Shonen is the most popular demographic for manga. As a consequence, many popular anime are adapted from it and for good reasons.
But be careful, the term shonen only refers to manga aimed at a young male target audience. It’s incorrect to use this word for animation, even though it’s common to use in the West.
This demographic doesn’t cover specific tropes because it’s not a genre, but many anime fans will often think about battles and fights.
Shonen is much more than that as you will notice from our personal and subjective recommendations.
Table of Contents
31. Black Clover
This anime tells the story of Asta and Yuno, 2 orphans that have been abandoned at the same church on the same day so they grew up as brothers.
Since they were little they decided that they will compete for the title of ‘Wizard King’ the strongest mage in the kingdom.
The only peculiarity is that Asta, in a world where magic is now everything, is born totally without powers.
Black Clover doesn’t offer anything new because it takes cues from all the most successful mechanics of the genre.
Blending different elements doesn’t equal success, so this anime may be good for beginners but it’s definitely not a solid choice for pretty much anyone else.
30. The Seven Deadly Sins
Seven Deadly Sins is one of the most popular fighting anime in recent years, which has been quite successful.
Elizabeth, daughter of the King, sets out on a journey to find the Seven Deadly Sins, intending to recruit them and take back her recently fallen kingdom due to a coup. The 7 are extremely powerful warriors, capable of great things if brought together.
Set in Britain with fantasy elements, The Seven Deadly Sins shows us an ancient and magical side of the country, fantasy elements, featuring demons, angels, and fairies.
The main character himself, Meliodas, is a member of the demon race, and the son of the demon lord.
It certainly won’t be anything extremely groundbreaking, but we recommend that you watch it to witness a fun and noncommittal fighting anime with ecchi elements.
We however suggest watching the anime until Season 4, when the animation starts to leak, and continuing with the manga if you like the story.
29. That time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
One of the most popular isekai and fantasy anime of recent times, animated in various series by Studio 8-Bit and based on Fuse’s light novel of the same name.
Like much of isekai, here too we find a character who after his death is transported to a fantasy world. In this case, the protagonist is Satoru Mikami, a salaryman who dies stabbed after saving a colleague from a robber.
The special feature lies in the fact that he will be reincarnated as a blind slime. After befriending the dragon Veldra, he begins his adventure in the world, gathering around him a vast array of followers.
The main character is non-human and this brings some freshness into the overall story.
But don’t be fooled by his appearance, because Rimuru, the isekai alter ego, is extremely strong, if not one of the strongest characters ever.
28. Food Wars
Based on a celebrated manga serialized in no less than Weekly Shonen Jump, Food Wars follows the story of Soma Yukihira.
He is a young chef who enrolls in an elite cooking school to fulfill his dream of becoming a great and renowned chef.
The school is famous for its tough and unforgiving exams, but Soma is determined to pass them all and become an excellent chef.
The competition is far from easy and the bar will gradually get higher and higher.
This is also because the students will have to undergo all kinds of cooking, thus increasing the variety and difficulty, but making them extremely versatile chefs.
The anime is fully based on cooking and rich with entertaining culinary battles, funny moments, and lots of ecchi fan service.
27. Fairy Tail
The plot of this anime focuses on Lucy Heartphilia, a girl whose dream is to become a powerful mage and join the famous guild of magicians called Fairy Tail.
Her dreams will become reality when she meets Natsu, a boy who travels around the world and is a member of the guild. He will bring her in and so Lucy will end up teaming up with the other members in their travels and quests.
They will have to face many obstacles and adventures within a good enough fantasy setting.
Fairy Tail can be good if you’re just starting with anime but the slow pacing and the bad character development are deterrents if you have some experience under your belt.
Its only merit that we can find is an excellent fantasy setting and character design along with a soundtrack that is anything but rubbish.
26. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
A 2016 anime adapted from a shonen manga that tells the story of Kusuo Saiki, a prodigious boy with psychic powers. They include psychokinesis and teleportation, transforming into anything, changing gender, telepathy and ray vision.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is the struggle of Kusuo to achieve a normal life, while put under pressure by many extravagant characters during the story.
But don’t be fooled by the appearances of these few lines of synopsis. Saiki is a very strong character who could defeat many of the most famous shonen characters of his own.
