10 Shonen Anime Every Newcomer Should Watch

It’s hard to be a newbie anime fan. It’s hard to know where to start because anime has been around for decades and there are so many “classics” that everyone wants to recommend. For those looking to get into one of anime’s biggest genres, it’s even harder, as many of its best series are hundreds of episodes long.

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But that doesn’t mean anyone should give up. A short list of shonen anime will be enough to get any newcomer started on the path to becoming a seasoned anime fan. Hopefully this list will show that there is more to shonen anime than the Big 3 that everyone knows.

dix Dragon Ball Z popularized many ideas in Shonen Anime action

Son Goku poses with his family in Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z pioneered many of the shonen action concepts fans are familiar with today. So many creators have been inspired by Akira Toriyama’s groundbreaking series who managed to do incredible fantasy with Dragon Ball, before taking a left turn into science fiction with Dragon Ball Z. Yes, the power scaling is ridiculous, but Toriyama was trying so many things he had never done before.

Although the characters aren’t very developed, Goku is the protagonist that dozens of shonen protagonists were based on. It might not become everyone’s favorite, but they should at least check it out.

9 Magic Kaito 1412 Shows Shonen Can Be More Than Fighting and Sporting

Magic Kaito 1412 Phantom Kid Kaito

From the creator of Detective Conan come Magical Kaito 1412, a series about a phantom thief known as Kaito Kid. The thief is actually Kaito Kuroba, a teenager who seeks to uncover a gem that would have led to the death of his father.

Magic Kaito is a series that knows how to have fun with itself and shows that shonen anime can be more than just action or even something like sports. The only downside is that the manga version is unfinished as the creator is still working on Detective Conan.

8 Magi: The Labyrinth Of Magic Introduces Out Of The Mold Characters For Shonen Action Heroes

After watching just a handful of shonen series, most people are going to be exhausted by Goku’s protagonist archetype: not very bright, likes to fight, big eater. Magi goes in a different direction by introducing a pair of protagonists who have nothing to do with Goku in Aladdin and Alibaba.

The two travel through a dungeon, dangerous labyrinths where riches and strange magical powers can be found for those who solve them. After succeeding, the two are set on a path that will inevitably change the world.

sept History’s Greatest Disciple Kenichi Shows Talentless Martial Arts Protagonist

Kenichi, the greatest disciple in history is an older series loved as much for its action as it is for its comedy. The protagonist, Kenichi Shirahama, is a young high school student who is constantly being bullied.

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Eventually, he seeks to train martial arts masters from Ryozanpaku, a dojo of martial artists capable of literally superhuman feats. Although he has no talent for martial arts, he continues to train and grow stronger – and more and more powerful people are suing him for his efforts.

6 Yu Yu Hakusho has a perfect casting and short but sweet fights

Hiei Yusuke Kurama Kuwabara Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho was the only series that came close to being compared to Dragon Ball Z when he was at the height of his popularity. Creator Yoshihiro Togashi has created a shonen classic here that’s as succinct as it is good. Yusuke Urameshi is a teenager who gets hit by a car while rescuing a young child…but since he wasn’t scheduled to die yet, the afterlife gives him a chance to come back to life.

When he does, he is given a new job as a Spirit Detective, where he deals with the threats demons pose to the human world. This series has some of the best characters and fights any shonen anime viewers will ever see.

5 Kuroko’s Basketball Takes Sport And Handles It Like A Shonen Fight

Murisakibara domine Seirin

Kuroko’s Basketball takes a look at the other thing that shonen anime has always been great at: sports. It’s a series that handles sports the same way most shonen anime handles fighting as well – each character has a special ability that allows them to excel in the field. The protagonists are Taiga Kagami and Tetsuya Kuroko.

Kuroko was once the sixth man in the “Generation of Miracles”, a group of players who led Teikou Junior High’s basketball team to become champions three years in a row. The series sees Taiga and Kuroko working together against other sports teams at high schools across the country to become the best in the country.

4 Dr. Stone introduces a genius protagonist who fixes the world

Chrome, Senku and Kohaku du Dr Stone

3000 years from now, all technology has been wiped out after all of humanity is mysteriously turned to stone. One person, however, manages to wake up from his stone prison: Senku Ishigami. Senku is a genius scientist and probably one of the few people capable of rebuilding society from the ground up.

With the help of his friends Taiju and Yuzuriha, Senku begins trying to awaken all of humanity and find out the reason why they were turned to stone, to begin with.

3 Gintama can switch between comedy and action from arc to arc

Gintoki runs odd jobs at Gintama

Gintama is about…well, a lot of things. After humanity is defeated by the Amanto, a group of aliens, society shifts from feudal Japan to modern Earth. In this new era, Gintoki Sakata is a former samurai turned head of an odd-job company known as Yorozuya Odd Jobs.

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Gintoki has a bloodstained backstory… though he mostly prefers reading the latest issue of Shonen Jump these days. And that’s how Gintama can go from comedy to serious story, sometimes delving into Gintoki’s story while at other times dealing with the hijinx that comes with running an odd-job business.

2 Haikyuu Shows That A Series Can Be More Than How Often A Protagonist Wins

The Haikyuu team cries

Haikyuu is one of the most beloved sports anime of the past decade. The story follows Shouyou Hinata, a young high school student who wants to become the best volleyball player possible…and surpass the man who crushed his middle school team. There’s just one problem: the man who crushed his middle school team, Tobio Kageyama, is now on the same team as him.

de Haikyuu focusing on its character development and not having its protagonists consistently winning all the time is a nice change from what people are most often exposed to when watching shonen anime.

1 Assassination Classroom tells stories about Slice Of Life and mastering assassination

Group photo from the assassination classroom

A collection of students considered the “dead end” of their college, class 3-E, are asked to do the impossible: kill their teacher. But their teacher is also a creature capable of traveling at speeds of Mach 20. The students only have one year to pass, and if they pass, they will be paid billions of yen.

Assassination Classroom perfectly manages to distinguish between being a comedy and having a lot to say about parents’ expectations of children and how schools look down on struggling students.

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