All Anime Genres Explained with Examples

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Key Takeaways

  • There are a total of 16 different anime genres currently.
  • The genre that is most often seen in anime is comedy. Erotica, on the other hand, is the least-seen genre in anime series and movies.
  • Top-rated anime series and movies tend to have adventure, comedy, action, and fantasy genres.

Action

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Fate/Stay Night Movie: Heaven’s Feel – III. Spring Song. Image credits.

Action anime genre is a multifaceted genre encompassing a broad spectrum of thrilling scenarios and intense sequences. Whether it’s the gritty, bare-knuckle brawls, gunfights, or the artistry of swordplay, action in anime takes many forms, fueled by the boundless depths of creativity.

It also extends into science fiction, where futuristic technology and otherworldly concepts drive the excitement. Some series even delve into the mystic arts and supernatural, adding an extra layer of intrigue.

Action sequences in anime encapsulate the essence of overcoming the odds, where protagonists confront formidable foes, whether a singular powerful adversary or a massive army of skilled opponents.

These battles often have high stakes, be it to protect their lives, save a friend, or prevent a catastrophic event, providing both a sense of purpose and intense engagement for the viewers.

A sense of danger is integral to action anime, as heroes must grapple with their limitations and face opponents who pose a genuine threat. Even legendary characters like Goku have their vulnerabilities and adversaries capable of challenging them, ensuring the audience remains deeply invested in the action.

The arsenal in action anime ranges from bare fists and supernatural abilities to various weapons. Blades, firearms, and even laser energy beams (think of Franky in the One Piece series).

In some cases, action anime blends various combat elements, featuring everything from blade-wielding warriors to sharpshooters, aerial dogfights, and hand-to-hand combat.

Examples of action anime:

  • Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance

Adventure

Adventure anime genre often involves characters embarking on journeys of great significance. Whether a physical expedition or a profound voyage of self-discovery, adventure anime captivates viewers with its ability to transform characters and their worlds.

Physical adventures are a cornerstone of this genre, with characters tirelessly pursuing distant goals and facing numerous trials and tribulations. These quests are often intertwined with elements of fantasy or the supernatural, introducing demons, ogres, angels, and special weapons that enhance the narrative.

The allure of adventure comes with a commitment, as these anime series can be quite extensive, often spanning 36 to 50 episodes or more.

Yet, adventure anime is not merely about physical journeys; it delves into the spiritual and supernatural as well.

The character’s development and the intriguing encounters they experience are as important as the journey itself. These narratives are a captivating blend of self-discovery and exploration, where characters meet diverse personalities and traverse a dynamic landscape.

Examples of adventure anime:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Steins;Gate
  • Spirited Away
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Mushishi: The Next Chapter

Comedy

Comedy anime genre opens the door to a comedic safe zone where everyone can indulge in laughter without judgment. In Japan, where social norms sometimes discourage women from public laughter, comedy anime provides a private haven for unbridled joy.

Whether you’re new to anime or a seasoned pro, the comedy genre welcomes all, promising an abundance of laughter.

Stereotypes, cultural nuances, and a penchant for the absurd can all generate laughter. When humor meets history, a subject ingrained in Japanese students’ lives, it strikes a chord that feels both familiar and comforting. Unpredictable and ridiculous scenarios often find their way into these narratives, delivering an irresistible blend of laughter and insight.

Watching anime characters, who are often exceptionally talented, fumble and avoid their responsibilities is a recipe for laughter. These narratives offer a relatable mix of everyday humor, making the school and comedy genres natural companions in anime.

Examples of comedy anime:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Steins;Gate
  • Clannad After Story
  • your name.
  • Bunny Drop

Drama

Drama genre, one of the expansive genres in anime, is a canvas that paints intricate stories filled with emotion and depth. It resides in the vast space between comedy and tragedy, where narratives are told through the complex lives of its characters. Every anime, movie, or story created can be seen as a form of drama, reflecting the human experience.

Drama typically weaves tales of tension, darkness, and, sometimes, the weight of sorrow. It often delves into anguish and melancholy, sharing similarities with genres like Angst and Fluff in fanfiction. These stories tap into the raw and unfiltered aspects of the human condition, exploring the intricate facets of existence.

To create a more specific and detailed narrative, drama in anime often intersects with other genres, like slice of life and even horror. This fusion offers viewers a captivating and multifaceted experience, bringing forth both poignant and thought-provoking stories.

In the world of anime, drama takes us on a journey through the myriad emotions that define our lives, providing a deeper understanding of the human psyche and the stories that bind us together.

Examples of drama anime:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Steins;Gate
  • Clannad After Story
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
  • your name.

Sports

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Haikyuu!! Movie: Battle of the Garbage Dump. Image credits.

