Take, for example, Attack on Titan or Dragon Ball, both of which were big hits because of their high quality shonen anime production values. Countless manga adaptations and original episodes have been produced for fans, making it one of the most popular “genres” in anime. In addition, because it is more of a demographic than a traditional genre, the term “shonen” encompasses a wide range of shows.
It can be difficult to settle on a series to watch when there are so many to choose from. Shonen anime can be of varied quality, but several stand out as must-sees for all fans of the genre, even if they’ve watched them all.
Mark Sammut’s January 1, 2021 update: When it comes to anime, Shonen had a solid year in 2021. Girlfriend, Girlfriend and Komi Can’t Communicate made the year’s best shows, while World Trigger returned, Stone Ocean debuted, and Tokyo Revengers had a solid first impression. These programs are a lot of fun, but they aren’t good enough to compete with the best shonen anime of all time, which is okay because there are so many great shows in this genre. This article has been updated to include a few more anime.
1. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba
Despite the fact that this article reeks of recency bias, the success of Demon Slayer cannot be discounted only on the basis of one episode’s worth of excellent animation. A slow-burning first season that burst in popularity towards the end of its run, Demon Slayer went on to produce the most grossing anime movie of all time, Season 2 is doing nicely as well.
When it comes to protecting his family, a brother is willing to do everything, especially when his sister has been infected by demons. Demon Slayer is a modern classic, bolstered by superb action, terrifying adversaries, and contentious comedy relief.
2. Dragon Ball
Numerous individuals were introduced to shonen and anime in general because to Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. As a gateway anime, it may be one of the most popular in the history of animation.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the action-heavy battle shonen series of the late ’90s and early ’00s were defined by the success of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Dragon Ball has had its share of ups and downs over the years, but there’s no denying the series’ enduring popularity.
3. Attack On Titan
As one of the most popular shonen series of the previous decade, Attack on Titan has maintained its status as a must-see for almost the entire run of its run. Attack on Titan is at its best when its titular monsters are withdrawn off center stage to give the anime freedom to explore the origins of its universe and human characters. Attack on Titan has improved with each season.
For the sake of shonen, the conclusion of Attack on Titan is expected to occur in 2022. There will be a lot of pressure on Demon Slayer and Jujutsu Kaisen to step in.
4. Death Note
Shinji Mikami’s Death Note is a shonen anime that concentrates on the struggle of the wits rather than the muscles. It is an excellent example of this genre. When Light Yagami discovers the Death Note, he gains the power to end the lives of whomever he chooses simply by writing their name within the book’s pages. With the help of Kira, Light begins to create a new world in his mind, one that naturally draws notice from the government.
The best parts of Death Note revolve around Light and L’s unusual friendship and rivalry. Aside from Monster, there aren’t many anime that do cat-and-mouse chases quite like theirs.
5. Nichijou – My Ordinary Life
Nichijou is a sketch comedy about a bunch of high school girls, a talking cat, a child prodigy, and a robot that is a perfect illustration of shonen’s undervalued variety. To begin with, the slice of life anime appears to be on track to be a pleasant and “regular” series, but when the school principal engages in deer wrestling, everything goes out of control.
Nichijou is full of surprises, and it never fails to make you laugh out loud. In comparison to other comedic series, the anime is a standout performer.
6. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
In 1987, Hirohiko Araki’s influential manga was launched, and it continues to be popular today. Finally, in 2012, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure received the worldwide exposure it was due after a lengthy wait. In spite of a shaky start, JoJo rises to become one of shonen’s best (and most memorable) characters.
A different Joestar family member is thrust into action-packed escapades around the world in each installment. Great heroes, memorable villains and stunning poses: JoJo has it all!
7. Your Lie In April
Contrary to common belief, the “genre” of shonen stretches much beyond the bounds of merely Dragon Ball and Naruto, as many people believe it to be limited to. An emotional, heartfelt and humorous aspect of shonen is shown in Your Lie in April.
Your Lie in April tells the story of a musical genius whose mother’s death has left him unable to perform. Things take an interesting turn when he meets Kaori and strikes up a bond with her. It’s time to stock up on Kleenex because Your Lie in April is an anime tearjerker.
8. The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K.
Saiki is an all-powerful psychic who can accomplish practically anything, a truth he wishes to keep from the general public. While he tries to keep a low profile, Kusuo’s aptitude to attract lovably strange students undermines his efforts to do so.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., a sketch comedy show, is a constant source of laughter. As a counterpoint to the rest of the cast’s eccentric personalities, Kusuo’s austere demeanor acts as the perfect foil for the anime’s humorous moments.
