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.

I was one of the people who refused to read One Piece because I didn't like the drawings. I remember how all my friends were excited about every next chapter release of the manga, and I didn't understand them. Later, I gave it a try and discovered a new world, a beautiful one, a great adventure to make you dream. Stories that melt your heart and fill it with all sorts of emotions: anger, sadness, happiness, etc. This is the manga that taught me the most about so many things like friendship, pride, will, dreams, and most importantly, the meaning of freedom. The story is becoming as exciting as ever. You can never stop reading it.

Oh, I almost forgot about the characters. There are so many badass, carefree, and reckless people. They are so varied: the strong ones, the funny, the weak, the intelligent, the dumb, but all bonded by the same will and trust.

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.

I love Naruto! I love how small things have a big impact and how the whole story is connected together. My only complaint is that Karin is an extremely annoying character. What was Kishimoto-sensei even thinking, abandoning her character development so completely? While I found Sasuke annoying, at least he's a character you can respect. Karin is as annoying as crap, and I seriously wish she had better character development and could think of something other than Sasuke once in a while.

Other than that, this story is awesome and has brought me to tears at some points. I love almost all the characters. There are so many, yet each is an individual with unique traits and quirks, and extremely likable.

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 shounen 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.

I have yet to see someone who does not know Dragon Ball (the manga is only Dragon Ball, not 'Z') or the name Son-Goku!
Everyone should read it, just watching the anime is not good enough. The manga is awesome! Plus, this is the manga that influenced all subsequent shonen manga.

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.

Unlike other Shonen that have overarching stories, Fairy Tail doesn't seem to have one as of yet, which allows Mashima to focus on developing a huge amount of characters with both depth and emotion. He juggles this and various plots, which is very difficult. He gives so much attention to his huge cast. Unlike the big three, Fairy Tail has a wide array of amazingly developed characters that hold it very high in my books. What's more, the pacing is years better in comparison to Naruto.

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 4 mangas above Bleach is sad.

Dragon Ball Z - Same arc every time! They meet Vegeta who threatens to rule everything and destroy earth! Goku does kamehameha and wins! They meet Frieza who threatens to rule everything and destroy earth! Goku does kamehameha and wins! They meet Cell who threatens to rule everything and destroy earth! Goku does kamehameha and wins! They meet Buu who threatens to rule everything and destroy earth! Goku does kamehameha and wins! NOW IT'S A CAT NAME BEERUS?

Fairy Tail - Five things to describe Fairy Tail: Fanservice, "Power of Friendship", unrealistic power ups, did I mention fanservice, and our characters doing nothing that contributes to the world.

Naruto - Remember when these books were about Naruto wanting to become Hokage? When there were actual tactics in a fight? Remember loving characters before they turned useless and boring? Yeah I remember those days...now it's just Dragon Ball Z 2.0

One Piece - I might actually accept this being better than Bleach, but the pacing alone makes it worse. This crap should've ended at least 20 volumes ago.

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, but as there is yet more to see from this manga, I'm sure many more themes will be explored.

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

Good art style, and an interesting plot. It makes basketball seem so intense and enjoyable. If you want a break from the usual "went through trauma and now I'll get stronger" main character, you'll be refreshed to see Kuroko's deadpan but hilarious character. This manga is a fresh new change, complete with unique characters, a well-balanced, and nicely paced plot.

I don't even like sports, or most sports mangas, but I loved this!

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)

If it can be considered a Shonen (and I'm not sure about this...), this must be for sure the best one. A deep plot which deals with philosophy, the great questions of life, politics, racism, ethics, and much more. Lots of action and true emotions. You'll find yourself crying or rejoicing out of the blue, guaranteed. And even some really good humor. What more can you ask for than this? Read it.

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 sense... 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.

Most clever and elegant story I have ever read. No other story was so well written. This isn't an action manga. It's more like one big detective story, where you know the motive, murderer, solver, and most of their plans, but you never know who the winner is until the last chapter. And no guns were used (with some exceptions). Most battles were psychological, about who will make the better move and who has the most information.

If you haven't read this, you are missing out.

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. Overall, I'd say it's a great read.

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!

Katekyo Hitman Reborn is awesome! It's not extremely long, and the fillers are really good (unlike Naruto Shippuden, which forced me to give up). It has a good list of characters who aren't voiced by prominent voice actors, which gives it an air of freshness. The idea is extremely original, and the show manages to balance humor with some of the darker scenes later on in the series.

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.

Why isn't this number 1?! It's the greatest anime of all time. Everything about it is perfect. The final season is a bit of a slump, but the Dark Tournament and Sensui seasons are phenomenal. It does everything right. I'm not even going to bother listing all the great things about it because there are too many to name. It would take forever. Always #1 in my book.

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.

I'm going to watch it over, for the third time. The plot is just amazing.

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.

It is very epic. It has a unique character placement, with characters who play major parts. It is realistic, yet a nearly perfect piece of fiction and revolves around everyday elements like the caste system, treachery, propaganda, untimely death. It may be violent, but with such a unique setting, it's my number one ever.

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 between friendship. Love, betrayal, rage, and all the emotions you can think of.

Best dark fantasy manga ever!

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!

Bakuman, created by the Death Note creator itself, is a very interesting manga if you're hooked on arts, a bit of shonen, and slice of life. It had some interesting plot developments and will captivate you to know what the story behind these great mangas that we know is. The characters are well-built and memorable, and what can I say, it's awesome.

I like it so much. It gives me courage and reassurance for trying hard, which will eventually yield a nice profit. I like both the anime and manga so much.

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. This isn't like the other shonen manga where the main protagonist starts out weak, then trains himself to be stronger, and when that turns out not to be enough, is handed a power-up that grants him enough strength to wipe the floor with his opponent. Kenichi earns his strength through intense (and often times absurd) training. Whenever he is in a jam, there is no magic, wish-granting, potential unlocking plot device to save him. He has to rely 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 is like an assassin". One thing leads to another, and before you know it, Kenichi becomes the disciple of 5 of History's Strongest Martial Art Masters. Each master is an unrivaled expert of a popular martial art, and each has their own colorful personality. All the while learning martial arts, Kenichi falls in love with the girl he met named Miu, becomes targeted by local gangs and every other disciple eager to make a name for themselves, and manages to make a group of unlikely friends (i.e., people he defeats early on).

The series starts off light-hearted and more humor-oriented, as the MC starts off very weak and works his way up. It then gradually takes on more serious tones and features more intense disciple as well as master fights. People have complained that after a few hundred chapters, the level of fan service gets to annoying levels. The strength of the masters also seems to get more and more unrealistic (which is only a problem if you were desperately looking for realism in a martial arts manga).

Another thing worth mentioning 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 martial arts). They are initially explained so well, I... 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 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.

The best ever... it should be among the top twenty... one word for it: AWESOME!

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 at 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.

Love the story.

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