Shojo is one of the two major female demographics of anime and manga in Japan, the other being Josei. Shojo targets young girls and unmarried young women from roughly age 10 upwards, whereas josei targets more mature-minded young women who are professional, in university, or married.
Genres and features
The shojo demographic has much higher circulation, and therefore more commercial translation and marketing in the Western world. Shojo stories tend to be defined by a focus on personal growth and emotional exploration of the relationships between characters. In general, compared to josei shojo works are more light-hearted, optimistic, and less sexual. The specifics naturally depend on the limitations each publication sets for its series.
Shojo is known as the demographic with the most focus on relationship drama stories. Other genres it frequently displays are slice-of-life, low fantasy (especially with magical girls), romantic comedy, and gag series.
The art style is typically highly aesthetic, very detailed, highly stylised, light in shade, and romantic. Character designs are perhaps more standardised than with any other style, with great focus on what is considered standard of youthful attractiveness and relatableness.
The shojo demographic is generally willing to explore a number of uncomfortable or taboo subjects that are unusual or hard to find in other media, such as:
- exploration of gender roles
- gender alteration
- incest and other abuse
This exploration is not always feminist in nature, which can be frustrating. However, feminism does appear in places, sometimes where it's least expected.
Some scholars trace the origins of many of the standards of shojo to the works of Yoshiya Nobuko, a lesbian author whose works included Hana Monogatari, a series of stories about romantic friendships between young women. Many of the themes of her work, including same-sex relationships, flowers, and schoolgirls, show up in modern shojo anime and manga. Even the art used to illustrate her stories, which was often modeled on the long, slender, attenuated figures of French illustration styles in the 1910s and 1920s, has influenced shojo art standards.