Best Shonen Jump Manga of All Time
Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between. With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to 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 manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to works that were published by Shonen Jump. From Naruto to D.Gray-Man, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Naruto – Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto is a popular Shonen Jump manga series that served as a gateway to newer anime and manga for most fans. It’s a ninja-themed work with great action segments, emotional dialogue and themes, and unforgettable characters. The story follows Naruto, a young ninja who likes committing funny pranks on his fellow villagers and getting into all types of trouble.
Despite being a delinquent, Naruto wants to become his village’s Hokage. He’ll have to triumph over many hurdles to achieve this dream from fighting rogue shinobi and saving many lives. Naruto isn’t alone in this endeavor. He’ll make numerous allies who’ll help him become a more mature and capable shinobi as time flies by.
Masashi Kishimoto touches upon themes like friendship, death, and determination well. The fights are well-drawn and always feel like a spectacle. The manga contains some alluring mysteries that get touched upon before the narrative’s conclusion. For those who complete Naruto’s journey, a follow-up sequel called Boruto awaits you.
One Piece – Eichiro Oda
One Piece is a heavy-hitting manga in Shonen Jump’s catalog. It’s up there with Naruto for being a series that helped get people into anime and manga. While it doesn’t have a strong Western following like Naruto, it is one of many people who air from Eastern territories. It offers phenomenal world-building components, excellent characters, and incredible fight scenes.
In it, we follow Monkey D. Luffy. He embarks on a journey with several other crewmates to find the former Pirate King’s treasure One Piece. By doing so, Luffy will be crowned the next Pirate King. In a world with a delectable prize on the line, fans can expect countless pirates to interrupt Luffy’s travels. Sometimes, Luffy and his friends will travel to their territories to destroy their hold over nations.
These moments lead to entertaining fights and touching themes. Every island feels unique and different from the others. Readers will be impressed with Eichiro Oda’s creativity with each one. However, some story arcs don’t land as well as others, but for those looking for a fabulous adventure manga with a long and entertaining ride, One Piece should suffice.
Dragon Ball – Akira Toriyama
It if wasn’t for Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and countless other series on this list wouldn’t exist. This story has a core following in Western and Eastern territories. Many adore it for its fabulous depiction of martial arts and adventure. It revolves around a young fighter named Goku. He and his friends travel the world in search of the magic Dragon Balls.
If you possess a certain amount of Dragon Balls, you’ll be able to make a wish. Of course, Goku and his companions will run into many people who want to use the Dragon Balls for nefarious purposes. Therefore, it’s up to him and his friends to get the Dragon Balls to prevent terrible calamities from occurring on Earth.
At some point, the series will switch its focus from adventure to action when it reaches Goku’s adult years. Nonetheless, the transition between the two branching narratives feels authentic. As a whole, Dragon Ball offers a rich world that readers will admire and cherish for centuries. From its adrenaline-pumping fights to its whimsical ventures, Dragon Ball is an important piece of Shonen Jump history that earned its spot as one of the best stories to come from the magazine yet.
D.Gray-Man – Katsura Hoshino
D.Gray-Man is an overlooked manga with dark aspects and a well-rounded cast. It contains a mature storyline and a gloomy, supernatural world many will find enticing. The story follows Allen Walker, a boy who went through three years of training under the surveillance of General Cross. He sends Allen to the Black Order to train him to fight the organization’s long-time nemesis.
This being’s known for inserting dead people’s souls inside “Akuma” weapons. When Allen arrives at the Black Order’s establishment, he becomes an exorcist and attains some equipment that will make him appear more formidable. With some help from friends, Allen plans to thwart the Black Order’s nemesis’s evil plot.
Katsura Hoshino excellently monitors its characters’ progress from beginning to end. Despite being a dark work with an appealing gothic aesthetic, D.Gray-Man tackles themes like friendship, hard work, and determination like other shonen series. It just offers unique and maturer storylines compared to most Shonen Jump works.
Fullmetal Alchemist – Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist is a juggernaut in Shonen Jump’s catalog. Despite finishing ages ago, the series is still regarded as the best work to come from the magazine since its inception. Many people adore it for its emotional and mature storytelling, well-developed and intricate cast, and epic alchemic and martial arts combat scenes.
Our story revolves around two brothers named Edward and Alphonse Elric. They embark on a quest to find the mystical Philosopher Stone that will return their bodies to normal. They tampered with alchemy at a young age to bring their mother back to life. This resulted in Edward losing his limbs and Alphonse’s soul being trapped in a giant suit of armor.
Their journey for the stone will not be simple. They’ll need to endure harsh realities that await them in this industrialized, alchemic world. From parents transforming their children into hideous beasts to seeing people getting massacred before their eyes, the brothers must suck it up if they hope to complete their goal. If you’re looking for a captivating adventure series with an all-star cast, give Fullmetal Alchemist a read.
