Shōnen manga

Shōnen, shonen, or shounen manga (少年漫画 shōnen manga) is manga aimed at a teen male target-demographic readership. The age group varies with individual readers and different magazines, but it is primarily intended for boys between the ages of 12 to 18. The kanji characters (少年) literally mean "boy" (or "youth"), and the characters (漫画) means "comic". Thus, the complete phrase means "young person's comic", or simply "boys' comic"; its female equivalent is shōjo manga. Shōnen manga is the most popular form of manga.[1][2]


Shōnen manga is typically characterized by high-action,[3] often humorous plots featuring male protagonists. The camaraderie between boys or men on sports teams, fighting squads and the like is often emphasized. Main characters may also feature an ongoing desire to better themselves.[2]

Such manga often portray challenges to the protagonist's abilities, skills, and maturity, stressing self-perfection, austere self-discipline, sacrifice in the cause of duty, and honorable service to society, community, family, and friends.[4][5]

None of these listed characteristics are a requirement, as seen in shōnen manga like Yotsuba&!, which features a female lead and almost no fan service or action; what defines whether or not a series is shōnen is the official classification of the magazine it is serialized in.[6] After the arrest and trial of serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, depictions of violence and sexual matters became more highly regulated in manga in general, but especially in shōnen manga.[7] The art style of shōnen is generally less "flowery" than that of shōjo manga, although this varies greatly from artist to artist, and some artists draw both shōnen and shōjo manga.

Different shōnen manga stories may feature different themes, such as martial arts, robots, science fiction, sports, terror, and mythological creatures.[2]

Shōnen manga today

Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball (1984–1995) is credited with setting the trend of popular shōnen manga from the 1980s onward, with manga critic Jason Thompson in 2011 calling it "by far the most influential shōnen manga of the last 30 years."[8] Many currently successful shōnen authors such as Eiichiro Oda, Masashi Kishimoto, Tite Kubo, Hiro Mashima and Kentaro Yabuki cite him and Dragon Ball as an influence on their own now popular works.


Before World War II

Manga has been said to have existed since the eighteenth century,[9][10] but originally did not target a specific gender or age group. By 1905, however, a boom in publishing manga magazines occurred, and began targeting genders as evidenced by their names, such as Shōnen Sekai, Shōjo Sekai, and Shōnen Pakku (a kodomo manga magazine).[10] Shōnen Sekai was one of the first shōnen manga magazines, and was published from 1895 to 1914.


The post-World War II occupation of Japan had a profound impact on its culture during the 1950s and beyond (see culture of Post-occupation Japan), including on manga. Modern manga developed during this period, including the modern format of shōnen manga we experience today, of which boys and young men were among the earliest readers.[4] During this time, Shōnen manga focused on topics thought to interest the archetypical boy: sci-tech subjects like robots and space travel, and heroic action-adventure.[11] Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy is said to have played an influential role in manga during this period.[9][12][13] Between 1950 and 1969, an increasingly large readership for manga emerged in Japan with the solidification of its two main marketing genres, shōnen manga aimed at boys and shōjo manga aimed at girls.[14]

The magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump began production in 1968,[10] and continues to be produced today as the best-selling manga magazine in Japan.[15] Many of the most popular shōnen manga titles have been serialized in Jump, including Dragon Ball, Captain Tsubasa, Slam Dunk, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, and others.

With the relaxation of censorship in Japan in the 1990s, a wide variety of explicit sexual themes appeared in manga intended for male readers, and correspondingly occur in English translations.[16] However, in 2010 the Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed the controversial Bill 156 to restrict harmful content despite opposition by many authors and publishers in the manga industry.[17][18]

Women's roles in shōnen manga

In early shōnen manga, men and boys played all the major roles, with women and girls having only auxiliary places as sisters, mothers, and occasionally girlfriends. Of the nine cyborgs in Shotaro Ishinomori's 1964 Cyborg 009, only one is female, and she soon vanishes from the action. Some recent shōnen manga virtually omit women, e.g. the martial arts story Baki the Grappler by Itagaki Keisuke, and the supernatural fantasy Sand Land by Akira Toriyama. By the 1980s, however, girls and women began to play increasingly important roles in shōnen manga. For example, in Toriyama's 1980 Dr. Slump, the main character is the mischievous and powerful girl robot Arale Norimaki. Discussing his character Lisa Lisa from 1987's Battle Tendency, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure author Hirohiko Araki stated that at the time female characters in shōnen manga were typically cute and designed to be "a man's ideal woman." He said readers were not interested in realistic portrayals of women, but rather the type of girl "that giggles during a conversation" with heart marks next to her. He believes this made the warrior-type Lisa Lisa feel fresh and "unheard of" in both manga and society in general and said it was exciting to challenge people's expectations with her. Araki also said that the supernatural basis of the fights in his series evened the battlefield for women and children to match up against strong men.[19]

