While the manga genre is dominated by shonen and shoujo, we think seinen is another one that should be just as famous. What is “seinen” genre, exactly? Well, it’s manga aimed at more mature readers, typically those in their late teens and 20s. Traditionally, it’s also a genre aimed at older men specifically.
But of course, don’t let that definition stop you. With mature themes and darker subject matter, seinen can appeal to a wide variety of readers! Seinen aims to expose the harsh dark truth of adulthood, and it incorporates various subgenres like horror, action, fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction, and more to do just that!
If you’re looking for your next gritty read, then read on! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the wonderful world of seinen.
The 25 Best Seinen Mangas You Need To Read
The best seinen mangas are those that tackle realistic problems using out-of-this-world plotlines. We’ve compiled a list of the most intense, interesting, and mind-bogglingly entertaining seinen reads just for you!
- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run
- Goodnight Punpun
- Grand Blue
- Vinland Saga
- Land of the Lustrous
- 20th Century Boys
- One Punch Man
- Our Happy Time
- Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 8: JoJoLion
- Bungou Stray Dogs
- Tokyo Ghoul
- Liar Game
- Franken Fran
- The Ghost in the Shell
If there’s one manga that best represents the seinen genre, it’s Berserk. This is a true classic that has withstood the test of time and remains loved and respected by manga lovers all over the world. In fact, it’s even been compared as the seinen equivalent of Game of Thrones!
In Berserk, we follow the main character called Guts, a former mercenary who is seeking revenge. Guts has lived a rough life. After a tumultuous childhood, he finally meets someone he thinks he can respect and even trust. But just when Guts thought his luck would finally turn, that person takes everything Guts holds dear.
Now Guts is hellbent on seeking revenge. He embarks on a thrilling quest armed only with a powerful sword and his own even more powerful spite. With grueling action-packed scenes, Berserk is one hell of an adventure. It also tackles themes like healing from trauma, letting go of the past, and is ultimately a story of perseverance and hope.
2. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run
If our first pick is one of the darkest seinen stories out there, then this next pick is the exact opposite–literally! Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the most vibrant and colorful mangas to ever exist. The distinct art style will definitely catch your eye, as well as the one-of-a-kind characters that make this story truly bizarre!
While the titular Joestar family has had many exciting adventures, Steel Ball Run is a well-deserved fan favorite. This story takes place in the American Old West, with the characters Gyro Zeppeli and Johnny Joestar competing in a race to win a whopping $50 million. Wild and crazy antics ensue as the two do their best to get that championship prize.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure pushes the boundaries of seinen manga. It’s still action-packed and focuses on more mature themes but it does so in a super entertaining and colorfully chaotic way!
If you want your seinen manga to have a little bit of a twist, then we definitely recommend Vagabond. This combines seinen and historical fiction to show a truly tantalizing story. Vagabond takes us back to 16th-century Japan as we follow Shinmen Takezou, a wild and aggressive young man. His violent nature has earned him a notorious reputation and even people from the same village fear him.
He decides to leave his village to seek greener pastures, and he brings his best friend Matahachi Honiden along with him. Their adventures lead them to join the Toyotomi Army where they are always at death’s mercy–and that’s only the beginning of the story. Vagabond is full of twists and turns on every chapter. If you’re a fan of stories about betrayal and injustice, then this one is definitely for you.
Monster is undoubtedly one of the best and most grounded crime drama stories out there. It’s a grim seinen manga with deep existential and ethical themes. We follow Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese doctor who currently works and lives in Germany. He has a simple but good life, with a job that pays well and a career he’s happy with. However, things start to turn when he chooses to operate on a child in critical condition instead of a political official.
While Kenzo only believed he did what was right, he didn’t know that this decision would have huge consequences for him down the line. Years later, that same boy he saved comes back into his life, now as a psychopathic serial killer! Monster asks deep philosophical questions on what makes us human and just how thin the barrier is between humanity and savagery.
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5. Goodnight Punpun
While most seinen manga follow adult characters, Goodnight Punpun follows an 11-year-old boy. But make no mistake, this story is anything but for kids. With themes like the loss of innocence and the pain of growing up, Goodnight Punpun is a thought-provoking read that combines coming-of-age and seinen.
Here we follow Punpun Onodera, an ordinary kid with big dreams for the future. His romantic sensibility kicks in when he meets a new girl in class named Aiko Tanaka. But little did Punpun know that the world of romance is a lot more complicated than he thinks.
As he gets older, his home life also becomes more and more tumultuous. One night, his own father attacks his mother, leading Punpun to realize that the people he once idolized are not actually as great as they are in his head. We follow the story as this series of harsh reality checks ultimately changes Punpun as a person–for better or for worse.
