All Manga Genres Explained with Examples

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Key Takeaways

  • There are a total of 16 different manga genres currently.
  • The most popular genre in manga is romance.
  • Anime shares the same genres as manga.
  • Top-rated manga comics tend to have romance, adventure, comedy, action, and fantasy genres.
  • Genres are often mixed with demographic categories or editorial categories like shōnen, shōjo, josei, seinen, gekiga, and kodomo-muke. Mentioned categories are not genres, though.

Action

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Chainsaw Man, written and illustrated by Tatsuki Fujimoto. Image credits.
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Shingeki no Kyojin, written by Hajime Isayama and published by Kodansha. Image credits.

The action manga genre offers diverse and thrilling experiences. It includes intense scenes like gritty brawls, gunfights, and swordplay, all fueled by creative storytelling.

The genre also explores science fiction, delving into futuristic technology and supernatural elements for added excitement. These action sequences often revolve around protagonists facing formidable adversaries and high-stakes situations, offering purpose and engagement for readers.

What sets action manga apart is the sense of danger and the need for characters to overcome their limitations. From bare fists to supernatural powers and various weapons, action manga encompasses a wide range of combat elements, making it an exhilarating genre for manga enthusiasts.

Note! The longest-running manga series is called Golgo 13 (part of the action and drama genre), with 210+ tankōbon volumes, spanning over 572+ chapters. While One Piece manga is one of the world’s most popular manga series, it’s not the longest-running manga series.

Examples of action manga:

  • Berserk
  • Shingeki no Kyojin
  • One Piece
  • Chainsaw Man
  • Tokyo Ghoul

Adventure

Adventure manga is a genre where characters embark on significant journeys, whether physical expeditions or voyages of self-discovery.

These journeys often involve trials and tribulations, intertwined with elements of fantasy and the supernatural, introducing demons, ogres, angels, and special weapons to enhance the narrative within the manga panels.

While adventure manga series can be extensive, spanning many manga panels, they delve into the spiritual and supernatural, focusing on character development and intriguing encounters, making for a captivating blend of self-discovery and exploration within the manga’s dynamic landscape.

Examples of adventure manga:

  • Solo Leveling
  • Naruto
  • Bleach
  • Dragon Ball
  • Vinland Saga

Comedy

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One Punch-Man authored by ONE (Yusuke Muramata). Image credits.

Comedy manga genre provides a space for unrestrained laughter, transcending cultural norms and inviting everyone to join in the fun. Whether you’re new to manga or a seasoned reader, the comedy genre guarantees abundant laughter through its witty narratives and humorous scenarios.

These stories often draw humor from stereotypes, cultural quirks, and absurd situations, offering both entertainment and insight. Talented yet comically flawed characters navigating everyday life make the comedy genre a perfect fit alongside school-themed manga, creating a blend of relatable humor for all readers.

Examples of comedy manga:

  • One Punch-Man
  • Spy x Family
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
  • Komi Can’t Communicate
  • Black Clover

Sports

In the realm of the sports manga genre, the primary focus is on training and active participation, driven by the desire to enhance one’s athletic prowess, be it for the purpose of winning a competition or attaining a certain social status.

Whether the sport is an individual endeavor or a team effort, the central characters consistently navigate challenges through dialogue and the wisdom gleaned from fellow athletes or coaches. This dynamic fosters a prevailing sense of collective support and accomplishment that is a hallmark of sports narratives.

In contrast to the sports genre, where the emphasis is on resolving conflicts through teamwork and insights, the action genre places its narrative emphasis on overcoming challenges through physical prowess.

While both genres may feature exhilarating action sequences, they are inherently distinct and do not typically overlap.

Examples of sports manga:

  • Slam Dunk
  • Blue Rock
  • The Climber
  • Real
  • Hajime no Ippo: Fighting Spirit

Drama

Drama manga boasts intricate stories filled with emotion and depth, bringing out the complex lives of its characters.

Drama in manga typically weaves tales of tension, darkness, and, sometimes, the weight of sorrow, exploring raw and unfiltered aspects of the human condition. It shares similarities with genres like Angst and Fluff in fanfiction, delving into the intricate facets of existence.

Drama in manga often intersects with other genres, such as slice of life and even horror, to create more detailed narratives, offering readers multifaceted, poignant, and thought-provoking stories.

In the world of manga, drama guides us through a journey of emotions, deepening our understanding of the human psyche and the stories that connect us, all elegantly depicted within the manga panels.

