Beginner’s Guide to Anime

Jay Mafela

There’s a brand of media that’s making a steady rise into mainstream: anime.

Anime is a genre of animation that’s received a major boom in popularity over the past few years. Originating from the Japanese word for “animation,” they are essentially Japanese cartoons. Most anime are adaptations of other forms of media, usually from manga comics or from novels. Occasionally, an anime will adapt a story from a video game or even a live-action show.

What once started as a niche interest for nerds has hit mainstream like a freight train. Hollywood stars recognize and admit they like watching anime; TV shows and movies have dozens of anime references in them.

Like most other media, anime have common genres like action, mystery or thriller. But there are some terms most people are a bit unfamiliar with. Here are some descriptions of anime-specific genres and examples of each.


A shonen series is usually targeted toward young boys. They tend to be action-packed with intense plots and epic battles, similar to the superhero blockbusters from Marvel or DC. A good starter similar to those would be Demon Slayer, an ongoing show about a boy’s fight against demons in order to protect his younger sister.

Examples: Dragon Ball, One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, My Hero Academia


Shoujo is the gender inverse to shonen. Just as how shonen is made for young boys, shojo leans more toward girls. They use bright colors and relatable plots to build an emotional story. Shows listed as shoujos tend to focus on romances or the daily struggles of high school girls.

Examples: Toradora, Ouran High School Host Club, Fruits Basket, Horimiya

Magical Girl

Magical Girl anime, or mahou shoujo, is a subgenre of shoujo that has essentially grown into its own genre. It entails the main characters fighting evil by transforming into a superpowered alter ego. They tend to cater more toward younger audiences, but they are still enjoyable for adults.

Examples: Sailor Moon, Precure/Pretty Cure, Tokyo Mew Mew, Cardcaptor Sakura


As the name suggests, a slice-of-life show puts the characters into everyday situations the audience is familiar with. Whether it’s kids having misadventures at school or friendly situations at work, there’s something really satisfying and relaxing about seeing characters just living a peaceful life together. Anyone looking for a comfy way to get into anime without all the yelling or fighting, a nice slice-of-life is the way to go.

Examples: Nichijou, Working!!, Azumanga Daioh, Daily Lives of High School Boys 


Mecha anime involves the protagonists going into or controlling giant robots to fight their enemies, whether they are giant monsters, aliens or just other people as robots. Fans of Transformers or Pacific Rim may find a mecha series to be up their alley.

Examples: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, Gurren Lagann, Sakura Wars


Isekai works are something that have popped up over the last decade. Roughly translated to “another world,” isekais focus on the protagonists being magically transported into a fantastical or completely new world. The results can range from fantasy to something closer to our world or going into the world of video games. It even has a subgenre of “reverse isekai,” which involves a fantasy character being transported into our world.

Examples: Sword Art Online, Re:Zero, The Devil is a Part Timer, Log Horizon