Seinen is a form of manga, or Japanese comic book. Unlike American comic books, Japanese comics, or mangas, are separated out into many different sub-categories. There are categories for every age and sex, from young girls to older girls, and young boys to older boys. Seinen manga is the category for manga that targets the 18 to 30 year old male audience. There are some older men who read seinen manga, but the general target is for men up to thirty. There is a large variety of different art styles, and the subject matter covers a wide range as well. There are some seinen manga that are considered to be pornographic, as well as some that is considered to be avant-garde, which is manga that is experimental or is pushing the boundaries of what is considered to be normal.
Josei manga is very similar to seinen manga, except that it is meant to target female audiences, not male audiences. Josei manga tends to focus more on real-life romance, instead of focusing on other topics. There is a category inside josei manga, unlike seinen manga, that focuses on homosexual male relationships. Josei also differs from seinen in that the art tends to be very similar to the shōjo art, without the sparkly eyes.
Unlike other forms of manga, seinen manga is not selling very well in the West. Experts in the manga field believe that shōjo manga appeals to more than one sex, as boys will read manga that it targeted at girls. Unfortunately, adult women do not seem as eager to read manga that is targeted strictly for older men. Some shōjo fans feel that the horror genre of the seinen manga is too strong, and that most of the titles are too violent for them to enjoy.
It can be difficult to discover which type of manga a specific book is. There is an easy way to tell if the manga is seinen or not. Furigana are a way to help Japanese people get the correct pronunciation on any specific character. If there is furigana present over the original character, or kanji, the title was probably meant for younger audiences. If there is not any furigana, it can be assumed that the manga in question is meant for mature audiences. Also, any manga that has a publisher with the word “young” in it is probably meant for younger audiences.
Seinen manga may not have caught on in the West, but there has still been a number of extremely popular mangas that have been released in the seinen genre. One extremely notable one was Akira. Akira was created by Katsuhiro Otomo, and was released originally in 1982. In 1988 a full-length anime feature film was created based on the series, and is still the anime to watch for anybody just starting to get into anime. Akira is a story about the future, power, and social isolation.