Anime viewing is at an all-time high, with OTT platforms licensing and producing more and more anime with each passing year. While there are thousands of titles to choose from, the genre button makes it easier for you to narrow down your search.
If you are part of the anime community on the internet, be it on Reddit, Twitter, or any other site, you must have heard the terms shounen genre, isekai genre, shoujo genre, and so on. To be honest, I was also among those who thought shounen was a genre until I got familiarized with anime throughout the years.
So, you might ask, how is Shounen not a genre?
If you want a quick answer, shounen is demographic. Shounen implies the target audience and not a genre. The word shounen means young boys in Japanese who are roughly 12 to 18 years old. And, before you ask, yes, there are other demographics which I will discuss in detail later in this article.
It’s fair that the demographic can’t be referred to directly as a genre, but what about isekai? Well, Isekai is a genre that is part of a larger genre that holds several others, like isekai. In simple terms, isekai is a subgenre of fantasy, which is a well-known genre.
Before we discuss genre, subgenre, and demographics in detail, let’s begin with the basics.
Table of Contents
What is a Genre?
Genre is a type of music, film, literature, or any form of art with distinct characteristics. And in anime, the term genre gets more complicated than ever. That is why I have decided to break it down in detail so you can digest it without any problem. You won’t get constipated, I promise you that.
There are several genres, but these are the most common ones that consist of the majority of anime.
The action genre in anime showcases high-octane action sequences, and it is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres for being simply entertaining. And you’ll appreciate this genre when that adrenaline rush hits and you end up breaking or falling from your chair trying to fight alongside the protagonist. We’ve all been there.
It won’t be a stretch to say that this is one of those genres that inspires you to learn something new. While most of us leave it halfway, some do attain their goals. That’s the beauty of this genre.
Examples of Action Anime:
- One Punch Man
- My Hero Academia
- Black Lagoon
- Afro Samurai
Endless Adventure, these two words are a dream for any human being alive on this planet. While not everybody can go on an infinite quest due to the factors that affect our reality, we quench our thirst by going on an adventure with characters who love to embark on a journey in an unknown world.
This genre inspires you to take a leap of faith. How? It makes you want to pack your bags and go on that trip you have always wanted to go but never did due to the invisible chains pulling you back.
There are tons of excellent adventure anime; if you watch a handful of them, you will not only get courage but will also learn a ton of life lessons. The best thing about this genre is how diverse the world-building is in each of these anime. You cannot get tired of these beautiful worlds.
Example of Adventure Anime:
- One Piece
- Made in Abyss
- Ousama Ranking
- A Place Further Than The Universe
- Golden Kamuy
To make someone laugh is the most challenging job in the whole world. And that’s what the comedy genre does. It makes your day brighter even on the gloomiest of days. Humor varies from person to person, and to deliver humor that suits the palette of most viewers is a sign of a brilliant comedy. And when a comedy ruins your mood, you know that you have boarded the wrong flight.
However, it doesn’t mean the comedy genre doesn’t have diversity. You just have to find your way through this genre; there is comedy anime where dialogue is everything, then there’s some, where action speaks louder than words, and there’s comedy anime where the voice acting brings out the humor from the story.
Example of Comedy Anime:
- Asobi Asobase
- Great Teacher Onizuka
- Nichijou – My Ordinary Life
- Grand Blue
While most genres try to take you away from reality, the drama genre does the exact opposite. It focuses on the reality, the struggles, the raw emotions, actions that lead to real consequences, and anything in between. The drama genre depicts that life isn’t what you always want it to be, but despite that, you have to move forward with the good and bad that comes your way.
What this genre does the best is creating relatable characters that help the viewers connect with them and find solace in them, even if it’s just a bit. Character development is one of the pillars of this genre.
Example of Drama Anime:
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Fruits Basket
- March Comes In Like A Lion
- Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
How far can your imagination take you? Because the fantasy genre tests your imagination. But there’s a catch, if your imagination knows no end, you’ll find it hard to find a fantasy anime that meets your expectations. However, if your imagination doesn’t run wild, then you, my friend, have tons of fantasy anime to enjoy.
