Genres – What’s that mean?

As you adventure through Otakudom, you probably came across this term that you just don’t understand. Genre.  It’s a way to classify anime and manga, just like the movies and tv shows, to attract a target audience.  There are many different kinds and it’s tricky at first figuring out what types you like, but as you go, you do learn.

 

You have general categories, but then it can be divided up further. Here are some of the many.

  • Abstract
  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Androids / Cyborgs / Robots
  • Aliens
  • Baseball
  • Bounty Hunters
  • Bishoujo
  • Clubs
  • Comedy
  • Cooking
  • Crime
  • Demons
  • Drama
  • Fantasy
  • Female Students
  • Gag Series
  • Gekiga
  • Game
  • Genetic Modification
  • Gunfights
  • Harem
  • High School
  • Historical
  • Horror
  • Humanoid
  • Iyashikei
  • Josei
  • Kids
  • Large Breasts
  • Love Polygon
  • Mafia
  • Magic
  • Mahou Shoujo / Magical Girls
  • Magical Girlfriend / Mahou Kanojo
  • Magical Idol Singer
  • Martial Arts
  • Mecha
  • Military
  • Movie
  • Mon / Monster
  • Music
  • Mystery
  • Nudity
  • Parallel Universe
  • Parody
  • Police
  • Power Suits
  • Psychological
  • Psychological thriller
  • Robot
  • Romance
  • Samurai
  • School
  • Sci-Fi / Science Fiction
  • Seinen
  • Sekaikei
  • Shoujo / Shojo
  • Shoujo Ai
  • Shounen / Shonen
  • Shounen Ai
  • Slice of Life
  • Space
  • Space Travel
  • Sports
  • Sudden Girlfriend
  • Super Power
  • Supernatural
  • Sword Play
  • Swordplay
  • Thriller
  • Traps
  • Underworld
  • Vampires
  • Violence
  • Werewolves
  • Western
  • Yokai

Manga

  • Gekiga
  • 4-koma

Adult / Mature

  • Bara
  • Ecchi
  • Hentai
  • Netorare
  • Otokonoko
  • Yaoi
  • Yuri

Below are descriptions of many of the Genre categories out there.

Genres, Subgenres and Metagenres

Abstract

Action – Plays out mainly through a clash of physical forces. Frequently these stories have fast cuts, tough characters making quick decisions and usually a beautiful girl nearby. Anything quick and most likely a thin storyline.

Adventure – Exploring new places, environments or situations. This is often associated with people on long journeys to places far away encountering amazing things, usually not in an epic but in a rather gripping and interesting way.

Android / Cyborgs / Robots – human like robots. Some series get classified under Mecha.

Angels – generally are categorized under the Supernatural category. Can also be under Harem, Romance, etc.

Cars – Anime whose central theme revolves around cars and probably car races. A single character’s obsession for cars does not mean that it should belong to this genre. Most of these stories also are in the action genre.

Comedy – Multiple characters and/or events causing hilarious results. These stories are built upon funny characters, situations and events.

Dementia – Anime that have mind-twisting plots. This can also be categorized as Psychological.

Demons – Anime that are set in a world where demons and other dark creatures play a significant role – the main character may even be one. This is mainly under Supernatural genre category.

Drama – Anime that often show life or characters through conflict and emotions. In general, the different parts of the story tend to form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, the story has a message that is bigger than just the story line itself.

Fantasy – Anime that are set in a mythical world quite different from modern-day Earth. Frequently this world has magic and/or mythical creatures such as dragons and unicorns. These stories are sometimes based on real world legends and myths. Frequently fantasies describe tales featuring magic, brave knights, damsels in distress, and/or quests.

