In this article, we will talk about the best seinen anime out there. Yes, you heard it right. We decided to make a seinen anime list because let’s face it. We all are used to shonen anime. In fact, some of the most famous anime ever are in the shonen category, like Naruto, Dragon Ball, and Bleach. Even if someone doesn’t really like anime, they probably have watched one of those during their childhood. However, seinen also has a great appeal. This is because it treats more mature themes and the characters go through more realistic problems.
In any case, we can’t start to talk about seinen anime without knowing what it is.
What is Seinen Anime?
The word “Seinen” is most used when talking about manga. However, people often use the concept to talk about anime too. Remember, manga and anime are related, and lots of manga get adapted to anime in a moment or another.
Seinen is dedicated to young adults, especially boys. This doesn’t mean that if you are not older than 18 or if you are a girl, you can’t read it. It’s just the way people classify manga in Japan. In any way, you have to know that it is directed to a more mature audience. The problems the characters face will not be resolved with the power of love, literally. For the plot, the themes will go beyond politics and psychological issues. Some seinen anime even talk about philosophical questions like why do we exist? Common philosophical themes include existentialism, utilitarianism, or consequentialism.
Don’t be surprised if the list of seinen anime we will show you have lots of violence.
In summary, there are some elements common in most seinen anime, and we will review them now.
What Are the Main Characteristics of a Seinen Anime?
Not every Seinen anime is the same, but some characteristics prevail, such as:
- More character development from the characters.
- There are no good or bad characters, just people doing their best.
- The plot will be darker than its shonen counterpart.
- Lots of these anime are set in a post-apocalyptic world or dystopian settings.
- These works deconstruct some typical tropes in shonen anime, giving you an original plot and unexpected twists.
- Some of them do not have a happy ending, so be prepared.
Now that you know what exactly is a seinen anime let’s get started!
Devilman Crybaby (2018)
This time, Netflix decides to pay tribute in the best possible way to the career path of Go Nagai in a 10-episode original series. He is the creator of works such as Mazinger Z or (the original) Devilman. If you’re old enough, you might remember that works like these were the ones that consolidated him as one of the most outstanding and influential mangakas in the industry. What is even more impressive; his work has been a source of inspiration for many other subsequent works like Berserk or Neon Genesis Evangelion.
This particular anime was directed by the great Masaaki Yuasa and also written by the famous Ichirō Ōkouchi. It premiered on the 5th of January in 2018, and as we said before, it’s available on Netflix.
In short, Devilman Crybaby tells about the threat of a race of demons that is planning to conquer the world of humans. The plot starts with high school student Akira Fudō, an introverted character with a big heart, and his best friend, Ryō Asuka, an extremely logical and apathetic boy.
Since the series started, as spectators, we can realize how different they are, and even the visuals make it clear to us: Akira wears black, and Ryo wears white.
The plot begins to develop after Ryo convinces Akira to go to a disturbing demonic party. At the party, everything goes remarkably wrong, and yes, the worst outcome you can think of happened: Akira became Devilman, a kind of demon that preserves, however, the student’s human soul.
Maybe the only disadvantage that Devilman Crybaby has, it’s that it’s not a series suitable for all audiences. This is in part because of:
- The high dose of violence it has.
- And finally, because of its type of animation. It’s exaggerated and colorful. When it premiered, some viewers considered it ugly or weird.
However, we think the dark plot makes it all worth it. The soundtrack is also amazing! So if you want a dark anime with good music and entertaining and original themes, you can give this anime a chance.
Gantz was created by Hiroya Oku and was adapted for an anime in two seasons by the GONZO studio.
This anime is a mix of action, horror, and science fiction. Although the Gantz anime does not cover the entire story of the manga, it is faithful to the original plot.
Now, what is this story about? The story is about Kei Kurono, a selfish and apathetic 15-year-old boy. While they are waiting for the train, he recognizes a childhood friend, Masaru Kato. Unlike Kurono, he is known for his friendly, gentle, and humble personality. He is also someone who is willing to help others. It all begins when an alcoholic man falls on the train tracks, and Masaru Kato does not hesitate to jump and try to get him out of danger. Because of our protagonist’s personality, when Masaru asks him for help, he agrees hesitantly. Since this is a seinen, and somehow the plot has to start, they do not accomplish their goal, being run over by the train along with the person they were trying to save.
That is one of the reasons we liked Gantz that much at first. How can both of the main characters die all of a sudden?
In any way, that’s just the beginning.
Suddenly, the two find themselves in the presence of Gantz. It’s a “black sphere” that will force them to be part of a violent, sadistic, and macabre game. Because of that, Gantz puts at their disposal a whole arsenal full of futuristic weapons. The worst part of it is that they need to learn to use it if they want to survive.
The anime has intense scenes that can easily disturb sensitive people. Besides, because of its nude scenes and bloody content, broadcast channels censored Gantz in some countries.
If you don’t mind it (or if you like gory animes,) this might be the one for you.
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (2016)
Also known as Erased, Satoru Fujinuma is a comic book creator. (The Japanese word for this is mangaka.) And he works in a pizzeria. It sounds pretty regular, but these two characteristics about him aren’t the central point of the anime. Satoru also has other abilities, like his immense capacity for deduction. But besides all of that, what actually makes this main character more interesting is his supernatural power to go back in time to avoid tragedies near him.
Satoru is tormented by this uncontrollable ability, and we can only try to understand him. He is constantly forced to relive small scenes all over again until he discovers what evil is about to happen and can stop it.
It all changes when a mysterious red-eyed assassin murders his mother. Only then, instead of happening how it always had and sending Satoru a few minutes back, he is sent 18 years into the past! He soon discovers the reason for his journey: he must prevent a series of abductions in 1988 that could be directly connected to the killer and his own present.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking. This plot isn’t exactly original. The butterfly effect is already a common trope in today’s media. However, Erased presents it in a unique way.
