What Is Seinen? - Need to Know Guide

We have shipped thousands of copies of Japanese manga to people all around the world directly from Japan since 2014. 

However, many of our customers are still confused by the different types of Manga available to them. 

Below we breakdown everything you need to know about the genre of Seinen and why it might become your favorite kind of manga to read. 

 

What is Seinen? 

In Japanese, the word Seinen means "youth". One of the most popular types of manga, Seinen Manga (青年漫画) is a genre of manga that is targeted towards an 18 - 40-year-old male audience. Seinen is often more realistic and focuses on more mature subject matter such as politics, society, psychology, violence, sex, philosophy, and conflict.

 

Seinen Anime

Seine Anime like its Manga counterpart, will often be more graphic and grounded in its approach to visuals and storytelling to audiences. It is common for Seinen anime to depict mature scenes such as sex, death, and violence in more detail than anime aimed at younger audiences. 

However, it is not uncommon for Seinen anime when being adapted from its original source material, often a Seinen manga, to dilute scenes of an extreme sexual or violent nature when being adapted. This is often due to TV broadcasting restrictions placed upon the anime that can vary depending on a wide array of factors.  

 

A recent example of this would the Seinen Manga Tokyo Ghoul

manga vs anime

Although the themes and ideas explored throughout this series remain the same between the manga and the anime, the anime adaption noticeably reduces the details of violent and darker scenes throughout the show. 

 

tokyo ghoul

Anime can be a great place to get started with the Seinen genre, but if you are looking to enjoy Seinen in its entirety, we recommend getting your hands on some manga. 

 

3 Ways To Spot Seinen Series.

1. Publishing Company

When of the easiest ways to know whether you are about to read or watch a Seinen is to find out where it was originally published.  

manga mag

In Japan, Seinen series are normally published independently of other types of manga and are normally serialized by outlets that specialize in Seinen series. 

This means if you find a series that is published by a magazine such as Weekly Young MagazineWeekly Young Jump, or Big Comic Original, there is a very high chance the series is Seinen. See below for a list of some of the most popular publishers of Seinen series. 

 

Popular Seinen Publishers

  • Weekly Young Magazine
  • Weekly Young Jump
  • Big Comic Original
  • Weekly Manga Goraku
  • Big Comic
  • Comic Kairakuten
  • Weekly Morning
  • Big Comic Spirits
  • Comic Shitsurakuten
  • Young Champion
  • Comic Ran
  • Big Comic Superior
  • Manga Action
  • Young King

 

2. Style

The art styles that you will find in Seinen series vary greatly when compared to genres like Shounen.

Seinen will often experiment with the standard art style commonly present in shounen series to better convey the more mature themes that are trying to be portrayed through its narrative. 

Occasionally a series will transition from being a shounen into a Seinen. Typically when this happens, there will be a shift in art style within the series to help add weight to the heavier themes now being presented in the narrative. 

A great example of this is the series Vinland Saga, that went from being a shounen to a Seinen. 

vinland saga

 

3. Furigana

For those of you who choose to read manga in Japanese, the appearance of furigana displaying over kanji is a dead giveaway that you are probably not reading Seinen. 

Showing the furigana for a kanji is something that Japan does to make content easier for younger readers to be able to understand what has been written. 

You may occasionally see a Seinen manga use furigana to explain the readings of character names, made-up words, or rare words that even the average Japanese person isn't expected to know without looking it up.

Only in rare cases will a Seinen manga use furigana, as the expectation is that the audience has fully completed their high school education and is old enough that they should be able to read the kanji used in the series.

(FYI, Japanese people aren't expected to be able to read all the commonly used kanji until they graduate high school).  

 

 

Best Seinen Series to Get Started

It can often be pretty daunting diving into anything new, especially Seinen where the depth and variety of options for you to choose from can seem overwhelming at times.

Don't worry though, below we have listed some great series to help you get started with Seinen. These series will help you find your feet and know what to expect from the mature world of Seinen. 

 

Berserk

Berserk

The award-winning series Berserk is a great all-rounder for those wanting to get a little taste of everything Seinen has to offer readers. A revenge story set in a fantasy world, this series is a roller coaster of emotions. 

Unfortunately, the anime adaptations of the series have not been well received, so we would advise you to just go and read the manga for the best experience. 

 

Ghost in the Shell 

ghost in the shell

A classic series that acted as one of the inspirations for the wildly successful and popular Matrix film series. The narrative explores a world where advanced scientific technology is everywhere and how human society is altered because of it. 

We recommend checking out the original anime series in either the original Japanese or with English voiceover - both are fantastic! 

 

Hellsing

Hellsing

If you are fan of alternative historical timelines and vampires then Hellsing is a great place to start. A show that focuses on the idea of what it means to be human in a world where monsters lurk in the most unexpected of places. 

 

Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul

Already mentioned in this article, Tokyo Ghoul is a great series for those of you who are already familiar with shounen. The story takes common elements present in typically shounen series and takes things a step further by laying heavier themes of tragedy and loss. 

The anime series beyond season 1 of Tokyo Ghoul is regrettably, pretty poorly adapted. For those of you looking to get a taste of this series, we would recommend watching the first season of anime and then switching over to the manga if you find yourself enjoying the series. 

 

Gantz

Gantz

A thrilling Seinen, Sci-fi, Action series that takes readers on a glorious roller coaster ride of intense battles for survival.

There is both a manga and film adaption of the series which come with their own pros and cons. We recommend checking out the series in whatever medium suits you best and then go from there. 

 

There are so many amazing Seinen series out there that we couldn't possibly list them all here, but we hope the above is enough to get you started. 

Although shounen will always have a special place in our hearts, Seinen is arguably just the natural progression that anime and manga lovers drift towards as they get older. 

If you haven't yet dipped your toes into the world of Seinen, we highly recommend you give it a shot. 

Article| 19/08/2020 | Animemanga