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Anime Genre Discussion: Shounen and Shoujo


Dagger
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Most people automatically associate shoujo with Sailor Moon, and shounen with Dragonball Z. While certain shows [i]do[/i] target a gender-specific audience, I actually think it's silly to identify every anime as being either for women/girls or boys/men.

After all, popular series often defy categorization: the Gundam franchise traditionally targets boys, but Gundam Wing nevertheless has hordes of female fans. Peace Maker Kurogane (a much lesser-known show) combines comedy, drama, incredibly intense violence and hints of shounen-ai fanservice. Even Maria-sama ga Miteru, which to some might practically be the definition of shoujo, attracts a substantial male audience.

I feel that the majority of anime can appeal to either gender. Famous series like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop cannot be labelled as shounen or shoujo, even assuming that people are willing to think that shounen/shoujo has something to offer mature fans. I personally enjoy anime from both genres, and it bothers me that men and women sometimes dismiss a particular show because it's said to be intended for the opposite sex.

Anyway..... take this thread where you will, folks. I look forward to reading your replies. ^_^

~Dagger~
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Because anime is adapted from gender-specific manga the genre labelling is valid. It serves the producers as well as the audience by establishing what will and will not be presented in any given title. Anime often contains crossover elements not found in the manga it is adapted from but will respect certain limits.

For example a series like Gundam Wing will not provide bishounen fanservice to the extent of a shoujo shounen-ai series like Yami no Matsuei. Many of the males who are the prime target of Gundam Wing would be uncomfortable seeing half-dressed males caressing and sexually teasing each other on a regular basis.

Viewers who enjoy both shounen and shoujo anime understand and appreciate these limits. Each genre has its own strengths and does best to make use of them.
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[color=indigo][size=1][font=comic sans ms]I usually ignore genre labels on just about all entertainment, including manga. The target audience isn't important to me; the only important audience is myself.

That said, I don't follow any shoujo series (unless Tenchi Muyo! is counted) currently, because none that I am aware of currently appeal to me. [/color][/size][/font]
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I guess that artwork is the most obvious distinction between the two genres. Shoujo generally features delicately drawn, immensely attractive characters, many of whom are effeminate or merely androgynous men. Everyone is good-looking, whether hero or villain; only old people manage to avoid being preternaturally beautiful.

This, of course, makes shoujo quite enjoyable to watch. But more importantly, it does something to explain the crossover appeal of series like Trigun, Rurouni Kenshin, Prince of Tennis, GetBackers and Yu Yu Hakusho. All five shows have several important male characters rendered in a rather shoujo-esque kind of style (Legato, Soujirou, Dr. Jackal and Kurama, to name a few). And if an anime has cute guys, girls will usually find a way to pretend that they're together: GetBackers boasts a vast female fanbase despite its panty shots and extraordinarily bouncy women.

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how CLAMP relates to all of this. One of their tag-lines is "by women, for women," but I feel that X/1999--and particularly its corresponding anime series--possesses elements of both shounen and shoujo. Chobits, on the other hand, is obviously intended to hook a male audience (coincidentally, I thought Chobits ended up being one of CLAMP's least likeable manga; although innovation is nice, perhaps they ought to stick with what they know). Angelic Layer adds shoujo cuteness to a storyline that relies heavily on tournament fighting. The last time [i]I[/i] saw any kind of tournament was in Yu Yu Hakusho, a shounen anime.


[quote name='densuke']Anime often contains crossover elements not found in the manga it is adapted from but will respect certain limits.[/quote]

This statement definitely rang true. To return to my earlier example, the GetBackers manga is far racier than the anime, which tones things down while still retaining some fanservice for the guys.

~Dagger~
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[color=darkorange] I dunno. I am usually more interested in Girls' anime/manga (that's weird, cuz im a guy...)! I think that shoujo/shounen really do not say which GENDER is more inclined to watch, but rather what TYPE of audience. I generally like cute furry animals, and for some reason have a strong inclination towards romance and romantic comedy. Almost all three are rare in most shounen anime/manga. Don't get me wrong! I love a good adventure story, and also a couple of things exploding nad people dying and stuff. But I like anime that makes you think. Generally those are the ones that are not directed at a specific gender. Well, that is my thought process upon this... [/color]

BLOW STUFF UP! :blowup:

Go to heaven. We eat chocolate here...:hippy:
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[COLOR=Gray][SIZE=2][FONT=Courier New]If you're going to be attrociously general about it, shounen is the genre of manga I preffer. Although I have nothing against a good romance story here and there, I get sick of the big, blinky eyes and utterly predictable "plot-twists".
What I look for in a manga, or any story for that matter, is thoughtfulness, realistic characters (meaning there are no fearless wonders etc...), and a few good action sequences. Also, it's great if there's a psychological factor to the series. Throw in a bit of a side-plot-love story, and there you go! The perfect story.
Which is why I love Naruto so much. :) It has everything but the love story [SIZE=1](Unless you want to count [Spoiler]Iruka[/Spoiler] and [Spoiler]Kakashi[/Spoiler], that is._ _U No, this doesn't actually happen--I spoilerafied it because I don't want to start a wave of people thinking that this happens. Or something like that...Naruto fans might find this funny.)[/SIZE].

