The world of anime and manga is very large and there is a whole discipline dedicated to studying these two genres and their subgenres. The classification of both anime and manga can be done based on several criteria, one of which is the age group they target. In this article, we are going to introduce you to one of such genres, focusing primarily on the anime market, rather than the manga associated with the genre. So let us tell you more about seinen anime!
Seinen anime and manga are shows and comics marketed towards young adult men, who are between 18 and 45 years old. Seinen anime and manga tend to focus on action, politics, science fiction, fantasy, relationships, sports, or comedy.
The rest of the article is going to explain to you what the seinen genre is. You’re going to find out what exactly it means and which age group it targets. You’re also going to learn the differences between seinen and other similar genres. We intend on explaining why seinen is a good genre to watch and, ultimately, give you a list of the best seinen anime out there.
What is seinen anime?
Seinen is a Japanese term that literally means “youth”, but it is also used to refer to a specific (sub)genre of manga and anime marketed towards young adult men, between the ages of 18 and 45. Although the term means “youth”, seinen is actually targeted towards an older age group of men. The female equivalent of seinen is josei. Seinen is “located” between the shōnen (which is marketed towards boys) and the gekiga (which is marketed towards adults) genres, as far as the ages are concerned.
As far as seinen manga is concerned, here is a list of the most popular publications from that category:
|Weekly Young Magazine||807,871|
|Weekly Young Jump||768,980|
|Big Comic Original||729,750|
|Weekly Manga Goraku||500,000|
|Weekly Manga Sunday (defunct)||300,000|
|Business Jump (defunct)||285,334|
|Super Jump (defunct)||277,500|
|Big Comic Spirits||260,024|
|Big Comic Superior||204,125|
Seinen is one of the oldest animanga genres in Japan. One of the earliest manga magazines published in Japan was a seinen publication, Weekly Manga Times, which debuted back in 1956; for comparison, the two main shōnen manga titles, Weekly Shōnen Magazine and Weekly Shōnen Sunday, appeared later, in 1959. The initial publications were marketed towards middle-aged men, featuring erotic fiction and manga and tales of yakuza.
Then in 1967, the first of the magazines aimed at younger men appeared, Weekly Manga Action, which scored big hits with Lupin III and Lone Wolf and Cub, and later Crayon Shin-chan. Big Comic followed in 1968; this title is arguably best-known for its series Golgo 13.
The year 1972 saw the appearance of Big Comic Original, which featured Tsuribaka Nisshi, a manga about two older men who enjoy fishing; the manga was made into a series of popular movies. In 1979, the publisher Shueisha, known for Weekly Shonen Jump for teen boys, entered the seinen market with Weekly Young Jump. Many Young Jump series have been adapted into anime or live-action TV programs, e.g. Elfen Lied, Gantz, Hen, Kirara, Liar Game, Oku-sama wa Joshi Kōsei, and Zetman.
Despite there being a difference, the themes of seinen manga often overlap with those of shōnen manga, which is why it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference without actually reading the whole thing. But, generally, there is a trick you can use.
When you take a manga, you look at whether furigana (a reading aid in the Japanese language used to help younger readers read kanji) is used over the original kanji text: if there are furigana on all kanji, the title is generally aimed at a younger audience. The title of the magazine it was published in is also a very important indicator. Usually, Japanese manga magazines with the word “young” in the title are seinen. There are also mixed shōnen/seinen magazines out there, as well as mixed anime series.
Why should you watch seinen anime?
In our opinion, seinen anime is the best genre you can watch. Namely, seinen is aimed towards a mature, yet still young (the lower age limit is 18) audience, while not focusing on overly old readers. This means that this genre combines the thematic structure and ideas of the shōnen manga, but with more depth and maturity.
At a certain age, you like seeing your character go on an adventure that is lighthearted and full of funny situations, but at one point in your life, you want to see real danger, real commitment and you want to be actually invested in the story. This is where seinen jumps in. Since it’s marketed towards an older demographic, seinen is able to tackle darker themes, mature questions and generally be more realistic with its visuals. It combines the creativity and magic of shōnen with what we really want to see at one point in our lives.
This is why we believe that seinen is not only worth watching, but is comparatively the best animanga genre you could pick, as it takes the best from all the other genres and combines it into one great narrative.
