2013 Shoujo Manga Trends and 2014 predictions

Let’s talk about some of the trends we saw in shoujo manga this year! Admittedly my scope is limited since I don’t read the major shoujo magazine from Shueisha, Shogukukan, and Kodansha (Margaret, Sho-comi, Cookie, Cheese, Betsucomi, Ciao, Ribbon, The Dessert…etc…). Please feel free to inform about trends I didn’t catch in the comments section.  Anyhow, here’s what I noticed (in no particular order).

  • Bakeries and Patissiers! There’s the latest one I love “Bread & Butter”, the newest from Maki Minami — Komomo Confiserie and countless other oneshots and short series. This is also a trend I noticed in josei.
  • Bromances — There were lots of short series about guys in none BL relationships like: “Danshi Gurashi”, “Dansui”, and “Ore Ore”.
  • Age Gap Romances (Oyaji-moe) — “Ojikoi”, “Lip Smoke”, and the debut of Oyajism magazine are examples of this trend.
  • Desert Themed oneshots and short series — There were quite a few in the Hakusensha publications in the second half this year.  We’ll start releasing some of those in 2014
  • Princes — this is something I saw rising this Fall.  There were a bunch of Prince themed oneshots and short series in the Hakusensha publication, and Prince magazine started a new section of Princess magazine call “Prince” that will appear quarterly.
  • Hakusensha has been on a tear this year introducing new shoujo publications that would appeal to women over 20. The new publications are Ane Lala and Bunkei Shoujo.  I’ve also noticed the content in the Lala Specials (Themed Lalas) and The Hana to Yume are becoming more mature.
  • Oneshot furoku! Betsuma was the magazine to get in 2013 if you like oneshots. As part of their anniversary they include Betsuma Two, which included some very inventive oneshots and short series. Asuka and a few of the other shoujo mags also had nice oneshot compilation freebies.
  • Long Form oneshots! I can’t tell whether this is something that being done more or whether I’m just noticing them more.

2014 Predictions!

  • As publishers grope to find create new fads and subgenres, I expect to see more experimental short series and oneshots.
  • BL/GL will become more mainstream and creep into the shoujo magazines. It will continue as first as a gag, but them become more straight up romance stories.
  • More bromances!  With the success of “Free!” and the wonderful bromances in anime series like “Kyoukai no Kanata” and “Hyouka”, I expect to see more shoujo focused on the friendships between boys and young men.
  • More S&M psychological stories.  This trend seems to be starting now with more mature and challenging oneshots coming out Hakusensha magazines in particular.
  • More shoujo for women. As Japan’s population ages and as less children are being born, the publishers will have to make sure their readers don’t age out. As such we will start to see more shoujo aimed at young women and career-aged women.
  • More shoujo (and josei) showing people getting married and having children. I think this will be to model behavior since Japan is facing a low birthrate crisis.
  • More fantasy from Hakusensha’s magazines and the Princess line of magazines. I think Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kodansha (with the exception of Aria and Itan) will stick with the middle school and high school love trains.
  • Princes and Royal romances — I’m already seeing a bunch of cinderella stories coming out of Lala and the Prince add-on to Princess magazine.
  • Smaller format josei magazines.  Kiss+ went to a smaller format and Cocohana is experimenting with it.  The idea is that a smaller format is more portable and will fit into purses.  This goes along with the aging female demographic.
  • Rapid proliferation of free online manga in Japaneses and English. A lot of publishers are experimenting with windowed free releases of series online and hoping customers will purchase the volume compilations. Well also see this with English language manga as Japanese publishers take it in their own hands to publish lesser known titles.
  • More manga adaptions and spinoffs of anime series and light novels, or just more cross platform offerings in general. We see the beginnings of this now with “Attack on Titan” and “Valvrave”.
  • Many long running manga series will end. It’s hard to make predictions about what will end, but it seems like series such as “Kamisama Hajimeshite”, “Akagami no Shirayukihime”, and the “Fave of Mr. Butler” are winding down.  I could be completely wrong about these series though.
  • More long form oneshots and short series. I’ve been seeing a rise in 60+ page oneshots and 2-part oneshot during the second half of 2013 and I expect this trend to continue as publishers search of new fads.

Tomorrow I will write a wishlist post followed my favorite manga from 2013 lists!

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