10 Best Shounen Anime of All Time

Updated on February 20, 2018
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Cheeky Kid has been watching anime and reading manga for as long as he can remember. Doing so takes him to different worlds.

Top 10 Best Shounen Anime
Top 10 Best Shounen Anime

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

  1. Hunter X Hunter
  2. One Piece
  3. Naruto
  4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  5. Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
  6. Fairy Tail
  7. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
  8. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
  9. One Punch Man
  10. Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball | Source

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.

Are you an avid spectator of the shounen genre in anime?

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One Punch Man
One Punch Man | Source

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.

Boku no Hero Academia
Boku no Hero Academia | Source

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.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic | Source

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.

Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail | Source

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.

Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins)
Nanatsu no Taizai (The Seven Deadly Sins) | Source

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.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood | Source

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.

Naruto | Source

3. Naruto

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!

At the expense of causing a war between fans, you should read this article on why Naruto may be better than Dragon Ball Z.

One Piece
One Piece | Source

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.

Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter | Source

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.

Which Is the Best Shounen Series?

Which Shounen Series Is Your Favorite to Watch?

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    • Cheeky Kid profile image

      Cheeky Kid 10 days ago from Milky Way

      @Aidanta1 It's not done yet. Let's hope they create more episodes in the future. For the meantime, you can catch the manga chapters for a continuation of the stories. It's taking forever as well though.

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      Aidanta1 11 days ago

      Hunter x hunter is a good show but I didn't like the end it seemed rushed. The phantom troupe wasn't defeated, it didn't explain why kite was a girl, leorio finally got strong, but he didn't participate in any fights, and the most important part Gon spent the whole show looking for clues to find Gin, but then it's just like, hey, is that my dad over there.

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      Corvus 4 weeks ago

      I disagree with the positions of just about all of them except for Hunter x Hunter.

      That anime is easily the best Shounen of all time.

      Probably the best anime too.

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      Will 5 weeks ago

      No, I'm not entranced by the most predictable story ever A.K.A. Fairy Tail. Also, putting My Hero below fairy tail is just a crime.

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      Jsjfnrueoemfmfj 5 weeks ago

      Hunter x hunter is super befitting of the top position! And i can understand the feeling of not being able to express how amazing it is

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      Marah 2 months ago

      yes, Naruto is one of the best storylines ever , I grew up with Naruto since I was a kid 'till now "graduated from college" I'm in love with every scene of Naruto ^^

      but what about Bleach ??? this anime is one of the best! it's one of the 3 legendary anime shounen : Naruto, Bleach, One piece

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      Rocker 2 months ago

      Samurai x is the best shonen anime I ever seen

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      Majster 2 months ago

      Fullmetal alchemist isn't shounen, because

      they have one goal to regain the alphons body.

      There are no side threads there.

      Shonen is about discovering the adventures of a person, guilds.

      The adventure in Shonen is divided into sagas.

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      NANI 3 months ago

      tbh i feel that fullmetal alchemist : brotherhood should be in the top 3 as its a really good anime. and opm and bnha should be ranked higher!

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      wut?! 3 months ago

      Naruto should be higher( he have actually the best storyline ever) up and where is BLEACH

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      Dani rosey 3 months ago

      cheeky kid,

      Even though i haven't seen FT but this list is ON point. I even signed up to this website just for this comment. HXH is a masterpiece and every time i see it number 1 makes me so happy. thanks

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      Kold_Blooded_Killer 3 months ago

      Nah mate, FT is trash, add Gintama to the list, place Naruto a lot lower than it is, FMAB and Gintama are far better than Naruto.

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      Shounen Boi 4 months ago

      What about Noragami bruh

      Or what, 2 MLG 4 U M8

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      HeavenlyDemon97 4 months ago

      I agree with your list only because all other such lists on the internet forget to mention even an ounce of One piece.Although Aot should replace magi off the list.I think danmachi also deserves to replace brotherhood cuz however much I tried I could not force myself to like that trash .

    • Cheeky Kid profile image

      Cheeky Kid 4 months ago from Milky Way

      @Ikkju That's not how it is. Shounen is a genre catered specially to young boys. Everyone is free to watch them though.

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      lkkju 4 months ago

      Shounon: the hero is supposed to grow, evolve his powers, u can't put one punch man and fullmetal alchemist in shonen

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      _Certified_Retard_ 4 months ago

      Okay, I have a few questions about this list.

