Shonen manga is probably the most popular manga genre ever because the manga series categorized as shonen are almost always among the best-selling titles. The main reason for this is how it revolves around character growth and plot development, contrary to other genres, such as comedy or romance, that focus on different plots for each chapter.
Another significant feature of shonen titles is that they tend to be on the long side, making it easier to find series with many chapters, which can significantly influence how readers feel about its characters, facilitating attachment as a result.
And even though “shonen” is a genre of its own, it can still cover several other genres like comedy, psychological, drama, slice of life, action & adventure, sports, and more. That’s because the shonen genre is a demographic that targets young boys less than 15 years old.
That said, finding the right shonen manga series is not as easy, even more considering how much time and effort you are likely to invest into them. That’s why I have prepared a list of the best shonen titles you might want to pick from to start your journey into the shonen genre!
Best Shonen Manga to Read in 2023
1. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece is probably the longest series to begin this list with, but it’s also the best; hence it’s on the top. Being a long-running series, it has fantastic world-building, an intricate plot, a variety of characters, and phenomenal character development. I highly recommend it if you have the patience to start it!
It tends to be intimidating for most people because of how many chapters it has, surpassing the 1,000-chapter mark and still ongoing when writing this. The series introduces a world of pirates, dreams, and adventure where every pirate is trying to look for “One Piece,” a treasure left behind by the previous king of pirates, Gol D. Roger.
And one of those pirates, a young man made out of rubber known as Monkey D. Luffy, dreams of becoming the next pirate king by getting his hands on One Piece. But he won’t be able to make it without the comrades he will gather during his adventures, including a peculiar swordsman, an extremely avaricious navigator, a lustful cook, a chronic liar, and many more.
2. Dandadan by Yukinobu Tatsu
Dandadan is a very peculiar and original manga series. Although it is an excellent shonen manga, it can be a little overwhelming for some people, primarily because of its premise.
The story centers around two characters at first, a girl and a boy, who attend the same high school. They both believe in two different things, with the girl knowing that the paranormal exists, whereas the boy only believes in aliens. As you might have expected, it causes them to conflict with one another.
But this changes the moment they have to unite forces to fight against the two things they both reject and believe: aliens and ghosts.
The series combines action, comedy, paranormal, sci-fi, and romance, all in a single title. I really recommend it if you want to read something unique and are open-minded enough to take what the series has to offer! And to top it off, the art is just mind-blowing!
3. Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami
Jujutsu Kaisen is a top-rated shonen manga series right now and definitely among the most successful ones. I highly recommend it as one of my favorites, especially if you are into beautifully designed characters, great combat systems, beautiful choreographies during fighting scenes, and a unique power system.
The plot of Jujutsu Kaisen first follows a couple of characters and introduces more as the series progresses. In the beginning, we have Yuuji Itadori, a very athletic high school student who loves paranormal activities, and Megumi Fushiguro, a sorcerer in charge of hunting cursed objects.
During one of his club activities, Yuuji decides to steal a cursed object for his upperclassmen, an object that Megumi was looking for, all without knowing that this cursed object is one of the 20 fingers of Ryomen Sukuna, the King of Curses.
To protect his friends when the cursed object starts attracting monsters, Itadori eats the finger and gets possessed by Sukuna. However, he soon realizes he can control the demon Sukuna at will, and his life changes as he becomes a sorcerer, like Megumi!
4. Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama
As a worldwide sensation that many people enjoy, reading Attack on Titan will provide you with all the content the anime has not managed to showcase. Thus, I recommend giving it a chance if you have the time because there’s a reason why it is considered one of the best manga of all time!
The series’ premise starts with humanity being entrapped behind massive walls meant to protect the people from Titans. These giant human-shaped creatures only exist to hunt and devour humans.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin live behind these walls, longing for the day they can explore the outside world. This, of course, would involve having to eventually face the Titans, which Eren is entirely willing to do. Sadly, one day, they are forcibly taught why the walls were built in the first place, as Titans invade their peaceful life and destroy everything they know and believe, all in a matter of seconds.
5. Spy x Family by Tatsuya Endou
Being a unique blend of comedy, romance, and a fascinating premise, Spy x Family has become a very successful series, achieving even more success after its anime adaptation was released.
It mainly revolves around a spy, an assassin, and a psychic child capable of reading minds. They all involve themselves with one another due to the spy known as Twilight, who takes the name of Loid Forger. For one of his missions, he has to contact and research a significant politician from a foreign country who is heavily involved in the country’s war decisions.
