Manga is a Medium, Not a Genre

In the course of my study of manga I learned many new terms. In my previous post I gave definitions for some of the Japanese words and manga terms which I encountered at the beginning of my research but here I would like to add the terms I encountered later to make a complete list of all the genres I learned about within the medium of manga.

Because of the focus on the audience and the characters in manga it is most useful to organize titles this way as well instead of focusing on the content of the story as we tend to do in Western literature.

In my annotated bibliography you will see that the first level of organization is the audience. The four most common categories for speaking about the intended audience are:

Shonen – Boy’s Manga

Shojo – Girl’s Manga

Sienen – Men’s Manga

Josei – Women’s Manga

There is also a category for young children where their youth not their gender is the focus; the term used for that is “Kodomomuke”.

The category of sexually explicit material for adults only is called “Seijin”. Within the Seijin category is “Hentai” which refers to materials which are not only explicit but also include specialized or bizarre fetishes.

genres of Manga

Popular Genres in Manga

Within the main audience groupings, manga is then divided by the topic. Of course, some topics tend to be more popular with certain reader groups than others but there does not seem to be much stigma resulting from reading manga “intended” for an audience other than that which the reader is a part.

Some of the most popular topics are:

Mecha –Robots: Robots, cyborgs, or machines play a large role in these stories.

Komono – Animals: The characters in these stories are anthropomorphized animals.

Kaito – Gentleman Thief: Stories about a well-breed thief, one who steals for the thrill or just to take away from the undeserving. Maurice LeBlanc’s Arsene Lupin is a model for many of these stories.

Haremumono – Harem: These aren’t always a sexual or even a romantic storyline, it just indicates that the central character is male surrounded by multiple, less important female characters.

Gyakuharemu – Reverse harem: Like Haremumono, only the main character is female and the subordinate characters are males.

Ecchi – Naughty: Stories involve a bit more sexualization then strictly needed for the plot line, but not so much as to be deemed inappropriate for kids. Think PG-13.

Ansatsuken or Satsujinken – Assassination Fist or Murder Fist: These are martial art manga, in which the main characters have (or learn) superior martial art skills to defeat their opponents.

Science Fiction


Fantasy and Adventure


Ryori – Food

Mahou Shojo – Magical girl


Sararimman – Salaryman: Stories about the lives of men who work in offices outside their homes.

Bara – homosexual men: These stories are also called “Men’s Love”, “ML”, “Shonen-ai”, or “Gei Comi”. They range from slice-of-life stories, to romances but sometimes includes blatant depictions of sexual acts.

Historical Fiction


Kyariauman – Career Woman: Stories depict the lives of women who have careers outside of their homes.

OLOffice Lady Manga: is about the lives of young women who work outside their homes, but plan to do so only until they have their own family.

Yaoi – Men who love other men: Usually these are romantic stories written by women, for women.

Yuri – Girl Love: Also termed “Shojo-ai”. These stories are about girls who have strong feelings for other girls. Usually these are more romantic than overtly sexual stories.

Mystery, Horror, Suspense



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