The 20 Best Shounen Manga Of All Time, RankedThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Shounen is one of the most well-known manga genres of all time.
And it’s arguably what made possible for manga to become the worldwide phenomenon that it is today.
And how did it do that?
By having great comedy, action, adventure, and by showing the true meaning of friendships in its pages.
Knowing this, which shounen manga are worth your time? Let’s take a look at some of our top recommendations for you to read and enjoy.
20. Noragami: Stray God
This tells the story of the quest of a minor god to gather enough money to buy himself a shrine, and amass a great following in the process.
The plot here is unique enough to make it stand out.
But just an interesting synopsis is not enough to keep your readers entertained, is it? Not really, so how does this manga do that?
With extremely relatable characters that grow and change with every passing chapter.
Character development is key here.
Add to that a high-quality art style and you’ll find a story that deserves your attention.
19. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer follows the path of Tanjirou, the oldest sibling of an impoverished family whose entire family is brutally murdered by demons.
As if that’s not enough, his only sister is turned into a flesh-eating monster.
I would say that the themes of family and friendship are the main attraction here.
Seeing the protagonist’s will to save his sister against all odds, and the camaraderie between the main cast is simply wonderful and worth the read alone.
It’s the Edo period, and Japan has just been invaded by aliens.
Unable to defend its people against these creatures, the country soon surrenders. This marks the beginning of a new era where swords are banned and samurais no longer exist.
Well, except for our protagonist, who wields a wooden sword and refuses to let go of his samurai status.
If you think this premise is too crazy, you’d be right.
It’s completely bonkers but it works so well for the absolute goldmine of jokes this manga contains.
Comedy is the central piece here, with a variety of parodies in the mix.
Still, time and time again the author shows that he can do action, drama, sci-fi, and a lot of different genres justice. Not what I’d call an easy task.
17. Jujutsu Kaisen
Yuuji is an excellent track and field athlete. However he has no interest in running in circles, and lives his days in leisure as a member of the Occult Research Club.
But when a real spirit shows up in his school, everything changes.
Truth be told, the setup for the story is a bit generic… And yet the manga still manages to shine through its competition.
This happens because even though the tropes have been played out, they have little adjustments and twists to make it more enjoyable.
As an additional note, the fights here are pretty solid, with good strategies and a hard magic system behind them.
16. Pandora Hearts
In Pandora Hearts we follow the story of Oz, a boy who was punished for a sin he didn’t commit (or knows anything about for that matter).
We watch as he attempts to escape his punishment and unravel the mystery behind it.
Reading this manga feels a lot like putting a puzzle together, with every chapter giving you a new piece and slapping you in the face for thinking you had it figured out.
Lots of mysteries and plot twists here, and none of them bad.
It’s quite amazing honestly.
Bakuman is perhaps one of the most interesting mangas for anyone who loves to read mangas.
Yep, you read that right.
If you’ve ever had any interest in how mangas are published, how they’re created, and what sort of problems their authors go through, this is worth the read.
Bakuman shows us the life of two boys who together fight to become famous mangakas and have a manga that gets an anime adaptation.
There’s a lot of insight on the industry, and it’s a pretty interesting read for sure.
It’s not the usual stuff we see in this genre – but definitely worth a look for any manga reader!
14. Spy x Family
I always see people online saying that this manga is a different take on “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”.
And well… that’s pretty spot on.
Spy x Family takes us on the life of a hitman couple (each hiding their secret identity from the other), and their extremely adorable adoptive daughter.
Seriously, her interactions with anyone will make you either laugh hysterically, or warm your heart to the core, sometimes even both.
There’s a perfect mix of comedy, romance, action, and tension, all of which turns this into a must-read.
13. Death Note
Death Note might be one of the most well-known shounen manga that’s not directly battle-themed.
Not in the usual sense at least, since the battle here is one of the minds and not fists.
Let me ask you: what happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object?
On one side we have Light, a boy genius bored with the world, who finds a notebook that grants him the ability to kill anyone whose name is written on it.
On the other side we have L, a cryptic detective who never found a case he couldn’t solve.
One of the best cat and mouse games put to page.
12. Black Butler
Ciel, a 12-year-old orphan must assume the place of his father as the patriarch of the family after an unfortunate accident.
Not bad enough? Guess what, his family is the head of London’s criminal underground.
So what’s a young boy to do?
Make a deal with the devil and have him become your butler, of course!
Now, if you think that means this manga will be dark, horrific, and twisted, you’re absolutely right.
And it’s one of the best you could read.
11. D. Gray-man
Allen Walker is a white-haired boy who loses his adoptive father to demons. So he decides to join the Black Order and help exterminate these monsters once and for all.
A typical good vs evil plot, where there’s no space for doubt.
Pretty straightforward, right?
There are twists and turns here that’ll make you doubt everything you know, and eventually, make you see the world for what it is:
A gray ride where no one is truly good nor evil.
10. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Magi follows the steps of young Aladdin, a kind magician who’s leaving his home behind to explore the world.
It’s a story of adventure and friendship that can surprise you with great action and deep meaningful moments when you least expect it.
One very interesting aspect is the series representation of real-life civilizations, and by consequence real-life issues.
The author doesn’t shy away from bringing heavy topics like slavery, oppression, and corruption to light.
