Top 10 Best Shonen Manga

The Top Ten
1 One Piece

Creative storytelling. Thoughtful plot. Unique character design. Epic. Touching. Funny. Did I mention epic? It's long because it needs to be, not because the editors extend it due to good ratings. Despite its length, the series continues to amaze and twist, which keeps you on the edge of your seat most of the time.

I've been following it since 1998, and I'm always eager for the next chapters. I hope once this ends, they collaborate with Pixar or DreamWorks to make a 3D animated movie out of this story.

2 Naruto

Naruto is a fantastic story. Naruto, meaning the first part of the show, is funny, action-packed, and then becomes emotional. Characters begin to develop and grow. It is truly emotional, while still being entertaining with the fighting. My only complaint is the fillers at the end of the series.

However, to me, Naruto also means Naruto Shippuden. Over the course of Naruto, the characters mature, so as it should be, Shippuden is more mature. Big things happened in Naruto, and Shippuden deals with that on a higher level. It is still ongoing, and as the episodes continue to come out, it never ceases to amaze me. Naruto constantly outdoes itself. I love these characters, feel for them, and want them to become stronger and achieve their goals. It is truly, truly great.

3 Dragon Ball Z

This is the OG of the damn genre. Goku represents everything that we've all come to accept in anime, and Goku has been one of the most well-known characters dating from 1984! That's over 30 years and still going strong. If you could have one attack move of a shonen hero in this list, you know lots of people are going to go Kamehameha!

He's not the hero the world wants, just a man who wants to protect his friends. He was again the OG with that theme in anime and also gave us the fast-paced action scenes that every kid loved on the TV. DB/DBZ was mainly just awesome fighting with good additions of other themes as well, like family, which everyone enjoys.

4 Fairy Tail

You watch one episode, and you fall in love with it. There are the main characters: Natsu, a dragon slayer who is... travel sick? There's Lucy, a strong and independent girl looking to join the Fairy Tail guild. And don't forget Happy, a blue cat that can fly! Hiro Mashima has crafted an amazing work of art with his manga, making every character memorable with their own little quirks.

Fairy Tail has all the drama, action, adventure, humor, and maybe a little bit of romance. If you are just starting out in the manga/anime world, this magic-filled show is the best way to start. Just do it, and you won't regret it.

5 Bleach

The characters really have a lot of depth! I also prefer the drawing style compared to Naruto or One Piece (though they're awesome mangas too!). Also, the protagonist isn't a general shonen hero (the slightly dumb, happy-go-lucky type), but an intelligent, sensitive guy.

Most of the characters are intelligent too! There are quite a few hot/pretty characters too!

The manga and the canon episodes of the anime are well-paced and keep the interest of the reader or viewer. Characters are well-written, and so is the overall story.

Bleach's art style has unique traits and is visually appealing. In my opinion, this anime should be number one.

6 Kuroko's Basketball

This is no Naruto with an attention complex and a terrible childhood, but Kuroko's seemingly bland and bleak character is actually really refreshing! The art is very expressive and bold, with equal doses of comedy, drama, and suspense. Team play and friendship are one of the key themes here. However, there is still more to see from this manga, and I'm sure many more themes will be explored.

Overall, it's very light on the eyes, perfect for those who just want to chill, want a break from fantasy settings, or crack a smile at asinine male behavior.

7 Fullmetal Alchemist

I absolutely love this series. It's funny, sad, and happy. The characters are amazing, and the relationships they have with one another are awesome. I love the lessons they teach you and the message they send.

In life, we have to make sacrifices to get what we want, and when we make mistakes, we have to get up on our own two feet and use our own two hands to fix it. The storyline was fantastic, and the action was superb. It's a must-read. (Or watch)

One of the deepest and best stories I've read. My first anime/manga experience was Sailor Moon, and it put me off for years. Of course, it might not have, but I was watching the dubbed version. From there, I moved on to Naruto, and I absolutely loved it. Seriously. However, as Naruto grew up, the plot I was accustomed to almost seemed to vanish. It either veered too far from the original or felt like waking up from a wonderful dream only to realize I was late for school.

