Seinen anime series are often short and sweet, spanning just one season with anywhere between 8 to 30 episodes.
For those unfamiliar with the term, we did an entire on ZenMarket article talking about what Seinen is.
For the purposes of this article, all you need to know is that seinen anime is targeted at young adults, normally 18-40-year-old males. Therefore, the titles often feature more mature themes, older main characters, and more serious plotlines.
This seinen anime list includes both films and series and spans a variety of genres.
For those looking for anime with deeper stories, be sure to give one of these titles a try.
Seinen Anime Titles Everyone Should Watch
1. Plastic Memories
Plastic Memories is set in a world where androids and humans coexist in harmony.
The androids, called Giftias, help humans in various industries and also are used as companions for those who have no family, couples who can’t bear children, or even orphans who need a guardian.
However, Giftias have a very limited life span of only 8 years.
If their operating system (OS) is not reset before their time is out, they run the risk of losing their minds. The only issue is once their OS is reset, they lose all their memories and develop a completely new personality. In essence, they die and a new “person” inhabits their body.
The anime follows a high school graduate named Tsukasa who goes straight into the workforce at a Giftia recovery agency.
His job is to recover Giftias who are nearing the end of their lives. Interestingly, every agent in the company is partnered with a Giftia to make the end-of-life process easier on both the Giftia and their loved ones.
Things are going well for Tsukasa until he starts developing closer relationships with the Giftias around him, knowing full well that their lives only last 8 short years.
There are few anime that have made me cry as much as Plastic Memories.
As a fan of all forms of fiction, I constantly look for titles that can draw out the strongest emotions. I would put Plastic Memories up next to well-respected heartwrenching titles like Anohana and Violet Evergarden.
Put simply, Plastic Memories is about the value of life, and sometimes it takes an android to show us just how precious life can be.
2. Grave of the Fireflies
Developed by the critically-acclaimed Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke), Grave of the Fireflies is their most serious work.
While the studio normally produces children’s anime films, Grave of the Fireflies is definitely for more mature audiences only.
The seinen anime film follows a young boy and his even younger sister trying to survive after the fallout of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War 2. The film depicts the atrocities of war and the innocent souls left behind to fend for themselves.
The film is so powerful that acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert called it “one of the greatest war films ever made”.
While the graphics are a bit dated, they fit perfectly with the theme and tone of the film. Since the film covers the difficult lives of the Japanese civilians during World War 2, some have called the film depressing, which can be true for some viewers.
However, it is a very important anime film that I think every anime fan must watch.
3. Welcome to the N.H.K.
Originally aired in 2006, Welcome to the N.H.K. is an oldie but a goodie.
The anime follows Tatsuhiro Sato, a 22-year-old university student who has unfortunately become a hikikomori, due to societal pressures.
Sato also exhibits some slight forms of mental illness and sometimes hallucinates and hears household objects like his fridge and television talk to him.
One day, a high school girl named Misaki and her aunt stop by Sato’s house and drop off a pamphlet about help for hikikomori. Misaki returns on her own and offers Sato a contract to help him recover from his hikikomori ways.
Many people say that Japan is behind when it comes to acknowledging and dealing with mental health issues, so I applaud Welcome to the N.H.K. for having a protagonist that exhibits mental illness.
The anime helps shed light on the fact that most hikikomori are not creeps or weirdos, they are likely just sick and need some help.
The anime offers a glimpse, albeit a fictional one, into the world of hikikomori and is powered by a solid story that keeps you interested from start to finish.
4. Gantz: O
Set in the world of the popular manga and anime series Gantz, Gantz: O is an anime film that follows the Osaka Arc of the original manga series.
If you’re a lover of all things apocalyptic or survival game stories like Battle Royale or Danganronpa, then this CGI anime film will be right up your alley.
Gantz: O follows a high school boy named Kato who tries to stop an assault on a train platform and ends up getting stabbed to death. That isn’t exactly a plot spoiler, as the bulk of the story happens after he dies.
For unexplained reasons, strange monsters and creatures have begun invading Tokyo and Osaka.
After Kato dies, he wakes up in an empty room and is told by a robotic voice that he must participate in a game with the objective of killing all the monsters attacking Japan.
If he is successful, then he can be resurrected. If he dies in the game, he dies forever.
The film has beautiful graphics and a thrilling story with well-choreographed action scenes. The monsters are grotesque and there is a lot of gore in the film, so those with weak stomachs should probably stay away from this one.
What started as a webcomic quickly became one of my favorite romance manga and anime of all time.
ReLIFE is a modern take on the high school romance anime.
You might be thinking: if it’s set in high school, then how is this a seinen anime? Well, that’s because the main character isn’t actually a high school student. Rather, he is a 27-year-old NEET whose life has gone off track.
ReLIFE follows Arata, who is approached one day by a mysterious stranger who offers a very suspicious contract:
- Take this pill and your body will revert back to its 17-year-old form
- Relive your third year of high school and do your best in your studies and school life
- We will pay for your living expenses for one year
- If your performance is satisfactory, we will find you a job with a great company after the year is over
ReLIFE isn’t just a romance anime, it has mature themes and issues around office politics and dealing with societal pressures.
Short and sweet, with just 13 episodes, I highly recommend ReLIFE for those looking for a unique seinen romance anime.
We hope you found at least one of the titles on this seinen anime list interesting. For more anime articles, check out our related content below: