The 10 Best Shounen Anime (According to MAL’s Users)

Shounen is one of the most popular genres in anime. The reason is obvious and simple – shounen is usually all about the action, funny and also heartbreaking moments, and captivating story. As a result, shounen appeals to both boys and girls.

What does shounen exactly mean?

  • target-demographic of this genre are young teen males,
  • usually contains a lot of action,
  • the main protagonist is a male (in a similar age as the target-demographic, so 12-18),
  • includes comedy elements.

I decided to make a list based on real ratings of people and so I used mal’s top 5 best-rated and 5 most popular anime to bring you the 10 best shounen anime of all time. 

*they are all mixed up below.

Related:


This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosure here. 

 

10. Kimetsu no Yaiba

Nezuko and Tanjiro
  • Genres: Action, Historical, Demons, Supernatural, Shounen
  • Episodes: 26

Synopsis

The story revolves around Tanjirou, a young boy whose soul got scarred by a tragedy – all members of his family except his younger sister, Nezuko, were slaughtered by a demon and she has turned into one.

Tanjirou swears to avenge his family and embarks on a journey to find a way how to turn Nezuko back to a human.

What people love about it 

While the premise of Kimetsu no Yaiba might not be original or compelling for many, this shounen anime was done really damn right. The animation and action scenes are without a doubt the best of 2019 – I mean, Kimetsu no Yaiba is scoring 8.90, making it the 20th best-rated anime of all time. That’s quite an achievement for a new anime.

The refreshing parts about Kimetsu no Yaiba are in my opinion these:

  • the self-sufficiency of the main character, Tanjiro – he does not rely on the friendship or some superpower – he simply starts like a normal, real human with the physical training which makes him highly relatable,
  • the bond between him and his sister is just truly what sibling bond should be, full of understanding, love, and care, and that is pleasing to see (no incestuous scenes and similar crap),
  • no fanservice,
  • the goals of Tanjiro are selfless and untypical for a shounen character (with an exception for some, of course) – he wants to turn his sister back to human; he does not want to become a leader of some village or king of pirates,
  • Nezuko is the best-girl of 2019 (prove me wrong).
G.E.M. Series Demon Slayer Palm Size: Nezuko-chan (Re-run)

9. Noragami

Yukine, Yato, and Hiyori Iki
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Supernatural, Shounen
  • Episodes: 12

Synopsis

Yato is a minor deity and a self-proclaimed “Delivery God,” who dreams of having a shrine and millions of worshippers. Reduced to working odd jobs in order to raise money to build the shrine, he takes on a job to find a lost cat. As Iki Hyori walks with her friends, she spots Yato running in front of the bus to catch the cat. Kind as she is, she pushes him aside, saves him, but gets hit by the bus instead.

Remarkably, Hyori survives the accident, but the event has caused her soul to become unstable, and thus, she is now able to see the dead spirits and leave her physical body.

Hyori demands that Yato returns her to normal, but she learns that he requires a partner to do so. Given zero alternatives she reluctantly agrees to become one.

What people love about it 

While the reviews about this anime are very conflicted, it seems like the fans mostly love the characters, who are according to them immensely likable, along with the production quality. The series is more oriented on actual emotional and character development, so you can find only a few fights there, but they are meaningful.

 

8. Haikyuu!!

Shōyō Hinata with Tobio Kageyama
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen, Sports
  • Episodes: Unknown

Synopsis

Haikyuu!! revolves around a middle-schooler Shoyo Hinata who falls in love with volleybal after seeing a national championship match on TV. Although short in height, he becomes determined to follow in the footsteps of a star player, nicknamed the “Little Giant”, after seeing his plays.

However, Shoyo’s dreams are destroyed in his first official match, where his team suffers a crushing defeat against the Junior championship favorite team, which includes the so-called “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama.

Shoyo does not give up even after suffering a crushing defeat and enrolls at Karasuno High School to defeat Kageyama. The only problem is that Shoyo ends up in the same volleybal team as Kageyama, forcing them to work and cooperate together. Now the Karasuno unlikely duo faces a new challenge – to get to the TOP together, combining and using their unique skills.

What people love about it 

A simple premise with an outstanding execution can do wonders. Pair it up with a great cast of characters, intense volleybal matches, captivating soundtracks, and you get Haikyuu!!.

Simple is sometimes better. And it’s realistic, which is right now not very popular in the shounen genre.

