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Types of Anime – Categories, Genres, Themes

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Key Takeaways

  • The five anime demographic categories (editorial categories) and the main types of anime are shōnen, shōjo, seinen, josei, and kodomo-muke.
  • Anime has genres the same way movies have. Genres can be action, romance, comedy, adventure, etc.
  • Anime also has themes specific to Japanese animation, such as isekai, iyashikei, and mecha.

Demographic Categories of Anime

Anime has five main demographic categories, also called editorial categories. The five main types are shōnen, shōjo, seinen, josei, and kodomo-muke. Each category has a certain art style and intended audience it serves. These categories shouldn’t, however, be mixed with genres as these five categories are not genres.

Shōnen

anime-shonen-example-1
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
anime-shonen-example-2
Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen
anime-shonen-example-3
Gintama

Shónen (also romanized as shonen, shounen, or syônen) can be translated to “boy” in English. This category is targeted toward a young male audience, typically between the ages of 9 to 18. These types of anime are action-packed and normally have a young male protagonist.

In some rare cases, shōnen animes feature a female protagonist.

Shónen usually portrays a male team or a team that accompanies the main characters or the main hero, like in Boku No Hero Academia or Attack On Titan.

Shōnen anime tends to be full of action, drama, fighting, adventure, comedy, martial arts, science fiction, horror, and sometimes even coming-of-age scenarios (Attack On Titan).

Shōnen is mainly targeted to a male audience and is one of the five primary manga and anime categories, the other being (shōjo, seinen, josei, and kodomo-muke)

Examples of popular shónen anime series and movies:

  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen
  • Gintama
  • Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack On Titan)
  • Kimetsu no Yaiba
  • Dragon Ball
  • One Piece
  • Naruto
  • Attack On Titan
  • Fairy Tail
  • Chainsaw Man
  • Jujutsu Kaisen

Related article: The best Shounen anime series of all time

Shōjo

anime-shoujo-example-2
Nana
anime-shoujo-example-1
Fruits Basket
anime-shoujo-example-3
Banana Fish

Shōjo (also romanized as shojo or shoujo) type of anime is mainly targeted towards a young female audience aged 10 to 18.

It’s considered to be the opposite of shōnen. Shōnen focuses on action and fighting, whereas with shoujo animes, you can expect more romance and relationships. Shoujo tends to be very dramatic, as well.

Shōjo animes commonly have a female protagonist. However, male homosexuals’ storylines can also be included in shoujo.

A few of the most popular shōjo anime series, according to MyAnimeList, are Fruits Basket and the multiple series and movies of Natsume Yuujinchou.

Examples of popular shójo anime series and movies:

  • Fruits Basket
  • Natsume Yuujinchou
  • Nana
  • Banana Fish
  • Kamisama Hajimemashita: Kako-hen
  • Versailles no Bara
  • Hotarubi no Mori e
  • Mimi wo Sumaseba
  • Cardcaptor Sakura
  • Sailor Moon

Seinen

anime-seinen-example-1
Vinland Saga Season 2
anime-seinen-example-2
Bungou Stray Dogs
anime-seinen-example-3
Ghost In The Shell

Seinen anime targets a young male or adult male audience, typically aged between 18 to 40.

You will see almost the same storylines as in shōnen anime: a lot of action, adventure, science fiction, horror, and drama. Seinen animes tend to be more violent and can contain psychological aspects in the stories that can be hard to watch for some people, hence why their main target is adults.

Even though it’s not the focus of this category, seinen animes normally have a sexual or pornographic nature.

One of the earliest seinen manga published was Weekend Egao by Sunao Hari, and one of the earliest seinen anime was Lupin III: Pilot Film, released in 1969.

It is recommended that the viewer of seinen anime is older than 18 due to its violent themes.

Examples of popular seinen anime series and movies:

  • Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic
  • March Comes In Like A Lion
  • Monster
  • Kingdom
  • Vinland Saga
  • Mushishi
  • Ping Pong: The Animation
  • Bungou Stray Dogs
  • Berserk
  • Hellsing
  • Gantz
  • Tokyo Ghoul
  • One-Punch Man
  • Ghost In The Shell
  • AKIRA

Josei

anime-josei-example-1
Chihayafuru
anime-josei-example-2
Usagi Drop
anime-josei-example-3
Sakamichi no Apollon

Josei anime is considered to be the counterpart of seinen. Shōjo and josei are both aimed at women, but josei is more marketed at adult women, whereas shōjo is for girls and young adult women.