To do that, Loid will have to participate in the events of a very prestigious school, which will be attended by Anya, the esper girl he adopted. At the same time, he acts as her father alongside Yor, an underground assassin famous as the Thorn Princess. All without Loid knowing their true identities and skills!
6. Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto
Naruto is a well-known shonen manga series created by Masashi Kishimoto that follows the life of a young, aspiring ninja named Naruto Uzumaki. Set in a world where ninjas possess unique abilities and are part of organized, hierarchical villages, the series captures the thrill of high-stakes covert missions and the more relatable quest to find one’s place in the world.
The central plot revolves around Naruto Uzumaki as he strives to become the strongest ninja in his village and become the Hokage, the leader of the village. However, he is shunned by the entire village as he harbors a demon inside him, a monster known as the Nine-Tailed Fox, that was responsible for nearly destroying their village.
Throughout his journey, he forms strong bonds with his fellow ninjas, masters powerful techniques, and gradually unravels the mysteries of his origin. As the story unfolds, deeper themes of friendship, sacrifice, and self-discovery are interwoven, while Naruto and his friends face increasingly dangerous adversaries and challenges.
Related: How Many Naruto Volumes Are There?
7. Haikyuu!! by Haruichi Furudate
This one enters the category of sports manga and focuses entirely on volleyball. Like many shonen series of the sports genre, Haikyuu!! introduces an appealing cast of characters with complex backgrounds and real ambitions, including the story’s main character!
Shoyo Hinata is a very small guy who decides to become the best volleyball player after witnessing another player of similar stature play as the ace for a team. This player would earn the title of “the little giant” and become Hinata’s biggest inspiration.
To his regret, his previous school didn’t have a volleyball club, so his background is mostly filled with failure. After he enrolls in a new school, he manages to join the same volleyball club as the legendary little giant, only to find out that the person who embarrassed him during his first and last match has also joined the club. The one they call the king of the court, Tobio Kageyama.
Related: How Many Haikyuu Volumes Are There?
8. Bleach by Tite Kubo
Bleach is a popular shonen manga series considered one of the “big three” in the shonen genre, alongside Naruto and One Piece. It follows the adventures of a full-time student and part-time Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki.
Ichigo has always been unique as he could see ghosts and spirits, and after an encounter with a Soul Reaper, he became a Soul Reaper too and found himself thrust into a world of spirits, ghosts, and Hollows. Now, Ichigo must navigate this all-new world while juggling his Soul Reaper duties and ensuring the human world doesn’t suffer any consequences.
The manga takes place in a world where humans, spirits, and other supernatural beings coexist. As Ichigo navigates through the challenges of being both a regular high school student and a defender of the afterlife, he encounters allies and foes alike, leading to gripping battles and intense character development.
In addition to the intriguing premise, the creative designs of the characters, weapons, and settings contribute to the distinctive atmosphere that has captivated readers and earned Bleach its renowned status.
Related: How Many Bleach Volumes Are There?
9. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime by Fuse & Taiki Kawakami
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, also known as Tensei Shitara Suraimu Datta Ken, is a popular isekai manga series written by Fuse and illustrated by Mitz Vah. The series initially began as a web novel hosted on Shōsetsuka ni Narō between 2013-2016 before getting a manga and later an anime adaptation.
Its unique blend of fantasy, comedy, and action makes it a must-read for manga enthusiasts everywhere. The story revolves around Satoru Mikami, a 37-year-old corporate worker in Tokyo who leads an ordinary life. One day, Satoru is tragically killed during a random stabbing incident on the streets, and surprisingly, he finds himself reincarnated in a new fantasy world as an amorphous slime.
Satoru discovers that he possesses unique abilities and decides to use them as he embarks on a journey to understand his new world and find others like him. Along the way, he forms alliances, builds a powerful community, and faces a myriad of challenges.
10. My Hero Academia by Kouhei Horikoshi
My Hero Academia is often placed at the top of the shonen tier list because it is more accessible to the general consumer since it currently has around 390 chapters, much less than those series that easily reach 600 to 900 chapters.
It’s also a pretty good series still in serialization and has much to offer with its overall premise. The story is about heroes and villains in a world where people develop powers known as quirks once they reach a certain age. At least everyone develops superpowers except the main character, Izuku Midoriya, who belongs to the quirkless population.
And the sad thing about it is that all he dreamed of when he was a kid was becoming a hero. Thankfully, due to a series of events, he meets the one hero he admires, All Might, who decides to turn him into his apprentice and guide him on his path to becoming the number one hero.
11. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotouge
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is a title I will probably always remember, mainly because of how good it was and the things it managed to achieve. If you want to read a series that always surpasses itself as you progress, you should give this title a read since it is a completed manga series!
