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One thousand years of manga

Shojo, Shonen, Seinen, Josei: Manga Demographics

In case you have ever wondered what distinguishes different manga, here are the four big categories for the vast majority of manga. In Japan, manga are still by and large delivered and discovered via serialization in magazines, each of which tends to target specific demographics. However, please note that these categories only serve as broad recommendations and should not be considered exclusive to a given gender or interest in any sense. Each category contains multiple exceptions and hybrids, and as with any literature, only individual readers can determine what truly fits their taste.

  • Shojo - Shojo is shorthand for "girl comics," and one of the biggest shojo series ever is Sailor Moon, about a group of teenage girls who fight evil with their planet-themed magic powers. The premise resembles a superhero teamup series, but the series' themes revolve around friendship, loyalty, and being true to oneself. Another long-running and popular shojo series, Skip Beat, focuses on a girl who aspires to succeed in show business as an act of revenge against her celebrity ex-boyfriend. A more recent and concise shojo, Strobe Edge, follows the inner thoughts of two teens figuring out their feelings for one another and how to let the other know.
  • Shonen – The genre of competition and adventure, there is no skill-based tournament that has not been played in shonen "boy comics" manga. Characters focus their chi energy to shoot fireballs and save the Earth in Dragon Ball Z, dissect board game strategy and budding rivalries in Hikaru no Go, and pilot massive robotic armors into planetary war in Mobile Suit Gundam. Teamwork and hidden strengths often play a large component in these action-driven stories.
  • Seinen – This may be the most difficult category to pin down, as the intended demographic is “men age 18-40” but the subject matter is all over the place. Action manga that are more violent than shonen series often count as seinen, but series about raising children are also popular with adults. This wide subject range is why a violent sci-fi series like Akira is listed next to the wine-tasting guide Drops of God and slice-of-life Yotsuba&!, which stars a rambunctious five-year-old girl named Yotsuba.
  • Josei – Manga for adult women tends to be an extension of the romances and dramas found in many shojo series, but written at a higher maturity level. The art is still extremely stylized, though perhaps not as sparkly or bubbly as shojo. Josei is responsible for the rise of stories depicting homosexual relationships in Japan, including the classic boys-school drama Heart of Thomas. Relationships take on a meaning more involved than blushing and hand-holding, as in Paradise Kiss. Also, just as YA novels have been adapted into manga form, adult novels have begun making the transition, including Gail Carriger’s historical/paranormal Soulless series.
  • If you are interested in learning more about manga, consider attending one of Richland Library's graphic novel-themed events this summer, listed below. All of the series mentioned in this post are available for checkout, with many more on the shelves.


