10 Best Shounen Anime of All Time
The shounen genre is one of the most popular and most watched genres in anime. Why? While they typically cater to boys, they have an audience that covers people of all ages and walks of life. Shounen anime are usually the biggest mainstream hits and often extend to having numerous episodes. The hype around them is very real! It is very likely that you are familiar with a few of the titles in this genre.
I’ve come up with a list the top 10 best shounen anime that you should watch in your spare time. That is, if you are prepared to spend a lot of time! In all seriousness, these shows typically comprise of dozens or even hundreds of episodes. Just be prepared to make the investment and ride the hype train! The shounen genre is suitable for everyone so just sit back, watch, and enjoy!
The 10 Best Shounen Anime
- Hunter X Hunter
- One Piece
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
- Fairy Tail
- Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
- Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- One Punch Man
- Dragon Ball
Are you an avid spectator of the shounen genre in anime?
10. Dragon Ball
The Story: Son Goku is young boy who possesses great martial arts skills and overwhelming potential. Coincidentally, he also has in his possession an object known as a Dragon Ball. Rumors say that if one collects and puts together the seven Dragon Balls, a wish of any form can be granted. And so, by bumping into a quirky girl named Bulma and learning about the Dragon Balls, Goku goes on an adventure that will ultimately transcend the world’s boundaries.
The Verdict: Dragon Ball might just be one of the pioneers of the shounen genre in anime. It’s already a classic and it did boost the popularity of the genre. And so, it’s a no-brainer that this classic be put here on this list. It is famous, explosive, and one of the most famous franchises around the world. There is also the fact that this is a very action-packed show that is full of adventure.
This franchise has a few series in it. There is Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Super. The original series is focused more on fantasy and adventure while later entries put more emphasis on action and sci-fi. Any series is worth watching. This franchise is influential enough to make it on the list of most significant anime in the US.
9. One Punch Man
The Story: A hero for fun—this is what Saitama considers himself to be. After three years of non-stop training by doing 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10-km run every single day, he’s now capable of dealing with any villain that comes his way with a single punch! But there’s one problem though—he’s not an official hero licensed by the Hero Association! Discovering that fact with his new partner, Genos, Saitama enlists to become a legitimate hero once and for all! All while beating up baddies and dealing with the silly problems concerning his quirkiness and bald head.
The Verdict: This is one of the more recent hits. Not only does One Punch Man showcase its shounen-ish aspects in full throttle, it also goes all-out with the heroic antics. It’s fun to watch, hilarious, thrilling, meaningful, and overloaded with action. And that is why it has become one of the most anticipated shounen anime.
If you like this series, be sure to check out this list of anime like One Punch Man to find other recommendations.
8. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
The Story: Young Midoriya Izuku had always dreamt of being a hero ever since he was a kid. As a matter of fact, the number one idol that he looks up to is none other than the number one hero of the world—All Might! But no matter how hard he tries, he is troubled by the fact that he is quirkless (one who doesn’t possess any kind of super power). That is until one day, fate sets up a destined meeting between him and All Might. Midoriya Izuku inherits All Might’s power, One For All, after gaining his respect and approval. And thus, the incredible hero story that literally begins from zero begins!
The Verdict: Another hero anime jumps into the shounen genre bandwagon! This time, it’s a show about a hero who’s literally trying to tread the zero-to-hero path! Ladies and gentleman, let us welcome—Boku no Hero Academia! I assure you, the potential carried by this budding anime show is phenomenal! As to why, it's because this show has the power to motivate you with its emotional story, encourage you with the high-end action and heroic antics, and empower you with its heroic morals and excellent overall narration.
If you enjoy this anime, be sure to check out this list of anime similar to My Hero Academia.
7. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
The Story: Originating from an ethereal palace not known to most, Aladdin takes his first step into the world. Along with a magical flute that contains a djinn named Ugo, Aladdin travels around the world to witness everything in it. One day, he meets Alibaba Saluja, a young man who wants to enter one of the mysterious labyrinths called Dungeons in order to prove his worth. And so, Aladdin joins him in his endeavor. Unbeknownst to both of them, this ordeal shall be the genesis of it all—an adventure that not only concerns both of them but the fate of the whole world!
