What is Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai?

This week, I’m going to continue my series on unknown genres, and this time I’m going to introduce two additional genres. So what are these two genres, I’m going to be talking about this week? They are two very similar genres, in my opinion, called Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai. 

To start off, what is Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai? If you remember, in two of my previous blogs, I already talked about Shojo and Shounen individually. Now I want you to throw all that knowledge out the window, because their Ai counterparts have almost nothing in common. Shojo Ai rarely has romance by itself, and Shounen Ai barely has any action. Instead, Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai focus on friendship, each with a different gender in mind. Shojo Ai is aimed a female audience, and it is essentially girls doing different activities ranging from sports to camping. There are almost no guys in these stories and romance is rarely touched upon. On the other hand, there is Shounen Ai, aimed at a male audience. Personally, I don’t read Shounen Ai as much compared to other genres, so my perception of the genre may be a bit skewed. Anyhow, the best way to describe Shounen Ai is the epitome of bromance. There will generally two or more men with a very close but non romantic relationship, and there will be no females in the main cast.

Now that I have explained what the two genres are, I’m going to explain how they are used. Generally, Shounen Ai and Shojo Ai are never the focus of the story themselves. Instead, there will almost always be another genre to drive the story like sports, music, or drama. Shounen Ai and Shojo Ai are more like an added bonus, ones that will naturally occur depending on the cast. For example, an author might start a manga without any aspects of Shojo Ai. However, by the time that main protagonist becomes good friends with the main cast (almost all girls), and no male lead has been seen, people will like start classifying it as Shojo Ai. 

Finally, we have arrived to the trends section of the blog. Unfortunately, because of my limited knowledge of Shounen Ai and Shojo Ai, I am only able to share one common trend between the two genres. The trend in question being clubs. I think I already talked about this in my slice of life blog, but this trend also frequently contains Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai. To be even more specific, the trend usually pairs the sports genre with Shounen Ai. For example, there be a group of male childhood friends that play basketball together, or something along those lines. With Shojo Ai, the types of genre become much more varied. However, the most common one I think I’ve seen paired is probably music. 

In the end, I hope this broadened your knowledge of Shounen Ai and Shojo Ai. These two genres are definitely not as popular as some of the other genres I’ve talked about. However, that’s part of the reason I wanted to talk about them, to spread a bit of awareness. Anyhow, next time I think I’ll cover Yuri and Yaoi, two similar genres to Shojo Ai and Shounen Ai respectively. However, this time around Yuri and Yaoi actually touches upon romantic relationships.

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