The world of cartoon And story divided into demographics, the most common of which are shounen and seinen. For the most part, it is dominated by shounen series, which are usually anime and action manga focused primarily on a young male audience. That includes popular hits like Dragon Ball Z, and even something one might not expect, like Death Note. However, there are also anime and manga aimed at an older audience, and that genre is called seinen.
What exactly is a seinen? “Seinen” is media geared towards older males, such as those in their teens and twenties. The older genre has seen some impressive depth with the types of stories featured. wrote and illustrated it, including stories such as Berserk and the Vinland Saga. In general, these series tend to have older, clearer protagonists and deal with darker themes, although they don’t have to be. The only real requirement to being a seinen is to cater to that male audience, and as such, there’s still a welcome degree of diversity here. Here are ten of the absolute best seinen series out there, offering great starting points for this diverse and underappreciated genre.
10 Brilliant Lands
Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa is a beautiful and creative fantasy seinen manga. As eye-catching as Ichikawa’s expressive art style is, the series also doesn’t delve into the plot. The story follows Phos, a member of a anthropomorphic jewel-like creature considered weak by his fellow humans in their war against the Lunaris, who seek to hunt them down for their jewels’ value.
However, as the story progresses, Phos discovers that their power comes at a cruel price. These revelations gradually unfolded in a shocking way, and the CG anime adaptation of Land of the Lustrous received particular praise for accomplishing the rare feat of creating exceptionally worthy 3D animation. Worthy of one of the best seinen manga out there.
9 Boys of the 20th century
Although he is more famous for his work Monster (also on this list), Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys is another brilliant seinen effort by the writer/artist. Urasawa is known for threading equally complex and intriguing mysteries at the core of his stories, and 20th Century Boys does it with a sci-fi twist. The plot follows an ordinary convenience store manager, named Kenji Endo, who begins to feel suspicious about the death of a childhood friend and a growing dangerous new cult. From there, 20th Century Boys turns into a tense psychological thriller and plot that easily ranks among the best seinen series.
With a genre somewhat similar to the Vinland Saga, Yasuhisa Hara’s Kingdom is an equally critically acclaimed historical novel and seinen drama. Kingdom’s length and success make it a rival to One Piece, but in a very different context. Its story is a fictionalized version of the Warring States period in China, during the fifth century BC. Kingdom uses this setting to follow a war orphan named Xin, who is on a grand quest to become the world’s greatest general and plans to unify China in the process. This. The seinen manga has been in circulation since 2006, and it has been critically acclaimed for maintaining a thrilling story throughout thanks to its engaging characters and outstanding expressive artwork across 64 volumes and longer. continue to increase.
7 Vinland Story
Although 2019 was a long year for anime with works like Demon Slayer, Attack on Titan season 3, etc., Vinland Saga still became one of the best series of the year. Makoto Yukimura’s original manga is a sweeping Viking epic, with its story evolving into a philosophically and emotionally resonating journey of self-discovery for Thorfinn that explores themes of redemption, the aftermath of war, and growing vengeance in the past. This seinen manga is a consistently gripping historical fiction that can tell immersive, character-driven stories without any fantasy wraps. The strong reception for the first anime season of Vinland Saga has ensured that the second season will premiere in 2023 and it has earned a spot among the best anime of recent times.
6 Big Blue
High-octane and fantasy action will always get a lot of attention, but Kenji Inoue and Kimitake Yoshioka’s Grand Blue is a welcome change. This is a coming-of-age/life seinen comedy that revolves around university student Iori Kitahara. He looks forward to starting this new phase in his life, staying in a room above his uncle’s wetsuit shop. Iori tries to stay away from the antics of the diving club there, who prefer to party rather than dive, but ends up getting caught up in the group’s feats and learning more about how to dive through the people. his cousins. It has become a fan favorite when it comes to life-genre seinen manga, with an anime adaptation by studio Zero-G also receiving strong reception.
5 Goodnight Punpun
Inio Asano’s Goodnight Punpun follows the life of an 11-year-old boy named Punpun Onodera as he confronts the complexities of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This is another grounded life seinen manga, but it’s one that takes a darker and more dramatic approach. Punpun is initially a naive romantic with preconceived notions about what romance is like, and he eventually discovers the intricacies of not only keeping relationships together, but also the the faint side of the people he once admired. Punpun realizes this after witnessing his father assaulting his mother, sending him into a terrifying recluse. Goodnight Punpun has been praised as a gripping teen drama that explores dark psychological themes and social commentary, securing its place among the best seinen manga.
Naoki Urasawa’s Monster is one of the few popular seinen manga that could justify a live-action adaptation, if HBO is interested in it. This is one of the best and most grounded seinen manga out there, telling a gritty and gripping crime drama story that could be considered the premise for a series like True Detective. Monster is about Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese doctor who works and lives in Germany. His life first began to fall apart when he refused surgery on a political official in favor of a child in critical condition. Years later, things start to unravel, as that boy returns as an elusive psychopathic serial killer. As a gripping crime thriller, the anime adaptation of Monster is still considered one of the best seinen anime ever produced.
Vagabond is one of those manga series that arguably couldn’t be adapted in a way worthy of the work of writer/artist Takehiko Inoue. In addition to telling a deep and character-driven story, Inoue can be put on the same pedestal as the late, great Berserk Kentaro Miura when it comes to his artwork. Vagabond chronicles the fictional story of ronin Musashi Miyamoto on his journey to become “the strongest under the sun”. He earned such an intimidating reputation, but he began to discover that such a title was not the key to feeling complete. Unfortunately, Vagabond is still unfinished, but the storyboard for Inoue’s ending has been released online, which should provide some ending to one of the best seinen manga ever written.
2 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Steel Ball Run
When it comes to popularity, Hirohiko Araki’s colorful and stylish JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has to take first place. It’s one of the most vibrant and innovative comics ever, with the series becoming even more popular with Stands’ iconic and ingenious invention. Still, prized as the cross-generational adventures of the Joestar lineage, Steel Ball Run remains top of mind for many veteran fans. The seventh season of this long-running manga rebooted the series, targeting older fans in the seinen group for the first time. Steel Ball Run takes everything back to the American Old West, where Gyro Zeppeli and Johnny Joestar enter the epic grand slam for $50 million. The JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure anime has excellent adaptations of the plot, but longtime fans are sure to salivate at the thought of the Steel Ball Run anime.
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While it may sound cliché, there’s also some merit to hearing Berserk being billed as the seinen manga equivalent of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels and HBO’s Game of Thrones adaptation. Unfortunately, the series’ creator Kentaro Miura passed away in 2021, but the series was taken over by his longtime friend and mangaka Kouji Mori. Miura will be greatly missed, but the late great writer/artist left an honorable legacy of putting one of the greatest dark fantasy manga ever written on paper. It’s filled with beautifully detailed art, intense battles, and dense fantasy world building.
It must also be said that the terrifying and exhausting scenes in the series are not for everyone to understand, but some of Berserk’s strong themes are about healing, letting go of the past and strength. Man’s absolute will power is endless. The personal journeys of Guts, Casca, and their colleagues have punished them, but the story of Berserk develops revenge on the past and becomes an inspiring tale of perseverance and indomitable hope, securing the top spot among the best seinen manga ever.
While these ten series stand out as the pinnacle of seinen manga, there are many others that almost deserve a spot on this list. Anime and manga fans who have only watched the shounen series should definitely give seinen manga a try, as many of the shounen bad habits aren’t here, making the seinen series feel much more fresh and original. There’s no better place to start than with one of these, the best seinen anime and manga ever.