 

7. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)

Izuku Midoriya
  • Genres: Comedy, Superpower, Action, School, Shounen
  • Episodes: 13

Synopsis

Boku No Hero Academia follows the story of a young boy called Izuku Midoriya, who is well-known as a boy without the Quirk. Being without the Quirk can mean only one thing – he is considered completely useless in the current era because it’s fairly common for people to have some kind of Quirk, a special, superhuman power unique in nature.

The world is fairly chaotic because of the rise of super villains and a new profession emerges – Pro Heroes, extremely strong individuals with the most powerful Quirks who protect the cities and their citizens.

While idolizing the Pro Heroes, Izuku sets his mind on becoming a Pro Hero despite having no Quirk.

What people love about it 

Boku No Hero Academia’s fourth season seems to be one of the hottest airing anime of Winter 2020. The popularity which BNHA has gained over the years is truly drastic. Good for BNHA!

Now back to the explanation. I can already say that the main reason why BNHA is so popular is that there is no new shounen anime matching the “Naruto” standards. BNHA is as close as you can get to Naruto, so it’s basically a successor to Naruto (yes, I am excluding Boruto because Boruto is in my opinion horrible).

BNHA is an absolute prime example of a traditional shounen done right. It has everything that you need if you want a typical shounen. Superpowers (called Quirks), power of friendship, a lot of action, and the approach of an underdog main character developing immense strength/ powers after his hardcore training. The characters of BNHA are likable and each has a unique personality and flaws. The action/battle scenes are enjoyable and creative with no motive to drag them excessively.

Nendoroid No. 686 Izuku Midoriya Hero’s Edition

6. Gintama

Gintoki Sakata
  • Genres: Action, Comedy, Historical, Parody, Samurai, Sci-Fi, Shounenň
  • Episodes: 201

Synopsis

Gintama centers around Gintoki Sakata, a young swordsman living in an alternate-reality Edo, where swords become prohibited due to a contract with alien invaders. He and his gang abide by the moral code of the swordsman, which is very rare.

Gintoki and his buddies are willing to take any job to bring food on the table and they never fail to create troubles.

What people love about it 

Gintama seems to be dominating MAL’s list for quite some time. And not once! Various seasons of Gintama are included in the top 20 best-rated anime on MAL – not twice, not thrice, and not even four times. FIVE TIMES! 

That probably says a lot about the quality of Gintama. It seems to differ from other shounen anime with its comedic/parodic approach, along with some top-notch serious arcs and highly likable characters who won’t annoy you.

5. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

Levi Ackerman and Mikasa Ackerman
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Super Power, Martial Arts, Shounen
  • Episodes: 220

Synopsis

Eren Yaeger’s life turns upside down after the wall protecting his village from Titans (monstrous humanoid creatures) gets breached, bringing havoc on the whole village behind. He loses a close relative in a very gruesome way and witnesses first hand the atrocious power of Titans.

After this traumatic experience, driven by anger, Eren decides to dedicate his life to the eradication of Titans by enlisting into the Survey Corps, an elite military unit that fights the Titans outside the protection of the remaining walls.

What people love about it 

Attack on Titan is the ACE of popularity and top-rating at once. This anime proves that anime is not only for kids for people who love to repeat how anime is only for children – just try to recommend them this “fairy tale” for kids!

Apart from that, I am not sure what is the best stand out in this anime. Is it the well-written characters? The captivating and original story? The build-up? The epic music? The dynamics? The animation? I honestly can’t pick one, it’s probably all of them… and more.

If you are intrigued by action scenes, AOT will not disappoint you at all. It will also add some meaningful dialogues, break your heart a few times, make you laugh, and also crave for more of this mysterious and compelling masterpiece. You would never guess right what is coming!

4. Naruto

Naruto
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Super Power, Martial Arts, Shounen
  • Episodes: 220

Synopsis

The anime is set in the world of ninjas and follows the story of Uzumaki Naruto, a young aspiring ninja who is determined to become a Hokage (basically a leader) of his village to get acknowledged and accepted by others.

What people love about it 

Naruto is probably the most known anime for “kids” born in the 90s. It might not have the best reviews, it can have plenty of fillers, it can be too dragging for some, but the reality is that this anime is among the top 10 most popular anime on MAL. 

I will tell you what people love about it from my own POV – Naruto is pure nostalgia for me after all!