The role of girls and women in manga for male readers has evolved considerably since Arale. One class is the bishōjo or "beautiful young girl."[20] Sometimes the woman is unattainable, and she is always an object of the hero's emotional and/or sexual interest, like Shao-lin from Guardian Angel Getten by Minene Sakurano or Belldandy from the seinen manga Oh My Goddess! by Kōsuke Fujishima.[21] In other stories, the hero is surrounded by such girls and women, as in Negima! Magister Negi Magi by Ken Akamatsu and Hanaukyo Maid Team by Morishige.[22] The male protagonist does not always succeed in forming a relationship with the woman, for example when Bright Honda and Aimi Komori fail to bond in Shadow Lady by Masakazu Katsura. In other cases, a successful couple's sexual activities are depicted or implied, like in Outlanders by Johji Manabe.[23] In still other cases, the initially naive and immature hero grows up to become a man by learning how to deal and live with women emotionally and sexually; examples of heroes who follow this path include Yota in Video Girl Ai by Masakazu Katsura and Train Man in the seinen manga Train Man: Densha Otoko by Hidenori Hara.[24][25]

However, since the 80s, there have been increase in female protagonists in shōnen manga, albeit lesser in number. They are often portrayed as central characters or characters with important roles in manga. Some examples include Fullmetal Alchemist,[26] Inuyasha, Attack on Titan, Ranma ½, Fairy Tail, Gunslinger Girl, The Qwaser of Stigmata, WataMote, Nisekoi, Strawberry Marshmallow and Soul Eater.

See also


  1. ^ Aoki, Deb. "What is Shonen Manga?". Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  2. ^ a b c Kamikaze Factory Studio (2012). Shonen Manga. HarperCollins. p. 8. ISBN 9780062115478.
  3. ^ "Short anime glossary [Краткий анимешно-русский разговорник]". anime*magazine (in Russian) (3): 36. 2004. ISSN 1810-8644.
  4. ^ a b Schodt, 1986, op. cit., chapter 3, pp. 68-87.
  5. ^ Brenner, 2007, op. cit., p. 31.
  6. ^ "雑誌ジャンルおよびカテゴリ区分一覧" [Magazine genre and category category list] (PDF) (in Japanese). Japanese Magazine Advertising Association. 15 February 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  7. ^
    "One result was a new regime of self-regulation among manga producers and distributors who began to reign in the more violent and sexual images that characterized some genres, particularly manga directed at shōnen (male youth)."
  8. ^ Thompson, Jason (March 10, 2011). "Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga – Dragon Ball". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2014-01-31.
  9. ^ a b Thorn, Matt (June 1996). "A History of Manga". Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Everything about Shounen (Shonen 少年) Genre". 14 March 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  11. ^ Schodt, 1986, op. cit., chapter 3; Gravett, 2004, op. cit., chapter. 5, pp. 52-73.
  12. ^ intānashonaru, Kōdansha (1999). Eibun nihon shōjiten : Japan Profile of a nation (Revised ed., 1. ed.). Tōkyō: Kōdansha Intānashonaru. pp. 692–715. ISBN 4-7700-2384-7.
  13. ^ Schodt, Frederik L. (2007). The Astro Boy essays : Osamu Tezuka, Mighty Atom, and the manga/anime revolution. Berkeley, Calif.: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 978-1-933330-54-9.
  14. ^ Tezuka, Frederik L. Schodt. Foreword by Osamu (1988). Manga! Manga! : the world of Japanese comics ; [includes 96 pages from Osamu Tezuka's "Phoenix", Reiji Matsumoto's "Ghost warrior", Riyoko Ikeda's "The rose of Versailles", Keiji Nakazawa's "Barefoot gen" (Updated paperback ed.). Tokyo ;New York: Kodansha Internat. ISBN 978-0-87011-752-7.
  15. ^ "2009 Japanese Manga Magazine Circulation Numbers". Anime News Network. 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2013-11-30. The bestselling manga magazine, Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump, rose in circulation from 2.79 million copies to 2.81 million.
  16. ^ Perper, Timothy; Cornog, Martha (1 March 2002). "Eroticism for the masses: Japanese manga comiss and their assimilation into the U.S.". Sexuality and Culture. 6 (1): 3–126. doi:10.1007/s12119-002-1000-4.
  17. ^ "Comic fans protest 'extreme sex' manga bans". The Sydney Morning Herald. Agence France-Presse. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  18. ^ "Writers, Lawyers Oppose Revised Youth Ordinance Bill". Anime News Network. 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2015-08-23.
  19. ^ Araki, Hirohiko (August 18, 2015). JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Part 1 Battle Tendency. 2. Viz Media. p. 365. ISBN 978-1-4215-7883-5.
  20. ^ For multiple meanings of bishōjo, see Perper & Cornog, 2002, op. cit., pp. 60-63.
  21. ^ Guardian Angel Getten, by Sakurano Minene. Raijin Graphic Novels/Gutsoon! Entertainment, Vols. 1-4, 2003-2004.
  22. ^ Negima, by Ken Akamatsu. Del Rey/Random House, Vols. 1-15, 2004-2007; Hanaukyo Maid Team, by Morishige. Studio Ironcat, Vols. 1-3, 2003-2004.
  23. ^ Outlanders:
  24. ^ Train Man: Densha Otoko, Hidenori Hara. Viz, Vols. 1-3, 2006.
  25. ^ Perper, Timothy and Martha Cornog. 2007. "The education of desire: Futari etchi and the globalization of sexual tolerance." Mechademia: An Annual Forum for Anime, Manga, and Fan Arts, 2:201-214.
  26. ^ Thompson, Jason (2013-06-06). "Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Fullmetal Alchemist". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2015-08-22.

