What Is Up With Manga Genres?

Manga (漫画) are Japanese comic books and they are widely read throughout Japan. The number of manga genres available is immense, which explains how diverse the audience is and why the medium maintains mass appeal. For example, on the subway in Tokyo you will find young, old, women, and men all reading comics intently. Sometimes you will even see guys reading slightly perverted manga in public with no shame or embarrassment. The fact that so many genres exist means there are a number of weird ones and quite a few genres can be disturbing. Here are a couple strange manga genres that stick out, definitely only in Japan.

Harem (hāremumono)(ハーレムもの)


The harem genre is about a main character, usually a guy, who is garnering affection from three or more characters of the opposite sex. When the main character is female and she is being showered with attention by a bunch of men, it’s called reverse harem gyakuhāremu (逆ハーレム). What signifies the harem genre is the three or more characters’ romantic interest in the protagonist being the focus of the story. Harem manga titles include Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki, My Bride Is a Mermaid, Kissxsis.

Yaoi or Boys’ Love (BL)


The Boys’ Love genre is exactly what it sounds like, stories focused on male homosexual relationships. Often foreigners think this genre is mainly pornographic, but a lot of it is mostly just romance, although pornographic ones are relatively common. Somewhat surprising is that Boys’ Love is mostly popular for girls and women, so homosexual men are not the target audience. Popular titles include Dou-imo Nara Nai, Father Complex, Dramatic Maestro, and The Tyrant Who Falls in Love.

Yuri


Yuri is a genre based on a female lead that has a lesbian relationship or romance. They can be be action oriented, science fiction, or any other style, but the most focused part of the story is the lesbian side. Examples of titles include Lonely Wolf, Lonely Sheep, The Conditions For Paradise, and Aqua Blue Cinema.

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Shonen Ai & Shoujo Ai


Shonen Ai is young boy love and Shoujo Ai is young girl love. Essentially, both are just a more innocent and PG version of Yaoi and Yuri, with much younger characters.

Ecchi


Ecchi is basically softcore pornography. A much stranger version of late night Cinemax is a perfect way to think of this genre. Some nudity and sexual content, but nothing that is graphic. Some weird themes can be found though, like really young characters and humanoids. A few popular titles include Kodomo no Jikan, High School of the Dead, and Fairy Tail.

Shokushu Goukan (触手強姦)


Shokushu Goukan is the most disturbing genre. Rape involving some form of tentacle creatures is the centerpiece in these stories and they are very explicit. Trying to understand why this genre is popular among men in Japan is just a depressing venture. Rape is all too prevalent in Japanese pornography, but this genre takes it to the extreme.

 

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