A lot of genres of anime do not have a single word to describe them in English, and so anime fans tend to just use the Japanese word. The same goes for anime movies, which fall into the same genres. Seinen anime movies are targeted primarily at males aged about 18 to 40 - quite a wide range. They tend to have more serious stories, down-to-earth romances and other relationships, realistic art styles, adult-oriented humour, and more graphic violence. While all of these elements distinguish seinen anime movies from others, they are not likely to all be present. Seinen anime movies instead usually have a few of these elements alongside features from other genres of anime. Thus, seinen anime movies usually overlap with other genres.
For our list of the Top 10 Seinen Anime Movies, we chose a wide variety of seinen movies that overlap with many different genres. They all have at least one distinguishing element that makes them seinen, and some have even more! Of course, we understand that more than just men aged 18-40 watch and enjoy seinen anime movies as well, but to highlight them as being part of this genre, we will especially focus on how they appeal to that demographic which they were originally written for. But girls and those outside those age brackets, don't click away! If you're looking for some good seinen films despite not fitting into the target demographic heading, you've still come to the right place.
10. Saint☆Oniisan (Saint☆Young Men)
- Air Date: May 2013
Saint☆Oniisan has a very interesting concept – it’s the imagining of what life would be like if Jesus and Buddha, two of the world’s biggest religious figures, were roommates together in modern Japan. The movie explores their daily life as friends as they experience very normal Japanese life, with everything from rush hour on the train to Disneyland. It’s a humorous look at not only what it is like to live in modern Japan and has the added twist of starring the two most unlikely main characters for a comedy anime movie. And yet somehow it just works really really well!
Saint☆Oniisan is definitely a comedy that is aimed at a more adult audience and would go right over the head of a lot of children. And while some of the things that Jesus and Buddha's experience are normal to everyone, they especially resonate with young professionals and the working class in Japan – exactly the audience that seinen anime movies are for! But even if you’re not a young Japanese working man, you can still have a good laugh at the antics that take place in the film, especially if you have any understanding of Jesus or Buddha. And it’s a great little insight into life in Tokyo – but with a smile and a laugh! You’ll have to watch to understand, so if you’re looking for a funny seinen film, look no further.
9. Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku (Mushishi: The Next Chapter - Drops of Bells)
- Air Date: May 2015
Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku is based on the final manga arc of the popular series Mushishi. It follows the usual main character Ginko but is actually the story of Kaya. She is a young girl chosen to be a Mushi God of the mountains, which is where Ginko originally finds her with branches growing out of her body. He wonders how an average human was chosen to become a god of the mountain. But then Ginko finds her older brother, who is still searching for her after her mysterious disappearance. Kaya has to choose between returning to the loving family she was taken from or continuing to serve her role as a Mushi God.
Mushishi is one of the most famous and acclaimed seinen anime and manga series, so of course, its movie is the same! Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku is very well made and easy to enjoy watching. It deals with the personal struggle of Kaya to follow her heart or her duty, a relatable and very real struggle for the seinen demographic dealing with changing careers, family, and life situations. It's also a supernatural adventure, which adds some excitement and mystery to the story. Plus the relationships are all related to family, keeping them pragmatic and believable. Because we are focusing especially on standalone movies, Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku is near the bottom of our list, but it's definitely a must-watch for seinen fans (as is the rest of the series).
8. Asylum Session
- Air Date: Jul. 2009
Hiyoko is a high school student wanting to enter art school and follow her mother's footsteps in Asylum Session. The movie is set in the distant future, in a society that has devolved into chaos. When Hiyoko's father tries to throw out her mother's old drawings, she runs away from home. With nowhere else to go, Hiyoko finds herself in a stadium called Asylum. It's located in the slum and inhabited by street kids under the leadership of a boy named Akira. She begins her new life there, but then the police decide that stadium is too much of an eyesore and must be destroyed. In an attempt to save their home, the kids plan to hold a massive street art event - and Hiyoko will be in charge of a giant painting in the stadium!
Asylum Session has a cool science fiction, almost dystopic setting where the society we know has dramatically changed in the future. But the story is unique from other movies with similar settings, focusing instead on art and using it to change the future. Asylum Session doesn't have a lot of traditional action sequences, but the storytelling will still have you captivated for an hour all the same. The CG animation is a realistic style, and the relationships in the film remain as friendship rather than sacrificing the story for a romance. Hiyoko is also an undeniably strong main character. All of these factors make Asylum Session a fun seinen film to enjoy.
