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Manga Style — Chibi, Shoujo, Shounen

The Japanese manga style is broken down into three categories: Chibi, Shoujo, and Shounen. All of these terms also apply to anime.


manga chibi drawing
An example of a character drawn in chibi style.

Chibi is used to portray extreme emotions or just to mix up animations styles a bit, generally as comic relief. Chibi characters have large heads, round cheeks, massive eyes, and are highly simplified. The body is usually smaller than the head. Chibi can work in conjunction with both Shoujo and Shounen, although it is not used in grim or serious-minded stories, as it is meant usually for a bit of humor. There are anime or manga that are exclusively Chibi, but these are few and far between. An example of Chibi would be Dragon Ball.


manga shoujo drawing
A shoujo example.

Shoujo is generally for romance, or what I like to call ‘First World Problem’ (FWP) stories. Set in modern Japan, Shoujo is usually about sports, school, and romance… all the little frivolous issues that Japanese teens or adults face. No Shoujo character is unattractive.

If you like romance novels, Shoujo is for you. Stylized, exaggerated, and pretty, Shoujo is generally targeted towards women and girls. Examples are things like Toradora or Haikyu!!.


manga shounen drawing
An example of shounen.

Shounen is extremely detailed. Used for action and horror, although not exclusively, most of the cool stuff is done in Shounen style. In my opinion, the storylines tend to be more involved and interesting than Shoujo. Women in these stories are usually love interests or extra powerful characters. Shounen is directed mostly towards the male population with things like Dragonball Z.

There are many cases where manga or anime are a mix of both Shoujo and Shounen and the genre does not in any way constrain the style. I’ve happened upon action mangas done in Shoujo and FWPs stories in Shounen. Newer anime and mangas tend to blur the lines more frequently.

One of these mixed styles is Fairy Tail, drawn in Shoujo, but with a much more Shounen-esque story. A few great things about this manga is that it is extremely long, so plenty of reading and watching material, the main character is female, and one of the most interesting and powerful characters is a woman.

Ellie is a geek teen who loves to read, watch, draw, and talk about all things manga. When she’s not doing that, she’s playing Minecraft with her gang of friends or gaming with her family.

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