Cheeky Kid has been watching anime and reading manga for as long as he can remember. Doing so takes him to different worlds.
So Many Anime Genres!
If you’ve been an enthusiastic watcher of anime just like me, then one thing you’ve come to know is that each and every show comes with a set of specific genres. There’s a multitude out there when it comes to anime—action, drama, and horror just to name a few. But do you even know all of them? Do you think you can recite all of them in one fell swoop?
I know there are many anime genres in existence because they come and go every now and then. But the most popular ones become common enough to stay for a very long time. And so, I’ve come up with this anime genre list to serve as a complete guide with explanations and meanings for all of them.
I’ve tried my best to make this a complete list of anime genres so that it can serve as your very own one-stop compendium for when you’re looking for a genre guide. I've provided a basic list of genres for easy viewing. Below that will be the genres with more descriptive details as well as anime that fit in that category. Whether you’re a diehard anime fan, a casual watcher, an interested onlooker, or even just a non-fan who is passing by, this list of anime genres shall equip you with some basic knowledge and help you venture through the anime world with ease and delight.
List of Major Anime Genres
- Slice of Life
List of Anime Subgenres
- Martial Arts
- Reverse Harem
- Super Power
Major Anime Genres
The following genres are the broad categories that anime can fit in. These are the typical genres that are used to categorize other mediums such as films or books. As these are the basic types of narratives, anime in these categories are a constant presence in the industry. Some anime can be a hybrid of different types of narratives but they can usually be easily labeled with one or two of the following categories.
What Is Your Favorite Anime to Watch?
The action genre in anime depicts extremely high levels of intense action. More often than not, you’ll be witnessing thrilling battles and action-packed fight scenes in the shows from this genre. These series will make you jump off your seat or knock your socks off. Overall, the action genre usually possesses lots of battle scenes, fluid animation, and highly-engaging elements that will make your adrenaline rush!
Some examples of action anime include:
- Kill la Kill
- Gurren Lagann
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Darker than Black
For a more detailed list of the genre, check out this article on the 10 best action anime.
The adventure genre is about traveling and undertaking an adventure in a certain place or around the world (which may sometimes escalate to the whole universe or even to the other dimensions). In this genre, the main characters don’t usually stay in one place. They venture into several different places, usually with a goal in mind (e.g. searching for treasure, exploring some new place, defeating a heinous villain, or saving the world). Adventure anime are so broad and flexible that these shows can usually stretch to a huge number of episodes as well as overlap with multiple genres, usually with action.
Examples of adventure anime include:
- One Piece
- Fairy Tail
- Hunter X Hunter
- Kino's Journey
- Spice and Wolf
The main purpose of the comedy genre is…you got it…to make you laugh! If it fails to make you laugh or at least make you giggle, then it’s a failure. But then again, humor can depend on your personal sense of humor. The animation may not be as impressive as TV shows in the action and drama category, but that can be forgiven for the laughs. Funny moments, hilarious scenes, wacky dialogue, comical happenings—all of these are covered by the comedy genre in anime!
Read More From Reelrundown
Examples of comedy anime include:
- The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- The Devil Is a Part-Timer!
- Daily Lives of High School Boys
For a more in-depth look at the genre, check out this list of the top 10 comedy anime.
Bringing us tears and a wave of emotions is basically what the drama genre does best! Drama anime tends to connect the viewers to the experiences of the characters. This results in viewers feeling what the characters are going through. Whether it's a tickle of emotion or a barrage of feelings, the goal of these series is to touch our hearts. In anime, one of the greatest signs that the drama effectively worked is if it was able to make you cry.
Examples of drama anime includes:
- Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
- Your Lie in April
- Little Busters!
For a more detailed look at the genre, take a look at the list of the top 10 best drama anime.
Slice of Life
When one says slice of life, that means the mundane good ol’ life. Stories depicted in this genre are realistically set in the domain of real life. Nothing out-of-the-blue happens, but that’s the point! Everyday life is portrayed in a realistic light, with nothing out of the extraordinary wrecking the premise.
Examples of slice of life anime includes:
- Non Non Biyori
- Koufuku Graffiti
- Lucky Star
The fantasy genre in anime primarily deals with fantasy worlds and surreal events and locations. Most of the time, the setting is in a magical world where the characters start an adventure. Sometimes they get sent there from the real world. Magic is oftentimes a component of this genre, and various mystical elements serve as the building blocks of the story. You’ll often know it’s a fantasy anime if the environment and atmosphere seems so dazzling and dreamlike that it’ll make you feel captivated and allured.
Examples of fantasy anime includes:
- No Game No Life
- Nanatsu no Taizai
Magic, in all its essence, is about magical stuff like spells and incantations. It can also include magical sources, beings that grants wishes, and good ol’ sleeve tricks. One of the most famous themes in the magic genre is magical girls. It is so popular that it might just become a whole new genre on its own in the future.
