Anime Genres List and Meanings

When searching for anime, it is easy to become overwhelmed with information and lost. That is where genres come in. Genres exist to help you quickly sort and categorize the type of anime you are likely to be interested in. A lot of them are common in all types of entertainment, but many of them are specific to anime as well. New genres are even added as anime sharing common themes become more and more popular.

You’ve likely seen them listed or tagged onto different anime before, but what do they actually mean?

I put this Anime Genres List and Meanings post together in order to help you understand what each one consists of. For the longest time I didn’t have a clue what the more specific ones entailed, but once I understood them, it become easier and easier to sort through anime and find some that I would probably like!

Anime Genres Explained

Action – A very common genre. As the name implies, these are series focused on action. Usually this genre is mixed with others such as Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi in order to deliver more depth and substance to the viewer.

Adventure – This is another popular genre. Adventure is all about exploration and discovering new areas. These anime often focus on a person or group of people on a long quest or journey. This genre is typically well developed both in regards to character depth and plot. These series are usually long and the progression is somewhat slow. Action/adventure and Action/Historical are a popular mix.

Animation – These are the American-made cartoons. By definition, they are not technically anime; however they are often grouped into the category. Think X-men, Avatar the Last Airbender, or Samurai Jack.

Bishounen – This genre typically includes a strong sense of homosexuality and social relationships and is often aimed at a female audience. In essence, the name implies a man’s beauty that has exceeded gender limitations. Often the man is considered ‘more beautiful’ than the female characters.

Comedy – The comedy anime genre is focused on, you guessed it, comedy. Usually comedy is done through characters, situations, or props. Much like the Action and Adventure genres, this is often incorporated into a mix of other genre. Common combinations include Action/Comedy and Adventure/Comedy.

Demons – This type of anime is focused on demons, witches, and spirits. This genre is typically associated with action, adventure, or comedy. A popular Action/Adventure/Comedy/Demon anime is Inuyasha.

Drama – The drama anime genre is meant to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with suspenseful situations, compelling storylines and emotional spikes. This genre often has a well-developed plot with a lot of twists and turns. Often times Drama/Romance is mixed together but Action/Drama is popular as well.

Ecchi – This is an increasingly popular type of anime that is more geared towards older teenagers and young adults. It uses suggestive sexual situations, innuendos, and some nudity. Although not showing the actual act of sex, this genre can get really close. More and more anime are incorporating Ecchi or Fan-service because of its popularity. A good example of Ecchi is High School DxD and High School of the Dead.

Fantasy – This genre focuses on parallel worlds, magical powers, and monsters. Often times these stories either begin in a world that is similar but different to earth, or the characters are magically transported there. These anime are known for great scenery, art, and compelling music.

Game – This genre is focused on games like cards and a good example is Yu-Gi-Oh. This is a different genre than anime where the user is sucked up into a video game. This genre is often combined with action or adventure.

Harem – Harem focuses on a male protagonist that is surrounded by beautiful women in his close group. Often times this genre will be combined with Comedy or Romance.

Hentai – This is a more hardcore version of Ecchi. It does everything Ecchi does but also shows sexual intercourse. This is basically pornography and rated R.

Historical – This genre focuses on specific time periods and historical figures. It is often a loose interpretation of events that have already happened. Most commonly its setting is in China or Japan, but there are some western-based ones as well. The story-line is almost always well-developed.

Horror – Much like the drama genre, horror focuses on delivering suspense and spiking emotions. This genre is darker than drama and is usually gory and has to do with murder.

Josei – A realistic genre focused around the ordinary life of women aged 18+. This is often focused on daily-life, work ambitions, and developing relationships.

Kids – This is focused on kids and the main character(s) is often a kid themselves.

Romance – Popular and focused on developing relationships mostly between a man and a woman. This genre is becoming more and more prevalent as viewers often see similarities between the characters and themselves. More often than not, this style takes place in a high school setting.

Magic –This has to do with magical spells/abilities and the protagonist is often a witch or magician.  This is usually meant for kids and is aimed as a younger audience.

Martial Arts – This genre by itself is realistic and focuses on various martial arts. Often times this genre will include a tournament of some sorts, and the main character will be trying to improve their skills. Although realistic by itself, superpower and fantasy type anime can also incorporate this genre.

Mecha – These anime focus or at least have elements of giant robots that are piloted into battle. These are usually action-based and can be mixed with numerous other genres.

Military – Another popular genre that usually focuses on a character with military skills and knowledge. This anime is typically realistic and uses actual military weapons, vehicles, and tactics.

Mystery – This focuses on a case or cases that need to be solved. This is a very specific genre and is often confused with the broader genres of Drama and Psychological.

Psychological – This genre is similar to drama but usually showcases a main character with an above-average intellect. Most of the anime in this category will keep you guessing until the last possible moment. It is similar to two people playing a game of chess, each trying to stay 5 moves ahead of one another. A good example of an anime incorporating this genre is Code Geass and Death Note.

Samurai – As the name implies, this is about samurai. Sometimes this genre is mixed with historical and sometimes it is more action/adventure based.

School – A broad category that basically means the characters are students in school. This genre can be realistic or based on fantasy and supernatural events.

Sci-Fi – Usually set in a futuristic setting with advanced technology, this genre is commonly associated with Action, Drama, or Fantasy. This genre typically includes advanced machinery, space-travel, or time travel. A good example of this is Stein’s Gate.

Seinen – Seinen means ‘young man’ or ‘young men’ in Japanese. This genre is aimed at males aged 18 to 40. By itself, this is not an actual genre, instead it is an indication of the target audience.

Shoujo – These anime are aimed at females 10-18 and usually focus on relationships and romance. The main theme of these anime is character development.

Shounen –An extremely popular series usually aimed at teenagers. These series are usually very long and prone to filler episodes (because of their length). Examples of this include Bleach, Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, and One-Piece.

Slice of Life – Slice of Life focuses on everyday life, and is usually mixed with other genres.

Space – The space anime genre takes place in space and is focused on either living there, or having space travel be a common occurrence. Examples of this are Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam, and Outlaw Star.

Sports – This focuses around sports. It is narrow in that sense; however it can focus on anything from chess to high school tennis to pro boxing and even skiing.

Super Power – Dragonball Z is an excellent example of this. This genre shows characters with extreme abilities. Often times these characters grow very powerful and can split mountains or planets in half.

Supernatural – Similar to the fantasy genre but it is more based on pseudo-science than imagination. This type of anime is often about psychic powers, spirits, and exorcisms.

Vampire – A subset of the main genres where the protagonist is a vampire or the world is inhabited by them. This genre is growing in popularity.

That is the complete list and explanation of popular anime genres out there. You can get back to How to Find a New Anime to Watch here.

I hope this post was informative and helped some of you out. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.

I work on this site every day, and will get back to you quickly!

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