Within the sports genre, the central focus is dedicated to rigorous training and active participation, motivated by the aspiration to elevate one’s athletic abilities, be it in the pursuit of victory in a competition or the acquisition of a particular social standing.

Whether the sporting endeavor involves an individual athlete or a cohesive team, the central characters consistently confront challenges through dialogue and the wisdom they gain from fellow athletes or coaches.

This interplay gives rise to an enduring sense of collective support and accomplishment, serving as a defining characteristic of sports narratives.

In sharp contrast to the sports genre, which places its narrative emphasis on resolving conflicts through teamwork and insights, the action genre pivots towards surmounting challenges through physical prowess.

Examples of sports anime:

  • Haikyuu!!
  • Kuroko’s Basketball
  • Yuri!!! on Ice
  • Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club
  • Blue Lock

Slice of Life

Slice of Life genre is one of the most fluid and versatile genres in anime and provides an intimate lens into the everyday experiences of its characters. At its core, slice of life encapsulates moments of daily life without the need for grand adventures or overarching storylines.

It paints a picture of the ordinary, encapsulating the beauty of the mundane.

One defining characteristic of this genre is its deliberate pacing, emphasizing a slow and unhurried approach to storytelling. This measured tempo mirrors the rhythm of daily existence, making it relatable and engrossing.

Despite the name, slice of life is not merely about everyday life but the human experience. These anime delve into the depths of the characters’ emotions, exploring their relationships, challenges, and aspirations.

While some may argue that romantic comedies often tread the line between slice of life and drama, the key distinction lies in the absence of conflict and action within true slice of life anime.

This genre focuses on the simple joys, small triumphs, and quiet moments that define existence. It avoids heavy themes like depression, sickness, or death, leaving the emotional weight to other genres like drama or coming-of-age narratives.

One of the longest-running anime series of all time is called Sazae-San, which belongs to the slice of life anime genre.

One subgenre of slice of life in anime and manga is kūki-kei (“air type”), also called nichijō-kei (“everyday type”).

Examples of slice of life anime:

  • Bunny Drop
  • Natsume’s Book of Friends
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Honey and Clover

Erotica

The erotica anime genre encompasses hentai and ecchi, which are both erotic genres inside the main erotica genre and are about adult animation.

Ecchi

“Ecchi” is a slang term in Japanese that signifies playful and slightly sexual actions. It is often used to describe something as sexy, dirty, or naughty, but it can also refer to the playful expression of one’s sensuality.

In Western culture, “ecchi” labels work with sexual undertones. Unlike “hentai,” which implies perversion or fetishism, “ecchi” is associated with softcore or playful sexuality.

These works incorporate sexual themes and innuendos but typically refrain from explicit depictions of sexual intercourse or genitalia. The genre often serves as fan service and is commonly found in comedic shōnen, seinen manga, and harem anime.

Hentai

Hentai genre originally meant abnormality or perversion. In anime, it is commonly used as a general term for adult content, although it is more frequently used outside of Japan. The Western understanding of “hentai” primarily refers to explicit, pornographic content. This discrepancy arises from translation nuances over time.

In Western fan communities, “hentai” has been divided into subcategories, distinguishing between softcore and hardcore depictions.

Regardless of the specific content or fetishes explored, this term encompasses a broad spectrum of explicit material. It’s essential to recognize the distinction between these sub-genres within anime and to engage with them responsibly, respecting individual preferences and boundaries.

Examples of erotica anime:

  • Junjō Romantica 2
  • Junjō Romantica
  • Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi – The World’s Greatest First Love
  • Stringendo – Angel-tachi no Private Lesson
  • Hatsuinu The Animation

Fantasy

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Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli. Image credits.

Fantasy anime genre is a realm where the boundaries of reality blur, inviting us into captivating worlds where the extraordinary becomes ordinary. Within the fantasy genre, we find ourselves transported to realms inhabited by fantastical creatures, where magic weaves its enchanting tapestry, and demi-humans become our comrades in adventure.

Magic, in its various forms, is an integral part of the fantasy landscape. Magic possesses dual facets, capable of both creation and destruction. Whether the sorcery serves as a force for good or evil, it invariably shapes the essence of fantasy worlds.

Paired with the supernatural, another genre hallmark, these elements intertwine, blurring the lines between reality and the mystical.

Supernatural beings, goblins, demons, and entities that defy explanation frequently inhabit fantasy landscapes. This genre delights in embracing the supernatural, merging it seamlessly with the fantastical, presenting us with tales where waking up in a new world is only the beginning of an epic journey.

Fantasy anime offers an escape from the mundane and an invitation to explore the limitless possibilities of the human imagination. Whether it’s through epic quests, mythical creatures, or enchanted landscapes, the allure of fantasy lies in its ability to transport us to worlds where the extraordinary thrives and anything is possible.

