A Complete List of Anime Genres With Explanations
Complete List of 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 everyone.
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. And so here it is! Whether you’re a diehard anime fan, a casual watcher, an interested onlooker, or even just a commoner from a non-anime domain, this list of anime genres shall equip you with some basic knowledge and help you venture through the anime world with ease and delight.
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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 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.
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 generally make your adrenaline rush!
Some examples of action anime includes:
- Kill la Kill
- Gurren Lagann
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Darker than Black
For a more detailed list on the genre, check out this article on the 10 best action anime.
The adventure genre is about travelling 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 includes:
- 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 perspective. Funny moments, hilarious scenes, wacky dialogue, comical happenings—all of these are covered by the comedy genre in anime!
Examples of comedy anime include:
- Welcome to the N.H.K.
- 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 shows tend to connect the viewers to the experiences of the characters. This results in viewers feeling the experiences that 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.
Example of drama anime include:
- 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 fantasy world where the characters starts 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 genre, 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 the 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
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. As these subgenres are more precise, I will offer some background info on them as well as a general description.
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 videogame-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 includes:
- 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. Having that said, this genre is generally accepted as a category full of slight sexual scenes (mild enough to be viewed by the general audience) and scenarios derived from sexual innuendoes. It’s a fact that ecchi anime shows are taking an upswing nowadays as more and more titles are produced every season as if it’s becoming the trend. More often than not, ecchi is paired up with comedy as both compliments each other well, which in turn serves as a buffer that prevents the shows from crossing the line and delving into much deeper inappropriateness.
Examples: Top 10 Best Ecchi Anime
Originally just an infrequent theme, the rise of demonic characters and themes have given rise to this subgenre. The term demon does not only encompass literal demon characters. It also extends to other entities such as monsters, beasts, ghosts, and other demon-type figures. Believe it or not, this category doesn’t just come hand-in-hand with the horror genre; it surprisingly blends well with the other genres as well.
The earliest iconic entry in the subgenre is arguably Devilman, which debuted in 1972. Recent entries such as The Devil Is a Part-Timer show that demon characters can work in comedies.
Examples of demon anime includes:
- Hataraku Maou-Sama
- Chrono Crusade
- Blue Exorcist
- Black Butler
If you see a reluctant male character surrounded by multiple female characters who all adore him, then you’re probably watching an anime of the harem genre. This type of show typically features more than two female characters go head-over-heels for a single male character. Anime in this category is typically within the comedy and romance genre. It's possible that a harem anime can have no romance and feature mostly slapstick comedy.
Oh My Goddess and Tench Muyo! can be considered early examples of harem anime from the early 80s and 90s. The genre exploded in the 2000s from the success of Love Hina. The infamous series School Days is often considered to be a deconstruction of the harem genre as it shows how volatile it can be to court multiple girls at once.
Examples of harem anime includes:
- To Love-Ru
- High School DxD
For a more detailed look, check out this list of the top 10 harem anime.
Josei is actually a demographic but is also considered a general genre in anime. It specifically targets female viewers around the age range of 18-40. These shows depict life and romance in a more mature light, usually with more grounded realism and less idealistic fantasies. The genre is fairly wide and doesn't necessarily have to focus on romance. It merely needs a narrative that caters to the mature woman. Josei originated from manga during the 80s. Girls who grew up reading shojo stories from previous decades wanted stories for adults.
Examples of josei anime includes:
- Princess Jellyfish
- Paradise Kiss
- Natsuyuki Rendevous
- Nodame Cantabile
Martial arts play a big role in every anime that has fighting/battles in it. Whether it's hand-to-hand combat, swordplay, gun fighting, or armed combat, there’s some kind of martial art element that plays through them. But did you know that there are shows that are primarily focused on martial arts itself and their battle techniques? There’s a lot of them, and they mainly involve hand-to-hand combat and technician battles.
This subgenre is constantly popular and is usually in the action category. The most iconic entry in this category is Dragon Ball Z, which is responsible for introducing anime to the mainstream consciousness in the Western world.
Examples of martial arts anime includes:
- Hajime no Ippo
- History’s Strongest Disciple
- Dragon Ball
- Baki the Grappler
A lot of people say that anime is just for kids, but that’s not really true. As a matter of fact, there are only a few number of anime that are precisely catered towards children. These shows are contained within the kids genre. These shows are mild, light, and insightful, which makes them perfect for children 12 and under.
These kinds of anime actually have a difficult time finding an audience in the West. This is due to the fact that international anime fans are typically older and have little interest in these. Doraemon is one of the biggest franchises in Japan but the series has never caught on in America.
