Shōjo manga

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A simple four-panel manga from the November 1910 issue of Shojo magazine (artist unknown) Shoujo November 1910 with translation.jpg
A simple four-panel manga from the November 1910 issue of Shōjo magazine (artist unknown)
A page from Katsuji Matsumoto's groundbreaking 1934 shojo manga series The Mysterious Clover Nazo no clover page 7.jpg
A page from Katsuji Matsumoto's groundbreaking 1934 shōjo manga series The Mysterious Clover

Shōjo manga (少女漫画), also romanized as shojo or shoujo, are Japanese comics aimed at a young teen female target-demographic readership. The name romanizes the word 少女 ( shōjo ), literally meaning "young woman". Shōjo manga covers many subjects in a variety of narrative styles, from historical drama to science fiction, often with a focus on romantic relationships or emotions. [1]


Strictly speaking, however, shōjo manga does not comprise a style or genre, but rather indicates a target demographic. [2] [3]


Shōjo magazines

Japanese magazines specifically for girls, known as shōjo magazines, first appeared in 1902 with the founding of Shōjo-kai (少女界, lit. "Girls' World") and continued with others such as Shōjo Sekai (少女世界, lit. "Girls' World") (1906) and the long-running Shōjo no Tomo (少女の友, lit. "Girls' Friend") (1908). [2] [4]

The roots of the wide-eyed look commonly associated with shōjo manga date back to shōjo magazine illustrations during the early 20th century. The most important illustrators associated with this style at the time were Yumeji Takehisa and particularly Jun'ichi Nakahara, who, influenced by his work as a doll creator, frequently drew female characters with big eyes in the early 20th century. This had a significant influence on early shōjo manga, evident in the work of influential manga artists such as Macoto Takahashi and Riyoko Ikeda. [5]

Simple, single-page manga began to appear in these magazines by 1910, and by the 1930s more sophisticated humor-strips had become an essential feature of most girls' magazines. The most popular manga, Katsuji Matsumoto's Kurukuru Kurumi-chan (くるくるクルミちゃん), debuted on the pages of Shōjo no Tomo in 1938. [6] The Second Sino-Japanese War which began in 1937 caused paper shortages, and many of the girls' magazines merged or ceased publication. [7] As World War II progressed, however, "comics, perhaps regarded as frivolous, began to disappear". [8]

1950s and 1960s

Postwar shōjo manga, such as Shosuke Kurakane's popular Anmitsu Hime (あんみつ姫, lit. "Princess Anmitsu"), [9] initially followed the pre-war pattern of simple humor-strips. But Osamu Tezuka's postwar revolution, introducing intense drama and serious themes to children's manga, spread quickly to shōjo manga, particularly after the enormous success of his seminal Princess Knight (リボンの騎士, Ribon no Kishi). [8]

Until the mid-1960s, men vastly outnumbered the women (for example: Toshiko Ueda, Hideko Mizuno, Masako Watanabe, and Miyako Maki) among the artists working on shōjo manga. Many male manga artists, such as Tetsuya Chiba, [10] functioned as rookies, waiting for an opportunity to move over to shōnen ("boys'") manga. Chiba asked his wife about girls' feelings for research for his manga. At this time, conventional job opportunities for Japanese women did not include becoming a manga artist. [11] Adapting Tezuka's dynamic style to shōjo manga (which had always been domestic in nature) proved challenging. According to Rachel Thorn:

While some chose to simply create longer humor-strips, others turned to popular girls' novels of the day as a model for melodramatic shōjo manga. These manga featured sweet, innocent pre-teen heroines, torn from the safety of family and tossed from one perilous circumstance to another, until finally rescued (usually by a kind, handsome young man) and re-united with their families. [12]

