The Meaning of Shoujo: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of shoujo? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the Japanese word shoujo, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does shoujo mean?

According to Japanese Tactics, Amino Apps and Fanlore, shoujo is a Japanese word that means little girl or maiden. In Japanese, this word is spelled  少女. This refers to a young girl ranging in age from elementary to high school. Shoujo is also a specific genre of anime and manga. Shoujo anime has a target demographic of girls in the shoujo age range, from ages seven to eighteen. These stories are usually told through the perspective of a young girl and focus on themes surrounding first love, growing up, friendship, and other slice of life themes. Some of the shoujo anime also follow a type of “magical girl” setup, like the show Sailor Moon. In these shoujo anime, the lead heroine battles bad guys, solves mysteries, and often has magical powers. Often, the lead girl also has to balance regular life with being a superhero. These series of anime and manga often focus on romantic relationships as well as interpersonal conflict. One is more likely to see romance presented in a shoujo series than other types of anime and manga.

Another type of anime called shounen ai developed out of shoujo in the 1970s. Shounen ai anime and manga feature male/male relationships and are aimed at girls and young women as audiences. While this is considered a separate demographic, some people do consider this a subset of the shoujo genre. 

Shoujo is not to be confused with shonen or seinen, another type of anime and manga. According to CBR, seinen anime is targeted at children of any gender. However, shoujo and shounen anime are both very popular while having many differences. The protagonists in shonen are usually young men. Shounen is targeted toward young boys in a similar age range as shoujo, so it makes sense that they would have a male protagonist, like in Pokémon, Dragon Ball or Naruto. Shojo anime has more of a focus on romance, but this does not necessarily mean that it is fully absent in shonen. 

In both the shoujo and shonen categories of anime and manga, there are large dramatic events. In shonen, this usually culminates in fights or action sequences, while in shoujo, the drama will be more melodramatic and follow emotional conflict between the female characters. Shounen often focuses on friendships while shojo focuses on romance and being true to yourself. While friendships are still important in shoujo, the romance is definitely at the forefront of the story. Even the art differs slightly between shoujo and shonen. In shonen, the art is bold and action-heavy, with heightened shading to represent moods and emotions. In shoujo, backgrounds will be more detailed and there will be all-around softer designs. 

The designs between the male and female characters are also different in shoujo and shonen anime. In Shoujo, the female characters have large, sparkly eyes and are smaller in build, and the men are tall and slender with handsome faces. In shounen, the men are much more muscular, and the women often have exaggerated curves and physical features. Shounen is also much more action-heavy than shoujo. While one might see some action sequences in magical girl shoujo series, it is very different to the hand to hand combat that one might see in shounen. Overall, shoujo focuses much more on evoking emotion in its audience whereas shounen focuses on a fighting spirit. 

Overall, shoujo anime series have a female audience ranging in age from seven to eighteen, roughly. However, these anime series are watched by many adult women anime fans as well. Here, the main character is usually female. These series focus on interpersonal conflict less so than action, and also usually have a heavy focus on romance more so than other genres of anime and manga. This is an extremely popular genre and a great place to start if you are interested in watching anime or reading manga!

What are examples of shoujo anime and manga?

There are many different shoujo anime and manga series, as this is one of the most popular genres for young readers and anime watchers in Japan. There are many great shoujo anime series and manga series out there, but these lists are a great place to start, from CBR and My Anime List

Manga:

  • Anonymous Noise
  • Aoba-Kun’s Confessions
  • Wolf Girl and Black Prince
  • Kira-Kun Today
  • Kiss Him, Not Me!
  • Ghost Hunt
  • Last Game
  • Blue Spring Ride
  • HoriMiya
  • Orange

Anime:

  • Special A
  • Ore Monogatari!!
  • Akatsuki no Yona
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Nana
  • Natsume Yuujinchou
  • Ao Haru Ride
  • Sukitte li na yo
  • Lovely Complex
  • Fruits Basket
  • Vampire Knight
  • Kimi ni Todoke
  • Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
  • Kaichou wa Maid-sama!
  • Ouran Koukou Host Club (Ouran High School Host Club)
  • My Hero Academia

Overall, the word shoujo, sometimes spelled as shōjo manga and anime refer to a subgenre of anime and manga in which the target demographic is young girls from the ages of seven to eighteen. These anime and manga series often feature a young girl as the protagonist in slice of life scenarios. Sometimes, these “normal” problems are featured in juxtaposition to “magical girl” problems, such as in the famous series Sailor Moon. Watching shoujo anime will be sure to present you with an entertaining series with a female protagonist. This might be set in a normal world or a supernatural one, but you are sure to be entertained by the romance and interpersonal conflict throughout the series. Shoujo is an incredibly popular genre for a good reason. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.cbr.com/greatest-shoujo-manga-decade-2010s-goodreads/
  2. https://myanimelist.net/featured/1567/Top_15_Best_Shoujo_Anime_of_All_Time
  3. https://aminoapps.com/c/anime/page/blog/the-difference-between-shoujo-shounen/2gtN_um67vwV7b8vdqqL06vlxzgjqx
  4. https://japanesetactics.com/what-does-shoujo-mean-in-anime
  5. https://fanlore.org/wiki/Shoujo
  6. https://www.cbr.com/shonen-shojo-differences/