Your smile breaks through the clouds of grey
Far from the sunny days that lie in sleep
Waiting with patience for the spring
When the flowers will bloom renewed again
Knowing there's more beyond the pain of today
Although the scars of yesterday remain
You can go on living as much as your heart believes..."
A type of protagonist that appears often in Shōjo Demographic works.
They're almost Always Female and a Kid Hero between 10 and 16. Girlish Pigtails or bob cuts are their common hairstyles, but just long hair worn down is common as well. Hair colors are usually blonde, red, pink, or brown, while blue eyes or brown eyes are the most common eye colors. They will typically wear brighter colors, such as pink, when in casual attire (especially if they're a magical girl), and it's common for their school uniform to be a Sailor Fuku.
The protagonist will often be an Ordinary High-School Student (or a Junior High school student). She's not the most perfect person, but she tries her best. She's clumsy and simple minded, but makes up for it with her sweetness and energy. She's often (supposedly) average looking in physical appearance, however this might be poor self-esteem and other characters will try and get her to see her beauty. Though she's not usually as much of a Big Eater as her shonen counterpart, she can sometimes be quite gluttonous, especially when it comes to anything sweet.
But this incredibly average hopeless romantic is secretly the best hope the world has at wielding some great power that she stumbles into, or was born with all along. She'll often find herself in the middle of conflicts through no immediate fault of her own. Everyone wants a chance to grab her whether it be for political reasons, for that hidden power, or because she has that special "something" all the boys can't ignore. She won't be pushing the action, but she'll sure react to it.
Her strength, unlike her literary brothers, is often not physical at first. Rather, what sets her apart is her incredible willpower and loyalty, which inspires friends and potential lovers alike to protect her. And rest assured, this girl will be the emotional rock of the series. When all else fails she will finally unlock her potential through The Power of Love, and bring her foes down with kindness. She lets them see the error of their ways, and basks them in the light of the bond she shares with her friends and lovers. Those who finally understand will be redeemed, but others may be destroyed by the overwhelming positivity or sheer pluck. She's often The Heart or All-Loving Hero of her Four-Girl Ensemble. Being prone to Tender Tears is common.
When it comes to romance she almost always falls in love with someone older than her (usually a Sempai), who is also One Head Taller than her. They will usually bump into each other, especially if the protagonist is Late for School while eating Toast of Tardiness. If the protagonist is tender enough, the duo will often be a Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl combo. If the protagonist favors pink then her love interest will often wear blue (even if female). Being unable to confess, being stuck in a pre-dating stage for most of the series, and being self conscious will often be included. She might have a childhood friend who likes her, but she is Oblivious to Love. Having at least one Romantic Two-Girl Friendship is exceedingly common. If their friendship makes the leap to something more, expect the protagonist to be an uke if that trope is in use. Romance Games and video games with a female audience usually have this kind of heroine as the protagonist, which makes for easier self insertion.
Usagi Tsukino (herself an Affectionate Parody of Magical Girl heroines) from Sailor Moon is a common inspiration for modern Shoujo protagonists, especially in Magical Girl series. For characters who base much more than their personality on Usagi, see Sailor Senshi Send-Up. More mundane series will also take inspiration from Tsukushi Makino from Boys over Flowers.
The Distaff Counterpart to the Stock Shōnen Hero (another Book Dumb All-Loving Hero with The Power of Friendship, but who is usually more Hot-Blooded). Contrast with the Stock Shōnen Rival and the Stock Light-Novel Hero (who are more seriously-minded cool customers).
- Chise Hatori from The Ancient Magus' Bride hits all the tropes despite being from a shonen series (though it's often mistaken for shoujo). However, she's played as a darker example than most. She has strong willpower, is ceaselessly kind, has immense magical potential, has a love interest who's older than her, etc. Unfortunately, Chise's "gift"—which seems to run In the Blood—has caused her family to fall apart horrifically and Chise to be tormented by spirits her whole life, to the point that she ultimately sold herself into slavery because she could not deal with the endless misery. Her beloved, Elias Ainsworth— who bought her, by the way—is not a man at all but an ancient fae entity with an alien perspective on humanity who initially sees her more as a scientific curiosity than anything else, and when he does develop feelings for her, they are alien and dangerous. Yet Chise clings to him like a lifebuoy because he's the first person in a long time to have treated her with anything even vaguely resembling kindness, even if it's (initially) a mask. The main premise of the story is Chise gradually forming new friendships and developing some independence from Elias, while Elias himself starts growing past his fairy Immortal Immaturity and learning that love is not a one-way street.
