Written by: Billie Clark
Shounen is one of the genres I was immediately introduced to when I started watching anime. Me and my brother would hang out and watch it together. Although he can stand to sit through some of my favourite shoujo love stories, it’s easier for us to agree on shounen.
Shounen are the anime and manga geared towards pre-teen and teen boys. The anime I’ve considered “shounen” on this list are ones that were released as manga in shounen magazines (or are listed as shounen on Wikipedia).
Here are my top three shounen anime recommendations!
- Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji)
Are you into demons? What about Victorian London alternate universes? Well, Black Butler has both—along with three seasons, one released OVA, and another soon-to-be-released OVA. Ciel Phantomhive is a member of the British aristocracy and the Queen’s “guard dog”—hunting the British underworld and tracking the people that destroyed his family. Aided by his faithful butler, Sebastian, Ciel confronts the horrors of humans and the supernatural, all in the name of Queen, Country, and Phantomhive. Filled with eclectic characters, a cute kid with an eye-patch, and some occasionally downright dark humour, Black Butler is enjoyable gothic anime.
- FullMetal Alchemist
I have decided to stick both FMA and Brotherhood in this little blurb. I recommend starting with the 2003 anime, FullMetal Alchemist (FMA), then watching the 2007 series, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Both anime focus on the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse. Edward is the youngest State Alchemist, ever, and both he and his brother are searching for information on the infamous Philosopher’s Stone. FMA eventually loses the manga plot, making much of the second half of the series extremely different from both the manga and Brotherhood. I recommend starting with the 2003 series due to the inconsistencies and the older artwork, but also because Brotherhood assumes you’ve already watched the original, or have read the manga—there is less character introduction and set-up. Both series are staples of the shounen genre; the action is well-choreographed, the characters are well-developed, and the pain is real.
- One Punch Man
The most recent release on my shounen recs list—One Punch Man was one of two anime I watched as it was airing last fall. Saitama is a “hero for fun” and probably the most OP (over-powered) main character that you’ll ever love. With his ability to defeat monsters with a single punch, Saitama should be revered as the most popular hero—or, at the very least, recognized as a hero. The anime follows Saitama’s not-so-heroic daily life, the baddies he beats, and the apprentice he never wanted. The action is typically fast-paced, the heroes are ridiculous, the villains are criminally funny, and there will be a second season sometime in the not-quite-distant future!
So, there are my top three shounen recommendations—and that is far from all of my favourites. If you like mecha, there is Buddy Complex and Aldnoah.Zero, where the robots are important, but so are the characters. For gamers, there is Log Horizon or Sword Art Online (it’s fun, okay?), where people are stuck in their MMOs. If you like that vaguely Victorian vibe, D. Gray-Man is a tale of exorcists and action. Soul Eater and Blue Exorcist feature more fantasy and comedy, and Tokyo Ghoul for something darker. And there are so many more…