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Discuss all topics related to anime.
561

Seinen - Anime for College Kids?
Topic by: ahogue
Posted: March 30, 2005 - 8:31 AM PST
Last Reply: April 9, 2005 - 7:11 PM PDT

page  1  2  3      prev | next
author topic: Seinen - Anime for College Kids?
ahogue
post #1  on March 30, 2005 - 8:31 AM PST  
Hi everyone,

I was browsing the lexicon over at Anime News Network and came across a sub-genre I never realized existed: seinen. According to this entry, it's another category like shoujo or shounen that denotes anime aimed at a college-age market.

The entry notes that not many seinen get released in the US, and lists Ghost in the Shell, Maison Ikkoku and the Patlabor series as examples.

They are also careful to emphasize that this is not so much a genre as a demographic target market, so an anime may in fact have little in common with other seinen but still be part of this category if it was made with an older audience in mind.

I'm curious: can anyone think of other seinen that is available in (or is on its way to) the US market? By this I don't just mean anime that is more mature, but that was literally designed with a college-age Japanese market in mind?

Seems to me that Texhnolyze and Akira would have to be seinen. And maybe Samurai Champloo...but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

(PS: How would "seinen" be pronounced?)
jross3
post #2  on March 30, 2005 - 1:19 PM PST  
I don't know about Champloo, but Tehx... that ABe one could be. (I think the only reason I haven't watched it is because it's too hard to spell...)
Akira is probably not seinen; one of the major parts of the manga (that is largely glossed over in the movie) is the society of youth that forms under Akira and Tetsuo. The leaders of the society are all jr. high/high school aged kids, mostly punks who were fed up with the old government to begin with. It's probably aimed at a younger market, but then Akira himself is a bit older.... but then again, he looks about 12.
With the themes of child revolutionaries, the wide mistrust of adults (there's only one good-guy above 20, I think...), and children that are more powerful than any of the adults, I'm pinning the target age range at 15-17

I can't think of too many seinen animes (except hentai... but their target age goes well past the college age range, although many are supposedly set in a "junior college" that uses school uniforms...). I would almost say Ai Yori Aoshi is one, since it deals with romantic relationships quite seriously from Kaoru's perspective.... but with all the fan service, I hesitate to say so. Still, they do go to a college, which suggests that they're aiming for a slightly older, yet still immature audiance.....

(and it's pronounced "seinen"; it's phonetic. "Sei" sounds like "say" and "nen" rhymes with "hen")
hamano
post #3  on March 30, 2005 - 3:53 PM PST  
I don't think there's a clear demographic cut-off point. It sounds like a marketing gimmick to hang on to manga fans as they get older, going through college, entering the workforce. This way they don't have to be embarrassed by being seen on the commute reading something with "shounen (boy)" in the title.

There have always been serialized manga that appeared not in manga weeklies but in tabloid news weeklies. In the past this was salaryman fodder for commuters... they are called shuu kan shi and are thinner than the big manga weeklies. Most of it reads like a cross between a news weekly like TIME and a gossip/celebrity weekly like People. They range widely between the two extremes of serious journalism and sensational stories (scandals, crime stories, etc.) There would usually be a couple of pictures of pretty women in various states of undress (again, depending on the magazine, ranging from nude to semi-nude to swimsuit), lots of ads for cars, golf equipment, whiskey and beer. A few editorial pages, sports interviews, politicians... pretty boring stuff, usually.

These shuu kan shi would have a few one frame cartoons, a couple of 4 frame cartoons, and maybe one or two serial manga. Usually of a samurai or crime genre.

I would think that the current demographic is that readers of these shuu kan shi are getting older, and the younger adults are still into manga. So the idea is to publish manga magazines in shuu kan shi format.

Golgo 13 has a very shuu kan shi feel to it... the characters are older and the guys are more "hard-boiled" and serious. The women are voluptuous vixens but clearly human rather than cats or robots or both. Maybe also City Hunter and the Lone Wolf and Cub manga. I believe some of the Tezuka works like Buddha and the Firebird series were in shuu kan shi.

The seinen comics are probably less serious and more like the kind of comics aimed at the shounen market, with more emphasis on adult situations and humor.

Translated articles from popular shuu kan shi.

The website of one of the biggies, Shuukan POST

A look at how journalism works in Japan.
hamano
post #4  on March 30, 2005 - 4:57 PM PST  
> On March 30, 2005 - 8:31 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> but that was literally designed with a college-age Japanese market in mind?

I don't think there is any such thing.... it's a market research category like the "18 to 24" or "18 to 29" demographic that they use in this country for TV and movies.

