Well-made shonen anime (or shounen anime, as it is sometimes spelled) tend to be massive hits — just look at Attack on Titan or Dragon Ball. It is by far one of the most popular “genres” of anime with countless numbers of manga adaptations and original series being created for fans. Shonen is also a demographic rather than a traditional genre, so it covers a wide spectrum of shows.


In a category with countless anime to watch, it can be difficult to choose which series to get into. Still, there are some shonen anime so excellent they stand above the rest and should be on every fan’s must-watch list until they’ve seen them all. What are the best shonen anime ever?

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Call Of The Night

call of the night nazuna nanakusa

Japanese Title Yofukashi no Uta
Studio LIDENFILMS
Where to Stream HIDIVE

Undoubtedly the most hyped new shonen anime of Summer, Call of the Night is all about freedom. Although he is a good student, Kou Yamori finds that he struggles to relate to other teenagers, particularly when it comes to matters of love. While suffering from insomnia, he ventures out in the night, a decision that changes the guy’s life forever when he meets Nazuna Nanakusa, a vampire.

Enamored by her approach to life, Kou sets out on a path to become a creature of the night, but he will need to first fall in love with Nazuna to actualize this dream. Call of the Night is whimsical, stylish, and funny. Kou and Nazuna have instant chemistry, and they are hardly the only great characters to exist in this world.


Dragon Ball

Goku and Vegeta - Highlighting Rivalry in Shonen

Show Studio Where to Stream
Dragon Ball Toei Animation Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, VRV
Dragon Ball Z Toei Animation Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, VRV
Dragon Ball GT Toei Animation Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, VRV
Dragon Ball Super Toei Animation Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu, VRV

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball introduced countless people to not only shonen but also anime in general. It might be the greatest gateway anime of all time, and one that has retained its popularity for four decades. Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z are the franchise’s peak; the former showcased Toriyama’s talent for comedy while the latter set the standard for the action-heavy battle shonen series that would follow in the late ’90s and early 2000s.

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Dragon Ball has had more than a few disappointments and low points throughout its history, but the anime’s longevity is beyond question. And, when the show peaks, it reaches heights only the greatest shonen anime have seen.

Attack On Titan

season 3 part 1 cover

Arguably the most popular shonen anime of the last decade, Attack on Titan‘s penchant for shocking moments, vicious action, and haunting music have made it a must-watch show for nearly the entirety of its lifespan. Improving with each season, Attack on Titan is arguably at its best when its titular monsters are removed from center stage to provide room so that the anime can explore its universe’s origins and human characters. Attack on Titan will be coming to an end soon, and it will be a huge loss for shonen in general.

The anime has changed a lot since its initial incarnation, emphasizing political and social themes alongside its visceral action and shocking twists. The Final Season challenges what fans have come to expect from these characters, and the twists and turns generally feel earned.

Death Note

Death-Note-1

A psychological thriller about a serial killer and the detective(s) seeking to bring him to justice, Death Note is a shonen anime that focuses on a battle of minds rather than biceps. Light Yagami finds the Death Note, allowing him to kill anyone by simply writing their name within the book’s pages. As Kira, Light starts to shape a new world in his vision, one that naturally attracts the attention of the authorities.

RELATED: Anime To Watch If You Enjoyed Death Note

Death Note is at its best when concentrating on Light and L’s rivalry and strange friendship. Their cat and mouse chase is the stuff of legend, and outside of maybe Monster, few anime have done it better.

Nichijou – My Ordinary Life

nichijou anime manga

A prime example of shonen’s underappreciated range, Nichijou is a sketch comedy about a group of high school girls, a talking cat, a child genius, and a robot. The slice of life anime starts ordinary enough, seemingly setting the stage for what will be a relatively relaxing and “normal” series; then, a school principal wrestlers a deer, and things fly completely off the rails.

Nichijou is unpredictable, surreal, heartfelt, and consistently hilarious. The anime blows most other comedy series out of the water, and it holds up well to repeat viewings.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba

Demon Slayer Honourable Characters Ranked Tanjiro, Nezuko and Kyojuro

While this entry might reek of recency bias, Demon Slayer‘s success can’t just be dismissed as a result of one episode’s worth of great animation. After producing a slow-burner of a first season that exploded in popularity towards the tail-end of its run, Demon Slayer went on to release the highest-grossing anime movie ever, and a sequel season that arguably usurps its predecessor in terms of action and character development.

