Shonen anime is one of the most popular genres of anime, and there’s no other genre that comes even close to it. If you don’t believe me, then just have a look at some of the top anime shows and you will see that it is dominated by several shonen anime series. It can be repetitive, there are certain tropes that are present in almost all the shonen shows, but even then it remains as popular as it ever was – may be it has gotten more popular as the entire world is now watching anime!
So, what exactly does “shonen” mean? Shonen is basically a genre that targets an audience of young teen males, between the age of 12 and 18. Almost all the shonen anime titles feature a male protagonist in a high-action plot packed with humurous elements, super-powered fights and an adventurous journey. The protagonists of these stories are generally cheerful and upbeat individuals who have a desire to better themselves all the time, and they love making friends for some reason. However, all these qualities of a shonen show are not requirements, as there are anime shows that have none of these qualities and are yet considered shonen.
Shonen is a a versatile genre because you can also have fantasy, adventure, thriller, sports and many more genres mixed in and still end up with some really good shows. Since it is a popular genre, there are thousands upon thousands of shonen anime shows to watch. But if you want some recommendations on which of them are the best, then I’ve got you covered!
Best Shonen Anime Shows of 2021
22. Fire Force
Imagine living in a world where your next-door neighbor can combust in flames and turn into a fire monster called “Infernals”. That’s pretty much everyday in the alternate version of Tokyo where Fire Force takes place. To take care of these Infernals, firefighters with fire-based abilities fight to make the communities safe. The main character, Shinra Kusakabe, is a member of Company 8 of the firefighters and get this, he can shoot fire from his feet.
We get to watch Shinra and other members of Company 8 fight the infernals as well as the real bad guys, “the white clads”, who try to capture people with special fire abilities like Shinra to execute their grand plan.
21. The Seven Deadly Sins
This is one of the few shonen anime shows where the main character is short but still extremely masculine. This anime follows the story of Meliodas who is the leader of a group of knights known as The Seven Deadly Sins. The story starts 10 years after this group was accused of treason. The third princess of Britannia, Elizabeth Liones, searches for the ostracized group when the holy knights protecting the kingdom turned against it.
There are a lot of plot twists in this anime as Meliodas and Elizabeth try to find the other members of the seven deadly sins. All members of the group have different abilities and are from different races (there’s even a giant), plus we get some epic fight scenes as the story progresses.
This urban fantasy is set in modern Tokyo where two worlds exist, the “Near Shore” or human world and the “Far Shore” or demon’s and creature’s world. A minor god, Yato, who does not even have a shrine dedicated to him, takes on the weirdest jobs to get some recognition; and then there’s Hiyori, a human girl, who gains the ability to slip between the two worlds (sometimes involuntary).
She becomes friends with Yato and together with Yato’s regalia Yukine, they go on many fun adventures which sometimes lead to some pretty serious situations.
19. Black Clover
This magical anime focuses on the contrasting personalities of two orphans, Asta and Yuno, as they both dream to become the Wizard King of the Clover kingdom. There’s just one problem, Asta has absolutely zero magical powers while Yuno has it in abundance. When the come of age, Yuno gets a 4-leaf clover grimoire which is supposed to be extremely rare; but Asta surprisingly gets a 5-leaf clover grimoire that contains swords and a sinister presence within.
This is one of the best shonen anime at the moment, a culmination of the best traits that make a shonen show good, and it gets really interesting as the story progresses and the two join magic knights’ squads and work to protect the citizens of the kingdom from unforeseen threats.
18. Mob Psycho 100
The main protagonist Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed Mob, is a powerful psychic who keeps a tight hold on his emotions because of the fear of losing control of his powers. Mob also works part-time for a con psychic Reigen Arataka and he is tricked into performing most of the exorcism because Reigen has no psychic powers of his own. Instead of the usual confrontational MC, Mob avoids taunts but there are times when he can’t keep his emotions in check.
When that happens, the person who was responsible for him losing control of his emotions is in a world of hurt and watching Mob’s outbursts as he overwhelms his opponents are definitely some of the coolest moments of the show!
17. Dr Stone
Imagine a crazy scientist trying to bring everyone back to life. Yup, that’s pretty much who Senku Ishigami is! This anime is set in a post-apocalyptic world where all the humans on Earth have been turned to stone by a mysterious green light. 3700 years later, Senku wakes up and quickly decides to use his scientific knowledge to revive mankind. A couple of months later, Senku’s best friend Taiju, also awakens and in the meantime, Senku already has figured out a way to revive humans. The duo then revives Yuzuhira who happens to be Taiju’s crush and later revives Tsukasa to help them when they find themselves in danger.
Unfortunately, Tsukasa does not like the plan of reviving all civilization, preferring a world without adults. With the help of a tribe of humans Senku finds, he tries to bring the new world up to date by reinventing a lot of stuff in order to defeat Tsukasa.
Do you like sports anime? If the answer is yes, and you happen to be fan of volleyball then Haikyuu!! is the perfect shonen anime for you. It follows Karasuno High School volleyball team who’s on a mission to regain the school’s former glory and make it to nationals. The main character Shoyo Hinata is a short character who got motivated to play volleyball as a child when he saw an equally short player from Karasuno playing in the Nationals.