      1. Why isn't OPM and BNHA ranked higher?

      2. Why is Fairytail is ranked higher than it should have been?

      3. Where the hell is AOT? (as well as Gintama..)

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      RENATO 4 months ago


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      lambie 5 months ago

      WHERE IS YU YU HAKUSHO??!!??!!

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      WTF 5 months ago

      1. AOT aint a shounen

      2. Naruto is the best

      3. Where is Bleach

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      Meelopez 5 months ago

      Yeahhh.. HXH is one of the best but FMA is my fav.

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      Plusarma 6 months ago

      I agree with this tbh ONE HUNDRED PERCENT

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      lollllll 6 months ago

      This dude gotta watch ATTACK ON TITAN

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      Oblivion 6 months ago

      Wheres Attack on Titan? why is fairy tail number, who cares cause its bad, where is Gintama??? Seven deadly sins? really... that anime was trash filled with basic ass characters and terrible development. OPM and BNHA deserve higher rankings!!

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      Chaos 6 months ago

      What about Attack on Titan? And I believe Boku no hero academia should be raised.

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      Itamar 7 months ago

      Which plot holes does Hunter x Hunter have? -.-

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      LeCorbeauEtLeRenard 7 months ago

      HxH number 1 tf ? How? This anime has a lot of plot holes. I stop watching it after the chimera ant arc.

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      berrgy 7 months ago

      Hunter X Hunter is an extremely good show.

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      Singedai 8 months ago

      Fairy Tail better then Magi and Dragon ball? Nah.... FT has a horrible story/character development, and the fights always have to do with "power of friendship" bs. The author, numerous times, has created plot holes that defy the logic of the show. And the final villains (Zeref and Acnologia), got beat by 1 hit. It is one of the most overrated anime of all time. Magi and Dragon ball, and ALOT of other animes actually have reasoning behind their fights, and the villains actually get proper development and deaths. Whereas in fairy tail, every villain loses to the power of friendship and turns into a good guy. It's pathetic, shouldn't even be on a top 15 list.

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      xbvc 8 months ago

      like how did eichiro oda manage to make one piece within 7++ episodes but still very, very little of filler. thats how you define one piece, GOLD.

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      hecz 8 months ago

      @Ana what do you mean predictable? the character development in hxh is one of the best I've ever seen, the roles in their friendship are completely swapped towards the end of the anime. Hell, even the villians (especially Meruem) get some remarkable character development.

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      god himself 8 months ago

      fma is best

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      Ana 8 months ago

      I agree with the list but can't really say that HxH should be no.1. I mean the main characters are very predictable and sometimes a little cliché. Character development is very little where in animes like Naruto & One Piece, you'll get to see remarkable character development and bonding. HxH does have awesome fight scenes though.

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      MM 8 months ago

      have seen lots of anime, but HxH is still my favorite: great character development, diverse story arcs, almost no fillers ...

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      anon 8 months ago

      i mean, the ones that boop mentioned

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      anon 8 months ago

      oh boi.... those are not shounens....

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      boop 8 months ago

      what about attack on titan, tokyo ghoul and death note. imo these are some of the best.

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      Yiyo 8 months ago

      An older entry but one of the best shonen is

      Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple

      It typifies the charming story of a happy go lucky character seeking to better themselves through hardship and improve as a person.

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      RSTSpoonz 8 months ago

      Anonymous, you clearly haven't seen enough of HxH, really? One episode and you assume that it's boring... I'm caught up with One Piece (Manga) finished FMAB, watched 40 episodes of Reborn and found it boring as hell, literally no on cared about the first 40 episodes until Tsuna got his gloves. And I can confidently say that HxH is better than Reborn, not as good as One Piece but on par with FMAB, if you like FMA you really should watch it, give it like 30 episodes then say its boring, it's really a waste if you don't watch it, trust me.

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      Artemis 9 months ago

      You forgot deathnote

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      Grizzle 9 months ago

      HxH is easily the best Shounen. One of the best animes ever.

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      NINI 9 months ago

      Dear Anonymous,

      GON IS 12! of course he's childish!

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      Anonymous 10 months ago

      Hunter X Hunter number one ? Are you even serious ? I agree with you about FMA but that anime ? Gon is boringly childlish and stupid (not like Luffy who is Amazing and laughable, I mean stupid like you can't stand it in one minute or less), just watch one episode is a waste of time. Have you ever seen Reborn ? HxH should be at the last place, FMA on the first and Reborn at the second

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      Diana 17 months ago

      I agee, HXH is the best