Why fewer Shojo Anime are made today

Why fewer Shojo Anime are made today

With more and more anime being made and released every year, fans may wonder why more shojo anime aren’t being made. In fact, compared to previous years, it feels like it is fewer shojo titles being made these days – despite increased production from the industry as a whole.

Some may come to the natural conclusion that it is simply due to a lack of demand from the fans, but there is much more. Here are the answers to why apparently less shojo anime has been released in recent years.

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Shojo’s shift from anime adaptations to live-action adaptations

Scene with Haruhi and Tamaki ignoring each other in the movie Ouran High School Host Club

There are actually still shojo, and by extension josei, adaptations being produced. These days, however, they are often adapted as live-action dramas and movies rather than the typical anime format. Because most Japanese dramas are not streamed in the West, these adaptations often fly over the radar of most anime fans outside of Japan. With their more down-to-earth tones and slice-of-life settings, these titles are often easier to produce as live-action productions compared to the more fantastical shonen manga.

They also tend to resonate better with a general audience, allowing them to blend in well with other non-anime shows on regular TV blocks. Another possibility for the preference for live-action adaptations may be due to an often misconceived notion that most women grow out of watching animation once they reach adulthood. This is of course untrue, but that doesn’t stop anime productions from overlooking even the most popular, best-selling shojo manga in favor of the latest isekai or shonen title.

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Tohru is waiting to be picked for the Fruits Basket Game

A large majority of the anime that have broken into the mainstream today are shonen titles, and many are popular enough that even non-anime fans can recognize them. This bleeds into the amount of representation such titles get at conventions based on the number of cosplays, fan art and merchandise related to the series that can be found. While a few shojo anime have also reached that level of popularity, they pale in number and recognition compared to the biggest shonen titles.

In fact, no shojo anime in recent years has reached the same level of popularity as classic titles such as Sailor Moon or Fruit basket. Tellingly, some of the most popular shojo titles of late have been reboots. It begs the question: why have so few shojo anime broken into the mainstream? It’s not because shojo isn’t as good or accessible as shonen, and it’s certainly not because the current shojo manga being published isn’t as good as the older ones. That’s because it just isn’t being made enough.

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Kaguya blushes in Kaguya-Sama: Love is War.

Now, this is not to say that previous years have had many shojo anime adaptations either. There were more than there are now, but they were still relatively fewer compared to the amount of shonen series being released. This problem has persisted in most media for many years now, stretching from East to West. Because of this, many quality shojo and josei manga have never reached a wider audience – because there simply aren’t enough people in the industry willing to give media aimed at girls a chance.

What makes this situation particularly frustrating is that shojo manga and anime are often accused of focusing too much on romance, but there are far more shonen and seinen romance anime released each year compared to shojo and josei romance stories.

Some of the biggest romance anime in recent years have been both shonen and seinen titles such as Kaguya-sama: Love Is War and Quintessential quintuplets, both of which were popular enough to receive multiple seasons, movies, and even live-action adaptations. Even one of the few reverse harem anime released this year, Romantic killeris based on a shonen manga (although one would be forgiven for mistaking it for a shojo series, as it seems to have been written with a female audience in mind rather than a male one despite the label).

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These days, what resonates more with female audiences tends to be less of stereotypical boy-meets-girl romances and more of the close relationships and bonds that form between attractive men. This applies especially to mobile games Touken Ranbu and Ensemble stars continues to increase in popularity. It has gotten to the point where, much like with isekai, a handful of these types of titles are released with each new season.

This sub-genre of female-targeted media has also proven to be incredibly profitable; Ensemble stars has often topped the charts for mobile games in terms of revenue, beating out games made for male audiences that Uma Musume and Fate’s great order. Many of the anime adapted from these types of games have received multiple seasons and even a handful of movies—a rarity among both shojo and josei anime, which tend to be limited to just one season. Touken Ranbu Notably, it’s gone strong since it first launched in 2015 and went on to spawn two anime adaptations, stage plays, manga, and even a Warriors spin-off game that was officially released in English.

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The otome subgenre also continues to thrive in popularity, with game companies such as Aksys consistently distributing a number of new games each year. Although there aren’t as many anime adaptations based on this genre compared to those with male casts, there are usually at least one or two new titles per year. The rise of Villainess themed isekai has also brought with it an increased interest in otome games which in turn may lead to more adaptations in the future.

The shojo genre isn’t dying by any means, but it’s definitely more overlooked compared to its shonen counterpart these days. It is filled with titles that deal with a variety of topics outside of typical romances, and there are definitely series that can reach the same level of popularity as classics like Sailor Moon — or even modern shonen series like My Hero Academia or Attack on Titan — if only more people in the industry are willing to give such stories a chance.

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