There is something about Shonen anime that only resonates with viewers. Maybe it’s because the medium offers the widest range of narrative styles; whether it’s action, drama, science fiction/fantasy/supernatural, sports/school, horror/mystery, historical or comedy, there’s a Shonen anime waiting for you. The most famous may be the action and coming-of-age stories, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. This anime style, aimed at a younger audience, has room for a variety of topics; so, after all, its popularity pleased the audience.
Despite the countless good shows, there are some extremely well-made Shonen anime that stand out from the crowd. The best of the best meet all the highlights: likeable characters, gripping action scenes, rich and compelling themes based on adventure, friendship, learning right from wrong and overcoming obstacles. They offer a variety of animation styles with relatable character design and appealing color schemes at the core.
It’s not enough just to follow the formula; the best shonen offers something special that will make you come back again and again. So, which ones stand out the most? Considering this and understanding that this is a constant and much discussed list, here are my top 15 tips for Shonen anime.
The murder classroom takes good aim at feelings and your funny bone. Set in an elite school with a strict hierarchy, this Shonen action comedy is a revealing and emotional story about a group of low-performing grade 3-e students who must murder their teacher before he destroys the world. The problem is, he may be a monster that’s out of order, but he’s also the best teacher they’ve ever had. For a show with such a fatalistic endgame, Assassination Classroom is surprisingly optimistic and takes full advantage of the absurdity of its premise. In addition, the streamlined story style and even pace make this plot one of the least bloated plots that leave an impressive and lasting impression.
Black Clover draws on traditional Shonen tropes to anchor its story about two orphans who are each set on becoming the witch king. While the character archetypes and story setting are fairly basic, and the animation is occasionally inconsistent, Black Clover is driven by solid writing and very relatable themes like confidence, strength, and perseverance. The action sequences are dynamic, the characters memorable and the fights worthwhile. It is a reminder that a clever and evil use of magical systems and a dedicated construction of the world can still separate a fighting anime from the pack.
Call of the Night
The novel is often an element of Shonen stories, but not often the central motivation of the main protagonist. In a visually elegant evening conversation, high school student Kou Yamori gives up going to school. In his aimlessness, he wanders through the streets at night. He meets a Nazuna, a vampire and survives an attack. As a result, Kou decides to fall in love with Nazuna in order to complete his transition to the vampire. It’s not the typical plot or world-building for a coming-of-age story, but its relatable exploration of the struggle to relate, to feel directionless. Call of the Night is funny, quirky and strangely liberating. It is also a prime example of how a supernatural anime can weave the core elements of a shonen into a unique perspective and expand the range of the genre. Don’t miss the best romance anime and vampire anime watch lists if you like more of these stories.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan, one of the highest rated series of its kind, is edgy, violent and constantly rising with exciting twists and turns. Eren Yeager joins the Surveying Corps, an elite military unit, after a terrible loss, to fight against the Titular Titans and look for a way to defeat them in front of the walls that protect the last humanity. What makes Attack great is his fearless commitment to the story, no matter how dark a change is. The story jumps right into the plot and then continues its high-octane recklessness as it weaves together an ensemble full of great characters, all united by an appealing development. Don’t let his day as a mainstream anime fool you, Attack on Titan deserves his position as one of the best.
One Piece is a long-running film about Monkey D. Luffy, who sails on a treasure hunt with his globetrotting crew of straw hat pirates. Based on the manga by Eiichiro Oda, this adaptation is full of action and laughter. With an eclectic group of male and female characters, One Piece uses camaraderie and adventure to keep the narrative exciting season after season. One Piece is considered one of the “big three” alongside Naruto and Bleach and is home to some of the greatest anime characters of all time, including Roronoa Zoro. Now that a live-action Netflix series has already been renewed for a second season, even more is coming from the Straw Hat Pirates. SEE ALSO: How to see a piece in turn.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files
Widely regarded as one of the best examples of Battle Shonen anime, Yu Yu Hakusho balances the central story elements, intense action and character depth in a way that highlights the best of Shonen anime. It has captivating dialogues, romance and an exploration of the idea that sometimes the best hero is atypical. Although Yu Yu was underestimated in some circles, he helped create the adaptation script, which was followed by many anime. Criminal teenager Yusuke Urameshi gave his life when he saved a boy. Impressed by this uncharacteristic sacrifice, Koenma, heir to the Spirit Realm, offers Yusuke the chance to become a ghost detective and complete a series of tasks to reclaim his life. The following adventures are humorous and offer the kind of arc originality that lasts over time. Yu Yu Hakusho is based on a fluent animation style and great voice performances.Its originality and drama make it a classic that should not be ignored.
