The Best Shounen Anime of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

There is a lot of anime out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention turns to anime for the shounen demographic. From wacky adventure series to those with gritty settings and violence, there’s enough here to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them!

Dragon Ball (Franchise)

The Dragon Ball franchise has a great mix of comedy, martial arts, and adventure. Despite transforming into a more action-oriented work via Dragon Ball Z, many appreciate the grounded world Akira Toriyama delivered in Dragon Ball. In it, we follow a young boy named Goku who traverses his world in search of orange wish-granting orbs called Dragon Balls.

Goku will battle many wacky and menacing enemies. Each enemy gets more terrifying in scale and ideals. Although Goku will put an end to world-ending conflicts, he’ll take part in multiple side events from tournaments to training sessions. Viewers will adore seeing Goku’s progress over the course of the series.

If you’re looking for a fun adventure series with excellent humor and action, check out Dragon Ball.

Naruto (Franchise)

Ninjas are popular figures because of their stealthy approach to combat. Naruto is a homage to ninjas but maintains the well-beloved aspects fans adore from Shonen Jump’s works. It tackles themes like friendship, death, and perseverance. In it, we examine the life of a young ninja named Naruto who loves pulling pranks and getting into trouble in his homeland.

While he doesn’t get along with everyone, he hopes to become his village’s Hokage in the future. Naruto will tackle many missions with his comrades Sasuke and Sakura. He doesn’t get along with everyone at first, but he’ll slowly becomes more mature as the series progresses. This show contains many brutal fights and inspiring messages.

Fans searching for another incredible shounen series to watch should consider giving Naruto a shot.

One Piece (Franchise)

One Piece is an ongoing shounen title, spanning over 1,000 episodes. This story may be daunting for newcomers because of its length. The show contains a lot of world-building, plot elements, and fights to keep you invested. Its author Eichiro Oda includes some stellar twists and foreshadowing elements to reward those who monitor the series carefully.

In this tale, we examine the life of Monkey D. Luffy. He hopes to sail across a large ocean called the Grand Line to find Gol D. Roger’s fantastical treasure called the One Piece. By doing so, Luffy can become the next Pirate King. Luffy will be joined by several individuals, who’ll assist him in turning his dreams into reality.

The characters have their own goals they wish to achieve too. Luffy’s a caring and righteous character despite his criminal background. He’ll clash heads with many menacing pirates who aim to wreak havoc in separate islands and kingdoms. If you’re looking for an adventurous tale that tackles many mature subjects, check out One Piece.


Bleach is a part of the Big 3, a term coined by Shonen Jump fans. It, alongside Naruto and One Piece, serves as the three staple franchises that carried the mantle left behind by popular works like Dragon Ball. Bleach is the darkest among the two and feels grittier in art style, setting, and tone.

Bleach follows Ichigo Kurosaki, who enjoys living a mundane life. One day, he gets visited by a weird creature called a Hollow at his home. A Soul Reaper named Rukia comes to Ichigo’s aid but falls in battle due to the Hollow’s impressive strength. This leads Ichigo to take on Rukia’s powers to become a Soul Reaper himself.

With these abilities, Ichigo defeats the Hollow and must embark on a quest to defeat more Hollows that dare threaten his world. This anime contains great action, designs, and comedy. It features similar themes of friendship to the other two while crafting a narrative that’s different. Give this a shot if you adore swordsmen and supernatural monsters.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a phenomenal anime. It contains a great mix of comedy, drama, and action to maintain your attention. The characters receive considerable development and characterization to elicit an emotional response from viewers. They’ll endure many harsh situations that will test their morality.

This is a tale about two brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric. Their mission is to retrieve a magical stone that can revert their bodies to normal. At this time, Alphonse’s soul lies within a suit of metal while Edward’s lost several limbs. This is because the boys tampered with alchemy as children to restore their mother to life.

Their journey won’t be an easy one. They’ll encounter countless enemies who’ll stop at nothing to bring their lives to an end. At the same time, the Elric brothers will meet kind-hearted individuals in this heartbreaking world who’ll offer them a helping hand. If you’re looking for a shounen anime with a well-written storyline, give Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood a shot.

