What are the genres of anime?

Classifying anime into genres can be tricky by itself, but coming up with a set list of all the possible anime genres is even more difficult. So today I’m going to make an attempt at examining the odds and ends of anime genres…

At some point, whenever I watch a new series, I think, “What genre would I place this anime in?” or “If I were to recommend this anime to someone, especially someone unfamiliar with anime, what genres would I say it consists of?” I’ve done this many times, and I was especially focused on anime genres when I was working on my “What is Anime? – the Visual Definition” project in late ’07/early ’08.

Since then, I’ve come up with a list of what I feel are all the possible genres for anime, sixteen in total. I’ve listed them below, along with a short explanation and a few examples of each. I still don’t consider the list perfect and I’m always open to suggestions if you have any.

Just note that it’s almost always the case that an anime will fall into more than one genre. For simplicity’s sake, I only put one genre per anime in the list below. So, although I use Naruto as an example of “Shonen,” I also consider it an “Action” and “Fantasy” series. Also, I’m only talking about anime, not manga, genres (manga covers a much larger variety of genres than anime, many of which I’m not familiar with).

List of anime genres (full list)

(the action/fighting is the dominant element)
Darker than Black

(lots of traveling around, going to new places)
Spice and Wolf
Kemono no Souja Erin
Tegami Bachi

(lots of laughs, or attempts at it anyway, and never gets too serious)
Seto no Hanayome
Love Hina
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
Ranma 1/2
Nyan Koi!

(lots of shocks, suspense, and emotions)
Fullmetal Alchemist
Aoi Bungaku

(romantic relationships are the dominant element)
5 Centimeters per Second
Romeo x Juliet
Revolutionary Girl Utena

(all of these also include Action and/or Adventure, target audience of adolescent boys)
One Piece
Yu Yu Hakusho
Dragon Ball Z
Shaman King

(all of these also include Romance and/or Drama, target audience of adolescent girls)
Cardcaptor Sakura
Fruits Basket
Fushigi Yuugi
Itazurana Kiss

(giant anthropomorphic robots are integral to the plot)
Gundam Seed
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Eureka 7

(advanced technology, aliens and/or outer space, futuristic worlds)
Eden of the East
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
Summer Wars
Tenchi Muyo!

(magic worlds, monsters, magical powers)
Record of Lodoss War
Shakugan no Shana
Sailor Moon

(ghosts and poltergeist, demons, spirits and gods)
Kara no Kyoukai

(characters spend the majority of the series trying to solve one or more mysteries or other “unknowns”)
Death Note

(lots of gore, blood baths, and nightmarish stuff)
Dance in the Vampire Bund
Elfen Lied
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Shikabane Hime

(lack of all the other genres except for perhaps Comedy and Romance)
Azumanga Daioh
Chi’s Sweet Home
Ichigo Mashimaro

(almost always a Comedy too, much of the humor is derived from gags and parody)
Excel Saga
Hayate no Gotoku!
Lucky Star

(the main plot involves the characters competing in games and tournaments)
Angelic Layer
Prince of Tennis
Hikaru no Go

Just about every anime I’ve seen could fall into more than one genre (from my judgment, most have at least three). For example, I’ve seen Inuyasha classified as Shonen, Action, Supernatural, Drama, Romance, and Comedy, and Eureka 7 as Mecha, Action, Romance, Comedy, Drama, and Sci-fi. Having a variety of elements in each series is what makes anime so appealing, but it also makes it difficult to narrow down genres.

Thus, I’ve come up with a sort of “alternate” list of more specific genres, only eight in total (most of this list was developed by my friend The Wanderer during one of our college anime club meetings).

List of anime genres (alternate list)

(hyperbolic and gags, comedy/parody, or just plain wild and weird)
Excel Saga
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
Nyoro-n Churuya-san

(romance comedy)
Love Hina
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Seto no Hanayome
His and Her Circumstances

(romance drama)
Kimi ni Todoke
Romeo x Juliet

(dynamic stories, action/adventure)
Code Geass
Fullmetal Alchemist

(same as the full list)
Azumanga Daioh
Chi’s Sweet Home
Ichigo Mashimaro

(almost slice-of-life, but fantastical genres are present)
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Tenchi Muyo!