When he shows his true power, everyone will be 100% surprised, including you.
The anime pushes mainly on comedy and parody, with a touch of science fiction and action that never hurts.
25. Dr. Stone
In year 5738, all of humanity finds itself turned to stone due to a natural disaster, leaving the world in a wild state. Ooki Taiju manages to awaken, being confronted with a completely different reality than he remembered.
After reuniting with his brilliant scientist friend Senku, he will begin the story, trying to understand why this apocalypse occurred.
This implies doing a lot of scientific experiments to solve the mystery. Dr. Stone features the typical science-fiction plot with a post-apocalyptic setting marked by bleak and sad moors.
The great thing about Dr. Stone isn’t only the attention dedicated to Chemistry but its action scenes. This isn’t your usual boring anime, but rather an action-packed surprise that can also spark interest in science.
All of this is in a post-apocalyptic world where nature has regained the upper hand over man.
24. My Hero Academia
Turning now to something more modern, we see My Hero Academia, one of the best examples of today’s fighting anime. The author this time is Koei Horikoshi, and the manga, like the anime, is still ongoing.
The plot develops on the concept of Quirks or, in jargon, superpowers.
In a world whereby a genetic mutation 80% of the population possesses a power, the figure of the Pro Hero, or superheroes who perform benevolent actions as their job, has arisen.
Opposed to them are the Villains. The protagonist of the events is Izuku Midoriya, nicknamed Deku, who dreams of becoming a superhero to follow in the footsteps of All Might, his idol as well as hero No. 1.
But ironically, the boy is born without superpowers. But it’s his chance encounter with his idol one day that shakes things up, beginning the events narrated.
Izuku will in fact inherit nothing less than the power of All Might, the greatest hero ever, becoming stronger and stronger as he learns to control it. Imagine the surprise of his classmates when they see him in action.
If you want to see an excellent blend of modern elements with storytelling techniques typical of classic battle shonen, you are on the right track.
23. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
One of the most underrated fighting anime of recent times, but with enormous potential in our opinion.
The plot stars Aladdin and Alibaba, 2 boys who meet by chance and end up forming a relationship of friendship and respect right from the start.
They decide to take on one of the many Dungeons, hostile structures that promise riches and power to those who emerge victorious.
Magi is a very complete and unique anime, with wonderful settings, combining fantasy and exotic locations, looking like something out of a fairy tale, with believable and fleshed-out characters.
Not to mention the action and fighting, with an interesting and innovative power system.
22. Death Note
If you are a fan of psychological confrontations or the detective genre, Death Note is a must.
The work is the perfect example of a psychological thriller, able to perfectly tie together elements of the fantasy and gothic worlds.
Light Yagami is a young model student, who nevertheless harbors strong disgust and disappointment with the world around him.
His life will change drastically when one day he sees a mysterious notebook, the Death Note, fall from the sky, capable of causing the death of anyone simply by writing his name.
Light’s plans are clear, to use the notebook to kill as many criminals as possible to purge this world of evil. But soon he will have to deal with L, one of the greatest private investigators, hired to unravel the mystery of the continuing deaths among criminals.
If you are a fan of anime thrillers you will surely have already seen it, if not, do it now, because you can’t miss it.
21. Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen is one of the modern fighting anime that is making the most success, born from the manga by Gege Akutami.
Its success is definitely due to its excellent story and the wonderful animations by the MAPPA studio, which levels up the animation to over-the-top levels.
The protagonist is Yuji Itadori, a young boy with off-kilter physical abilities who never misses a chance to help his friends to abide by his philosophy of life.
Following an accident at his school, he will find himself a receptacle for the most powerful dark spirit ever, Sukuna, eating one of its 20 fingers. But enemies won’t think twice about trying to get their hands on the boy.
Jujutsu Kaisen owes a lot to other shows like Hunter x Hunter, Bleach and Naruto, as you will notice from the start of the series.
20. Shaman King (2002)
Shaman King is a popular fighting anime released in 2002 with 64 episodes with a lot of interesting and innovative elements.
The events of the series center on the friendly Yoh Asakura, a young shaman descendant of one of the oldest families in this branch.
The protagonist has innate spiritual power and is able to make friends easily with spirits, who bestow power on him or help him in his endeavor.
