I certainly hope there isn’t any romance here.
*because I can’t get [blockquote] to do anything in this theme, I’ll rely on list instead for quotes in the rest of this post.
JPMeyer thinks defining genres in anime and manga by their characteristics is silly:
I admit, those definitions are fucking stupid, but the problem here is not so much that the syntactic approach is wrong, but that people are using the wrong goddamn things to define their shou-nen/jo-sei-nen. There ARE genre defining characteristics, but those aren’t it.
There are features common to each genre in general. Just to name a few, shounen’s major relationships are always friendship, with romance taking a back seat and never looked deeply into; growth and change through effort is encouraged; and there is rarely any moral ambiguity. Shoujo’s relationship emphasis is almost always on romance, and even if it is not you can expect to see it lurking around every second corner, and character development is the main driving force of the plot, as opposed to shounen’s structured ‘journeys’.
Seinen and josei are more murky – seinen is often just shounen with blood and tits, but things like Genshiken show that that’s not its only trick. In fact, Genshiken, especially in the ending arcs with Ogiue, approach josei territory, which is distinct from shoujo by more mature views on romance as well as exploring more adult aspects of life and society(compare Nana to Fruits Basket). It is in these cases where the distinction is unnecessary, as it becomes as blurry as the morality of the characters, and an exercise in classification can become laughably silly.
There’s a whole post in these characteristics, but I’m not someone fit to write it.
Another way to distinguish them is, of course, to see what magazine they run in. From the same JPMeyer post:
The editorial departments of the magazines have a set of standards that end up specifying some of the common features or themes, meaning that anything ran in a shounen magazine is probably going to end up becoming very shounen-y. But this isn’t a be-all-and-end-all rule for classification either, especially since things like Death Note and Gintama started running in Shounen Jump. Neither are particularly shounen-y titles, but that may just be a reflection of Shounen Jump’s incredibly broad range of audiences instead of being representative of shounen magazines as a whole.
Why are the distinctions necessary in the first place? Omo seem to think that the terms are nothing more than ‘marketing babble’, but I hope I have shown that there are substantive differences, and I think they have their practical uses. They help you find what you’re looking for, for a start – if you’re looking for some friends going on a fun adventure, you probably shouldn’t go looking in La-La or Hana to Yume (both shoujo magazines). Secondly, it helps adjust your expectations – in a conversation with Mike on IRC, he expressed the desire to see more romantic development between Nemu and Ishida of Bleach. I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen. As Darkshaunz so deliciously puts it:
If you go in without the correct expectations, you will only end up with a broken jar or mummy spanking your naughty behind.
P.S. I’m very sorry about the lack of Impz comics. My tablet is broken, and as such there will be no Impz Comic until I find an alternative.