These early shōjo manga almost invariably had pre-adolescent girls as both heroines and readers. Unless they used a fantastic setting (as in Princess Knight) or a backdrop of a distant time or place, romantic love for the heroine remained essentially taboo. But the average age of the readership rose, and its interests changed. In the mid-1960s one of the few female artists in the field, Yoshiko Nishitani, began to draw stories featuring contemporary Japanese teenagers in love. This signaled a dramatic transformation of the genre. [13] [14] This may have been due to the baby boomers becoming teens, and the industry trying to keep them as readers. [14]

Between 1950 and 1969, increasingly large audiences for manga emerged in Japan with the solidification of its two main marketing genres, shōnen manga aimed at adolescent boys and shōjo manga aimed at adolescent girls. [1] [8] These romantic comedy shōjo manga were inspired by American TV dramas of the time. [15] The debut of teenage girl mangaka Machiko Satonaka (1964) meant that becoming a mangaka was something that girls could now aspire to. [16] The success of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the gold medal won by the Japan women's national volleyball team, influenced a series of sports shōjo manga, such as Attack No. 1 (アタックNo.1, Atakku Nanbā Wan) (1968-1970). [17] On December 5, 1966, the first shōjo anime series, Sally the Witch (魔法使いサリー, Mahōtsukai Sarī), premiered in Japan on NET TV. [18] In May 1967, shōjo manga began being published in tankōbon format. [17] By the end of the 1960s, shōjo manga had had a generational and gender shift - it was now a genre for girls, by girls. [17]


Between roughly 1969 and 1971, a flood of young female manga artists transformed the genre again. Some, including Moto Hagio, Yumiko Ōshima, and Keiko Takemiya, became known as the Year 24 Group (24年組, Nijūyo-nen Gumi), or the Fabulous Year 24 Group (花の24年組, Hana no Nijūyo-nen Gumi), so named from the approximate year of birth many of them shared: Shōwa 24, or 1949. This loosely defined group experimented with content and form, inventing such subgenres such as shōnen-ai (lit. "boy love"), and earning the long-maligned shōjo manga unprecedented critical praise. [19] Other female artists of the same generation, such as Riyoko Ikeda, Yukari Ichijo, and Sumika Yamamoto, garnered unprecedented popular support with such hits (respectively) as The Rose of Versailles (ベルサイユのばら, Berusaiyu no Bara), Designer (デザイナー, Dezainaa), and Aim for the Ace! (エースをねらえ!, Ēsu o Nerae!). [1] [2] [13] [14] [8] [20] [21] [ volume & issue needed ] During that era, women's roles in Japanese society were changing, and women were being elected to the National Diet, and publishers responded by employing more female talent. [14] Since the mid-1970s, women have created the vast majority of shōjo manga; notable exceptions include Mineo Maya and Shinji Wada.

After 1975

From 1975, shōjo manga continued to develop stylistically while simultaneously branching out into different but overlapping subgenres. [22] Meiji University professor Yukari Fujimoto writes that during the 1990s, shōjo manga became concerned with self-fulfillment. She intimates that the Gulf War influenced the development of female characters "who fight to protect the destiny of a community", such as Red River , Basara , Magic Knight Rayearth , and Sailor Moon . Fujimoto opines that the shōjo manga of the 1990s depicted emotional bonds between women as stronger than the bonds between a man and a woman. [23] Major subgenres include romance, science fiction, fantasy, magical girls, yaoi , and "ladies' comics" (in Japanese, redisuレディース, redikomiレディコミ, and josei女性). [24] [25]

Meaning and spelling

As shōjo literally means "girl" in Japanese, the equivalent of the Western usage will generally include the term: girls' manga (少女漫画, shōjo manga), or anime for girls (少女向けアニメ shōjo-muke anime). The parallel terms shōnen , seinen , and josei also occur in the categorization of manga and anime, with similar qualification. Though the terminology originates with the Japanese publishers and advertisers, [26] cultural differences with the West mean that labeling in English tends to vary wildly, with the types often confused and misapplied.