The fantasy genre can have aliens, magic, gods, superpowers, demons, and anything you want. Just name it, and you’ll find a handful of anime with that particular setting. It’s a genre with limitless possibilities.
Example of Fantasy Anime:
- Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World
- Land of the Lustrous
- Kamisama Kiss
The mystery genre is heaven for those who love creating theories out of a speck of dust. When you watch a good mystery anime, you won’t be just watching it; you’ll be trying to solve the puzzle yourself, suspect every character, and feel that tension for yourself, all within those 20 mins of an episode. And these aren’t even the best parts. The satisfaction hits you when you precisely find the culprit or solve the mystery.
That’s the beauty of the mystery genre.
Example of Mystery Anime:
- Odd Taxi
- Paranoia Agent
- Summer Time Rendering
- Sonny Boy
Regardless of the medium, romance is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres. I mean, everyone needs some romance in their life. Just like an ocean which is beautiful from afar and scary when surrounded by it, romance is simple yet complex.
Defining it in words is possible, but it doesn’t envelope all the emotions it holds. With that said, the romance genre’s variety of stories will make you cry, laugh, and sometimes even frustrate you. I don’t need to tell you what the romance genre holds, but if you’re someone who hasn’t tried any romance anime, let me tell you something. You’re missing out on the most heartwarming genre ever.
Example of Romance Anime:
- Your Lie in April
- The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Trains to the moon, that’s how I would like to explain the Sci-Fi (Science Fiction) genre in a few words.
It’s a genre that is based on futuristic science, which is yet to become a reality. You can say imagination fuels this genre quite a bit, if not most of it. Just like fantasy, in this genre, the possibilities are endless, and your extent of imagination is the only obstacle.
Sci-Fi is popular for its unpredictability, world-building, and futuristic elements.
Example of Sci-Fi Anime:
- Cowboy Bebop
- Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
The Horror genre is popular, but unlike other genres, you need to have a strong heart to watch it. The creepiness, jump scares, heightened senses, and your heart and brain telling you otherwise; that’s what the horror genre does to you.
The two things that differentiate a good horror from a not-so-good one are the ability to create the mood and the atmosphere where you forget to breathe. Though bloodbath is an integral part of this genre, there are many anime that don’t use the element of death to create a narrative. But if these factors don’t bother you, welcome to Horrorland.
Example of Horror Anime:
- Parasyte: The Maxim
- When They Cry
- From the New World
- Elfen Lied
Slice of Life
Just like a slice of pizza, you can enjoy a slice of life (anime) anytime, anywhere, and in any given mood. Slice of life mirrors your day-to-day mundane life, which moves at its own pace. While it doesn’t focus on a severe problem or a resolution, it does have problems; you, me, and every other human face and tries to solve in its way.
The slice-of-life genre is close to reality and relatable. It’s something you want to watch non-stop once you get hooked on it. Slice of life genre is the comfort food you never knew you needed.
Examples of Slice of life Anime:
- Silver Spoon
- Non Non Biyori
- Bunny Drop
- My Dress-Up Darling
Sport is a genre where talent meets hard work. The drama, the action, the happy tears when your protagonists win a tournament, that emotion cannot be expressed. It can only be experienced.
The sports genre is a genius in creating the obstacle called talent in front of protagonists who may not have the talent, but their will to win the fight helps them overcome that obstacle. The fight intensifies, you get fired up, and when it does have a satisfactory end, you scream out of joy.
Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Swimming, Archery, Ice skating, Boxing, Running, Tennis, and Football (Soccer); this genre has so many great anime that you’ll not get enough time to watch them all.
Example of Sports Anime:
- Hajime no Ippo
- Slam Dunk
- Run with the Wind
- Ace of Diamond
The supernatural genre in anime is all about the things science cannot explain. Elements like ghosts, spirits, and humans with supernatural abilities (reading the mind or moving objects using only the mental powers) creates confusion between the genre of supernatural and fantasy.
