What is Seinen?
Seinen is a genre of manga that is aimed at an older male audience. In the Japanese language, Seinen means “young man”, with the female equivalent being the Josei genre. Despite the direct translation of the term, Seinen can also be aimed at an even older audience.
Seinen manga differs from Shonen in one main aspect: the emphasis on realism. Seinen manga typically has a wider variety of art styles and more variation in subject matter, from simple romantic comedy to the gory and pornographic. In the Western world of manga, Seinen is generally seen to be having more mature themes and grittiness, even though that may not necessarily be the case. With more and more manga titles being translated into English, more Seinen manga is making its way into the mainstream alongside more popular Shonen/Shoujo titles. Without further ado, here’s list of some of my favourites (in alphabetic order, not by rank). If you have any other suggestions, feel free to comment!
Genres: Seinen, Drama, Board Games, Slice of Life
Genres: Seinen, Drama, Romance, School Life, Psychological
Kasuga Takao is a boy who loves reading books, particularly Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. A girl at his school, Saeki Nanako, is his muse and his Venus, and he admires her from a distance. One day, he forgets his copy of Les Fleurs du Mal in the classroom and runs back alone to pick it up. In the classroom, he finds not only his book, but Saeki’s gym uniform. On a mad impulse, he steals it.
Now everyone knows “some pervert” stole Saeki’s uniform, and Kasuga is dying with shame and guilt. Furthermore, the weird, creepy, and friendless girl of the class, Nakamura, saw him take the uniform. Instead of revealing it was him, she recognizes his kindred deviant spirit and uses her knowledge to take control of his life. Will it be possible for Kasuga to get closer to Saeki, despite Nakamura’s meddling and his dark secret? What exactly does Nakamura intend to do with him?
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Seinen
The story of the Sasakura Ryu and Eden Hall, a small cocktail bar in the Chiba area of Tokyo, where troubled customers come for the “glass of the gods,” which with Ryu’s assistance helps them to resolve their often highly emotional problems.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Demons, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
Guts, a former mercenary now known as the “Black Swordsman,” is out for revenge. After a tumultuous childhood, he finally finds someone he respects and believes he can trust, only to have everything fall apart when this person takes away everything important to Guts for the purpose of fulfilling his own desires. Now marked for death, Guts becomes condemned to a fate in which he is relentlessly pursued by demonic beings.
Setting out on a dreadful quest riddled with misfortune, Guts, armed with a massive sword and monstrous strength, will let nothing stop him, not even death itself, until he is finally able to take the head of the one who stripped him—and his loved one—of their humanity.
Genres: Mystery, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
Satoru Fujinuma is a 29-year-old who works part-time as a pizza deliveryman in order to make ends meet due to his unsuccessful career as a mangaka. But there is more to this struggling adult than meets the eye, as he possesses a mysterious ability which takes him back in time right before a life-threatening incident occurs. When “Revival,” as he calls it, triggers, it will continue to send him back again and again until he is able to save the lives of the individuals involved.
But Satoru’s life is about to take a turn for the worse when a loved one is killed by an unknown man and he is framed for the crime. Desperate to get away so that he can assess his situation, he is inexplicably sent 18 years into the past—right before the disappearance and death of his classmate, Kayo Hinazuki, an event that has plagued him since childhood.
Satoru, now an elementary school student, must get his wits together and save the young girl from an untimely demise by figuring out the identity of the person responsible. But just how is Kayo’s murder connected to the present?
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen
by Q HayashidaGenre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Seinen
Genres: Action, Drama, Ecchi, Horror, Sci-fi, Supernatural, Psychological, Seinen
When Kei Kurono is killed, he thus finds himself caught in such a game; a test of his skills, morals and will to survive. His life is not his own, his death spat and trampled upon over and over again. What happens if he does not listen? God knows.
A word of warning: Gantz is not for the faint-hearted, but neither is it as simple as it looks. Gore, rape and violence is rampant, as are portrayals of greed, violence, and all the ugliness that one sees in society today.
Genres: Action, Martial Arts, Psychological, Seinen
Genres: Drama, Horror, Psychological, Seinen
Insecure 35-year-old Hideo Suzuki is forced to work as a mangaka’s assistant when his own series fails due to low sales. As he struggles through a mundane life plagued by hallucinations, he comes to realize that his relationship with his girlfriend isn’t that great, suspecting that she may be cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend. After confronting her about the possible affair, however, Hideo feels bad about his inquisition and decides to visit her house to apologize.
But the world as he knows is about to be overturned. At first, not much seems to have changed, but he soon realizes that society has become a living nightmare, as the horrifying reality of what is taking place around him finally begins to sink in.
Genres: Action, Drama, Historical, Military, Seinen
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen
Genres: Mystery, Drama, Psychology, Seinen
Genres: Mystery, Fantasy, Historical, Supernatural, Seinen
This is, however, just a vague definition of these entities that inhabit the vibrant world of Mushishi, as to even call them a form of life would be an oversimplification. Detailed information on mushi is scarce because the majority of humans are unaware of their existence.
So what are mushi and why do they exist? This is the question that a “Mushishi,” Ginko, ponders constantly. Mushishi are those who research mushi in hopes of understanding their place in the world’s hierarchy of life.
Ginko relentlessly chases rumors of occurrences that could be tied to mushi, all for the sake of finding an answer.
It could, after all, lead to the meaning of life itself.
