Welcome to my 5 best shounen manga.
Previously, I made a list recommending shounen manga. Now, I make a list of my personal favourite shounen manga. This list is based off my personal enjoyment of the series and will be ranked from 5th to 1st. If you want a less biased list, I suggest you go to my recommendations list first then come back here to see my opinions.
Related post: Shounen Manga Recommendations
As I mentioned previous times, I love shounen manga as much as shoujo because it has the action-packed adventure that most shoujo does not. As such, I have seen all the writer’s trends that come with this genre. Reading shounen manga as long as I have makes me open to any new or creative trend that comes my way so as such, some of the manga in this list will be series that break the mold on what is a typical shounen manga.
If you are a beginner in manga of this genre, I suggest you take a look at my recommendations list before continuing as well. I would like my readers to understand the traits that come in a typical shounen manga before looking at avant-garde titles. You can also look at my post on what is shounen manga for a more detailed analysis of the genre if you’d like.
Related post: What is Shounen Manga
So without further ado, let me present my 5 best shounen manga.
Naruto was the first series that introduced me to the world of anime and manga so it has a special place in my heart.
Twelve years ago, the nine tailed fox wreaked havoc in the Hidden Leaf Village. The Fourth Hokage sacrifices himself to save the village by sealing the beast in the body of a baby boy. This boy, Uzumaki Naruto, grew up hated by the village due to the association with the demon fox. As such, Naruto vows that he will become Hokage and earn the respect of the village; to see past the association with the beast. However, Naruto is anything but a talented ninja. How is he to become Hokage?
I personally believe this series represents the typical shounen protagonist very well which makes Naruto a great title for beginners to read — loud, obnoxious, gluttonous, and really dumb. I loved Naruto himself despite those annoyances because his antics make the series interesting and engaging to read, allowing me to learn about the typical shounen protagonist and subsequently identify them when I started reading other shounen titles.
Naruto has grown as a character over the course of the manga’s production and once it ended, I actually cried ｡ﾟ(ﾟ´(00)`ﾟ)ﾟ｡ as if my own son was leaving my home for college because I’ve “watched Naruto grow up”. Although it was sad, all good things must come to an end. Even though there are spin-offs, I will always treasure the original source work and I’m glad to see that others feel the same way since Naruto sales are still going strong.
Related post: Naruto Manga Review
4. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K (Saiki Kusuo no Psi-Nan)
I read this title years ago on a free-distributing website. Try not to do this and please support the original publishers by buying the original copies. The anime is a lot funnier but the manga has scenes that the anime doesn’t include which makes it funny on its own.
Saiki Kusuo is a 17-year-old psychic with all manner of psychic abilities — psychometry, telepathy, teleportation, etc. Despite the amazing nature of Saiki’s abilities, all he wants to do is live a normal school life without the need for his abilities. However, Saiki finds himself in ridiculous situations over and over again in which he needs his abilities to get out of. If only the world will live him alone then all will be good.
I love this series because of its atypical protagonist and fourth wall breaking. Saiki is a protagonist that has this “I’ve had it” （；￣д￣）kind of look every single chapter and while I would like to sympathise, I find the things that he gets dragged into to be extremely hilarious. Saiki’s “friends” (he doesn’t like to consider them as such) are great characters by themselves and don’t need Saiki to make them entertaining, which is great! Saiki is a great protagonist mainly because he voices out his thoughts a lot which is totally relatable to me because I sometimes do the same thing, making Saiki an interesting lead despite being not loud and obnoxious like typical shounen protagonists.
In all, The Disasterous Life of Saiki K is a really great light read for me as the comedy that the series is known for is good for refreshing my mind from all the heavy things in my life. Comedy isn’t really my go-to which is why it isn’t higher on this list but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless
3. Taishou Otome Otogibanashi (Taishou Maiden Fairytale)
Once again, I read this title years ago on a free-distributing website. Try not to do this and please support the original publishers by buying the original copies.
Shiba Tamahiko is the son of a wealthy family in Taisho-era Japan. A car accident left his right arm paralysed and his father disowned him for being useless to him now. Tamahiko is “exiled” to live in the countryside in Chiba (2+ hours from Tokyo) and he spends his days utterly in despair. Until, one day, a young girl comes to his house, saying that he is arranged to be his wife. This cheerful girl is Tachibana Yuzuru and her presence makes Tamahiko’s horrible days a lot better.
