When you start watching anime, you’ll notice a few terms such as Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, and Josei. These are categories of anime that indicate who is the targeted audience and what you might see in terms of the setting, characters, and storytelling. These categories are the same for manga as well.
You’ll still see the usual comedy, romance, and fantasy genre, but they’ll be more of a subcategory instead of the main one. Some anime might overlap, but the main ones are based on the targeted demographic, similar to Parental Guidance in the U.S, but taking into consideration the genre of the audience.
Of course, people of any gender and age can enjoy categories that are not aimed specifically at them. These are based on gender stereotypes and performativity, which are still strong in Japanese society and generally in the world. And like in any other media, you’ll also find a lot of female sexualization, but the storylines and worldbuilding in anime are extremely unique.
We’ll present a quick summary of all anime types, then better explain them and present some examples. Here are all the 15 types and genres of anime followed by a small summary:
- Mecha: Anime about robots, cyborgs, and people piloting them.
- Isekai: Setted in a different world not based on reality.
- Slice Of Life: Focuses on everyday life situations, with or without fantasy elements.
- Iyashikei: Similar to Slice of Life, but made to relax you as you watch it.
- Yaoi: Romance between boys/men.
- Yuri: Romance between girls/women.
- Harem: Boy surrounded by girls
- Reverse Harem: Girl surrounded by boys
- Ecchi: Presents sexual content, but not explicit.
- Hentai: Has explicit erotic and pornographic contet.
Western audiences might be more familiar with Shounen anime, which is aimed at young boys between the ages of eight and 18. Some famous examples are Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece, and Attack on Titan.
You’ll see a lot of action in this type of anime normally with a young male protagonist. Shounen anime has recently had female protagonists, but these are the minority. There are several genres in shounen, the most famous being sports, fantasy, and science fiction, but the variety of shounen animes are almost limitless.
Normally Shounen anime will show characters trying to become the best at what they do, having to resolve a massive problem, and trying to protect the ones they love. They are normally passionate about a sport, martial art, or an idea.
Popular shounen anime:
- The Dragon Ball franchise
- The Naruto and Boruto series
- One Piece
- Yu Yu Hakusho
- Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
- Demon Slayer: Kimestu no Yaiba
- Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai)
- My Hero Academia
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Kuroko no Basket
- Food Wars
Shoujo anime is targeted at young girls between the ages of 10 to 18. Instead of action, superheroes, and trying to be the best, you’ll see much more romance stories and a focus on human emotions. The protagonist will mainly be a young girl.
Like in Shounen, there can be genres to Shoujo anime like fantasy, comedy, and science fiction. There also con be action in this type of anime, but there will be a focus on the protagonist’s romantic or platonic relationships that might not be on Shounen anime.
Common themes are love triangles, shipping couples, and showcasing the strength in friendship groups. Normally the aesthetic of the anime will also have cute aspects and delicate animation. An iconic Shoujo style of animation is the magical girl transformation, historically set by Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.
Popular Shoujo anime:
- Sailor Moon
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- The Rose of Versailles
- Tokyo Mew Mew
- Ouran High School Host Club (Ouran Koukou Host Club)
- Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama!
- Vampire Knight
- Fruits Basket
- My Little Monster (Tonari No Kaibutsu-Kun)
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom
- Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime)
Seinei anime can be translated to “young man or youth” in English, but the targeted audience of this type of anime are men older than 18 years old. Seinen anime is similar to Shounen, but with more violent action, horror, and addressing more psychological aspects of the stories.
This type of anime has more adult themes, with more nuances and less conservative morals, anti-heroes, criminal protagonists, and a dark take on fantasy and science fiction. It can have sexual or pornographic elements as well. Still including genres such as comedy, horror, and romance.
Popular Seinen anime:
- Tokyo Ghoul
- Elfen Lied
- One-Punch Man
- Psycho Pass
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Cowboy Bebop
- Death Note
Josei, as you might expect, is anime targeted at women older than 18 years old. If Shoujo anime ends at the main couple’s first kiss, Josei shows what comes next. This type of anime will focus on adult relationships, with a lot of drama, breakups, cheating, disappointment, and a more complex idea of love.
Josei anime also has genres that relate to the main theme of more realistic relationships. Characters can also experiment and discover more about their sexuality explicitly. The psychological and emotional aspects will be further explored as well.
Popular Seinen anime:
- Paradise Kiss
- Ristorante Paradiso
- Princess Jellyfish
- Nodame Cantabile
- Kids on the Slope
- Usagi Drop
- Honey And Clover
Kodomuke is targeted at very young children, so the episodes usually have a moral at the end trying to teach the audience to be good people. The art style tends to be colorful and simple, with cute, fun, and playful elements.
