Hope this is okay x3
Ever since the early 1900s, Japanese Manga-ka have been creating Shoujo manga for girls and young women. They were a lot smaller than they are now, we didn’t have the extensive twenty-five volume series’ we have now. They were one-page, two-page, sometimes three-page comic strip featured in girls’ magazines. Just as the popularity was dwindling, however, the beloved Manga-ka Osamu Tezuka (Known best for Astro Boy), began publishing the legendary “Princess Knight.” It totaled six volumes, as well as inspiring an anime series, running 52 episodes and a feature length film.
Girl’s novels were a popular inspiration choice for the men (who generally dominated the industry at the time) and women who wrote Shoujo manga. Most Shoujo strips were usually similar, interchanging different elements to follow a simple structure, as the popularity of Shoujo was mainly based of the idea of an innocent, preteen girl being tossed into extreme circumstances and having to battle out moral and emotional struggles to return to safety and happiness. Romance was taboo, as these girls were younger, the art was softer, more “chibi-style”, and very cutesy. However, around 1970, young women began to publish Shoujo that is much closer to what we see today: High school heroines, the tsundere males, love triangles, and more intimate, mature content. Popularity began to grow, and new forms grew out of the changes: magical girl Shoujo, Shonen-Ai, Josei, and other, easily recognizable modern aspects of Shoujo.
Today, particularly in the west, Shoujo is identified by smooth, flowing lines, flowery panels, drama, romance, melancholy, girly-content, and many other things that can be recognized in Shoujo–but also in other manga. Seinen manga, a genre directed at men in their late twenties and early thirties, often feature Shoujo-like aspects, particularly romance, and are commonly misidentified as Shoujo. (Of course, Seinen like Akira would NEVER be mistaken for Shoujo!) Chobits and Oh! My Goddess are two of the most commonly mistaken Seinen manga in the Western community. Using the Western definition of Shoujo, however, they can be classified as such. Especially considering most Western boys would NOT be caught reading either of them. One easy, simple way to most likely get it right, however, is to remember that young adult, or older teenage, male characters as the lead, usually means it is Seinen, or possibly even Shonen (such as Pita Ten). Shoujo tends to put a girl in the lead role.
Probably the most popular Shoujo for the Western audiences would include Fruits Basket, Peach Girl, Paradise Kiss, Vampire Knight and Kare Kano, although there are many others that receive attention from non-Japanese readers. However, it would be one hundred percent safe to say that Sailor Moon is THE MOST well-known anime of the genre in the Americas, with a massive legacy, fanbase and also being one of the commonly aired cartoons of our generation’s childhood. Similarly to Pokemon, it is viewed and enjoyed by anime fans and non anime fans alike.
So, a somewhat brief history of Shoujo later, we come to the final point. What makes Shoujo so darn lovable? Aside from the smooth, fine lines, bubbly cluttering of the pages, and the heartwarming content, I believe that Shoujo is most greatly appreciated because of the reality of it…Shoujo masks common inner conflicts that girls, both young and old, experience. It flaunts a dramatic, fantastic or slice-of-life plot, but when stripped raw, it is essentially just a pile of emotions and troubles that we all experience. Subconsciously, when reading manga, we feel that we can relate…even in the furthest of stretches, being able to relate always warms you up a little.
Oh, and of course, there’s the secret lingering hope that some mysterious boy may one day show up and sweep us off our feet! <3