The truth is that yesterday's high schoolers are today's college students and tomorrow's salarymen. The current one is very tech and video game savvy. Tastes change as the group grows older, but not much. So if they're not picking up the old-fashioned weekly magazines, you gotta give them a weekly comic like they're used to. But something that's not "kids stuff"

Oh, I think the original Lupin III series was in some kind of shuukanshi... Maybe also Master Keaton. You can tell Master Keaton is for an older audience not because it's sexy or violent... it's CEREBRAL.

New shows... there's GANTZ, especially the DVD version. Maybe Monster and Berserk. GANTZ and Berserk are certainly aimed at a demographic that recently moved from high school into the workplace/college if you go by the content... stylish violence and some sex. There's a new show on fansubs called Gallery Fake, which is about an art dealer who buys and sells masterpieces that are caught up in shady deals. Ostensibly, he owns a gallery that specializes in high grade forgeries. But actually he's like an art mercenary.

There's Crying Freeman... originally ran as manga in Young Uppers or something. A super-assassin show. The manga was cool, but I've heard mixed reviews of the anime version...

(hands off baton to NLee) Beyond that, there's all that hentai, I guess...
ahogue
post #5  on March 31, 2005 - 9:10 AM PST  
> On March 30, 2005 - 1:19 PM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I don't know about Champloo, but Tehx... that ABe one could be. (I think the only reason I haven't watched it is because it's too hard to spell...)

Yeah, that weird spelling is really annoying. And apparently it's meant to be pronounced "Technolyzed", so it's completely gratuitous. Well, pretty close to that pronunciation anyway; It sounds like the characters are saying "technolyze" but obviously the accent is different.


> Akira is probably not seinen; one of the major parts of the manga (that is largely glossed over in the movie) is the society of youth that forms under Akira and Tetsuo. The leaders of the society are all jr. high/high school aged kids, mostly punks who were fed up with the old government to begin with. It's probably aimed at a younger market, but then Akira himself is a bit older.... but then again, he looks about 12.

Good point, I hadn't thought of it that way. Akira does seem to be oriented towards a younger audience based on the age of the characters. But other than that the movie strikes me as a bit more mature than your average Jr. High story. It certainlty appealed to the college age crowd in the US when it came out, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything I guess.


> I can't think of too many seinen animes (except hentai... but their target age goes well past the college age range, although many are supposedly set in a "junior college" that uses school uniforms...). I would almost say Ai Yori Aoshi is one, since it deals with romantic relationships quite seriously from Kaoru's perspective.... but with all the fan service, I hesitate to say so. Still, they do go to a college, which suggests that they're aiming for a slightly older, yet still immature audiance.....

Are you saying college kids don't deserve fan service??


> (and it's pronounced "seinen"; it's phonetic. "Sei" sounds like "say" and "nen" rhymes with "hen")
> ---------------------------------

Ah, thanks JRoss3. There is a German word which looks just like that, so I was having a hard time figuring out what the Japanese pronunciation would be, seeing as I know almost no Japanese at all. (But actually I picked up a book on the hiragana and katakana yesterday on a lark so who knows? I should be working on other things, but as long as I'm procrastinating....)
ahogue
post #6  on March 31, 2005 - 9:20 AM PST  
> On March 30, 2005 - 3:53 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> There have always been serialized manga that appeared not in manga weeklies but in tabloid news weeklies. In the past this was salaryman fodder for commuters... they are called shuu kan shi and are thinner than the big manga weeklies. Most of it reads like a cross between a news weekly like TIME and a gossip/celebrity weekly like People. They range widely between the two extremes of serious journalism and sensational stories (scandals, crime stories, etc.) There would usually be a couple of pictures of pretty women in various states of undress (again, depending on the magazine, ranging from nude to semi-nude to swimsuit), lots of ads for cars, golf equipment, whiskey and beer. A few editorial pages, sports interviews, politicians... pretty boring stuff, usually.
>
> These shuu kan shi would have a few one frame cartoons, a couple of 4 frame cartoons, and maybe one or two serial manga. Usually of a samurai or crime genre.
>

Hm. Sounds similar to the old pulp fiction in the US, perhaps? Sordid, not for kids but not exactly mature in the best sense either?


> The seinen comics are probably less serious and more like the kind of comics aimed at the shounen market, with more emphasis on adult situations and humor.
> ---------------------------------

I see. Thanks for the information and links.
ahogue
post #7  on March 31, 2005 - 9:23 AM PST  
> On March 30, 2005 - 4:57 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------

> Oh, I think the original Lupin III series was in some kind of shuukanshi... Maybe also Master Keaton. You can tell Master Keaton is for an older audience not because it's sexy or violent... it's CEREBRAL.

Sigh. More grist for the queue.


> New shows... there's GANTZ, especially the DVD version. Maybe Monster and Berserk. GANTZ and Berserk are certainly aimed at a demographic that recently moved from high school into the workplace/college if you go by the content... stylish violence and some sex. There's a new show on fansubs called Gallery Fake, which is about an art dealer who buys and sells masterpieces that are caught up in shady deals. Ostensibly, he owns a gallery that specializes in high grade forgeries. But actually he's like an art mercenary.

