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Post Reply Shounen 101
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29 / M / Cali
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Posted 9/12/16 , edited 9/12/16
I've been watching anime for a long time but have always struggled with knowing what's a shounen. Most common definition is anime aimed at young boys, which is extremely vague but I get the general point. Action, Fighting, Sports usually are shounen shows. I'm wondering are there any of those types of shows that aren't considered Shounen and why. Also what shows that don't fall into one of those 3 categories that are shounen, such as comedy/ slice of life, and what makes them shounen.

To me it seems like there is no concrete way to define a shounen, Its a 'you know it when you see it" kind of thing.
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Posted 9/12/16
Shonen is anime aimed at 'young boys'. Generally, if it takes place during middle school, it's shonen. It definitely isn't a 'you know it when you see it' thing.
Also, generally, shonen doesn't really deal strongly with 'mature' subjects. It's about kids who, through the powers of friendship and dreams, achieve great things.
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Posted 9/12/16
I mean, yeah, shonen is pretty much a demographic. A lot of shonen manga/anime do have similarities in them considering they are targeting the same audience. Action, fighting, or sports anime that aren't shonen would simply be aiming towards a different demographic, like having good looking guys to market towards girls, or being more mature to market towards adults. I don't usually pay attention to what category anime are in when I watch them, so I can't really give any examples.
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Posted 9/12/16

gornotck wrote:

Shonen is anime aimed at 'young boys'. Generally, if it takes place during middle school, it's shonen. It definitely isn't a 'you know it when you see it' thing.


If it's set in middle school and most of the cast is male. Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Yuru Yuri and Sailor Moon aren't shonen series.
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Posted 9/12/16

rysto32 wrote:


gornotck wrote:

Shonen is anime aimed at 'young boys'. Generally, if it takes place during middle school, it's shonen. It definitely isn't a 'you know it when you see it' thing.


If it's set in middle school and most of the cast is male. Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Yuru Yuri and Sailor Moon aren't shonen series. :D


True, I guess, though I don't consider Puella Magi Madoka Magica to be anything more than a waste of several thousand hours of film.
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Posted 9/12/16 , edited 9/12/16
From my limited understanding, shounen, shoujo, seinen, and josei are all just demographics or target audiences. As such, they're kind of useless as a categorization for shows. Well I should say shounen and seinen in particular. Shoujo and Josei are so niche that it seems like you actually might be able to draw some fairly common parallels for shows that fall under that umbrella.

Basically, I personally don't think it matters. However, if I really wanted to tell whether a show is shounen or not, my guess would be to take a look at which network it aired and at what time. Perhaps that would shed some light on the issue?

Usually what I do though is just look to see if it's based off of a manga and go by the manga's demographic. Using that method, I would classify Chihayafuru as a Josei sports anime. Many say that the anime is shoujo though - so who knows? Using that same system, Lucky Star would be an example of a shounen slice of life.

But like I said, for shounen and seinen in particular, I think trying to classify shows is more trouble than it's worth. But that's just my opinion of course.

And again - this is just how I wound up looking at it, so if others want to correct some faulty information, then feel free to. I'll be moderately interested in seeing other responses as well.
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Posted 9/12/16 , edited 9/12/16
Azumanga Daioh

edit: I don't think demographics tend to really matter but I have seen many heated debates from people who mistake it as a genre.
Or classify it. The biggest one being, Seinen = Mature.
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Posted 9/12/16
What's considered a mature subject? Its not death since that's everywhere in shounen. Its not sex, plenty of ecchi harem shounens right?
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Posted 9/12/16

laeuscgretired wrote:

What's considered a mature subject? Its not death since that's everywhere in shounen. Its not sex, plenty of ecchi harem shounens right?


More like psychological stuff and things that require more thought that younger people wouldn't really understand I guess? Also sure people die in shonens, but a lot of the time they aren't that violent or gory, like with one piece no one really "dies" until like 300 something episodes in. Also, who knows, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. I've only done limited research on the subject after all
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Posted 9/12/16 , edited 9/12/16
I think seinen series don't play around with how much mature content they show such as: the Grisaia series, Elfen Lied, Black Lagoon, Future Diary, and Berserk for violence, nudity, and disturbing content.