Examples of fantasy anime:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Spirited Away
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Made in Abyss
  • Fullmetal Alchemist

Horror

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Attack on Titan anime series. Image credits.

Horror anime genre takes delight in immersing us in spine-tingling narratives that transport us to eerie realms of the living and the supernatural. These tales often unfold in settings like haunted schools, neighborhood horrors, or eerie encounters with malevolent spirits, ghosts, and otherworldly beings.

What sets horror anime apart is its ability to disorient and surprise viewers, transporting them to unsettling worlds where the unexpected is the norm. The element of surprise is a fundamental aspect of anime’s scary allure.

Japanese culture’s love for all things cute and endearing also finds its place in horror anime. The juxtaposition of innocence and cuteness with gruesome or disturbing elements is a common theme. Cute girls are often featured in horrific scenarios, their presence intensifying the horrifying atmosphere.

This contrast between the adorable and the macabre offers a unique twist to the horror genre, making it all the more spine-chilling and captivating.

Examples of horror anime:

  • Monster
  • Baccano!
  • The Garden of Sinners
  • Attack on Titan
  • Hellsing Ultimate

Mystery

Mystery anime, much like a captivating enigma, lures viewers into a world of intrigue, suspense, and intellectual thrill. Mystery isn’t just a genre in anime; it’s an underlying element present in stories across the board.

Mystery anime often uniquely presents crucial information before your eyes, only revealing its significance when you least expect it.

It’s the subtle nuances and hidden hints that make a mystery anime truly enthralling. Occasionally, the desire to unearth these hidden gems may prompt you to revisit episodes and scenes, seeking those elusive breadcrumbs you may have missed.

The heart of a compelling mystery anime lies in its plot. While some anime attempt to craft a mystery within a limited 12-episode run, the most enthralling stories typically unfold in series that have roughly 22-26 episodes.

This extended format provides the room required to build a rich and immersive world, craft complex characters, and deliver a gripping narrative. A well-executed mystery anime becomes a journey of intellectual exploration where you, as the viewer, actively participate in deciphering the enigma.

Examples of mystery anime:

  • Steins;Gate
  • Mushishi: The Next Chapter
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Mushi-Shi
  • Death Note

Thriller

Thriller anime genre, like its literary and cinematic counterparts, weaves a gripping narrative that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. A good thriller demands a compelling story enriched with classic storytelling elements and, above all, an air of mystery to maintain intrigue.

A thriller anime is characterized by mysterious deaths and the constant threat of danger, often intertwined with an intricate web of storylines. It employs suspense, tension, and mystery to keep viewers hooked and engaged throughout the narrative.

Thriller anime frequently incorporates a sense of urgency, whether it’s characters racing against time to achieve their goals or attempting to uncover a hidden truth. The key to a successful thriller is gradually revealing information, building suspense, and keeping viewers yearning for more.

One of the hallmark elements of a thriller anime is the theme of death or the ever-present threat of it. This pervasive danger is a driving force that captivates audiences, playing into the primal human instinct to avoid harm and death.

Compelling storytelling is essential, providing characters with compelling reasons to take action, investigate, or escape their dire circumstances. In anime, characters strive to escape fatal situations, which is one of the core elements of thriller anime.

Examples of thriller anime:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Steins;Gate
  • Death Note
  • Monster
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG

Psychological

Psychological anime is a genre that thrives on pushing the boundaries of the mind, constantly challenging our perceptions of reality, morality, and the human psyche. While psychological anime often intertwines with other genres, it is a unique and intellectually stimulating category.

These anime are designed to provoke deep thought, captivate your imagination, and plunge you into a world where nothing is as it seems. The genre confronts you with perplexing dilemmas, riddles, and alternate futures, all while daring you to question your beliefs.

At its core, psychological anime demands active engagement. This genre is a haven for those who revel in a mental challenge and savor a story that requires your active participation.

They explore complex emotions and delve into the minds of their characters, exposing their inner turmoil, gray morals, and self-discovery. These anime confront the audience with the characters’ psychological struggles, whether it’s anxiety, depression, existential crises, or the weight of dark moral decisions.

Psychological anime also revels in the concept of consequences. It presents grim games or nightmarish scenarios that characters must confront should they fail to complete their tasks. Each experience is an emotional rollercoaster that explores the characters’ struggles, fostering an environment where tension and intellectual stimulation are paramount.

In addition to the mental trials faced by individual characters, psychological anime frequently explores psychological warfare between two or more characters. It’s a thrilling aspect that adds layers of complexity to the narratives, ensuring that viewers remain captivated.

Psychological anime delves into the human mind, challenges perceptions, and sparks intense intellectual engagement.

Examples of psychological anime:

  • Steins;Gate
  • Clannad After Story
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
  • Mushishi: The Next Chapter
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Romance

Romance anime is a genre that delves into the intricate world of love and relationships, capturing the essence of emotional connections and characters’ journeys as they navigate the turbulent waters of romance.

