Shônen manga (少年漫画, lit. "kids' frivolous pictures")
are Japanese comic books aimed at pre-teens.
The best known example, Shonen Jump, is the best-selling weekly magazine on the entire planet with a print run of some 6.5 million.
The target audience shows from the content:
all the kanji
have furigana, the plotlines are vapid (no
complex relationships or sex, mostly just sports
and violence) and the quality of the art is pretty
bad. Then again, your typical shônen manga comes out
once a week, is the size of a phonebook with over 500 pages of
comics, and costs about 200 yen (less than $2 at
time of writing), so what can you expect?
Teenagers and adults in Japan generally steer clear
from shônen manga,
which are easily distinguishable due to their huge size and
consequent square spine. (Parents, on the other hand, like
them because they're sanitized for your protection.)
Instead, they pore over Young Jump,
which has racier comics and adds pictures of kawaii girls barely in
their bikinis, or Business Jump, which peels off the bikinis as
well. And then there's Bessatsu Jump, Ultra Jump,
not to mention the competition. Gaijin often assume that these are all Shonen Jump just because
they have "Jump" on the cover, and then conclude that Japanese
first-graders all dig lesbian schoolgirl tentacle porn.
Not so -- they usually only start to get into it in third grade or