10 best seinen anime series
As we finish our article, we are going to bring you a short list of the best seinen anime series you can watch. Some of them are classics, others are still running, but all of the titles on this list are definitely worth a watch in our opinion and you can pick any of them to start with:
In a hypothetical future, albeit very near, around 2029, men have been able to incorporate cybernetic implants in their bodies, increasing the natural capacities of the human being. In a world where cyberization is the most common and robots are extremely identical imitations of men, all are connected through their Ghost (or Soul) to a kind of internet or cyberspace where all the data is found created by society.
Major Motoko Kusanagi and Section 9 have to prevent continuous attacks from cybercriminals and tech terrorists. Suddenly, Major Motoko is plunged into investigating a hacker’s ghost who calls himself Puppeteer.
The more she immerses herself in the investigation, the more she will wonder about her identity, reaching her own conclusions.
2. Tokyo Ghoul
In Tokyo, there is a rising number of brutal murders committed by Ghouls, unknown beings that survive on human flesh. One day, 18-year-old Ken Kaneki meets a girl named Rize Kamishiro in a coffee shop and asks her out. After a seemingly normal date, Kaneki offers to accompany her to her house. Upon entering an alley he is attacked by her, who turns out to be a Ghoul. During the attack, Kaneki is saved by falling beams that kill Rize before she can kill him, but she leaves him terribly injured.
Due to the severity of his injuries, he receives an organ transplant from the attacking ghoul (Rize Kamishiro). Thus, Kaneki ends up becoming a half-Ghoul and half-Human being, from now on he must live hiding from humans without having anyone to turn to.
He meets some Ghouls who work in the cafeteria where he met Rize and learns that the workers in that cafeteria also turn out to be ghouls that survive on coffee since coffee is the only taste that Ghouls and humans share. The rest is rejected by the stomach of the Ghouls, except for human flesh, which they have to consume from time to time. During the course of the story, Kaneki will meet new companions and see the dark side of both humanity and the Ghouls.
Saitama is a bald young hero. He lives in the city of Z, where various monsters appear and cause damage. He only became a hero as a hobby. When he was faced with a monster one day and couldn’t do anything, he trained hard for three years. Saitama now has unbelievably great powers and always defeats his opponents in combat with just one blow.
When the cyborg Genos meets him, he joins Saitama in admiration for his strength. Genos is on the lookout for the cyborg who destroyed his hometown and killed his parents. Saitama, meanwhile, suffers from his invincibility, as he defeats any opponent with just one blow (and usually kills him), even if he only hits lightly and thus never experiences a real challenge.
In order to gain more recognition and support for their heroics, Saitama and Genos join the Hero Association. Both are motivated but are immediately confronted with the rules and demands of society and the other heroes, both of whom are not always well-disposed. Since his strength is incomprehensible to most of his fellow heroes, he is often called either a charlatan or mistaken for a villain. Outwardly, Saitama is always calm, but internally such accusations often hit him hard.
Berserk tells the story of the meeting of Guts and Griffith, leader of the Falcon Troop, a band of mercenaries in the pay of the kingdom of Midland. From this meeting will be born an ambiguous friendship, but nevertheless efficient: the presence of Guts, a warrior with the disproportionate sword, will quickly prove essential to the ambition of the young Griffith, swashbuckler and outstanding tactician.
The anime is thus the story of the rise and fall of the Falcon Troop, and the relationship between Guts and Griffith, particularly complex, between the relationship of interest (Griffith uses the strength of Guts), mutual respect ( both see each other as soldiers), and deep affection (each inexplicably needs the other’s presence).
In the background of the anime, appears a reflection on man, divided between his monstrosity (monsters being a physical representation of the dark side that lies dormant in each man), his violence (the world of Berserk is ravaged by several wars), his ambition (illustrated wonderfully by Griffith’s dream and Machiavellianism), his desires (especially sexual), and the inherent will in all to seek to do good, and this sometimes to the detriment of others.
The series takes place in a fictional world based on our times, in which the secret, royal Protestant Hellsing order of knights has been successfully fighting vampires and other undead on behalf of the British crown in Great Britain for centuries. But for some time now there have been not only natives, real vampires but also freaks, artificially created with the help of an implanted computer chip. Worried about their rapid growth, the organization sends the vampire Alucard to help eliminate the freaks.