Cultural differences in what is appropriate for children is also a problem in localization. Case Closed is one of the biggest kids series in Japan. However, the mysteries in the show are almost always murder cases and the show never says away from this. When it aired in the US on Cartoon Network, it was deemed too mature for the Toonami block and it was placed on the Adult Swim block. However, viewers felt it was too childish. The show got low ratings and was eventually pulled from the network.
Examples of kids anime includes:
- Machine Robo Rescue
- Chi's Sweet Home
As the name suggests, historical anime revolves around events in history and moments of antiquity. Shows of this genre are typically set in Ancient Japan and the feudal period. Other settings such as the Middle Ages and medieval period of Europe exist but they’re much more rare in anime. As long as the time or setting (or even elements) are old and ancient, then the series can be considered a historical anime.
Examples of historical anime includes:
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Fushigi Yugi
- Junketsu no Maria
- Samurai Champloo
- Rose of Versailles
Hentai literally translates to “pervert” in Japanese. This is the R-18 (mature) domain of the anime world which common depicts nudity and highly explicit content. Unlike ecchi, this genre focuses on its explicit sexual content rather than on its storyline and progression. That is why the shows in this category are usually brief and lacking in substance.
As the name implies, this genre involves the military in one way or another. War may also be a huge part of the military genre. One thing to note about this category is that it is often coupled with the mecha and action genre.
Examples of military anime includes:
- Fullmetal Panic
- Code Geass
- Kantai Collection
- Saga of Tanya the Evil
Mecha stands for mechanical (as in mechanical units or robots). You’ll never see a mecha anime without a robot or mechanical suit in it. That’s the most important element of it. And while this genre is rising in fame as the days go by, it almost always uses a standard formula to carry the plot. As a general trend, mecha is often seen alongside the military, sci-fi, and action genre.
This may very well be the most iconic anime subgenre as there is a multitude of memorable shows in this category. Some of the earlier iconic titles from the late 70s and 80s include Mobile Suit Gundam, Mazinger Z, and Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered to be an iconic and dark deconstruction of the genre while Gurren Lagann was a massive hit that brought the genre back to its hot-blooded roots. With a rabid fanbase that loves mecha designs, this genre is one that has been consistently popular over the years.
Examples of mecha anime includes:
- Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne
- Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
- Code Geass
- Mobile Suit Gundam
For a more in-depth look as this subgenre, check out this list of the top 10 mecha anime.
Anime shows in the music genre aren’t that popular nowadays, but they do exists and they are very timely. These shows typically focus on singing, dancing, or playing musical instruments. These usually fit within the larger categories of comedy and drama.
Examples of music anime includes:
- Sound! Euphonium
- Kids on the Slope
A parody anime is one where countless numbers of other anime references are showcased throughout the plot. It might be a popular running gag, a famous symbol, a character reference, or any other attempt at bringing another show into its domain. One anime worthy to note is Gintama. They often use similar elements from other anime to showcase in their own show.
It should be noted that parodying another property in anime can be problematic. Japan does not have a parody exception in their copyright law. As such, using a parody of copyrighted material may cause an anime studio to be in legal trouble if they did not get permission from the holders of those rights.
A recent of example of this coming into play was with the anime Mr. Osomatsu. The first episode had multiple parodies of different popular anime shows. The episode was eventually pulled from streaming services and was never released on any home media.
Examples of parody anime includes:
- Blood Lad
- School Rumble
- Excel Saga
The police genre emphasizes the life and struggles of law enforcement in their line of duty. Police-based characters have shown up in numerous shows and there are now anime that could be considered as police procedurals. This genre isn't exclusive to police officers; detectives, investigators, and enforcers of any type are included as well.
Examples of police anime includes:
- You’re Under Arrest
- Lupin the Third
- Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation
- Case Closed
Post-Apocalyptic anime are basically shows that occurs/happens in a world that is in a dystopian state (e.g. destroyed world, nearly extinct human race, survival after an apocalypse, etc.). Post-Apocalyptic was merely a theme in the past, but when an influx of titles bearing this theme was realized, it became a genre on its own. As a matter of fact, Post-Apocalyptic anime shows are becoming more and more popular by the day.
Examples: Sidonia no Kishi, Shin Sekai Yori, and Attack on Titan
Just as the word “reverse” is in its name, Reverse Harem is the genre that’s the very opposite of reglar harem. That means, with this one, it’s not one male character is to multiple female characters but the other way around. Here, it’s one female character surrounded by multiple male characters (who are all potential love interests).