- Beauty Pop has the Tsukushi variant; a Plucky Girl who's loyal to her friends and ends up making the boys fall for her due to her sweetness, skill, and feistiness.
- B-Project's Tsubasa Sumisora is this. As a new hire, she's quickly overwhelmed by the business of supporting and helping her idols, and the B-Project boys all have some feelings for her which she doesn't quite pick up on, but her virtue is her perseverance despite plans going awry and earns the respect of her company for it.
- Deconstructed with Marika from Bokura no Hentai. Prone to Tender Tears and fond of friendship, she thinks like a 1970s shoujo manga and wishes she was a princess. She has the misfortune of being born with the wrong anatomy and being in the wrong type of manga. Sweet, innocent blonde Marika quickly turns into a more jaded character as the manga goes on.
- Of course, pioneering many other tropes for post 90s shoujo heroines, Boys over Flowers's Tsukushi is one. She is feminine, but she is pluckier than usual, and her empathy and compassion for her friends and others draws the F4 to her. She does eventually get into a relationship with a (very) Troubled, but Cute older boy, though.
- Sakura Kinomoto of Cardcaptor Sakura is a preteen version. She's clumsy, Book Dumb, and oblivious, but also very plucky, kindhearted, and in possession of immense magical power. In her most hard-won victories, such as that against Yue, she immediately reaches out the hand of friendship, rather than domination. The greatest spell she has is the simple affirmation, "I'm sure everything will be all right!". While she starts out with a Precocious Crush on her brother's friend Yukito, who's seven years older than her, she eventually gets over it and falls in love with Syaoran, who's the same age as her.
- Hanano Sumire of Chihayafuru tries to invoke this, playing the role of a sweet, simple but kind-hearted girl and citing her 'slightly above average looks' as evidence of her fitness for the role. When she meets popular and good-looking Taichi, already in love with the very beautiful Chihaya, she's sure that she's found her love interest and Alpha Bitch rival. Unfortunately for her, she's actually a side character who doesn't show up until season 2 - Chihaya is the actual heroine, and she doesn't fit the trope at all, as Chihayafuru is actually a Josei genre Sports Anime.
- Tohru Honda of Fruits Basket (providing the page image) fits the bill pretty well. While Tohru is a sensitive girl prone to Tender Tears and a bit of a bleeding heart, she somehow makes it to the center (and the end) of the Sohma curse and family situation by merely trying to listen to them and their problems, and is a sweet and gentle young woman. Her kindness and high emotional intelligence also make up for her being Book Dumb and rather naive at times. However, she can also be seen as a deconstruction; her kindness extends to her being an Extreme Doormat for her immediate family, and she has a few more serious issues that she hides behind her constant positivity. Appearance-wise, Tohru has long, brown hair and equally brown eyes (changed to Innocent Blue Eyes in the 2001 anime).
- Fushigi Yuugi's heroine Miaka is a gluttonous Idiot Heroine with average grades who is nonetheless well-meaning and kindhearted. She accidentally finds herself in the middle of a fantastic war and gets two handsome love interests out of the deal.
- Sana from Kodocha wears her red hair in Girlish Pigtails. Sana is plucky, ditzy, and is a bit of a Cloudcuckoolander. She's not dumb but she's quite impulsive and excitable. Nevertheless, she enjoys helping others. Her love interest, Akito, is a stoic and somewhat sarcastic boy.
- Miki from Marmalade Boy fits the bill. Tomboyish and energetic, she meshes well with her cerebral stepbrother Yuu.
- Lucia from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is ditzy and stuck in a Love Triangle but is also nice and has a strong sense of friendship.
- Mirumo De Pon: Mirumo's human partner Kaede is a sweet, bubbly, and energetic schoolgirl who has Girlish Pigtails and is shy and clumsy around boys. In her fairy form she has a pink outfit.
