What does Shounen Mean?

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Someone tells you about a new “shounen” anime and you don’t know what it is? We’ll tell you what’s behind the term and how to use it.

Shōnen Means: Young, Youth(ly)

The Japanese expression “shounen” translates to “boy” or “youth(licher)”. Also spelled “shonen,” the term refers to a genre of manga and anime aimed at boys between the ages of 9 and 18. It is the strongest-represented genre in the manga.

Origin of Shōnen

The term “shounen” actually stands for “youth.” In the 19th century, it was adopted for the emerging manga magazines. An official classification of manga by age and gender emerged in the 20th century.

Themes of Shounen

Typical of “shounen” are a mixture of action and adventure that follow a good/evil scheme. Their hero’s journey is often structured like a quest. In this, the (usually male) protagonists face an antagonist and must defeat evil forces or monsters.

The individual subgenres in “shounen” are diverse. From fantasy, and science fiction to historical or scenarios, everything is there. Thrillers are told or romantic to everyday comedies.

Examples of Shounen

“Shounen” is the most represented genre in both manga and anime. Here are a few examples:

  • Dragon Ball
  • Naruto
  • Yu-Gi-Oh
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • One Piece
  • Attack on Titan
  • My Hero Academia
  • Jujutsu Kaisen

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The author AWSMONE, who works for Scrollbytes Organisation, has been vetted and has the necessary know-how or education to be able to write about any entertainment topics. Learn more on our about page.