With an amazing world and a cast of fun characters, Magi is definitely worth checking out.
This manga is a true dark fantasy, set in the middle ages, where mankind is preyed upon by monstrous creatures who enjoy the taste of human flesh.
Now you might think this description is eerily similar to Attack on Titan, and you wouldn’t be wrong as both have more differences than you’d expect.
(Also on a side note, Claymore was released 8 years before AoT, so the comparison is the other way around.)
Composed of a great cast of female warriors, beautiful fight sequences, amazing artwork, and twists and turns that’ll make your jaw drop, Claymore begs to be read at least once.
Beastars presents a world just like our very own, with a tiny crucial difference: there are no humans.
Everyone is a different breed of anthropomorphic animal.
This obviously presents an entirely new set of problems for the way our society works.
But a premise that may look silly at first glance, soon evolves into a fascinating read, diving deep into how our surroundings can shape us into who we are.
It’s honestly easy to feel the love and thought the author has put into her work.
The world-building done here is nothing short of amazing.
Add to that some complex characters, and you have a beautiful story that deserves to be seen.
Haikyuu is a volleyball manga first, and anything else second.
But even if you aren’t a big fan of the sport, I urge you to give it a chance.
If you think sports mangas are boring then this is the one that could change your mind.
It features charming characters that’ll have you cheering for the tiniest victory. Plus an art style so fluid that it’ll make you feel like the games are about to pop off the page and enter your room.
Not to mention a story that’ll tug at your heartstrings.
Haikyuu!! is a one-way ticket into the volleyball scene that you won’t regret getting.
6. Chainsaw Man
Is there even a word that can define this manga?
Madness and chaos come close, but nothing can prepare you for what Chainsaw Man truly is.
Blood, brutality, pandemonium, dark/mature themes, profound characters, and the unexpected.
This is what you can expect here.
At the start, when the characters are being shown and the plot is just beginning, you might think you know where the story is headed.
I promise you, you don’t know.
Strap in, because this is a very chaotic (and very fun) ride.
5. Fullmetal Alchemist
We’re all a little familiar with this one, right?
FMA tells the tragic tale of two brothers who, in an attempt to bring their mother back, pay a very heavy price.
You’ll accompany Edward and Alphonse in their adventures, trying to make thing right for one another, and helping those around them in the process. It’s an amazing experience.
The supporting cast here is also well developed and full of great moments throughout the series.
Even from the very beginning, the plot is simple enough, but it soon takes you to places you’d never expect.
As a plus, the way alchemy works in this world is, simply put, awesome.
4. Attack on Titan
AoT offers a cruel and merciless world, badass characters, mysteries wrapped within mysteries, and lots and lots of blood.
What’s there not to love?
Attack on Titan presents Eren Yeager, a boy on a mission to destroy the titans (monstrous creatures that eat humans).
The manga made its debut in 2009 and became an instant hit – and for very good reason.
The author, for better or worse, knows exactly how to play with its reader’s hearts.
Add to that a plot with so many twists and turns that you’ll have to hold tight to your seat so you don’t fall over, and you have a ride you won’t forget.
Just be warned if you plan to read it: get ready to cry, cheer, get angry, and then cry some more.
3. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Series)
The name of this manga says it better than anything I can write.
Reading JoJo is a bizarre (duh) experience.
We’re talking about a piece of work that stands out even among other “unusual” stories. Vampires, stopping time, throwing road rollers, defeating immortal beings, following serial killers, and one of the best power systems in all fiction.
This is what JoJo has to offer.
Now I’ll admit that some parts are not as good as others.
But I can assure you that they’re all unforgettable in their own rights.
And regardless of that, this series is a plate full of action, comedy, and weird adventures that anyone who enjoys shounen should go through at least once.
2. Hunter x Hunter
What does it mean to be a hunter?
Well that’s the exact question that drives our charismatic protagonist, Gon Freecs, out of his island and into a world of adventures.
While Jojo may have one of the best power systems in all fiction, Hunter x Hunter has one of the best worlds in all fiction.
Seriously, there’s not a single location, creature, or power that isn’t interesting to read about.
Add to that a cast of captivating characters that’ll have you craving for more, and you have easily one of the best shounen to date.
Unfortunately, I feel obligated to bring one negative point to an otherwise amazing series:
The author has had a lot of long hiatus periods.
I mean, when your fans start to call your manga “Hiatus x Hiatus”, you know something’s up.
1. One Piece
Honestly, this was inevitable.
Can you even talk about shounen manga without citing One Piece?
Actually scratch that, can you talk about manga at all without referencing One Piece?
It’s the most well-sold manga in history.
And it’s also the second most well-sold comic series of all time.
And let me tell you, it deserves all the praise that it gets.
The premise is very straightforward:
Our protagonist Monkey D. Luffy sets sail to the seas in hopes of gathering a crew and finding the legendary treasure called One Piece.
I could talk about all day why you should read this manga, but I’ll make it simple.
If you want to read about a crew that you’ll wish with all your heart you could join, in a world filled with adventures around every corner, silly humor that will catch you off guard, tragedies that can break your heart, followed by a warm hug that could mend it back together…
Then just do yourself a favor and start reading One Piece.