The Verdict: If there’s one word that could describe Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, it would be—magical! From the very beginning, this show just engulfs everything with magic. It may seem like just another shounen anime, but this isn’t actually the case. Deep within, Magi is a treasure box (or even a treasure chamber) just waiting to enthrall anyone who’s courageous enough to venture into it. You do not believe me? Well, just say "Open Sesame" and see the magic yourself.
If you enjoy Magi, here is a list of similar anime that you could add to your watch list.
6. Fairy Tail
The Story: 17-year-old celestial wizard, Lucy Heartfilia, is looking for a certain guild to join. That guild is the infamous wizard guild that always causes ruckus and mayhem—Fairy Tail! As part of the wizard guild, Lucy takes missions in order to make a living and grow as a celestial mage. Oftentimes, along with Natsu Dragneel, a dragon slayer, and Happy, a flying cat, they go on adventures to prove their worth as wizards. They are joined by Gray and Erza as time goes by, and the whole guild backs them up whenever something happens. Ultimately, they’re wizards whose purpose is to grow in magic, beat adversaries, and show the world what it means to be a Fairy Tail wizard!
The Verdict: A magic bomb that spectacularly explodes to immerse everyone into every spell it has to offer—that’s Fairy Tail in a nutshell! Being a shounen anime with heavy elements of fantasy, adventure, magic, and comedy, Fairy Tail is pretty impressive! It does not only fascinate with adventure and fantasy but also captivates with comedy and a bit of drama. When watching this show, it’s guaranteed that you’ll be laughing every now and then, enticed by the spell-tastic action, and deeply submerged into the story.
Be sure to check out this list of similar anime if you enjoy this one.
Popular Shounen Characters
As the shounen genre follows a fairly traditional narrative structure, there is a foundation for the character traits of a traditional shounen protagonist. They typically have big hearts and lots of energy, though they may not be the most intellectually gifted. Despite this, they are often quite pragmatic in combat. Along with physical strength, they often posses of strong sense of morals and justice.
Some notable shounen protagonists include:
- Goku-The main character of Dragon Ball is arguably the mold that future shounen heroes are made after. While not the brightest, his kindness and dedication to his friends have made him endearing. His spiky hairstyle has also been emulated by later characters.
- Naruto Uzumaki-The titular hero is arguably the successor to Goku. He even wears an orange gi! He is very energetic, although he is not quite the smartest of the ninjas. However, he is determined to be a hero and is loyal to his friends. The series does highlight his growth and he becomes more mature and powerful by the end.
- Luffy-The main character of One Piece is one of the most prominent shounen heroes of the 2000s along with Naruto. His hot-blooded personality may be a flaw, but his crew is willing to put up with it because of his prowess in combat. He can be very inventive when the need calls and can be relied on when the situation is dire.
- Ichigo Kurosaki-The hero of Bleach follows the tradition of having spiky hair. He is hot-blooded in battle but is actually shown to have good grades in school, subverting the trope of the dumb hero. Protecting his family, friends, and community is his primary motivation.
- Izuko Midoriya-The protagonist of My Hero Academia is a recent entry in the pantheon of shounen heroes. He has a strong sense of justice as he strives to be the best hero he can be. He also surrounds himself with group of comrades that motivate him. He is shown to be rather intelligent as he analyzes his opponents in combat.
5. Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
The Story: Framed by the Holy Knights of the kingdom, the once glorified Seven Deadly Sins are now in the hiding, waiting for the right moment to come back. Right now, they are known as the greatest criminals of the kingdom and gravely sought for their evil deeds. But as corruption spreads across the land, the Holy Knights who have sworn to serve and protect the kingdom have become the real threat. Who can stop them now? What will become of the once peaceful kingdom? The only hope now lies in the hands of the Seven Deadly Sins, the infamous criminal group that was believed to have once betrayed the kingdom.
