Anime and manga are indeed unique. They have evolved so much that viewers see drastic differences from both cartoon and comics. On top of obvious visual differences, there are many storytelling differences, especially when it comes to genres. Here’re six genres common in the anime and manga world that we can’t find elsewhere:
Mahou Shoujo (Magical Girls)
Magic may be common in the fantasy genre, but I find Mahou Shoujo unique to anime/manga world. With magic powers to save the world, young magical girls often stay undercover as ordinary students, until the world needs them – that’s when they transform into striking outfits. The transformation and demonstration of power are really visual, and that’s key to the Mahou Shoujo genre, which was made popular by Sailor Moon.
Notable mentions: Sailor Moon, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Cardcaptor Sakura, Shugo Chara!
Harem / Reverse-Harem
Harem refers to stories with male protagonist who attract all notable female characters. Reverse-Harem is the genre swap. As the genre plays to viewers’ fantasy to being surrounded by suitors, the protagonist are modelled as neutral (or you can say bland) as possible so that anyone can step into the shoes of the protagonist.
Notable mentions: School Days, Ouran High School Host Club, Date A Life, Love Hina, Fushigi Yuugi
The game genre has been around for ages, but only become mainstream-popular in recent years due to the commercial (not critical) success of Sword Art Online. Stories in this genre are set within the game world, or even in multiplayer game world in the MMO sub-genre. Characters have to win the game in order to achieve their goal – which often is to survive or get out of the game world that they are trapped in.
Notable mentions: Sword Art Online, .hack, No Game No Life, Log Horizon
Trying to explain ‘ecchi’ to a non-anime watcher is like trying to explain ‘moe’: it’s strenuous. ‘Ecchi’ refers to anime with playful sexual actions – but not crossing the line to become ‘hentai’. No, it’s not soft-porn. It’s a little naughty but it stops there. ‘Ecchi’ is often a secondary genre not a primary one that moves the plot.
Notable mentions: Prison School, Shogeki no Souma, Bakemonogatari
Mecha can be described as a sub-genre to science fiction, and it features giant robots or machines controlled by people sitting inside the cockpit. No, don’t call the robots ‘robots’ in front of the fans, since they are different. More often than not, mecha is a symbolism of the fight for freedom in many series. Many mecha also can transform into planes, but their sizes vary greatly by series.
Notable mentions: Gundam, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Neon Evangelion Evangelion, Macross Frontier
Yaoi / Yuri
Yaoi refers to stories where male characters fall in love, while yuri are for female characters that fall in love. The key difference between these are stories geared towards LGBT community in the west is that the Japanese stories are usually catered to the opposite sex. Yes, in fact female otaku that are fanatical about yaoi genre are called ‘fujoshi’.
Notable mentions: Maria-sama ga miteiru, Junjou Romantica, Strawberry Panic, Loveless
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