Shonen? Shojo? What are these terms? Put simply, they’re Anime and Manga types!
There are a lot of terms thrown around in the anime and manga world. Five terms you are bound to come across are Kodomomuke, Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, and Josei. These are used to categorize types of anime and manga for different demographics.
Below are these five groups with more information on each, including some notable anime and manga examples that fit into the category. Over the years the definitions may have changed a bit, but the creators and publishers still use these terms to market their material to the different demographics.
Kodomomuke (子供向け) is used to categorize anime or manga aimed at children up to pre-teens. In fact, the word Kodomo means children and Muke means for or toward, so Kodomomuke pretty much means for children.
As you would expect, many Kodomomuke anime and manga have simplistic, non-episodic stories with good morals. Kodomomuke anime or manga may be cute in style like Hello Kitty, or it can be more adventurous like Doraemon and Pokemon; however, the lines sometimes get blurred into the older age groups with some anime and manga like Pokemon.
Shounen (少年), also written as Shōnen and Shonen, is used to categorize anime or manga commonly aimed at young men in their teens, though they generally appeal to a larger audience. In fact, the word Shounen means boy or young person.
This type of anime and manga typically have teenage males in the lead role, and feature a lot of action and comedic plots. Often times female characters give a lot of fan service, or are portrayed with exaggerated proportions. Of course, over the years things have changed and Shounen anime and manga don’t always follow these parameters. The anime and manga considered Shounen are probably the most mainstream when compared to the other types. Notable examples include Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, InuYasha, Attack on Titan, and One Piece.
Shoujo (少女), also written as Shōjo and Shojo, is used to categorize anime or manga commonly aimed at young women in their teens. In fact, the word Shoujo means girl.
This type of anime and manga typically have teenage females in the lead role, and feature stories with romance and drama. Those that feature male main character often have homoerotic narratives. However, like with Shounen, Shoujo anime and manga don’t always follow these specific points. These days many Shoujo anime and manga cover various genres and may even feature a ton of action. Notable examples of Shoujo anime and manga include: Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Lovely Complex, and Clannad.
Seinen (青年) is used to categorize anime or manga commonly aimed at men 15 and up who can read a large variety of Kanji (for Manga). The word Seinen actually means young man or youth.
This type of anime and manga may feature a wide variety of story lines and genres, but what makes it different from the other types is the stronger sexual tone and adult language (profanity). Of course, there are limits to the adult content, it doesn’t get as bad as Doujinshi can. Notable examples of Seinen anime and manga include: Akira, Battle Royale, Berserk, and Ghost in the Shell.
Josei (女性) is used to categorize anime or manga commonly aimed at women 15 and up who can read a large variety of Kanji (for Manga). In fact, the word Josei means woman or feminine.
This type of anime and manga generally features romance stories with a much more realistic or mature tone not seen in the glamorized Shoujo counterpart. However, like in Shoujo anime and manga, Josei may feature a lot of homoerotic content; Although, in recent years Josei stories have become much more diverse. Notable examples of Josei anime and manga include: Nana, Loveless, Honey and Clover, and 07-Ghost.
I hope this article helped clear things up. You can find more explanations of terms just like this in my growing Otaku Encyclopedia. What’s your favorite anime and manga type? Do you have one?