The plot involves the journey of Tanjiro Kamado as he does his best to become a capable demon slayer, all to hunt down Muzan, the man who murdered his family and turned his little sister into a demon.
The thing about this series is the way it handles fights and the way it showcases the power level of different characters, including Tanjiro himself. It also introduces different fighting styles, a progressive plot that answers questions, and enemies that are strong in very unique ways, with characters having to frequently depend on things other than raw power to defeat them!
12. Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto
The existence of devils and those who hunt them are pretty normal in the world of Chainsaw Man. Denji, the story’s main character, is unaware of this reality and works for a group of Yakuza as a hunter to pay off a debt left by his father.
This is only possible thanks to Pochita, a chainsaw dog demon he befriended and uses as a weapon. After eventually being betrayed by the group. Denji makes a pact with Pochita, allowing him to become the Chainsaw devil.
As a hybrid between man and devil, the organization that hunts the monsters cannot allow him to live peacefully. But they make a deal with him – he either dies or joins forces with them to hunt the strongest devil in the world.
13. Blue Lock by Muneyuki Kaneshiro & Yuusuke Nomura
If you are into sports manga, but you’d rather read something besides Haikyuu!!, you can always give Blue Lock a try. This one is a soccer manga, and I believe it’s the most famous soccer manga at the moment.
The premise mainly focuses on the project Blue Lock, a high-end soccer training regime whose sole purpose is to create the best soccer players in Japan to represent the country in the World Cup.
Its main character, Yoichi Isagi, is a high school soccer player who decides to join the program to find his own unique playing style. Yoichi will find himself changing in many ways after facing other players and crushing others’ ambitions to achieve the same goal as his – becoming the best striker and player in Japan.
14. Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku by Yuuji Kaku
Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku focuses on Gabimaru, also known as Gabimaru the Hollow, who is renowned for being a ninja of incomparable skills and is unable to die. Although he desires death, his body instinctively reacts for his survival, even at the hands of Sagiri, a renowned executioner.
Because of this, Sagiri proposes an idea to Gabimaru – to be part of an excursion composed of other death row inmates and executioners to find an elixir of immortality for the Shogun. If he succeeds, he will be given the pardon, allowing him to return to the person awaiting him.
But the island is nothing but a mystery, and both Sagiri and Gabimaru will have to face the most gruesome creatures to achieve their goals, including the other prisoners and executioners!
15. Sakamoto Days by Yuuto Suzuki
This manga is a good choice if you like comedy combined with shonen and action. If you fancy Spy x Family, I recommend trying Sakamoto Days since they have similar vibes.
The story centers around Sakamoto, the owner of a convenience store. What no one knows, however, is the fact that Sakamoto is a legendary hitman who decided to retire after falling in love and getting married. No one seems to recognize him because he gained some weight and now looks completely different from what he used to be, though!
Yet, one day, his past managed to catch up with him, and now his peaceful life is threatened by it. With the help of Shin, a former hitman who admires Sakamoto and has the ability to read minds, he will try to protect the two things dear most, his wife and his daughter.
16. Fire Force by Atsushi Ohkubo
Many people know Fire Force because it comes from Soul Eater’s author, Atsushi Ohkubo. Although both series share some similarities, especially in the aspects of fights and comedy, they are very different in plot setting and development.
Fire Force revolves around a post-apocalyptic version of the earth affected by a great cataclysm that burned most of its surface. After its resolution, an empire known as the Tokyo Empire was built, with one of its most crucial foundations being religion.
Now, the empire is the target of a phenomenon known as spontaneous human combustion, which turns humans into fire monsters. The 8 different fire brigades must deal with these monsters, and our main character, Shinra Kusakabe, decides to join one of those brigades to help people and become a hero.
17. Hunter x Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi
There’s no better time to start reading Hunter x Hunter because it is the best time to do it whenever you decide to start reading it!
The series’ premise might not sound as much at first since it revolves around the idea of “hunters,” members of an organization in charge of adventuring, discovering, and pillaging treasure from unknown locations, but it just gets better and better with each new arc. We follow a child known as Gon Freecss, who wants to follow his father’s steps and become a hunter.
The thing about Hunter x Hunter is that it takes a rather unconventional approach to the shonen genre, showcasing rather dark characters and a wicked representation of both heroes and villains; a breath of fresh air that any fan of the shonen genre can appreciate!
18. Kaiju No. 8 by Naoya Matsumoto
Kaiju No. 8 is a captivating manga series that draws readers into a world where monsters known as Kaiju exist and constantly threaten humanity. In this intricate universe, an organization called the Defense Corps dedicates its resources to battling and permanently subduing these terrifying creatures.