He becomes friends with the spirit of Amidamaru, a samurai betrayed by his master, who will give him strength through his spirit by transmitting strength to the swords Yoh wields.
The fights focus on the power of the spirits that will convey weapons or bestow their energies and abilities to the protagonists of the series.
We recommend you watch the 2002 adaptation because the 2022 remake has terrible pacing. Many scenes were cut from the original work, and many plot sequences were rushed for no reason.
Everybody knows Inuyasha, a cult anime with a marked romance subplot. Not all people know that Inuyasha is adapted from a shonen manga published on the Weekly Shonen Sunday.
The story stars Kagome, a young girl who, as a result of an accident, will fall a well and is catapulted into Sengoku-era Japan.
Here she will be reborn as the reincarnation of the priestess Kikyo, to protect the four winds’ sphere with Inuyasha’s help, a canine-like demon.
Inuyasha is undoubtedly one of the greatest cult greats ever, and there is a reason for that.
It’s a simple but solid story, its excellent settings, and its character design is always on point.
18. Hajime no Ippo
Hajime no Ippo is definitely one of the great classics when it comes to sports anime. Based on the shonen manga of the same name by George Morikawa, it has been animated by Madhouse in 3 different anime series.
The story follows the life of Ippo Makunoichi, a fatherless boy who is forced to work in the family fishing business to help around the house.
This leads him to devote less time to school and to be bullied for his slim physique and shy nature. One day, during yet another beating, he is rescued by professional boxer Mamoru Takamura.
Impressed by the man’s strength, Ippo decides to devote his life to boxing, a sport that will be a tool of revenge for the protagonist and lead him to great satisfaction.
This anime is a story of redemption, where the protagonist manages to change his life because of his prowess in a sport.
Ippo will have mind-blowing character development, and you will inevitably end up feeling part of the events.
17. Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho is a work by the legendary master Togashi, the same author of the very famous Hunter X Hunter series. The 1992 anime adaptation consists of 112 episodes.
The plot revolves around the adventures of Yusuke Urameshi, a young punk with a heart of gold who one day sacrifices himself to save a child from an accident.
Due to this extreme act of generosity, the Spirit King proposes to bring him back to life in exchange for him becoming the detective of the spiritual world.
The anime is a great battle classic, thanks to its beautifully directed fights and the quality of the characters, all of whom are diverse and well-characterized.
Let us not exaggerate by saying that with this work Togashi laid many of the foundations of battle shonen, with narrative techniques that are still used today.
Certainly, no great introductions are needed either for Bleach, a very famous work by Tite Kubo that has earned the title of one of the Big Three of anime in its category.
Indeed, we are unceremoniously talking about one of the most important battle shonen anime ever, especially involving samurai.
The protagonist is Ichigo, a boy like any other with all the classic characteristics of a protagonist in the genre. Generous, physically strong, and kind.
What sets him apart is his ability to be able to see spirits, reasoning that one evening like any other he will see Rukia, a Shinigami, grappling with a Hollow.
A series that is worth watching or reading in addition to its breathtaking fights, and especially for its villain, Aizen, regarded as one of the best ever.
15. Demon Slayer
Tanjiro is the eldest son of a large family orphaned by his father, who leaves his home in the mountains every day to travel to the city to sell coal.
Upon returning home one evening, he discovers that his entire family has been mauled by a group of wild demons and that his beloved little sister Nezuko has herself become a demon.
Determined to find a cure that can return his sister to normal, Tanjiro will undergo grueling training to become a demon hunter, hoping to shed light on this horrible mystery.
A determined warrior driven by dispassionate love for his sister, a constant struggle for survival, and choreographed pyrotechnic confrontations.
The formula for a journey among the most sincere on the scene, surrounded by breathtaking animation among the best of the soundtracks.
14. Naruto Series
No long introduction is needed for Naruto, one of the iconic Shonen Jump Big Three and one of the most important anime ever.
The events narrated are those of budding ninja Naruto Uzumaki, who carries the burden of being the vessel of the nine-tailed fox, which destroyed the village years earlier.
Because of this, he is ostracized and treated with contempt by the villagers, making his past extremely dark and painful.
His dream is to become Hokage, the leader of the village, and be respected by all.
