**Generalizations, not scientific fact**
Have you ever been flipping through a manga at your local book store and wondering to yourself, “What in the world am I looking at?” If you’re at a larger book store then you’re probably looking through one of two genres: Shoujo and Shonen. Shoujo is geared more towards teenage girls. They often have a school type setting and some sort of romantic conflict as the main story line. Shonen, geared towards teenage boys, tend to be more action packed, with some kind of physical conflict to over come or a search for power. Both of these genres tend to have a rating of Young Adult or Older Teen.
Now how can you tell just from flipping through the manga that you’re reading one or the other. Allow me to show you some of the subtle differences between the two.
1. Notice the hair style is modern, and cute. It’s not too over the top, there are no crazy spikes. It’s soft and realistic.
2. The eyes. Those are the eyes of somebody very much so in love. They are soft and sparkly. Also notice the feminine blush across her cheeks, she is clearly in love.
3. Her clothes. She’s wearing school clothes, which isn’t very specific just to shoujo manga, however take note that the uniform is a very regular looking uniform. There’s nothing revealing about it. Which brings me to…
4. No boobs. Her chest is visible in this, but it is not the main focal point. A dead give away that this is a shoujo manga.
1. The hair tends to be a more overtly feminine cut. Long, flowing and less of that realistic detail that the shoujo manga had.
2. The eyes are also very feminine but do not have that sparkle of being in love or lusting after somebody. They are not a main focal point of the character.
3. The outfit is much tighter than a normal school uniform, and you can bet that the skirt to this is going to be very short and there will be many teasers of seeing the underwear of the character. Tight, semi revealing clothes tend to be more prevalent in Shonen mangas.
4. Boobs. They are there. They are huge. Boobs.
1. Notice the fact that this male character is incredibly feminine. It is something that does take getting used to, but the feminine looking male character is something that is very popular in Shoujo mangas.
2. Although his eyes are still fairly feminine, they are not as large as the female character’s, proof that he’s male, and they tend to have a more serious look to them. This is the face of somebody who is sensitive in a manly sort of way.
3. Although it’s hard to tell with this illustration of Tomoe, the body composition tends to be on the taller/leaner side with muscle definition. However they are not super muscular most of the time.
1. Take a minute to look at his face. It is pretty ridiculous looking. I have found, at least in the shonen mangas I have read, that the male characters tend to have a certain amount of comedy to them. This is shown through their facial expressions.
2. His body composition is still slim, however he has much more definition, his muscles are larger than the shoujo hero. The emphasis is much more on the body, than it is on the face.
3. Like the shonen heroine there is not much time spent on the eyes. They don’t portray as much emotion because the shonen mangas don’t really revolve around an emotional conflict but rather a physical one.
1. The pages tend to have a more organic flow to them. The panels often run into each other, there is not a lot of geometry to the page unless it is a series of small events, and even then they have a softer feel to them.
2. The shading is going to be softer. The event that’s going on is taking up the main page and since it has to do with the people, there is no real need to have a backgroud or draw too much attention to it if there is one.
3. The people in the page are also positioned in an organic flowing way. Their stance is relaxed. The flow of the hair, and the curve of the back, gives it a feminine appeal.
1. There is a strong amount of contrast. There are dark blacks and stark whites that give this panel a very dramatic appeal. The background draws direct attention to what is happening and highlighting it in a way instead of letting the event merely just exist and happen. It gives a sense of action.
2. This panel is static and linear. The character’s stance is upright, the lines behind her are also strong and linear, even the curving of her body is minimal and being overpowered by the strong event that is happening around her.
3. The character is not a very feminine even though she is female. She stands erect, and upright, her stance is very rigid. Her growths out of her arm, even though they are slightly softer on one side than the other, still show a sense of strength.
Well there you have it, I hope you are now sufficiently educated. Basically what it comes down to, if it looks like something a 13 year old boy would like, then it’s probably a shonen, and something a 13 year old girl would like, probably a shoujo.