Yet another series that I absolutely love because of the atypical shounen protagonist. In addition, romance is the main plot driver of this title which is rare for shounen manga to have. I actually thought this was a shoujo title at first but upon checking, it actually makes sense as there isn’t so much emotional stuff going on, at least when you compare it to actual shoujo manga. Instead of Tamahiko being the usual shounen protagonist, he actually is in need of help physically and mentally because he can’t use both his arms and he feels useless due to his family essentially abandoning him. It’s rare to see a protagonist vulnerable on the get-go and I love it, because it teaches the young boys that it’s alright to ask for help when you need it ( ᐛ )و Yuzuru is a great support to Tamahiko, making her as important as the male characters and not sidelined like most shounen manga. Some of the family dynamics and events that occur can be pretty heavy so a warning for sensitive readers who want to read this title after reading my post — hints of psychological abuse, mental health issues, and tragedy are present.
The romance isn’t too heavy which is pretty good for a shounen title. It gives enough romance for exposure but not too much to scare away. I personally love the romantic pacing of this series which is better than most shoujo (sorry shoujo manga, I still love you lol). This is a great series for both male and female readers and I think that’s what the mangaka is trying to hint at by putting this under the shounen demographic — to bring the two genders together with a series that they both will enjoy. Plus, it helps that the art is pure moe style, making the characters look very cute ( ◞･౪･)
2. The Seven Deadly Sins (Nanatsu no Taizai)
As of now, this shounen title is at its climax, with everything coming together in one cataclysmic event that will determine how the series will end. This is why this manga is at number 2.
The Seven Deadly Sins were a knight order active in the Kingdom of Liones of Britannia. Ten-years-ago, they disbanded after a supposed plot of overthrow Liones was discovered. Now, in the present day, the Holy Knights overthrew Liones and captured the King. Third princess Elizabeth sets off on a journey to find The Seven Deadly Sins to retake the Kingdom back from the traitorous Holy Knights.
I love this series because of the romance plot driver that is rare in most shounen manga. Everything that occurs in this title is all because of love, whether it is romantic, platonic, or familial. The power of friendship is one of the most overused tropes in the Japanese media industry so The Seven Deadly Sins made a great choice by using romantic love as the determining factor in major battles. I noticed that a lot more is at stake when a lover is involved than when a friend is which creates greater tension and more exciting battle sequences. The plot keeps me on the edge of my seat as I wonder what will happen to the love between two certain characters.
I am impatiently awaiting the conclusion of the centuries of fighting (yes, these characters have lived very long) and I hope The Seven Deadly Sins will deliver a satisfying close to all the suffering, especially Meliodas who has, spoiler alert: Watched his lover die over 100 times over the course of 3000 years. I just hope they will be together, even if they both die in the end.
1. My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)
The plot thickens as the perspective of the manga changes from the heroes to the villains. As of now, the manga has sidelined the heroes in favour of the villains in order for them to tell their stories and why they decided to be villains in the first place.
In a world where everyone is born with “quirks” or some kind of power, becoming a superhero is equal to a profession. Midoriya Izuku is one of the rare few born without a quirk but he still holds onto his dream of becoming a superhero like his idol, All Might. One day, Midoriya actually meets his hero and All Might gifts him with his quirk, One for All, which finally allows him to pursue the hero path he has always desired. Midoriya starts attending U.A Academy, a school specially tasked with cultivating heroes, and works hard to be a hero just like All Might.
Yet another series with an atypical protagonist. I seem to like titles like that because I’m kinda sick of loud, obnoxious, dumb protagonists. My Hero Academia has received grand praise for its direction, art, and choice of protagonist. Shounen manga loyalists complain that Midoriya is a crybaby and a loser but I like to think of Midoriya as a work in progress, ensuring that his classmates and allies get enough screen time to help him with the things that he lacks as a person and as an upcoming hero. I like how the art is done for this title, giving everyone a different face which makes them unique and interesting, portraying the 80%-of-the-world’s-population-has-a-quirk idea perfectly as some quirks can change one’s appearance greatly. I also love the direction that this series is going, moving onto the villains and telling their stories, ensuring that the villains are not just your archetype villain because the world is not always black and white. This series is perfect for teaching children and especially young boys that being a superhero is hard work and there’s a lot of growing up that’s involved in that process as the world is full of terrible people that want to hurt you.
I have great hopes for this title and I hope to be amazed by its direction and plot that is to come.
As the shounen manga genre is slowing changing from the stereotype that was developed in the 90s, this list will also change depending on the titles that I will read in the future so look forward to the changes when they actually come. Don’t worry, I will indicate which parts I have changed so you won’t be confused and wonder why my old titles have gone.
I have really high hopes for the shounen manga genre in that it tries to integrate some newer values like gender equality into the mix and add some important female characters that also kick butt lol. Shounen manga has a huge market and I’m glad some avant-garde titles are starting to become a lot more popular.
As always, if you have any opinions about my selections, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