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This article outlines a history of the shōjo manga aesthetic, focussing on feminist aspects of ground-breaking manga of the 1970s "Golden Age." Figures such as Western princesses and blonde girls, often depicted in shōjo manga, represent not only a yearning for a romanticized West but also the absence of "men" and Japan, which created a liberating space for girl readers. Works such as Takemiya Keiko's The Song of the Wind and the Trees (Kaze to ki no uta) depicted beautiful boys in foreign settings, absenting the figure of the girl herself from this girl-centred genre. Such innovations further challenged social and genre norms and offered readers the opportunity to explore ideas of gender. The article argues that these elements of shōjo manga contribute to its appeal for readers outside of Japan, noting that Japanese shōjo manga (girls' comics) styles are being adopted in graphic novels and comics in the United States and the United Kingdom.