Gag Series – A comedic show specifically concentrating on being humorous before any concern of plot, drama, or even comprehensibility. Noted for a complete lack of tact or pomposity on the part of the writers, and frequent postmodern commentary. Can have occasional Fanservice which the series will openly acknowledge. The Rule of Funny will be observed.
Because they don’t take themselves seriously, gag series tend to experiment across the board with parody, lewd humor, random cutaways, and short-lived drama. In a win-win situation, these can be very successful experiments when they succeed, or mocked by the series itself when they fail as a protective tactic. Ironically, they can be praised for presenting such topics without being Anvilicious. However, doing this at the end of a series can cause accusations of being pretentious.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GagSeries

Gekiga – “Manga” means “humorous pictures”; “gekiga” was designed as a parallel word meaning “dramatic pictures”, reflecting the fact that gekiga was intended for older readers (manga at the time was aimed almost exclusively at pre-teens) and was much more serious than the other Japanese comics of the day. The drawing style and the stories had a stark realism to them and often depicted the struggles of the everyday man in Japan.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Gekiga

Game – Anime whose central theme is based on a non-violent, non-sports game, like go, chess, trading card games or computer/video games.

Harem – where one character is generally a male and becomes surrounded by females who a few or all begin to fall in love with him on different levels. Mainly comedies. Reverse harem is where a female is surrounded by male characters.; Anime that involves one lead male character and many cute/pretty female support characters. Typically, the male lead ends up living with many female support characters within the same household. The lead male typically represents the average guy who is shy, awkward, and girlfriendless. While each female character surround the lead male possesses distinct physical and personality traits, those traits nevertheless represent different stereotypical roles that play on popular Japanese fetishes; i.e. the librarian/genius, tomboy, little sister, and older woman. Some anime that are under the harem genre are: Love Hina, Girls Bravo, Maburaho, and Sister Princess.; It normally takes place in a High School setting, with one male lead, and at least three, often a lot more, girls who are romantically interested in him. (Gender Inverted Examples also exist). Usually, each girl personifies a single classic characterization archetype. The protagonist either takes it as an Unwanted Harem, or reacts as a Harem Seeker, or Oblivious to Love.

Historical – Anime whose setting is in the past. Frequently these follow historical tales, sagas or facts.

Horror – Anime whose focus is to scare the audience.

Iyashikei – Japanese for “healing”, a term used for anime and manga created with the specific purpose of having a healing or soothing effect on the audience. Works of this kind often involve alternative realities with little to no conflict, emphasizing nature and the little delights in life.
Even though many iyashikei creations seem to have a strong escapist basis, the goal is not only to offer a means of getting away from daily worries, but to let the audience embrace a calming state of mind. As these works tend to involve normal people in normal situations, this trope often overlaps with Slice of Life.

Josei – A demographic category of manga, anime, and other entertainment aimed at female audiences aged 18 to 40. Like its Spear Counterpart Seinen, Josei is notable for more realistic, less idealized portrayals of romance and life than in works for young girls.
It typically uses a more realistic artistic style. Most are written by women, and feature in magazines or anthology collections directly sold for the demographic. Stories typically portray everyday life for young Japanese women — usually adults, but occasionally high school age. – Article
Sometimes is combined with Seinen. “Heading toward adult subject matter, seinen and josei cater to the post 15-year-old demographic, intended for young adults and adult fans. Seinen is male oriented, while josei is the female equivalent, though there’s far more overlap than with shonen and shojo. The acclaimed Ghost in the Shell is a prime example, starring cyborg badass Major Motoko Kusanagi. Her captivating origin story has been adapted countless times and will once again be introduced to audiences via the coming Scarlett Johansson movie of the same name (whitewashing controversies and all).” – Article

Kids / Kodomomuke – Anime whose target audience is children. This does not necessarily mean that the character(s) are children or that an anime whose main character(s) are children is appropriate for this genre.  Kodomomuke translates as literally “intended for children”. “Kodomomuke denotes the more saccharine anime and manga celebrated by all ages. Its family-friendliness is, in part, what makes it so recognizable. Characters like the robotic cat Doraemon are lauded in Japan. Their stories can be silly, humorous, and certainly educational for viewers just entering their formative years, heading to school, and exploring the world. Doraemon’s just happens to include a magic pocket stuffed with futuristic gadgets to help a young boy named Nobita.” – Article

Magic / Mahou – Anime whose central theme revolves around magic. Things that are “out of this world” happen – incidents that cannot be explained by the laws of nature or science. Usually wizards/witches indicate that it is of the “Magic” type. This is a sub-genre of fantasy.