Kimetsu no Yaiba tells the simple story of a brother who would do anything to protect his family, specifically his sister who has caught a case of the demons. Bolstered by stellar action, intimidating villains, and divisive comedy relief, Demon Slayer is a modern classic.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jotaro Kujo Jojo's Bizarre Adventure JoJo Joestar

Hirohiko Araki’s influential manga launched in 1987 and is still going strong today. While a full anime adaptation took a long time to materialize, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure finally got the (worldwide) attention it deserved in 2012. Split into different parts, JoJo powers through a weak beginning to become one of shonen’s greatest (and most memeable) creations.

Each part centers around a different descendant of the Joestar family as they find themselves dragged into action-heavy adventures set across the world. Great heroes, unforgettable villains, and stylish poses, JoJo has it all.

Your Lie In April

Your Lie In April

Despite popular opinion stating shonen to consist of only the battle variety, the “genre” extends far beyond the confines of just Dragon Ball and Naruto. Your Lie in April highlights a different side to shonen, one driven by emotion, heart, and humor.

Your Lie in April centers around a prodigy who is struggling to rediscover his spark for music following the death of his mother. He forms a friendship with Kaori, and things get powerful from there. Prepare the tissues as Your Lie in April is the ultimate anime tearjerker.

The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K.

Saiki K

Kusuo Saiki is an all-powerful psychic who can do nearly anything, a fact he wants to very much keep under wraps. Unfortunately, Kusuo’s efforts to keep a low profile are undermined by his magnetic ability to attract lovably weird people, and his school has quite a few of them.

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A sketch comedy show, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a laugh riot that seldom has a dull moment. Kusuo’s stoic demeanor serves as the perfect foil to the rest of the cast’s quirky characters, and the anime balances the humor with its share of sweet moments.

Hunter X Hunter (2011)

gon's janjanken

The second adaptation of Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga, 2011’s Hunter x Hunter lures people in with a familiar battle shonen premise and protagonist before going down a much darker and more complex path. Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, Gon sets out to become a Hunter, and he makes a few lifelong friends at the exam.

After that initial arc, Hunter x Hunter splits up its main characters while challenging them with tasks that require great sacrifices to accomplish. Featuring perhaps the best power system in shonen anime, Hunter x Hunter is a masterpiece.

Great Teacher Onizuka

Onizuka of Great Teacher Onizuka

Who wouldn’t want someone who previously ran a biker gang as their teacher in school? Especially after they suplex the Vice-Principal! Great Teach Onizuka features plenty of comedic moments as Eikichi works magic in the way only he can with the worst students around at Holy Forest Academy.

It has a bit of a retro anime style as it’s hitting over 20 years old at this point, but it’s still highly regarded by critics and fans.

Bakuman

Bakuman

Bakuman gets a bit meta at times, with the main story following Moritaka’s journey to becoming a mangaka with his friends. It’s an amazing and realistic look into what life would be like for a full-time manga artist, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see them work hard and find ways to succeed each step of the way.

Bakuman is not as heavy on action scenes as most shonen anime, which makes it unique compared to most fan favorites.

Tomorrow’s Joe

Tomorrow's Joe anime

Tomorrow’s Joe, more commonly known as Ashita no Joe, is by far one of the greatest boxing stories to ever be animated. Despite coming out all the way back in the ’70s, new fans are still checking it out to this day showing that it has incredible staying power.

RELATED: Best Boxing Games Ever Made (& The Worst)

This anime was so influential that it received a spiritual successor known as Fighting Spirit which is also highly regarded. This in turn inspired the creation of Megalo Box whose main character is named Joe as an homage to the series that defined boxing in anime.

Sorcery Fight

sukuna smiling maniacally

Sorcery Fight has a solid mix of comedy, action, and excellent storytelling that has driven many fans of anime to watch it over the years. Not to mention the animation is a feast for the eyes that will leave many with their jaws on the floor. In contrast to most anime, the main protagonist Yuuji isn’t simply choosing to become stronger but is forced to when he encounters a cursed item.

This new angle keeps things incredibly fresh for those that have seen many mainstream shonen titles in the past. Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Movie is also a fantastic addition to the series, delivering similar thrills to Demon Slayer‘s cinematic sequel.