It’s still to this day one of the archetypes and landmarks for the battle shonen, and one of the best anime to watch for beginners, and always will be.
13. Slam Dunk
Slam Dunk is focused on the small but competitive world of high school basketball.
The main character Hanamichi Sakuragi is a young brawler who enrolls in the first year of Shohoku High School in Kanagawa Prefecture.
He is a walking cliché: every girl rejects him, his grades in school are not great, and for these reasons, his friends tease him.
However, things soon change for Hanamici when he meets Haruko Akagi, a high school girl who is passionate about basketball.
The girl convinces Hanamici to join the basketball team as she is impressed by his height and muscular physique. And Hanamichi, in love with Haruko, will agree to join the club just so he can impress and win her over.
You should give it a chance for its breathtaking matches, the exponential growth of the characters, and the relationships between them.
12. Dragon Ball Series
Dragon Ball is a legendary anime that tells the story of Goku, a man who discovers to be part of the Saiyan race and decides to put use his powers to protect humanity and Earth.
Modern anime still reference its techniques and some of them like Kamehameha and Genkidama are continuously referenced as satire.
All Dragon Ball series (excluding Super) can be considered vintage masterpieces and should be watched for their memorability and epic fights.
There is also the option of watching the Kai adaptation instead, which cuts out filler episodes to be more faithful to the manga.
The Z Warriors form one of the best casts ever and they can be considered symbols of battle shonen. The only issue is that Dragon Ball is still aged and there are many better options.
11. Great Teacher Onizuka
Great Teacher Onizuka is a comedy classic of the late ’90s. Often abbreviated in GTO, it takes inspiration from a manga by Tooru Fujisawa.
The plot revolves around Eikichi Onizuka, a 22-year-old virgin and an ex-biker gang leader whose dream is becoming the greatest high school teacher.
This dream isn’t propelled by his passion for teaching but by his wish to find a teenage wife who is going to be young even when he’ll becomes older.
He manages to get hired by the Holy Forest Academy where we can witness his redemption arc from a ruthless criminal and pervert to an eccentric teacher who cares for his students of Class 3-4.
It definitely steps out of the boundaries of politically correct and it couldn’t have been made today but it is very fun to watch.
Haikyu!! is one of the giants of spokon and a popular anime even if you don’t know what’s a spokon.
The main character is Shoyo Hinata, a young boy who, after watching a professional volleyball match, decides that he must take up the sport himself and become an ace.
The only obstacle? He is too short for volleyball as the standards ask for much better candidates.
So begins the ascent of the Little Giant of volleyball, as he will be nicknamed because of his physical characteristics.
Haikyuu!! is suitable for those who love the sport and even for fans who have no clue about it. Thanks to a fleshed-out cast and an interesting plot full of crazy matches, this is the perfect show for many people.
9. Chainsaw Man
Chainsaw Man is one of the biggest hits of recent times, thanks to MAPPA’s perfect work.
Denji is a boy who because of his father, after his death, is in debt up to his neck. Because of this, he is forced to be a Devil Hunter, or demon hunter, to scrape together some money.
In all this he is joined by his companion and weapon Pochita, a chainsaw dog who one day, in a dangerous situation, will change his master’s life, making him the dreaded Chainsaw Man.
It’s a dynamic and fast-paced story that takes the theme of demons and makes it interesting again. The story is full of surprises and dark moments, accompanied by the best cast you could ever ask for.
The execution is flawless and this adaptation is poignant of cult movie references and crazy action.
8. Mob Psycho 100
An interesting series by Studio Bones based on the manga by ONE, the same author of One-Punch Man. The story follows Mob, an average high-school boy with tremendous esper powers.
He works with the con-man Reigen Arataka to control his special powers and keep them from exploding, causing possible collateral damage.
But fate will not exactly be on his side, and it will take every possible way to make him lose patience.
A perfect union between comedy and action, with a unique art style that will for sure stick with you.
We don’t exaggerate by saying that Mob Psycho 100 is one of the most unique anime right now, and should be watched for that alone.
7. JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures
The Bizarre Adventures of JoJo started as a shonen manga written by Hirohiko Araki in 1987.
Each arc has a separate protagonist, although some main characters appear in more than one.