But this isn't a hoorah-for-Naruto thread, so I'll stop there.

Any story, no matter what genre, is really what the storyteller makes of it. Beyond that, it's just a case of general preference.

Shounen Jump (the real one) all the way! ^...^

(Hey...I guess Naruto does, sort of, have a love story or two...in flashbacks. But those don't really count, do they? Hmm...whatever--Naruto still pwns you all.)[/FONT][/SIZE][/COLOR]
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I would rather cross over as a viewer than have the anime end up in a heap in the middle. While I prefer the visual design in shoujo anime to that of most shounen titles (the spiky-haired look is just... [i]odd[/i]) the biggest payoff for me is in the characters.

I am male and a romance fan like [b]Neko[/b]. I have watched every romance title I have ever encountered. While I always find shoujo romances to provide satisfying characters and scenes I find many shounen romances to be unsatisfying and often uninteresting. Exceptional shounen romances like Kimagure Orange Road feature exceptionally strong female characters.

I prefer to watch girls or women who act like girls or women than girls who demonstrate marketable physical characteristics (shoujo mangaka are not as concerned with providing one female who wears glasses, one with large breasts, another who is or appears to be 12 years old etc.) and otherwise serve only as love objects for male characters.

Girls and women in shoujo titles also fall into "types" but the distinctions are rendered through [i]personality[/i]. They have more space to lapse into private behavior patterns not intended to attract males. They also develop relationships among themselves, which hardly ever happens in shounen titles. I am not necessarily referring to shoujo-ai here, but shoujo-ai is not part of the shounen "world" either because it uses up potential mates for the males.

I agree with [b]Dagger[/b] about CLAMP's shounen titles. They demonstrate their willingness to lapse into formula (which is why Angelic Layer is so predictable). Chobits was offensive to me because the female character was absolutely mindless. I could never identify with a character like Hideki. Look at the other women who appear in his life - they are much more interesting as acquaintances or worthy of his love, but he never makes an effort.

Characters like Hideki are just as annoying to many males as the often weak and obsessive female heroines of Watase Yuu (Fushigi Yuugi, Ayashi no Ceres) are to many females. I think CLAMP created Hideki by sticking to shounen formula as evidenced by Love Hina and other shounen titles.

I think Tokyo Babylon and X, which were shoujo manga, contain plenty of shoujo staples like shounen-ai, focus on personal relationships and dramatic renderings of the characters. Only by placing a male character at the center of each title and providing lots of action (as well as avoiding specific romantic resolutions) does CLAMP concede anything to a potential male audience.
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I'm wary to label anything as shounen or shoujo, since both genre titles have a bit of a negative connotation. When people say shoujo, I instinctively think of animes with whiny, female main characters who will create complicated love triangles and make me hate them fiercely. When people say shounen, I think of animes that are plotless and needlessly violent. Neither of those sound like things I'd enjoy too much.

But when you get down to the actual classifications, I have favorites in both genres. I enjoyed many shoujo titles, such as Fruits Basket. Fushigi Yugi, Yami No Matsuei, X-TV, and Toyko Babylon. Although they are girl's animes, they are a bit more violent then the average shoujo title, with the exception of Fruits Basket of course. And I am watching a few shounen titles as well, like Peace Maker Kurogane, and quite a few others.

But like Dagger said, most popular animes defy gender classification. I've talked to equal amounts of boys and girls who enjoy anime like Cowboy Bebop, Inuyasha, Miyasaki movies, and so on. I think the most popular animes are ones that can appeal to both boys and girls.

But if someone were to ask me if I liked shounen or shoujo better, they both have different elements that I look for. Shoujo tends to have characters that you can get super-attached to, and most of my favorites come from the genre. But shounen storylines are more fun, and are generally very fast paced.

There's my two cents ^_^
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Dagger IX1, are you mad or something :) ? or are you just questioning the ways things are based as "westerner" who gets things differently than the original japanese audience?
--and i know that it's dumb to lable things, but what would you would never call Sailor Moon a shounen, now whould you? :)

i could personaly say that i like shoujo MUCH more than shounen, but mainly because there is NO real good "shounen" show that i've ever seen. the only ones that i know are all just teh lame and over "manly" and "ooo, did you just see what supersayan level elevendy gazillion just did?" instead of intricate plots and character dialogue on-screen.

obiously, there are some things that cross paths, such as Bebop, as you said, which one could lable as "Shounen-Sci-Fi-Drama-with a love story" [b]that even crosses paths itself[/b] [ litteraly ^^; *loves bebop*]
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[quote name='JazzLady22']...most popular animes defy gender classification...[/quote]
I disagree. There just aren't that many shoujo anime every year. The ones that do come out are often popular and do not "defy classification." Right now Marimite is the hottest show of the current season - noone can tell me there is anything remotely shounen about it.
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[quote name='AniSmith']Dagger IX1, are you mad or something :) ?.... there is NO real good "shounen" show that i've ever seen. the only ones that i know are all just teh lame and over "manly" and "ooo, did you just see what supersayan level elevendy gazillion just did?"[/quote]

You have it all wrong, dearest. If I'm "mad" about anything, it's those kinds of misconceptions. ^_~

Just as shoujo does not focus entirely on whiny teenage girls with improbable magical powers, very little shounen actually features bellowing, muscle-bound he-men whose hair occasionally succumbs to random fits of bleaching.

