As a real otaku, you have surely come across the term “Seinen” which qualify many well-known anime. But what is Seinen anime and what does the term “Seinen” mean?
Seinen anime is a genre or demographic that is aimed mainly at young adult men. This anime genre tends to be more mature than Shounen anime, which is aimed at little and teenage boys.
Besides, Seinen anime are often aired at later time slots. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion, recognized for its dark story, is considered Shônen anime because it aired at 6 pm time slot.
Also, sometimes Seinen anime are mistaken for shows that have a lot of violent scenes and a dark atmosphere, but this is wrong. Death Note is an example of anime that has such tone but is actually a shounen anime which its manga was running in a magazine aimed at young boys (Shounen Jump).
In a Seinen anime, you will see more attention to things like the plot, interactions between characters, character development, etc.
Mature Plots, Themes & Gray Morality in Seinen anime
What puts an anime series inside the Seinen category is its mature theme and plot, not just having a lot of violence. Imagine reading some of Dostoyevsky works in middle school, there are some little boys who can do it, but for most of them, they might be a little lost.
More often, in Seinen anime, we see conflicts that grow between people, nations or ethnic groups that don’t adopt the same moral point of view.
For example, one party may have kind intentions, but have procedures to accomplish them that lead to hurting innocents while another party may be trying to protect what we call “the common good”, but they are actually only doing so to preserve their personal interests.
However, it’s not always evident to choose which is the side we should be on, and more often, both sides are wrong.
This also involves characters who have larger moral complexities. The main protagonist may be an “antihero”, someone who lacks conventional heroic qualities like idealism, sense of justice and morality.
Philosophical Aspect of Seinen anime
Besides the complexity of the Seinen genre, which is a cornerstone in the Seinen universe, a lot of Seinen anime do have a philosophical aspect, in other terms, some philosophical questions, for example, that have answers which are open to interpretation.
Now, what makes a Seinen anime that heavy is up to your personal feeling, point of view and interpretation. Some people may be able to deal with the complex narrative themes and questions of a show like Koukaku Kidoutai from the onset.
However, most of us may need to re-watch many times the show and deal with written analysis to understand it. Mostly, this kind of series is more sophisticated and complex and need deeper reflections.
What is the best Seinen anime: Top 10 Seinen anime
Here is the Top 10 Seinen anime an anime fan can try out, according to MyAnimeList:
- 3-gatsu no Lion
- Vinland Saga
- Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai?: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
- Ping Pong the Animation
- Koukaku Kidoutai: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG
- Uchuu Kyoudai
- Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin
- Kenpuu Denki Berserk.
One important thing you have to remember is that some Seinen anime aspects can be found as well in other series like shounen anime.
Seinen doesn’t compulsorily mean darker or cleverer, it is generally more intricate than other anime aimed at a younger demographic, often with less idealism and more realism.
Let us know in the comments are what are your favorite Seinen anime. We hope you got and enjoyed all of our explanations! 😉