Hunter X Hunter (2011)

Hunter X Hunter (2011) is a fabulous adaptation of Yoshihiro Togashi’s beloved work. It contains some well-written story arcs, fun characters, and great action segments. It contains a solid and complex battle system to help it stand out. The fights can feel exposition-heavy at times but contain enough brutality to keep you entertained.

This tale is about a boy named Gon Freecss. He leaves his hometown of Whale Island to become a formidable hunter like his father, Ging Freecss. Gon will meet three other friends who strive for a similar goal. Like other shonen anime, his journey won’t be an easy one as he’ll fight numerous challenging foes who’ll stop at nothing to make his journey miserable.

This series is very deep and features themes regarding friendship and determination. Each story arc feels better than the previous one. They carry different messages that’ll leave a great impact on viewers. Give this anime a watch if you’re looking for a great action series.

Hajime No Ippo

Even if you’re not a boxing fan, you’ll adore Hajime No Ippo. It contains motivational dialogue, great characters, and an inspirational coming-of-age narrative. In it, we follow Ippo. He’s lived a hard life of bullying and struggles to care for his mother. One day, he meets a professional boxer named Takamura and gets inspired to participate in boxing.

After several individual training regimes, Ippo proves himself worthy of Takamura’s time. Takamura leads Ippo to his coach’s training gym. This is where Ippo’s quest to become the best boxer ever begins. This anime contains some intense one-on-one fights with excellent choreography and brutality. Boxing fans will love the level of authenticity given to the show’s cast and its fights.

Some fights may look more supernatural, though. However, it’s the show’s grounded setting, comedy, and battles that will keep you engaged with this work. If you’re on the hunt for an incredible sports anime with a magnificent cast, check this one out.

Death Note

Death Note is a thrilling roller coaster ride you’ll never want to hop out of. This anime is filled with excellent twists and takes multiple turns that viewers won’t see coming. It contains excellent cat-and-mouse mind games between its protagonist Light and his foe L Lawliet. If you enjoy crime thrillers with intelligent casts, this is the show for you.

In it, we follow Light, a high schooler who wants to rid the world of criminals. One day, he finds a notebook called the Death Note. Its owner can murder anyone they want as long as they write their full name in it. Light goes on a murder spree and gets hailed as a hero in the eyes of many. With his alias Kira, Light will feel unstoppable.

However, his plans are thwarted after a young detective named L challenges him. We examine Light and L’s constant good vs. evil battles in a crime series with great supernatural and mystery elements.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Viewers will get a kick out of this fun action-adventure series. It’s a unique piece with several story arcs that follow different protagonists of the Joestar family lineage. This lineage must foil the plans of multiple villains, including their main threat Dio Brando. It features a villain-of-the-week story structure that never gets old.

This show features numerous martial artists, swordsmen, monsters, abilities, etc. Each JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (JoJo) protagonist brings something new to the table. Whether it’s their Stand ability or their personality, fans will adore following the new adventures they lead in their dedicated story arcs.

It’s worth noting that JoJo’s seventh, eighth, and ninth entries aren’t classified as shounen. However, if you enjoy the storylines series creator Hirohiko Araki wrote and drew for the first six entries, then you’ll adore what that offer.

Attack On Titan

Attack On Titan is a powerhouse in the anime industry. This anime contains endless mayhem, startling imagery, and a plot that gets deeper over time. This anime takes place in a world where humans live behind large walls and in isolated towns. These walls protect them from the outside world inhabited by wildlife and monstrous humanoids called Titans.

One day, a colossal Titan tears through one of the walls, allowing an army of mini Titans to run rampant in one of these towns. This is where our protagonist Eren Jaeger and his allies reside. After witnessing many deaths, Eren vows to slaughter every Titan out there and enrolls in the Survey Corps to make his dream a reality.

This show contains great plot twists and tension. You’ll be stunned by how incredibly animated its world looks. Although the series’s later seasons would be animated by a different company, many fans still cherish the wonderful world its creator Hajime Isayama made. Give this show a shot if you haven’t watched it yet.

You can read our thoughts on Attack On Titan in our full-season review here!

So, there we have it, our picks for the best shounen anime over the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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