The plot revolves around the adventures experienced by the various members of the Joestar family over time, with a protagonist on each side.
The first 3 parts feature buffed characters because Araki’s style was evolving at the time. You can see a clear change from Part 4 because there is a stark contrast in how the characters look.
JoJo isn’t considered shonen anymore because, from Steel Ball Run Volume 4, the manga was published on Ultra Jump, a seinen magazine.
6. One Piece
The most famous pirate history ever with the most sold manga as of today. The adventures of Luffy and his crew are known to any anime fan and there is no doubt that One piece has one of the best shonen works ever.
The worldbuilding of this series is amazing and rich in details, featuring a variety of islands, continents, and seas.
One Piece is the apotheosis of the concept of adventure, many fans have been following the Straw Hats’ journey for years.
This series is so relevant today that there are infinite discussions and theories about the new chapters or episodes. The anime received a noticeable boost in the budget during the Wano Arc, although it still plagued by some inconsistencies with the original source.
5. Attack on Titan
One of the most popular works in recent times, thanks to an excellent anime adaptation by MAPPA.
In an alternate world, humanity is hunted by giants, huge humanoid life forms that feed on people, becoming their natural predators.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin will have to live with this threat, training to kill them to get revenge.
Attack on Titan is excellent due to its solid story, full of twists, and dynamic action scenes accompanied by excellent music and animation.
This adaptation makes justice to the original vibe of the manga and can boast good pacing.
Gintama is one of the most popular and unique anime in recent years, consisting of 357 episodes and based on Hideaki Sorachi’s manga of the same name.
The series follows the adventures of Gintoki, Shimpachi, and Kagura, three boys who make up the Yorozuya handyman agency.
The whole story is set in a world where an alternative ancient feudal Japan has been conquered by aliens and is now confronted with a major technological advancement imposed by the invaders.
Gintama makes demented comedy its strong point, basing entire sagas on utterly silly pretexts and never failing to throw in the laughs. But every now and then, to break the seriousness, we will also have serious, action-packed story arcs.
And trust us when we tell you that although it is 90% comic, when Gintama gets serious, it does it perfectly, with some of the best fighting scenes you’ll ever see.
3. Kimagure Orange Road
This is a cult anime from the ’80s and is one of those romcoms that inspired many other future works and is based on the love triangle trope.
Madoka Ayukawa and Hikaru Hiyama are best friends and in love with Kyosuke Kasuga, and the boy will play along with this dangerous game.
The protagonist Kyosuke Kasugaiss is also able to use psychic powers to modify reality to his needs.
Kimagure Orange Road is still one of the best romance anime, despite having been out for a very long time.
Its characters are impeccably written, the plot is innovative even today, and its supernatural elements blend perfectly with the main plot romance.
2. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
An absolute masterpiece of the battle shonen and one of the best fighting anime of all time.
Based on the manga written in 2001 by Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the animated series that most faithfully deals with the plot told in the original work.
Edward and Alphonse Elric are two brothers who live in a world where alchemy reigns and is used for a variety of purposes, whether war, medical, or even related to everyday life. The two brothers have a very specific purpose, which is to regain their lost bodies.
When they were young they tried to bring their late mother back to life using alchemy, and it went wrong, since as powerful as this magic is, it cannot go against the laws of nature.
One of the most complete and best anime in general, with a very good story, compelling characters, and enviable action scenes completed by very psychological moments.
If you have not watched it yet, this totally is your call to do so, as this is one of the anime that everyone should experience.
1. Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter is another masterpiece by Togashi that revolutionized battle shonen and still sets the standard today.
Hunter x Hunter follows the story of Gon Freecs, a young boy living in the wilderness.
One day he will learn that his father, believed dead, is instead alive and well and is also one of the strongest Hunters in the world.
He decides to become a Hunter too and his journey will create one of the most promising stories ever. The biggest invention coming out of this series is certainly the power system based on Nen.
The idea was emulated and adapted several times by other authors and can be considered the stablest and most understandable system.
The 2011 adaptation is smooth and expressive, so it’s the perfect candidate if you love some action-packed scenes. Hunter x Hunter is currently ongoing but the anime stopped even before the current manga arc, and for this reason, you can continue by reading it.