Complete Guide to Each Anime Genre

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An easy-to-read list about every major genre associated with anime and what they're about


"Sorry there, buddy. Looks like you’re dead as a doornail, you had a good run but that truck turned you into a pancake. Pretty gross. What a shame, you didn’t even get to do anything cool yet! I kinda feel bad for you.

Tell you what, since you sacrificed yourself to push that damsel out of the way I’ll reward you with a little 1-UP as long as it’s spent in another reality. Sound good? Just don’t tell my boss.

You like anime, right? Just choose the genre and I’ll pack your bags!"

...You close your eyes...

...And fall into slumber...

...When you awaken…​

You wake up with an unfamiliar feeling of warmth surrounding your suddenly chiseled and muscular body. Feminine giggles alert you as to why. In your left arm, a blond elf woman with 300 years of experience. In your right arm, a half minotaur with breasts the size of udders. A tribal native girl with skin like caramel saunters into the room to tell you dinner is served. Said “dinner” is a succubus loli whose only “clothes” are a dog collar and strategically placed whipped cream. As you and your haram descend upon your meal, you can see now why Muslims blow themselves up for this shit. Perhaps you owe them an apology…

Congratulations! You’re in an Ecchi / Hentai!​

Ecchi and Hentai are anime you don’t want to watch with your parents…unless you’re all into that. An anime is considered Ecchi when the major focus of the show is titillation, fanservice, and harams. Hentai is the logical conclusion of Ecchi in that it’s straight up pornography. If it’s allowed to air on public television, it’s Ecchi. If not, it’s probably hentai.

That’s not to say these genres can’t have fun plots and characters, many of them do. But they will take a backseat to what’s really important. The main character especially will be intentionally bland and generic so the viewer can project themselves onto them, which is why many hentai protagonists are drawn with hair covering their eyes to hide their facial features. It also helps save money because the bulk of the animation budget will be spent on drawing big bouncy milkers. A good variety of eye candy is important, which is why “monster girls” (Goblin girl, Werewolf girl, etc) have exploded in popularity.

While they aren’t going to win any awards for high art anytime soon, these two provide an essential and important service in an age of prudism. Few other genres can compete with the wish fulfilment these two offer.

Examples: Interspecies Reviewers, Looking up to Magical Girls, Keijo!

If you’re a sleazy degenerate, (and let's face it, you're using this site so you probably are) go ahead and pick Ecchi / Hentai!​

You wake up in a small puddle of drool on your school desk, much to the annoyance of the cute classmate overlooking you. “Sleeping through class again, senpai? Sheesh, what are we gonna do with you?” she asks. Another classmate chimes in, “Don’t be too hard on em, they just need a rest after how hard I kicked their ass in that fighting game yesterday!” A third one looks puzzled, “Isn’t that to be expected since they never played the game before? Then again it was really close.” You yawn and stretch as the pouting girl insists on her gaming skills, wondering what fun you and your friends will have today.

Congratulations! You’re in a Slice of Life!​

Slice of Life stories are stories about…nothing. Rather than a traditional plot with rising action, climax, and resolution, Slice of Life are more so a series of unrelated short scenes of people going about their daily life, usually two or three per episode. Get a cast of quirky characters with contrasting personalities and interests, give them a task like going to the mall or playing board games, and watch the magic.

Why would a show with no story or conflict be interesting? While they aren’t known for investing stories, Slice of Life is one of the best for escapism and comfort, hence why they're often called Iyashikei (Healing). Slice of Life offers the viewer a nice chance to unwind after a hard day and just enjoy cute girls do cute things. Since cuteness is very important, the main characters will typically be an ensemble of girly schoolgirls who are all best friends. Usually this results in:

The energetic looney: The eccentric and not-all-there-in-the-head one. Loves playing the most, sometimes a little too much. (Yui Hirasawa, Satania McDowell, Chinatsu Yoshikawa)

The deadpan straightman: The mature and level-headed one who reacts to the silliness of others and gets them back onto the task at hand. (Mio Akiyama, Vignette April, Yui Funami)

The ray of sunshine: A feminine friend to all living things who's always chirpy. Often naïve and will fall for pranks. (Mugi Kotobuki, Raphiel Ainsworth, Akari Akaza)

The lazy bum: Complains about having to do work, but very talented when pushed. Expect anime and vidya references. (Ritsu Tainaka, Gabriel White, Kyouko Toshinou)

This genres niche is to the audience is helping them embrace a calming state of mind by using familiarity, sweetness, and simplicity. This genres niche to the executives is low risk, high reward since the small cast and lack of action make them easier to adapt. As such, the competition is fierce, but fans aren’t complaining.