The Verdict: Boom! Blaam! Kapoow! There’s high-end combat, ridiculous magic, overpowered characters, hilarious moments, twisted wonders…what more can I add? In short, what I’m trying to say is that Nanatsu no Taizai has a lot of elements one would expect from a really great shounen anime. And it’s actually different from the rest! For some reason, it just lures you in deeper and deeper until you become a die-hard fun. Well, that just tells on how really great of a show it is.
Be sure to check out this list of similar anime if you become of fan of this series.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The Story: The Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, have committed the greatest taboo—bringing the dead back to life! As alchemy essentially follows the law of equivalent exchange, their attempt to bring their dead mother back to life backfired on them. Edward lost some limbs while Alphonse lost his whole body. Years later, the Elric brothers are now on the search for the Philosopher’s Stone—an all-powerful stone that is said to be capable of performing miracles. Will the Elric brothers be able to redeem themselves? Is the Philosopher’s Stone the answer or is it something that will lead to another taboo? Follow the Elric brothers as they travel in search for truth and redemption.
The Verdict: There’s a reason why Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is considered one of the best anime ever. Its execution is very well done. Its impact is enormous. With alchemy as its base, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood transmutes every minute detail into a gripping experience.
If you need some convincing, check out this insightful review on the series.
The Story: Naruto Uzumaki grew up with the abominable nine-tailed demon fox sealed inside him. As a result of this, Naruto was alienated and discriminated by the people of his village. And so, a spark ignited inside him. He aims to become the Hokage (the highest leader and ninja of the village)! But in order to do so, he first has to master the basics of ninjutsu, pass through death-defying obstacles, and ultimately live by his own ninja way.
The Verdict: Naruto—it’s the ninja anime with a legion of fans! Why? Because it’s about ninjas and stuff like that! Well, it’s one that really shines as a mainstream shounen anime despite the fact that it has a lot of filler episodes. Just ignore those for now because Naruto has one of the best narratives out there. It’s so great that it can may be considered a legendary ninja epic!
2. One Piece
The Story: Monkey D. Luffy’s dream is to become the King of Pirates! In order to do so, he has to reach the Grand Line and claim the ultimate treasure, One Piece. But before everything else, he has to build his own pirate crew. And so, the Straw Hat Pirate Crew is born! With big waves, vicious monsters, deadly pirates, and powerful marines serving as obstacles in their path, Monkey D. Luffy along with rest of the Straw Hat Pirates will stop at nothing in order to reach their goals and always be merry.
The Verdict: With an adventure as vast and grand as the ocean, and hundreds of episodes and counting to boot, One Piece has gotten everyone hooked! It’s an adventure like no other! Who would have thought that pirates could be this cool?! Well, with adventure present all throughout, comic relief lunging at viewers, and occasional emotional moments touching the hearts of audiences—One Piece is a shounen anime that is definitely a must-watch! I recommend starting as soon as now because it literally has hundreds of episodes.
If you enjoy the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates, you may enjoy these 10 other anime series.
1. Hunter X Hunter
The Story: Gon Freecs is a 12-year-old boy who’s just beginning the grandest adventure of his life. And it begins with the most anticipated death-defying Hunter Licensure Examination. Gon is on his way to becoming a hunter just like his dad. And so, along the way, he faces unimaginable danger and meets new friends in order to test his skills and prove himself worthy to reach his dad's level. New friends, new trials, new experiences—Gon will take everything out of the one-of-a-kind hunter experience!
The Verdict: Finally, we come upon the shounen anime that’s on top of them all. With a marvelous story, spectacular development, excellent execution, high-end thrilling action, amazing characterization, and an emotionally gripping substance—Hunter X Hunter is the number one shounen anime! I couldn’t possibly describe it with mere words so just watch it as soon as humanly possible!
If you enjoy this series, you got to check out this list of similar anime for more recommendations.