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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.

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), or the romantic emphasis could also stem from relationships between women. Some feature all of the above.

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.

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. Female-led Shōnen romance also has this dynamic (occasionally gender-inverted), though some begin with the pair together before the start while we see snippets of their relationship. 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;note  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 gag manga, as any reader of Patalliro! or Sabagebu! can tell you. The demographic is also no stranger to horror stories, with several iconic horror series such as Hell Girl, Vampire Princess Miyu, Tomie and numerous other Junji Ito stories published in shojo anthologies. Confusing matters for English-speaking audiences is the fact that Viz Media publishes many darker shōjo series under its Viz Select imprint rather than its Shōjo Beat imprint, giving the impression that they are Seinen series.

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. The bright colors and cute looks of Shōnen and Seinen Iyashikei and the lavish aesthetics of Bishōnen Jump Syndrome also muddy the waters on popular demographic styles, not to mention the crossover of people who do draw for either kind of mag bringing their style to work for the opposite demographic.

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. Serves as both the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier for Stock Shoujo Heroine.

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Series sometimes mistaken for shōjo:

  • Accomplishments of the Duke's Daughter is a novel about a woman being reincarnated as the vilainess of an otome game and looks and plays out exactly like a shoujo series, but both the light novel and manga were published by seinen imprints. You would never be able to tell if you weren't told this.
  • Ah! My Goddess: Despite its focus on romance, it was published in the 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.
  • The Ancient Magus' Bride is often mistaken as shoujo due to having a female protagonist, Chise, and how much the plot focuses on the growing relationship between her and Elias (the titular magus). While the plot isn't exactly unheard of in that demographic, the manga actually runs in a shōnen magazine.
  • Angelic Layer was written by CLAMP during a time when they almost exclusively wrote shojo manga, and due to the character designs and tropes having more in common with their shojo titles it's easy to forget that it was published 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 Shōnen magazine, so the general consensus is to label it as such. That said, the series did start out as a shojo manga called ''Aqua'' before changing titles and moving to a shonen publication.
  • Azumanga Daioh: Like Lucky Star, it's a Shōnen series despite focusing on the lives of a group of high school girls.
  • Best Student Council: Even though it has a very feminine aesthetic and its protagonist is a straight example of a Stock Shoujo Heroine, it's yet another shonen series about the lives of high school girls, in an Absurdly Powerful Student Council no less.
  • 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 Shōnen series.
  • Chihayafuru is often mistaken for shoujo since many of the characters are in high school, but it's actually josei.
  • CLANNAD: Despite its gentle, romantic atmosphere, most people don't know that the anime is actually based on a Dating Sim Visual Novel aimed at a Seinen demographic. Its manga adaptations also ran in both shonen and seinen publications.
  • Emma: A Victorian Romance is sometimes mistaken for shoujo or josei, due to the premise focusing on a forbidden romance between the titular maid Emma and the wealthy nobleman William Jones. However, the manga actually ran in a seinen magazine.
  • Eureka Seven It jumps into several genres with such frequency that pinning it down is nearly impossible, but it ran in Shōnen Ace and is therefore officially Shōnen.
  • Free! is a sports (swimming) anime featuring a Cast Full of Pretty Boys with intense friendships that got its start as a light novel. It doesn't help that the anime's original director, Hiroko Utsumi, would later go to work on an actual shoujo series in Banana Fish.
  • 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 light novels are actually written for a male audience, and all of its manga adaptations and spinoffs have run in shonen magazines. Considering how often the female characters (especially Mikuru) wear Fanservicey outfits, it's hardly a surprise.
  • Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto: Despite being about the daily life of a Mr. Fanservice character, the manga is actually seinen.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers 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 shōnen site Shonen Jump+.
  • Honey and Clover: Like Nodame Cantabile below, it's actually josei, and they lump it in with shōjo.
  • Horimiya: Despite running in a shōnen 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:
  • Inuyasha: Despite its Cast Full of Pretty Boys, schoolgirl protagonist (and the focus on her growing romantic relationship with the male lead), and being written by a woman, it's actually shōnen and has plenty of violent action to balance out the romance.
  • 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 shōnen publication. Most of Cocoa Fujiwara's works, including dear, are like this.
  • Karin's titular protagonist is female and the plot focuses on her growing relationship with a boy that's told from her perspective, but the manga actually ran in the shonen magazine Monthly Dragon Age.
  • Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl: Despite being a romance where all three protagonists are female, the manga ran in Dengeki Daioh, which shows in some of the series obviously male-oriented fanservice and sexual humor. Adding to the confusion, it's a rare serialized manga focused on (functionally) same-sex romance outside of dedicate yuri or yaoi magazines.
  • Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life 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. Sakura Amyuu had done a lot of oneshots for shojo magazines before working on Kono Oto Tomare!!, which added to the confusion.