(also same as the full list)
Angelic Layer
Prince of Tennis
Hikaru no Go

(involves mysteries, strange occurrences, unexplainable phenomena)
Death Note

The alternate list above is good because it condenses the number of genres, but because of that, it could be too generalized and does not give as good an idea as the full list when it comes to what each anime contains.

Therefore, I believe the best way of classifying anime into genres is not to simply list the genres (since what would it tell someone if an anime is classified as Comedy and Drama?), but to specify how much of each genre an anime contains.

A few examples to illustrate:

shonen/action = 40%
fantasy = 25%
adventure = 10%
comedy = 5%
drama = 20%

slice-of-life = 50%
comedy = 50%

Cowboy Bebop
comedy = 30%
sci-fi = 15%
action = 20%
adventure = 20%
drama = 15%

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
horror = 40%
mystery = 27%
supernatural = 10%
drama = 20%
comedy = 3%

Spice and Wolf
adventure = 30%
romance = 20%
supernatural = 20%
drama = 20%
comedy = 10%

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
slice-of-life = 25%
sci-fi = 30%
comedy = 30%
drama = 15%

mecha = 25%
horror = 10%
drama = 30%
sci-fi = 15%
action = 15%
comedy = 5%

I chose to use percentages, but perhaps something like a 1-5 rating for each genre would suffice as well. Of course, the one drawback to this way of classifying is that fans have different opinions. Thus, there will be disagreements as to how much of any one genre an anime will contain, for example, some might think Evangelion is more horrific than I do and would give it a 20% for Horror instead.

But with this way of classifying, I don’t think there’s much point in including genres below a certain percentage. Almost any anime can have a little comedy or drama, but classifying Naruto or Evangelion under Comedy would be very misleading. Therefore, if it were up to me, I would classify a series under what I think are its most prominent genres (no more than three). So for Naruto, it would be Shonen, Action, and Fantasy, and for Evangelion it would Mecha, Sci-fi, and Drama.

What are your thoughts? Do I have all the anime genres covered in one of my two lists? Would my percentage rating for genres be a good way to classify anime, since each title usually has a few genres? Let me know.

27 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. dood says:
  2. Baka-Raptor says:

    Thanks, dood, saves me the trouble of responding myself.

    I do like the alternate categorizations. More people need to think outside the box like that. One of the alternate categorizations I suggested in the above-linked posts is the anime sitcom. I find it’s a highly appropriate label for certain shows that are often miscategorized as slice-of-life.

  3. Dragonliger says:

    it’s really ok but a note. mecha is not about just anthropomorfic robots. is basically any kind of robots because if it’s just anthropomorfic ones shows like zoids wouldn’t be in it.

  4. Yumeka says:

    @ Baka-Raptor

    Anime sitcom would be a great alternate category. I didn’t read all of your posts there, but I assume you think Lucky Star would be a sitcom. And shows like it, such as Azumanga Daioh and Ichigo Mashimaro? (I’ve never seen Cromartie High School so I couldn’t comment on that). Then do you think there are any series that can be classified as slice-of-life, or is it an irrelevant category? What about something like Nana, that’s not a comedy but focuses on day to day life?

    @ Dragonliger

    Ah, you do have a point there. I’m not familiar with Zoids but I assumed the robots could take human-shape in addition to animals. But besides that, I can’t really think of any other anime featuring robots that don’t have an anthropomorphic shape.

  5. Myna says:

    You forgot Ecchi (shoots self)

    I’d put Mahou Shoujo as a separate genre, but that’s just me

  6. Yumeka says:

    @ Myna

    I don’t watch ecchi at all so I guess I didn’t think of it XD But yeah, I suppose it could be a genre (aren’t they usually also comedy?)

    I think mahou shojo could just be shojo and fantasy. I suppose you could make it a genre if you wanted to, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary.