The present Karasuno team slowly grows as the new and prodigious first year students join the team. They breathe new fire in all their teammates and motivate them to be better and give their all when they are on the court!
This is a pretty old anime that aired in 1998, but that does not make it any less cool though. Vash the Stampede, the main character is truly contradictory, he has a huge $$60,000,000,000 bounty on his head because he is supposedly a merciless villain who can flatten cities and crush anyone who opposes him; but in reality he is a normal guy who avoids violence and claims to have never taken a single life.
Trigun is an anime that full of wit and comical relief, and each episode has its own story which slowly leads to the main story of the show. Vash the Stampede is on a journey to find out more about his life and each episode draws us closer to the answer.
14. Food Wars! – Shokugeki No Souma
As the name implies, this anime is literally all about food wars with some comedy mixed in. Steel yourself before watching this anime because you’re gonna see a lot of tasty looking meals. This story follows Yukihira Souma as he hones his culinary skills in order to surpass his father. He is unexpectedly enrolled in a classy culinary school where he has to prove to top-notch cooks that he belongs there.
Food has a near orgasmic taste in this series, so be prepared to see some weird reactions to food like people orgasming from a single bite and clothes being ripped apart, not really though. This anime is packed with competitive spirit and is quite different from the usual fantasy theme that you find in shonen anime shows.
13. Demon Slayer – Kimetsu No Yaiba
This is one of the most popular anime right now and let me tell you, it is totally worth the hype. Tanjirou Kamado happens to be a regular guy who’s taking care of his family after his father’s death. But one day, after he returns from work, he finds that his entire family has been slaughtered by a demon except his younger sister, Nezuko, who has been turned into a demon herself.
After a chance encounter with a person from the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou decides to become a demon slayer himself. He trains hard to become stronger in order to fight the bloodthirsty demons while also trying to find a cure to turn his sister back to human.
12. One Piece
One Piece is one of the longest-running shonen anime of all time. I mean, there are over 900 episodes at the time of writing this and the show is no where near its conclusion! The main character is Monkey D. Luffy who sets out to the sea with the goal of finding the ultimate treasure called “One Piece” which was left behind by the former Pirate King; and he himself wants to become the next Pirate King.
Like most of the shonen anime shows, Luffy happens to be quite dumb but he builds his crew by slowly recruiting people and this people take care of things that he can’t. And in Luffy’s on words, he may not be good at many things, but he is good at fighting and the entire series is filled with one awesome fight scene after another.
11. That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime
As the name implies, this is an isekai anime which means that our main protagonist dies early on and then gets reincarnated in another world, but this anime is different because our MC reincarnates not as a human but as a slime! 30-year-old Satoru Mikami is stabbed to death and finds himself in a cave when regains consciousness. He discovers that he is now a slime, but all is not lost because he’s been gifted with some pretty cool abilities to not only survive in this new magical world, but also reach the top of the food chain with little to no efforts.
In short, our lovable slime is an overpowered main character but the anime is far from generic as it has a perfect blend of a good storyline with different kind of characters and is a great balance of comedy, adventure and action.
10. Assassination Classroom
This show has pretty unique premise as students of a class of misfits are tasked with a mission to assassinate their homeroom teacher within a year. Koro-sensei is an octopus-like indestructible being that can fly at speeds of up to Mach 20, and is powerful enough that he has destroyed more than half of the moon and left it in a crescent shape. He has also threatened to destroy the Earth within a year but he gives the military a chance to prevent this by becoming a homeroom teacher and assigning his students the task to kill him within a year.
Turns out, Koro-sensei is the best teacher these students are ever going to have as they start excelling in their studies, while also polishing their assassination skills to take the tentacled-teacher out before the year ends.
9. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is not your average shonen anime; it is a blend of bloody action and amazing sword-fighting sequences, while also being really funny at times. Mugen is a self-taught reckless swordman and Jin is a proper ronin samurai with glasses to top it off. They are so different that they are often at odds leading to fights but after being saved from execution by Fuu (a teahouse waitress), they are forced to work together as they go on a journey to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers”.
If you amazing character designs, smooth animation style, well-crafted fight sequences and sick hip-hop beats, then you are definitely going to love this anime!
8. Naruto / Naruto Shippuden
Anyone who has not heard of Naruto by now probably lives under a rock. Naruto has a huge fan base, and even if you haven’t watched the show, you must have heard about it from one of your friends. The anime tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an ostracized ninja with a demon fox sealed inside him, who dreams of becoming the Hokage, the head of the village. He faces a lot of obstacles and enemies while learning about his past, but he never gives up and trains to become a better person and a stronger shinobi.
Naruto Shippuden is a follow-up series that takes place after a time skip and this is when the story becomes really serious as more secrets are revealed and new characters start popping up.
7. Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball series is the shonen anime show that almost all of us used to watch, and we didn’t even know that it was anime. You can say that this show is responsible for introducing the western audience to the world of anime, and it has retained its popularity even after all these decades.
