There’s a wide variety of genres available for anime with a specific theme that can resonate with almost every niche in stark comparison to its western counterpart. While several anime have shows that target a specific demographic, sometimes it can be a little hard to tell who the target audience is supposed to be since all of these genres have a tendency to blend together.
The protagonists for shoujo manga can range from girly magical girls, sporty tomboys, or even male characters. While the most commonly explored theme for this demographic tends to be romance, shoujo manga can also extend to fantasies, mysteries, and on very rare occasions, dark and apocalyptic. However, most shoujo manga tend to stick to the typical school setting with a coming of age narrative.
Shounen manga is a bit more diverse, thus making it harder at times to pinpoint its specific target audience. As with shoujo manga, protagonists can range from hot blooded and energetic to calm and calculated and can either be male or female (though the majority is male, having a female protagonist in this genre isn’t as rare as it is to have a male protagonist in shoujo manga). Shounen manga cover almost every possible genre: from nitty gritty action to your standard high school romantic comedy. What makes it so difficult to tell certain shounen manga apart from shoujo manga is the way the stories are constructed and the characters are drawn. It’s probably worth noting that while male shoujo manga artists are incredibly rare, female shounen manga artists are quite common place, so that may be an additional factor to some shounen manga that feature art styles or story lines that wouldn’t look too out of place in a shoujo magazine.
Most notably, unlike shoujo manga which has the tendency to cater solely to its intended female audience (unless it’s a magical girl anime, but I’ll get to that at a later time), shounen manga tend to make an effort to appeal to its female fanbase, especially if its cast largely consists of attractive males. With that in mind, it once again begs the question as to which audience the show is specifically targeting. In the end, the deciding factor tends to be what type of magazine the source material was published in or words spoken form the creator themselves if the work is anime original; even if the genders of the majority of the work’s fandom contradicts this.