The protagonist, Kafka Hibino, is a member of the Professional Kaijuu Cleaner Corporation, who is charged with taking care of the Kaiju remnants after they are subdued. However, he yearns to be a part of the Defense Corps and fight at the front lines.
In an unexpected twist of fate, while cleaning the remains of one of the defeated Kaiju, Kafka becomes infected with a Kaiju parasite and transforms into a Kaiju himself. However, this shocking development doesn’t deter him, and he decides to use these new abilities to fulfill his life-long dream.
Set against the backdrop of an unwavering battle between humanity and monsters, Kaiju No. 8 offers an engaging, fast-paced narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats throughout the series.
19. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End by Kanehito Yamada & Tsukasa Abe
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End, also known as Sousou no Frieren, is a captivating shonen manga series set in a fascinating world filled with magic and fantastical creatures. The story follows the adventures of an elf mage named Frieren, who possesses exceptional magical abilities and a long lifespan.
After she and her companions emerge victorious in their battle against the Demon King, they part ways to live peaceful lives throughout the land. The plot of Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End revolves around the intricate relationships between Frieren and her former party members as she confronts the poignant reality of her long life.
As time passes, Frieren endeavors to understand the human experience and the emotions that accompany the fleeting lives of her human companions. The tale weaves a rich tapestry of the elven perspective while immersing the reader in an enchanting universe unlike any other.
20. Tokyo Revengers by Ken Wakui
Tokyo Revengers series first introduces the main character, Takemichi, a young adult struggling to obtain a full-time job. Takemichi learns that his ex-girlfriend from high school, Hinata, and her little brother Naoto died in an accident caused by the Tokyo Manji Gang.
While mourning her death, Takemichi is pushed to the rails of a station and killed. But instead of dying, he is teleported to the past. He does his best to convince Naoto of the events of the future, who teleports him back to the future when they shake hands.
This is a tale of love, time travel, and perseverance where Takemichi will do his best to save the person he loves the most while being swallowed by the violence of the Tokyo Manji Gang and its many enemies.
21. Dr. Stone by Riichiro Inagaki & Boichi
Dr. Stone is a manga combining science-fiction, comedy, mystery, and an intellectual approach in a single title for those looking for more than fighting.
With all human beings turned into stone after a beam of light overwhelmed the world, the earth has been silent for more than 3,000 years, entirely consumed by nature as a result.
Senku, the series’ protagonist, awakens in such a hazardous situation. Using his intellectual prowess and knowledge in the field of science, he will try to bring progress once again to the world. To achieve it, he knows he will need the help of others, including his best friend, Taiju, known for his unlimited stamina, which Senku lacks and needs to fulfill his ambition!
22. Undead Unluck by Yoshifumi Tozuka
Undead Unluck is a captivating shonen manga series created by Yoshifumi Tozuka. The story revolves around an unlucky girl named Fuuko Izumo, who encounters an undead man named Andy. Their meeting sets off an action-packed and darkly comedic tale as they explore the power of luck and face extraordinary challenges together.
Set in a world filled with supernatural phenomena, the duo must deal with dangerous organizations and unusual characters!
Fuuko’s terrible luck often lands them into near-death situations, while Andy’s inability to die creates an intense dynamic in their adventures. As the story unfolds, they develop a unique bond and strive to uncover the mysteries behind their unusual powers and the world they inhabit.
23. Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun by Osamu Nishi
Iruma is a very gentle and caring person, a surprising thing considering his bad luck. Because of his parents’ debts, he has been working since he was young. One day, though, his parents finally decide to sell him to a demon to be rid of their debt, and Iruma is taken to hell.
Thankfully, the demon seems to be an incredibly gentle person who only wishes to have a grandson. Since the demon, whom Iruma eventually calls “grandad,” is the school principal of the Babyls’ academy, he decides to enroll Iruma in the school.
There, Iruma will face plenty of struggles to hide his identity as a human. But he will make many friends along the way, including Alice Asmodeus, a proud demon who decides to serve Iruma after losing a duel to him on their first day of school. A pretty good choice if you’d like to read something more casual with fantasy and a ton of comedy!
24. The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai & Posuka Demizu
I highly recommend this one if you want to read a manga with great plot twists and an incredible, carefully crafted premise involving multiple characters.
The Promised Neverland revolves around a group of orphans cared for by Isabella, whom they call “Mama.” They lead relatively peaceful and uncomplicated lives and have few responsibilities, including helping around the orphanage and dealing with routine tests.