Examples of drama manga:

  • Goodnight Punpun
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • A Silent Voice
  • 20th Century Boys
  • Monster

Slice of Life

Manga’s slice of life genre offers an intimate look into everyday experiences, portraying the beauty of the mundane.

This genre is characterized by its deliberate pacing, mirroring the rhythm of daily life and making it relatable and captivating.

Slice of life manga delves into the depth of characters’ emotions, exploring their relationships, challenges, and aspirations, providing a glimpse into the human experience.

Unlike romance and comedy manga, true slice of life manga lacks conflict and action, focusing on the simple joys, small triumphs, and quiet moments of existence. It avoids heavy themes like depression, sickness, or death, leaving the emotional weight to other genres.

Examples of slice of life manga:

  • Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro
  • ReLIFE
  • Yotsuba to!
  • Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You
  • Solanin

Erotica

The erotica manga genre includes hentai and ecchi, which are both erotic genres inside the main erotica genre.

Ecchi

Manga’s ecchi genre explores playful and slightly sensual interactions within its pages. It often implies a sexy, naughty, or sensuous element but maintains a playful expression of sensuality.

In Western culture, “ecchi” labels are linked to works with sexual undertones. Unlike “hentai,” which suggests perversion or fetishism, “ecchi” is associated with softcore or playful sexuality.

These manga tankōbons incorporate sexual themes and innuendos while generally avoiding explicit depictions of sexual intercourse or genitalia. The genre frequently serves as fan service and is commonly found in comedic shōnen, seinen manga, and harem stories.

Hentai

Hentai manga genre originally denoted abnormality or perversion. It’s widely used as a general term for adult content, though more so outside Japan. In Western contexts, “hentai” mainly indicates explicit, pornographic material stemming from translation nuances over time.

Western fan communities have categorized “hentai” into subgenres, distinguishing between softcore and hardcore depictions. This term covers a wide range of explicit material regardless of specific content or fetishes explored.

It’s important to acknowledge these sub-genres in manga and approach them responsibly, respecting individual preferences and boundaries.

Examples of hentai and ecchi manga:

  • Metamorphosis
  • Ane Naru Mono: The Elder-Sister Like One
  • Prison School
  • Sun-Ken Rock
  • Nozoki Ana

Fantasy

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Kimetsu no Yaiba, written by Koyoharu Gotouge Image credits.
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Fairy Tail, written and illustrated by Hiro Mashima. Image credits.

Manga’s fantasy genre blends reality and the extraordinary together. These worlds host fantastical creatures, where magic shapes their essence. The supernatural merges seamlessly, blurring the line between reality and the mystical.

Readers encounter supernatural beings, goblins, demons, and enigmatic entities within these manga landscapes, embarking on epic journeys in new worlds.

Fantasy manga invites readers to explore boundless human imagination, offering limitless possibilities.

Examples of fantasy manga:

  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Tokyo Ghoul:re
  • Fairy Tail
  • Hunter x Hunter
  • Claymore

Horror

Manga’s horror genre immerses readers in spine-tingling narratives, transporting them to eerie realms of the living and the supernatural.

These stories unfold in settings like haunted schools, neighborhood horrors, or eerie encounters with evil spirits, ghosts, and otherworldly beings.

What distinguishes horror manga is its knack for disorienting and surprising readers, creating unsettling worlds where the unexpected is the norm.

Japanese culture’s affection for cuteness also finds its place in horror manga, with the juxtaposition of innocence and the gruesome being a common theme. Cute characters often feature in horrifying scenarios, intensifying the eerie atmosphere.

This blend of the adorable and the macabre adds a unique twist to the horror genre, making it all the more spine-chilling and captivating within manga comics.

Examples of horror manga:

  • Gantz
  • Uzumaki
  • Dorohedoro
  • Blame!
  • Bastard

Mystery

Manga’s mystery genre, like an enigma waiting to be solved, captivates readers with intrigue, suspense, and intellectual thrills.

The mystery genre in manga often presents crucial information before your eyes, unveiling its significance when you least expect it.

It’s the subtle nuances and hidden hints that make a mystery manga truly enthralling. Readers may find themselves revisiting panels and scenes in search of those elusive breadcrumbs they might have missed.

The essence of a compelling mystery manga lies in its plot. The most enthralling stories typically unfold in series with ample chapters and volumes to build rich worlds, craft complex characters, and deliver gripping narratives. A well-executed mystery manga becomes an intellectual journey where readers actively participate in deciphering the enigma.

