Shonen vs. Seinen: Meanings of the Japanese Words

As I wrote in this post on how the Japanese words for adults, Seijin (成人) and Otona (大人), differ in meaning,

I will talk here about the difference between Shonen (少年) and Seinen (青年) and further how Shonen Manga (少年漫画) differs from Seinen Manga (青年漫画).

Shonen vs. Seinen

Shonen Yakyu

Although Shonen and Seinen are both Japanese words for young males, their definitions are indefinite and differ depending on the institution, law, or the like.

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

Shonen (少年)

Shonen refers to young boys and male teenagers aged 7 or 8 years to 15 or 16.

Seinen (青年)

Seinen refers to youths (particularly males) from late teens to 20s. But when emphasizing youthfulness, its definition even includes the 30s.

Shonen Manga vs. Seinen Manga

Shonen Manga

In terms of 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 refers to manga comics whose target age group is Shonen and whose content at least seven or so year-old children can understand.

Seinen Manga (青年漫画)

Seinen Manga refers to 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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