Due to vagaries in the romanization of Japanese, publishers may transcribe 少女 (written しょうじょ in hiragana ) in a wide variety of ways. By far the most common form, shoujo[ citation needed ], follows English phonology [ citation needed ], preserves the spelling, and requires only ASCII input. The Hepburn romanization shōjo uses a macron for the long vowel, though the prevalence of Latin-1 fonts often results in a circumflex instead, as in shôjo. Many English-language texts just ignore long vowels, using shojo, potentially leading to confusion with 処女 ( shojo , lit. "virgin") as well as other possible meanings. Finally, transliterators may use Nihon-shiki -type mirroring of the kana spelling: syôjyo, or syoujyo.

Circulation figures

The reported average circulations for some of the top-selling shōjo manga magazines in 2007 included:

TitleReported circulationFirst published
Ciao 982,8341977
Nakayoshi 400,0001954
Ribon 376,6661955
Bessatsu Margaret 320,0001964
Hana to Yume 226,8261974
Cookie 200,0001999
Deluxe Margaret181,6661967
Margaret 177,9161963
LaLa 170,8331976
Cheese! 144,7501996

For comparison, circulations for the top-selling magazines in other categories for 2007 included:

CategoryMagazine TitleReported Circulation
Top-selling shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump 2,778,750
Top-selling seinen manga magazine Young Magazine 981,229
Top-selling josei manga magazine You 194,791
Top-selling non-manga magazineMonthly the Television1,018,919

(Source for all circulation figures: Japan Magazine Publishers Association [27] )

Shōjo magazines in Japan

In a strict sense, the term "shōjo manga" refers to a manga serialized in a shōjo manga magazine. The list below contains past and current Japanese shōjo manga magazines, grouped according to their publishers. Such magazines can appear on a variety of schedules, including bi-weekly ( Margaret , Hana to Yume , Shōjo Comic ), monthly ( Ribon , Bessatsu Margaret , Bessatsu Friend , LaLa ), bi-monthly (Deluxe Margaret, LaLa DX , The Dessert), and quarterly (Cookie Box, Unpoko).





