What is Shoujo

So a week or two ago, I talked about Isekai, a popular genre in Japan. At the end of that blog, I suggested I might make a series talking about genres unknown to western culture. Because nothing that interesting happened this week, I’m going to continue that series by talking about a different kind of genre. This time around, I’ll be talking about one of my favourites, Shoujo.

So, what is Shoujo? Thankfully, it’s a lot more simpler than Isekai, so I won’t need to split this up into two blogs. Basically, the definition of Shoujo in manga or anime generally aimed at a young female audience. Meaning, most of the genre is primarily romantic in nature. So what makes this genre any different from the romance genre? Well, to be honest I’m not quite sure myself. However, the way I look at it is that Shoujo is a subset of romance. Generally, these Shoujo manga/anime are more fantastical and unrealistic. More often than not, these pieces of media have the primary ship end up together, and there will always be a fairy tale ending. To put it in simple words, it’s a modern fairy tale. On the other hand, there is Josei which tends to be a bit more realistic. For now, I’ll just be talking about Shoujo. It’s just easier to view Shoujo and Josei as subsets of romance. 

Next, I want to talk about why people read Shoujo. Well, I don’t know about other people, but I read it because it’s like an escape. It is meant to be unrealistically sappy and cutesy. It’s like asking why people read science-fiction. However unlike science-fiction, it’s not the world that’s unrealistic, but the relationships. Shoujo manga and anime can have amazing characters with great depth and personalities. What I mean in terms of unrealistic, is the fact that the plot will ignore certain social norms so characters can be together. This is the escape aspect in all its glory, because of the world’s social norms, it really is hard for a Shoujo plot to actually happen in real life. So when we read about it, there is that same disconnect that makes fairy tales so appealing. 

Finally, I talk about some of the trends and plots that usually appear in Shoujo manga/anime. First, Shoujo is very flexible and can go along with almost any other genre. For example, the Isekai genre I just talked about a few weeks ago, can incorporate aspects of Shoujo. The only genre I can think of off the top of my head that will conflict with Shoujo is tragedy. However, because there is so much ground to cover, I’ll just be covering the plots that centre around Shoujo and it’s not merged with a subplot.

The first plot type I want to talk about is rich and poor. Typically, these plots will have a rich guy and a poor girl and they break social norms together. The reason I’m so specific with the guy being rich and the girl being poor is because it’s almost always true. During my entire time reading Shoujo manga I don’t think I’ve seen a rich girl and a poor guy. Still, there still might be an exception out there so I won’t say anything with absolute certainty. Another quirk about this kind of plot is that the setting is usually in a medieval world or in a high school. Rarely does Shoujo step outside these bounds, because then it starts entering Josei territory. 

Next, I want to talk about a plot that I’ve seen a lot recently. In this plot, the characters involved usually have very different ages. For example, a recent manga I read had the age difference between two characters be 24 years. An added point for this kind of story, is that this can easily be a Josei plot as well. The difference being that in a Shoujo manga the author will have the two character fall in love, while in a Josei plot there will likely be a compromise or even a bitter sweet ending. 

In the end, I really like Shoujo manga/anime. It’s a modern fairy tale and I just love the concept. Perhaps next week, I’ll be talking about Josei? 

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