Book called “Understanding Manga and Anime” by Robin E. Brenner.

[2] Book called “The Anime Encyclopedia” By Jonathan Clements, Helen McCarthy

External links

Ace of Diamond

Ace of Diamond (Japanese: ダイヤのA (エース), Hepburn: Daiya no Ēsu, also known as Diamond's Ace) is a shōnen baseball manga written and illustrated by Yuji Terajima and published by Kodansha. It has been serialized by Weekly Shōnen Magazine since 2006. In 2008, Ace of Diamond received the Shogakukan Manga Awards for the shōnen category. In 2010, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for best shōnen manga.

An anime adaptation was premiered on 6 October 2013. Two original animation DVDs will be bundled with the fourth and fifth volumes of the Ace of Diamond Act II manga; the first was released 15 July 2016 and the second was released on 16 September 2016. An anime adaptation of Ace of Diamond Act II has been announced, and it is scheduled to premiere in 2019.

B.B. (manga)

B.B. (ビービー, Bī Bī) is a shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Osamu Ishiwata. The manga ran in the Shogakukan magazine Shōnen Sunday from 1985 issue 24 to 1991 issue 9. The title stands for "Burning Blood" and Ishiwata's subsequent serial LOVe was a continuation of this series. In 1989, B.B. won the Shogakukan Manga Award in the shōnen category.

Be Blues! - Ao ni Nare

Be Blues! - Ao ni Nare (BE BLUES!〜青になれ〜) is an ongoing Japanese association football shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Motoyuki Tanaka. It is published by Shogakukan since 2011, with the chapters serialized on Weekly Shōnen Sunday and compiled into 31 tankōbon volumes so far.

Chief Detective Kenichi

Chief Detective Kenichi (ケン1探偵長, Kenichi Tantei Chou) is a manga series by Osamu Tezuka published in Kodansha's Shōnen Club from June 1954 to December 1956.

Dr. Stone

Dr. Stone is a Japanese manga series written by Riichiro Inagaki and illustrated by Boichi, serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since March 6, 2017 with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into seven tankōbon volumes as of September 2018. Viz Media licensed the manga in North America. An anime television series adaptation by TMS Entertainment will premiere in July 2019.

Ganbare Genki

Do Your Best Genki (がんばれ元気, Ganbare Genki) is a sports manga by Yū Koyama about Horiguchi Genki, a boy who is raised by a single father, and who wants to be a boxer like him. It was adapted as an anime television series by Toei Animation. The manga received the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen in 1977.


Haikyu!! (ハイキュー!!, Haikyū!!, from the kanji 排球 "volleyball") is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Haruichi Furudate. Individual chapters have been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since February 2012, with bound volumes published by Shueisha. The series was initially published as a one-shot in Shueisha's seasonal Jump NEXT! magazine prior to serialization. As of December 2018, thirty-five volumes have been released in Japan. The manga has been licensed in North America by Viz Media. As of January 2018, Haikyu!! has sold over 28 million copies.

An anime television series adaptation by Production I.G aired from April 2014 to September 2014, which has been licensed for digital and home release in North America by Sentai Filmworks. The second season of the anime aired from October 2015 to March 2016. A third season aired from October 2016 to December 2016. A fourth season was announced at Jump Festa 2019.

Hatsukoi Scandal

Hatsukoi Scandal (Japanese: 初恋スキャンダル, Hepburn: Hatsukoi Sukyandaru) is a Japanese manga series by Akira Oze. It won the award for best shōnen manga at the 31st Shogakukan Manga Award. It was adapted into a TV special in 1986.