Dragon Ball Z takes place 5 years after Goku has won the World Martial Arts Tournament and he is now living with his wife, Chi-Chi, and his son, Gohan. In the beginning of the show, Raditz shows up and reveals himself as the brother of Goku and tells him all about his lineage as a Saiyan warrior and the reason why he was sent to Earth. As the story progresses, newer and stronger foes show up and Goku and his friends have to work together and train hard to become strong enough to defeat anyone who threatens them!
6. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Imagine you are a powerful psychic who is surrounded by ordinary people and you have to always hide your true abilities. Sounds like a plot of an action-adventure anime filled with a ton of violence, right? But that’s not the case because this happens to be one of the best comedy anime shows ever!
Saiki Kusuo is an extremely introverted dude who’s been gifted with a myriad of supernatural abilities like telepathy, x-ray vision, teleportation and more. This might seem like a blessing to most, but not to Saiki as he just wants to lead a normal and ordinary life. But the more he tries to stay out of the spotlight, the more he finds himself being the center of attention as there are a number of odd characters all around him that won’t let him have a hassle-free life. This anime is doesn’t have any grand plot but it is hilarious and Saiki’s commentary on the lives of the people around him will make you laugh your heart out.
5. Hunter X Hunter
Gon Freecss leaves his home on an island to take the Hunter examination and be a hunter like his father after he finds out that he was alive. The thing is, being a Hunter is no small feat because you become a top society member with access to special places and secret missions, but you also have to be powerful and smart to accomplish those missions as they are extremely dangerous.
And even though Gon is just a cheerful 12-year-old boy, he is powerful and he makes friends with other applicants during the examination, including Killua Zoldyck who’s just as old as Gon is. The anime then takes the main characters on a number of adventures as they figure out what being a hunter really means!
4. My Hero Academia
Picture a world where almost everyone has superpowers, better known as “quirks”, and can choose to become a superhero by enrolling in special schools. The main character, Izuku Midoriya, has no abilities whatsoever but that does not stop him from dreaming about becoming a Hero. After an encounter with his favorite hero, All Might, he is granted the ability “One for All” and he ends up enrolling in UA, a high school that trains students to become heroes.
Though he now possesses a powerful ability, there are some drawbacks as his body can’t control the full output of his powers. So every time he uses his power, he ends up damaging his body. So, Midoriya trains with All Might in order to learn to control his new abilities, and he also works with his new classmates to fight off dangerous villains.
3. Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen happens to be the latest title in the vast ocean of shonen anime, and it has not made a splash but brought forth a tsunami the moment it started airing. The show follows the exploits of Yuuji Itadori, a high schooler who lives a leisurely lifestyle while taking care of his bedridden grandfather. But his life takes a turn for the worse as he is introduced to the world of curses – evil beings formed out of human malice – after he finds a cursed talisman.
This cursed talisman turns out to be a finger of Sukuna, the King of Curses, and Yuuji eats the finger in order to protect his friends and ends up becoming Sukuna’s host. Yuuji then is enrolled into Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School where he starts learning how to become a good Jujutsu sorcerer!
2. Attack On Titan
In most of the shonen anime shows, most of the characters are always safe and you are absolutely confident that everyone will survive at the end of the journey. Well, Attack On Titan is the complete opposite of this! It is 2nd on this list because of its unpredictability, you can never guess what will happen next. It is set in a world where the main characters are confined within a wall that protects them from mindless human-eating Titans that wander around outside the walls. The whole illusion of safety is crushed when Titans breach the wall in the very first episode.
Eren Jeager, the protagonist of the show, joins the military along with his friends with the sole purpose of killing all the Titans. The plot however thickens when the Survey Corps discover that there are some humans who can transform into Titans and that there is still a lot more about this monsters that they don’t know yet.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is without a doubt one of the best shonen anime titles that you have to watch if you still haven’t! It is an anime show that follows the story of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers who try to bring their dead mother back to life via alchemy, but things go horribly wrong. In the process, Alphonse’s body is destroyed while Edward loses his left leg. He then trades his right hand for Al’s soul which he houses in a metal armor. With metal prosthetics as his limbs and a new armored body for Alphonse, the brothers become state-sanctioned alchemist and try to search for a way to regain their bodies.
This fantasy anime is truly exciting with lots of epic scenes and one of the most intricate plots of all time. It will leave you yelling “hell yeah” for the action scenes, laughing uncontrollably at the hilarious scenes and crying the very next second for the emotional scenes.
Which Shonen Anime Shows Do You Like?
Shonen is one of the most popular genre in the anime industry right now, and that’s the reason why there are so many shows to choose from. They are versatile and they can have all kinds of plots with the only condition being the show should be aimed at teenagers.
If you love this genre and have watched a ton of shonen anime shows but still want more, then this list will definitely help you find the next title to watch. And if you have watched all the shows on this list, let us know which ones are your favorite. Also, don’t hesitate in recommending some of your favorite shows as well in the comments section below!