Now when I'm in the mood for manga, my craving is often very specific. For example, I might be looking for a plot about a love triangle in the entertainment industry. It's not an uncommon plot; I could read Skip Beat, Ashita no Ousama, or Cat Street to name a few. How do I find these manga? I use the search terms shoujo, josei, or romance and I wade through the slew of results for the next couple hours.
MangaFox has 36 genre tags. They describe the publisher's idea of the target audience (shoujo, seinen), basic plot ideas (romance, adventure), special interests (sports, mecha) and broad literary categories (tragedy, comedy). My first pick today, Skip Beat, is tagged as Comedy, Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Slice of Life. Comprehensive? Hardly! This list covers the bare minimum. A search with the same list returns Gokusen and Fruits Basket. What do a yakusa school teacher, a shape-changing family, and an aspiring actress have in common? Well, aside from those search terms not much. Considering the number of recycled plot devices in the average manga, it should be relatively easy to establish very specific sub-genres, but starting with categories like Romance, it's hard to see where to start.
Supernatural is a genre of a more manageable size. Just by looking at the titles of supernatural manga, a few sub-categories readily present themselves. Vampires, ghosts, or shinigami all feature heavily in the titles of members of the supernatural genre. Obviously, each unearthly species needs a tag. Then, if I consider one species, vampires for example, I can tighten the net further. There are vampire assassins and vampire high schools and vampire Chibis. The possibilities for sub-categories are endless.
In the new and improved search menu, I would chose from a list similar to the following:
|The protagonist is:|
|The romantic interest is:|
|The comic relief is:|
|The plot is:|