It’s exceptional how Satoru’s memory is worked with each time jump. Most of the time, when a character travels back in time, he remembers everything. In Erased, Satoru has memory bumps. He remembers specific moments but not the details (Just like everyone!) And that’s why he can be surprised again by things he has already experienced.
This anime got really popular when it aired but deflated on the way. However, you can always check it if you want to or if the synopsis catches your attention.
This is one of the top seinen anime ever. We don’t know how to start talking about Berserk without saying everything critics and anime fans have already said. Well, maybe one thing that’s worth saying once more: the manga is way better than the anime, and the anime does not do it justice.
Berserk is based on the manga written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura, belonging to the epic-fantasy genre. What fans all around the world loved (and still love!) about Berserk is how it is set in a dark fantasy world inspired by medieval Europe.
This is a good choice if you like “Game of Thrones” style stories. If you do, you can’t miss this great series that captivated many people. We could say Berserk is a good anime to enter the anime world because of how “Western-friendly” it is.
However, the blood and gore make us take it back. Manga and anime adaptations are notorious for their use of graphic violence content. It is not an anime for everyone, but still, it has gained and maintained a fanbase over the years.
What is this story about? Guts is a mercenary with a dark past. His character design is astounding; he has a huge sword three times bigger than a normal one. It seems his only goal in life is to kill demons, all until one exact morning, he is forced to be part of a band of mercenaries known as “the Band of the Hawk.” Quickly making a name for themselves on the battlefield, the Band of the Hawk becomes involved in a web of political intrigue. They don’t know that an imminent battle will unfold that not even the Band expects.
Since this anime is from 1997, it lacks some good animation. And even if it lacks many details, scenes, and so on, the Berserk anime is still a great, dark and complex story with brilliantly written, deep, and charismatic characters.
We think that everyone should watch (or read) Berserk. You can even watch it, and then if you like it, try the manga.
The series centers on Kimihiro Watanuki, a young student haunted by ghosts (known as ayakashi). One day, he comes across the store of Yuuko Ichihara, a wish-granting witch. She tells Watanuki that she can grant his wish, but only if he exchanges something of equal value. Watanuki agrees, but Yuuko informs him that the cost is too great and that he must repay the debt by working in her store.
The story does not have a fixed plot. In fact, the anime is full of small sagas of 2 or 3 chapters in which you are told stories that begin and end. Many of the chapters are unrelated to each other. They are necessary because sometimes they reference previous chapters. Besides, these are very entertaining.
The drawing is somewhat different from what we are used to. How is that? Well, the characters are more elongated and only give color to the important people. This technique is unusual, but it’s great because it makes you pay all your attention to these characters to better understand the story.
It is a series worth noting. This work from the all-female CLAMP group (Sakura Card Captors and Chobits) mixes mystery, magic, comedy, fantasy, and horror, with perfectly balanced characters and a story that is equal parts heartwarming and terrifying.
If you like supernatural stuff, you can give this anime a chance.
Elfen Lied (2005)
Elfen Lied was published in Shueisha’s Young Jump magazine in 2002, reaching 12 volumes, and had an anime adaptation in 2005 of 13 episodes plus an OVA adapting part of the original work, which helped the series achieve great popularity.
This sci-fi/horror anime follows a mutated girl named Lucy that possesses incredible telekinetic abilities. After years of being isolated, she escapes and goes on a murderous rampage. However, as she tries to escape, she is wounded in the head by a sniper’s bullet and falls into the sea. Only then, she makes it to the real world. Then, two students called Kohta and Yuka, discover her and agree to care for Lucy despite not knowing her destructive gifts.
Even if Kohta and his cousin want a life of peace for Lucy, it’s not that easy. After all, she is a runaway. Due to that, Lucy and her new friends are continually attacked by special recovery teams and other mutants like her. With all of this in mind, Elfen Lied is a brutal anime. It shows lots of blood and gory scenes. It’s not for everyone, and it can be difficult to watch at times.
If you pass the first episode, we think that you can manage to watch it all. The very first episode gives us one of the goriest sequences in anime, and even after all this time, people still remember it like that.
Hellsing Ultimate (2006)
Hellsing Ultimate is a fantastic introduction to anime, and this is because it’s a short season and easy-to-follow story. It features marvelous art, great fight scenes, and absolutely top-notch voice work.
Hellsing Ultimate is a series of 10 OVAs (between 40 and 60 minutes) based on the manga written and illustrated by Kōta Hirano.
The series belongs to the genre of action, psychological, gore but sometimes has comedy scenes. The anime also contains a slightly dense and dark theme that will have you on the edge of your seat.
The plot follows the adventures or missions of the royal Protestant organization Hellsing, dedicated to exterminating any vampire that could become a risk to England.
However, the main attraction of Hellsing Ultimate is the vampire Alucard. He has decided to obey Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, and he will not hesitate to fight against anything. After Alucard turns a girl into a new vampire, he and his master Integra are targeted by an army of Nazi vampires.
This might look like a lot. Maybe you don’t like vampires that much, or the Nazi theme is not exactly original. Because of this, some anime fans consider the plot not to be that impressive, but some other characteristics make this anime a splendid classic. Some things like the characters, the music, and the dialogue make this anime a good choice.
Did you decide which one you want to watch first?
You don’t have to feel bad if you think seinen is not for you. You might prefer cuter and more heroic plots, and that is perfectly fine.
And that is everything for today! If you wanted to watch a good seinen anime, we hope we made this easy for you by providing this list of some of the best seinen anime right now.