SEINEN vs SHONEN style anime: Meaning, examples and TOP 10

Have you ever wondered which is the best anime subgenre of them all? Clashes like Seinen vs Shonen or Seinen vs Josei are a frequent thing, and after all it makes sense: who doesn't want to know how popular or accepted their favorite subgenre is within the anime world?

If you are also interested to know which is the best one, you are in luck. In this post, we are going to find out.

Let’s go!

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Seinen vs Shonen: How do they differ?

Seinen is a type of anime aimed at an adult audience, usually men between the ages of 18 and 40

In theory, this anime has much more complex plots and they present situations and stories that may have a greater load of violence or eroticism.

The case of shonen is the extreme opposite: its audience is usually children and teenagers, and its plots are usually much more family-friendly, without overly marked sexual content or very violent or grotesque scenes. A very famous example is Naruto Ninja Uzumaki.

Although both tend to have stories with fairly similar plots, the intensity of the scenes and events in each of them are quite different.

Seinen: meaning and examples

"Seinen" means "adult" in English, which in this case defines the nature of this type of anime and its audience. It is a subgenre for adults that embarks upon stories with a mature tone.

If you still didn’t understand what seinen is and are still looking for examples to help you understand it better, we have three anime for you: One Punch Man, Berserk and Darker Than Black.

In the case of these three seinen anime, violence is explicit, and as far as Berserk is concerned, there are also significant segments of gore and sexual content. They are, therefore, anime that would only be appropriate for adults.

It is usual to stumble upon comparisons such as seinen vs wakamono, however people still confuse them. Wakamono is a term the Japanese also use to refer to an adult male, but seinen is the word used for the subgenre of anime dedicated to men.

Seinen and josei: What distinguishes them?

While seinen is the type of anime made for young adult men, josei targets young women. 

Seinen generally deals with stories of adventure, fantasy or action, with a significant amount of violence. Josei aims to be more realistic and depicts dramas of everyday life, with protagonists who are almost always women, so excessive violence doesn’t take place.

Seinen vs josei

Where we could find more differences between two subgenre of anime is in seinen vs josei. One subgenre, the josei, focuses on the daily life of a young woman, and another depicts events that are almost always heavily laden with violence and fantasy.

Seinen manga vs shounen

In theory, both subgenres deal with very similar stories: adventures, a hero overcoming his weaknesses, and lots of action. But what changes is the intensity: seinen manga is much more intense and depicts more mature themes than shounen, which is oriented towards children and teenagers.

Seinen vs shoujo

Shoujo is a type of anime that is aimed at girls, although it is also popular with adult women. Its stories tend to be much lighter than those of seinen, and revolve around romance or day-to-day events. 

There are considerable differences between seinen and shoujo, both plot-wise and in terms of intensity and tone. No shoujo will have the dose of violence that a seinen could have. 

Top 10 best seinen

Now that it's clear what differentiates seinen from other major subgenres, it's time to talk about the best seinen; those that have marked the history of anime and influenced pop culture forever.

10. Gantz

Gantz is a must in this seinen top. An anime that combines both action and horror with violence. It revolves around a group of people who die in suspicious accidents. All of them then wake up in an apartment with a large black sphere around them: Gantz, who assigns them missions. 

Their prize? They will get their lives back.

Its scenes full of violence and nudity made many countries around the world decide to censor it.

gantz seinen

9. Fate/Zero

Fate/Zero is an anime adaptation of a light novel by Gen Urobuchi. Its story recounts the events leading up to the 4th Holy Grail War, a powerful ritual that grants any wish to those who engage in it. 

This seinen, which is quite intense, features a protagonist with very cold blood.

8. Death Parade

Death Parade could be considered one of the best psychological seinen anime. It revolves around a place, like the limbo, where people go when they die to undergo mind games that define whether they should go to hell or paradise. 

7. Darker Than Black

Darker Than Black is an anime that strings together action and supernatural events. It tells the story of a paranormal event that takes place at the same time in Japan and Latin America. This event turns areas of these regions into what is known as Hell's Gate and Heaven's Gate, places that grant special powers to those affected by them.

darker than black

6. Death Note

Death Note is another great psychological seinen anime with paranormal, suspense and mystery nuances. It tells the story of Light Yagami, a high school student who one day stumbles upon a very special notebook. Light soon discovers that by writing a person's name in the notebook, that person will die.

5. One Punch Man

One Punch Man deserves its place in this seinen top for many reasons, one of them being the way it rethinks the hero figure while satirizing the commonplaces of anime. 

Its protagonist, Saitama, is a mediocre superhero who has so much power that he can take out any enemy with a single blow. This leads him to a state of permanent boredom, because no matter what opponent he faces, he will always win.

4. Cowboy Bebop

This anime is recognized as one of the great gems of anime. Cowboy Bebop tells the story of a group of bounty hunters in 2071. This is a series loaded with philosophical elements, which questions and criticizes reality in a crude way, through its dystopian events, and characters marked by tragedy and conflict.

3. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is undoubtedly one of the best seinen anime that exists due to its particular aesthetics, which distinguishes it from other similar series. Even the comic exaggeration of his characters is dramatically combined with the violence of his scenes. 

It tells the story of the Joestar family and their confrontation with the forces of darkness with their incredible arsenal of powers. A plot that sounds like any other modern-day shounen, but actually takes a lot more risks with the violence and themes it presents.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

2. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion almost tops this top of best seinen anime, and for good reasons. It is one of the seinen series that has had more impact and influence in the anime genre. 

It revolves around the confrontation between humanity, with the NERV group spearheading their military efforts and an unknown species simply known as Los Angeles. To confront them, NERV employs the Evangelion, giant Mecha and humanoids.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the quintessential psychological seinen anime, with a plot that becomes exponentially more complex as the series progresses.

1. Berserk

The magnum opus of master Kentauro Miura: his manga had so much detail and such a convoluted story that each volume involved years of work. The adaptation brought the story back to life, and although it didn't do it all the justice it could, it was enough to make it one of the best seinen anime ever.

Characterized by dark and epic fantasy, Berserk revolves around the raw story of Guts, and his work as a hunter of demonic beings. The harsh living conditions of Guts and the brutality of the world they live in make it one of the most mature and strongest themed seinen we could get.

Where are seinen published? 

Seinen are published in many different media, the most renowned of which are Weekly Young Magazine, Big Comic Original and Weekly Young Jump. 

In these magazines you get the best seinen of 2021, and any other of preceding years. And that's where you can get the best seinen of 2022, so you'll want to keep an eye out for their releases if you're passionate about this subgenre of anime.

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