Encyclopedia

What Is Seinen?

Seinen (青年) is a manga genre read by the young adult male audience. Readers range from high school students to working-class employees. The average age of seinen manga readers is 18 to 40 years old. Seinen series can be found in publications related with topics like “mania and moe”.

Seinen manga often gets mixed with other manga genres. The definition of shonen genre is so vague, it gets compared with manga for younger children. It is easy to distinguish shojo manga because of its target demographic. The youth reads manga series with unisex themes. This allows unisex-themed manga to have more female readers. Yet, publishers still had to label their manga whether it’s for children or not. Factors like art style and plot themes make it more difficult to categorize seinen. Seinen manga may include sexual content, yet it distances itself from adult manga. Some of the iconic seinen manga over the decades are JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, Ghost in the Shell, Berserk, Oh My Goddess, K-ON!, and Mushishi.

 

Etymology

The kanji 青年 comprises of two kanji: 青 (sei) or young/fresh/blue, and 年 (nen) or year/age. It is based on the same Chinese term “qīngnián” or adolescent/young adult. Seinen may have a close meaning with shonen but the context is different.

 

Brief History

Weekly Manga Times is one of Japan’s earliest weekly manga magazines. First released in 1956, it publishes new chapters every Friday. Every cover often features illustrated paintings of young ladies. Sometimes they show main protagonists from their serialized manga series. The original target demography of Weekly Manga Times were middle-aged male readers. Some of the common themes in Weekly Manga Times are about erotica and the life of yakuza.

Other seinen manga magazines like Weekly Young Magazine have images of scantily-clad gravure idols to attract older and mature readers. The other manga magazine published along with Weekly Manga Times were Weekly Shonen Magazine and Weekly Shonen Sunday.

Other manga magazine companies followed suit on publishing diverse stories. Classic manga series for younger men such as Lupin III, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Crayon Shin-Chan were published in Weekly Manga Action. In 1968, Big Comics published Golgo 13, one of the most famous seinen manga in the industry. Big Comics Original published Tsuribaka Nisshi in 1972, which eventually turned into a movie franchise.

Shueisha joined the seinen manga publishing scene in 1979. They created Weekly Young Jump that features more serious, daring, and intense stories compared to Weekly Shonen Jump. It is successful enough to launch several seinen manga titles in various media formats. Some of the stories have been adapted into live-action series such as Gantz and Tokyo Ghoul.

 

Seinen in Modern Times

The topics and stories in seinen manga are very diverse compared with shonen manga. This includes cartoonish mischief, historical adventures, interpersonal relationships, grotesque violence, slice of life, grim and serious tone, more realistic and grounded premise, taboo ideas and so much more. Having deeper themes and stories mean that manga does not only cater to children and teenagers. Seinen manga accommodates a larger audience despite the age restrictions. Readers can enjoy topics beyond the scopes of shonen manga.

 

Seinen titles in the Manga Planet Library

My Favorite Carrera EV by Kia Asamiya

Seinen - My Favorite Carrera EV

22-year-old Reina Todoroki inherits her father’s bright pink Porsche Carrera RS upon his sudden death. She knows practically nothing about this Porsche, much less how to drive them! Reina wants to honor her father’s memory through the car he’d taken care of in his final years, but first she has to learn how to drive stick…

 

Hoshi Demitasse by Yusu Matsumoto

Seinen - Hoshi DemitasseThis collection of Twitter-famous self-contained yonkoma (four panel manga) is available in English for the first time! Always ridiculous, always irreverent, and sometimes flat out raunchy, each punchline reminds us that hey, life isn’t that bad after all…until when it is. But we can still laugh at it!

 

Inugami Kai by Masaya Hokazono

Seinen - Inugami KaiA story of a dog and a boy but not in the ways one may think. The only things the dog Inugami knows about himself and his past are his abilities to heal quickly, grow blades from his back, and that someone somewhere once told him to watch over humanity. Being surrounded by humans who yearn to capture his powers for their own ulterior motives makes him question what use there is in protecting such a terrible species…until he stumbles upon the young man Fumiki in an abandoned building and becomes his friend.

 

GAIRA – Confidential Records of Mythical Beasts by Syufo Itahashi

Seinen - GAIRAIn an alternate 2019, against the backdrop of Kyoto, the Culture Capital, Mobile Warrior Monks, JSDF Special Forces Group members and mad scientists alike are all in search of the mysterious Gaira Factor, sealed away in an underground temple. Only the Gaira Six Poets, a group of genetically enhanced humans led by “pipe walker” Zenkyo, can have a chance of standing in their way. A futuristic cult classic predating the cyberpunk boom in Japan!

 

Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft and Satoshi Ogawa

Seinen - Call of CthulhuPh’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn – “In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.” This Monthly Horror Magazine fan favorite is based on the cosmic horror Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft. Main stories like The Call of Cthulhu and The Dunwich Horror are adapted into manga by Satoshi Ogawa, the genius representing Japanese science fiction to the world!

 

References:
Pixiv Encyclopedia, https://dic.pixiv.net/a/青年漫画, Retrieved 28 January 2020<\small>

 

What’s your favorite seinen manga? Tell us on our Twitter account @mangaplanet!

 

About Manga Planet: Read manga, support artists

In 2012, Manga Planet started as a joint project between Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. and FANTASISTA, INC. to research and explore the ways manga is read throughout the world. With the goal of bringing new manga to fans from all over the world and support artists and the industry, Manga Planet pushes for affordability and access to manga through a subscription based service.

Readers who subscribe to Manga Planet and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.mangaplanet.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.

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