Examples of mystery manga:

  • The Promised Neverland
  • Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 7: Steel Ball Run
  • Tower of God
  • Pandora Hearts
  • Fire Punch

Thriller

The thriller genre weaves gripping narratives within manga books, characterized by mystery and suspense. Readers are drawn into stories marked by mysterious deaths and constant danger, often intertwined with intricate plots.

Thriller manga keeps readers engaged by gradually revealing information, building suspense, and leaving you yearning for more. The ever-present threat of death captivates by tapping into the primal human instinct to avoid harm.

Characters in the manga strive to evade fatal situations, making it a core element of the genre.

Examples of thriller manga:

  • Death Note
  • Pluto
  • Future Diary
  • The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria
  • Blood on the Tracks

Psychological

Manga’s psychological genre challenges perceptions and explores the human psyche. It captivates readers with perplexing dilemmas, moral questions, and complex characters, often facing issues like anxiety, depression, or existential crises.

This genre demands active reader engagement and offers intellectual stimulation. It delves into the complexities of the mind, often through psychological warfare between characters.

Examples of psychological manga:

  • The Flowers of Evil
  • Onanie Master Kurosawa
  • Homunculus
  • Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan
  • Liar Game

Romance

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Nisekoi: False Love, written and illustrated by Naoshi Komi. Image credits.

The romance genre explores love and relationships, delving into emotional connections and character journeys as they navigate the complexities of romance.

It portrays the captivating allure of whirlwind romances, heartfelt confessions, and deep emotional bonds, offering a haven for those yearning for their own romantic tales.

The genre embraces the unpredictability and challenges of love, reminding readers that it’s always worth exploring the heartwarming and heart-wrenching aspects of affection and passion.

Examples of romance anime:

  • Horimiya
  • Nisekoi: False Love
  • Ao Haru Ride
  • Bakuman.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets

Science Fiction

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Made in Abyss, written and illustrated by Akihito Tsukushi. Image credits.
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Neon Genesis Evangelion, written and illustrated by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. Image credits.

The science fiction genre explores uncharted technological possibilities and imaginative settings. These stories offer glimpses of future advancements unlocked by science.

Science fiction narratives often revolve around the profound impact of visionary technologies or natural phenomena on society and individuals, often with thought-provoking, dystopian elements. They distinguish themselves from fantasy by demanding a rational, science-based explanation for any extraordinary powers characters possess.

Readers are transported to futuristic realms featuring advanced technology, time travel, and space exploration.

Sci-fi in manga delves into the interplay between science, technology, human nature, and societal structures, sparking contemplation and exploration of the limitless frontiers of scientific progress and the ethical questions it raises.

Sub-genres of manga science fiction:

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

Examples of science-fiction manga:

  • Dr. Stone
  • Made in Abyss
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Akira
  • Kaiju No. 8

Yaoi

Manga’s yaoi genre, known as boys’ love (BL), features homoerotic relationships between male characters. Originating in Japan, it was created primarily by women for women, setting it apart from bara, a genre for gay men.

Yaoi emerged as a subgenre of shōjo manga in the 1970s, with the term “yaoi” coined in the 1970s and 1980s dōjinshi culture. The physical features of the characters are typical of bishōnen (literally “beautiful boys”).

It started humorously, emphasizing explicit content over plot and character development, often as parodies of mainstream series.

“Boys’ love” became the adopted term for male-male romance media aimed at women in the 1990s. Yaoi pairs characters as seme (top) and uke (bottom) and continues to be a significant aspect of the manga comics.

Examples of yaoi manga:

  • Killing Stalking
  • Given
  • Ten Count
  • Seven Days: Monday-Sunday
  • Love Stage!!

Yuri

Manga’s yuri genre, derived from the Japanese word for “lily,” explores intimate relationships between female characters. While lesbianism is a common theme, yuri encompasses emotional and spiritual connections between women, which may not necessarily be romantic or sexual.

Originating in the 1970s, yuri gained widespread popularity in the 1990s and became a distinct publishing genre with the launch of Yuri Shimai in 2003, the first manga magazine exclusively dedicated to yuri.

Yuri doesn’t adhere to a single-gender demographic; it caters to both female and male audiences. This inclusive genre explores various facets of relationships between women within the pages of manga panels.

Examples of yuri manga:

  • Bloom into You
  • Citrus
  • Girl Friends
  • Kasae-san and…
  • Whisper Me a Love Song

Feature image credits.

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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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