That sounds intriguing. Sort of a spin on the Read or Die idea (which I haven't seen yet)?
jross3
post #8  on March 31, 2005 - 10:24 AM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 9:10 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Are you saying college kids don't deserve fan service??

That's the idea; they get all the fan service. I would think that a really mature (not just M-rated) anime would have less, but if we're gonna talk about a demographic group I suppose that that's really a lot to hope for. But without such a telltale marker like fan service, I'm going to have a lot of trouble determining what's "seinen" and when isn't... I've had enough trouble with shounen/shoujo.

I'm starting to lean toward's Hamano's point of view. But young men's stuff is already less than serious; from what ANN's definition says, "seinen" should be sophisiticated, psychological, satirical, violent, and sexual. So it's basically shounen, with more psychology and satire.

Now, if I can just begin to easily differentiate between seinen and shoujo.... is Tramps like Us seinen? It meets a lot of the criteria, and a lot of it is from Momo's point of view.... a lot of the "practical give-and-take" things, too. Their relationship isn't really ideal, either; it's close, except for the "you're the pet" part. Hmmm....... I'm confused again. Can I go back to ignoring this section of the market? It wouldn't really change how I buy manga and/or anime anyway... That would be easier for me....
jross3
post #9  on March 31, 2005 - 10:38 AM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 10:24 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On March 31, 2005 - 9:10 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > Are you saying college kids don't deserve fan service??
>
> That's the idea; they get all the fan service.

I mean..... I thought I read "younger kids" or something like that. Yeah, college kids don't deserve fan service. Grow up already! ha ha!
Now that I read it correctly, you have a point. "Seinen" kids are just "shounen" kids that have been around to see a little more shounen anime and maybe what something more.

Here's a metahor:
Kids like flavor. A lot. My 2-year-old niece likes ketchup so much that she licks it off her french fries rather than eating the fries.... and I don't know why.
As they get older, they learn that they need more substance to feel really good. Maybe little A-chan will eat more of her fries; maybe she'll even eat a whole hamburger. But she'll still want lots of ketchup, right?
(not that you need the metaphor, you already seem to get the idea. This is for those folks lurking in the background - you know who you are! (and also for my sake. I was confused...))
ahogue
post #10  on March 31, 2005 - 11:52 AM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 10:24 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I'm starting to lean toward's Hamano's point of view. But young men's stuff is already less than serious; from what ANN's definition says, "seinen" should be sophisiticated, psychological, satirical, violent, and sexual. So it's basically shounen, with more psychology and satire.

Well, that's sort of what I was thinking. There are definitely at least two separate definitions of mature, and I'm sure the more psychological one does not necessarily describe all "seinen", although at this point it looks like we've complicated the term almost beyond the point of usefulness!

I was just sort of intrigued because, firstly, I was curious what sells to an older audience in Japan, and secondly, I haven't seen a whole lot of anime that doesn't feature mostly highschool or younger characters, and the ANN definition suggests that a lot of "seinen" doesn't get exported.

Come to think of it, I'm curious why that would be. Well, I suppose it's obvious, really. Comics and cartoons are still considered purely for juveniles by and large in this country. And also, on the other hand, when anime did start to get popular in the US with an older demographic, it was in the context of theatrically released movies and by the time more of those came along the fad had sort of died out. At least that's how I remember it.


> Now, if I can just begin to easily differentiate between seinen and shoujo.... is Tramps like Us seinen? It meets a lot of the criteria, and a lot of it is from Momo's point of view.... a lot of the "practical give-and-take" things, too. Their relationship isn't really ideal, either; it's close, except for the "you're the pet" part.
> ---------------------------------

I haven't heard of that one.
ahogue
post #11  on March 31, 2005 - 11:56 AM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 10:38 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Here's a metahor:
> Kids like flavor. A lot. My 2-year-old niece likes ketchup so much that she licks it off her french fries rather than eating the fries.... and I don't know why.
> As they get older, they learn that they need more substance to feel really good. Maybe little A-chan will eat more of her fries; maybe she'll even eat a whole hamburger. But she'll still want lots of ketchup, right?
> (not that you need the metaphor, you already seem to get the idea. This is for those folks lurking in the background - you know who you are! (and also for my sake. I was confused...))
> ---------------------------------

Not at all, that's rather nicely put. Although if you wanted to be pedantic (who me?), I think that's more like an analogy. :P
ahogue
post #12  on March 31, 2005 - 11:59 AM PST  
> On March 30, 2005 - 3:53 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Translated articles from popular shuu kan shi.

Ha ha. Nipple enhancers and "Doggy Style Dames Dress to the Canines". Brilliant.


