he other day I was having a conversation with a few friends of mine about the best Shounen anime we’ve seen. There was a lot of contemplation and the first things that popped in my head were the manga I read in Shounen Jump growing up. After coming to a realization of the anime that walked the line but aren’t quite Shounen and the ones that clearly hold every element to make it a Shounen. For those that don’t know what a Shounen means (a genre of Japanese comics and animated films aimed primarily at young males between the ages of 13 – 17, typically characterized by action-filled plots.)
There are so many that came to my mind, but 5 stood head, shoulders, knees, and toes above the rest
Kingdom is an anime about 2 peasants with dreams of becoming great Generals training during their down time. One of them draws the eye of a Royal and is invited to the castle and given a position. He accepts and leaves his best friend behind. After some time has passed the friends reunite but under dire and sad circumstances. This union thrusts main character Shin into a war of the Kingdoms and gives him a chance to pursue his life dream: Becoming a great General.
Everything about this anime screams awesomeness from the combat, the characters, and all the way to the story and plot. The main enjoyment I got out of watching it is the tactics of war. Watching a chess match unfold with each episode. If you’re into historical fictions, a loud mouth main character, and a whole slew of side characters that you’ll grow to love and hate to lose, this is the anime for you.
Aladdin is the main character and a mage. Many Genies, towers of magic, dungeon crawling, and treasure hunting. What else needs to be said? The series is amazing and did a great job at using the traditional Shounen troupes while giving a breath of fresh air to the genre. Magi introduced a new power source that wasn’t ki or chi or anything of the likes, while building an intricate plot that didn’t feel convenient at anytime. Every season and even the spin-off series about the childhood of another character from the show was an amazing watch from start to finish. Magi also gave a pleasant twist and retell of the Classic Aladdin story. If you’ve never seen Magi, stop what you’re doing and watch it now.
#3 The Seven Deadly Sins
The Seven Deadly Sins is a fantasy anime about a princess looking for wanted criminals to help save her father and Kingdom. These criminals use to be a part of the King’s Military and were great generals in the army until they became wanted for treason.
This anime easily falls into the category of a Shounen Classic in my opinion. One of my issues with Shounen series in general, is that its filled with plot convenience and the writers tend to break their own rules and create main characters that I love to hate. The Seven Deadly Sins shattered that expectation. How you ask? Easy. Make everybody OP from the start, so you don’t have to try and correct power gauging later. This also allowed for them to explore parts of the main characters’ past. Each and every character’s back story is fleshed out and adds to the understanding of the character’s personality and fighting style. Every few episode introduces another one of the Sins and gives you someone to like above the rest. Kind of like being a Wu-Tang fan, but you like Method Man the best. Me personally I like Masta Killa and Gza the best.
#2 Full Metal Alchemist
This made the list because of the dynamic relationship between the brothers; Alphonse and Edward Elric. Full Metal Alchemist is an action packed anime filled with cool characters and cool villains to match, each with their own compelling stories to draw you in and have you seeking the end. The journey the creators put you on with the main characters as State Alchemists is filled with fun, despair, and battles of epic proportions that will keep you wanting more. Not to mention growing up as a kid I’ve always wanted a sword for an arm and Edward had one. This alone kept me watching the anime and re-watching it when it re-released in the form of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. If you want to experience all of the Masks of emotions then Full Metal Alchemist is the anime for you. It’ll definitely take you to feels city every once in a while.
#1 My Hero Academia
I saved the best for last. My Hero Academia is the quintessential of anime right now. Not just Shounen, but anime period. Let me paint a picture for you. Close your eyes for a second and think about the first time you watched Naruto, not Shippuden but the first season of Naruto. I’m sure you have a big kool-aid grin on your face. I know I do. Then the train wreck called Shippuden happened. The writing got lazy, the story telling became subpar, the plot full of questions and filled in with convenience, not to mention a show about Ninjas being turned into DBZ. Simply Trash! Now that I am over that rant, My Hero Academia is Naruto but better. How is it better?
- The main character. Midoriya is a better main character than Naruto any given day of the week. I had to grow to like Naruto who seemed to annoy me for the most part, but when it came to Midoriya he was very likeable from the start.
- Every Character Matters. In most Shounen or anime the surrounding cast tends to get lost in the sauce and become useless or they conveniently get a power boost just for ark or situation sakes and then go back to their corners to die. In My Hero Academia every single character shines.
- In most shounen anime character’s power growth aren’t portrayed properly when up against someone with more experience. My Hero Academia constantly shows the difference between a bunch of kids training to be heroes and those that have been living the life. The power gap isn’t always that great, but what the older characters can do with their powers are exponentially greater than that of their younger counterparts.
- The Villains. Every show that I’ve ever watched where there is a hero villain dynamic has had villains that were blah. The only thing that made them really interesting was their villainous flair. In my Hero Academia the villains are just as fleshed out and given the same love as the main characters in the series. Fans get a chance to see their inner thoughts, goals, and get an amazing story showing them attempting to reach their dream of an ideal world.
- In every Shounen anime, at least in 95% of them a teacher is important. Someone to help the main character(s) grow. The Mentors in My Hero Academia are awesome in every way; personality, powers, their teaching methods, and background.
Comment below your top 5 Shounen Anime and give your opinion on this list as well.