordinary teenager.
That all changes the second she uses her Heart Moon Brooch and transforms into our favorite crime fighting magical girl.
Moon Prism Power, Make Up!
… Okay, apparently that doesn’t work for me.
Writer & Illustrator: Rumiko Takahashi
Oh, this one’s a classic.
Born from the mind of legendary mangaka Rumiko Takahashi, Inuyasha is the tale of Kagome, a young high schooler who’s transported to a parallel universe.
It’s there that she encounters the eponymous yokai Inuyasha.
With the help of her new ally, this regular girl is thrown on a magical and dangerous voyage to recover the fragments of the Shikon Jewel before it ends up in the wrong hands.
In a world that’s not even hers, Kagome will learn to unleash her true mystical potential over the course of this 20-year-long series.
Buckle up, because this one’s a wild ride.
5. Yona of the Dawn
Writer & Illustrator: Mizuho Kusanagi
Who said princesses couldn’t wield swords?
Certainly not Mizuho Kusanagi, who brought us Yona of the Dawn, the story of a courageous girl who will stop at nothing to save her kingdom from destruction.
Princess of Kouka, Yona lived a quiet life until it was disrupted by a sudden coup d’état committed by a childhood friend.
Armed with her bodyguard Hak, who happens to be one of the strongest fighters in the country, Yona will use her diplomatic skills to try and preserve what is dear to her.
It’s a pretty grim premise, I know.
But overall it’s pretty cute.
At its core, Yona of the Dawn is a tale of compassion and determination that always keeps you at the edge of your seat.
4. Ghost in the Shell
Writer & Illustrator: Masamune Shirow
This is a short manga that has blossomed into a household name.
Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell features the cybernetic human Motoko as she fights hackers in the year 2029.
With themes like artificial intelligence and cybercrime, this series was truly ahead of its time in terms of manga – and its influence is still visible to this day.
Cold and not very charismatic, Motoko is the embodiment of the dark world she lives in.
However, that doesn’t prevent her from giving her all in the pursuit of justice – no matter who she has to defeat.
It’s a great read if you wanna scratch that itch for cyberpunk content.
Writer & Illustrator: Norihiro Yagi
How about a little dark fantasy?
In a way that’s very fitting when it comes to this list, Norihiro Yagi’s Claymore revolves around a mysterious order of human-monster hybrid women called the Claymores.
Our protagonist Clare is one of them.
Traveling as a mercenary with nothing but strength, agility, and her faithful claymore, Clare spends her life fighting the unpredictable Yoma.
Those guys aren’t pretty.
Despite always being looked at in terror and with disdain, Clare is a hero at heart and will always put her life on the line for the few people she truly cares for.
Craving a series made of practically nothing but badass female characters?
Claymore’s definitely for you.
Writer & Illustrator: Hiro Fujiwara
Let’s acknowledge shojou manga at its peak.
Hiro Fujiwara’s Maid Sama! is just awesome – there’s no two ways about it.
And the main reason behind that (besides incredible writing and comedic timing) is our protagonist Misaki.
Misaki is everything you’d expect from a grade-A student.
She excels in every class, and of course she’s school council president.
But there’s one little thing she really doesn’t want us to know:
She also works part-time in a maid café!
Being the proud woman that she is, Misaki was doing a great job at covering her tracks until they were discovered by Usui, the school’s aloof pretty boy.
Mortified (and now having to deal with Usui’s incessant antics), Misaki still powers through everything with sheer perseverance – growing as a person in the process.
Maid Sama! is the pinnacle of romantic comedy, and if you’ve never read it… well, go do it!
1. Battle Angel Alita
Writer & Illustrator: Yukito Kishiro
What else could top our list but one of the OG female protagonists?
Still well known today, Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita is yet another story that has inspired a generation of cyberpunk enthusiasts.
This manga is (of course) centered around Alita, a cyborg who is found on the brink of death and rebuilt by a well-meaning doctor.
With her second chance at life, she quickly opts to put her robotic abilities to good use as a bounty hunter.
Alita shattered the barriers that had already been weakened by Ghost in the Shell, cementing the female protagonist as a vital part of manga.
It’s only natural to acknowledge this series as one of the all-time greats.