Magical Girl / Bushiujo/Bishoujo – girls that have magical transformations; Known as mahou shoujo (“magical girl”) in Japanese, or just majokko (“witch-girl”). Magical Girls are empowered by various means with fantastic powers that both assist and complicate their lives, but manage to persevere despite this. No matter how hard this may be for the Western world to believe, Magical Girls have high crossover popularity in different demographics with some minor but appropriate design modifications, and make up a sizable portion of both shojo and bishoujo fandom.

Magical Girlfriend / Mahou Kanojo – In Japan, this is the genre of adolescent male Wish Fulfillment, and has become rather popular.
The hero is usually a geeky loser, terribly unlucky at love. He is either unable to get a date at all, or has had his sensitive poet’s heart broken by a cruel bitch who was only toying with his affections, forcing him to withdraw from all feminine companionship. Exactly how strongly this is exaggerated depends on the writers. However, because he is a genuinely good and kind person, fate smiles upon him — the perfect girl for him enters his life. She is beautiful, kind, domestic, and utterly and eternally devoted to him. However, she’s often not exactly human by most definitions — she is a Goddess, a Demon, or a Vampire, or a Witch, or an Extraterrestrial, or an Angel, or a Robot, or a Ghost, or a virtual being born of an advanced computer program, or under a spell/curse, or an immortal sorceress, or some combination of any or all of the above. Sometimes the term is just metaphorical, although this is usually used in a critical way implying she’s too good to be true. Of course the path of true love never runs smoothly (especially since she loves you and everybody) but the pairing of dork and demigoddess runs into especially large bumps — usually comedic ones. Despite this and his initial misgivings, though, true love blossoms for the once-hapless hero.

Magical Idol Singer – A Sub Trope of Magical Girl where her magical identity is an Idol Singer. They come in two varieties – either a girl who is already an idol singer gains the ability to fight crime, usually by way of singing, or a girl who becomes an idol singer through the use of magic.
This type of Magical Girl is the one that uses the Wish Fulfillment appeal of the genre the most. While the other two types uses her powers to do good deeds or fight the good fight, the Magical Girls here use the powers they gain to achieve their dreams of stardom, although they can use Magic Music. As the protagonists here tend to be too young to be part of the musical industry, Older Alter Ego is often used. Note the character has to be a magical girl, not just someone with music related powers.

Martial Arts – Anime whose central theme revolves around martial arts. This includes all hand-to-hand fighting styles, including Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do and even Boxing. Weapons use, like Nunchaku and Shuriken are also indications of this genre. This is a sub-genre of action.

Mecha – normally covers giant robots that an individual controls; Anime whose central theme involves mechanical things. This genre is mainly used to point out when there are giant robots. Human size androids are in general not considered “Mecha” but “SciFi”.; The “mecha”, or “giant robot”, concept is ubiquitous in Japanese pop culture, and is more than adequately represented in anime. Despite the name, the robots need not actually be “giant” – some are merely human-sized, and some even smaller. Mecha themselves usually divided between the “Super Robot Genre” and the “Real Robot Genre”, the distinction typically being where they belong on the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness, though there are as many different kinds of settings for mecha as there are genres. The giant robot genre is considered to be the creation of Mitsuteru Yokoyama, creator of Tetsujin #28 (Gigantor) and Giant Robo (Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot). Both of these featured the early trope of The Kid with the Remote Control. The genre was further defined and refined by Go Nagai. His Mazinger Z (Tranzor Z in the United States) holds the distinction of being the very first piloted giant robot. In that series and others (Great Mazinger, Getter Robo, UFO Robo Grendizer, Kotetsu Jeeg, etc.), Nagai singlehandedly invented nearly every classic trope of the Super Robot Genre: the rocket-fist, the blazing sword, the amazing entrance from a secret launch bay, and the first transforming and combining robots. Other mecha types include Humongous Mecha, Combining Mecha, where the mecha is comprised in turn of smaller mecha or vehicles, and Transforming Mecha, where the mecha transforms to and from another form. If a mecha is small but still piloted as opposed to “worn”, it’s a Mini Mecha; otherwise, see Powered Armor. Walking Tank is simply a bipedal tank with no humanoid design. Spider Tank is a variant which replaces humanoid and animal configurations with an insectile design.