But there’s a slight difference, in fantasy, the majority of the cast have superpowers, while in the supernatural genre, only the chosen ones have such abilities. However, there are a few anime where both these genres co-exist, but by no means are they the same.
While the fantasy genre takes you away from reality, the supernatural genre tells you that you are enough and sometimes gives you quality advice. Not to forget that the supernatural is extremely entertaining.
Example of Supernatural Anime:
- Hanada Shounen-shi
- Bungo Stray Dogs
You know it’s gonna be something terrible, yet you want to watch it and don’t want to watch it at the same time. When you are certain something is going to happen yet so uncertain that you get way too anxious, that’s what a good suspense anime does to you.
Creating the environment where every present event feels like “this is gonna be it,” but the further you move, the more restless you get about the next event. That is where the beauty of the suspense genre lies.
There are several excellent suspense anime. Among them, some are top-rated in the history of anime. The storytelling of these suspense anime will undoubtedly exceed your expectations.
Example of Suspense Anime:
- Death Note
- Terror in Resonance
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Classroom of the Elite
Call it the food, cooking, or gourmet genre; the fact that this genre is not often talked about is a crime, and the guilty ones should be punished by making them watch Ex-Arm.
Do I even need to talk about food? Food is everything. Without food, life is meaningless. Food is the fuel to our soul. It might sound weird, but the food in anime looks so delicious that you might get the smell of the food through the screen, and I’m not even joking.
Enough talk about food; unless you watch it, you won’t know. So, watch at least the ones I am recommending below. You won’t regret it.
Example of Food Anime:
- Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
- Yakitate!! Japan
- Shin Chuuka Ichiban!
- Sweetness & Lightning
- Yumeiro Patissiere
The explicit genres are not suitable for all age groups. I don’t know why I am stating the obvious. Anyway, these are the two wildly popular explicit genres.
The Ecchi genre focuses primarily on erotic camera angles and suggestive actions between characters, and it is known for sexualizing anything that comes up on your screen. Even if an anime doesn’t have an ecchi tag, you will find bits and pieces from time to time.
Ecchi doesn’t cross the line, though.
Example of Ecchi Anime:
- Prison School
- Golden Boy
- High School DxD
- Highschool of the Dead
- Interspecies Reviewers
Popularity: It can’t be measured by mere numbers
If you have been watching anime for a long time, anytime you come across the word Hentai, your mind goes to pornographic anime, which is valid to some extent, but that’s not what the term actually means.
As you know, Japanese words don’t have only one meaning. The meaning of each word changes with the context of the sentence or conversation and what kanji is used. The word Hentai mainly refers to abnormality or metamorphosis.
With these facts aside, Hentai anime is over-the-top sexualized stories and fantasies one might only get to see in this genre. It is that fine line the ecchi genre never crosses. If you live under the rock and never knew about this genre, now you do.
Example of Hentai Anime:
- You already know it better than I…
If a genre is an orchard, a sub-genre is a fruit tree in it. Just like a genre, an orchard can have several kinds of fruit trees, but a subgenre refers to a specific fruit tree.
For example, martial art is a subgenre of action, isekai is a subgenre of fantasy, and steampunk is a subgenre of sci-fi. However, it doesn’t end here, there are numerous sub-genres introduced with each passing day, so there’ll be no end if I start to name them all.
Here are some of the sub-genres which are pretty popular in the anime community:
Have you heard of the term isekai boom? If you are an inhabitant of the isekai land, you must know about the mass production of isekai anime in the last decade.
The numbers are so high that you might need to add anime from a couple of genres to match these numbers. Quantity is prioritized over quality, but that doesn’t mean that the isekai sub-genre doesn’t have great anime. It has some fantastic stories that might become one of your favorites of all time.
The word isekai simply means another world. This subgenre mainly focuses on the protagonists transported to another world, either in their original bodies; or reincarnated in a new body.
Example of Isekai Anime:
- Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!
