Some people are not impressed by the shonen genre of anime due to its rather simplistic plots and stories and its rather simplistic formula. Shounen anime, however, remains a beloved genre despite its familiarity. Shonen remains one of the most popular anime genres, probably because they know what they do best and stick to it: impressive fight scenes, strong and often likable characters, and moving stories about friendship, family, and just being a decent person.
Shonen Jump and its many competitors have consistently produced top-notch shonen anime throughout the years. In this case, we’re going to focus on just the very best. Among all the shonen anime, which is the King?
Content Navigation (TL:DR)
- Attack on Titan
- Code Geass
- Black Clover
- Fairy Tail
- Naruto & Naruto Shippuden
- Dragon Ball Z
- Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
- Hunter X Hunter
- Yu Yu Hakusho
- Seven Deadly Sins
- Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest)
- That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
- My Hero Academia
- Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X)
- One Piece
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan has been debated as to whether or not it is a Shonen anime. However, it primarily originated from a shonen magazine, and it contains several elements from that genre. There are many anime series out there, but this is one of the most popular.
It is about survivors fighting for their lives against Titans who eat humans. When one of the walls of Shiganshina is toppled, a Titan attack strikes and the story grows from there.
This is the anime that I would choose based solely on what I feel about it. Among the top anime shows of the past decade are One Punch Man, Boku no Hero Academia, and Demon Slayer. There were more anime fans outside of Japan because of it.
With Shingeki no Kyojin, the visuals, music, and story have continually gotten better, as well as how seamlessly they blend politics with religion, mental fortitude, and unwavering courage. Its three seasons (as well as a final one from Studio MAPPA) and OVAs haven’t failed to captivate me once, keeping my attention until each episode ends with a huge cliffhanger.
Globally, Code Geass is the most popular shonen anime series. One of the series’ main draws is Lelouch, an anime character who is exiled from Britannia. Lelouch is given the gift of “power of absolute obedience” by a mysterious girl named C.C. and is forced to lead a powerful rebellion against the Holy Empire of Britannia. Several people have mentioned that the show has some similarities to Death Note. However, there are mechas involved.
Check Out: 22 Must Watch Anime Like Code Geass
As one of the newest shonen animes out there, Black Clover has already amassed a large fanbase. The show began airing in 2017 and continues to air. Studio Pierrot created it, which also created other shonen hits like Naruto and Bleach.
Throughout the series, a boy named Asta and a boy named Yuno are raised together after being abandoned as young boys. Their sole goal is to become the Wizard King, the strongest mage in the land.
Since its inception, Yu-Gi-Oh has appeared in multiple iterations, from anime to card games to manga to video games. There have been tons of spin-offs since the original anime series started in 2000.
There is a primary plot involving the Millennium Puzzle and the desire of everyone to unravel its secrets to have a wish granted. When Yuugi, a high school student, solves the Millennium Puzzle, he unleashes his alter ego that takes over in times of trouble as he competes in the iconic Duel Monsters card game to fend off anyone seeking to steal the Millennium Puzzle.
In the last decade, Hiro Mashima’s tale of a guild of magic users who are more interested in punching, kicking, and slicing things than casting spells has become quite popular. The series has been revived twice so far, with the latest version starting recently and nearly concluding the original manga’s plot.
In essence, Fairy Tail is a poor man’s One Piece, but that’s still reason enough to place it on this list due to its likable cast and absurd scenarios.
Check Out: 22 Of The Best Anime Like Fairy Tail
Naruto & Naruto Shippuden
All the kids who grew up in the 2000s can relate to Masashi Kishimoto’s story about a young ninja working to one day become his village leader. Naruto would join Bleach and One Piece as part of Shonen Jump’s Big 3. In contrast to Bleach, Naruto had managed to retain much of its luster until the end.
Even Boruto, Naruto’s son, lived up to the series’ popularity, bringing a generational element to the story. Only an absurd amount of filler prevents this series from achieving even greater heights.
It’s filled with fillers, and there are definitely some moments of uninspired animation in Naruto. This doesn’t stop it from being one of the most popular shonen anime of all time, rivalling popular shows like Pokémon or Dragon Ball in popularity.
