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Shōjo (Demographic)

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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.


    Popular Magazines 
  • Cheese!
  • Ciao
  • Cookie
  • Hana to Yume
  • Nakayoshi
  • LaLa
  • Margaret
  • Ribon
  • Sho-Comi (originally Shoujo Comic)
  • Shoujo Friend

Examples:

Series sometimes mistaken for shōjo:

  • Ah! My Goddess - Seinen, published at the equally seinen magazine Afternoon
  • Amakusa 1637, Private Actress and other newer works by Michiyo Akaishi. They're josei (and published in the very josei magazine "Flowers"), though to be fair Akaishi's most popular works (like Honoo no Alpen Rose) are shōjo.
  • You will never hear the end of even some fans mistaking The Ancient Magus' Bride for a shoujo fantasy manga due to having a female protagonist and how much the plot focuses on the growing relationship between her and Elias. To be fair, the plot isn't exactly unheard of in that demographic, but even so it is marketed in a shonen magazine.
  • ARIA is hard to pin down; it contains some definite shōjo elements, but also some of seinen and josei, considering the more thoughtful subjects it sometimes touches upon. Still, it first got published in a shonen magazine, so the general consensus is to label it as such.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has a Cast Full of Pretty Boys, a bright cutesy art style, Homoerotic Subtext, plenty of fanservice from the male characters, and a fandom that's overwhelmingly female and teenaged. It would be a textbook example of a moe franchise for girls/women instead of men, if not for seinen magazine Comic Birz advertising and serializing it, and then switching to the shonen site Shonen Jump+.
  • Azumanga Daioh - Like Lucky Star, it's a shonen.
  • Bitter Virgin - While it has many shōjo traits and is very flowery at times, this work was published as a Seinen manga in a Seinen magazine.
  • Black Butler - Cast Full of Pretty Boys and tons of Ho Yay. It's a shonen series.
  • CLANNAD - Most people don't know that the anime is actually based on a Dating Sim Visual Novel aimed at a Seinen demographic.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne - actually a mix of both shōjo and shonen genres, it features a shōjo heroine and a shōnen hero. This leads to there being two manga versions, one shōjo and one shōnen!
  • Eureka Seven It jumps into several genres with such frequency that pinning it down is nearly impossible, but it ran in Shonen Ace and is therefore officially shonen.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: The titular character may be female and there may be a lot of Ship Tease between her and the secondary male protagonist, but the series is actually written for a male audience. Considering how often the female characters (especially Mikuru) wear Fanservicey outfits, it's hardly a surprise.
  • Honey and Clover - Like Nodame Cantabile below, it's actually josei, and they lump it in with shōjo.
  • Hori-san and Miyamura-kun - Despite running in a shonen magazine in its print run, it focuses heavily on the romantic relationships between the cast members, and the art style does have some of the usual conventions of this demographic.
  • The works of Jun Mochizuki are often subjected to this treatment due to their art style:
  • Land of the Lustrous - With its androgynous characters having fashion illustration-like proportions, relatively light lines, and emotional rollercoaster interspersed with weaponized traditionally feminine aspects like gems or jewlery, some think it's an action fantasy Shoujo manga. It's actually a Seinen.
  • InuYasha- Despite its Cast Full of Pretty Boys, schoolgirl protagonist, and being written by a woman, it's actually a Shonen.
  • Inu × Boku SS due to the art style, heaping helpings of pretty boys, and many, many shojo tropes, one would be forgiven for thinking this was a shojo, though it was actually published in a Shonen publication. Most of Cocoa Fujiwara's works, including Dear, are like this.
  • Strawberry Marshmallow - Very moe seinen (Amazon.com even goes so far as to say that it's obviously targeted at adolescent girls and that boys and older viewers will find it cloying.)
  • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl - Even though the premise is very shōjo-like, the execution is typically shonen.
  • Kono Oto Tomare! gets this a lot for having a watercolour art style reminiscent of stereotypical shoujo and its character drama focused plot, but the manga runs in Jump Square.
  • Lucky Star - Even though most main characters are girls and dealing with "girly" subjects, it's still a shonen.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha - Despite being a Magical Girl show, the anime was aimed primarily at men and the manga ran in a seinen magazine.
  • Maison Ikkoku - Rumiko Takahashi is known for her cross-genre appeal to both shōjo and shonen fans, but this one ran in a seinen magazine.
  • Many Manga Time Kirara series, thanks to the all-ages appeal of their stories and moe aesthetic. The Kirara family is collectively seinen.
  • Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun - It's an Affectionate Parody of shōjo manga and how it's made, with the titular character being a shōjo mangaka and the protagonist being a girl who has a crush on him, but it was first published in GanGan Online, which is a shonen online magazine. However, the author has written shōjo manga in the past (Ore-sama Teacher being the best-known), and it has enough of a Multiple Demographic Appeal to be reprinted in shōjo anthologies.
  • Mousou Telepathy is often mistaken for one due to the premise, its Slice of Life romcom status, and its female lead. The comic is featured on and published by Sai Zen Sen comics, which holds shounen titles and is a bit of a mixed bag.
  • Nodame Cantabile - Close, but it's actually josei. Most Westerners haven't heard of josei, so they lump it in with shōjo so they don't get confused.
  • Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto - Despite being about the daily life of a Mr. Fanservice character, the manga is actually seinen.
  • Pita-Ten - Despite the focus on romance and its incredibly cutesy art style (thanks to being created by Koge-Donbo), the manga ran in a shonen magazine.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica - Despite being a Magical Girl show, it was created as quite a bleak seinen.
  • Sakura Wars - It's based on a Dating Sim. What do you think?
  • Servamp - Zig-Zagged; It's commonly called shōjo due to its Cast Full of Pretty Boys, but it actually runs in a Josei magazine. The mistake can be forgiven as the intended audience for the magazine (Comic Gene) is female.
  • Shakugan no Shana
  • Strawberry Panic! - Despite having "strawberry" in the title which is typical of shōjo, Wikipedia says it's a seinen.
  • Tomatoy no Lycopene - Sanrio-esque art style and levity aside, it runs in Shonen Jump. The magazine predicted the confusion so early that the cover of the issue it debuted in had "Yes, this is still Jump." printed in large text.
  • Toradora!: Heavy focus on romance, the dramatic second half, and the dynamic between spunky Taiga and reluctant Ryuji are the main factors. In the west, it's common to see the anime listed on "Gateway Series" lists for Shoujo despite its label being the shonen Dengeki Bunko.
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

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

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