The protagonists can be male, female, or even animals. Kodomuke also has genres suited for children, so mainly fantasy and comedy.
Popular Kodomuke anime:
- Hello Kitty
Mecha anime is one of the genres that can be Shounen, Shoujo, or Seinen. The stars of this one are giants robots! Any anime that feature giant and powerful humanoids robots piloted by humans are Mecha anime. Some might explore the military side of the robots, apply a magical system, or analyze the limits between humanity and robots.
Popular Mecha anime:
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Code Geass: Lelouch of The Rebellion
- Armored Trooper VOTOMS
- Darling in the FRANXX
- Mobile Suit Gundam
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
This genre is very specific to common people being taken away from their normal reality to a fantasy world. They can be familiar with this different world or not. And by being transported to this new fantasy world, they become extraordinary people. The opposite can happen as well, a character from a fantasy reality gets whisked away to our ordinary world.
Popular Isekai anime:
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- Sword Art Online SAO
- The Rising of the Shield Hero
- RE: Zero Starting Life in another world
- Log Horizon
- No Game No Life
- Saga Of Tanya The Evil
- Restaurant to Another World
Slice of Life
This genre is similar to the Western meaning of showing a storyline focused on everyday events. In Slice of Life anime, simple events represent great plot devices in the story, bringing drama and meaning to situations that would be ignored in other genres.
The difference of the Slice of Life genre in anime lies in the intimate take on stories that can have fantasy elements or not. So the characters might live in a medieval world full of war, dragons, and warriors, but the viewers follow the everyday events of the dragon’s life.
Popular Slice of Life anime:
- Violet Evergarden
- Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
- New Game
- Gabriel Dropout
Different from the other genres, Iyashikei anime doesn’t have any specific elements or tropes, but it focuses on the emotion that the anime passes to the viewer. The highlight of this genre stands on the calming scenery, soothing soundtrack, and slow-paced story. It’s similar to Slice of Life, but there isn’t anything over the top.
Popular Iyashikei anime:
- Laid Back Camp
- Natsume’s Book Of Friends
- Non Non Biyori
- Flying Witch
- Sweetness And Lightning
The Yaoi genre only marks the presence of a romance between boys or men, so an anime can be a Shounen/Shoujo Yaoi or Seinen/Josei Yaoi. The combination of genres with Yaoi is limitless.
Popular Yaoi anime:
- Yuri!!! on Ice
- Dakaretai Otoko 1- i ni Odosarete Imasu
- Hitorijime my Hero
- Love Stage
- Junjou Romantica
- Sekaiichi Hatsukoi: Yokozawa Takafumi No Baai
The same applies to Yuri. This genre showcases that there’s a romance between two girls or women. There can be Shounen/Shoujo Yuri or Seinen/Josei Yuri anime and several combinations of other genres.
Popular Yuri anime:
- Bloom Into You (Yagate Kimi ni Naru)
- Eru Kazado
- Mai otome
- Yuru Yuri
- Strawberry Panic
Harem anime normal has a male protagonist who is insecure and unsure of what he wants in life but somehow ends up surrounded by girls who all want to be with him. The girls tend to have one-dimensional personalities to differentiate each other and compete to gain the protagonist’s attention, but some might not even have any romantic interest from the girls.
The setting can be in a normal high school or in a fantasy world and the stories tend to be Ecchi romantic comedies.
Popular Harem anime:
- Rent a girlfriend
- To LOVE Ru
- Strike the Blood
- Date A Live
- High School DxD
- The World God Only Knows
The Reverse Harem genre is the same as Harem, but with a female protagonist surrounded by boys. Reverse Harem anime don’t tend to be so Ecchi, however.
Popular Rverse Harem anime:
- Kamisama Kiss
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Saiunkoku Monogatari
- Hana Yori Dango
- Hanasakeru Seishounen
- Hakuouki Hekketsuroku
- Mikagura Gakuen
Acchi anime presents sexual content, but not explicit pornography. Once again, this genre can be combined with any of the previous ones on this list, except for Kodomuke anime. It’s much more used in anime that have a male protagonist. It is less common in Shoujo, Josei, and even in Reverse Harem anime.
Hentai is explicit erotic and pornographic Japanese animation. In Japan, however, it’s against the law to produce pornography content, so in both Hentai and pornographic movies, the female and male genitalia are always censored. According to the Japanese penal code, Article 175, anyone distributing, selling, or displaying “an obscene document, drawing or other objects” will be imprisoned with work for not more than two years and will be fined not more than 2,500,000 yen fine.
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