Akita Shoten

Kadokawa Shoten

Web magazine


Outside Japan

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Toku, Masami, ed. (2005). "Shojo Manga: Girl Power!". Chico Statements Magazine. California State University, Chico. ISBN   1-886226-10-5. Archived from the original on October 10, 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 Thorn, Rachel (2001). "Shôjo Manga – Something for the Girls". The Japan Quarterly. Tokyo: Asahi Shimbun. 48 (3). Archived from the original on February 19, 2007.
  3. Thorn, Rachel (2004). "What Shôjo Manga Are and Are Not: A Quick Guide for the Confused". Archived from the original on November 18, 2015.
  4. 明治~昭和 少女雑誌のご紹介 [Meiji – Shōwa: An Introduction to Girls' Magazines]. Kikuyō Town Library. Kikuyō, Kumamoto, Japan. Archived from the original on November 4, 2019.
  5. Masuda, Nozomi (June 5, 2015). "Shojo Manga and its Acceptance: What is the Power of Shojo Manga?". In Toku, Masami (ed.). International Perspectives on Shojo and Shojo Manga: The Influence of Girl Culture. New York: Routledge. p. 24. ISBN   978-1-138-80948-2.
  6. Thorn, Rachel. "Pre-World War II Shôjo Manga and Illustrations". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  7. Maser, Verena (2013). "Beautiful and Innocent: Female Same-Sex Intimacy in the Japanese Yuri Genre" (PDF). University of Trier Department of Linguistics, Literature and Media Studies (PhD thesis): 46.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. 1 2 3 4 Schodt, Frederik L. (January 25, 2013) [First published in 1983]. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. New York: Kodansha USA. ISBN   978-1-56836-476-6.
  9. Yonezawa, Yoshihiro, ed. (1991). Kodomo no Shōwa-shi: Shōjo Manga no Sekai I, Shōwa 20 nen – 37 nen子供の昭和史──少女マンガの世界 I 昭和20年〜37年[A Children's History of Showa-Era Japan: The World of Shōjo Manga I, 1945–1962]. Bessatsu Taiyō (in Japanese). Tokyo: Heibonsha. ISBN   978-4-582-94239-2.
  10. Thorn, Rachel (2005). "The Moto Hagio Interview". The Comics Journal . Seattle: Fantagraphics Books (269). Archived from the original on January 13, 2016.
  11. Toku, Masami (2007). "Shojo Manga! Girls' Comics! A Mirror of Girls' Dreams". Mechademia . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2: 22–23. doi:10.1353/mec.0.0013. ISSN   1934-2489. S2CID   120302321.
  12. Thorn, Rachel. "The Multi-Faceted Universe of Shōjo Manga". Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  13. 1 2 Yonezawa, Yoshihiro, ed. (1991). Kodomo no Shōwa-shi: Shōjo Manga no Sekai II, Shōwa 38 nen – 64 nen子供の昭和史──少女マンガの世界 II 昭和38年〜64年[A Children's History of Showa-Era Japan: The World of Shōjo Manga II, 1963–1989]. Bessatsu Taiyō (in Japanese). Tokyo: Heibonsha. ISBN   978-4-582-94240-8.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Thorn, Rachel (2005). "The Magnificent Forty-Niners". The Comics Journal . Seattle: Fantagraphics Books (269). Archived from the original on November 2, 2019.
  15. Saito, Kumiko (2011). "Desire in Subtext: Gender, Fandom, and Women's Male-Male Homoerotic Parodies in Contemporary Japan". Mechademia . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 6: 173. doi:10.1353/mec.2011.0000. ISSN   1934-2489. S2CID   144768939.
  16. Toku, Masami (5 June 2015). International Perspectives on Shojo and Shojo Manga: The Influence of Girl Culture. Routledge. p. 26. ISBN   978-1-317-61076-2.
  17. 1 2 3 Kálovics, Dalma (2016). "The missing link of shōjo manga history: the changes in 60s shōjo manga as seen through the magazine Shūkan Margaret" (PDF). Kyōto Seika Daigaku Kiyō. Kyoto Seika University (49). Archived (PDF) from the original on November 4, 2019.
  18. Duffield, Patricia (October 2000). "Witches in Anime". Animerica Extra . Vol. 3 no. 11. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019.
  19. Anan, Nobuko (2016). Contemporary Japanese Women's Theatre and Visual Arts: Performing Girls' Aesthetics. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK. doi:10.1057/9781137372987. ISBN   978-1-349-55706-6.
  20. Gravett, Paul (July 19, 2004). Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. New York: Harper Design. pp. 78–80. ISBN   978-1-85669-391-2.
  21. Lent, 2001, op. cit., pp. 9–10.
  22. Ogi, Fusami (2003). "Female Subjectivity and Shoujo (Girls) Manga (Japanese Comics): Shoujo in Ladies' Comics and Young Ladies' Comics" (PDF). The Journal of Popular Culture . Blackwell Publishing. 36 (4): 780–803. doi:10.1111/1540-5931.00045. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 4, 2019.
  23. Fujimoto, Yukari (2008). "Japanese Contemporary Manga (Number 1): Shōjo (Girls Manga)" (PDF). Japanese Book News. Vol. 56. The Japan Foundation. p. 12. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  24. Gravett, Paul (July 19, 2004). Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. New York: Harper Design. p. 8. ISBN   978-1-85669-391-2.
  25. Schodt, Frederik L. (1996). Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN   978-1-880656-23-5.
  26. 雑誌ジャンルおよびカテゴリ区分一覧 [Magazine genre and category list](PDF) (in Japanese). Japan Magazine Publishers Association. February 15, 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 4, 2019.
  27. 「マガジンデータ2007」発行のご案内 [Information for Magazine Data 2007] (in Japanese). Japan Magazine Publishers Association. Archived from the original on June 21, 2008.Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help) Note: The publication, which relies on information provided by publishers, categorizes the magazine Cookie as josei, but Shueisha's website clearly categorizes that magazine as shōjo, hence its categorization here.