- Saga of Tanya the Evil
- Ascendance of a Bookworm
You may not love to read history and remember the dates, but you love to see those tales unfold through visual media. That is where the historical genre comes in.
The historical sub-genre takes different routes in history. While some are based on history, in some, history is modified to spice things up to entertain the audience. However, in either of these cases, storytelling and the world setting steal the spotlight. And the best thing about this subgenre is that it is not only based on Japanese history. It is also based on the history of several other countries and civilizations.
Example of Historical Anime:
- Vinland Saga
- The Heike Story
- The Heroic Legend of Arslan
- Grave of the Fireflies
Who doesn’t like the infinity of space? There are planets, stars, galaxies, and whatnot; human beings are yet to discover it all, and I doubt they ever will. We like to explore the unknown, challenge our imagination and try to look beyond what’s already there. And the space genre in anime does precisely that.
While the genre has stories revolving around the characters trying to become astronauts, there are also stories where humans have colonized several planets besides earth, making space travel look like a bus ride. And there are stories where aliens co-exist with humans in the future or where two different human colonies waging war in space against each other because peace isn’t an option.
Example of Space Anime:
- Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- Space Dandy
- Astra Lost in Space
- Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Time Travel is another immensely popular sub-genre that thrives on curiosity and theories. As we all know, be it any form of media, time travel has been portrayed in uncountable ways, each having its theories and belief on the idea of time travel. And we know they all have imperfections, yet each of them contributes something to the concept of time travel, and that’s what fuels the audience to watch more stories based on time travel.
In anime, several gems might open your eyes to new possibilities. There is a reason why a lot of time travel anime take the top rankings in the history of anime.
Example of Time Travel Anime:
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
- The Tatami Galaxy
- Link Click
Fangs and Blood, and just like that, a dark and bloody image of a vampire appears in your brain.
That’s how it goes. The vampire sub-genre is so popular that it doesn’t even need a description. You, I and the whole world know about vampires. While some believe there are real vampires, most of us don’t; but theories and conspiracies convey otherwise.
Same old curiosity, fueling our imagination.
Unlike the stereotypical image of vampires in western media, vampires in anime can have different characteristics based on what the creators intended them to be, which makes it all the more interesting.
The vampire genre in anime is always refreshing. Not all vampires in anime are looking for human blood. Some can survive without it; others can walk freely under the sun. In anime, vampires can also be otakus and nerds. Not all of them are serious with cold personalities. They can be goofy too.
Example of Vampire Anime:
- Hellsing Ultimate
- The Case Study of Vanitas
- Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
- Sirius the Jaeger
Music can be your therapist in the darker times, your supporter when there’s no one beside you, and a friend who can hype you up when needed. The roles music can play in your life are limitless.
In anime, music plays the role of a thread that stitches the narrative and its characters together, be it romance, comedy, science fiction, or action. That said, narratives around music have evolved through the times, and you don’t want to miss them.
Another thing I want to mention is not to underestimate the music in anime, especially in anime where music is the star of the show. It can tear you apart and can warm your heart too.
Example of Music Anime:
- Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
- Kids on the Slope
- Nodame Cantabile
- Sound! Euphonium
- Those Snow White Notes
The word mecha is an abbreviation of the word mechanical. The mecha sub-genre is a nerd’s heaven. Robots of various shapes and sizes (primarily giant ones) and suits built to pilot these robots are this subgenre’s two most prominent factors.
However, it is not all suits and robots. It’s all about how the narrative uses them. Otherwise, it’s just a lifeless showcase. Thankfully, the mecha subgenre has so many mind-boggling stories that it will take years to finish them all.
Example of Mecha Anime:
- 86 (Eighty Six)
- Mobile Suit Gundam
- Eureka Seven
This subgenre is where the absolute horror lies. The Post-Apocalyptic subgenre shows all the worst possible scenarios, be it nuclear war, alien invasion, pandemic, or anything that brings the human race close to extinction; it doesn’t shy away from showing the ugliness of these scenarios.
