Looking for a new anime to watch or a fresh manga to read?
You’ll quickly find that there is a seemingly endless number of both! To narrow your search, you can specify which genres and demographics you’re interested in. ToyFlavor wants to make your life easier, so here’s our guide to the fun (and sometimes confusing) world of demographics and genres!
Let’s start with the demographics! Demographics refers to the group of people each title is aimed at, i.e, girls, boys, kids, adults. There are four major demographics in manga and anime: shoujo, shounen, josei, and seinen. Let’s break down what each means.
Shoujo literally translates to “young girl” and is anime and manga aimed at teen girls. As with all demographics, this demographic can feature any genre but tends towards flowery romance, light-hearted comedy, magical girl (mahou shoujo), and slice-of-life. The protagonists of these stories are almost always young girls.
Popular Shoujo Manga/Anime include Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Ouran High School Host Club, and Kamisama Kiss.
Shounen directly translates to “youth” and this demographic targets boys ages 13-17. In this demographic, you’ll find plenty of action and adventure, as well as sci-fi, fantasy, isekai, sports, and even a bit of romance. The protagonists of these stories are almost always young boys.
Popular Shounen Manga/Anime include My Hero Academia, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z, and Slam Dunk.
Josei is the older sister to Shoujo. Josei means “woman” in Japanese, and therefore the Josei demographic is aimed at older teens and adult women. You’ll still find romance prominently in these titles, but the romance is more mature and complex, with sexual content sometimes included. These titles tend to be grounded and realistic, showing the lives and loves of Japanese women. Workplace comedies and romcoms are an especially fun subgenre if you fall into this demographic.
While most Josei titles focus on women, a large portion of these titles are centered around queer men. BL (Boy’s Love) and Yaoi are two genres that you’ll find almost exclusively in the Josei demographic.
Popular Josei titles include Princess Jellyfish, Paradise Kiss, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, and DAKAICHI – I’m Being Harassed by the Sexiest Man of the Year.
If Josei is Shoujo’s older sister, then Seinen is most definitely the older brother to Shounen–or sometimes the creepy uncle. This genre is aimed at older teen boys and adult men. You’ll find some titles here with similar themes to Shounen, but Seinen titles take it the extra mile. The action is gorier, the romance lewder (or more ecchi), the fanservice is more blatant, and the horror is even more frightening.
In this genre, you’ll also find titles about what it’s like to be an adult man in Japan: stories about isolation, the stress of work, and modern politics can be found.
Popular Seinen titles include: Initial D, Ghost in the Shell, One Punch Man, and Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Two other demographics that you may find while looking through manga and anime are Children’s Manga/Anime (kodomo-muke) and Gekiga. Children’s Manga/Anime are directed towards young children and are often used to teach lessons. In this demographic, you’ll find titles like Doraemon and Hello Kitty.
Gekiga or “dramatic pictures” is a term used specifically for manga. If manga were equivalent to comics, Gekiga would be the “graphic novels.” These tend to veer away from traditional manga art styles, preferring more dramatic or stylistic choices. These mangas are also directed towards adults of any gender. In this demographic, you’ll find titles like Lone Wolf and Cub, Cigarette Girl, and A Drifting Life.
Join us in two weeks for Part 2 of our Field Guide series, as we break down the many genres unique to Manga and Anime.