    • Ben Hutterer says:

      In the big picture, the ecchi subgenre of anime is not just a hybridization of various traditional movie genres, but it also happens to be a toned-down version of hentai with frequent nudity, big boobs, but no sex. On the subject of hentai, however, there can be a mishmash of genres combined into one show, so long as there is sex and nudity, otherwise it isn’t hentai. On a more personal note, I have tired easily of hentai and went instead to watch ecchi and shounen instead.

      As anyone could say, “To each their own.”

  7. Hypernova says:

    While there are some fantasy and a little bit of other genres in it, I always think of Aria as (almost) a definition of slice-of-life anime because it really depends on day-to-day life to keep the show going, instead of comedy like the ones you put in slice-of-life catagory. I believe Baka-raptor also put Aria in the very end of slice-of-life side too.

    I think what’s important to a person (or at least me) to be able to enjoy the show is how you mixed them up though. For example, To Aru Majutsu no Index mixed Sci-fi and fantasy in the way that I like, but Railgun mixed slice-of-life and sci-fi in a way that I don’t like. (Note that I do prefer Mikoto character BTW). Another example from my experience is that while I rarely watch mecha or sport anime, Cyber Formula is one of my favorite anime of all time.

    I guess my conclusion is that it’s hard to fit any show into genres. If you were force to describe, make up a genre that fit the show is a better idea. Like anime sitcom for Lucky Star as Baka-Raptor mentioned.

  8. Jan Suzukawa says:

    You left out some obvious categories:

    Dripping With Hints of Shonen-Ai and Yaoi:
    Mirage of Blaze, Yami no Matsuei, Loveless, Sukisho, Uraboku

    Bad Evangelion Imitations:

    Chi’s Sweet Home, Chi’s New Address, Neko Rahmen, Cat Soup

    Keroro Gunso

    Wolf’s Rain

    Identical Plots:
    Air TV

    (A feeble attempt at humor… but it’s late and I’m tired ;)

  9. i believe actually naming the genre and dividing up what genres it falls under is far less important than being able to write adequate conceptual blurbs that capture the essence of the show without spoiling. here’s one for Irresponsible Captain Tylor (just did a post on it recently on Hakasen so yeah)

    Irresponsible Captain Tylor is the story of Justin Ueki Tylor and his ragtag crew on the spaceship Soyokaze. Tylor is a 20-something slacker who decides to join the military because he feels it’s “easy”. His impeccable luck and lackadaisical attitude land him in trouble, love, war, peace, and a wealth of comedic experiences.

  10. Fabrice says:

    I guess you forgot Seinen ^^
    B gata H kei XD
    Baccano etc

    My favorite genre is mostly Romance + Drama + Comedy like clannad =D
    but i guess its hard to find anime like that since most the ending is crap =/

    i dont mind psychological, horror, higurashi =)

  11. Yumeka says:

    @ Hypernova

    I’ve never seen Aria, but from what I’ve heard about it, I really should add it to my “Plan to Watch” list. And I personally liked what was done with Railgun, but I can understand the gripe some people may have with it (never seen Index though).

    You’re right that putting anime into appropriate genres can be tricky and that sometimes making up your own genres would be best. But what I’m trying to do here is bring some organization to the concept of genres and come up with a set number of that’s not too great nor too small (and that most fans can agree on).

    @ Jan

    Ah yes, I guess yaoi (and yuri) could be anime-specific genres just like mecha, shonen, and shojo. Like ecchi, I guess I didn’t consider the anime genres I don’t watch while making this list. But like others, I’m sure most yaoi/yuri shows also include other genres, like drama and romance perhaps.

    @ Robert

    I enjoy writing/reading good summaries of anime series, but unfortunately I feel that most, especially the less spoiler-filled ones, don’t do an anime justice as far as pointing out its appealing aspects. On the other hand, the long and more detailed ones are more interesting, but usually end up being too long, making people not want to read them. I think genres serve their purpose as an organized and quick way for potential viewers to get an idea about a series without having to read through summaries.

