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Shōjo (Demographic)

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A little bit of sugar, a little bit of spice, and everything looks way too nice.
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The demographic category of anime and manga aimed mainly at teenage girls. It tends to have female leads, romantic subplots and resolutions involving personal growth. This doesn't mean Shōjo is devoid of action, though. In addition to more traditional romance stories, Shōjo can include tales of heroines who kick righteous butt — while pursuing romantic subplots and personal growth.

Alternately, Shōjo stories can focus on implied or explicit homosexual relationships between men (see Boys Love for the genre, Yaoi Guys for characters outside of the genre), or the romantic emphasis could also stem from relationships between women. Some feature all of the above, and usually feature a Relationship Ceiling.

Although series with explicit sexuality are more likely to be Josei (aimed at older women), some Shōjo may have considerable sexual content; a subgenre called Teens Love (by analogy to Boys Love) features erotic romance between heterosexual couples, with much the same narrative conventions (abusive boyfriends and angst; or, alternately, shiny romance, ecstatic lovemaking, and Happily Ever After). This stuff tends to snuggle up as close to the "Restricted" (18+) category as it can, and so isn't often licensed for translation.

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Not all romance series are Shōjo. Shōnen romances take the boy's perspective (Magical Girlfriends and Harem Series are both common, though there are just as many mundane one-to-one stories), and focus on the boy pursuing the girl, or trying to resolve the Love Dodecahedron. If it doesn't have that, a Shōnen romance tends to end with a declaration of love and its acceptance. Shōjo romances, by contrast, frequently involve the heroine finding love early in the series, then stick around to watch the couple work through trouble in their relationship. Shōjo romances with male leads often tread somewhere in between: sometimes it takes the Shōnen route of the chase, others focus on how the boy treats his newfound lover.

Conversely, not all Shōjo series are romance either; some may just focus on dealing with everyday issues, others with uncovering mysteries, others where the action gets graphic or cerebral, and still others that like to take the scenic route of life. And there's been times where Shōjo can get as bold-faced and crass as any Shōnen manga, as any reader of Patalliro! or Sabagebu! can tell you.

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Aesthetically, Shōjo is typically drawn with lighter outlines than Shōnen manga, and with sparser backgrounds and little (if any) shading — but, contrariwise, it frequently uses screentone patterns to set the emotional tone of a scene, and frames are rarely solely rectangular and borders are often absent. Character designs with eyes that are even larger than those usually used in manga and anime (the infamous dinner plate size) are also usually a giveaway that the work in question is Shōjoespecially when the characters are not children. Though even that rule may not be ironclad: thanks to the Periphery Demographic of girls reading Shōnen manga, the bolder lines and smaller eyes common to works of that demographic can find their way back into Shōjo to draw a wider appeal.

Shōjo is a demographic (usually identified by the time slot or magazine a story runs in) and shows so classified can fit into any "standard" genre, up to and including martial arts and Science Fiction. And even this is variable; popular female leads sometimes gain a male fan following, to the degree of the infamous older male fanbase. Anything Magical Girl is usually Shōjo by default, although there are exceptions, specifically made for said older fanbase.

While a lot of this demographic's manga output does get adapted into anime of varying popularity, its real foothold is in a medium even its brother demographic had a hard time attracting viewers: Live-Action TV. As their romance and contemporary series tend to match up with common trends in tv serials, Shōjo and Josei manga adaptations tend to make up a sizeable portion of Japanese Doramas. In fact, it may find more popularity through its Dorama version than its life as a manga.

Should not be confused with Bishoujo, though some may feature as characters. Or Lord Shojo. Serves as both the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier for Stock Shoujo Heroine.


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Examples:

Series sometimes mistaken for shōjo:


Alternative Title(s): Shoujo, Shoujo Genre, Shojo Genre, Shojo

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