King Golf

King Golf (キング ゴルフ, Kingu Gorufu) is a Japanese (Golf) manga series written and illustrated by Ken Sasaki. It has been serialized by Shogakukan in Weekly Shōnen Sunday since 2008 and collected in over 32 tankōbon to date. It follows the story of high school student Sousuke Youke, as he begins his career in (Golf) and over time obtains many wins and defeats various opponents.

It won the award for Best Shōnen manga at the 56th Shogakukan Manga Award in 2011.

Material Puzzle

Material Puzzle (マテリアル・パズル) is a 2002 Japanese manga by Masahiro Totsuka. In Japan, there are twenty volumes out. However, the manga has yet to be translated into English.

The manga is a parody manga and is constantly making fun out of the typical shōnen manga. For example, it uses candy for weapons and over stretched scenes where characters die then come back to life again.

Megane na Kanojo

Megane na Kanojo (眼鏡なカノジョ, lit. "Glasses Girlfriends") is a Japanese manga series by Tobi. It was serialized in Flex Comix's Flex Comix Blood online shōnen manga magazine between 2007 and 2008, and was collected in a single tankōbon volume. It was adapted into a series of OVA in 2010.

Outlanders (manga)

Outlanders (アウトランダーズ, Autorandāzu) — is a popular manga comic written by Johji Manabe, combining aspects of the space opera, science fantasy, fan service, magical girlfriend and harem genres.

Seinen manga

Seinen manga (青年漫画) are manga marketed toward young adult men. In Japanese, the word "seinen" literally means "youth," but the term "seinen manga" is also used to describe the target audience of comics like Weekly Manga Times and Weekly Manga Goraku which are aimed at men from their 20s to their 50s. Seinen manga are distinguished from shōnen manga which are for younger boys, although some seinen manga like xxxHolic share some similarities with "shōnen" manga. Seinen manga can focus on action, politics, science fiction, fantasy, relationships, sports, or comedy. The female equivalent to seinen manga is josei manga.

Seinen manga have a wide variety of art styles and variation in subject matter. Examples of seinen series include: 20th Century Boys, Berserk, Excel Saga, Mushishi, Ghost in the Shell, Oh My Goddess!, Initial D, and the formerly shōnen manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

A common way to tell if a manga is seinen is by looking at whether furigana is used over the original kanji text: if there are furigana on all kanji, the title is generally aimed at a younger audience. The title of the magazine it was published in is also an important indicator. Usually Japanese manga magazines with the word "young" in the title (Weekly Young Jump for instance) are seinen. There are also mixed shōnen/seinen magazines such as Gangan Powered and Comp Ace. Other popular seinen manga magazines include Young Magazine, Weekly Young Sunday, Big Comic Spirits, Business Jump, Ultra Jump, and Afternoon.

Sket Dance

Sket Dance (スケット・ダンス, Suketto Dansu, romanized as SKET DANCE in Japan) is a manga series written and illustrated by Kenta Shinohara and serialized, beginning in July 2007, in Shueisha's manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump. Sket Dance won the 55th annual Shogakukan Manga Award in 2009 for best shōnen manga. An anime adaptation, produced by Tatsunoko Production, premiered on April 7, 2011 on TV Tokyo. On March 30, 2011, Crunchyroll announced that it would simulcast the Sket Dance anime series.

Tenka Musō

Princess Ninja Scroll Tenka Musō (天下無双, Tenka Musō) is a 2-volumes shōnen manga by Akane Sasaki.

The Devil of the Earth

The Devil of the Earth (地球の悪魔, Chikyuu no Akuma) is a Japanese action adventure shōnen manga by Osamu Tezuka that was published in 1954.

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland (Japanese: 約束のネバーランド, Hepburn: Yakusoku no Nebārando) is a Japanese manga series written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 1, 2016, with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into ten tankōbon volumes as of August 2018. The story follows a group of orphaned children in their escape plan from a farm. Viz Media licensed the manga in North America and serialized The Promised Neverland in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine. An anime television series adaptation by CloverWorks premiered in January 2019 in the Noitamina programming block.

Weekly Shōnen Champion

Weekly Shōnen Champion (週刊少年チャンピオン, Shūkan Shōnen Champion) is a weekly shōnen manga magazine published by Akita Shoten.

Weekly Shōnen Sunday

Weekly Shōnen Sunday (Japanese: 週刊少年サンデー, Hepburn: Shūkan Shōnen Sandē) is a weekly shōnen manga magazine published in Japan by Shogakukan since March 1959. Contrary to its title, Weekly Shōnen Sunday issues are released on Wednesdays. Weekly Shōnen Sunday has sold over 1.8 billion copies since 1986, making it the third best-selling comic/manga magazine, only behind Weekly Shōnen Jump and Weekly Shōnen Magazine.

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