Things considerably change when Emma, who acts as a leader and older sister to everyone in the orphanage, decides to break the only rule Isabella has shared – never get too deep into the forest. Of course, Emma does it to return the favorite toy to a little girl who was “adopted.”
Emma then learns that the little girl has been killed, and to make everything worse, she was killed by something that is not human. Here’s where the orphans’ struggles for survival begin.
25. Horimiya by HERO & Daisuke Hagiwara
The series mainly focuses on the relationship between two characters – Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura. They both are pretty much opposites when it comes to their personality, with Hori being an aggressive and intuitive person. In contrast, Miyamura is much shier and has difficulties interacting with others.
The series has a fascinating approach to the world of introverts and their lack of confidence since it showcased occasions when Miyamura was bullied for being shy and asocial. It’s a very wholesome title that I can’t recommend enough, especially for those who relate to this kind of situation!
26. Mashle: Magic And Muscles by Hajime Koumoto
Imagine a world where your talent in magic determines your value as a person. It also determines whether you can become a Divine Visionary or not, which is a pretty profitable job.
And Mash Burnedead, who was born without magic, wants to become a Divine Visionary to give his adoptive father a comfortable, effortless life. Of course, attending a magic school without magic might seem like an unreasonable thing, but he has something other magicians don’t have – muscles! And he’s determined to show the world that muscles can indeed be stronger than magic.
Mashle: Magic and Muscles is a parody of multiple genres. Still, it’s incredibly hilarious, and the author has some imagination to use the power of muscles to offset the magic as we see the main character use his body in various ways during fight sequences.
27. To Your Eternity by Yoshitoki Oima
As the name implies, To Your Eternity deeply emphasizes the concept of immortality, showcasing a creature who would eventually be called Fushi as a reference to its nature. This creature is capable of assimilating others, copying their form and structure. The thing is, the creature itself cannot grow old or be killed!
The creature first starts by taking the form of a rock, then a wolf, accompanying a small boy as he struggles to survive in a desolate, snowy wasteland. With enough stimulation, the creature can take other forms as well, eventually taking the form of the child, which it will use to learn even more about the world and the humans that live in it.
28. Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda
We can’t ever guess what other people are struggling with. In the case of Komi, the person whom most students regard as the cold-hearted beauty of the school, it’s almost impossible to know that she’s just an introverted and shy person who struggles to communicate with others.
Tadano, however, knows this, and he decides to try and help her out. He eventually learns that Komi’s goal is to make 100 friends before she graduates. Considering how hard it is for her even to raise her voice, the challenges both will face seem endless.
I recommend Komi Can’t Communicate manga to those who want to read a comedy and romance manga with a unique premise and a selection of interesting yet eccentric characters!
29. Black Clover by Yuuki Tabata
Black Clover is a popular shonen franchise with many similarities to other manga titles, making it a perfect choice for those who enjoy classic shonen.
The title focuses on an orphan known as Asta, a talentless magician who dreams of becoming the Wizard King. Contrary to his rival, Yuno, who is pretty much the definition of talent, Asta is incapable of using any form of magic, so he focuses on his muscles instead.
Things do change when both Asta and Yuno manage to obtain their grimoires. Yuno receives a four-leaf grimoire, similar to the one used by a previous wizard king. On the other hand, Asta obtains a grimoire with five leaves, a rare codex capable of summoning a thick black sword, and anti-magic skills.
30. Kengan Ashura by Yabako Sandrovich & Daromeon
If you enjoy action series where martial arts and fighting are a palpable emphasis, Kengan Ashura is a must-read!
Kengan Ashura portrays an underworld where the wealthy and influential resolve their problems through duels. Of course, the influentials are not the ones fighting, but their champions! A much similar process to that of gladiators fighting for their masters.
Ohma Tokita is turned into the champion of the Nogi Group, and he’s to be managed by a simple, cowardly salaryman named Yamashita Kazuo. Ohma is then introduced to the grand tournament known as the Kengan Annihilation, whose winner will decide who will rule the world of the wealthy as the chairman of the Kengan Association. And this, of course, involves a lot of fighting between great, renowned fighters of the underworld!
I have showcased many different titles with many different genres at hand. If you struggle to choose one, I recommend making a small list of the options that seem more interesting to you, then narrowing down the choices to have a title to tackle first.
Once you have tried it out, see if it fits your liking. If not, you can always start with the next one! I also recommend considering its length since it’s common for some people not to like titles because they are too long. Find the sweet spot between a good premise and many characters, and enjoy!
And don’t forget to let me know which of these best shonen manga series you picked! Also, don’t forget to share the article with your otaku friends!
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