Examples: K-on, Lucky Star, Is the Order a Rabbit?

If you want to live in Animal Crossing, go ahead and choose Slice of Life!​

You catapult awake to the blaring of alarms and running scientists. Concrete rubble decorates the room as the computers can only display static. Despite the chaos, you stand firm, knowing what to do. Instinctively, you turn around and run towards the danger. You slam through the door, dodge the falling lights, dash up the decaying stairs, and now you’re face to face with your several story tall man of steel. You hop on in, strap yourself to the chair, and push the controls to the limit. Your giant robot stomps out the facility, each step an earthquake. What awaits you outside is an even bigger monstrosity here to wreak havoc. And it’s pissed…but so are you.

Congratulations! You’re in a Mecha!

Mecha is a sci-fi genre that heavily features on piloting giant robots to save the day. Either the cast of characters each pilot their own individual mecha, or they work together to pilot one.

The design and function of the mecha’s will be an essential component. This will be a chance for the artists to put their skills to the test by creating something incredibly detailed and complex. And the audience will have plenty of opportunities to appreciate those designs during their intense fight scenes against giant monsters, aliens, and more. Since animated those gets incredibly expensive, while big action scenes are a staple of the genre, most episodes will have a big focus on the individual drama of the characters with lots of talking.

With larger-than-life visuals backed up by intriguing worldbuilding and complex characters to route for, this genre isn’t the cheapest to create. But the results speak for themselves.

Examples: Mobile Suit Gundam, Gurren Lagann, Neon Genesis Evangelion

If you’ve watched Kaiju movies and wished you could fight back, go ahead and choose Mecha!​

You wake up, but you wish you didn’t. The heat of burning homes burns your eyes, and the screams of people fleeing destruction deafen your ears. You regrab your sword and wait for the stampede of fleeing citizens to dwindle so you don’t get trampled to death like the crippled did. Poor souls. Once it thins out you rush through to rendezvous with your comrades, although several are missing, either already dead or wish they were dead. Years of training and hardship forever extinguished in a single night. Perhaps you’ll end up like them before the sun arises. Fine. But not before you give these black knight bastards a taste of your steel. Onwards, for honor and victory!

Congratulations, you’re in a Seinen!

You wake up from your coach nap to somebody angrily banging on the door. It recognizes the surly voice and dirty language of your ex-boyfriend. He must’ve heard about your new lover and wants to measure himself up, and he won’t leave until he does. Your boyfriend grabs a baseball bat and marches towards the door, but you stop him. You try to argue what will society think if a man leaves your home bleeding, but he retorts back that neither of you can wait all day for him to leave. You have office work in a few hours. It wouldn’t be that bad if you miss work, since the boss is always making you fetch coffee and ogling you, but you can’t afford to miss out on a paycheck. Oh dear, what are we going to do?

Congratulations, you’re in a Josei!

Shonen and Shojo are anime marketed towards an older audience. Strictly speaking, neither of them comprise a style or a genre, but rather indicates a target demographic, with Seinen marketed for men and Josei for women. Of course, that’s not to say they can’t be enjoyed by either of the two genders.

Seinen will either be too violent for younger audiences or deal with adult subject matter they wouldn’t fully understand. Artists and writers can enjoy going all out on the most gruesome and dark things they can conjure up for an audience who can handle it. Or they can go the opposite direction and make a cute and funny show that idolizes nostalgic innocence.

Like Shojo, Josei tend to be romance and character driven stories. However, there will be more an emphasis on romantic reality, such as jealousy, financial struggles, and maybe cheating. Like it’s younger counterpart, Josei manga typically have a distinct style of less ink, lighter outlines, sparser backgrounds, and trademark large-even-for-anime eyes.

With an endless variety for stories of all kinds, these two have a near limitless audience. No matter what kind of story you’re looking for, one can find it here.

Examples for Seinen: Beserk, Hellsing, Haganai

Examples for Josei: Princess Jellyfish, Bunny Drop, Nana

If you want darker and more intense stories, chose Seinen / Josei!​

You wake up, and without the adrenalin you can now properly see the girl you pushed out of the truck’s path. The same truck that now you’re directly in front of-

You wake up again. No bustle of the city, honking car horns or evil trucks. Only the clear blue skies and green pasture. You see a town of in the distance, but you don’t get very far before you’re harassed by Slimes and Goblins. No worries, though, a nearby adventurer helps you out with a magic blast! “You’re not from around here, are you? Those losers don’t give out much EXP. You’ll need to fight stronger foes if you wanna help us out against the Demon Lord. “

Congratulations, you’re in an Isekai!