Related Research Articles

Josei manga are Japanese comics catered specifically to women's interests, and marketed towards older teenage girls and adult women demographics who are able to read kanji without the aid of furigana. Subgenres of josei manga include "ladies' comics" or "lady-comi". Readers can range in age from 18 to 45.

<i>Ribon</i> Japanese manga magazine

Ribon (りぼん) is a monthly Japanese shōjo manga magazine published by Shueisha on the third of each month. First issued in August 1955, its rivals are Nakayoshi and Ciao. Its target audience is girls roughly 8–14 years old.

Moto Hagio Japanese manga artist

Moto Hagio is a Japanese manga artist who is considered a "founding mother" of modern shōjo manga, especially shōnen-ai. Hagio rose to prominence in the 1970s as a member of the influential Year 24 Group, and has been described as "the most beloved shōjo manga artist of all time." Hagio's notable works include The Poe Clan (1972–1976), The Heart of Thomas (1974), They Were Eleven (1975), and A Cruel God Reigns (1993–2001).

<i>Sho-Comi</i> Japanese manga magazine

Sho-Comi, formerly published under its full name Shōjo Comic (少女コミック) until December 2007, is a shōjo manga magazine published semimonthly in Japan by Shogakukan since 1968.

<i>Betsucomi</i> Japanese manga magazine

Betsucomi (ベツコミ), formerly known as Bessatsu Shōjo Comic (別冊少女コミック), is a monthly Japanese shōjo manga magazine published by Shogakukan, originally aimed at young girls, but increasingly marketed to older teens and young women. It was conceived as a bessatsu or "special issue" of its sister magazine Shōjo Comic. It is released on the 13th of each month. Its competitors are Betsuma, Princess, and LaLa.

<i>LaLa</i> Japanese manga magazine

LaLa is a monthly Japanese shōjo manga magazine published by Hakusensha. The magazine is published on the 24th of each month. The magazine's bonus content are usually calendars for New Year issues, drama CDs and so on. The magazine was ranked fifth together with Shogakukan's Shōjo Comic and Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine by Japanese girls as their favorite manga anthology in a survey conducted by Oricon in 2006.

Year 24 Group 1970s manga artist group

The Year 24 Group is a grouping of female manga artists who heavily influenced shōjo manga beginning in the 1970s. While shōjo manga of the 1950s and 1960s largely consisted of simple stories marketed towards elementary school-aged girls, works by members of the group significantly developed shōjo manga by expanding it to incorporate new genres, themes, and subject material. Narratives and art styles in shōjo manga became more complex, and works came to examine topics such as psychology, gender, politics, and sexuality. Manga produced by the Year 24 Group brought the shōjo category into what scholars often describe as its "golden age".

<i>Shōjo Friend</i> Japanese manga magazine

Shōjo Friend was a shōjo manga magazine formerly published by Kodansha, beginning in 1962. Kodansha used the knowledge gained from publishing magazines aimed at young girls, including Nakayoshi and Shōjo Club, as well as the experience from publishing Weekly Shonen Magazine. Shōjo Friend is considered the successor to Shōjo Club. In 1963, Shueisha began publishing Margaret, and the two magazines became fierce competitors. Shogakukan entered the market competition in 1968 with Shōjo Comic.

Machiko Satonaka Japanese manga artist

Machiko Satonaka is a Japanese manga artist. She made her professional debut in 1964 during her second year of high school with the one-shot Pia no Shōzō. She has since created nearly 500 manga in a variety of genres. Two of her most notable works are Ashita Kagayaku, which won the 1974 Kodansha Publishing Culture Award, and Karyūdo no Seiza, which won the 1982 Kodansha Manga Award. In addition to creating manga, Satonaka teaches at the Osaka University of Arts as the head of the Character Creative Arts Department and serves on the board of various manga-related organizations in Japan.