    Heart of Thomas by Moto Hagio
    Amazon Says: A shojo classic in english for the first time. The setting: A boys’ boarding school in Germany, sometime in the latter 20th Century. Fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls fr more...
    Amazon Says: A shojo classic in english for the first time. The setting: A boys’ boarding school in Germany, sometime in the latter 20th Century. Fourteen year-old Thomas Werner falls from a lonely pedestrian overpass to his death immediately after sending a single, brief letter to a schoolmate:To Juli, one last time This is my love This is the sound of my heart Surely you must understand Thus begins the legendary and enigmatic Heart of Thomas, by Moto Hagio. Inspired by Jean Delannoy’s 1964 film, Les Amitiés Particulieres, The Heart of Thomas was nearly cancelled early in its serialization, in 1974, until Hagio’s first trade paperback, The Poe Clan, Volume 1, sold out in a single day, giving her new series a new lease on life. The result was a story more complex, less accessible, and yet so compelling it can be found near or at the top of any list of classic shojo manga. Translated by manga scholar Matt Thorn and packaged with the same loving attention to detail as Hagio’s Eisner Award nominated A Drunken Dream, The Heart of Thomas is already the most eagerly anticipated manga translation of the new decade. Black & white throughout less...
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    Amazon Says: Few comics have ever exhibited such sway over the economics of an industry as the Drops of God. The legendary wine comic that dictates wine market prices worldwide is now avai more...
    Amazon Says: Few comics have ever exhibited such sway over the economics of an industry as the Drops of God. The legendary wine comic that dictates wine market prices worldwide is now available in English for the first time! A wine critic and his adopted brother must compete against each other to determine who will inherit their father's estate--a wine collection featuring 13 heaven blessed wines. Shizuku Kanzaki is the son of a recently deceased, world renowned wine critic named Yutaka Kanzaki. In order to take ownership of his father's legacy, an extensive wine collection featuring some of the most rare labels of the last 30 years, he must find 13 wines, known as the "Twelve Apostles" and the heaven sent "Drops of God" that his father described in his will. But despite being an only child, Shizuku is not alone in this unique wine hunt. He has a competitor. Issei Tomine, a renowned young wine critic, was recently adopted into the Kanzaki family and is also vying for this most rare of prizes. less...
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    Yotsuba&! Volume 1 by Azuma Kiyohiko
    Amazon Says: From the nutty mind of Kyohiko Azuma, creator of the hit manga Azumanga Daioh comes the story of the new kid in town - little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who do more...
    Amazon Says: From the nutty mind of Kyohiko Azuma, creator of the hit manga Azumanga Daioh comes the story of the new kid in town - little Yotsuba, a green-haired and wide-eyed girl who doesn't have a clue... about anything! With no knowledge of the world around her, and an unnatural fear of air conditioners, Yotsuba has her new neighbors' heads spinning. Join the hilarious exploits of an out-of-this-world schoolgirl as her befuddled friends attempt to uncover the secrets behind this strange child in Yotsubato! less...
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    Amazon Says: The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn't an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is "soulless" - a pr more...
    Amazon Says: The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn't an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is "soulless" - a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye - Lord Conall Maccon - and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit's end! less...
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    Amazon Says: Yukari is a spirited high school senior in the process of studying for her college entrance exams. Sadly the prospect of subjecting herself to a meaningless dull life leaves h more...
    Amazon Says: Yukari is a spirited high school senior in the process of studying for her college entrance exams. Sadly the prospect of subjecting herself to a meaningless dull life leaves her feeling depressed about the future.  In a bout of frustration, Yukari begins to ignore her courses and she begins to hang out with a group of fashion design students. But what Yukari doesn't know is that this circle is known as Paradise Kiss, and they are run by a pair of young designers already making their mark on the Asian scene. Furthermore, while her life is going to soon change, it will not be due to the elite political or commerce based future her family may have hoped for, instead her life may eventually be set in a world of high fashion, with her strutting down the catwalk as the face of Asian fashion! less...
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    Amazon Says: Son Goku is the greatest hero on Earth. Five years after defeating the demon king Piccolo, he's grown up and had a family--he's married, and he has a child, Son Gohan. But wha more...
    Amazon Says: Son Goku is the greatest hero on Earth. Five years after defeating the demon king Piccolo, he's grown up and had a family--he's married, and he has a child, Son Gohan. But what is the real reason for Goku's incredible strength? A visitor from outer space arrives bearing terrible news--Goku is an alien, and the visitor, Raditz, is Goku's brother! When Raditz turns out to be a ruthless killer, Goku must fight his incredibly strong brother to save his family and the entire human race. A surprising alliance may be Earth's last hope: Goku will team up with his old enemy Piccolo—archenemies united to save the world!" Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Akira, Vol. 1 by Katsuhiro Otomo
    Amazon Says: Dark Horse is committed to bringing the finest comics from around the world to America. Now, in association with Kodansha Ltd. and Studio Proteus, Dark Horse has again gathere more...
    Amazon Says: Dark Horse is committed to bringing the finest comics from around the world to America. Now, in association with Kodansha Ltd. and Studio Proteus, Dark Horse has again gathered one of the crown jewels of graphic fiction. Katsuhiro Otomo's stunning science-fiction masterpiece, Akira! Regarded by many as the finest comic series ever produced, Akira is a bold and breathtaking epic of potent narrative strength and astonishing illustrative skill. Akira is set in the post-apocalypse Neo-Tokyo of 2019, a vast metropolis built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by an apocalyptic blast of unknown power that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when dormant paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, who becomes a target for a shadowy government operation, a group who will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like that which leveled Tokyo. And at the core of their motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear: a fear of someone -- or something -- of unthinkably monstrous power known only as...Akira. And Akira is about to rise! Collected in six massive volumes, Akira has been reproduced in its original, black-and-white majesty as never-before-seen in an English-translated edition. If you love science fiction, manga or comics, Akira is the one work that must be represented in your collection! less...
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    Sailor Moon 1 by Naoko Takeuchi
    Amazon Says: Usagi Tsukino is a normal girl until she meets up with Luna, a talking cat, who tells her that she is Sailor Moon. As Sailor Moon, Usagi must fight evils and enforce justice, more...
    Amazon Says: Usagi Tsukino is a normal girl until she meets up with Luna, a talking cat, who tells her that she is Sailor Moon. As Sailor Moon, Usagi must fight evils and enforce justice, in the name of the Moon and the mysterious Moon Princess. She meets other girls destined to be Sailor Senshi (Sailor Scouts), and together, they fight the forces of evil! This new edition of Sailor Moon will feature: - An entirely new, incredibly accurate translation! - Japanese-style, right-to-left reading! - New cover art never before seen in the U.S.! - The original Japanese character names! - Detailed translation notes! This version of Sailor Moon will be completely true to original. Join us as Sailor Moon returns to the U.S. for the first time in years! less...
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    Skip Beat! Vol. 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura
    Amazon Says: Kyoko always thought that Sho, whose family took her in when she was small, was her prince charming. However, when Sho heads for Tokyo to make it big as a musician, Kyoko goes more...
    Amazon Says: Kyoko always thought that Sho, whose family took her in when she was small, was her prince charming. However, when Sho heads for Tokyo to make it big as a musician, Kyoko goes with him and has to quit high school to support his dream. But soon, being in the big city makes Kyoko realize that she has show business ambitions of her own! less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. more...
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    One Thousand Years of Manga by Brigitte Koyama-Richard
    Amazon Says: In recent years, Manga has seen phenomenal success, not only in Japan, where it dominates the publishing industry, but also in the West, where it is steadily growing in popula more...
    Amazon Says: In recent years, Manga has seen phenomenal success, not only in Japan, where it dominates the publishing industry, but also in the West, where it is steadily growing in popularity and influence. As swift and sudden as the popularity of this graphic art form may seem, Manga has, in fact, deep roots in Japanese culture, drawing on centuries-old artistic traditions. As early as the twelfth century, Emakimono scrolls existed, a narrative form in which stories of all kinds—romantic, fantastic, even comic—were told through the combined use of text and illustration. Japanese art continued to change as profound political, social, and economic transformations remade the country in the centuries to follow. Today there is little doubt as to the meaning of the term Manga—nor to the astonishing popularity of the form—but few in the West understand the long artistic history that gave birth to this phenomenon and the social factors that continue to shape it today.One Thousand Years of Manga is both an informative account of the genesis of the form and a visual delight. Through its captivating illustrations and enlightening text, the book situates Manga in its proper context, appreciating it for what it truly is: an integral part of Japanese art and culture that is as rich and revealing as it is popular. less...
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