Probably has something to do with the broadcasting regulations in Japan. Kind of like movie ratings in America. You're only allowed like one or so swear words in a PG-13 movie, any more than that then they have to put the R rating on it. Good example, would be the Avengers, if the Avengers had an R rating, a franchise targeted to an audience of all ages but mostly for young children to sell toys and DVDs and clothes, would then lose a lot of sales because overprotective parents don't want to expose their kids to some real shit.

My parents didn't let me watch Adult Swim when i was a kid because its rated R. If Gintama, Naruto, or a Certain Magical Trash were rated R then japanese parents wouldn't let their kids watch it probs. Not to say there isn't death in Gintama, there's death in the Avengers but like I said the quantity of the "mature content" in question??? idk lol

A good counterexample to all this though, is that i just googled shounen anime for more examples and Deadman Wonderland came up which is pretty fcked lol

This is all just my personal specualtion, ultimately i also think it's just trying to categorize demographics and it's all bout personal perspective lol
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Posted 9/12/16

C-Tundra wrote:
seinen series...Future Diary
Future Diary is actually a shounen.

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Posted 9/12/16

CKD-Anime wrote:
Future Diary is actually a shounen.

Is it really? haha who's in charge of this...


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Posted 9/12/16
I think what makes an anime Seinen or Josei are its themes. I think the gender part just has to do with what Japanese people think boys and girls would generally like. It's really irrelevant, especially overseas. Examples of what I mean by themes though:

Nana is a josei series because most of the characters are in their 20s, meaning they're in the real world, living on their own, and are working or trying to make a career out of their talents. For the romance aspect, the story doesn't have characters crush on each other in the beginning and have them end up together in the end like a typical shoujo would, it focuses on the actual relationship and what is going on around the couple. It's also an opportunity for creators. They get to show sex or make it so it's clear that it just happened or will happen, they get to show characters drinking and smoking without the clarification text. The series is just more mature.

Usagi Drop is a josei series because it covers parenting, coping with the loss of a loved one, sudden life style changes, complicated family relationships, and more.

Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu cover discovery of passion and coming of age. Not to mention the time these series take place are over 50 years ago when Jazz and Rakugo were much more of a thing. (I mean jazz is still loved but it's not like it's the new thing anymore.) The romantic relationships in these series are also much more mature than the typical shoujo.

When I think about themes, it makes sense why a series like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun would be a shounen and why Oresama Teacher would be a shoujo, why a series like Your Lie in April would be a shounen and why Nodame Cantabile would be a josei.

I think it makes sense that Future Diary is shounen. A thriller series with brutal deaths doesn't really come off as seinen. Blood-C and Shingeki no Kyojin are shounen as well. Tokyo Ghoul is seinen however, and I think it has to do with the fact that the conflict is between 2 groups who are unable to live simultaneously in a world that they share (keeping in mind that not every ghoul is bad and that they often try to blend in with regular people), which leads to somewhat of a tragedy. I'm also just trying to support my theme idea, so idk.
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Posted 9/12/16
Usually the demographic an anime is aimed toward and the story elements it incorporates dictate what it is.

Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist etc... are all shonen.

Berserk is Seinen, primarily because it has a lot of super gore and graphic rape.

Sailor Moon is shojo.

Re:Zero is technically a harem light novel, but otherwise it would probably be classified as a seinen.

The terms themselves are just words for demographic. Shonen means youth (as in young boy), Shojo literally means young girl, Seinen means young man (adult, that is 18-29).
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Posted 9/12/16
Shounen usually has a all-male or mostly-male cast and usually focuses on sports, action, friendship/rivalry among guys, super powers, and other relatively simple topics. Seinen, on the other hand, while targeted at males like shounen, tends to focus more on mental things and complicated topics like human nature, among other things.

There's no easy way to decide what is or is not a shounen. While there are common traits, there are no 100% solid guidelines.
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