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A Lesson in Genres Part 1

Here’s a bonus drawing since it’s taken me so long to get the blog before last up.

Okay, so maybe you already read manga, but are only familiar with a few genres.


Maybe you’re coming to manga for the first time and don’t get what all those funny names describing the comics are.

I’m going to break these down and explain what each one is, who’s the target audience, and give a couple examples of each. Because there’s so much to tackle, I’m going to split this into two parts. Please be sure to join me for both parts! I’ll have a special drawing for both! 😛

Part 1 covers:

  • Bishoujo
  • Bishounen
  • Doujinshi
  • Ecchi
  • Gekiga
  • Harem
    • Reverse Harem
  • Hentai
  • Josei

Part 2 covers:

  • Kodomo
  • Lolicon
  • Moe
  • Seinen
  • Shotacon
  • Shoujo
    • Shoujo Ai
  • Shounen
    • Shounen Ai
  • Yaoi
  • Yuri


Pronounced: bee*shyo*jyo

*This is technically not a genre. It’s a drawings style that is sometimes confused with manga genres*

Kinda confusing, since things change as they enter new cultures and changes occur over the span of time within its own culture. In Japan, bishoujo is actually targeted at a male audience…the characters are petite and cute. But this changes in our dynamic (in the U.S.)

When you hear someone call a series “bishoujo,” in our culture, it’s a mistaken “genre” aimed at girls, and basically means “pretty girl.” The drawing style is very flowery, thinner lines as well. In most male targeted mangas, the lines are much thicker. In bishoujo, the lines are more elegantly drawn, and there’s often times extreme detail. It’s all very cutsie–kinda like some of the special “Act” drawings found in Pretty Seishi Sailor Moon (this series may have helped spawn the misconception of bishoujo being a genre.) Bishoujo often revolves around a romantic story line, or at least has some romance in it. This is related to shoujo, manga targeted at girls.

Example of bishoujo:

  1. Sailor Moon
  2. Sugar Sugar Rune
  3. Magic Knight Ray Earth (Series I and II)


Pronounced: bee*shyo*nay*n

*This is technically not a genre. It’s a drawings style that is sometimes confused with manga genres*

The term bishounen originally dates back to the Meiji period, where it was used to describe extremely pretty pre-adolescent boys, often times involved in homosexual relations. It’s since evolved to take on handsome, girl-like boys. A good example of a bishounen would be Nuriko from Fushigi Yuugi, or even Lord Cain from Godchild.

Today, bishounen boys are often the target of young girls and female readers. There are bishounen girls in this style of drawing: these characters are long limbed and more appealing than the bishoujo characters. A good way to distiguish the difference is to compare the characters of Rg Veda (looks bishounen)  with those of Magic Knight Ray Earth (more bishoujo.)

Example of bishounen style:

  1. Godchild
  2. Saiyuki (all series)
  3. Ouran High School Host Club


Pronounced: do*jeen*shee

Doujinshi is usually defined as fan fiction, or fiction based off of official manga and anime. It also refers to small independent publishers–occationally, big name mangaka will publish something off a small press, but this term generally denotes stories based on popular works.

Example of Doujinshi:

  1. Juvinalia (ha ha, Harry Potter Doujinshi)
  2. Omokage (Kyo Kara Maou Doujinshi)
  3. Dark Horse (shameless self-promotion. Boo-ya!)


Pronounced: aay*che

Edited this out, because I’m not comfortable discussing this genre. The Internet exists. You can look it up.


Pronounced: gay*key*ga

This is a genre that’s not done quite as much anymore, but still does exist. It’s definitely for older readers, as it’s more literary and deals with serious subjects, and often times mature content like extreme violence and sex. It’s not too bad, I’ve looked at some mangas in this genres. It saw it’s hay-day in the 1970s and 1980s, but was actually started in the 1960s. The drawing style varies from very realistic, to, well, I don’t know how else to put it other than, you know, like 80s manga. Check these titles out and you’ll get the idea of what gekiga is. I personally like Crying Freeman. The others I haven’t ever read.

Example of gekiga:

  1. Golgo 13
  2. Crying Freeman
  3. MW


Pronounced: Uh…yeah, you should know this one. If not, good luck.

Ahhhh, the harem genre. This genre is very popular…amongst guys. Usually because that’s what harem is about, but there are “reverse harem” genres, which I’ll get to in a minute. Well, it’s almost self-explanatory, but if I left it to that, then I wouldn’t be doing my job here. A harem manga involves a guy who is usually surrounded by women–most of which want him. It doesn’t have to be a whole slew of women, it could be just two angling for the same guy, but the premise here is to have one guy, with many female “suitors” (I’m not gonna lie, I forgot the female word for suitor. So I’m just using that. Sorry!)

Example of harem:

  1. Love Hina
  2. Tenchi Muyo!
  • Reverse Harem

    It’s just as it sounds, it’s the opposite of a typical harem where the guy’s the target of everyone’s love. Nope, here, you’ve got a lucky lady and a tons of hot mens chasing after her. Need I say more?

    Example of Reverse Harem:

    1. Fushigi Yûgi (this is technically a “shoujo,” but it has the right elements for reverse harem.)
    2. Iono-sama Fanatics (see also “yuri”)


Pronounced: hen*ta ee

Oooo this is the naughty section. Here’s a warning if you’re reading my blog and you’re under the age of 18–don’t go into the “dirty” links. They aren’t meant for you, and you’ll get in trouble if you go there. Not from me, but from the Powers that Be. Whoever, whatever they are. I’m not resonsible if someone goes there now, since I don’t condone the underage clicking my hentai links. Got it? Okay, let’s move on.

Hentai is manga who’s main focus is sexual intercourse. Whether it is normal sex, or you know, a naked Alice in Wonderland sitting on a chair with a boner–I kid you not. I read the damn thing, then went back and wondered “why did I waste my time here?” There’s good hentai with a story line, and then there’s just sex after sex after sex. At any rate, these are explicit manga that show extreme detail. Some are more detailed than others, but they all show sex in some form or another.

Example of hentai *final warning* explicit content:

  1. Dolls (D-N-Gray man doujinshi)
  2. Dragon Pink


Pronounced: jyo*say

So we in the States don’t usually differentiate between shoujo and josei, or shounen and seinen. But in Japan, manga that’s targeted at an older age group, is called josei for women, and seinen for men. Josei tends to deal with more mature subjects and situations than shoujo. It’s more realistic and sometimes has explicit content. It has situations that tend to play out more like real-life, and it revolves around subjects that tend to interest older chicks.

Example of josei:

  1. Pink Lady
  2. Gokusen
  3. Ōoku

Posted in All You Need to know about Manga, Blog: Cerulean Sessions.

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