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is technically a shonen series, but it's also an Affectionate Parody of shoujo manga and how it's made, so naturally it tends to poke fun at this trope:
- Parodied with Mamiko, the In-Universe heroine of Nozaki's generic but very popular shoujo manga Let's Fall in Love!. She's clumsy, average-looking, and acknowledged by the characters as not that interesting as a person, but she manages to snag the hottest guy in school.
- Nozaki-kun's actual heroine, Chiyo Sakura, is familiar with shoujo conventions and wishes to cast herself as the shoujo heroine to Nozaki's love interest, but she is too much of a snarky Straight Man to be a real example.
- Rinko Yamato of My Love Story!! is a subversion. She's sweet, good natured, caring, and loves to bake. Headstrong, wants to support her boyfriend any way she can, and gives her all in her passion, Rinko hits all the notes indicating she is one— so why isn't she a straight example? Because her boyfriend, the hulking athlete Takeo Goda, is the main character in her stead.
- 10-year old Ririka from Nurse Angel Ririka SOS downplays this. She has long blonde hair and is a Pink Heroine when in Magical Girl form. She's in love with her senpai Kaoru, who is slightly older than her and also taller than her, but is Oblivious to Love when it comes to her childhood friend Seiya. Ririka is friendly and heroic but isn't overly energetic or spunky.
- Doremi Harukaze from Ojamajo Doremi is a ditzy, Book Dumb, and gluttonous Cute Clumsy Girl but has a kind heart, a magnetic personality, and serves as The Heart of her group of friends.
- Yellow of Pokémon Adventures is a plucky, kind-hearted girl who has Healing Hands and Speaks Fluent Animal. She hates unnecessary violence, cries easily, and is motivated by the boy who saved her life when she was younger. Not entirely a straight example, as she also is (one of) the protag(s) of a kodomo series.
- Similarly, Dawn and Serena from the Pokémon anime would not be out of place in a shoujo story despite the anime targeting a gender-neutral kodomo audience. Dawn is a Plucky Girl with a pink skirt whose catchphase, "No need to worry," is typical of shoujo heroines. She also participates in Pokemon Contests, which emphasize beauty and are reminiscent of the Idol Singer genre. Serena is even more so this trope, since her Ship Tease with Ash is more blatant than any leading girl before her, she isn't focused on battles, and Pokemon Showcases are even more like Idol Singer contests since unlike Contests, which allowed any Trainer to participate, Showcases are exclusively female.
- Powerpuff Girls Z completely changed Blossom's personality to make her a Magical Girl protagonist. In comparison, Kaoru (Buttercup) and Miyako (Bubbles) are much more similar to their source counterparts. Momoko is a Big Eater with a Sweet Tooth and is a Love Freak who Thinks Like a Romance Novel. In contrast to her cartoon counterpart Blossom, she is a silly Genki Girl and a Leader Wannabe instead of being the smart, level-headed leader.
- Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica fits many attributes, despite the series not actually being aimed at girls. She's a thirteen year old Ordinary Middle School Student, Pink Heroine, and Magical Girl. She has confidence issues but is a very Nice Girl towards others. She is The Heart of the main girls and has Incorruptible Pure Pureness attributes. Madoka also has a Tragic Bromance with Homura.
- Sailor Moon is the Trope Codifier, especially amongst Magical Girl works. 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino has long blonde hair in an Odango Hair style and wears a Sailor Fuku even when she becomes a high schooler. She starts out as a Naïve Everygirl and a bit of a Book Dumb Genki Girl, but she gradually becomes a more competent heroine and draws much of her strength from The Power of Friendship. She's notorious for being a Big Eater, especially of sweets, and has troubles with her weight. Usagi's eventual boyfriend Mamoru has blue (or black) colour scheme, is One Head Taller than her, and is also older than her (he's a 17-year-old second year high school student at the start of the manga, but an 18-year-old first year college student at the start of the'90s anime).
- Yuki from School-Live!, but unfortunately for her she's stuck in the wrong genre and in the wrong demographic. As a result, she's a Deconstructed Character Archetype. Bubbly, pink, and happy, Yuki is a friendly Ordinary High-School Student. She loves school and loves everyone around her. Unfortunately for her, she's so immature and eccentric that she sticks out like a sore thumb and thus was ostracized at school. Yuki is rather Book Dumb, though she can be very insightful in her moments of clarity. As innocent and cheerful as she is, Yuki suffers from her mind repressing the fact she's in a zombie apocalypse, leading her to be the The Load for much of the series. Eventually she gets better.