....No need to kill me, DBZ fans. Just mock my favorite shows to your heart's content, and we'll call it even.

Anyway, AniSmith, did you know that Love Hina and Onegai Teacher are considered shounen (despite being romantic comedies)? Nearly every mecha anime ever made, including Big O and Bubblegun Crisis Tokyo 2040, also falls into that category. I hate it when people reject Fruits Basket for being "girly," and I grow equally annoyed when lovely series like Shingetsutan Tsukihime and Peace Maker Kurogane get brushed aside because of their emphasis on violence.

~Dagger~
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Kind of late in the day to get into this, but Cowboy Bebop is actually [i]seinen[/i] anime. Seinen is pitched to an older male audience than shounen and thus there is less need to make all the male characters shout and wear spiky hair, or for the female characters to be idiots - well, not necessarily anyway. Shows like CB seem to be a lot easier for female viewers to take (some seinen is just raunchier without being any more interesting).

It seems like there are at least two ideas about genre tagging here. I am kind of biased against shounen anime but I usually wind up watching some of the seinen titles. I think genre tagging is a useful filter; there is simply too much to watch out there.

For example, I knew that Daphne in the Brilliant Blue was pitched towards a male audience (it's a seinen anime, but that's not important). 2 episodes into the series, after watching the female characters take off nearly all their clothing every time they wanted to do anything, and with no likeavle characters in sight, I gave up on it. That is definitely a case of "termination with prejudice" but it's not like I didn't even see any of it. I am following 5 new (winter) series as it is, and still following another 12 series which started last year.

The other idea about genre tagging seems to be that some people use it to stereotype anime and that it prevents them from seeing shows they might have enjoyed. I didn't take that into account. It is a valid idea in that people do that, but for me it's not a good enough reason to ignore it or encourage others to do so.
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Does seinen have a feminine equivalent (that is, shoujo geared towards older teenagers and women)? You probably know much more about this topic than I do. So if such a genre exists, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.


[quote name='densuke']The other idea about genre tagging seems to be that some people use it to stereotype anime and that it prevents them from seeing shows they might have enjoyed.[/quote]

I agree with you in the sense that one can't afford to be totally open-minded. I've never enjoyed live-action romantic comedies (at least not those of the stereotypical boy-meets-girl variety), and I probably never will. As this is based on both past experience and a general abhorrence of the genre, nothing could convince me to spend money on the latest "Serendipity"-style chick flick.

However, I feel as though some fans--particularly those who grew up watching DBZ, Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing--harbor a lot of mistaken ideas about shounen, shoujo, and what constitutes each. Chances are that an ardent DBZ worshipper wouldn't take very well to Boys Over Flowers; it just bothers me when such people bash whatever [i]category[/i] of anime they dislike/don't watch. Individual shows are definitely fair game.

~Dagger~
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[quote name='Dagger IX1']Does seinen have a feminine equivalent (that is, shoujo geared towards older teenagers and women)? You probably know much more about this topic than I do. So if such a genre exists, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.[/quote]
Anime/manga for late teens on up is called josei. Josei is not dissimilar to shoujo but is more adult in its attitudes towards sex and relationships, often concerns itself with people who are no longer of school age etc. There are sadly few examples of subtitled josei anime. [b]Gokusen[/b] is a winter-season anime based on a josei manga. It is similar to GTO. I'd be interested to know if you took a look at this and what you think of it; I put up a thread for the show not too long ago.
[quote name='Dagger IX1]I feel as though some fans--particularly those who grew up watching DBZ, Sailor Moon and Gundam Wing--harbor a lot of mistaken ideas about shounen, shoujo, and what constitutes each. Chances are that an ardent DBZ worshipper wouldn't take very well to Boys Over Flowers; it just bothers me when such people bash whatever [i]category[/i'] of anime they dislike/don't watch. Individual shows are definitely fair game.[/quote]When someone claims that either shounen or shoujo have nothing to offer I suspect a shallow knowledge of what constitutes either. I am kind of a stickler for labelling [i]because[/i] of the misperceptions and bashing.

If someone who is wary of shoujo anime becomes interested in shounen romance and then gets ahold of Kare Kano and enjoys that, I would prefer that person to know that Kare Kano is based on a shoujo manga. That knowledge along with the experience of enjoying the show might make that person more interested in what else is available.

I can't blame Sailor Moon or Gundam Wing though; plenty of males got a taste of mahou shoujo anime watching Sailor Moon and have gone on to watch and enjoy other shoujo and mahou shoujo titles. Because there are so few shoujo or josei anime I take it as a given that female anime fans are less likely to categorically dismiss shounen and seinen.
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