Then came Death Note, which I loved until L and Light died. They were the reasons I was invested in that story, so it kind of lost its appeal for me. I just couldn't connect with Near and Mello in the same way.

Next, I discovered Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA). I read it all the way through and then watched Brotherhood. After going through a couple of weeks of withdrawal, I watched the first anime adaptation. I haven't read much else, but FMA introduced me to many new subjects I had never encountered before, and the main characters just resonated with me. I instantly fell in love with Alphonse, a sweet boy who managed to maintain his childlike wonder for the world despite his circumstances. I identified with Ed's shortness and Al's uncertainty about his identity.

Izumi and Olivier amazed me with their Chuck Norris-style epicness. Roy impressed me by not being overly emo, despite sharing some characteristics with the classic manga emo Sasuke, like his black hair. Alex, Sheska, and Winry entertained me, and I wholeheartedly agreed with Winry's perspective on automail. The plot blew me away, although the Liore and Youswell arcs felt a little disjointed. And the ending, although somewhat sad, left the reader satisfied. The Elric brothers regained their bodies, Roy witnessed the destruction of Maes's murderer, Scar achieved his revenge, the world was saved, the Homunculi were defeated, and Father was killed. Even though Ed lost his alchemy, the ending tied up loose ends and provided a... more

8 Hunter x Hunter

One of the most unique shounens, though massively underappreciated, is Hunter x Hunter. It boasts one of the most well-developed plots I've ever seen, with no fillers and - gasp! - no plot holes either. The fights are well-done and based more on brains than power levels. You'd be surprised at how clever some conflicts end up being! The author challenges you to use your brains, too. The characters are also fantastic. While appearing totally generic at first, they soon surprise you with consistent and realistic development.

HxH also gets kudos for having one of the most interesting and problematic main characters I've ever seen. It has downsides, such as the fluctuating quality of art and really long hiatuses. But the quality of Hunter x Hunter more than makes up for these flaws. It's simply one of, if not the best, shounen animes and really deserves to be more well-known.

9 Death Note

Death Note is a good anime in its own right, but I wouldn't call it action. It's very much a mystery/suspense genre. That being said, this show will have you on your feet at all times. It had me hooked better than a lot of action anime can, which is a real talent. It shows like 1/10th the action of a typical "action" anime, but it's mind-bogglingly interesting and a thrill ride if you can keep up.

The second half, while I agree isn't quite as exciting as the first, makes up for it with one of the best endings I have seen of all time in an anime. Glorious ending to a glorious show. Again, not really action, but it's intelligent and mystery-packed, and definitely worth a watch.

10 Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

It's not One Piece, but in this case, that's okay. I've read most of the mangas on this list and I'd have to say that, much as I love them, this one is right up there. It does an amazing job of balancing levity with some intense political machinations. The depth and scope of characters, countries, and concepts leave you really invested. Like Naruto and others, this manga broadens in focus until it deals with things like the purpose, cause, and saving of the world. Unlike many of its contemporaries, I'd say it takes a pretty nuanced view, without straying too far from its shonen genre.

I've read it through twice now and have noticed the carefully thought-out plot developments. It doesn't suddenly pull a deus ex machina on you, or pull out vast developments from nowhere. I really admire the organic development from a whimsical adventure tale to an epic and would recommend it to anyone.

The Contenders
11 Reborn!

It starts out very slow, with the first 60 or so chapters focusing mainly on character introductions, comedy, and plain ridiculousness. However, around chapters 70 or 80, it finally gets serious. The third arc was the best, in my opinion. The character development is clearly shown in this particular arc, and the plot twists are excellent.

All in all, it was a very exciting experience. I suggest you try it out. Oh, and the graphics aren't very good in the beginning, but believe me when I say they get even more awesome!

