Several different kinds of genres within anime typically try to appease diverse audiences. Shojo and shonen are two of the most popular genre—albeit they are actually demographics—along with seinen, josei, and kodomomuke, meaning “for children” anime. Shojo and shonen are the most common of the bunch and often are two sides of the same coin.

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There are many differences between both that make them stand apart from one another. Shojo is “young girl,” and shonen is “young boy” in Japanese—and fans can usually tell which is one of them. Here are 10 differences between the two.

10 Protagonist In Shojo Are Mostly Young Women, While Shonen Typically Follow Young Men

The protagonists of both genre greatly differ. In Shojo anime and manga, the main protagonist is usually a doe-eyed female, typically in middle or high school. Throughout the story, the female lead blossoms either physically or mentally to become her most loving self as she falls in love with the male protagonist of the series. In shonen, the protagonist is typically a young boy, about middle or high school age and a ton of courage and a heart of gold, like Naruto or Tanjiro in Demon Slayer. It has also been a recent trend in shonen comedies that a female with takes the leading role, such as with Keijo!!!!!!!!

9 The Focus On Romance Is Greater In Shojo, But Not Totally Absent In Shonen

Romance shojo vs shonen

While romantic subplots are actually pretty common in shonen anime and manga, it definitely takes a leading role in a shojo series. Romance in shonen usually comes secondary to the main plot of the series. For example, in Naruto, the romance is spread thin only to imply which characters will end up with whom in the end, or My Hero Academia, where it is implied that Midoriya and Uraraka have feelings for one another, though it is rarely a focus. With shojo, however, the romance tends to be the entire plot. In anime such as Ouran High School Host Club, the developing romance between the main two characters is the central goal, while in Fruits Basket, Tohru is often driven by her feelings, and love develops through her friendships with the Somas.

8 Drama Between Shonen And Shojo Differ From High-Stakes Adventures, To Real Life Situations

Fruits Basket Tohru Akito Momiji Drama Cropped

Both forms of anime and manga have some kinds of drama, but they greatly differ between shojo and shonen. In shonen, drama usually unfolds into fighting or action sequences and might be extreme such as the death of a character or return of a villain.

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In shojo, drama usually mimics soap operas and everyday high school drama, such as jealousy, misunderstanding, and problems in friendships and relationships. Drama usually is followed by tears or a verbal argument before the pairing or duo make up.

7 Shonen Focuses On Friendships And Courage, While Shojo Focuses On Romance And Being True To One’s Self

One Piece Straw Hat Pirates

Shonen usually focuses on the positivity of all forms. When the main protagonist is losing, they refuse to give up and will continue to stand and fight. Shonen focuses on friendships and using that bond to conquer all evil. One Piece is an excellent example of this, as the Straw Hat crew constantly battle against their foes together as a team.

Shojo, on the other hand, focus more on romantic relationships. Friendships are also important in the genre as friends usually help the female lead with their woes. Still, those friendships aren’t what ultimately saves the day. The feelings the protagonist feels for her crush/significant other or the raw feelings she feels for her friends.

6 The Targeted Audiences For Both Genres Is From The Names — Shojo For Young Girls, Shonen For Young Boys

Shojo Shonen Targeted Audience

As mentioned, the targeted audience for both has a lot to do with translating for both of the words the genres derive from. Shonen anime and manga are usually targeted towards young boys between the ages of 12 and 18, while shojo is in the same age range but for girls. This being said, neither genre is exclusive to boys or girls as all genders greatly enjoy both. Everyone definitely loves shonen and shojo; however, originally, the themes of each derived from who the anime were targeting.

5 Art In Shojo Is Typically More Detailed & Cute, While Art In Shonen Is Bold And Has More Shading

Shonen and Shojo art

Art is also very different in both forms. The difference in background design and the art style is a bit more apparent in the manga than in anime. Typically, shojo manga is a lot more detailed than shonen. Each panel is totally fleshed out, the characters are drawn in great detail, and there will typically be some softer background designs. In shonen, manga art typically goes straight to the point. The shading will be much more heightened to represent different moods and emotions, but the overall art will showcase the characters or main focus rather than the background.

4 Character Design For Men And Women In Shojo And Shonen Are Based On The Targeted Audiences

Shonen vs Shojo Character Design

On top of art differences, character design is also a common difference. In shojo, female characters usually have large, sparkly eyes that twinkle whenever they see their crush, and they will usually be small overall. The male protagonists in shojo usually are tall and super slender, focusing dominantly on the handsome face.

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In shonen, male characters are usually way more muscular, no matter their height, with usually simple faces but unique hair or features. This could be represented in Kuroko no Basket, where every “special” character with a unique skill has anime colored hair, such as green or blue instead of a normal and typically brown or black. Females are also often exaggerated, with curves and psychical features highlighted.

3 Fan Service Is Way More Common In Shonen Than Shojo

Shonen vs Shojo Fan Service

Fan service differs greatly between the two genres and is a lot more common in shonen than in shojo. In shojo, fan service may be more aligned with the main couple teasing one another with an almost kiss, seeing the male lead shirtless, or having a romantic and flirty moment. In shonen, beach episodes and bathhouse scenes are the most common fan service types, showcasing the male characters seeing the female characters nude or near-nude.

2 Shonen Is Typically Action Heavy, While It Is Very Minimal In Shojo

Hunter X Hunter Hisoka vs Gon

Action is a huge part of shonen anime and manga, in all of its forms. In typical shonen series, such as Hunter x Hunter or Dragon Ball, action could mean a fight between two characters, or in sports anime, like Haikyuu!!, it can be a game between two opposing teams. Shonen typically goes from one big action sequence to the next, leading up in between until the end of the series. In shojo, the action is very different. Sailor Moon, and all other magical girls shojo series, have actual fight scenes using special powers to combat against their enemies. But in regular romance shojo, the most action fans will see would probably be a slap between the female lead either dishes out or receives.

1 Shonen Is All About Having Fighting Spirit, But Shojo Focuses On Envoking Emotion In Its Audience

Shonen vs Shojo Fighting Spirit and Fluff

Fighting spirit is probably the most common trope of shonen anime and manga and makes fans so drawn to the genre. It is that hype sensation when things are going on that pulls readers and viewers in. When characters don’t back down, or protagonists do something super cool and unique. Fighting spirit makes a shonen anime so approachable and loved and some of the most popular series, Naruto, One Piece, Haikyuu!! We are all known for that spirit. In shojo, what typically keeps readers and viewers hooked are the fluffy, romantic feelings that come from the main relationship and the excitement of seeing it unfold. The fluff makes fans want to keep consuming the content to see how the story will end and if the characters will have a happy ending.

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