Genres: Drama, School Life, Psychological, Seinen
Kakeru Kurosawa is an antisocial junior high school student. He rarely associates with his classmates, and he looks down on them. But this behavior is topped off by a certain bad habit, his closely guarded secret: every day after school, he sneaks in to the rarely used girls’ toilet on the 3rd floor and masturbates in a stall.
Kakeru’s shadowy routine remains undisturbed until one day, when a diminutive girl from his class, Aya Kitahara, almost discovers him. Their meeting begins a coming-of-age story dealing with blackmail, bullying, revenge, heartbreak and ultimately, redemption.
Genres: Drama, Historical, Romance, Seinen
A Bride’s Story tells the tale of a beautiful young bride in nineteenth-century Asia. At the age of twenty, Amir is sent to a neighboring town to be wed. But her surprise at learning her new husband, Karluk, is eight years younger than her is quickly replaced by a deep affection for the boy and his family. Though she hails from just beyond the mountains, Amir’s clan had very different customs, foods, and clothes from what Karluk is used to. As the two of them learn more about each other through their day-to-day lives, the bond of respect and love grows stronger.
(Source: Yen Press)
Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Psychological, Seinen
Punpun Onodera is a normal 11-year-old boy living in Japan. Hopelessly idealistic and romantic, Punpun begins to see his life take a subtle—though nonetheless startling—turn to the adult when he meets the new girl in his class, Aiko Tanaka. It is then that the quiet boy learns just how fickle maintaining a relationship can be, and the surmounting difficulties of transitioning from a naïve boyhood to a convoluted adulthood. When his father assaults his mother one night, Punpun realizes another thing: those whom he looked up to were not as impressive as he once thought.
As his problems increase, Punpun’s once shy demeanor turns into voluntary reclusiveness. Rather than curing him of his problems and conflicting emotions, this merely intensifies them, sending him down the dark path of maturity in this grim coming-of-age saga.
Genres: Drama, Sci-fi, Slice of Life, Seinen, Psychology
Genres: Drama, Sports, Psychological, Seinen
Tomomi Nomiya, former captain of his high school’s basketball team turned delinquent, decides to drop out of school after he is crushed by the guilt of ruining a young girl’s life in a traffic accident. As he dedicates his free time to helping her, he stumbles upon Kiyoharu Togawa, a former sprinter who has lost the use of his right leg and now plays wheelchair basketball as an alternate outlet.
After challenging Kiyoharu to a one-on-one game, Tomomi is completely defeated. Inspired by this encounter, he realizes that he can’t let his love for basketball die so easily and decides that he will do what he can to help others while striving to become a professional player. Meanwhile, Hisanobu Takahashi, Tomomi’s replacement as the high school’s team captain, gets into an accident and finds himself permanently paralyzed below the waist. Real tells the touching tale of these three young men as they struggle to overcome their disabilities and inner conflicts in order to achieve their dreams while igniting a passion that will bring them together.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Seinen, Historical
In 16th century Japan, Shinmen Takezou is a wild, rough young man, in both his appearance and his actions. His aggressive nature has won him the collective reproach and fear of his village, leading him and his best friend, Matahachi Honiden, to run away in search of something grander than provincial life. The pair enlist in the Toyotomi army, yearning for glory—but when the Toyotomi suffer a crushing defeat at the hands of the Tokugawa Clan at the Battle of Sekigahara, the friends barely make it out alive.
After the two are separated, Shinmen returns home on a self-appointed mission to notify the Hon’iden family of Matahachi’s survival. He instead finds himself a wanted criminal, framed for his friend’s supposed murder based on his history of violence. Upon being captured, he is strung up on a tree and left to die. An itinerant monk, the distinguished Takuan Soho, takes pity on the “devil child,” secretly freeing Shinmen and christening him with a new name to avoid pursuit by the authorities: Musashi Miyamoto.
Vagabond is the fictitious retelling of the life of one of Japan’s most renowned swordsmen, the “Sword Saint” Musashi Miyamoto—his rise from a swordsman with no desire other than to become “Invincible Under the Heavens” to an enlightened warrior who slowly learns of the importance of close friends, self-reflection, and life itself.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Historical, Seinen
by Sumomo YumekaGenres: Drama, Music, Romance, Slice of Life, Psychological, Seinen
They wanted to die for their own reasons.
Juri Mutou is the daughter of a once-famous pianist whose career came to an end after giving birth to her. After a traumatic event she experienced as a teenager, Juri has attempted suicide three times and has come to hate her mother. With her life clouded due to a dark past, her aunt Monica, a member of the clergy, invites her to visit a convict sentenced to death.
Yuu is a death row inmate charged with murdering three people, leading to many attempts at ending his own life within his jail cell. He frequently receives letters from Monica, who hopes to help him, but sees this as as an act of pity. But when Yuu decides to meet Monica to say that he wants her to stop sending letters, he encounters Juri, a meeting that would change both of their lives.
by Hitoshi AshinanoGenres: Drama, Sci-fi, Slice of Life, Seinen
The story is set in future Japan, in which the sea level has risen and flooded many of the coastal areas and Mt. Fuji has erupted within living memory. The population has been considerably reduced and political and technological institutions have broken-down. Local communities have become nations and telephone and television no longer exist (although coffee vending machines and streetlights stubbornly continue to work). There are strange new animals and plants (like flying fish and glowing streetlight trees).
The remaining people have adopted a slower-paced, simpler way of life and rely more on each other. Along with the human population are some intelligent, humanoid robots. One of the robots, a female named Alpha, runs a café by the same name in the country outside of what remains of Yokohama. With her trusty motor scooter and her camera she travels around the area making friends with the humans and robots, having new experiences and observing the passage of time.