Death Note – Tsugumi Ohba
Death Note is an amazing Shonen Jump title, unlike anything on this list. Instead of characters clashing with powerful attacks, you’ll witness them engage in thought-driven bouts. With its strong twists and intelligent cast, you’d wish you’d checked this out sooner. Our story centers on Light, a high schooler who doesn’t adore criminals.
As he’s walking home one day, he stumbles upon a magical book called Death Note. With it, the wielder can murder anyone they please by writing their name on it, alongside a cause of death. Light takes on the alias Kira and embarks on a killing spree. He gets worshiped as a hero for his actions, but the police and a young detective named L want to bring him to justice.
Light and L will engage in countless feuds to see who will triumph over the other. Both characters have rich personalities and backstories that will make them stand out. Other characters receive some spotlight in the work, but these two will make the story more enjoyable for newcomers. For those looking for a crime thriller with excellent characters, check out Death Note.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn – Akira Amano
Katekyo Hitman Reborn is a wonderful gem from Shonen Jump’s catalog of titles. It harbors stylish artwork, fun characters, and a great plot. In it, we follow a weak boy named Tsuna. He meets a small hitman named Reborn who’d like to recruit him as the new boss for the esteemed Vongolla Mafia Family. Tsuna accepts Reborn’s offer, receives supernatural fire powers, and fights many rival groups.
Tsuna won’t be alone in his endeavor. He’ll be joined by old and new friends. Some of his team will consist of people who used to look down upon him or serve as pivotal villains in the story. This story touches upon themes like devotion, growth, and friendship well. You’ll enjoy the multiple places Tsuna and his allies traverse. For those looking for an epic mafia-themed manga with enjoyable storytelling and characters, check out Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
Hunter X Hunter – Yoshihiro Togashi
Hunter X Hunter is an incredible manga from Yu Yu Hakusho and Level E creator, Yoshihiro Togashi. It offers a thrilling adventurous narrative with emotionally impactful storytelling. It’s currently ongoing, but due to Togashi’s health, it doesn’t receive consistent updates. Nonetheless, the current Dark Continent story arc is dark and complex enough to warrant a read from you.
For those curious, Hunter X Hunter follows a young boy named Gon Freecss. He leaves his monster and human-infested home of Whale Island to become a phenomenal hunter like his father, Ging Freecss. Gon hopes that he’ll be able to reunite with his father one day due to him leaving him in the care of his aunt to pursue an exhilarating adventure.
Gon will befriend many allies and encounter multiple dangerous enemies. The manga’s known for having a complex power system, opening up room for different styles of martial arts combat. On that note, the artwork may not be up to snuff in the beginning. However, it gets progressively engaging over time. The manga tends to dish out long paragraphs of dialogue too. If you’re okay with that, give this phenomenal manga a shot.
Bleach – Tite Kubo
Bleach is a popular Shonen Jump manga that stands toe to toe with One Piece and Naruto. It features fun characters, entertaining story beats, and well-drawn action sequences. The characters have wonderful and memorable personalities and abilities that help them stand out. Like many mangas on this list, Bleach features some meaningful plot twists that will keep you hooked to its story.
The narrative takes place in the home of our protagonist, Ichigo. He gets ambushed by a Hollow, but a Soul Reaper named Rukia provides Ichigo with support. Unfortunately, the Hollow is too much for Rukia, so she gives Ichigo a bit of her power, allowing him to become a Soul Reaper to vanquish the beast.
With this newfound power at his disposal, Ichigo must embark on a perilous endeavor to protect those he cares about. This manga feels a bit eerier than its popular companions. The story still maintains common shonen tropes like friendship and call-out attacks. Nonetheless, Bleach offers readers much to look forward to with its plot and characters.
Gintama – Hideaki Sorachi
Hideaki Sorachi offers readers a comedic gold mine with what occurs in Gintama. It’s up there with many comical television shows, anime, and manga for being a well-written action comedy series. While most of its narrative can feel overly lighthearted, Gintama can delve into darker territory when its author chooses it to.
The story follows Gintoki, a man who wanders places looking for new jobs to tackle. Gintoki will be accompanied by two people named Shimura and Kagura, who’ll assist him along the way. They’ll be tackling all types of missions involving otherworldly aliens to common human enemies. Sorachi knows how to balance his story’s humor and drama well.
It always feels natural whenever he transitions between his grim and wholesome content. You’ll be surprised to see how dark this comedy manga can get when it explores our characters’ backstories, too. If you’re looking for a parodic and entertaining samurai manga with a large following, check out Gintama.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best Shonen Jump manga through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!