Naruto has 220 episodes, Naruto: Shippuden has 500 episodes, and Boruto: Naruto Next Generations has at least 150 episodes. You and your future (or current) child can enjoy this series for years to come.
In the shounen genre, Bleach ranks right up there with Naruto and One Piece as one of the “big three”. Bleach is the only one of the three that isn’t still on-air or doesn’t have a spin-off. Despite this, the show wasn’t bad.
The show is still very popular, and there has been a live-action film in the works since it ended. Ichigo Kurosaki, the protagonist, is a high school student who becomes a Soul Reaper, protecting people from malevolent spirits known as Hollows.
Check Out: 15 Of The Best Anime Like Bleach
Dragon Ball Z
The very first shonen anime was not Dragon Ball Z, but it’s definitely the most influential. Dragon Ball Z has been an inspiration for almost every other series on this list. What is a Shonen series without transformations, the power of friendship, and training montage? With this series, even time skips became popular.
In terms of character development and general plot simplicity, Dragon Ball Z does leave something to be desired, even among the shonen series, but we shouldn’t forget the series’ great popularity that gave birth to multiple spin-offs like Dragon Ball Super and G.T.: more material for the anime community to consume.
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
There is far too little credit given to Shinobu Ohtaka’s Magi. Having Middle Eastern settings and characters already separates it from the rest of the anime and manga out there. Ohtaka’s world is brought to life through some lavish animation (courtesy of A-1 Pictures).
The series chronicles Aladdin and Alibaba’s journey as they face dangerous, magical dungeons full of traps…and treasure far beyond their wildest dreams, taking them toward their goal of making Alibaba a king. The series received a fairly faithful anime adaptation almost entirely free of filler, but one problem remained: There was never a final season, so fans will never learn what happened in the end.
Check Out: How To Watch Magi Anime’s In Order
Hunter X Hunter
There is danger in the world of Hunter x Hunter. Whenever a character makes a poor choice or runs into the wrong character, they could wind up dead very quickly. More often than not, the main character is fighting to avoid being killed even when he is in the midst of a grand adventure, creating a constant sense of tension.
As Yoshihiro Togashi builds this series, he deconstructs so much of what makes shonen work in a way that serves his purposes, not the other way around. The amount of character and arc development Togashi puts into every chapter makes it forgivable that he releases 20 chapters a year.
Hunter x Hunter was first adapted in 1999. There was no conclusive end to this series (even after 62 episodes), but I loved the cool fight scenes with the Phantom Troupe and the solid character design.
However, Hunter x Hunter explores darker themes the more it progresses, just like Harry Potter. It’s amazing how the anime starts and ends the way it did. A masterpiece.
Yu Yu Hakusho
In Yu Yu Hakusho, shonen anime has been reduced to its essence: tough guys battling incredible villains and evil spirits. With Yoshihiro Togashi’s first major work, Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who becomes a spirit detective for the afterlife after being brought back to life, the mangaka mastered the shonen formula very quickly.
Aside from executing every shonen trope to the best of its ability, the best thing about Yu Yu Hakusho is that it is not too long, nor does it overstay its welcome-it is 112 episodes of awesomeness, then the credits roll. Plus, it has the best opening theme in anime.
D.Gray-man had its fair share of success with the anime adaptation, which had over 100 episodes. Regardless of its lack of success compared to other Shounen Jump series.
When losing someone you love, it is sometimes tempting to wish you could resurrect them, a weakness that the Millennium Earl exploits. Using the souls of the dead, he makes his mechanical weapons known as Akuma. Souls trapped in Akuma remain there forever and can only be exorcised with Innocence as an Anti-Akuma weapon.
As an official Exorcist, Allen Walker joins the Black Order organization to complete his training as a disciple of General Cross. Allen, who has a cursed eye that can see into the souls of Akuma and an arm as his Innocence, must work together with his fellow exorcists to stop the Millennium Earl’s final and most terrible plot: the world’s destruction.
Seven Deadly Sins
Even if you don’t like the ecchi in Nanatsu no Taizai because it contains fanservice, that’s fine.
But if you don’t mind those quick moments, I encourage you to at least watch the first season.