6. Grand Blue
While most coming-of-age mangas feature protagonists in high school or middle school, Grand Blue offers a refreshing change of pace. Here we follow Iori Kitahara, a college student staying in the room above his uncle’s diving shop. Smart and sensible, he’s excited for this new chapter in his life. All his life, Iori has tried to steer clear of shenanigans, but his new place seems to be chock-full of it!
He frequently bumps into the local diving club which is more interested in partying than actually honing their diving skills. Eventually, he gets roped into the group’s shenanigans where he learns more about diving through his cousins. Grand Blue is a fun and refreshing slice-of-life coming-of-age read with more mature characters and a lighthearted plot.
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Kingdom takes us right back to the Warring States era in Ancient China. We follow Li Xin and Piao, two brothers who come from extremely poor backgrounds. Even though they grew up as orphaned slaves, they had big dreams for themselves. One day, Li Xin and Piao hope to become great generals!
They get a little bit closer to this dream when Piao meets a noble who gives him the opportunity to take on an important job in the royal palace. Thus begins a thrilling journey through political intrigue, court politics, and war. Li Xin and Piao soon realize they’re in a much more complicated game than they once realized.
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8. Vinland Saga
In Vinland Saga, the Norse world of Vikings and the unique Japanese manga style come together to form a truly epic story. Vinland Saga is a sweeping epic about protagonist Thorfinn’s journey of self-discovery. With themes like redemption, dealing with the aftermath of war, and leaving vengeance behind, Vinland Saga is a true saga for the ages.
What’s interesting about Vinland Saga is it doesn’t use fantasy elements to tell the story. Instead, we’re swept back into Viking times with a thrilling degree of accuracy as the mangaka immerses us into Thorfinn’s world. Vinland Saga is a true masterpiece in historical fiction storytelling, with complex characters that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
9. Land of the Lustrous
Land of the Lustrous is a landmark tale about humanity. With deep themes on environmentalism and existentialism, Land of the Lustrous will surely make you think–and entertain you all the while! The story begins with a version of the future Earth that’s less than ideal. In fact, Earth has been hit by a meteorite a total of six times, completely destroying it in the process.
All that remains of our beautiful planet is a single coastline of land. Almost all kinds of life forms were destroyed until a new race of sentient life started to form over a long period of time. From this new race of creatures, we follow the main character Phosphophyllite or Phos for short. All his life, Phos has been bullied and ridiculed for being weak. But though they may be puny, Phos’ brain is anything but.
They enlist the help of their friend Cinnabar to create a grand encyclopedia of natural history. This tells the history of their race and ultimately their whole planet as it tries to rebuild itself from nothing.
10. 20th Century Boys
From the same mangaka behind Monster, we have yet another excellent seinen manga. 20th Century Boys is an intricate and engrossing tale following an average convenience store manager called Kenji Endo. When one of his childhood friends commits suicide, Kenji is more than suspicious. He doesn’t believe his friend took his own life at all; instead, he turns his suspicions towards a dangerous new cult on the rise that may have had something to do with it.
That’s when the story takes off and 20th Century Boys becomes a thrilling psychological conspiracy story with a sci-fi twist. It easily ranks as one of the best seinen stories out there for its unbelievably exhilarating plot while remaining grounded on realistic characters.
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If you want a sports-themed seinen manga, then we can’t recommend anything better than Real. The story revolves around three guys: Tomomi Nomiya, former captain of the basketball team turned high school dropout, Kiyoharu Togawa, an ex-professional sprinter who now plays wheelchair basketball, and Hisanobu Takahashi, another former basketball captain who has become physically disabled due to an accident.
We follow the journey as these three’s lives intersect. All of them have been marginalized by society for different reasons, yet all of them are united by one dream: a desire to play basketball even when society says they can’t. Real follows a cast of complex characters with a grounded and realistic portrayal of disabilities. It’s a sports anime with a twist, making it a shining example of the seinen genre.
12. One Punch Man
Seinen stories are not always so dark. Sometimes, they can have a unique sense of humor too, just like in One Punch Man. One Punch Man follows an ordinary guy named Saitama. After years of intense training, Saitama has developed the ability to knock out anyone and anything with just one punch. To put this ability to good use, Saitama becomes a hero dreaming of saving the day.
But his overpowered abilities make things less than exciting. He easily defeats any monster or villain who comes in his way, leaving him feeling dissatisfied. One day, he comes across Genos, a cyborg who witnesses Saitama’s immense power. The two team up and start working together to find a worthy opponent and achieve their dreams of becoming true heroes.
For mangas with distinct styles and aesthetics, few can do better than the classic Akira. With hazy neon lights and gritty alleyways of the so-called Neo-Tokyo, Akira’s pages vibrate with an energy and intensity you won’t find in any other manga. Here we follow Tetsuo Shima and Shoutarou Kaneda, two residents of the futuristic Neo-Tokyo. Together they navigate the world of biker gangs, fierce rivalries, and headstrong revolutionaries.
