Categories of anime, or genre of anime, or types of anime are interchangeable, depending on who you ask or what website you’re looking at. We Western fans have made up various terms to describe anime while using terms from the Japanese, and a resulted in a confusing mess of words, genres, subgenres, etc.. However, describing and categorizing anime is not impossible, and knowing a few of these is going to help to not remain muted during conversations with friends, or knowing these categories will help you find a very specific anime you want.
The list below is a quick glossary of anime genre that is essential for you to learn. Once you’ve memorized them and put them into practice, you’d be surprised you’ll get that specific anime you want. Let’s get started.
Slice of Life
Slice of Life — A western-invented term, Slice of Life describes anime featuring (usually) a group of friends going about their daily lives and typically these shows have little to no plot.
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Harem — Any anime with a main character having multiple love interests. There’s a term called “reverse harem” for a girl having many male suitors, but essentially these anime are all harem.
Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari
Shoujo — Anime whose target demographic are young girls with anime like idol anime, mahou shoujo anime, and school romance anime with a cutesy art style.
Kimi ni Todoke
Josei — Essentially the grown-up version of shoujo that focuses more on realistic mature stories, often a drama-centric slice of life, focusing on relationships for older women in their 20s or 30s.
Hachimitsu to Clover
Shounen — Anime whose target demographic are boys, usually teenagers. Anime range from fighting anime, sports, or any action-oriented stories.
My Hero Academia
Seinen — The mature version of shounen that is often-action oriented with a mature cast of characters, with complex plotlines and characters, mature themes like sex, existential crisis, and the darker side of society.
Attack on Titan
Yaoi — Anime centered on the romance between two men, or sometimes anime with lots of male-to-male sexual jokes or subtext. In the west, Yaoi is pornographic in nature while Shounen-ai is not. Please keep in mind shounen-ai isn’t used by the Japanese, and the closest term used is “Boys Love”.
Yuri!!! On Ice
Yuri — Anime centered around the romance between two women, or sometimes anime with lots of female-to-female sexual jokes or subtext. In the west, Yuri is pornographic in nature while Shoujo-ai is not. Please keep in mind shoujo-ai isn’t used by the Japanese, and the closest term used is “Girls Love”.
Mecha — If an anime has robots as its main plot point, then the anime is called a mecha anime. Anime with a tiny robot friend or an android girl are not considered mecha anime.
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann
Hentai — This is pornographic anime that focuses on sex and nothing much else. The difference between hentai and anime with sex scenes found in seinen or josei is hentai sex are more detailed with visible vaginas and penises, x-ray shots, semen, etc. with stories usually involve rape, torture or sex with monsters. In Japan, Hentai is used for anime with hardcore sex or focusing on fetishes like anal, scat, monster sex, etc. The softcore version containing vanilla sex is called “Ero” anime.
Kanojo x Kanojo x Kanojo
Eroge! H mo Game mo Kaihatsu Zanmai
As you may have noticed, some of the example anime can fit into other genres while others are hard to categorize. For example, Citrus is a Yuri anime, but it has the characteristics of a Josei and Seinen. Yuri is usually targeted for male audiences, but the story of Citrus focuses on realistic relationships, so it can also be considered Josei. And that’s the point of this short glossary--easily sort out the anime you’re looking for.
Here are a few more examples:
Yuri + Hentai = Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo: Anata to Koibito Tsunagi
Mecha + Harem + Slice of Life = Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure
Mahou Shoujo + Yaoi = Mahou Shoujo Ore
Now that you have mastered this secret technique to fool everyone you’re an expert at anime, go out there and make a name for yourself!
...or just, you know, use your acquired knowledge to better find the anime you want to watch on the weekends. Just saying. Oh, and if you want to know more of these genres in-depth, please check out our other articles.