In the Yotsuba-to manga one of the heroes first calls a younger of the two sisters (16 y.o) 美女. Then he gets to know an older sister (I guess 21 y.o) and tells that she is a real 美女. A younger sister hearing that gets somehwat distressed and he then tells her that she (the younger one) is a 美少女. This, as far as I can tell from the picture creates a comic effect. However I was not able to find a comic connotation looking up the 美少女 word in a dictionary. So, does the word 美少女 have any ironic or humoristic connotations?


少女 is simply "girl", making it clear that it's a young girl (compare 少年 for boy).

In this example, by making the adjustment that the younger sibling is actually a 美少女 rather than 美女, it points out that she's the younger sibling of two, and not being a FULL beauty to the extent her sister is. It also hints at her having a more young form of beauty than her older sibling, that the younger sibling is still developing or not quite there at the same level as her sister, and so on; whatever you make of it.

I mean, it's not laugh out loud humor, just connotations of words, but it's important to know that 美少女 definitely points to a younger type of beauty, like a good looking high schooler, while in this context they're reserving 美女 for the fully developed beauty of the older adult sister.

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  • I see! That's what I thought! I wonder how this can be translated. My language is no English and we have the published translation of the manga but it falls flat on that episode and everything about the wordplay is lost. – Alexander Kulyakhtin Nov 26 '15 at 22:35
  • @AlexanderKulyakhtin, that's a shame, I know how hard it is to translate wordplay between languages, especially Japanese. Glad I could help! – sqrtbottle Nov 26 '15 at 22:42

I guess the insertion of 少 creates a "nice save" moment, where he possibly avoids offending the younger sister by being quick and witty enough to save his previous statement which was intended to work as a compliment, and remains a compliment after the slight modification with 少.

It is not ironic. It may be slightly amusing/humorous since the user displays his wit in a clever way to possibly avoid an unpleasant or awkward situation.

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