The Sensei Next Door

I keep dropping this one when I talk about Sailor Moon, so it almost certainly deserves a longer explanation.

Shoujo [shoh-joh]
少女

noun.
(1) A girl or young woman, usually used on minors (“19 and under” in Japan).

(2) A genre of anime or manga that focuses on character emotions and interpersonal relationships (family, friends, etc.). They often feature a female protagonist and a romantic (sub)plot, though this isn’t always the case.

The themes and content tend to be geared towards a teen or preteen audience, with MCs that are usually 16-and-under, so there’s little in the way of “mature” content (i.e., it’s heavy on the hand-holding and light on the bow-chicka-wow-wow). If you find yourself watching a shoujo and suddenly characters be all up in each other’s area codes, then you’re probably watching a josei, which have a similar “character-driven” focus but are intended for slightly older audiences.

Beyond that, though, a shoujo can be about pretty much anything – they run the gamut from drama to comedy, slice of life to high fantasy – and they can have plenty of action or intrigue thrown in the mix, too (see: Escaflowne, Vision of, a “shojo” that took about 12 genres, tossed them in a blender, and made a damn fine smoothie out of ‘em).

To be honest, the dividing line between a shoujo and, say, a shounen (“boys”) or josei (you know that one already!) series can be a rather blurry one and, like most genres, is largely a matter of marketing strategies.

…Well, marketing strategies, AND the amount of bubbles, sparkles, and/or flowers the series can fit into a single soft-touched screenshot.

Never question a shoujo’s commitment to sparkle motion.

You May Have Heard Of…

  • Sailor Moon
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Fushigi Yuugi: The Mysterious Play*
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena*
  • Escaflowne
  • Fruits Basket
  • Ouran High School Host Club

*These both venture into what I would call “older teen” territory as their stories progress, but they’re always categorized as shojo, and I did watch them both with I was in middle school and I don’t seem to be permanently scarred, so… *shrug* Like I said. Marketing.

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