Nakaba Suzuki’s Seven Deadly Sins series offers both a magical story and a revenge tale: Princess Elizabeth is on a quest to find the Seven Deadly Sins (knights who were once at the root of conflict in the kingdom) to stop the Holy Knights’ rule.
Despite being a seamless delight, Nanatsu no Taizai isn’t a seamless experience, especially with the 24-episode production in 2019. Nevertheless, it does have its genuine electric moments.
As soon as the anime adaptation of the Seven Deadly Sins was released, the series skyrocketed in popularity. After 3 seasons, there appears to be no sign of it slowing down any time soon. A show’s apparent obsession with fanservice would seem to be the one thing holding it back from achieving greater heights.
Check Out: 13 Must Watch Anime Like Seven Deadly Sins
Zetsuen no Tempest (Blast of Tempest)
Zutsuen no Tempest is one of the best shounen series ever produced by Studio Bones.
Despite being small (in the world of shounen, 24 episodes is relatively short), it tells an intricate story of magic, adventure, and revenge.
The same is true for animes that feature a sensible story in post-apocalyptic settings.
The concept seems simple at first glance. In this story, two people embark on a magical journey in search of answers and, perhaps, saviors of the world.
Nevertheless, Zetsuen no Tempest explores its universe carefully; it isn’t just generated as a product of its post-apocalyptic setting. Based on how their world operates, the characters adjust their strategies. Additionally, the classical music in this shounen anime series gives it that extra oomph.
Noragami is an excellent Studio Bones production, both visually and sonically. It’s likely you’ll hear the O.P. theme over and over again.
Occasionally, you may stumble across a strange number scrawled in red at a time of need. Upon calling this number, a young man will introduce himself as Yato God.
Yato is a minor deity who calls himself a “Delivery God” and dreams of having millions of followers. In the absence of a single shrine dedicated to his name, his dreams will remain unfulfilled. During the day, he works odd jobs for five yen each, but his weapon partner becomes tired of him and deserts him.
In the midst of a seemingly bleak future, Yato’s fortune changes when a middle school girl, Hiyori Iki, supposedly saves him from a car accident, taking the brunt of the damage. Even though she survives, her soul has become loose, allowing it to leave her body. When Hiyori learns that Yato needs a new partner in order to return her to normal, she reluctantly agrees to help him find one. The odds of Yato’s luck turning around may be improving with Hiyori’s help.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
In the sea of isekai series that have flooded the market ever since Sword Art Online’s debut, this has been a refreshing take on the genre.
Rather than a generic novice character, the main character in this story is a cute, small slime.
Featuring a rich and vivid fantasy world, plus a lighthearted vibe that sometimes reminds me of KonoSuba, the anime is a good way to relax after a long day.
Satoru Mikami, 37, is your typical Tokyo corporate worker, satisfied with his monotonous lifestyle except for never finding a girlfriend. He is stabbed by a random assailant on the street as he engages in a casual conversation with his colleague. As the dying man succumbs to his injuries, a strange voice echoes in his head, reciting a series of commands that he cannot understand.
In regaining consciousness, Satoru finds that he has reincarnated into a slimy blob in a strange world. In the process, he gains new abilities, including the ability to eat anything and have its appearance and capabilities mimicked. Suddenly, Veldora reveals himself, a Catastrophe-level monster that has lain hidden for 300 years after completely destroying a town. Satoru sympathizes with his situation and promises to help him destroy the seal. For his part, Veldora gives him the name Rimuru Tempest to protect him from harm.
As a result of his release from the monotony of his past life, Rimuru embarks on a new adventure with a new goal. Throughout the world, his gooey antics ripple as he becomes accustomed to his new physique.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Was there another anime that captured the world’s attention in 2019? A new franchise has finally lured Studio Ufotable to a larger audience, something that isn’t related to Fate. The shounen genre was not changed by Demon Slayer. In short, it was the epitome of a traditional shounen anime.
As with One Punch Man and Shingeki no Kyojin, it was one of those rare anime series that everyone watched. Besides being dramatic and action-packed, it was also filled with emotion. The merchandise was being sold left and right, both official and unofficial. The manga was even Shonen Jump’s highest-rated manga in 2019, topping even One Piece.
