This paper aims to expand the scope of studies of Japanese shōjo manga (girls’ comics) by examining early 1980s and 1990s shōjo manga that were primarily targeted at the youngest band of readers, stories with early adolescent heroines in light, romantic, and fairytale-like narratives. These have been paid comparatively little scholarly attention thus far compared with texts that enact more explicit gender subversion, such as stories that feature same-sex male love and cross-dressed fighting girls. We argue, however, that the “maidenesque” (otomechikku) subgenres enact complex and fascinating versions of girlhood. Furthermore, we propose that these neglected manga benefit especially from an analysis that prioritises the visual dimensions of shōjo manga. We apply these suggestions to our analysis of fashion and aesthetic in heretofore neglected “maidenesque” works by Takase Ryō. Rather than simply maintaining conservative norms of femininity and heterosexual romance, these works explore gender issues within the “safe” trappings of girlishness. Examining the visual and textual dimensions of such works is vital for a more accurate picture of girlhood and gender as it is more broadly imagined in shōjo manga.