Military / Warfare – An anime series/movie that has a heavy militaristic feel behind it.

Mon / Monster – examples: Pokemon, Digimon

Music – Anime whose central theme revolves around singers/idols or people playing instruments. This category is not intended for finding AMVs (Animated Music Videos).

Mystery – Anime where characters reveal secrets that may lead a solution for a great mystery. This is not necessarily solving a crime, but can be a realization after a quest.

Parody – almost always a Comedy too, much of the humor is derived from gags and parody; Anime that imitate other stories (can be from TV, film, books, historical events, …) for comic effect by exaggerating the style and changing the content of the original. Also known as spoofs. This is a sub-genre of comedy.

Police / Detective – Anime where a police organization are a major part of the story.

Psychological – Often when two or more characters prey each others’ minds, either by playing deceptive games with the other or by merely trying to demolish the other’s mental state.

Psychological Thriller

Romance – Anime whose story is about two people who each want [sometimes unconciously] to win or keep the love of the other. This kind of anime might also fall in the “Ecchi” category, while “Romance” and “Hentai” generally contradict each other.

Samurai – Anime whose main character(s) are samurai, the old, but not forgotten, warrior cast of medieval Japan.

School – Anime which are mainly set in a school environment.

Sci-Fi / Science Fiction – Anime where the setting is based on the technology and tools of a scientifically imaginable world. The majority of technologies presented are not available in the present day and therefore the Science is Fiction. This incorporates any possible place (planets, space, underwater, you name it).

Seinen – (Japanese for “young man” or “young men”, and pronounced “ˈseɪ ˌnen”, not “ˈsaɪ ˌnen”) is a demographic designation of Anime and Manga targeted at male audiences aged 18 to 40. It is the older counterpart of Shōnen and effectively makes for the majority of anime in the older demographic, since major Josei manga titles rarely get adapted on screen. Compared to shonen, seinen caters to a much smaller viewing crowd, since younger audiences have much more time to spare on anime, which makes them a more attractive target, and thus is slightly less known. – Article
Sometimes is combined with Josei. “Heading toward adult subject matter, seinen and josei cater to the post 15-year-old demographic, intended for young adults and adult fans. Seinen is male oriented, while josei is the female equivalent, though there’s far more overlap than with shonen and shojo. The acclaimed Ghost in the Shell is a prime example, starring cyborg badass Major Motoko Kusanagi. Her captivating origin story has been adapted countless times and will once again be introduced to audiences via the coming Scarlett Johansson movie of the same name (whitewashing controversies and all).” – Article

Sekaikei – Sekaikei (sekai meaning “world”, and kei meaning “type”) is a Japanese term that is not clearly defined, spread primarily through the Internet but with some professional interest (there’s even been academic lectures). The simple definition of a Sekaikei story is there is a male character and a female character and their relationship is the sole driving force of the events.
The difficulty of putting the phrase into trope terms is that it is fairly controversial amongst anime fans and quite frankly ill defined. It is “World type”- it’s not quite so much the character relationships, not so much the plot but more the perspective of the world that comes out of such a story. It can go something like this:
-Starts with very normal regular life. Then the central character, the boy, gets involved to The Apocalypse situation.
-The boy meets the girl who fights to avoid the World’s End; the girl fights but the boy doesn’t.
-There is little description of interlevel elements between the couple and the collapsing world, such as their local community or their families. The relationship between ‘You and I’ —the boy and the girl— is directly connected to ‘jumbo world’.
-In the climax of the story, the boy is forced to choose between ‘die for love’ or ‘peace and safety in the world’.
The thing is a little bit nuts. How nuts? They have to write the word in different systems in the middle of the phrase. Sekai is written with katakana while kei is written with a Chinese character. The world perspective isn’t just the one of the story but also of the otaku who follow it.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SekaikeiGenre

Shinigami – generally under the Undead or Supernatural categories

Shoujo / Shojo– Romance and/or Drama, target audience of adolescent girls; Anime that are targeted towards the “young girl” market. Usually the story is from the point of view of a girl and deals with romance, drama or magic.