Hideko Mizuno is one of the first successful female Japanese shōjo manga artists. She was an assistant of Osamu Tezuka staying in Tokiwa-sō. She made her professional debut in 1955 with Akakke Kōma Pony, a Western story with a tomboy heroine. She became a prominent shōjo artist in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with White Troika, which serialized in Margaret in 1963.

<i>Book Girl</i>

Book Girl is a collection of Japanese light novels by Mizuki Nomura, with illustrations by Miho Takeoka. The series contains 16 volumes: eight cover the original series, four are short story collections, and four are of a side story. The novels were published between April 2006 and April 2011 by Enterbrain under their Famitsu Bunko imprint. Yen Press licensed the light novel series and began releasing it in English in North America in July 2010. There have been four manga adaptations serialized in Square Enix's shōnen Gangan Powered and Gangan Joker, and Kadokawa Shoten's shōjo Beans Ace and Monthly Asuka. An anime film adaptation produced by Production I.G was released in Japanese theaters on May 1, 2010.

Katsuji Matsumoto

Katsuji Matsumoto was a Japanese illustrator and shōjo manga artist. Matsumoto's 16-page The Mysterious Clover (1934) is recognized as a pioneering work in the field of manga, but he is best known for his shōjo manga Kurukuru Kurumi-chan, serialized from 1938 to 1940, and again from 1949 to 1954.

<i>The Heart of Thomas</i> Japanese manga series by Moto Hagio

The Heart of Thomas is a 1974 Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Moto Hagio. Originally serialized in Shūkan Shōjo Comic, a weekly manga magazine publishing shōjo manga, the series follows the events at a German all-boys gymnasium following the suicide of student Thomas Werner. Hagio drew inspiration for the series from the novels of Hermann Hesse, especially Demian (1919); the Bildungsroman genre; and the 1964 film Les amitiés particulières. It is one of the earliest manga in the shōnen-ai genre.

Miyako Maki is a Japanese manga artist, and one of the earliest female manga artists. During the 1960s, Maki contributed significantly to the development of shōjo manga, and became one of the most popular shōjo authors of her generation. She later became a pioneer in manga for adults, producing gekiga and redikomi towards the end of that decade.

Minori Kimura is a Japanese manga artist. Critics and scholars often count her among the Year 24 Group, a nebulous group of female artists considered to have revolutionized shōjo manga in the 1970s.

Yoshihiro Yonezawa Japanese manga critic

Yoshihiro Yonezawa was a Japanese manga critic and author. He is also known for being Comiket's co-founder and president. He died of lung cancer at 53. He won the 2007 Seiun Award in the special category and 2010 Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize Special Award.

Yoshiko Nishitani was a pioneering shōjo manga artist who released her works in Shōjo Club and Margaret. According to Rachel Thorn, Nishitani "more or less single-handedly invented the school campus romance that remains the mainstay of shôjo manga today", and Robert Petersen regards her innovation as giving her characters personality. She gave her readers characters that were like them, "teenaged Japanese girls dealing with friendships, family, school, and, yes, falling in love." Her success inspired an influx of female manga artists. Her manga Mary Lou is thought to have opened up the idea of shōjo manga telling stories about ordinary teenagers. Nishitani's characteristics have been described as 'big eyes and huge reflections within' as well as a use of curly hair and frilly clothes, with an attention to detail when drawing that inspired later artists like Nanae Sasaya.

<i>Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun</i> Japanese manga and anime series

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun is a Japanese four-panel manga series written and illustrated by Izumi Tsubaki. The chapters are serialized online in Gangan Online, and have been published in both physical and digital releases of Shoujo Romance Girly and tankōbon volumes by Square Enix. An anime adaptation by Doga Kobo aired in July 2014.

Shueisha Inc. is a Japanese company headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. The company was established in 1925 as the entertainment-related publishing division of Japanese publisher Shogakukan. The following year, Shueisha became a separate, independent company.

Macoto Takahashi is a Japanese painter, illustrator, and manga artist. His works of shōjo manga are noted for significantly influencing the aesthetic styles of that genre.


Further reading