One Piece

Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)

One Piece has over 1000 episodes under its belt, putting it on a pedestal few other anime can reach. The adventures of Luffy and his crew are epic to the point of legendary at this point and trying to watch the entirety of the show has become an ultimate challenge for anime fans.

Even with this length, there are still countless people starting the series fresh and following it through until the end. It just goes to show just how incredible this long-running tale is.

Yu Yu Hakusho: Ghost Files

Yusuke vs Toguro of Yu Yu Hakusho

Before penning Hunter x Hunter, Yoshihiro Togashi worked on Yu Yu Hakusho, a manga that earned itself one of the best action anime of the ’90s and all time. A delinquent with a heart of gold, Yusuke Urameshi dies saving a child and is given a second chance; however, as payment, he must work as a spirit detective.

RELATED: 90s Anime That Do Not Have Blu-Ray Releases

Following a stretch of episodic stories, Yu Yu Hakusho dives into perhaps the greatest tournament arc in anime. The Dark Tournament is epic, packed with impeccable fights and memorable character moments, and features a top-tier villain. This arc is followed by the more psychologically driven Chapter Black Saga, a storyline that pushed the envelope for battle shonen in the early ’90s.

Samurai Champloo

samurai champloo anime

This wild combination of hip-hop culture with Edo-period Japanese history makes it stands out among the crowd as something truly special. Of course, this comes as no surprise with Shinichirō Watanabe, the mind behind brilliant anime like Cowboy Bebop and Carole and Tuesday.

Following the eccentric adventures of Fuu, Mugen, and Jin would be fun enough but add in the incredibly animated sword battles and fight scenes and Samurai Champloo is on a whole different level.

Haikyu!!

Haikyuu Hinata and Kageyama - Highlighting Rivalries in Shonen

Japanese Title Haikyuu!!
Studio Production I.G
Where to Stream Crunchyroll, VRV

Widely regarded as the most successful sports anime of all time, Haikyu!! has left fans on the edge of their seats since it was released. Shouyou trying to succeed in volleyball despite being short sets up for what looks like a basic story on the surface.

It’s the amazing teammates surrounding him and the comradery they build that turns it into the remarkable anime it is.

Gintama

The main characters of Gintama

This Edo-period anime with sci-fi aesthetics will leave fans wanting more — luckily it spans over 350 episodes. Add the various video games it has inspired over the years and Gintama offers a lot for fans to sink their teeth into.

The anime is so incredibly weird it can be difficult to describe, but its parody of anime tropes connected by an overarching serious story is utterly fantastic.

fullmetal-alchemist-brotherhood-feature

Compared to the Fullmetal Alchemist anime, FMA: Brotherhood more accurately follows the story of the original manga crafted by the incredible Hiromu Arakawa. “The law of equivalent exchange” is a phrase all anime fans know as the series is just that iconic.

The Elric Brother’s search for the Philosopher’s Stone is a fantastic journey filled with political intrigue to rival its impressive fight scenes. The show also has many moments that will make even the most hardened anime fans cry so be sure to come prepared with tissues.

Exciting Fall 2022 Shonen Anime

Apparently, the anime industry decided to dedicate Fall to shonen. The season is stuffed with highly-anticipated sequels and new shows based on Shonen Jump or a similar magazine. Which series will prove to be the best Fall 2022 shonen anime?

RELATED: The Best Fall 2022 Anime & Where To Watch Them

Chainsaw Man

chainsaw man anime

Considering the sheer volume of sequels airing during Fall 2022, the fact Chainsaw Man was by far and away the season’s most hyped anime speaks to the popularity of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s manga. As its title suggests, Chainsaw Man is about a man who can transform parts of himself into chainsaws. The story includes the Yakuza and devil hunters, along with a lot of gore.

Yes, this is a battle shonen anime for adults, and this goes beyond just grotesque villains. The source material touches upon mature themes, even if they are presented through Denji’s juvenile perspective. The adaptation has delivered on its promise so far, and Chainsaw Man could dominate the shonen anime scene for a few years.

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

Bleach Thousand-Year Blood War anime

Japanese Title Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen
Studio Pierrot
Where to Stream Hulu

After more than a decade, Bleach is back on screens to complete the manga, adapting the final arc. Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War finds the Quincy Clan and Soul Society going to battle over their clashing ideologies on how they should deal with Hollows. As this arc lasts more than 200 chapters in the manga, things obviously get very complicated, and nearly every character is given an opportunity to shine.