No list makes sense without director Tetsur’s dedicated exploration of Araki’s justice, loyalty, honor and friendship. Death Note follows Light Yagami, a teenager who takes possession of a magical notebook that he can use to kill anyone he wants by simply writing his name in it. It is a narrative, a captivating game of cat and mouse that is not afraid to lean into the dark side of fantasy and remind you that there is always a choice in life. Its hand-drawn animation and layered character design never go out of style, Death Note is an incomparable classic. It’s one of the best horror anime you’ve ever seen.
Given the popularity of fighting/action stories, it’s easy to miss some of the best writing in the genre, because this is a sci-fi comedy anime, Gintama. The seamless storytelling is getting better and better in over 350 episodes. This eccentric story is set in an alternative timeline of the Edo era and follows the silver-haired samurai Gintoki Sakata and his often reckless attempts to face life’s challenges. Gintama deliberately parodies some of the most classic anime and manga tropes in a world where aliens have invaded Japan. The result is a chaotic and hilarious journey that tackles its most serious elements and social commentary with deceptive ease and compelling grace.
Jujutsu Kaisen is meticulously paced, skillfully animated and an exciting mix of comedy and action. It’s witty storytelling and creatively designed villains, backed by edgy and exciting darkness, make it a top-notch fighting animation. The participation of the student Yuji Itadori in the Occult leads him to find a cursed object. Having plunged into the world of curses, having witnessed the dangers for mankind and having discovered his new abilities, he sets out to become a jujutsu magician. There is a self-knowledge and character development that leads to the fact that an anime is not afraid to close its characters, face genre tropes and be dark and violent. Jujutsu Kaisen proves that if done right, it only takes the first season to become one of the most memorable and exciting action anime in the world.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
It’s hard to argue that Brother Elric’s quest for the Philosopher’s Stone in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an overwhelming adaptation that has resulted in an absolutely addictive journey. His excellent character design and dynamic storytelling redefine the standard for what to expect from Anime Worldbuilding. Brotherhood is funny, action-packed and uses its unique alchemical magic system in upcoming, re-watchable series. The battle scenes are impressive, and the thematically rich storylines turn out to be heartwarming and fascinating. The way this dangerous journey of brotherly love unfolds is likely to move you against your will. That’s why Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is almost always at the top of the lists that count the best Shonen anime.
Naruto is a thematically rich story, known for its martial arts-inspired action and comments on friendship, forgiveness and salvation. This popular anime may not have the most edgy animation, but the relatable character design and the use of a versatile ensemble add to the pleasure and adventure. Following the young ninja Naruto Uzumaki as he works to become the leader (hokage) of Leaf Village is a well-written journey about the power and value of hard work. The narrative and character development keep him accessible to new fans and popular with inveterate fans, which consolidates his position as one of the best.
Dragon Ball Z
This popular anime series revolves around Goku and his friends defending the Earth in a battle between good and evil. It keeps its stories simple, with lightly developed Dragon Ball Z characters; and relies on epic battles with a variety of villains to advance its action (and plot). It is a classic anime that stands the test of time as a great gateway to the genre for young initiates, and also a nostalgic repetition full of heart and humor. Dragon Ball Z is the highlight of the franchise and possibly the most culturally influential anime in the Shonen category.
After a demonic attack knocks down most of his family and his sister turns away, Tanjiro Kamado vows to save her and avenge his family. He joins a mysterious group called the Demon Slayer Corps, whose intention is to do everything to take revenge. Demon Slayer takes time to narratively position all its parts, which allows for the rapid but complex development of the story. As soon as it starts to move between the action sequences and consistently exciting visuals, the reasons why it is an extremely popular fighting anime are easy to see. So if you like the crisp fight scenes and the stories based on revenge, then you already understand why Demon Slayer is the reigning, Moderna entry-level must-watch.
Hunter x Hunter
Yoshihiro Togashi’s second adaptation on the Hunter X Hunter list revolves around one of the best, if not the best, energy system and is an exciting adventure full of adventures about a teenager who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. Widely recognized for narratives that revolve around complex characters who face challenges in a well-constructed world. Hunter X Hunter has its status as a respected anime and offers great fight scenes, relatable characters and thought-provoking themes. When it comes to fighting anime adaptations, it’s hard to find a series that raises the bar for the draft presented by Yu Yu Hakusho and relies on adapting and mixing the darker themes in his manga better than this Togashi follow-up.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Jojo’s bizarre adventure is a rare multi-generational dynasty in the genre (which IGN rated 10/10). It follows members of the Joestar family, each bearing the same title name. His sly wit and tributes to popular Western trends add just the right amount of hilarity to this adventurous fantasy. With heroes endowed with powers and immense psychic strength, Jojo is sure to offer ever-changing adventures in a huge world for some interesting villains. There is always something new that attracts them, which makes Jojo’s bizarre adventure one of the best-selling Shonen series of all time. His exploration of destiny and free will is something that just doesn’t get old.