Naruto is a highly likable character even though he is silly and has all the major traits of the typical shounen main character. Are you wondering why? Well, he is kind, he does not give up despite being bullied and he does not give up not only on himself, but he also does not give up on others. Many people have experience with bullying or being ostracized and Naruto portrays it in a relatable way – he is just different.

This outlook is praised by many and his “never give up” attitude along with “hard work beats talent” is highly motivating.

I have mentioned it before in one of my articles and I will repeat it again here: Naruto is full of good values/morals: kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness, justice, friendship, family and of course, love.

All that our world might be lacking is portrayed there exactly as it should be.

Naruto contains a powerful backstory for almost every character, not just the main characters + you get to know villains very well too – they might even come to your liking.

Naruto is one few anime that have beautiful character development – in no way rushed and you can enjoy the Naruto Universe for many hours thanks to the 720 episodes combined.

 

3. Hunter x Hunter

Gon Freecss and Killua Zoldyck
  • Genres:  Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Shounen, Super Power
  • Episodes: 148

Synopsis

The story centers around Gon and his friends, particularly his best friend, Killua, who had used to be a childhood assassin before he took the hunter exam. Both Killua and Gon eventually become licensed Hunters – a title that has its own perks which can help you track beasts, individuals or treasures easily.

The two of them are trying to get stronger and fulfill Gon’s goal to find his father while encountering dangerous enemies and problematic situations.

What people love about it 

The second top-rated shounen anime on MAL has arrived! Meet my all-time top 1 anime of all time, Hunter x Hunter.

Hunter x Hunter offers us an action-packed shounen anime, which is portrayed in the quality of animation, story, characters, and sound. It might make you cry but I guarantee that it will also make you laugh with some really joyful and light-hearted moments. HxH is not a typical shounen anime you would expect though – it’s unpredictable and unorthodox. 

I personally appreciate a lot that Gon, the main protagonist is not the only center of attention in this anime. Many times the anime explores other characters and their past, making it very easy to love multiple characters at once and not being able to pick a favorite one.

The villains are written so well that you understand their point of view as well; this is something that other shounen anime are lacking. They are all unique with their own motives, wishes, inner demons, and weaknesses.

HxH and FMA are very often considered “brothers” because they are similar in quality terms; if you like HxH you will like FMA probably too.

 

2. Death Note

Light Yagami
  • Genres: Police, Thriller, Psychological, Supernatural, Shounen
  • Episodes: 37

Synopsis

The main character, Light Nagami is a very intelligent high schooler who randomly discovers a supernatural and powerful notebook called Death Note, which was dropped into the world of mortals by a Shinigami (Death God) named Ryuk.

The death note grants its owner the power to kill anyone whose name is written there – the only conditions to be met are to know the person’s face and name. Light becomes obsessed with the idea of creating a world without evil and starts using Death Note obsessively to achieve that – but nothing is without consequences. The hunt to catch Light begins.

What people love about it 

It’s not a coincidence that Death Note got ranked #1 in popularity on MAL. 

This anime is considered a masterpiece and is usually placed in the top 10 anime lists by various anime fans. The reason? Combine a compelling and unique plot with genius characters, spice it up with a really captivating execution and you get Death Note.

I mean, you don’t see many anime with a notebook falling from the sky which grants the power to kill people after writing their names into it, right?

On top of that, the anime introduces a character who is trying to catch Light (the genius mind and the Death Note’s owner) and the detective is equally intelligent which makes it very amusing – it’s not a story of undefeatable and favored protagonist (or antagonist in this case).

Related: 7 Anime Like Death Note 

 

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Edward Elric
  • Genres: Action, Military, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Magic, Fantasy, Shounen
  • Episodes: 64

Synopsis

The story centers around an alchemist prodigy, Edward Elric, who is trying to find a way how to restore his brother’s physical body which disappeared after a failed transmutation.

What people love about it 

FMA is the highest-rated anime and shounen of all time (according to MAL’s users).

Considering this anime got rated by more than 989k users it’s safe to say that this anime truly is the king of all shounen anime.

What stands out is the diversity of the characters and their depth, along with very fluent transitions between scenes that make you laugh to scenes that make you shed some tears.

The quality of animation, sound, and story is very high.

The story itself is very dark and deep and explores such things as the ethics of resurrecting the dead and the effects of war on individuals and societies.

 

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Misaka

Hi, my name is Mia and I'm the founder of 9 Tailed Kitsune. I love anime, games, and esports (I am also a bit weird). My passion for anime sparked when I was about 7 (Phantom Thief Jeanne, hello!) and has never stopped.

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