If you look further into the anime world, it will start to divide into many categories, and the term “shounen anime” will appear frequently, some of the names are such bombs in the industry. So, what is shounen anime and why is it so popular?
What Is Shounen Anime?
Before you dive into this list of enrapturing series, let’s give you an insight into this anime genre. Written as 少年アニメ, the two compositions of it are clearly shown. 少年 is shounen, which means teenage boys; and アニメ is the Japanese derivation of the word “animation”. To put it simply, you can generalize shounen anime as “anime made for young boys”.
In a typical shounen anime, the story usually features and revolves around a male protagonist. This main character often has great strength with a unique enhancement that makes them stand out from others. In terms of personality, he will be very persistent with his life goals and willing to fight for the people he cherishes.
Naturally, such storylines are very inspiring. Besides the grand battles, we will get to see the characters learn from their flaws and make big decisions for a great purpose. Therefore, it easily keeps the audience hooked and earns adoration from both genders, not limited to boys only.
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Top 10 Most Popular Shounen Anime to Watch
1. One Piece
Get ready to be blown away by the successive action and humor!
By accident, Monkey D. Luffy ate a devil fruit that wasn’t meant for him at all and lost the ability to swim forever, in exchange for the power of gum. Everyone thought it was a useless superstrength, but he made the most out of it and soon sailed off to find reliable friends and become the next Pirate King.
Many anime enthusiasts would have One Piece in their mind as soon as you mention shounen anime to them. What would fit the definition better than constant rivalries amongst the pirates and with the marine? They never stop training and getting better, for the One Piece treasure is only for the best.
The original series before Naruto Shippuden is named after the main character: Naruto. He is an orphan being denied and shooed away in his own village, yet he has never held grudges against anyone. Instead, he aimed to earn their respect by becoming Hokage – the greatest ninja of the village.
Since the author wants to tell a fully fleshed story about Naruto rather than focusing on the ninja battles only, dividing the series into multiple arcs was a necessary move.
In each arc, we will see Naruto growing up and getting stronger. He’s undoubtedly capable of winning the fight, but he always tries to understand and bring the best out of his opponents – it’s truly inspiring.
If you are looking to know what a shounen anime means, Naruto might be a solid pick for you!
Check more: Top 10 Best Anime Like Naruto
3. Death Note
Considered the most popular shounen anime of all time, Death Note rarely disappointed anyone who decided to watch it, and they might have finished this captivating series in one sitting!
Let’s forget about epic battles for a while and venture into the world of psychology, crime, and thriller. It all started when Light Yagami got his hands on the Death Note. If he writes a name on any page of it, the person’s life is over. Such superior power incited him to create an ideal world and obviously made him the target of the authorities.
The enigmatic vibe of the story only got better with the cat-and-mouse relationship between Light and L. Whether we call it a friendship or not, it is legendary.
4. Dragon Ball
One might wildly assume Dragon Ball is the OG when it comes to the shounen section. Although they are wrong (unfortunately!), you can count on this series as the one with the most influence. It introduced a lot of people to anime.
There’s not much to talk about Dragon Ball if you are expecting complicated plots and delicious twists. Comedy and action-packed scenes are probably the best advantages of it. But no one can deny the popularity of a franchise that has been thriving for a couple of decades.
5. Hunter x Hunter
Do you want a detour from the usual shounen route? Hunter x Hunter is at your service. Enjoy the adorable art style and radiant colors as much as you can before it leads you down the dark path.
Born to a hunter father, the protagonist Gon naturally aspires to be like his dad. During the exam, Gon got to know and befriend several good friends that will stick around him for a lifetime. Nonetheless, it is only the beginning.
Once the introduction arc did its job and retreated, awaiting us ahead is an impressive power system. Our protagonists are separated and assigned to missions that call for sacrifices.
As one of the most successful sports anime series, Haikyuu!! has expectations to live up to, and so far, it keeps attracting more and more people to be part of its fanbase.
The main character, Shouyou, effortlessly pulled the audience in (and never let go) when he expressed such a burning passion for volleyball even though he is very short compared to standards for volleyball players.
It is indeed a basic plot, yet it succeeds by not always putting the main in limelight. Shouyou is surrounded by amazing teammates and remarkable opponents that you will end up adoring all of them and disliking none.
7. My Hero Academia
What does it feel like to watch Japanese superheroes in action? Class 1-A in My Hero Academia will give you the answer.
We can’t find anything that is not shounen-like enough in My Hero Academia, as we kick off the journey with Izuku Midoriya, a teenage boy with no superpower at first, while almost everyone in the world has their quirk. After meeting the most popular hero named All Might, Midoriya’s adventure officially began.
Although the storyline is not exactly something we haven’t seen before, the author and the production team seem to know what they are doing with this anime genre, and they do it with expertise.
8. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
If you think anime is only for children, this series might change your mind. On the other hand, if you’re wondering whether adults can enjoy an anime or not, it will still do the trick.
We begin the series with a loss having been done. The Eric brothers – Edward and Alphonse – failed to revive their deceased mother, and the experiment gone wrong nearly killed Alphonse.
Having no better way, Edward sacrificed his right arm to transfer Alphonse’s spirit to an armor. The series will take us on a terrific adventure as they attempt to fix their bodies and discover more about the government along with the hidden past of their father.
Despite the simple animation compared to what we usually see nowadays, this series has a solid position in many top lists for anime. The amazingly depicted world and the lesson about brotherhood might urge you to finish the whole 64 episodes in a marathon.
9. Demon Slayer
Another shounen anime from a female author! Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba) steals us away from reality and goes back to the past when demons still thrive and prey upon humans.
It all started in a mountainous area, where a poor family resides. One day, Tanjiro the firstborn returned home after doing his task outside and found his entire family brutally murdered by demons. Only his younger sister Nezuko survived, but she has been infected and turned into a demon.
As Tanjiro wanted to protect Nezuko and slay the demon lord, he chose to be a demon slayer.
After the first season with calm storytelling, the series is now taking us to a new level of excitement and development. Amidst life-or-death fights, you surely will get emotional moments from heartbreaking scenes.
10. Attack On Titan
Currently leading in the shounen anime section on MyAnimeList, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) will treat you to a feast of satisfying action scenes, unpredictable revelations, and – of course – epic soundtracks.
The series tells us a story about Eren Yeager, a boy with the deepest kind of hatred towards the giant human-like creatures that destroy his hometown and kill his mother. He vows to push them to extinction.
However, as he grows up and learns more about the world he lives in, more mysteries and conflicts arise. Would he be able to stay true to himself and protect his friends Armin Alert and Mikasa Ackerman?
Let yourself be engrossed in the goosebump-worthy graphics and plot twists!
The next time someone asks you, “What is shounen anime?“, you know what to tell them and which to recommend to them! Although its definition doesn’t promise something tear-jerking or emotional, decent shounen anime series can take you on a rollercoaster of feelings. Brace yourself for these gems and more to come soon!