    @ Fabrice

    I think seinen is just way too broad to be a genre. Its only telling attribute would be its target audience of young males, but other than that its genres range from comedy to drama to action and others.

    I’m not really sure if I have a favorite genre actually. Looking at my list of favorite anime, they all come from a wide range of genres. I’ll have to think about that =)

  12. Kairu says:

    You got it all wrong. The only genre of anime is… MOE.

  13. 2DT says:

    Perhaps we should imagine anime genres as being encompassed within a three-dimensional graph space, which consists of three axes: Humor, Realism and Scale. Each axis is also a spectrum in itself, from high to low. So, for example, Naruto is mid-humor, low-realism, high-scale. Lucky Star is high-humor, high-realism, low-scale. Haruhi is mid-humor, low-realism, low-scale, and so on. We plot each series like a star floating in the vastness of space.

    … No, too much? Okay. :)

  14. Yumeka says:

    @ 2DT

    Hmm, that’s an interesting idea (a picture of such a graph would be helpful XD) I assume Humor would be funny shows, Realism would be shows that aren’t too fantastical, like sitcom/slice-of-life, and Scale would be shows that are based around fantasy or a fictional world. But in my opinion, Naruto would be low-humor (if it was mid-humor, it would be the same as Haruhi, and I think Haruhi is much funnier) and Haruhi would be mid-scale. You’ve got Lucky Star perfect.

    However, I feel that just those three axes is too broad – I have a feeling there would be a lot of anime that would rank equally in the three axes but be vastly different from each other. Maybe adding another axes or two would be more accurate (can’t think of any right now though). But you’ve definitely got something there.

  15. Robert Weizer says:

    Eh, that’s just how I roll. I wouldn’t have even watched Tylor if it weren’t for someone linking some hilarious movie trailers dubbed over Tylor footage and me going “hey I should go check this out!”.

    I was not dissapoint.

  16. Hypernova says:

    @2DT & Yumeka

    Yes that’s a very neat idea. Use an N-dimensional hyperspace to represent it. Then do some stat mechanics. Ok, enough with my lame joke.

    Seriously though, I think if someone make that kind of graph, we’ll be able to see an interesing trend. Like a “tag cloud”, but better. You’ll be able to identify some “dense” area and so on. Now I really want to see someone make one…

  17. Alternate list is a pretty good idea! So is the percentage but it can be pretty subjective which is why it will be interesting if there is a link or project set up there to collect opinions from people. Being a stat guys, I do believe somewhat that if there is enough sample, the result typically is going to be close to the ‘truth’:)

    With regards to your normal list, I find classifying anime as Shojo or Shonen can be a little bit broad though since by the strictest sense of the word, any shows aimed towards boys are shonen and I can use that definition to describe things like Negima or Love Hina. I seem to see different level of descriptions you could dig down into (I guess this is somewhat the way ANN is doing it), for example:
    i). Demographic – Shonen, Shojo, Seinen, Josei, Kodomo (brief description of target audience)
    ii). Main Genre – Action, Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Slice-of-Life, Horor, Supernatural, Mecha (main generic description)
    iii). Sub-genre/Theme – School, Fan-service, Herem, Space, Yuri, Gothic, Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Post-apocalyptic, Magical Girl, Music, Food, Sports, Historical, Military, Moe (More specific description. Could be used to describe certain strong trait that is in that anime)

    Nodame Cantabile is Josei (demographic), Drama, Comedy (genre), music (sub-genre)
    Naruto: Shonen (demographic), Action, Adventure (genre), Ninja, tournament (sub-genre)

    Sticking 10% as horror for Eva cracks me up a bit:) Maybe psychological, but horror?

  18. Yumeka says:

    @ aquablueswater

    That’s actually a very good suggestion. Thanks so much for the input! I sometimes don’t feel right emphasizing demographics, since most of the hardcore fans of series like Naruto are not even in the demographic. But I guess they are important anyway.

    If I decide to make a follow-up of this post, I’ll mention your idea =D

  19. gogo says:

    i kinda like ur coments but could they be used for manga 2?

