If you’re into anime (and manga), then you’ve no doubt come across the word shoujo before. You might have an inkling of what it means based on the types of anime that typically get put into this category, but what does shoujo mean in Anime?
It means GIRLS!!!
Haha, but no really. Let’s take a look into the word and what kinds of elements comprise this genre of anime.
The Word and the Kanji
The word shoujo is comprised of two separate kanji that are combined together to form a compound word.
The first kanji is 少 which means “few, little” when used as its own word like 少し sukoshi. But when 少 is used as a prefix to modify the word that follows it, the pronunciation changes to shou.
So there’s the first half of the word.
The second kanji is 女 which means “women, female” and is pronounced onna on its own, but of course the way you say it changes to jo when it is used in conjunction with other kanji.
Therefore, the word 少女 shoujo means “little woman” which is really just another way of saying “girl” in English. The age range is typically from age 7-18.
As you can see, this is different from the word 女の子 onna no ko which just means “girl” as 少女 refers to a specific age range or type of girl.
Related: What Does seinen Mean in Anime?
So 少女アニメ shoujo anime (or 少女漫画 shoujo manga) is a genre that is targeted at young girls who enjoy watching anime.
What is it that young girls are into?
Well, 少女 usually has a strong focus on the human and romantic relationships that are in an anime’s story and the accompanying emotions that the characters feel.
It is usually a slice of life type of story where the main girl is in middle school or high school, but it’s not limited to just that. It can have magical powers or an unusual twist to it, and still be considered shoujo.
Here’s a great video (about two and a half minutes long) from Crunchyroll’s Anime Academy that talks about shoujo, how it can morph into other genres rather easily, and some examples of good shoujo.
Really cool! I think the whole Anime Academy series is great and would encourage all anime fans to check it out.
Further Examples of shoujo
You’ll notice that the “shou” in “shoujo” has an elongated “o” sound in it. A Japanese person would notice right away if someone said the word without that extra “o” but someone who’s new to Japanese might not and accidentally say it as just “shojo.”
It’s not really a big deal, but the word shojo, written with the kanji 処女, actually means “virgin” in Japanese. So just be aware of the two words.
- 少女 (shoujo) = Young girl
- 処女 (shojo) = Virgin
Anyway, the word 少女 gets used all the time in real life
Ano kawaii shoujo wa watashi no imouto desu.
That cute girl is my little sister.
Watashi wa sono shoujo o shitte imasu.
I know that girl.
Shounen shoujo tachi ga toori de pareedo shite ita.
Boys and girls were parading along the street.
- 少女小説 (shoujo shousetsu) = Stories for young girls.
And finally, if you want to talk about women that are older than the 少女 age range, you would use the word 女性 josei.
Dansei yori josei no hou ga chouseiki suru.
Women live longer than men.
And now you know all about the word 少女 and the type of anime that can be considered shoujo.
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