Seinen will always have a precious, special place in my heart. For me, the fine line between the seinen and shounen genres is very fascinating. Oftentimes, that line means a mile closer to realism. That means nakama power is almost nonexistent. Not that I’m bad mouthing shounen, but sometimes, one can just crave for some heavy goodness.
We’ve actually done a similar list before, but that list features great classics from two decades ago. So for this one, we’ve handpicked great seinen manga from the past decade to the present. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
- Authors: Masao Ohtake
- Genres: 19
- Volumes: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Published: June 2010 - July 2015
Yoshifumi Nitta, a slightly important member of the yakuza, has a not-so yakuza hobby. He likes collecting pots. One day, however, an alien named Hina barged in his life. At first, he thought everything was a dream. But lo and behold, Hina uses her psychokinetic powers to coerce Nitta into buying things for her. Nitta initially wanted to get rid of her, but he eventually grew to love being her guardian. But with Hina’s lack of pragmatic skills and her shady past, a lot of ruckus are ought to come to this weirdo duo.
Hinamatsuri is a great example that the seinen genre is not just for dark and heavy stuff. It can also provide crazy laughs and chuckles. Of course, the kind of jokes it delivers isn’t quite the same with the other genres. Still, it definitely hits close to home.
9. Ad Astra: Scipio to Hannibal
- Authors: Mihachi Kagano
- Genres: 13
- Volumes: Action, Historical, Military, Seinen
- Published: March 2011 - January 2018
History has been shaped by bloodshed and wars. From the times of the Romans, that’s been dealt using swords and armies of swordsmen. During the time two great generals shaped an era: Cornelius Scipio and the Carthaginian Hannibal. Hannibal was known to be the son of Baal, a pagan god. He was said to have spoken as an infant and had great knowledge as a child. However, in exchange for that, he had no feelings. As they put it, he was a walking book. Still, he was a great general. Opposing him was Scipio, another great general, and upon they clash, they shaped a new era.
- Authors: Gamon Sakurai, Tsuina Miura
- Genres: 83 Chapters
- Volumes: Action, Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Seinen
- Published: March 2012 - Ongoing
Kei Nagai, a high school boy who cares not for anything around him, finds himself dying. But instead of meeting his maker, he returns to life. He learns that he is incapable of dying and is an ajin. Ajins or demi-humans one appeared in the battlefields of Africa. For their abilities, they are hunted and are treated as human experiments. Of course, lab rats have never sounded good in any context. Multiple ajins decided to group together and form anarchistic rebellions. Kei, being an ajin himself, receives an invitation to join the group.
7. Blue Giant
- Authors: Shinichi Ichizuka
- Genres: 10
- Volumes: Music, Seinen
- Published: May 2013 - August 2016
Miyamoto Dai is in his third year in high school. He’s lived a pretty good and relaxed life. He’s part of the basketball club and also has a good circle of friends. Things weren’t always that good to him, though. When he was young, his mother died. This forced his big brother to mature early and took up a parental role. Of course, his father wasn’t a lazy one either. Both of them did their best to help support the family. For Dai, that means he can pursue his dream of becoming the best jazz musician out there.
Telling a story of the passion of dreams, Blue Giant skips on the very hopeful to the point of unrealism scenes. It tackles real problems passionate individuals may meet along the way. That means failure, lack of knowledge, and rejections. On the other hand, it also really gives the satisfaction of meeting one’s dream through perseverance and burning passion.
6. Blue Period
- Authors: Tsubasa Yamaguchi
- Genres: 8
- Volumes: Drama, School, Seinen
- Published: June 2017 - Ongoing
This series shows the wonders of art. Following the story of Yatora Yaguchi, a somewhat habitual delinquent who found the magic of painting, it shows how deeply mystical finding one’s passion is about. From the moment he first encountered and even tried his hand at painting to actually deciding to pursue it to change his fate forever. Of course, things aren’t just as easy as a manga. He faces multiple difficulties most of us might also be facing. The list goes from lack of talent to a bit of financial difficulty.
Passion drives people mad. When one first realizes what they are passionate about, it’s almost always a nosedive to an existential crisis. What’s the best time for that? High school of course when one of the biggest choices in life must be made. Somewhat similar to Blue Giant, Blue Period also tells how Yatora faces the hardships of passion. In his case, though, it’s more of harnessing a skill than honing a talent.