Josei explores deeper topics (some even can be hard to watch), such as infidelity or sexual assaults (similar to gekiga). Josei focuses on portraying more realistic relationships, with more drama and psychological and erotic topics.

You can consider it a darker and stronger version of shoujo.

Normally josei protagonists are female, but there can be male protagonists in josei as well, usually when it comes to male homosexual stories.

The josei category became stigmatized in the late 1980s as it came to be associated with pornographic manga. However, josei has now been more focused on social issue-focused stories.

Examples of popular josei anime series and movies:

  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
  • Chihayafuru
  • Usagi Drop
  • Sakamichi no Apollon
  • Nodame Cantabile
  • Hachimitsu to Clover
  • Princess Jellyfish

Related article: Best Josei anime series of all time

Kodomo-muke

anime-kodomo-muke-example-2
Pokémon
anime-kodomo-muke-example-3
Digimon
anime-kodomo-muke-example-1
Nobody’s Boy Remi

Kodomo-muke type of anime is directed toward children and usually has moralistic stories to guide children to behave well and to be considerate of others; basically, it tries to teach children how to be good people.

As you can see, it’s the only type of anime aimed at a very young audience, such as kids. Many think that anime is only for kids (which is not the case), and no wonder, as the kodomo-muke category consists of roughly 6,000 titles, compared to shónen, which has almost 2,000 titles.

As an art style, kodomo-muke uses simple character and creature design with a bright and joyful color palette. Some could describe kodomo as creative, fun, and exciting and one that plays a lot with imagination. The animation style is very cute in general.

The protagonists can be males, females, and even animals (Gon) or creatures. Kodomo-muke doesn’t follow just one genre. You can find a little bit of everything here: action, adventure, comedy. 

Of course, everything is adapted well to be suitable for kids. Although kodomo-muke is directed towards children, people of all ages can enjoy these animes.

Examples of popular kodomo-muke anime series and movies:

  • Tanoshii Muumin Ikka (Moomin)
  • Pokemon
  • Doraemon
  • Digimon
  • Anpanman

Anime types group anime into different demographic categories intended or expected to be watched by a specific audience.

Genres in Anime

Anime has demographic categories that can be seen as types, but anime also has genres, such as action, comedy, adventure, etc., that determine the tone and content. Genre, theme, and demographic category are often mixed in anime as they vary greatly.

The biggest anime genre is comedy, which covers over 7,000 anime and manga titles. The least explored anime genre is erotica, a part of adult animation.

There are a total of 16 different anime genres:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Sports
  • Slice of Life
  • Erotica
  • Fantasy
  • Horror
  • Mystery
  • Thriller
  • Psychological
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Yaoi
  • Yuri

Themes in Anime

Themes are a central message within the narrative of the anime show. Some can easily mix harem, mecha, and isekai as genres when they are, in fact, themes in anime.

There are more than 50 anime themes, and more can come in the future. Below is a list of the currently known themes in anime:

  • Adult Cast
  • Anthropomorphic
  • CGDCT
  • Childcare
  • Combat Sports
  • Crossdressing
  • Delinquents
  • Detective
  • Educational
  • Gag Humor
  • Gegika
  • Gore
  • Harem (boy is surrounded by girls)
  • High Stakes Game
  • Historical
  • Idols (Female)
  • Idols (Male)
  • Isekai
  • Iyashikei
  • Lolicon
  • Love Polygon
  • Magical Sex Shift
  • Mahou Shoujo (Magical Girls)
  • Martial Arts
  • Mecha
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Music
  • Mythology
  • Organized Crime
  • Otaku Culture
  • Parody
  • Performing Arts
  • Pets
  • Psychological
  • Racing
  • Reincarnation
  • Reverse Harem (boys surround a girl)
  • Romantic Subtext
  • Samurai
  • School
  • Shotacon
  • Showbiz
  • Space
  • Strategy Game
  • Super Power
  • Survival
  • Team Sports
  • Time Travel
  • Vampire
  • Video Game
  • Visual Arts
  • Workplace

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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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