A scarless child Luffy falling for Shanks' trickery in One Piece 1029

The Greatest Shonen Anime of All Time


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There are countless articles on the internet about anime. Thousands upon thousands of top ten lists. I’ve written a lot of them! Like this one about people who became the most powerful character in their universe, the favorite interest of a Shonen protagonist! Or this one about hot anime ladies, the other favorite interest of any Shonen protagonist! It doesn’t matter that I haven’t quite hit puberty yet, I’m gonna be the greatest online magazine author who has ever lived! The Hokage of the Internet! The Pirate King of the written word! AND I’LL NEVER GIVE UP, EVEN IF IT TAKES ME OVER 1,000 EPISODES. BECAUSE THAT’S MY GODDAMN NINJA WAY.

10. Jujutsu Kaisen

Key visual for Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 featuring Satoru Gojo, Suguru Geto, and Riko Amanai

This show is EVERYTHING that a Shonen protagonist like me would want. Jujutsu Kaisen follows spiky-haired idiot Yuji Itadori, an unnaturally gifted athlete for absolutely no reason except that the plot DEMANDS it. AND SO DO I. Then he gets a demon put inside of him that will someday make him the most powerful character in the show. AND THEN he teams up with his Dark Haired Rival and the One Girl Character in a classic Shonen fashion! To do what? DEFEAT EVILLLLLL!!!

9. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo drinking a cocktail in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure showcases the kind of man I want to become. I wanna be absolutely JACKED. YOLKED. RIPPLING WITH PERFECT MUSCLES. And someday I will be because THAT’S WHAT THE PLOT DEMANDS! This show is about a family of Shonen protagonists called the Joestars, who fight vampire monsters across history! It’s a hereditary calling because, after all, Shonen protagonists are born through a contrived set of circumstances and are NOT made.


Ichigo Kurosaki stood with his Zanpakto and Shinigami uniform in black and white with an orange background

Bleach is one of the Big Three of Shonen anime. Why? BECAUSE IT’S EVERYTHING I NEED. The series is about spiky-haired kid Ichigo (they must ALL have spiky hair) who receives astronomical power through a sheer stroke of luck. Now he must fight to protect a woman for whom he carries a somewhat unconscious sexual desire. Why do I want Ichigo to use his Soul Reaper powers to destroy evil spirits and protect evil spirits? I DON’T KNOW! I’M ELEVEN AND GIRLS MAKE ME FEEL LIKE MY INSIDES ARE FULL OF BUGS. BUT LIKE … GOOD BUGS?

7. My Hero Academia

the cast of My Hero Academia

As a Shonen protagonist, I HATE school. Studying just makes you turn into a boring adult faster. I wanna use my head in a different way, by BASHING IT INTO THINGS. So My Hero Academia is PERFECT for me. The series centers on Izuku, a boy who is born into a world of superheroes but doesn’t have any powers himself. But he wants to be a hero SO HARD that he actually gets awesome powers through contrived circumstances and now has to go to HERO SCHOOL. There he meets up with That One Girl and Rival Boy and they have to fight evil monsters with NO ADULTS PRESENT.

6. Demon Slayer

The cast of 'Demon Slayer'

Sometimes I wish a demon would come along and kill MY entire family so I could embark on an awesome revenge quest! That’s exactly what happens to Tanjiro in the fan-favorite series Demon Slayer. He vows to become the greatest demon killer EVER and then does it because he just so happens to be DESCENDED from the greatest demon slayer of all time. WHAT ARE THE ODDS!?!?

5. Hunter X Hunter

gon and killua in Hunter x Hunter Greed Island arc

Like most other Shonen protagonists, my deadbeat dad abandoned me. So my hero’s quest is just me acting out my daddy issues and trauma, which could have been avoided if I just went to therapy. BUT VIOLENCE IS MY THERAPY. Hunter X Hunter is about Gon Freecss, a young boy just like me! He’s going on a quest to become a Hunter! But first, he’s gotta take an Exam and meet his Spiky-Haired Rival! After that, he has to fight in a tournament, go inside a video game world, and take on absolutely psychopathic adults with no supervision! SHONEN STUFF.

4. Dragon Ball Z

Goku from 'Dragon Ball Z'

Dragon Ball Z is one of the ORIGINAL Shonen anime. And it works because it’s so simple: it’s JUST FIGHTING. No silly little side arcs. No fan service-filled beach episodes. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE COMBAT. The series is about this guy Goku, who’s actually a space alien/giant monkey/strongest man in the universe. He has to fight all these other aliens trying to invade the Earth, and I’d tell you more but I need my inhaler.

3. Naruto

The main characters from the anime Naruto

If I had a Ninja Way, it would be watching Naruto in my bedroom until my Mom hides the computer in a desperate attempt to make me normal. But I’m not normal, MOM. I’m SPECIAL. Special like NARUTO. He was just a regular little baby, until one day his parents decided to trap a DEMON inside him. Then they DIE, leaving him a hated orphan in his village. But did that make him give up? NO. He channeled his deep emotional trauma into a desire to become an overachiever, earning the love that should have been given to him UNCONDITIONALLY. And he’s gonna do it by going to Ninja school and becoming the Ninja president! BELIEVE IT.

2. One Piece

the One Piece cast
(Toei Animation)

Break me off ONE PIECE of this anime because I WANT IT TO BE MY LIFE. In a world that’s almost entirely Ocean, a weird little kid eats a weird little fruit he found in a barrel and gets RUBBERY POWERS. And then what does he do? He decides to become the KING OF ALL PIRATES by wasting his life (and the lives of his friends) searching for a mythical treasure said to exist by a professional criminal who is likely NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION. But does a Shonen ever care about “credible sources” or “information”? NO. One Piece is just a simple tale of a young lad who hijacks other people’s lives to make them chase his unattainable dream. Relatable.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric as they appear in the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood makes me wish I had a brother, so we could be Shonen TOGETHER! But I’m an only child. This show is about two brothers who try to resurrect their dead mother with a magic science called alchemy! But it didn’t work, and they lost their body parts in the process. SO COOL. Now they have to look for their missing body parts while fighting a government conspiracy! This is the Breaking Bad of all Shonen anime. It’s the best there is.


(featured image: Toei Animation)

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Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.