- Shadows House is a seinen series, but Emilico still fits the trope well, being a clumsy, naive but earnest Living Doll who works for her mistress and Shadow Kate. She's very much the soul of the series, not only for Kate but for other Living Dolls as well. Her male lead, Shaun, is also stoic, protective of her, and a good head taller.
- Amu Hinamori from Shugo Chara!. Unlike most examples, she's actually quite popular at school for her "cool and spicy" public persona, but she otherwise fits many of the trope's requirements as she's much more of an ordinary girl than how most of the student body sees her. Under her cool and aloof public image, she's really a nice Genki Girl with pink hair who wants to be normal, but soon proves to have a lot of willpower. She also has two love interests, one of whom is older and taller than her.
- Super Gals: Downplayed with the main Gal, Ran Kotobuki, who is more tough and assertive than most examples but she still has a few typical traits (Book Dumb, Big Eater, Genki Girl, occasionally The Ditz, strong sense of justice, always willing to help her friends and other people). In fact, she has a lot in common with the Stock Shōnen Hero.
- Ichigo from Tokyo Mew Mew has pink hair (red in civilian form in the anime) that she wears in pigtails when in civilian form. She is a typical klutzy, ditzy shoujo protagonist. Her love interest, Aoyoma, doesn't fit much of the criteria besides having blue hair and blue eyes (changed to black hair and brown eyes in the anime).
- The heroine of the Uta no Prince-sama's anime adaptation rings closer to this than her original game counterpart, who was fairly confident and self-assured. Haruka is clumsier, more insecure, shyer, and sheltered. Nevertheless, she finds herself in the center of STARISH and their dealings as their composer; given that it's a dating sim adaptation they are also all potential love interests for her.
- While being a shonen manga heroine, Coco of Witch Hat Atelier hits all of the notes of this trope. Being a newcomer to the world of magic in an effort to depetrify her mother, Coco is often clumsy with practice, but she more than makes up for it with her wit, determination, and empathy. She also becomes quite the central figure of the story, with her fellow apprentices looking to her for companionship and support while the antagonistic Brimhat organization seeks to make her a representive for black magic usage.
- While there are plenty of male and agender variations, it's very common for Saniwa in Touken Ranbu works to be teenage girls in high school or otherwise innocent women. No matter the method of entry into the Citadel, they're generally The Chosen One and usually good natured, supportive, somewhat motherly/sisterly towards the Awataguchi line, but clumsy or overworked. And on the romantic side, they are always the subject of attraction to their taller and more mature sword of choice (common choices: ), being protected by their Citadel members due to them being the all important summoner and caretaker as well as their loved one.
- The Disney Princess franchise has many of its heroines display a lot of the characteristics of a shoujo heroine, despite being a bit older than the norm in some cases. It's no surprise that the franchise is huge in Japan as well:
- Anna of Frozen fits the bill moreso than Elsa does, being a clumsy, awkward and excitable young woman who wants to be close to her sister again, and attracts the attention of two older boys; handsome, agreeable prince Hans, and fun loyal mountain man Kristoff. She dreams of love in multiple forms, and in the end retroactively saves herself and her sister due to their close bond.
- Tangled's take on Rapunzel has lives a sheltered life inside her tower up until her 18th birthday, wondering where she came from and what the world outside is like. Sweet, curious, somewhat naive, and with the rough mannerisms of a gentle princess, Rapunzel captures the hearts of most of the people she encounters on her journey to the lanterns.
- Chihiro from Spirited Away is this trope to some extent. While she is a young girl that is relatable to the main audience, she embraces the power of believing in herself rather than the power of friendship and love.
- Many otome game Reincarnate in Another World stories feature a protagonist like this. The kicker is that they are often not reincarnated in the role of the heroine in their universe (usually it will be the game's designated love rival, a background character, or other girls of varying importance); however, by trying to avoid the beats that doom the love rival or an irrelevant character to a terrible fate (sometimes even while invoking those same beats), they end up acting like more of a "heroine" than that universe's intended heroine and gain the affections of most of the game's love interests by simply being sweet, kind, and determined instead of what was destined for them.