Examples: Top 10 Best Reverse Harem Anime
While school is originally just a setting, there are countless of anime that uses it as such, warranting it to become a successful genre. School anime are shows that are set in a school setting. It’s the school which is the most important factor for this genre. So, if the school is the primary setting of the story (or even secondary), then it’s a school anime.
Examples: Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Great Teacher Onizuka, and Gokusen
Seinen is actually a demographic but is also considered as a general genre in anime. It’s a genre that specifically targets male viewers around the age range of 18-40. With that age range, the shows here are depicted in a more mature light and often includes much more explicit content such gore, sex, and violence.
Examples: Berserk, Monster, and Ergo Proxy
Shoujo is actually a demographic but is also considered as a general genre in anime. It’s a genre that specifically targets female viewers around the age range of 10-18. With that age range, the shows here are mostly idealized and well-rounded. Most of the time, the shoujo genre works line-in-line with the romance and the comedy genre (emphasis on the romance part).
Examples: Sailor Moon: Crystal, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, and Ao Haru Ride
Shoujo-ai literally translate to “girls love” where the female characters (typically younger girls) show love and affection to each other. Usually, the romance in shoujo-ai is somewhat milder as compared to the much explicit yuri genre. Generally, shoujo-ai portrays blooming feelings of love and romance more than intimate partner contact.
Examples: Aoi Hana and Blue Drop
Shounen is actually a demographic but is also considered as a general genre in anime. It’s a genre that specifically targets male viewers around the age range of 10-18. With that age range, the shows here are mostly idealized and well-rounded. Most of the time, shounen anime shows are considered general and almost always even becomes the most trending mainstream shows.
Examples: Naruto, One Piece, and Fairy Tail
Shounen-ai literally translates to “boys love” where the male characters (typically younger boys) show love and affection to each other. Usually, the romance in shounen-ai is somewhat milder as compared to the much explicit yaoi genre. Generally, shounen-ai potrays blooming feelings of love and romance more than intimate partner contact.
Examples: Hybrid Child and Gakuen Heaven
Yes, it’s a setting but, as many shows are becoming more and more comfortable in using it as a setting, it has already become a genre in itself. As it stands, anything that uses space as a setting is a space anime. In general, anime of this category are often paired-up with the mecha and sci-fi genre.
Examples: Outlaw Star, Cowboy Bebop, and Space Dandy
Pretty much self-explanatory, sports anime are shows that bases on the very definition of sports. That means, it can tackle on the story of the many sports you know of. Popular choices in this domain includes basketball, tennis, baseball, and soccer. Other sports exists as well (including those that you wouldn’t expect showing up in anime). And as time goes on, more and more are produced. Just like sports, shows lined-up in this genre are also fundamentally action-packed!
Examples: Top 10 Best Sports Anime
You’d know you’re watching a super power anime if you’re seeing an array of explosive super powers scrambling right on the screen. Super Power anime aren’t just super – they’re overwhelming! If you see bursts of energy balls, death-defying attacks, and opposing super forces battling it out throughout the story, then that means you’re probably witnessing an anime of the super power genre.
Examples: Dragon Ball, Akira, and Toriko
As the name implies, the tragedy genre revolves around tragic events or phenomenon where the characters are deeply involved and affected. Tragedy comes in diverse varieties such as disasters, accidents, misfortunes, and deaths. Customarily, shows lying within this genre are very dramatic that they can easily touch the emotion of the viewers by relating the experiences of the characters to them.
Examples: Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Zetsuen no Tempest, and Technolyze
As vampires have become so popular throughout the world, it’s to no shock that they’ve also infested the world of anime. There are lots of titles now featuring vampires and the themes surrounding them. And while they’re not just exclusive to the horror category, they’ve also manifested themselves into several other categories such as comedy, romance, and drama. So once you see a vampire in a show you’re watching, you can count that in in the vampire genre.
Examples: Vampire Knights, Shiki, and Nyanpire
Yaoi is the much more sexually explicit counterpart of shounen-ai. This genre covers male-to-male relationships (typically older boys) in a much mature light. If shounen-ai focuses more on blooming feelings, yaoi commonly goes all-the-way both in romance and intimacy.
Examples: Junjou Romantica and Gravitation
Yuri is the much more sexually explicit counterpart of shoujo-ai. This genre covers female-to-female relationships (typically older girls) in a much mature light. If shoujo-ai focuses mor eon blooming feelings, yuri commonly goes all-the-way both in romance and intimacy.
Examples: Yuri Kuma Arashi and Sakura Trick