- Air Date: Jun. 2013
Donyatsu is set in the 21st century, but not the one that we know today. Humanity has been completely wiped out by some unknown disaster, and now there are no more humans or even normal animals. Donyatsu takes place in Shinjuku, a wasteland now, and follows the story of its new residents. They're far from the humans that used to live there, though, such as a half-cat, half-donut hybrid named Donyatsu and other pastry-shaped animals. And none of them can remember who they are, how they got there, or what happened to all the humans and animals!
Easily the most unique anime movie on our list, don't let Donyatsu's strange summary and cute poster give you the wrong impression. It was written for a seinen audience, not for small children, and as these cute pasty animals explore the wasteland of Shinjuku they find human skeletons littering the streets everywhere. The animation may be colourful, but there's something dark and mysterious hiding below the surface. Perhaps a less usual seinen choice due to the style it's delivered in, Donyatsu remains an intriguing mystery, sci-fi film with unexpected twists and turns. And it's quite funny, too! If your curiosity has been awakened, be sure to check Donyatsu to find out what it's all about and learn what happened to the Earth.
6. Penguin's Memory: Shiawase Monogatari (A Penguin’s Memories)
- Air Date: Jun. 1985
Penguin's Memory: Shiawase Monogatari is a story about well, penguins. The setting is a world based on reality, but with penguins taking the roles of humans. The main character is Mike, a penguin soldier who has been off fighting in the war. When he is injured and forced to return home to civilian life, though, he has a hard time readjusting. Unable to settle back into a "normal" life, Mike sets off on a personal expedition across the country to find himself and his place in the world.
Penguin's Memory: Shiawase Monogatari sounds and looks ridiculous at first glance; after all, is is a movie about personified penguins and their society. But the actual story is a heartfelt and deeper one about self-discovery and finding one's place in life. Plus Mike is an injured soldier, a reality in today's world. Penguin's Memory: Shiawase Monogatari may not have realistic animation and graphic action, but it's seinen all the same with the themes that it is exploring, and the way the drama unfolds. It's a bit old, but don't let that discourage you from checking out this incredibly unique take on a seinen story.
5. Golgo 13 (Golgo 13: The Professional)
- Air Date: May 1983
Golgo 13 is about an assassin of the same name. When he kills the son of a wealthy and powerful businessman, Golgo 13 finds himself no longer the hunter, but the hunted! The tycoon is out for revenge for his son and has hired both the US Army and the CIA to bring him down. Golgo 13 is a professional though, and the more he evades his pursuers, the more the businessman begins to lose his mind and go insane with rage and frustration. He becomes obsessed only with stopping Golgo 13, forgetting even to find out who hired him to kill his son in the first place.
Golgo 13 is an action and adventure seinen movie about assassins, conspiracies, murder, and intrigue. It's full of cool fighting and escaping sequences, and a beautiful girl, both of which are used to make the film more adult-oriented and intense than average. Golgo 13 is a little old, but it uses some CG animation that was cutting edge for the time it was released, adding a bit of historical significance to this seinen film. It has all the elements of a seinen movie - violence, realistic animation, a fast-paced story, and adult humour, making it an easy choice for seinen fans.
4. Mitsuami no Kamisama (Pigtails)
- Air Date: Oct. 2015
Mitsuami no Kamisama is set after the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, where a girl with braided pigtails lives alone in a house near the sea. She continues to live her life as normal, hanging laundry and going through her daily routine. She's entirely unaffected by and doesn't even seem to notice, that all around her the world had changed. Inanimate objects bicker with one another and move, the old ones fighting with the new and nothing wanting to be thrown away. And yet the girl with the pigtails just goes on living, seemingly oblivious to all of these changes.
Mitsuami no Kamisama is especially relatable to the current seinen demographic in Japan, who will easily remember the disaster in March 2011 and were likely affected by it in some way. A lot of media had been produced to try to deal with people's feelings and the lingering effects of the earthquake and tsunami, and Mitsuami no Kamisama does that very tastefully. The themes this short drama has are ones that seinen audiences everywhere can relate to though - the question of if we only exist so that one day we can die, and if things are only here to be consumed and used until they break. For people that are getting older themselves, these are very real questions, which makes Mitsuami no Kamisama internationally enjoyable for the seinen demographic.
3. Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu (Nasu: Summer in Andalusia)
- Air Date: Jul. 2003
Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu is set in Spain during a multi-day cycling race. Pepe is a support rider for his team, meaning he is meant to help the lead rider win the race. The race brings the riders through Pepe's small hometown though - inconveniently the same day as Pepe's brother's wedding to his ex-girlfriend. The end of his relationship with her was one of the reasons Pepe moved away to pursue his career in cycling, and seeing her marrying his brother is a cruel reminder that he's nothing more than a support rider still. And when the news comes that the team's sponsor is planning to drop him, Pepe decides to abandon his role in the team and go for the gold himself!
Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu is a sports movie about an underdog athlete who wants to win not just for the glory of success but also to prove to himself that he's not worthless. Pepe is facing a situation all too real to many young adults - a broken relationship, and a stagnating career. Rather than let it depress him even more though, Pepe strives to find success. It's an appealing story for seinen audiences with whom the themes in the movie may resonant strongly with. The animation style is realistic as well, and the relationship anything but fluffy romance. Nasu: Andalusia no Natsu is conveniently less than an hour to watch, so great for a seinen fan without a lot of time.
2. Piano no Mori (The Perfect World of Kai)
- Air Date: Jul. 2007
Piano no Mori is the story of Shuuhei Amamiya, the son of a famous pianist who has been pressured to take practising piano very seriously his whole life. When his grandmother falls ill, Shuuhei leaves behind his city life for the country, changing schools and having to make new friends. It isn't easy though, and Shuuhei's new classmates dare him to play a mysterious piano in the forest that is said to have no sound. Wanting to earn their respect, Shuuhei heads to the forest with his classmate Kai Ichinose to try out the piano. True to the rumour, Shuuhei isn't able to make any sound come from the instrument - so why can Kai play such a beautiful song on it?
Piano no Mori is a movie about the friendship between two young boys. Their relationship may be unlikely, but as fellow musicians, they begin with that in common and grow to become good friends despite having very different personalities. Piano no Mori is light-hearted, and appropriate for the younger end seinen audiences to enjoy, but still relatable and understood by older audiences as well. It's still an adventure story with the mystery of the piano in the forest, and it's quite funny as well! The emotional ups and downs along with the believable depiction of a developing friendship make Piano no Mori a well-made seinen movie that many people can enjoy watching.
1. Sakasama no Patema (Patema Inverted)
- Air Date: Nov. 2013
Patema is a teenager of royal status in Sakasama no Patema, living in an underground society of massive tunnels. Not content to simply play it safe and stay home, Patema is constantly exploring the tunnels much to the chagrin of her protectors. One day, while exploring the Forbidden Zone, she is startled and falls into a seemingly bottomless pit...that unexpectedly takes her to the surface of the planet! And even more surprisingly, she just keeps falling up, up, up into the sky. Patema is rescued by a boy named Age, and learns that in the totalitarian nation she has found herself in, "inverts" like she, are considered to be sinners. The two teens become unlikely friends as they learn what it means to coexist, searching for the story of how their world became like this.
Sakasama no Patema is a science fiction adventure story that is sure to captivate the imagination. It's well-animated and the story is fast-paced with plenty of mystery, surprises, and action. Patema and Age are both teenagers, so they're relatable for seinen audiences since the intended demographic of the film would be around the same age as the heroes. And while seinen films are written primarily for boys, Patema is an engaging female lead. She's not your stereotypical princess, but instead is an explorer and adventurer, and strong enough to more than take care of herself. Finally, Sakasama no Patema is a coming of age story with a light romance; not too much to turn away young boys, but still there to keep teens interested (or seinen fans of any age!).
Seinen is a very wide genre of anime, and it goes for the same in anime movies. While written for young to middle aged men as the main demographic, it also appeals to a wide range of other people too. Seinen films feature action and adventure, believable relationships and character development, more realistic animation, and explore life questions. These films can do any combination of these kinds of things and still be considered seinen, which means it's a broad genre full of many kinds of movies. Hopefully, you were able to find at least one for you, too!
Have you seen any of the films on this list? What seinen anime movie do you want to watch next? Do you think another one should have been on our Top 10? Would you have changed our ranking order? Let us know in the comments!