12 YuYu Hakusho

It might be because it was my first, but it remains my favorite to date. It has pretty good character development, an interesting storyline that drags you in, and a clean balance of action and emotion. The length is just right, though I would probably not complain if it were longer. Deserves a lot more credit and popularity. I loved it!

It's the first and the greatest shonen that I ever read. And of course, the anime too. I really love it. This shonen has given me so much inspiration. I like the characters and they just match my lovely characters.

I hope this shonen will be added, maybe in the next season, so I could hunt for it again.

13 Beelzebub

Beelzebub - finally, a shonen manga that doesn't feature a main character set on the right path. He knows what he wants and how to get it: with brute force. Oga is reckless, irrational, a complete idiot, and the biggest badass I've ever seen. He makes a contract with a demon and his first worry is whether or not he'll turn into a demon. He's not concerned about whether he still has a chance at gaining paradise. He worries about himself. He's selfish, arrogant, and a total nut job. But he's lovable.

Almost all of the characters are lovable. They're idiotic, stupid, unconventional, completely and utterly insane, power-hungry, and badasses everyone can't help but remember. They all have their strong points and aspects that you can't help but fawn over. Characters that start off as bad guys turn into friends. You see sides of them you didn't know existed. You feel like you've actually made friends with them and watch them grow.

14 InuYasha

With all of its flaws, Inuyasha excels in three areas against all these shows. First, its characters are just the best and most interesting out of any shonen anime out there. Second, the story, while long, feels like a classic adventure all the way through. Lastly, its pure enjoyment level is so powerful and constant. Sure, there are the occasional boring episodes, but overall it's a fun ride that gets quite addicting.

When it comes down to simple and lovable characters, Inuyasha has the best to offer. With its magnificent character development and great feeling of an epic adventure, it's hard not to love and stop watching Inuyasha. A classic shonen and anime period.

In the anime world, even if you have not watched Inuyasha, you at least know about it, like Bleach or One Piece. That's how good it is.

15 Attack on Titan

Best story around. The characters actually have normal hair. The drawings are epic. It's not old and is full of action, mystery, and twists. You get dragged into the story and you can't stop hoping that a video game comes out. The author is young. Awesome story about war and full of scientifically-possible machinery.

I don't worry much about the fact that it's ranked 25th because it's ranked first in other places and it's new. I'm a great fan and I read many shonen manga, old and new. It's a must-read!

Really good manga because it has an interesting plot line and characters (although the majority die anyway). I highly recommend this manga if you haven't read it already. Just a warning, it can get gory, and also don't get too attached to any of the characters because basically anyone apart from Eren, Mikasa, and Armin can die at any moment.

16 Shaman King

The best! Character development is amazing. Great plot. Amazing characters.

The ending is perfect. Sadly, it's really underrated.

I feel like it's really underrated. My favorite! Greatest storyline ever.

17 Berserk

Deep and intricate plot. It has a really dark storyline, and Guts is a badass.

A must-read manga. Tragic story of friendship, love, betrayal, rage, and all the emotions you can think of.

18 Bakuman

Bakuman is great. It's written and drawn by the same duo that created Death Note, meaning it has amazing art and good storytelling. Having a manga about people writing manga sounds really boring, but the plot line totally draws you in until you can't stop. The characters are well developed, though their appearances don't change much even as they age throughout the story.

The stories they come up with sound amazing, and any otaku would be curious to find out how a manga gets published! It's one of my favorites!

19 Gin Tama

I had to vote for this because Gintama really should be at least in the top 10, if not the top 5. What is this madness? Anyway, this is a Shonen unlike many others in that it doesn't have a huge overarching plot filled with epic battles that last 10+ chapters. Instead, Gintama primarily uses episodic comedic genius and off-the-wall characters as its focus. Although this might be off-putting for some, it works entirely in its favor.