  20. What about Yaoi, Yuri, Magical Girl, and the others?

  21. thereicarnateddemonicaura says:

    wouldnt wcchi be a genre in its self because if you think about it ecchi is a different area type then most of thegenres you listed. ecchi is like when itshows closeto nudity but not all the way and it repeats through some of the episodes. but that is just my opinion.

  22. YuriAnime says:

    The list is great. But you left out 3 major genres that would be very important to declare. I say this because some people would absolutely not be interested in watching an anime that would fall under one of the three genres. They are “Hentai”, “Yuri”, and “Yaoi”. Hentai would be anime that contains explicit sexual situations. Example of Hentai: “Immoral Sisters”. Yuri Anime would be anime that have lesbian relationships as a central element. Example of Yuri Anime: “Strawberry Panic”. Yaoi Anime would be anime that have gay relationships as a central element. Example of Yaoi Anime: “Gravitation”. Note that, Yuri Anime and Yaoi Anime do NOT contain explicit sexual situations. This is a common misconception. If it did, then it would fall under the Hentai genre, which has many sub genres of its own. Yuri Anime and Yaoi Anime are essentially Drama anime with a Homosexual and/or bisexual relationship as the dominant element. But as I explained before, it is very important to declare if it is or not because it is an entirely different experience than watching a heterosexual drama anime. Hentai is pretty self explanatory. The only thing I would like to note is that Hentai is not just porn. It is just like any other anime episodes except with some explicit scenes. You can basically take a Hentai anime and cut out all of the explicit scenes and you will get a regular anime from opening to ending songs. And one last final note, Ecchi is not a major genre. It is a sub genre that can be seen in any of the major genres. I’ve watched over 500 anime series of all kinds and I’m probably the oldest person on this Form, so I am well-versed on the topic. But of course this is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. Thank-you for reading. And no matter how old you get, NEVER stop watching anime! or an anime angel will lose its wings.

  23. SomeRandomGuy says:

    I just wanted to point out an “free” anime on youtube that’s somewhat in the process of being made(it’s also quite loved). It’s also being made with an animation software Poser Pro, by the way. Well, back to the point; it’s called RWBY, and it fits under the action, adventure, comedy and sci-fi genres quite well, though others may find other genres it could work with. So far, only it only has 4 episodes(during the time this was posted), and it has been hyped quite a bit, but it doesn’t disappoint. It’s worth looking at, and it has quite a few silly spots, and some of it is relatable. One last thing before I finish this annoyingly long comment, the anime is co-produced by a youtube channel(go figure. It’s RoosterTeeth, by the way). Now I’m finally done wasting your time.

    • SomeRandomGuy says:

      I also forgot to add that it’s quite violent in some parts(definately the trailers). Also, there are a lot of hybrid weapons, such as a cleaver thats actually a sheath to a katana that turns into a gun(a little over kill) and a rifle that can turn into a scythe that’s about seven feet long and still can fire shots(extremely large shots. They’re basically half the size of a snipers barrel).

  24. SlayerFan says:

    You Forgot
    (エッチ etchi?, pronounced [et.tɕi]) is an often used slang term in the Japanese language for lewd or lascivious conduct. As anadjective it is used with the meaning of “dirty” or “naughty”; as a verb,ecchi suru (エッチする), with the meaning to have sex; or as a noun, to describe someone that is seen as lecherous. It is similar in meaning to ero (from Eros), and does not imply perversion in the way hentai does.
    The word ecchi has been adopted by fans of Japanese media to describe works with sexual overtones.
    In Japanese, the word ecchi is often used to describe a person’s conduct, but in fandom, it has come to be used to refer to softcore or playful sexuality,
    as distinct from the word hentai, which connotes perversion or fetishism.[2]Works described as ecchi do not show sexual intercourse or genitalia. Instead, sexual themes are hinted at, and much is left up to the imagination of the viewer.
    Ecchi themes are a type of fan service, and can be found in comedy shōnen and seinen

  25. Earth Angel says:

    thank you for the information cause i’m planing on going back on making manga’s again cause i could never think of a genre at all.

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