Seras, a survivor of a massacre and made a vampire by Alucard, now serves as his adjutant. But not only Hellsing, also the 13th Division of Iscariot, which came from the Vatican, was specialized in vampire hunting. As a bitter enemy of the British Protestant organization, she wants to put an end to them and especially Alucard. Above all, however, Hellsing has to fear for the National Socialist group Millennium, under whose leadership “the major” goes to war with a vampirized military battalion of 1,000 vampires against England and whose real agenda remains in the dark until the end.
In a world somewhat similar to Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, beings of neither animal nor vegetable nature exist. The living beings that are said to have a great connection to nature are called Mushi (蟲, literally translated as “insect”, but in the broader sense also “essence”).
The coexistence of people and mushi often turns out to be problematic. The mushi are invisible to most people, few people who can see them often travel the world as mushishi trying to help the people who have problems caused by mushi.
The white-haired Ginko (ギ ン コ), who lost an eye through a mushi in his childhood, works as a mushi master (mushishi) and meets different people and mushis on his travels. When he encounters people harmed by mushi, he first carefully investigates the cause and type of the mushi before attempting to drive it away without killing it.
Düsseldorf, 1986. The young and brilliant Japanese neurosurgeon Kenzo Tenma saves a child, Johan Liebert, from certain death. At the same time, some crimes of which Tenma himself will be accused, especially by the police inspector Lunge, are consummated in the hospital where the doctor works. Nine years later Johan will commit a series of heinous murders.
Learning that the killer is Johan himself, Tenma decides to leave behind his work and friends to capture and kill him, to remedy the mistake made nine years earlier and exonerate himself. But during the chase, the young surgeon will discover that many clouds are thickened on Johan’s mysterious past, which will gradually emerge with a tragic truth, and which also involved Johan’s twin sister, Nina: as a child, she witnessed a murder mass, and out of love for her Johan convinced her that instead it was he who witnessed this tragedy. The young man is looking for the man who was behind the experiments wanted by the communist governments of the GDR and Czechoslovakia to create infallible killers.
8. Vinland Saga
Combining historical figures and events with many fictional elements, Vinland Saga is the story of the life of a young Icelandic man, Thorfinn Thorsson. This son of an illustrious repentant warrior will see his life turned upside down when his father is assassinated by pirates led by the cunning Askeladd. Driven by revenge, Thorfinn will follow and then integrate this gang, with the displayed desire to kill his father’s assassin in a fair duel.
Thorfinn’s vengeful quest is the common thread of the story’s prologue (volumes 01 to 08). It will lead him, in particular, to participate in the invasion of England by the Danes at the beginning of the eleventh century. From volume 08 begins the second arc of the story. The action leaves the English battlefields to settle on an agricultural property in Northern Europe, while the theme of war gives way to that of redemption.
9. Lupin III
Like his grandfather, Lupin III is a master thief and earns his living by stealing valuable objects. Lupin is always accompanied by his old friend Daisuke Jigen, a masterful shooter. Another companion is the beauty Fujiko Mine, who has been hopelessly addicted to Lupin since the first meeting. Although she occasionally works with Lupin and his group, she usually manages to collect the prey alone and leave the others out in the rain.
The last of the group is Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a Japanese samurai and master of sword art. Goemon is in possession of the Almighty Sword, which can easily cut through everything in the world. Since Lupin is a wanted thief, he is constantly being followed by Inspector Zenigata, who works for Interpol. Zenigata is obsessed with arresting Lupin, but has only managed to do so once and Lupin has been able to break free.
10. Elfen Lied
The plot takes place in the Japanese city of Kamakura. The main storyline follows the life of Lucy, a diclonius species that looks like humans externally. She is detained in a research laboratory, from which she escapes on a given occasion, but is found on the run and loses consciousness when she falls into the water, and as a result, another personality develops in her, coupled with childish, innocent behaviour.
Two students from the local university find her on the waterfront, Kouta and his cousin Yuka, and since she can only say one phrase at first, that’s how she’s named and accepted into their home.
Due to Lucy’s occasional returning personality, the special squads sent to capture her, and the attacks of the other diclonius, their hitherto calm lives are on top of their heads. Kouta nonetheless defends New, that is, Lucy. With the release of 35, the fights for Lucy begin, and a dark past that Kouta did not remember is revealed.