Shoujo Ai – Anime whose central theme is about a relationship (or strong affection, not usually sexual) between two girls or women. Shoujo Ai literally means “girl love”.

Mahou Shoujo – see Magical Girls

Shonen/Shojo – alternate spellings of Shoujo and Shounen. Sometimes the 2 types are combined together. “The next age bracket, shonen denotes school-age children up to the age of 15 or so. The word is instantly recognizable because of the now-defunct manga anthology Shonen Jump and because, well, it’s male. According to Kotaku, though the word literally translate to “few years,” the anime and manga dubbed shonen features mostly guy protagonists. Shojo, or “young woman,” is its feminine counterpart.

The folks behind Shonen Jump did create a Shojo Beat, though it ran for far fewer years and didn’t have quite the same reach as its Naruto and One Piece-heavy counterpart. Anime and manga like Fushigi Yuugi, Peach Girl, and Sailor Moon remain classics and, if anything, don’t get the recognition they deserve.” – Article

Shounen / Shonen – Action and/or Adventure, target audience of adolescent boys; Anime that are targeted towards the “young boy” market. The usual topics for this involve fighting, friendship and sometimes super powers.

Shounen Ai – Anime whose central theme is about a relationship (or strong affection, not usually sexual) between two boys or men. Shounen Ai literally means “boy love”, but could be expressed as “male bonding”.

Slice of Life – lack of all the other genres except for perhaps Comedy and Romance; Slice of Life – Anime with no clear central plot. This type of anime tends to be naturalistic and mainly focuses around the main characters and their everyday lives. Often there will be some philosophical perspectives regarding love, relationships, life etc. tied into the anime. The overall typical moods for this type of anime are cheery and carefree, in other words, it is your “feel-good” kind of anime. Some anime that are under the slice of life genre are: Ichigo Mashimaro, Fruits Basket, Aria the Natural, Honey and Clover, and Piano.
Slice of Un-Life – almost slice-of-life, but fantastical genres are present

Space – Anime whose setting is in outer space, not on another planet, nor in another dimension, but space. This is a sub-genre of scifi.

Sports / Tournament – the main plot involves the characters competing in games and tournaments. Anime whose central theme revolves around sports, examples are tennis, boxing and basketball.

Super Power – Anime whose main character(s) have powers beyond normal humans. Often it looks like magic, but can’t really be considered magic; usually ki-attacks, flying or superhuman strength.

Supernatural – Anime of the paranormal stature. Demons, yokai, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, undead, etc.

Thriller

Undead – generally deals with zombies and this usually goes under the Supernatural category

Vampire – Anime whose main character(s) are vampires or at least vampires play a significant role in the story. Some classify it as part of Supernatural.

Western

4-koma – manga category

 

 Adult / Mature Audience genre’s

Bara is a Japanese genre of manga and art for gay and bisexual men, usually (but not exclusively) made by gay or bisexual men. In Japan it’s more commonly known as “gei comi”, “gei manga”, or “menslove”. Note that, like most Manga Demographics, Bara is defined in terms of the target audience, not the authors or the subject matter; there are women who write Bara and are published in Bara magazines, while the rare few stories by gay male authors about gay men which are intended for a general (presumptively heterosexual) audience are not usually classified as Bara.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BaraGenre

Ecchi – best known as erotic fantasy; Anime that contain a lot of sexual innuendo. The translation of this letter (Ecchi is the letter ‘H’ in Japanese) is pervert. Ecchi is about panties (pantsu) and bra/breast showing, situations with “sudden nudity” and of course, subtle hints or sexual thoughts. Ecchi does not describe actual sex acts or show any intimate body parts except for bare breasts and buttocks. Ecchi is almost always used for humor.
info from wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecchi

