Shonen vs Seinen: Meanings of Japanese Words

As I posted an article on how “Seijin (成人)” is different in meaning from “Otona (大人)” the other day, here I will talk about the meanings of Japanese words “Shonen (少年)” and “Seinen (青年)”, and further how “Shonen Manga (少年漫画)” differs from “Seinen Manga (青年漫画)”.

Meanings: Shonen vs Seinen

Shonen Yakyu

Actually, the definitions of the words Shonen and Seinen are indefinite and vary depending on the institution, each law, and so on. But both Shonen and Seinen are Japanese words for young males.

According to the articles “少年” and “青年” on the online Japanese encyclopedia “Kotobank”, more often than not, the ages that these Japanese terms represent are as follows.

Shonen (少年)

Shonen are young boys and male teenagers whose age is from 7 or 8 to 15 or 16.

Seinen (青年)

Seinen are youths (particularly males) from late teens to 20s. But in the case of putting emphasis on youthfulness, its definition even includes people in the 30s.

Shonen Manga vs Seinen Manga

Shonen Manga

As for the difference between “Shonen Manga (少年漫画)” or “Shonen-Shi (少年誌)” and “Seinen Manga (青年漫画)” or “Seinen-Shi (青年誌)”, this article on the Japanese site “Manga-Gai” says that as their names indicate, 

Shonen Manga (少年漫画)

Shonen Manga are literally manga comics whose target age group is Shonen and whose content at least 7 or so year-old children can understand.

Seinen Manga (青年漫画)

Seinen Manga are literally manga comics whose target readership is Seinen.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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