It's pretty rare to have a show depict fully fleshed out female characters these days. It's one of the reasons I enjoy MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC—the main characters have strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and have a full range of problems instead of just "who is going to ask me to the ball/prom?" (Again, I am not counting EQUESTRIA GIRLS.) While you can classify them in broad archetypes (the shy one, the bookworm, the tomboy, etc.) they also have more depth than just those basic roles.
Except Applejack. Poor girl needs some good character episodes.
With that in mind, I recommend my fellow bronies check out AZUMANGA DAIOH—a slice of life series featuring a female cast in high school. The stakes are low and the situations SIENFELD-ian, but the characters might remind you of of a few technicolored equines you know. And again, there's more to these girls than what I say here, but there, but there are interesting parallels nonetheless.
There's the adorable Chiyo, a child prodigy who jumped ahead several grades. She's the braniac of the group, and her naiveté is very similar to Twilight Sparkle's when she first arrived in Ponyville.
Tomo is a tomboy, simultaneously being super genki and super lazy—much like perennial favorite pony Rainbow Dash. And like Pinkie Pie, Tomo's usually the source of her own problems and throws the group into chaos with her shenanigans.
It's interesting how accents are portrayed in anime sometimes, isn't it? Traditionally in English dubs, of anime people from the Osaka prefecture of Japan are given American Southern accents. As such, Ayumu—a transfer student from Osaka (hence her nickname "Osaka")—is given an Applejack-like drawl. While aside from that she's rather unlike AJ, but is still very close to the heart of the group and the show.
Sakaki is the quiet one with many skills. She's much beloved by her classmates and receives a lot of attention, but is too shy to act on any of it. Add the fact that she is obsessed with cute things, whether they are animals or Chiyo, and you have a great Fluttershy parallel.
Yomi is actually most like Rarity. She's prim and proper, and puts as much effort as she can into her appearance. Her relationship to the other characters is also similar to Rarity's, as she's often trying to reign in the crazier impulses of her friends.
And then there's Kaori. Poor thing has a massive crush on Sakaki, who is absolutely blind to her affection. So, naturally, she is the Spike of the group.
While none of these comparisons are one to one, they shouldn't be! If AZUMANGA DAIOH was just MY LITTLE PONY in high school, it would just be EQUESTRIA GIRLS: JAPAN EDITION. And who wants that, really? But if you're looking for something a bit more reflective but with an appropriate amount of silly, it's a great watch for bronies.
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter@Murphix.