Shōnen manga

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Shōnen manga is manga published in Japanese magazines aimed primarily at tween and teenaged boys. Shōnen anime is anime based on Shōnen manga. Japanese fiction aimed at this demographic tends to be focused more on "action" than relationships, with romance generally either perfunctory or played for comedy. Physical combat is a common element, and the cast is predominantly male.

Shōnen series were the first to be brought over en masse to the Western world, because it was the closest match to what was being aired by Western networks at the time (nearly all popular Western animation either is geared towards males or has Multiple Demographic Appeal). Thus, it makes up much of the popular American perception of anime.

In Japan, "Shōnen" is a designation of the stories that were published in a particular class of magazines, not a label that describes the genres of the stories in those magazines. That leads to series that are different from the typical Shōnen style but still count as examples, and series that follow all the typical Shōnen tropes but aren't Shōnen because they didn't originate from a Shōnen magazine.

Contrast Shojo, which is aimed at tween and teenaged girls; Seinen, which is aimed at men; and Josei, which is aimed at women.


Examples of Shōnen manga include:


General Examples

  • Almost anything with Humongous Mecha.
  • Sometimes, adaptations of stories with Multiple Demographic Appeal will create two versions of the story, one Shōnen and one Shojo.
    • The attempted localization of Cardcaptor Sakura in the U.S. could be very generously described as an attempt to create a Shōnen version of the series (i.e., increase appeal in the proven male market), despite the show being entrenched like a rock in Shojo tropes.
    • This practice also occurs in Japan. The Vision of Escaflowne had a Shōnen-version manga produced of its story, while Magic Knight Rayearth's OAVs have a similar bent as compared to the original series.
  • Nearly all the titles featured in the Weekly Shōnen Jump (or simply Jump) magazine have a kind of legacy with each other, enough that a Crossover video game was highly received.
    • The Dragon Ball series is by far the quintessential Shōnen, and due to its age, length and influence provides examples of most of the classic tropes.
    • Of all the ongoing Shōnen series, One Piece is by far the most massively popular. It has drawn a great deal of inspiration from Dragon Ball, but developed a very unique and compelling flavor of its own.
    • Completing the Jump Triforce is Naruto, the most popular anime in America, period.
    • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, released in 1987, is one of Shōnen Jump's longest running Shōnen series, having reached over 90 volumes in Japan. It was only very recently that it got an official English release, and even then it jumped the gun a little, starting with the more-famous Series 3. With its 7th part, "Steel Ball Run", it has switched magazines and became Seinen.
  • Three-Point Landing: They love this to make the characters look cool.
  • General rule of thumb on the scale of idealism vs. cynicism, most Shōnen works (particularly the action fighter types), tend to fall in the idealist side. Deconstructions, Darker and Edgier, and/or, those that fall in the opposite side of the scale can easily be mistaken as a Seinen series and give a What Do You Mean It's for Kids? reaction (Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion are some of the notable examples).

Other Examples in Shonen Jump


Non-Shōnen Jump Examples