It centers on developing romantic feelings and the challenges that arise when characters seek to nurture and preserve these heartfelt connections.

In essence, romance anime embodies the cliche but ever-enticing dreams of love. It provides an avenue for viewers to indulge in the captivating allure of whirlwind romances, the heartfelt confessions, and the deep emotional bonds that resonate with those who yearn for their own romantic tales.

The genre demonstrates that love often thrives in the least anticipated places and offers a refreshing take on the multifaceted nature of romantic relationships.

Much like life, love stories are not always smooth sailing; they can be rich with drama and emotional intricacies. Romance anime embraces these aspects, portraying the joys and challenges of love, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the complexities of characters’ relationships.

Romance anime reminds us that love can be unpredictable, sometimes wild, but always worth exploring in our search for heartwarming and heart-wrenching tales of affection and passion.

Examples of romance anime:

  • Steins;Gate
  • Clannad After Story
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal
  • your name.
  • A Silent Voice

Science Fiction

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Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. Image credits.

Science fiction anime immerses viewers in worlds of uncharted technological possibilities and imaginary settings that, while currently beyond our present-day understanding, offer glimpses of the incredible advancements that science may one day unlock.

The heart of any science fiction narrative revolves around the profound societal and individual impacts stemming from these visionary technologies or natural phenomena. Often, these futuristic tales lean toward dystopian elements, painting thought-provoking scenarios that challenge our perceptions of the future.

Science fiction distinguishes itself from supernatural or fantasy genres, emphasizing the need for a rational scientific foundation to explain unnatural powers or phenomena that characters may possess.

While characters in science fiction anime may wield extraordinary abilities, the narrative demands a logical, science-based rationale for these powers.

These captivating narratives transport audiences to futuristic realms where advanced technology, time travel, space exploration, and other scientific innovations take center stage.

At its core, science fiction delves into the complex interplay between science and technology, human nature, and societal structures within fantastical or futuristic landscapes.

The genre opens doors to contemplation, exploration, and contemplative discourse on the limitless frontiers of scientific progress and the profound ethical questions it may pose for humanity.

Sub-genres of anime science fiction:

  • Kamishibai
  • Tokusatsu
  • Mecha
  • Cyberpunk
  • Steampunk
  • Dieselpunk
  • Isekai

Examples of science-fiction anime:

  • Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
  • Made in Abyss
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

Yaoi

Yaoi, also known as boys’ love (BL), is a captivating genre of fictional media that originated in Japan, featuring homoerotic relationships between male characters. Primarily created by women for women, yaoi stands apart from bara, a genre of homoerotic media targeted at gay men.

The roots of yaoi trace back to the 1970s, emerging as a subgenre of shōjo manga designed for girls. The term “yaoi” gained prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s within the dōjinshi culture, serving as a portmanteau for “yama nashi, ochi nashi, imi nashi” or “no climax, no point, no meaning.”

It was initially used humorously to describe amateur fan works that emphasized explicit content over plot and character development, often parodying mainstream manga and anime by portraying male characters from popular series in sexual scenarios.

“Boys’ love” was later adopted in the 1990s by Japanese publications as an umbrella term for male-male romance media aimed at women.

A central characteristic of yaoi is pairing characters based on their roles: the seme, who assumes the role of the sexual top or active pursuer, and the uke, the sexual bottom or passive pursued.

This genre, along with its culture and fandom, has attracted attention from scholars and journalists worldwide and continues to be a significant aspect of the anime and manga landscape.

Examples of yaoi anime:

  • Given
  • Doukyuusei
  • Love Stage!!
  • Junjou Romantica
  • Sekaiichi Hatsukoi

Yuri

Yuri, a term derived from the Japanese word for “lily”, is a genre of Japanese media that revolves around intimate relationships between female characters. While lesbianism often plays a central role in these stories, yuri encompasses a broader spectrum of works depicting emotional and spiritual connections between women, which may not necessarily be romantic or sexual in nature.

The genre found its beginnings in manga during the 1970s, with artists like Ryoko Yamagishi and Riyoko Ikeda notably associated with the Year 24 Group. Yuri gained more widespread popularity in the 1990s. Its establishment as a distinct publishing genre was marked by the launch of Yuri Shimai in 2003, the first manga magazine exclusively dedicated to yuri.

Yuri doesn’t adhere to a single-gender demographic. While it originated as a genre primarily catering to a female audience, there are instances of yuri works tailored for a male readership.

Yuri’s thematic richness and inclusivity make it an engaging genre that explores various facets of relationships between women.

Examples of yuri anime:

  • Citrus
  • Yuru Yuri
  • Yagate Kimi ni Naru
  • Happy Sugar Life
  • Akuma no Riddle

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Okuha

Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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