It's amazing how something mainly episodic, with mini-arcs threaded in here and there, can constantly feel fresh and never get boring. That's not to say that Gintama is plotless - it has serious and emotional moments, as well as some amazing fight scenes. They just aren't pointlessly dragged out. Add to this one of Shonen's best protagonists to date and an elusive set of side characters with their own quirks and issues, and you've got a winner.

Seriously, Gintama restored my faith in anime and manga, and for that, I can't thank it enough.

20 Kenichi

History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi is probably the only manga I know that is a true underdog story. Unlike other shonen manga, the main protagonist, Kenichi, starts out weak, then trains intensely to grow stronger. Unlike other stories, when additional strength is needed, there is no power-up handed to him that allows him to defeat his opponent effortlessly. Instead, Kenichi earns his strength through intense and often absurd training sessions. Whenever he is in a jam, there is no magical, wish-granting, potential unlocking plot device to save him. He relies on his own willpower and determination to outlast his opponents. But now I'm getting off track.

The story revolves around Kenichi, an unpopular high school weakling who one day meets a girl who seems like an assassin. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, Kenichi becomes the disciple of five of History's Strongest Martial Art Masters. Each master is an unrivaled expert in a popular martial art and has their own colorful personality. While learning martial arts, Kenichi falls in love with Miu, the girl he met. He becomes targeted by local gangs and other disciples eager to make a name for themselves and manages to make a group of unlikely friends - people he defeats early on.

The series starts off light-hearted and humor-oriented, as Kenichi begins very weak and gradually works his way up. It then takes on more serious tones and features more intense disciple as well as master fights. Some people have complained that after a few hundred chapters, the level of fan service becomes annoying. The strength of the masters also seems to grow increasingly unrealistic, which could be problematic if you were seeking realism in a martial arts manga.

Another noteworthy aspect is that all the martial arts and martial arts moves depicted in the manga are said to be real or at least based on real techniques. They are initially explained so well, I wouldn't be surprised if you learned a... more

21 Soul Eater

At first, I wasn't really sure about it, but the characters are really enjoyable. It has good moments of comedy, but it also goes deeper. Some people may not be into its style of animation, but I really enjoyed how the characters looked and how it fit with their personalities.

There are a few episodes that could be skipped as they do not add to the plot, but that's about 3 out of 51 episodes, so not bad. Funny, action-packed, with a great story and characters. What more do you need?

The first anime that I watched. The best!

22 My Hero Academia

This is the only manga that ever caught my eye. And I'm so glad I decided to give it a try. There's so much to praise about it, I won't try to fit it all here. But let's just say I am totally shocked that this series isn't at least in the top 10 right now...

The best manga of its generation. The world-building is probably one of the best. It also has some great plot twists.

The villains have great backstories, and all the fight scenes are epic.

I binged the two seasons currently out and need more of this!

It's a relatively new series that is well worth getting into.

Reminds me of the good parts of Naruto.

23 Code Geass

Excellent storyline with great characters. And the power of the Geass trumps everything with a will short of resurrection. Lelouch Lamperouge (or Lelouch vi Britannia) is a realistic character who, unlike most shonen characters, trumps people with his intellect, not his brawn or emotions. It has food for thought on whether we should fight fire with fire, evil with evil, or should we merely surrender to evil. Excellent character development and plots and schemes that rival and, in places, surpass Death Note's. Intellectual, but unlike Death Note, it has plenty of badass fight scenes.

24 Fist of the North Star

How can it be that the manliest of all men, Kenshiro, isn't added to this list?! He alone could put this series in here, but then we add the likes of Raoh, Toki, Souther, and more! The result? Anyone who thought this shouldn't be included is already dead!

One of the greatest TV shows I have seen, especially since it is now quite dated - that's saying something. The moment Kenshiro destroys a tank with his fists is still one of the greatest moments in anime history.

25 Sword Art Online

Actually, Sword Art Online is a light novel first. I don't know if there's manga or not, but the anime is awesome!

Can't vouch for the manga, but the anime is amazing.

It's awesome, but it's a light novel, not a manga. I read the novel, it's more great.

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