But despite the two’s friendship, deep feelings of envy are brewing inside Tetsuo. Desperate to be seen as Kaneda’s equal, he tries to prove himself by taking on a death-defying stunt. Little did he know that this stunt wouldn’t just affect him but the rest of the city as well. Tetsuo’s hubris might just be the cause behind Neo-Tokyo’s downfall.
Like other seinen manga on this list, Dorohedoro is a masterclass in worldbuilding. The story takes place in the fictional and fantastical world of Hole, a vast city inhabited not just by humans but by creatures teeming with witchcraft as well. Full of magic users, Hole is ruled by the witch crime boss En. Hole intersects with Hell, a dark underworld full of dead witches and ruled by the demon lord Chidaruma.
In the midst of all of this is a man named Caiman. A wizard’s curse has left him with a reptile head and absolutely no memory of his past life. All Caiman wants is to find his true identity. With the help of his friend Nikaido, he journeys into Hell with the hopes of finding the one responsible for his wicked transformation.
15. Our Happy Time
Despite its seemingly happy and innocent title, Our Happy Time is a unique meditation on the human psyche following two characters who are anything but innocent. Also known by its original title “Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan,” Our Happy Time is a gripping tale about the connections we make during the lowest points of our lives.
We follow Yuri Mutou, a young woman who has suffered traumatic experiences during her teenage years. Due to her tumultuous upbringing, Yuri has attempted to take her own life three times to no avail. She has also formed rough relationships with her family members, especially her mother whom she has learned to despise. In order to help her, her aunt Monica invites her to visit a death row inmate that she’s been helping.
Yuu is on death row after having been charged with the murder of three people. No matter how much Monica tries to help, all he wants to do now is take his own life in his prison cell. One day, Monica’s visit turns out a little bit different as she brings her niece Yuri. This encounter changes both Yuu’s and Yuri’s lives–for better or for worse.
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If you’re looking for a good fantastical world to sink your teeth into, then look no further than the world of Mushishi. Here we meet a race of fantastical creatures who display supernatural powers called Mushi. They are considered the most primitive of all life forms, lower than animals, plants, fungi, and even bacteria. Despite this, they are still capable of great power.
Because of their subtle nature, they often go unseen by regular humans. Only a select few have the ability to sense and even interact with the Mushi, including our main character Ginko. Ginko takes it upon himself to become a Mushi master, also called a Mushishi. He makes it his mission to travel from place to place to help people who encounter problems with Mushi. Mushishi is a captivating story with unique world-building and gorgeous artwork.
17. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 8: JoJoLion
That’s right–we’re featuring not one but two Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure stories on this list! This series has become such a staple fan favorite which means we have to give it the credit it deserves. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure also features a completely new story with every part, so readers can always look forward to something new!
Here in JoJoLion, we follow the fictional town of Morio. The devastation caused by an intense earthquake and tsunami has led to the appearance of mysterious faults called “Wall Eyes” all over town. Our main character Hirose Yasuho discovers a young man buried beneath the rubble. The only problem is that this man is suffering from amnesia and has no idea about his real identity!
Determined to help, Hirose nicknames him “Josuke.” Josuke goes on a journey to uncover the secrets of his past. This then triggers a series of misfortunes and wild events, including a run-in with a local crime syndicate who claims they’re selling miracle fruit that can heal anyone! JoJoLion is one bizarre adventure indeed, and it’s a wild ride for every reader from start to finish.
18. Bungou Stray Dogs
Looking for a seinen manga with a good sense of humor and a loveable cast of characters? Then Bungou Stray Dogs is for you! With elements of crime and the supernatural, Bungou Stray Dogs is a darkly comedic tale that will make you fall in love with the characters.
We follow Atsushi Nakajima. After being kicked out of his orphanage, he has nowhere else to go. With no food or shelter, he’s teetering on the edge of death when he saves a mysterious man from drowning. This man turns out to be Osamu Dazai who’s part of the Armed Detective Agency. In exchange for saving his life, Dazai offers Atsushi a job at the agency where they deal with criminal cases beyond the scope of authorities.
Atsushi’s first assignment is to catch the supernatural tiger that’s been wreaking havoc all over the city. But as the investigation goes further, they find out that there might be more than a little similarity between Atsushi and the supernatural tiger.
Now if we’re talking about the best seinen mangas, we can’t skip out on the classics, and Parasyte may just be one of the biggest classics of all. The eery art style and creepy creatures are instantly recognizable as part of this iconic work.
Parasyte revolves around the so-called parasites, small creatures about the size of tennis balls. The exact number and origins of these creatures remain a mystery. All we know is that they take over the human mind in order to survive. We follow Shinichi Izumi, a regular 16-year-old high school student. Shinichi’s life changes when one night, a parasite invades his body!
