As anime becomes more and more popular throughout the years, many new fans will be surprised to know that the origin of these fantastical tales actually comes from manga, or Japanese comics and graphic novels.
Most animes are based off mangas, which are known for their well-developed characters, in-depth storylines, and complicated themes. Mangas are printed in black and white and, unlike Western comics, they are read from right to left.
They come in a wide variety of genres, fit for different demographics. It may seem a bit daunting to jump straight into the manga world, but we’ve prepared a little guide to help you out.
Shounen, or “boy”, is manga marketed directly towards a young male audience. In these stories, you’ll see that the plot often involves action and adventure, with lots of fight scenes. It’s safe to say that shounen is the most popular genre, with most famous mangas and animes like Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach, falling under the genre.
Opposite to shounen is shoujo, or “girl.” Shoujo plots are, you guessed it, marketed towards young girls. These stories will often be about love and romance, mostly between two protagonists in a school setting. You’ll find that shoujo stories are very light and comedic. Popular shoujo mangas are Maid Sama!, Fruits Basket, and Blue Spring Ride.
Translated as “woman,” josei is manga that has more mature and realistic plots, in comparison with shoujo’s stereotypical tropes. The audience for josei is relatively older, so expect to see some situations involving work and age differences between protagonists.
Seinen, or “young man,” is manga marketed towards male audiences. Like josei, seinen is a more mature version of its counterpart, shounen. In these stories, you’ll find more violence, more complex plots, and more adult humor. Ghost in the Shell and One-Punch Man are a couple of well-known seinen manga.
This genre encompasses plots that occur in a school setting. Characters are mostly high school students (sometimes middle school), and situations in the story will often show students enjoying class time together, participating in club activities, and studying for exams. School life can refer to shounen stories, shoujo stories, and even sports stories like Haikyuu!
Slice of life
Slice of life centers on the little ordinary things we see in everyday life. In these types of manga, there’s not much going on, but it’s pretty interesting to read. 3-Gatsu no Lion is a good example of the genre.
Isekai specifically refers to a person who has been transported into another world. Readers can fully participate in peak escapism as protagonists are whisked away into entire fantasy worlds, or even video game worlds. Check out Re:Zero and Sword Art Online to experience a bit of isekai.
For more mature audiences, yuri and yaoi portray explicit love between women and men, respectively. These plots revolve around two girls/women or boys/men who are linked romantically. Popular examples of this genre are Citrus and Hatsukoi Encounter.
One shots are what they sound like. These are for people who can’t be bothered to read 500 chapters of a single manga; one shots are short and sweet stories that last only one chapter.
Other genres are pretty self-explanatory, like historical, fantasy, sports, mystery, mecha, horror, and sci-fi. Most of the time, mangas are a handful of genres at once, so you’ll be able to, for example, get a bit of comedy in your horror mangas or romance in your action ones.
Once you get the hang of what you’re reading, you’ll see that mangas can be a really fun pastime. If you keep an open mind to all the different kinds of genres out there, you’ll be able to experience so many more stories!