9. Hunter X Hunter (2011)
With its typical fighting shonen premise and protagonist, 2011’s Hunter x Hunter entices viewers with a darker and more sophisticated storyline than the original manga by Yoshihiro Togashi. Gon sets out to become a Hunter to follow in his father’s footsteps, and while studying for the exam, he meets several lasting friends.
When Hunter x Hunter splits up its primary protagonists, it challenges them to complete missions that involve great sacrifices.. Hunter x Hunter has one of the best power systems in shonen anime.
10. Great Teacher Onizuka
Who wouldn’t want a teacher who was once the leader of a biker gang to teach them? Especially after the Vice-Principal was suplexed!
With the worst kids at Holy Forest Academy, Eikichi works his magic in the only way he knows how in the hilarious Great Teach Onizuka. Despite the fact that it’s nearly 20 years old, it’s still acknowledged as one of the best animes ever made.
While the main tale follows Moritaka’s journey to becoming a mangaka alongside his buddies, Bakuman gets a little meta. A manga artist’s life is depicted in such a realistic and fascinating way that it’s a joy to witness how they persevere and triumph at every step of the way.
In comparison to other shonen anime, this one doesn’t have as many action sequences, making it stand out from the crowd.
12. Tomorrow’s Joe
Ashita no Joe, better known as Tomorrow’s Joe, is one of the best animated boxing stories ever made. The fact that fresh fans are still flocking to the film despite its release in the 1970s proves that it has extraordinary staying power.
Fighting Spirit, the spiritual successor to this incredibly famous anime, is likewise highly appreciated. As a nod to the series that helped popularize boxing in anime, Megalo Box was born with a main character named Joe.
13. Sorcery Fight
Over the years, Sorcery Fight has been seen by many anime lovers because of its combination of comedy, action, and superb storytelling. And the visuals are so stunning that many will have their jaws on the ground when they’re done watching it.
When Yuuji discovers a cursed artifact, he isn’t only deciding to get stronger, but is instead obliged to do so. For those who have seen a slew of major shonen titles, this is a welcome change of pace.
14. Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files
Hunter x Hunter author Yoshihiro Togashi worked on Yu Yu Hakusho in the 1990s, making it one of the best battle shonen anime of the decade and the era as a whole. Having saved a child’s life, Yusuke Urameshi, a delinquent with a heart of gold, is offered a second chance, but he must work as a ghost investigator as a price.
Yu Yu Hakusho returns to the tournament arc after a period of episodic stories. There is a top-tier villain in the Dark Tournament, and the action is action-packed and filled with unforgettable character moments. Chapter Black Saga, a plot that stretched the boundaries of battle shonen in the early ’90s, follows this arc.
15. Samurai Champloo
There aren’t many albums like this one, with its unusual fusion of hip-hop and Edo-era Japanese history. Shinichiro Watanabe, the creator of such classic anime as Cowboy Bebop and Carole and Tuesday, is no stranger to success.
What makes Samurai Champloo even more enjoyable is the brilliantly animated sword battles and fight scenes that take the show to a whole new level of entertainment.
16. One Piece
In comparison to Dragon Ball, One Piece has a whopping 960 episodes to binge-watch, making it a show that no other anime can match. The exploits of Luffy and his crew have grown to legendary proportions, and keeping up with the show’s whole run has become an impossible task for die-hard anime viewers.
Despite its length, the series continues to attract new viewers who stick with it all the way to the conclusion. It just goes to demonstrate how amazing this long-running story is.
17. To Your Eternity
With the help of Anata e Fumetsu
As of this writing, To Your Eternity is just being released in the spring of 2021. Users of MyAnimeList have already placed it higher than many other long-running shonen favorites. During the course of the novel, It, a mystery being, is shown to be able to take on the form of whatever it encounters.
The story was written by Yoshitoki Ooima, the brains behind A Silent Voice, so viewers should expect some heartbreaking feelings.
Haikyu!! is one of the most popular sports anime series of all time and has kept viewers riveted since it first aired. Shouyou’s struggle to excel at volleyball, despite her diminutive stature, is the basis for a seemingly simple story. It’s because of the incredible team he has around him and the camaraderie they create that this anime is so special.
19. Gintama (Series)
This Edo-period sci-fi anime has more than 350 episodes, so fans will have something to look forward to. In addition to the numerous games it has inspired, Gintama has a lot to offer its fans. To put it simply, the anime is truly wonderful in its parody of anime cliches linked by an overall serious tale.
20. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Brotherhood is more faithful to the story told in Hiromu Arakawa’s original manga. All anime fans know the phrase “the law of comparable exchange” because the series is so well-known.
Political intrigue and action-packed fight scenes are just as exciting as the Elric brothers’ quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. Make sure to bring tissues with you when you watch the show, as there are some heartbreaking moments.