10 best anime series that raised the bar for Seinen

10 best anime series that raised the bar for Seinen

Seinen manga and anime have always been aimed at adult males, with seien given more creative freedom and fewer restrictions to properly present mature themes than other genres such as shonen. Seinen anime doesn’t always have to embrace all-out violence and gore, as adult themes can also be more psychologically and existentially deep and taxing.


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There are many seinen anime, both classic and new, that have become staples over the years by laying the groundwork and following the typical seinen tropes, but there have also been those that have raised the bar. These examples have either broken typical stereotypes or simply stood out from the rest and raised expectations for seinen anime going forward.

10/10 Land Of The Lustrous, shattered expectations with its premise

When it comes to unique premises, very few come close Land of the Shining. The story focuses on living crystalline beings called Gems, who serve their purpose of fighting back against the Moons. The Lunarians seek to invade and harvest the gems as valuable resources, adding unusual but real stakes to the proceedings.

Land of the Shining moves away from standardized tropes and concepts, and even the art style has a fitting uniqueness that brings the premise to life. Studio Orange would go on to add to its success Land of the Shining by bringing another revolutionary anime to life in Beastars.

9/10 Mushishi raised expectations for thought provoking anime

Upon initial release in 2005, Mushishi served as the standard-bearer for a seinen that welcomes thought-provoking adult themes. Mushishi follows a likeable character in Ginko as he investigates supernatural beings known as Mushi. Mushishi is masterful in how it presents a tranquil setting for a supernatural mystery, but doesn’t reduce its complexity to cater to a younger audience.

Mushishi is the perfect series for those who want a cleverly written and unique story, with beautiful pictures and lessons. More thought-provoking seinen anime would follow Mushishithe footprints, but Mushishi itself certainly raised the bar high.

8/10 Monster took psychological torment to another level

Pattern is an older seinen anime that had such an impact that it raised the level and expectations of the seinen considerably. Patternstarted its manga in 1994, and in 2004 it finally got its long-awaited anime adaptation. Pattern follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma as he makes a tough decision to save a child’s life over the mayor’s, as the child grows up to become a serial killer.

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Johan Liebert is a frighteningly cold “monster” while Tenma deals with the guilt of being in charge. Pattern truly changed the game in psychological thrillers and suspenseful mysteries, and remains one of the best seinen anime of all time.

7/10 One-Punch Man mastered the perfect combination of comedy, grit and heroism

At face value, One Punch Man should be a generic seinen concept with a hero fighting various grotesque monsters and chaotic violence that ensues. Yet One Punch Man embraces its comedic and parodic charm, follows an overwhelmed protagonist in Saitama, but makes it deep and meaningful enough to also be entertaining and funny.

One Punch Man doesn’t take itself too seriously, but is still perfectly capable of presenting serious threats, even if they can be defeated by Saitama within seconds of activating combat. One Punch Man shocked the masses with how impactful it proved to be, and the first season remains overwhelmingly popular.

6/10 Vinland Saga focused more on compelling narratives and characters

Vinland Saga‘s manga has been highly regarded since its debut back in 2005, so fans were understandably excited when an anime adaptation was set for a 2019 release. They Vinland Saga anime duly delivered. It shows the chaos and violence of Viking culture, but it has flourished by inserting compelling storylines and intriguing characters into this setting.

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Complex characters like Askeladd and Thorfinn have really changed the game and raised the bar in terms of what seinen fans want for their main characters. Mindless violence and one-dimensional characters will now never be enough for them.

5/10 Kaguya-Sama Hit The Highest Echelon Of Romance Comedies

Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is proof that seinen anime doesn’t always have to be dark, gritty, violent or existentially thought-provoking. Kaguya-Sama has gained its popularity through comedy and romance. Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane are Shuchiin Academy’s top students, and when they both have obvious feelings for each other, it becomes an entertaining competition.

The first to admit his love shows weakness, so tricks, tricks and general mayhem ensue as Kaguya and Miyuki battle with their pride on the line. The Kaguya-Sama The anime debuted in 2019, getting better and growing in popularity with each new season. Kaguya-Sama led the way in the seine romantic comedies that received top approval, and such as Dressed up dear has followed.

4/10 Kingdom captivatingly brought the toils of war to the fore

While anime likes Vinland Saga are proud of complex themes that stand alone from the accompanying conflicts, kingdom is a contrasting example that actively explores its war themes. kingdom is a historical military seinen, which follows Xin on his quest for honor and glory.

kingdom had to wait to get into full swing with things and gain momentum, with its third and fourth seasons really getting everyone’s attention. It has surprised fans with its depth in the war’s political plans and intrigues, as well as emotional and fun beats, while including plenty of action as expected.

3/10 Mars entering as a Leo highlighted important topics of insecurity and social anxiety

Mars enters like a lion is another good example that seinen anime doesn’t have to be about dark and gloomy settings, violence and gore, or psychological trauma. Mars enters like a lion addresses serious issues and complexities in life, but in a real way. Rei Kiriyama is an exceptional shogi player and the series balances his life and struggles alongside his shogi career.

RELATED: 10 Seinen Anime That Are Already Modern Classics

Mars enters like a lion deals with both the physical and mental toll of how harsh realities and social pressures affect people, but it doesn’t descend into just being a bleak tale. Instead, it takes the complex emotions of Rei and other characters and makes them truly compelling.

2/10 Ping Pong The animation was a masterstroke in showing the reality of the competition

While Haikyuu!! is a very popular shonen, The Ping Pong animation is at the very top of the seinen sports anime. The Ping Pong animation was released in 2014 as an adaptation of the 1996 manga by Taiyo Matsumoto and focuses on how the competitiveness of the sport can affect lives.

Table tennis and its realistic themes combined with its compelling story have led it to the success it has enjoyed. No gory violence or dark psychological trauma was necessary for this anime – just a drama about the consequences and pressures of competition in sports and the people affected, with impressive thematic complexity.

1/10 Akira was revolutionary for fantastic horror and anime as a whole

Akira is an old anime classic released back in 1988, and it was seriously groundbreaking not only for the seinen, but for anime as a whole. Akira delved into fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural horror in one sweep, with plenty of gore and carnage. Akira is a film that has inspired so many series throughout anime, from its stunning visuals to its dramatic storytelling.

Akira put seinen anime on the map in the late 80s and set a terrifying precedent for others to meet or surpass. Newer anime has the luxury of advanced technology and resources, but it will be difficult to copy Akiraits success in relation to the tools at one’s disposal.

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