Examples of magic anime includes:
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Magical Doremi
- Magi: Labyrinth of Magic
- Little Witch Academia
- Maria the Virgin Witch
When one says supernatural, they’re referring to stuff or events that are odd and out-of-the-blue. For this category, supernatural might refer to something mythical, mystical, bizarre, or something outside the bounds of accepted reality. There’s a shadow of mystery often found in shows involved with this genre.
Examples of supernatural anime includes:
- Blue Exorcist
It’s not difficult to spot the horror genre in anime. Usually, if there are ghosts, monsters, gore, and creeps, then you’re likely watching a horror series. Heavy gore and bloody violence is a common trait. The most important factor for a show to be considered horror is its ability to scare and creep you out.
Examples of horror anime includes:
- Junji Ito Collection
- Parasyte -the maxim-
- Hell Girl
For a more detailed look at the genre, check out this list of the top 10 horror anime.
If there’s one thing that’s similar in all mystery anime shows, it is the existence of a central enigma. Whether it’s an event, a place, or an item, there’s some sort of mystery surrounding the narrative. In the history of anime, the most popular shows in the genre have featured detectives and gumshoes.
Examples of mystery anime includes:
- Detective Conan
- Eden of the East
- Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
Psychological anime are shows that delve into how the mind and psyche work. This genre tackles everything on a psychological level (sometimes even philosophical). You’ll often find mind games here as well as battles where the use of the wits is the primary focus. Series in this genre will play with your mind and make you think hard.
Examples of psychological anime includes:
- Death Note
- Mirai Nikki
- Zetsuen no Tempest
- Paranoia Agent
Romance is all about love and sweet moments. Shows involved with this genre often have the skill to tug everyone’s heartstrings with their romantic scenes and tender moments. The focus of these shows is the romantic relationships between the characters as well as their blooming love with one another. You’ll often find romance anime tightly tied with the shoujo subgenre, but it also works pretty well with comedy, harem, and drama.
Examples of romance anime includes:
- Honey and Clover
- Golden Time
- Lovely Complex
- Special A
You can check out this list of the top 10 best romance anime for a more detailed look at the genre.
Sci-fi (short for science fiction) is a genre that showcases scientific and technological elements in its story. Machines and various kinds of technologies are staples of this genre. Most of the time, its focus is on the advancement and development of science and technology. That is why you’ll often find sci-fi combined with subgenres such as mecha and space.
Here are some examples of sci-fi anime:
- Space Dandy
- Cowboy Bebop
- Knights of Sidonia
- Outlaw Star
Best Anime for Boys
The following is a list of anime recommendations with shows that are catered to a male audience. Girls can easily enjoy these shows as well but the studios had a clear target audience when making these. Expect a fair amount of action and shounen. This list can be helpful in getting you into anime or introducing the medium to someone else.
- Hunter X Hunter
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Attack on Titan
- Dragon Ball Z
- Blue Exorcist
Best Anime for Girls
Just like above, these are anime recommendations with shows catered to female audiences. You can expect to see the shoujo and romance genres as well as strong female protagonists. Some may lack action-packed battles but boys can easily enjoy these shows as well.
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Fruits Basket
- Sailor Moon
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Princess Tutu
- Princess Jellyfish
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Kamisama Kiss
Anime Subgenres and Settings
These are the more specific categories of anime. Some of these subgenres are unique as they can describe a type of narrative that is essentially exclusive to anime or at least more prevalent in that medium. These subgenres cover a wide variety of themes and settings that can apply to the wider spectrum of major genres. For example, there can be multiple anime with a school setting that range from comedy to horror.
This type of anime is a subgenre of sci-fi. It usually displays a future where society has become more ingrained with technology at the expense of social order. The setting is typically a dystopian future where technology may be doing more harm than good.
Examples of cyberpunk anime includes:
- Ghost in the Shell
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Bubblegum Crisis
- Ergo Proxy
The game category encompasses shows revolving around the idea of gaming and playing. The anime can feature a card game, board game, puzzle game, or even a virtual online game. As long as it concerns any playable game of any kind, it belongs in this category. Sometimes, even video game-based shows can count in this selection.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is arguably the progenitor of this subgenre. The series began in 1996 as a manga and continues to be a major franchise today. Its influence can still be seen today with a stream of imitators.
Examples of game anime include:
- Sword Art Online
- Phi Brain: Puzzle of God
- selector infected WIXOSS
- Cardfight!! Vanguard
The word ecchi comes from the sound of H in the word hentai, which in turn means pervert in Japanese. This subgenre is generally accepted as being full of sexually provocative scenes (mild enough to be viewed by the general audience) and scenarios derived from innuendoes and humorous situations. It’s a fact that ecchi shows are taking an upswing nowadays as more and more titles are produced every season. More often than not, ecchi is paired up with comedy as both genres compliment each other well. This in turn serves as a buffer that prevents the shows from crossing the line and delving into something less appropriate for general audiences.