Isekai is a genre where the main character or characters are somehow transported into another world, usually a familiar stock fantasy world. This will quickly be established in the first episode, and from there the possibilities are endless. Maybe they try to help the world they find themselves in? Try to conquer it? Something else entirely?

Having the main character die and wake up in the other world (often after getting hit by a truck, hence this opening) is popular for writers because it excuses why they aren’t trying to return to their original world if that’s not the plot. They can’t return if they’re dead. Being dead would still naturally leave one worrying about friends and family, so the main character is also usually a loser who had nothing to live for and the new world is their second chance.

The broad possibilities of concepts and storylines makes Isekai appealing for writers. And the instant familiar setting and concepts often reminiscent of RPG video games make Isekai appealing for viewers. While “get sucked into a video game or the future” has been around forever, this genre has exploded in popularity in recent years. And with endless potential for plots and writing, it’s not hard to see why.

Examples: Re: Zero, Konosuba, Sword Art Online

If you’re sick of this reality and want to explore a new one, go ahead and pick Isekai​

You wake up, and your eyes are looking directly into the face of the most beautiful person you’ve ever met. Not because of looks, although they certainly have that down, but because you love them with all your heart, and today you’ve come to confess that to them. They’re shocked, but not upset or confused. “Is that alright? For girls to like girls and boys to like boys? Isn’t that forbidden love? Would that make, like, deviants?” You let them know you couldn’t care less what the world thinks. If loving each other makes you two degenerates, then at least we can be degenerates together!” You two close eyes again and kiss for the first time.

Congratulations! You’re in a Yuri / Yaoi!

This genre is about same sex relationships being the main focus or at least a big central theme. Girls with girls is Yuri and boys with boys is Yaoi. Romance will very often be the central plot, usually the two lovebirds falling for each other and realizing their sexuality.

Yuri / Yaoi typically are idolized and romanticized portrayals of homosexual relationships, especially the “forbidden” aspect of it. Even as same sex relationships become more commonplace, expect characters to express bewilderment and worry about the concept. That the characters generally consider homosexuality “exotic” makes them seem more innocent and therefor cuter. As such, Yuri / Yoai should be seen as their own thing instead of representing actual homosexual cultures or views.

And as their own thing, this genre has enjoyed lots of success over the years even despite most consumers being straight. This is no doubt in part to the wide variety of romance plots and tones, generally marching to the beat of their own drum instead of paralleling reality, and also because girl on girl is pretty hot.

Examples of Yuri: Maria Watches Over us, Kindred Spirits on the Roof, Yuru Yuri

Examples of Yaoi: Junjo Romantica, Gakuen Heaven, Magic Mike

If your taste buds like fruit, go ahead and pick Yuri / Yoai!​

You wake up to the sound of an evil sorceress cackling. “My, my. That spell really knocked you on your feet, huh? Just a few more and this city will be mine!” You struggle to get off your back, but your best friend gives a hand for you to grab. Looks like this foes gonna be a tricky one, we can’t hold back now! C’mon, everybody! Let’s activate our special mew mew magic forms!” Reinvigorated, you grab your wand and you and your friends are enveloped in power. Your bodies become pure energy as it slowly transforms into your alto egos. It takes a while, but the villain is nice enough to wait patiently in the corner for you. “Alright, witch girls! Let’s show this ma’am the power of friendship!”

Congratulations! You’re in a Magical Girl!

This genre, no surprise, is about magical girls. For one reason or another, the main characters have some kind of magical or supernatural powers that they’ll use to save the day from evil. Often times to activate or increase their magic, the girls will “transform” into a new design. Since secret identities may also be involved, one could argue this genre is a counterpart to western superheroes.

The power of friendship will be an essential component, with the hero’s love for each other saving them in their moments of peril. In contrast to the feminine innocence of the heroes, the villain will likely be an older and more experienced women who bosses around minions. Some would argue this is symbolic of how the purity of cunny defeats beef curtain hags. Magical Girl can be organized into three broad types: The classic coming of age story with lots of pink, the action hero with lots of fight scenes, and the dark deconstruction that shows why being a magical girl isn’t always so good.

This is one of the oldest genres, showing that it has passed the test of time. The iconic imagery of transformation sequences has become a dead ringer for representing all anime, up there with funny hair and nosebleeds. Few genres can claim as much a cultural and anime-defining impact.

