When watching an anime, the golden question always applies: What genre do you prefer? A classic seinen ? A shoujo ? A shounen with hints of comedy?
But that, sometimes, is only for experts. If you are still starting your journey through the otaku universe, these genres will sound strange and even incomprehensible to you, because… they are in Japanese.
For these reasons we have prepared a useful list of genres to rate your favorite anime, check it out for yourself!
Many people think that Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, and Josei are anime and manga genres, but they really are not. These are the names of the ratings of the target audiences of the productions, that is, they are terms that are used to determine if that anime is suitable for a specific age group.
Means “child” in literal translation from Japanese. This type of anime is aimed at a young male audience (mainly teenagers), between 12 and 18 years old. It is considered the most popular anime and manga classification.
The story of shounen anime generally focuses on the development and journey of the hero, who is in many cases male (although there are exceptions).
There can be shounens of various genres and subgenres (comedy, romance, etc.), however, action anime are the most common, or also the famous battle shounen . In this case, there is also a constant presence of stereotypes typical of the genre, such as great dialogues throughout the battles, for example.
Naruto, Dragon Ball, Knights of the Zodiac, Bleach and One Piece are some of the best known shounen anime .
It means “girl” in its most literal translation. Shoujo anime is also aimed at young people, but mainly women. The plot of the series generally presents a girl as the protagonist, with the stories being more focused on dramas, romances and other events that mark the development of women.
Like shounen , shoujos can also come from different genres, such as mahō shoujo , a subgenre featuring warrior characters with magical powers ( Sailor Moon , for example).
Apart from Sailor Moon , other very popular anime in this genre are: Sakura Card Captor, Candy Candy, and Ouran High School Host Club.
It means “grown-up” or “grown-up man”. As the name implies, these animes are made for a more mature audience, usually between 18 and 40 years old. Seinen are intended for men and contain complex themes that would not be appropriate for younger people.
Erotic content and violent scenes are also part of seinen productions .
One Punch Man, Berserk, Ghost in the Shell, Tokyo Ghoul, and Akira are some famous examples of seinen anime.
It literally means “woman”. Like seinen , this type of anime is made for an adult but female audience. In short, Josei represents the maturation of shoujo , presenting common problems of women’s daily lives from a realistic point of view.
Josei examples: Chihayafuru, Nodame Cantabile, Paradise Kiss, Nana, and Usagi Drop .
It literally means “children” (in this case, small children). These are anime made with a focus on children’s audiences, as the name suggests, especially between the ages of 4 and 10.
Kodomo stories often convey important lessons to younger people, like respecting older people, for example. The plots are simple and easy to understand. The importance of friendship and the appreciation of fraternal and family values are also common in this type of anime.
Hamtaro, Pokemon, Beyblade, Doraemon, and Heidi are some of the most popular anime titles in the kodomo genre .
Based on the classification of anime, they can be divided into several different genres and subgenres, depending on the theme or aesthetics they present.
Take a look at some of the most common genres and subgenres:
Shoujo-ai: An anime subgenre that focuses on the romance between two women as the central axis of the plot. Normally the story takes place during high school. It contains elements of emotional exploration and the clichés of romance, such as lack of communication and fear of rejection. ( Yuru Yuri, Yagate Kimi Ni Naru, Adachi to Shimamura, Strawberry Panic )
Yuri: It is similar to shoujo-ai , focusing on romance between two women as the central axis of the plot. The point of view is much more mature and may contain explicit scenes, usually featuring adult women. ( Citrus, Kämpfer, Kannazuki no Miko, Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo)
Bishoujo: Bishoujo series are mainly made for a male audience and their protagonists are very beautiful women. Normally, the genre is applied more towards video games of this style, and it is a phenomenon in Japan. However, this term specifically refers to a style of character design and not a genre as such. But informally, harem series or visual novels are referred to as “anime bishoujo”. ( Monster Musume No Iru Nichijou, Rosario to Vampire, Gotoubun No Hanayome )
Moe: This subgenre of anime is a lot like bishoujo, but it focuses more on lovable and cute female characters doing everyday things. The genre became popular around the 2000s, when series that shared these characteristics became popular. They are mostly aimed at the male audience. This public began to apply this description towards characters that seemed innocent and adorable. However, the word “moé” specifically refers to an obsession with animated characters. ( Lucky Star, K-On!!, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon, Non Non Biyori )
Shounen-ai: These stories focus on a romance between two boys. The shounen-ai genre usually takes place within high school and includes elements of personal growth, emotional development, and many romantic clichés, especially “what will they say” about the relationship. ( Given, Doukyuusei, Hitorijime My Hero, Gakuen Heaven )
