Shojo manga generally refers to all female-oriented manga. They usually revolve around interpersonal relationships and love stories. There are very little actions and the relationships between the characters are developed and maintained mainly through conversations. Shojo manga focus primarily on character developments. In addition, they are often more plot oriented compared to shonen manga, which tend to focus on action or humour.
A powerful youth counterculture grew in the late 1960s and the early 1970s which asserted its influence on every aspect of society, including the media. Very much like the rest of the world, Japan was affected by it. This reason, together with the broadening of the age range of readers, led to a manga boom, which in turn resulted in the influx of young female artists. It was during this period that shojo manga readers increased greatly. Shojo manga also gained critical literary acclaim for the time.
A big proportion of anime are actually based on or influenced manga. Of these manga-influenced anime, quite a significant number of them are adapted from shojo manga. One such example is Whisper of the Heart, also titled Mimi Wo Sumaseba, which is based on the shojo manga of the same name by Aoi Hiiragi. This low-keyed, realistic film, produced by Studio Ghibli, is about finding one’s self and discovering love. The female lead in this anime, Shizuku, is experiencing her first love and at the same time, having doubts about her future. The plot simply revolves around the developing relationship of two young individuals. The film retains the characteristics of the shojo manga and is a hit with both male and female audiences.
The influence of shojo manga on anime is the focus on plots and characters development. Anime that are more plot oriented are seen to have more depth compared to anime that rely on spectacular action sequences and absorbing fight-scenes. As such, they are able to attract a wide audience with their storylines. Also, quite a number of female characters in anime share much in common with those in shojo manga.