- Koyuki from Magical Girl Raising Project is an ordinary middle schooler who is a Magical Girl fangirl, even though most other girls her age have outgrown the genre. One day she is allowed to become a real magical girl. Koyuki, known as "Snow White" as a magical girl, wants to be the ideal magical girl. This is accentuated in her magical girl design, which is a Pink Heroine (complete with short pink hair in the anime) and resembles the lead of Cardcaptor Sakura. It's even noted in-series that Snow White is the only "classic magical girl" looking magical girl out of the first arc's magical girls. Koyuki is a kind girl who just wants to help others. Unfortunately for her, she's in a Battle Royale series instead of a standard magical girl series. Her Actual Pacifist ways only last so long before she becomes a more pro-active Knight in Sour Armor.
- Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note has Aya Tachibana. Despite negative Age Lift due to demographics issues makes her younger than the most, she fits most of this trope: She has long hair, tends to wear in pink, very mildly Shrinking Violet, good at a feminine subject (languages) in this Cast Speciation franchise and acts as The Face of The Team.
- The Confession Executive Committee takes this up a notch; in showcasing various love stories of the cast with different archetypes, we get at least six as the main focus for their love stories — Natsuki Enomoto (Genki Girl Tomboy), Miou Aida (Shrinking Violet), Akari Hayasaka (Naïve Everygirl), Sena Narumi (Uptown Girl), Arisa Takamizawa (Plucky Girl Tsundere), Hina Setoguchi (Sempai/Kohai variant), and Hiyori Suzumi (plain Jane). They all share the same romance heroine characteristics of being romantically oblivious to their own stories, insecure about their love interests, and in love with slightly older boys, but are still very sweet and merely want the object of their affections to look their way.
- Milky Way and the Galaxy Girls: The eponymous Milky Way is the 15-year-old Anthropomorphic Personification of her namesake galaxy. She's described as "smart, confident, adventurous, and fun", and her defining characteristic is her love of new experiences and adventures, a trait that often gets her into trouble, but she always keeps her head held high through it all. In a premise largely Inspired by... Sailor Moon, her debut story revolves around her assembling a team of planet-based Magical Girls to combat the Sealed Evil in a Can she accidentally released.
- Frankie Stein from Monster High (Prior to the reboot.) is a kind, compassionate, and sweet girl who loves to help others.
- Fiona Frightening and the Wicked Wardrobe: The eponymous Fiona Frightening is a sweethearted 10-year-old Perky Goth who gets picked on for her love of spooky things. She finds herself in the world of her favorite storybook, becoming a Cute Witch who must rescue a Monster Mash Ragtag Bunch of Misfits called the Creeps and channel their powers to save Wickedopolis.
- Super Knockoff VS, starring an All-Stereotype Cast of Anime Character Types, has Miyuki. She's an Affectionate Parody of the Stock Shoujo Heroine, her design combining traits from Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
- The number of Atelier protagonists that don't follow this trope to some degree could probably be counted on one hand.
- Bee and Puppycat: Bee is an odd example, as a young adult rather than a youth, but otherwise fits the bill perfectly, being an immature, ill-focused goofball who cannot hold down a job to save her life. Luckily, she comes across the sort-of Mentor Mascot Puppycat, who hires her for a supernatural temp agency. In something of a parody, she often groans in compliant whenever she has her Transformation Sequence into the Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit for whatever job she has to take.
- Parodied in the Affectionate Parody of shoujo anime, Senpai Club. Tsumiki is a pink haired high schooler with Girlish Pigtails. She starts the series crashing into a senpai who falls in Love at First Sight with her, however she isn't that into him at first. Tsumiki is less innocent and more sarcastic than is typical.
- Miraculous Ladybug is heavily influenced by Magical Girl shows, and this is reflected in its heroine. Marinette is a feminine aspiring fashion designer who is sweet, klutzy, self-effacing, and tongue-tied around her crush. But overall, she's a downplayed example, as her superhero alter-ego Ladybug is far more proactive and assertive than the usual example of this trope.
- Steven from Steven Universe is a Rare Male Example between this and a Stock Shōnen Hero. He's an excitable boy who is In Touch with His Feminine Side and is an All-Loving Hero. He also has a pink color motif that he inherited from his deceased mother.