Examples: Sailor Moon, Kill la Kill, Madoka Magika

If you like pulling rabbits out of hats, go ahead and pick Magical Girl!​

You wake up to the rocking of a boat. From the steering wheel, you notice several tiny fantastical creatures and monsters playing. It’s interrupted by the complaints of a tomboy. “Hey! You were asleep at the wheel, weren’t you!? We’re lost now, aren’t we? Now how are we supposed to find the seven McGuffin balls?” she asks. “Hey, look at that!” another character interrupts. Off in the distance, an uncharted island, ripe for exploring. You look to your companions, human and creatures, and give a knowing smile. Looks like you’re all in for a fun adventure!

Congratulations! You’re in a Shonen!

You wake up in bed to the sound of a text. It’s from that boy you have a crush on, but are too scared to really speak too. They ask if you’re still awake and you instantly reply. Maybe you should have waited a bit so you didn’t seem desperate? But what if he has to say something important, wouldn’t it be rude to keep him waiting? In the middle of your worrying, you hear a pebble hit against your window. You rush over to open in up and see him waiting outside like a knight in shining armor. “I couldn’t help but notice you had nobody to go to the fire works festival with yet” he shyly says, “Would you like to go with me?” Looks like you’re in for a fun date!

Congratulations! You’re in a Shojo!

Shonen and Shojo are anime marketed towards a younger audience. Strictly speaking, neither of them comprise a style or a genre, but rather indicates a target demographic, with Shonen marketed for boys and Shojo for girls. Of course, that’s not to say they can’t be enjoyed by either of the two genders.

Shonen are often action shows with lots of fighting, like a Saturday morning cartoon show. The main character will probably be an impulsive and energetic young teenage boy just like the average audience member. The plot will be lighthearted and simple, but enough that the show can keep running for a long time, such as “catch all the monsters, find all of the McGuffin, defeat the latest bad guy”. Almost every episode will have a fight that ends with the goofy villains being blasted off into the far distance and main heroes learning a valuable lesson.

Shojo are romantic and heavy on character growth, often with a shy but brave female protagonist just like the average audience member. A common Shojo plot would be the will-they-won’t-they factor with much of a series’s conflict coming from a protagonist and a love interest who both like each other, but are too timid or face other difficulties before they can confess their love. Loves triangles are also popular.

Because Shonen was the first genre to be exported to the west en masse, it was considered synonymous with anime as a whole and even today is considered one of the most iconic genres. While Shojo hasn’t had the same luck in anime, it has historically excelled in the manga industry.

Examples for Shonen: Dragon Ball, One Piece, Hunter X Hunter

Examples for Shojo: Kaichou wa Maid-sama!, My Little Monster, Lovely Complex

If you want some more light-hearted and fun stories, choose Shonen / Shojo!​

You wake up in a strange, dingy room. Surrounding you are several different people from all walks of life, but they all share the confused and scared look you have. After some basic introductions and questions, the tv screen you’ve ignored turns itself on and all of you get a good look at some cute, but strange animal mascot of some sort. “Thank you all for your involuntary volunteering.” It laughs, “We’re going to play a very fun game, with my as your host! Now pay attention to the rules I’m gonna explain, because breaking them results in dire consequences, as does losing.” Do you trust the other players to work together and defeat the host of this awful game? Or try to win it?

Congratulations, you’re in a Lethal Game!

The lethal game, as it’s title would suggest, is not really a genre you’d want to participate in per say, but one that’s perfect for dramatic stories and character tension. In these stories, a number of people will be kidnapped or volunteer for some sort of game created and managed by the antagonists. If a character loses or breaks the rules, they are killed on the spot.

Because of its inherent sadism and dark theme, this genre is always intended for a mature audience with a serious story. The in-universe death game will be the most important aspect, since that’s what the story and character motivations will revolve around, so it’s imperative that the rules and mechanics are interesting, clear, and varied. Common characters will be the level-headed detective who works with protagonist, the childhood friend of the protagonist, and the wild card who causes trouble for the rest.

While still fairly niche because of the brutal nature, this genre has become more and more popular. Viewers enjoy becoming attached to their favorite character, then watching them die painfully. This constant threat of death leads to thrilling mind games, interesting game strategies, and deconstructions of usual character architypes.

Examples: Zero Escape, Danganronpa, Your Turn to Die

If you think you can survive the deadly trials, then go ahead and pick Lethal Game!​