My Hero Academia
Despite the end of the “big” shounen series, the genre doesn’t go away: Boku no Hero Academia proudly carries the banner of the new generation.
There have been few shows offering such a diverse array of characters in the last decade as Boku no Hero Academia. There are two characters – All Might and Izuyu Midoriya – who will keep you going when you want to quit.
With several funny and inspiring moments, it’s a great shonen anime series for kids and kids at heart, especially on the theme of being a good person, of becoming your own hero.
Anime’s Best Boys and Best Girls come together in Class 1-A. In a world where mostly everyone has a quirk, the lead boy is Izuku Midoriya, a young teenager with no superpowers. He ends up being drawn into an adventure that will lead him to become the greatest superhero of all time when he meets his idol, All Might.
It’s not that My Hero is doing something totally new, but the author Kohei Horikoshi is executing genre tropes more effectively than anyone else in the market right now. Only its newness holds it back, since the franchise only began in 2016.
Check Out: Must Watch Anime Like My Hero Academia
New anime fans may be looked down upon by elitists for not knowing Vash the Stampede. However, it is not entirely their fault: Trigun was released in 1998, well over 20 years ago.
Their 1998 airings offered humor, gunfights, and main characters whose identities deserved further investigation. The two series formed an unofficial space Western trilogy in that year, along with Outlaw Star.
It’s true that Vash the Stampede is a lot of fun. But he is not perfect. The show has serious flaws as it progresses. No matter how old you are, Trigun is always worth revisiting.
Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X)
Studio Deen’s shoddy animation is often blamed on shows such as Samurai X when anime fans complain. After all, they are being held to a higher standard than most.
Studio Deen went all out with its adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin in the 1990s. Perhaps one of the best animes set in historical Japan, specifically during the Edo period and the Meiji period.
This anime is a great example of how an anime can combine deep politics, philosophical complexity, sword fights (along with other melee and ranged weapons), and themes of family and belonging.
One Piece is among the three big shounen series of anime, along with Naruto and Bleach. 900 episodes of the anime have been released since Fall 1999.
Of course, One Piece isn’t exempt from filler arcs. Nonetheless, this is one anime saga that no anime fan should miss.
A true adventure in any medium, and you’re in the position to witness it unfold.
Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate gang in search of ultimate treasure might be considered to be the best of all shonen series by some. After over twenty years, it is still the last of Shonen Jump’s Big 3, and Oda keeps surprising people with new plotlines and calls back to plotlines from years ago.
Apparently, Oda has already written about eighty percent of the storyline, but if that’s the case, the next twenty percent will still take some time to complete. This series has only one downside: pacing. To slow things down and not leave behind the manga, they have to use a lot of tricks.
Check Out: One Piece Filler Episodes Complete Guide
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
FMA: Brotherhood and Hunter x Hunter (2011) share many similarities.
Most fans prefer these series to the first adaptations of the manga source material since both of these series are the second anime adaptations.
With 64 episodes, how did Bones reign over the world of shounen?
After a decade, it’s still My Anime List’s top anime.
FMA: B has no major weaknesses whatsoever.
Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, are excellent main characters. Its other supporting characters, such as Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye, and Winry Rockbell, are no different.
In addition to the animation, Studio Bones did not hold back when it came to the graphics, which is only fitting given how explosive FMA: B can be. Even if the animation and characters don’t grab your attention, the story will.
It is certainly one of the most captivating anime stories to follow Edward and Alphonse Elric’s attempt to revive their mom back to life via alchemy. So it’s no surprise to see Hiromu Arakawa’s manga receive a second adaptation when it became clear the story was winding down.
The first parts of Brotherhood aren’t quite up to par with the original – they move too quickly. This is because there is so much more to do. A breathless pace of plot twists and character development leads us to a wonderful ending, giving us not only one of the best shonen anime of all time but one of the best animes of all time.
There you have it, anime fans! That is 22 of the best shounen anime. If we missed your favorite shonen anime, let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list for a future post! Which one of these shows do you think deserves to take home first place? Leave a comment and let us know what else we should include in this list next time around.