5. Innocent Rouge
- Authors: Shinichi Sakamoto
- Genres: 12
- Volumes: Drama, Historical, Seinen
- Published: May 2015 - January 2020
Innocent Rouge is set during the French revolution. At that time, the executioner is a common and feared job. For the right reasons, of course. The story follows the lives of various characters key to painting the sky rouge. Following the story of the Sanson Family, a well-known family of executioners, Innocent Rogue tells the horrors of history.
History isn’t really a subject matter that is dear to everyone’s heart. Innocent Rouge, however, does a splendid job teaching history, while keeping us awake. Some parts, of course, were romanticized, but a lot was told as is. Yeah, including the executions. More so, there are a ton of downward twists that it’s literally impossible to drop the book.
4. All You Need Is Kill
- Authors: Takeshi Obata, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Ryousuke Takeuchi
- Genres: 2
- Volumes: Action, Sci-Fi, Military, Seinen
- Published: January 2014 - May 2014
Adapted from the light novel bearing the same name, which also later on adapted into a Hollywood movie entitled “Edge of Tomorrow”, All You Need Is Kill follows the story of a newbie military officer named Keiji Kiriya. During his first deployment, Keiji dies on the field. That’s when he discovered that instead of dying, he gets sent back in time. Given another chance, he tried escaping his destiny. But no matter what he does, monsters called mimics eventually gets ahold of him.
3. Grand Blue
- Authors: Kenji Inoue, Kimitake Yoshioka
- Genres: 15
- Volumes: Comedy, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Published: April 2014 - Ongoing
Iori Kitahara is sent to a seaside town as he enters Izu University. It so happens that his uncle has a diving shop in the area for him to have free lodging. Good thing is that both her cousins are beautiful. Bad thing is that her uncle employs two weirdos, who are also his seniors at Izu University, as shop helpers. These two weirdos have some serious alcohol problems. Though, that’s something quite usual for college students. Forced to join the diving club, Iori learns to appreciate alcohol and diving.
Another brilliant gem of a comedy manga, Blue Giant will make your lungs collapse from laughing. Probably tagged as seinen for its abusive use of alcohol, this manga is one of the gems in the seas. Each chapter is filled with a bunch of hilarious scenes that will surely send anyone in a fit of laughter.
2. Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi [ERASED]
- Authors: Kei Sanbe
- Genres: 9
- Volumes: Mystery, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
- Published: June 2012 - November 2019
Satoru Fujinuma is a simple man with a simple dream. He wants to be a successful mangaka. Even though he has already been serialized once, he’s having a hard time getting serialized again. According to his editors, the reader just can’t see his face in his works. This story isn’t about him being a mangaka, though. Satoru also has a crafty supernatural ability that allows him to go back in time. This ability of him only triggers at random and when something bad is about to happen. Being a nosy guy, he usually does his best to prevent said bad things. You probably already guess how things could badly end on his part.
- Authors: Kohske
- Genres: 8
- Volumes: Action, Drama, Seinen
- Published: January 2011 - Ongoing
The story follows the story of partners Nicolas Brown and Worick Arcangelo. By partner, we mean the badass I-got-your-back kind of partner and not the romantic partner. They live in a place called Ergastulum, which is kind of fancy for what it truly is. It’s a melting pot of all the dregs of society. Prostitutes, mafia, addicts, you name it, and you can find it there. Nic and Worick work as “Handymen.” Basically, they do every job nobody else wants to do. Because of that, they get themselves into more trouble than their usually troubled life.
Gangsta. does a wonderful job depicting the underground trade. Although it seems pretty fictional, we won’t be surprised that there’s a place somewhere out there with a pretty similar system. Tackling the hardship of life in a dog-eat-dog world, Gangsta. tells the story in an interesting, not a documentary manner.
Personally, I believe that the strength of the seinen genre focuses on romanticizing actual feelings and events. Instead of bringing us to a wonderful fantasyland, we are treated and shown how beautiful our current world actually is. Most especially, when passion is involved. With that in the mix, even the most mundane of tasks is certainly gratifying. More so, it makes us realize just how much of our current life we overlook or underappreciate. That said, seinen manga has and will always be one of my personal favorites. If there’s anything that has been missed from this list, make us know in the comments below.
P.S. There seems to be a correlation with “blue” and being a good seinen manga.