RELATED: Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War – Yhwach’s Name and Schrift Explained

Bleach, the anime, fizzled out towards the end of its run, however, enough time has passed to renew public interest in a story that was considered among the big three shonen manga. Set for multiple cours and seasons, Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War has gotten off to an unbeatable start, delivering gorgeous animation, tense battles, and a few shocking moments.

My Hero Academia Season 6

Season 6 Hero Mob

My Hero Academia‘s popularity is beyond question, but seasons 4 and 5’s lackluster receptions caused the anime to lose momentum. Season 6 needed to prove that MHA could stand tall amidst Fall 2022’s packed lineup, and the anime has mostly succeeded in this endeavor. The current arc revolves around the Heroes mounting a full-blown attack on the Paranormal Liberation Front, essentially sparking a war involving dozens upon dozens of characters.

This season has offered plenty of action, most of which is well-animated. More importantly, each battle feels like a desperate struggle for survival, and the pendulum is constantly swinging between both sides. This has made for a riveting watch.

Spy X Family Part 2

spy-x-family-season-1-part-2-1

Japanese Title Spy x Family Part 2
Studio Wit Studio, CloverWorks
Where to Stream Crunchyroll, Hulu, VRV

A highlight of Spring 2022 is back and just as charming as ever. Spy x Family Part 2 continues to chronicle the Forgers’ comedic escapades that can range from school break-ins to terrorist attacks with potentially widespread consequences. Tasked with befriending an important diplomat, Twilight, the eponymous spy, crafts a fake family man persona and adopts a girl named Anya, who just so happens to be a mind-reader. As Loid, Twilight also marries Yor, a woman who moonlights as an assassin.

These secrets simultaneously separate and bring this family together. Part 2 has started to develop the characters’ relationships, showing that something genuine is threatening to blossom from this artificial connection.

Blue Lock

bluelock

History has proven that sports and shonen are made for each other, and Blue Lock should reinforce that belief. The soccer anime envisions an alternate reality where Japan, desperate to win the World Cup, decides to hire a peculiar coach who promotes “unique” ideas. In this case, he decides to create a prison dedicated to training the country’s best high school strikers in order to create the ultimate selfish player. While the winner will lead Japan’s national team, everyone else will have to kiss their dream of playing for their country goodbye.

RELATED: Best Opening Songs Of The Fall 2022 Anime Season, Ranked

Based on a beloved ongoing manga, Blue Lock has all the potential in the world to be one of the year’s strongest anime. 8bit does not have much experience with sports shows, but the studio has a decent track record.

Welcome To Demon School! Iruma-kun Season 3

Welcome To Demon School Iruma-kun Season 3

Japanese Title Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 3rd Season
Studio Bandai Namco Pictures
Where to Stream Crunchyroll, VRV

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun can be relied upon for a couple of laughs per week. Season 3 finds the misfit class facing their greatest challenge yet as they must collectively reach Dalet rank if they wish to remain in their stunning classroom. Such a requirement is usually impossible for first-year students, but this class is anything but typical.

Although not completely lacking in battle shonen tropes, Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is primarily a comedy. This sets the show apart from Fall 2022’s big names like My Hero Academia and Bleach, especially since the season’s comedic offerings are rather inconsistent.

To Your Eternity Season 2

Furoufushi – To Your Eternity Season 2 Episode 4

Japanese Title Fumetsu no Anata e 2nd Season
Studio Drive
Where to Stream Crunchyroll, VRV

To Your Eternity was one of the best anime of 2021. So far, season 2 has not felt as special as its predecessor. Part of this can be credited to the anime going from Brain’s Base to Drive, which has coincided with a slight decline in production value and some pacing issues. Nevertheless, the new studio has done a decent job adapting the source material.

Ultimately, To Your Eternity is very much a mood piece, and the story’s reliance on death has resulted in diminishing returns. That said, season 2 is still one of the better shows of Fall 2022.

Every Shonen Anime Coming Out In Fall 2022:

  • Detective Conan: Hannin no Hanzawa-san
  • Four People and Their Respective Lies
  • Guild of Depravity
  • Urusei Yatsura
  • Yowamushi Pedal: Limit Break

MORE: Anime Fall 2022 – Complete Guide

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