Culture

What Does Shoujo Mean in Anime?

If you watch a lot of Japanese anime, you may have heard a character used the word “shoujo” when speaking. Even if you’re more of a DUB fan, there’s still a chance you’ve come across this word before. But what does shoujo mean in anime?

To really answer that question, we’ll first want to take a look at the meaning at the word in Japanese. This will help clarify the following sections in today’s post when we switch things over to its meaning in anime and manga.

There’s actually a pretty good chance that you already have an idea of what it means, but let’s take an in depth look at it now.

The Japanese Word Shoujo

The Japanese word shoujo is spelled 少女 and means “little girl” or “maiden” when translated into English. This generally refers to an age range which can go from as low as grade school to as high as the end of high school.

In other words, girls in the 7 to 18 year old range can fall into this category of being a shoujo.

So, when people use this word while speaking Japanese, they are typically talking about adolescent girls in some way.

  • 少女たちに人気がある
  • shoujo tachi ni ninki ga aru
  • be popular among girls

(context.reverso.net)

So now that we know what this word means, the next part will make more sense.

Shoujo In Anime

When it comes to anime, the word shoujo refers to a specific type of genre. As I’m sure you can guess, the target market for shoujo anime is young girls in that age range (7-18) that was mentioned earlier.

This means that the story will be told through the view point of a young girl, and the story will typically focus on the things that appeal to them.

Some of these themes are young love, or more commonly someone’s “first love”, growing up, finding oneself, friendships with boys, friendships with other girls, and the like.

While most of these shows are going to fall into the setting of “slice of life” and take place during normal day-to-day school life, there are some more fantastical scenarios that are common for shoujo anime as well.

One of them is the well-known “magical girl” type of show such as the incredibly successful Salior Moon. For shows such as these, there are action elements with bad guys, mystery, and magical powers.

Interestingly enough, the girls must also balance their school life along with being a type of super hero in the show.

Sounds like a lot to juggle at once!

Shoujo in Manga

Much like the anime section above, shoujo in manga has to do with a particular type of story.

Whereas a boy’s anime (like shounen) would usually have a boy who is in a situation where a lot of different girls like him (harem type anime), in the girl’s version of this story there is usually several boys who are either vying for her attention, or they are around her a lot and there’s potential for them to get together.

For example, in Fruits Basket the main character Tohru Honda is an orphan who is homeless. She ends up living with some of her classmates in a house full of guys!

As the story progresses it focuses on her relationships with each of the boys, as well as their secret that she has to help maintain.

There are a couple of noticeable differences that I see between girl-manga like this and the guy-manga that you could compare them to.

The boy ones typically have more fighting or violence, whereas the girl ones tend to have more interpersonal conflicts like verbal fights and then later making up.

I’ve also noticed a difference in the art style between these two type of genres. I’m not entirely sure how to put the differences into words, but typically the characters in boy’s manga have more rounded features whereas the ones in the girl’s manga have longer, more narrow ones.

And for obvious reasons, there is often some type of nudity or awkward sexual situations in the boy’s shows, but that kind of stuff is typically left out of the girl’s shows.

Obviously these shoujo stories are designed to appeal to both a specific age group and gender, so if you are a girl that falls into the right age range then there is a good chance that you will enjoy these stories.

That being said, I have found the occasional shoujo manga/anime to be entertaining for guys as well. So, at least some of them have more universal appeal.

Examples?

If you’re looking to find some new and interesting shoujo manga (or anime) then I would highly recommend that you check out the genre section of it on My Anime List.

Click here to see the shoujo list.

You should be able to look through the hundreds of options available to you, read their synopsis, and then find out where you can get a copy to read them.

There are more manga stories to choose from than anime, but a lot of the more popular ones have been turned into a TV show, so there’s a good chance that the one you decide to read also has a show counterpart.

What Are Your Recommendations?

I’ve only talked about a few of the shoujo anime and manga that I am familiar with, but if you’ve got a favorite that you would like to recommend that other people check out, then please feel free to let us all know by leaving a comment down below.

As it turns out, back when I was a kid the only anime that I could watch was Dragon Ball Z and Salor Moon, so I actually did watch a lot of shoujo anime when I was younger.

While I don’t tend to watch them nowadays, I do have to admit that there are a lot that even a guy can enjoy, so don’t be afraid to give a couple shows a chance no matter who you are.

4 Comments

  • Marcus

    Hey Nick

    Big anime fan here, but didn’t know shoujo means girls. Although I haven’t had much time lately to watch anything, I did manage to squeeze in watching the second season of attack on titan though haha :p

    “Shoujo” kind of reminds me of strong South Korean alcohol lol, it is pronounced more like “shujiu” though.

    I have been coming back to your website several times over the past few months, and I really like stuff you creating here. So much good educational content presented in a funny and easy to understand way.

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey, glad you are enjoying it Marcus! 

      I have yet to watch Attack on Titan S2 yet! My little sister got my to watch the first season which was totally awesome, but I’ve been super lazy on my anime shows lately 🙁

  • Paul

    Great post on the Japanese language, Nick.

    I have always loved languages. I am very fascinated by the breakdown of words and how they come into existence.
    This is also an excellent means to learn about a culture. Thanks for the Anime/Manga lesson.
    A few days ago I learned the word ” kaizen ” and it is now part of my vocabulary.
    What was the hardest part of the language to learn? How long have you been learning Japanese?

    Paul

    • Nick Hoyt

      Hey Paul, probably the hardest part of learning a language is really just staying disciplined and working on it each and every day. I read that when you learn a new language, your brain literally opens up a new section in order to store all of the new information, so it’s no surprise that it can take a little while to get it down.

      That, plus the particular approach that you decide to use will also determine how long it takes you to learn. Some are obviously better than others. 

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