But the thing is, the parasite can’t take over his entire body. Instead, it only ends up inhabiting his right arm! Now Shinichi and the parasite (whose name turns out to be Migi) are stuck in a weird predicament. The two form a strange relationship as they try to get out of this tricky situation.
20. Tokyo Ghoul
With a cool and stylistic anime adaptation, Tokyo Ghoul has become a favorite among seinen and horror fans. The story starts our with Kaneki Ken, a regular guy who’s on his way to a date with the beautiful Kamishiro Rize. But once they’re on the date, Kaneki realizes she’s no ordinary woman. Instead, she’s actually a ghoul–a human-like creature who eats human flesh!
Kaneki barely survives the encounter. He’s rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but once he wakes up, he realizes he’s not the same Kaneki he once was. In order to help him survive, he’s been turned into a half-ghoul himself! Now Kaneki has to deal with his newfound desire for consuming human flesh. He’s taken in by Anteiku, another ghoul who teaches him how to survive as his brethren. Tokyo Ghoul is a fast-paced and exciting supernatural story that will definitely have you hooked!
21. Liar Game
What would you do if you suddenly received a huge amount of money? This is what happens to Kanzaki Nao, a naive college student who is given a mysterious package containing 100 million yen! Along with this package is a strange note that says he is now a contestant in the Liar Game Tournament.
In this tournament, all the participants are encouraged to lie and cheat their way to the top! The goal is to gain other participants’ money, and you can do so through any means you can think of. Losers are forced to owe debts in proportion to their losses. Nao is shocked to find out that his first opponent in the tournament is one of his beloved former teachers. Even worse, the teacher steals his money!
Now Nao knows he can’t be naive any longer. He enlists the help of a cunning con artist named Akiyama Shinichi to get back at the teacher and rise to the top of the game.
In this alternate reality, all of humanity is stuck inside a gigantic steel maze home to many other terrifying creatures. In order to survive, humans have to isolate themselves in small enclosed spaces while constantly fearing for their lives. In this horrifying dystopia, there’s only one young man brave enough to conquer it.
We follow Killy, a man gifted with superhuman strength and valor. He kills one bloodthirsty beast after another as he goes on his mission to recruit other humans and restore their broken world back to order. Blame! is an action-packed tale with plenty of gruesome gore and nail-biting scenes on every chapter.
Don’t let that cover fool you–Inuyashiki is one bad-ass seinen manga! What makes it stand out from others from the same genre is that Inuyashiki has a pretty unusual protagonist: an elderly man nearing the end of his life. Ever met a bad-ass crime-fighting grandpa? Well with Inuyashiki, now you can!
Inuyashiki is a manga wherein there’s more than meets the eye. This is an exciting read combining sci-fi with a focus on alien tech, jaw-dropping fight scenes, and bloodthirsty creatures! It’s also an existential look into what truly makes someone human and what people will do when faced with life-or-death situations. Inuyashiki is definitely a wild card that will keep things interesting in every chapter.
24. Franken Fran
If you think you have a dark sense of humor, then you’ll definitely enjoy Franken Fran. This cool seinen manga is all about combining absurd comedy and horror elements! Here we follow the titular Fran, an artificial girl created by a mad scientist. Each chapter focuses on her day-to-day adventures while taking care of the scientist’s huge mansion and doing his tasks for him.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, Franken Fran is anything but! The mangaka behind this masterpiece creates some truly disturbing and absurd scenarios using slice-of-life elements. You’ll be surprised with explicit gore and out-of-this-world scenarios when you least expect it. That’s what makes this one a truly excellent and impactful read!
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25. Ghost in the Shell
We’re ending this list with undoubtedly one of the most impactful mangas ever created. With multiple adaptations under its belt, Ghost in the Shell has caught the eye of many international visionaries including the “Titanic” director James Cameron who described it as “a stunning work of speculative fiction.” It’s also one of the biggest inspirations behind The Matrix Trilogy movies!
With a stunning unique visual aesthetic and ground-breaking themes, Ghost in the Shell is definitely a must-read. It’s set in the near future where robots and cyber-implants have become commonplace. We follow Major Mokoto in trying to catch a nasty hacker nicknamed “The Puppeteer.”
Ghost in the Shell uses sci-fi in a way most other mangas could only dream of. It’s inventive, exciting, and influential in the best way possible!
We hope you enjoyed our detailed guide on the best seinen mangas! Which one are you most excited to pick up? Tell us in the comments!
Seinen manga is dark, gritty, and at times even disturbing. But that’s what makes it such an alluring genre. It’s complex and will keep you on your toes with every page. Seinen manga broadens your horizons and lets you look at the world a little more deeply, which is why we think it’s one of the best manga genres of all time.