> The website of one of the biggies, Shuukan POST

Those collages are so busy they give me a headache just looking at them.
hamano
post #13  on March 31, 2005 - 2:44 PM PST  
The thing to remember is that all the categories are basically for organizing the magazines into consistent sections so libraries and book/magazine stores would know where to put them. The actual readership ranges over several categories, and overlap quite a bit. Other than porn, it's not like there's a law that says a kid can't buy an adult-oriented title, and vice versa.

It's not that much different from the situation here, although there are cultural differences, of course. If you go to the graphic novels section of your bookstore, you'll see everything from teen to adult oriented comics. Frank Miller's Batman stuff is aimed at older audiences than the regular Batman books, then there's ones based on the current TV Batman shows that are aimed at the Pokemon set. And nothing is gonna stop a sophisticated kid from picking up Watchmen or Sandman, right?

The only major difference is that Americans like their serial comics in thin little editions separated into the different titles, and the Japanese like theirs collected into thick weekly books that contain one chapter each of several comics series (plus some pictures and articles).
RandomEvent
post #14  on March 31, 2005 - 5:59 PM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 2:44 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> The only major difference is that Americans like their serial comics in thin little editions separated into the different titles, and the Japanese like theirs collected into thick weekly books that contain one chapter each of several comics series (plus some pictures and articles).
> ---------------------------------
I dunno bout your logic there. What we would LIKE and what we actually GET are fairly different things.
hamano
post #15  on March 31, 2005 - 9:06 PM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 5:59 PM PST RandomEvent wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I dunno bout your logic there. What we would LIKE and what we actually GET are fairly different things.

Well, traditions can change if there is enough market pressure. The evidence is the US version of Shounen Jump. But I bet most American comics fans still prefer to get their thin little chapter-long magazines. Aren't some Japanese manga split up into chapters and released that way also?
ahogue
post #16  on April 1, 2005 - 7:52 AM PST  
> On March 31, 2005 - 2:44 PM PST hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> The thing to remember is that all the categories are basically for organizing the magazines into consistent sections so libraries and book/magazine stores would know where to put them. The actual readership ranges over several categories, and overlap quite a bit. Other than porn, it's not like there's a law that says a kid can't buy an adult-oriented title, and vice versa.
>
> It's not that much different from the situation here, although there are cultural differences, of course. If you go to the graphic novels section of your bookstore, you'll see everything from teen to adult oriented comics. Frank Miller's Batman stuff is aimed at older audiences than the regular Batman books, then there's ones based on the current TV Batman shows that are aimed at the Pokemon set. And nothing is gonna stop a sophisticated kid from picking up Watchmen or Sandman, right?

Well, no, of course not. But a precocious seventh grader picking up The Watchmen (and good for them, I say), will not change the fact that it's an adult comic written for adults.

I think the distinction here is between an after-the-fact category by which to group titles for browsing and a target audience which an author might have in mind while writing (and of course a publisher while marketing).

In any case, a category does not have to be mathematically precise to be useful. If that were the case we would have to stop talking about genres altogether, right?

jross3
post #17  on April 1, 2005 - 8:17 AM PST  
> On April 1, 2005 - 7:52 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> In any case, a category does not have to be mathematically precise to be useful. If that were the case we would have to stop talking about genres altogether, right?
> ---------------------------------

And what a shame that would be.
ahogue
post #18  on April 1, 2005 - 8:29 AM PST  
> On April 1, 2005 - 8:17 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On April 1, 2005 - 7:52 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > In any case, a category does not have to be mathematically precise to be useful. If that were the case we would have to stop talking about genres altogether, right?
> > ---------------------------------
>
> And what a shame that would be.
> ---------------------------------


Okay, nevermind. This obviously isn't the place for such discussions.
hamano
post #19  on April 1, 2005 - 11:36 AM PST  
> On April 1, 2005 - 8:29 AM PST ahogue wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > On April 1, 2005 - 8:17 AM PST jross3 wrote:
> > ---------------------------------
> > And what a shame that would be.
> > ---------------------------------
> Okay, nevermind. This obviously isn't the place for such discussions.
> ---------------------------------

Aw... don't take it like that. jross3 is very sunao... he's probably the least capable of being insincere or sarcastic around here, even more than cosplayer who is only a teen. You can take what he says at face value!

This is as good a place as any to talk about genre...
ahogue
post #20  on April 1, 2005 - 1:37 PM PST  
> On April 1, 2005 - 11:36 AM PST hamano wrote:
> Aw... don't take it like that. jross3 is very sunao... he's probably the least capable of being insincere or sarcastic around here, even more than cosplayer who is only a teen. You can take what he says at face value!
>
> ---------------------------------

Ah, well, sorry. I just don't want to twist anyone's arm. :)
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