A Quick and Easy Break Down of Manga Genres

As a young excessively nerdy middle schooler, it took me a while to figure out exactly what all of the different genres of manga meant.  It really wasn’t until I started reading scanlations instead of buying books (I apologize greatly for that, but I have bills to pay you know) that I really became acquainted with the genres.  It is overwhelming at first, but after a while they are incredibly helpful.  Wrote a post earlier that helps identify whether or not you’re reading a Shoujo or a Shonen manga, and this one will go much more in depth.  Some of the genres like ‘comedy’ and ‘mystery’ are easy to figure out what they are all about, but some are a little bit more difficult.  I will try to organize this as easily as possible, and will attempt to find recommendations or examples of each genre.

Break Down By Age Groups:

Shoujo: These mangas are the ones that I read most.  They are geared towards younger girls from the ages of 13-18, sometimes younger depending on the maturity rating given.  They could have a wide range of settings, but most often deal with romantic themes.

Shonen: The male counterpart to Shoujo.  They are generally more action packed, and because it is geared towards boys, the focus is less on romance and more on kicking ass.


Josei: A more grown up version of Shoujo.  They often deal with more difficult/ mature themes and the characters are often older as well, set in a work place instead of a school setting.


Seinen: The male counterpart to Josei.  Made for an older male audience.  I do not have much experience with this, perhaps I should start looking around for some good ones.

Break Down by What Characters/Themes You Will Find Inside:

School Life: Like the name suggests, this genre will primarily take place in a scholastic setting.


Magical Girl: The main character [s] is a girl and has magical abilities.  They often transform in elaborate sequences.  The most popular example of this would be Sailor Moon.


Gender Bender: I love this genre just because of the fact that it is one and you can pick up mangas that deal with gender identity that are not sexually charged.  I most often see it with males being dressed as females, but there are a few notable ones with females being disguised as a male.


Harem: This is one where I was unsure as to whether or not I should put it in the naughty category or not, but I have seen ones that are not explicit that have this genre.  It is when a male character is surrounded/lives by multiple/many female characters.

Slice of Life: This one is self explanatory to me now that I have read a few.  It is a manga is rooted in reality.  It deals with normal every day experiences and issues.

Mecha: Basically big machines, or in a world where it is technologically advanced.


Break Down by Naughty

(I am not going to recommend these, I am including them so that way you are aware of what they are, and are not surprised if you pick up a manga labeled ‘Yaoi’ and don’t know what to expect.):

Hentai: Porn in manga form with attempts at strange and elaborate plots to get characters into bed with each other.

Ecchi: This not quite hentai, but definitely not okay for younger audiences.  It’s that weird in between, and half the time you will just be wishing it is hentai.

Yaoi:  Man on man love.

Shonen-ai: Younger version of Yaoi, with young boys as the main characters, not as graphically sexual.

Yuri: Woman on woman love.

Shoujo-ai: Female version of Shonen-ai

Futanari: Love with a female character with male genitalia.

Shotacon: Love between an adult and a young boy.

Lolicon: Love between an adult and a young girl

QUICK NOTE: In manga genres mature does not mean that there is a hentai.  It could have sexual themes, but if you are specifically looking for or looking to rule out anything overtly sexual, the term most commonly used is smut.

Break Down by Whatever Else Is Left:

Doujinshi: I didn’t know what to do with this, but it is basically manga that takes an existing story that they enjoy, and creates their own.  It’s the fan fiction of manga.

Manga: Japenese comics, read right to left.

Manhwa: Korean comics, read left to right.

Manhua: Taiwanese or Chinese comics, read left to right. [Editors Note: Thank you!]

WHEWWW!  That is over with.  Now I send you off into the world of manga, educated, and ready to go!  Remember to read many different kinds to find out what you like, unlike me who continues to read the same ones over and over again.  Hope this was helpful.