What lies in this subgenre is the survival instinct of the humans who managed to get past these disasters. It is a unique subgenre unlike any other, which has way too many critically acclaimed anime.
Example of Post-Apocalypse Anime:
- From the New World
- Attack on Titan
- Ergo Proxy
- Dr. Stone
- Humanity Has Declined
The demographics in anime help you find an anime targeted at a specific age and gender. While it is not set in stone to follow that religiously, it eases your task to find an anime made especially for a target audience.
There are five commonly known demographics in anime. Technically, it’s not a genre, it’s a demographic, but with time, these demographics are used as genres too. So, if you want to be technically correct, you know what to say.
Ask any new anime viewer about what type of anime they are watching, and you’ll most definitely hear the term shounen anime. It is not only the most popular, but it is also the one that is pretty easy on the eyes.
Shounen refers to young boys aged between 12 to 18 years. The anime under this demographic is catered especially for them.
Example of Shounen Anime:
- Hunter x Hunter
- Jujutsu Kaisen
- One Piece
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
- Dragon Ball
The word Shoujo refers to young girls between 12 and 18 years. And just like the shounen anime, the anime under this demographic is also catered specially for teenage girls.
Example of Shoujo Anime:
- My Love Story!!
- Maid Sama!
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You
This demographic is targeted towards males between the age group of 18 and above. A man in his 40s is also considered part of the audience for this genre. Compared to other genres, Seinen caters to an audience with a broader age group.
That is also why the topics are more mature and thought-provoking.
Example of Seinen Anime:
- Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
- Blue Period
Josei is a demographic that targets the female audience aged 18 years and above. Similar to Seinen, women in their 40s are considered the target audience.
Unlike the Seinen demographic, the Josei demographic focuses more on inner thoughts, emotions, and life lessons are a Josei trademark. Again, they have other themes too, but what I mentioned above is their strong suit.
Example of Josei Anime:
- Princess Jellyfish
- The Gokusen
- Honey and Clover
- Paradise Kiss
The word Kodomo means child in Japanese. So, this demographic is targeted toward children. Imaginative, innocent, and entertaining is the focus of Kodomo anime.
Example of Kodomo Anime:
- Digimon: Digital Monsters
What Is the Best Genre of Anime?
There is no such thing as the best genre because everyone has different tastes. If you love the adrenaline rush and high-octane action sequences, action is the best genre. Similarly, if you love to watch your anime in a laid-back setting, you will love the slice-of-life genre, making it your best genre.
Is Anime a Category or Genre?
Anime is a medium and a form of art. It comprises several genres and sub-genres.
Which Anime Genre Is Most Popular?
Action anime is the most popular genre. It is fun and easy to digest, and hours feel like minutes when you are engrossed in it. Technically, Shounen isn’t a genre. Otherwise, it would have been the answer.
What Type of Genre Is Anime?
Anime is an art form with numerous genres similar to other mediums like original tv series and movies.
What Are the Top 5 Anime Genres?
If you leave technicality behind, then Shounen, Action, Isekai, Mystery, and Sci-Fi can be considered the top 5 anime genres in the current landscape of the anime community. Then again, your top 5 will be different from others, so make your own and comment down below.
At the end of the day, several genres and subgenres aren’t even considered official but do exist within the community. And they will get added sooner or later.
I have tried my best to explain the idea of genre and subgenre so that you can clear your confusion without any problem. And I hope you have also learned that Shounen, Seinen, or Shoujo are demographics. If you call them genres for ease of understanding, that’s fine.
Before you ask, I didn’t add all of the present genres and subgenres. Because it’s a guide, if I keep mentioning each of them, this would become a wiki article.
You already know Boys Love or Girls Love is a subgenre of romance; parody is a subgenre of comedy; the detective is a subgenre of mystery; that is why I didn’t elongate the article.
I hope this guide has helped you clear the doubts about the genre and the doubts surrounding it. If you have any feedback, suggestion, or recommendation, feel free to reach out to averagebeing’s Instagram handle.