Hentai – basically porn. Very much adult oriented. Many times X-rated.; Anime whose central theme is explicit sex. Hentai is sex with usually a very small storyline, comparable with normal porn. Hentai can range from normal couple’s sexual relationship to a wide variety of fetishes and perversions.
info from wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Hentai_anime_and_manga
“Do you really think you’d get through a manga and anime list without seeing the smutty side of the media? Of course not. Hentai heats things up with erotic storylines that run the gamut of vanilla softcore to wild, vibrant fetishes. The Japanese word “hentai” translates to “pervert,” and it has a lot of significance—and shame—behind it, having originally been used to label others as perverse. Hentai has since been reclaimed as a celebration of the artistry behind getting off. The anime Tentacles and Witches is one of the best contemporary examples of good storytelling, eroticism, and the genre’s more supernatural aspects.” – Article

Netorare – Netorare (寝取られ, lit. “cuckold”, also commonly abbreviated as NTR) is a notoriously controversial genre of Hentai (or in rarer cases, Ecchi), with a degree of infamy perhaps rivaled only by full-blown Guro. Even the horniest /d/viants note are resistant of embracing the genre, and if one finds an example uploaded at certain shady websites, one would only need to look at the comments section to see the Internet Backdraft that will inevitably ensue.
On the BAD side of Good Adultery, Bad Adultery, and as its name suggests, Netorare is essentially a genre whose goal is to project discomfort on the audience’s part (much like horror flicks are intended to provoke unintended bowel movements), where the discomfort comes in the form of sexual jealousy. Typically, a heroine will be introduced as having a significant other, which may be a husband, a boyfriend, or even a partner in a BST affair. The story will then show the aforementioned heroine being intimate with another man (another girl just doesn’t pack the same punch), thus provoking jealousy in the audience by proxy. The nature of the affair varies, and the parties involved may be willing or unwilling: sometimes the girl is simply cheating, sometimes it’s in the form of a Scarpia Ultimatum, some other times, it’s rape, or the man may simply be pimping his sweetheart out to earn their bread.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NetorareGenre

Otokonoko – Otokonoko is a Japanese genre of romantic and/or erotic stories for men, focusing on Attractive Bent Gender male Crossdressers. The name is a pun.Details It is sometimes called ‘”josou” (“women’s clothes”), a more generic term for male crossdressers.
Otokonoko features both girl-on-crossdresser and guy-on-crossdresser stories (it’s one of the few places where you will find m/f stories and m/m stories side-by-side in the same magazine). The target audience is men who crossdress (or are interested), and men who have a fetish for crossdressers, and the art styles and tropes are typically those of male-oriented romance / ecchi / hentai material. There is also a significant Periphery Demographic of female readers. (Although guy-on-guy otokonoko is often mistaken for Boys Love Genre, anything targeted to women is not otokonoko.) Although cute crossdressers in romantic situations have been an occasional theme in shonen and seinen since the ’80s, otokonoko did not start as an identified genre until about 2004. Most works created before this are not usually considered part of the genre, although some have been grandfathered in. An otokonoko character must be anatomically male (no Hermaphrodites or Gender Benders) but look convincingly like an attractive girl. Most identify as male, but even when the character identifies as female, few works try to deal with actual Transgender issues in anything like a realistic way. Since otokonoko is mainly an otaku thing, otokonoko are quite likely to wear Sailor Fuku, Meido, Miko, Cat Girl or Naughty Nurse Outfits as well as “ordinary” female clothes.
info from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OtokonokoGenre

Yaoi – boys – pairings of same sex couples; Anime whose central theme is a sexual relationship between two boys or men. This implies Hentai.
info from wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi

Yuri – girls – pairings of same sex couples; Anime whose central theme is a sexual relationship between two girls or women. This implies Hentai.
info from wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_%28genre%29

 

Sources:
word of mouth from friends
Wikipedia
MyAnimeList.net – Genre Explanations
Mainichi Anime Yume – What are the genres of anime?
AnimeTake.com – Genres
TVtropes.com – Anime Genres
Anime-Planet.com – Browse by Tag/Genre
How to identify the different types of anime and manga – http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/how-to-identify-manga-anime-types/

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