- Anime: In the US and other western
nations, it is limited to meaning Japanese animation (aka Japanimation,
although a lot of people don't like that term). Characteristic features
would be large, large eyes, funky hair colors, and often, er,
accentuated physiology.... ^_^;; In Japan, anime means animation in
general--Warner Brothers and Disney as well as Macross and El Hazard.
The modern-day anime style is an adaptation of Disney style (introduced
to the Japanese after WWII, by the American occupation), most notably
the large eyes.
- Manga: Japanese for comics, in general.
Manga make up a huge, huge amount of the published material in Japan (I
saw somewhere that it constituted 40% of stuff in print there). Often,
popular mangas are turned into anime. Manga, though, goes back far into
Japan's past; I'm not really the one to be asked about its history.
- Shoujo: Literally, young girl. When
applied to anime/manga--it refers to anime/manga that is targeted
towards young girls; one sub-section of shoujo anime is the magical girl
variety. Shoujo tends to focus on relationships, emotions, and
suchforth. See my shoujo analysis page for a
few more details....
- Shounen: Literally, young boy/young
man. Shounen anime and manga are targeted towards a male audience. Most
mecha shows, martial arts comedies and dramas, and adventure types are
shounen, for example.
Note: some shows are rather hard to place in either category. For
example, Escaflowne is a mecha show done in shoujo style....