Yaoi: The central axis is still the love story between two male characters. But it touches on much more mature themes, exploring the relationship in a much more serious way and considering its longevity. The protagonists are usually adults or university students and usually include risque scenes. ( Papa Datte Shitai, Koisuru Boukun, Junjou Romantica, Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu )
Bishounen: Like bishoujo , these animes focus on a very specific aesthetic to please female audiences. The protagonist is usually surrounded by very handsome boys, or the main characters are extremely attractive boys. However, the term ” bishounen ” refers to a specific aesthetic, not a genre. But informally, many of the reverse harem series and girls’ visual novels are often informally called ” bishounen anime “. ( Uta No Prince Sama, Brother’s Conflict, Vampire Knight, Free! )
Kemono: This genre refers to a style of Japanese art and design where characters display anthropomorphic features, but speak like humans. It is usually mixed with the Slice of Life , which we will explain later. ( Shirokuma Cafe, Aggretsukko, Working Buddies! )
Mecha: One of the most recognized genres outside and inside Japan and popularized by many unforgettable classics. The stories focus on a future where technology has evolved enough to create giant humanoid robots. Usually, it is a subgenre because the story does not specifically focus on the mecha or its creation, but its use can change the future of the story. ( Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass, Gundam Saga , Mazinger Z )
Ecchi: These series usually have very little elaborate plots and focus on what is typically called “fanservice”. This consists of putting the characters in risqué or uncomfortable situations for both of them, but with humorous elements. Many series can even have ecchi moments but these are not the central axis of the story. ( Fire Force, Shokugeki No Soma, Guilty Crown, Kill La Kill)
Gender Bender: Also known as hideyoshi . In these series gender roles are often reversed. We have male leads who look and act feminine, or women who act masculine. In its most fanciful version, there can be body-swapping, which is when a character swaps bodies with another. ( Ouran High School Host Club, Ranma 1/2, Princess Princess, Kokoro Connect )
Hentai: This sub-genre is dedicated towards adults and contains very explicit intimate relationship scenes. Sometimes contains humorous elements.
Gore: Blood and violence abound in this genre. One of the interesting variants of gore is to extrapolate it with bishoujo characters , so that the surprise is even more disturbing when things get out of control. Usually, the themes are of intrigue, dark and supernatural. ( Elfen Lied, Tokyo Ghoul, Gantz, Hellsing )
Slice of Life (SoL): Series that focus on stories that follow the daily lives of the protagonists, be they their work or school adventures or extracurricular activities such as sports or recreation clubs. They do not usually have fantastic or magical elements, but instead focus entirely on daily issues that an ordinary person may face. ( Hibike! Euphonium, Wotakoi, Anohana, Beastars )
Aniparô: As the name suggests, in this subgenre they focus on parodying very popular existing anime and manga with a humorous approach. Many series have made a name for themselves by parodying others and trying to attract fans of those classics they refer to. ( Gintama, Nanbaka, WataMote!, Gakuen Handsome, Sakamoto desu ga? )
School life: Many anime focus on the protagonist’s school life. Whether in their extracurricular activities or in the daily life of the classes, the main focus is to show the day to day in the classroom and the friendships that can be derived from these activities. ( Hibike Euphonium, Hyouka, Nichijou, Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu )
Harem: Animes with a male lead surrounded by female leads. Usually these animes are usually romantic comedies as well. The Harem Gyaku is a kind of “inverted harem” as it features a female lead surrounded by men who are in love with her. ( My Next Life as a Villainess, Nisekoi , Ouran High School Host Club, Watashi ga Motete Dousunda, Sekirei, Zero no Tsukaima )
Sports: They are also known as spokon. Sports anime are focused on a specific sport. Normally, the protagonist is usually a sports prodigy who comes to save a club in decline, or knows nothing about the discipline and his first encounter with her transforms him. ( Haikyuu! , Yuri on Ice!!!, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, Tsurune, Kuroko No Basket)
Isekai: Subgenre of Japanese fantasy light novels, manga, anime, and video games that revolve around a normal person who is transported and/or trapped in a parallel universe. Many of its exponents include reincarnation, but series that bring fantastic elements to the real and everyday world are also considered isekai . In recent years it is one of the most popular genres. ( Sword Art Online, InuYasha, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, Re:Zero , Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari, Re:Creators )
And the list doesn’t stop! There are countless genres and subgenres of anime and manga. Other popular and successful styles include science fiction, comedy, horror, romance, western, war, and more.
Now that you know how to identify the various genres of anime, which is your favorite?