Shoujo or shojo (少女) is a manga genre designed for female teenagers and readers. Most shojo manga has flowery aesthetics, sparkle effects, nebulous fractals and characters possessing glistening wide eyes. The shojo genre covers broad subjects in varying narrative styles. Some of the themes that shojo manga cover are historical, fantasy, science fiction, horror, gag and real life. Shojo manga emphasizes romantic relationships, as well as human emotion. Some of the most beloved shojo series for the past decades are Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Kimi No Todoke (From Me To You) and Ouran High School Club.
The kanji 少女 comprises of two kanji: 少 (shou) or young, and 女 (jyo) or girl. The common pronunciation of 女 is onna. It was based from the Middle Chinese term “shàonǚ” or young girl. Shojo in Japanese also means young girl.
According to Rachel Matt Thorn’s online article “Shoujo Mangatte, Doko Kara Kita No? Part 1” (“Where Did Shojo Manga Came From? Part 1), the production of manga began in the 18th century. At first, it has very broad audience coverage. The manga publishing industry eventually blossomed in 1908 and started categorizing genres. One of the first shojo magazine published was Shojo Sekai, the sister magazine of Shonen Sekai. Shojo Sekai had a lengthy run from 1906 to 1931.
Some of the key artists who influenced the shojo manga’s overall art style were Yumeji Takehisa, Jun’ichi Nakahara and Makoto Takahashi. Earlier shojo manga had single pages in the 1910s, then it featured humor strips in the 1930s. World War II may have affected the production of shojo manga, but Osamu Tezuka’s Ribon no Kishi (リボンの騎士) or Princess Knight revolutionized the shojo narrative. Stories became more dramatic and intense compared to older humor strips.
Hideko Mizuno, the author of Fire! and Honey Honey no Suteki na Bouken, made the wide-eyes artstyle very popular in the 1960s. Shojo manga at that time was competing against the prominence of shonen manga. It eventually gained steady growth through the decades. A collective group of female mangaka, called Hana no Nijūyo-nen Gumi (花の24年組), shaped the shojo manga genre. Inspired by the radical ideas of the 1960s, as well as Western culture, these artists explored genres that were not tackled by traditional manga. Women at that time were having higher roles in society. Some of the key mangakas of the said group were Moto Hagio, Keiko Takemiya, Riyoko Ikeda, Sumika Yamamoto and Yumiko Oshima. Their works tackled new ideas regarding sexuality and gender. They would also incorporate genres like adventure, historical drama, mahou shojo, science fiction and even homosexuality. These stories challenged traditions that society has upheld for years.
Shojo in Modern Times
Western countries like America and Europe are the most receptive to shojo manga. They did have difficulty in distinguishing shojo manga from other manga genres because of cultural differences. Western publishers eventually produced their own shojo manga. Modern shojo manga has lesser sexual content. Female readers are showing interest with shonen manga as well. Amateur and professional mangaka publish their work online and readers can access them on mobile devices.
Shojo titles in the Manga Planet Library
The anthology lauded by Toward the Terra’s Keiko Takemiya as “A manga much like a pomegranate, that brings forth different flavors the more you chew on it, with a dry first bite and a juicy inside.” A world where reality gets entangled with illusion and human emotions get entangled with evil spirits gets brought to life in Fumi Shimomura’s pseudo-historic horror stories. Includes six stand-alone short stories – “Hana Gurui”, “The Grave of Butterflies”, “Neck”, “Water God”, and the previously unpublished “Revival” and “Demon Dance”.
Thorn, Rachel Matt (June 19, 2018). https://www.matt-thorn.com/. “少女マンガって、どこから来たの？Part 1”, Retrieved 11 January 2020
Schodt, Frederik L., 1986, Manga! Manga!: The World of Japanese Comics, chapter 3, pp. 68-87
Thorn, Rachel Matt (May 31, 2017).https://www.en.matt-thorn.com/, The Magnificent Forty-Niners, Retrieved 21 January 2020
Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/少女漫画, Retrieved 21 January 2020
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In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. With the goal of bringing new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription based service.
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