  • 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.
  • Lucky Star: Even though most of the characters are high school girls and they sometimes talk about "girly" subjects, the manga is shonen and main character Konata acts a lot like a typical male otaku, while the anime first aired late at night.
  • Lyrical Nanoha: Despite being a Magical Girl franchise, it's primarily aimed at men and all of its manga adaptations and spinoffs have run in seinen magazines.
  • Maison Ikkoku: Rumiko Takahashi is known for her cross-genre appeal to both shōjo and shōnen fans, but despite this series' focus on romance, it 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 is 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 shōnen online magazine. However, the series' creator Izumi Tsubaki 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.
  • Massugu ni Ikou is sometimes mistaken for shojo due to the human characters being in high school, and the talking dogs naturally appealing to younger audiences. It was actually published in a Josei publication.
  • 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 in and published by Sai Zen Sen comics, which also holds shoōnen 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.
  • 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.
  • The Prince of Tennis is sometimes mistaken for shoujo due to its Cast Full of Pretty Boys and huge female fanbase, but the manga actually ran in Shonen Jump. That said, executives eventually caught onto how popular the series was with girls and started marketing it towards a female audience as well; there are regular ads for it in shoujo magazines and there's even official Otome Games based on the franchise.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Despite being a Magical Girl show with adorable character designs, it was created as quite a bleak seinen and the cute character designs are meant to make the awful things that happen to the characters even more shocking.
  • Romantic Killer is essentially a reverse harem and the series calls attention to tropes common to shoujo works, but the manga actually ran in Shonen Jump +. It doesn't help that Viz Media released the manga in English under their Shoujo Beat label despite this.
  • The Royal Tutor has a very shojo art style, a cast consisting almost entirely of Bishōnen princes, and mostly revolves around cute boys doing cute things. The manga was serialized in Monthly G Fantasy a shōnen publication. That said, G Fantasy, which also published Black Butler above, has a very high female readership and thrives on Bishōnen Jump Syndrome.
  • 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 has an Action Girl as the title character and her relationship with male lead Yuji is the driving force of the series. However, the story is largely told from Yuji's perspective, and the original light novels are aimed at a male audience while the manga adaptation ran in Dengeki Daioh, a shonen magazine.
  • She's My Knight: There's no indication on Kodansha's website whether it's shōjo or not, and it was published online, not in a magazine. The art style evokes shōjo, and several characters lampshade how the main couple, Bifauxnen Mogami and Tsundere boy Ichinose, embody shōjo tropes.
  • Skip and Loafer is often mistaken for shoujo due to the main duo being a plucky female protagonist and a popular boy, the grounded high school setting, and many of the characters being the types you'd normally find in other shoujo series. The manga actually runs in a seinen magazine, and the series' creator has even described it as "a story that pulls from shoujo manga but only pretends to be one".
  • Due to the strong female protagonist, pretty boys, and occasional romance and Ship Teasing, Slayers is sometimes mistaken for shojo, to the point where the series was marketed primarily to girls in some countries. It's actually shonen, and the usage of common shonen tropes and ocassional crass humor and Male Gaze make it clearer.
  • The Story Between a Dumb Prefect and a High School Girl with an Inappropriate Skirt Length: Despite being a Romantic Comedy mainly told from the girl's perspective, it's published in Shonen Sirius magazine.
  • Strawberry Marshmallow focuses on four 12-year-old girls and their day-to-day lives, but it's meant to be a very moe shonen series rather than shoujo ( 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). Nobue's Cuteness Proximity towards the younger girls can also be a bit suspect at times.
  • Strawberry Panic!: Despite having "strawberry" in the title which is typical of shōjo, both the original light novels and the manga adaptation were serialized in Dengeki G's Magazine, which is a seinen publication.
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san: The story focuses on an adorable Puppy Love "rivalry" and has an art direction reminiscent of many romcom shoujo series. It's a shōnen series published in Monthly Shonen Sunday Mini, but its main characters and atmosphere give this one a strong Periphery Demographic.
  • Tomatoy no Lycopene: Sanrio-esque art style and levity aside, it ran in Shōnen Jump and later switched to Shōnen 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 North America, it's common to see the anime listed on "Gateway Series" lists for shoujo; however, the original light novels were published under the shōnen label Dengeki Bunko, and its manga adaptation was serialized in the shonen magazine Dengeki Daioh.
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- is a crossover of CLAMP's previous works, many of which are shoujo, and there's a lot of focus on Syaoran and Sakura's relationship. However, the manga itself is shonen, running in Weekly Shonen Magazine and having just as much action as romance.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: actually a mix of both shōjo and Shōnen genres, it features a shōjo heroine and a shōnen hero. This leads to there being two manga versions, one shōjo and one shōnen!
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Similarly to ARIA, it has elements of shōjo and the main character is female, but it's officially seinen.
  • Your Lie in April: At first glance, the manga and anime's art style definitely looks shōjoish but it's actually written and drawn by a male mangaka and was serialized in Kodansha's Monthly Shounen Magazine.

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