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Best Shonen Anime as of 2021, Ranked


Best Shonen Anime as of 2021, Ranked

10. My Hero Academia

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Image Source: Studio Bones

My Hero Academia definitely isn’t the most unique battle shonen ever, as it features tropes and stories that have been known to the anime and superhero genres for a very long time. Despite this, the show still manages to add its own flavor and style to these, making them feel fresh and interesting as a result.

While Deku is a cheery happy go lucky protagonist, there is an edge to him when he fights, as he doesn’t pull his punches when people are in danger. And while the good guys usually always come out on top, My Hero Academia also balances violence and villainy well enough that it doesn’t feel like a kid’s show.

It also goes without saying that the show has some pretty insane sakuga and music at times, turning what should be a simple fistfight into an epic brawl that’ll have you on the edge of your seat.

9. Jujutsu Kaisen

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Image Source: MAPPA

It is a testament to Jujutsu Kaisen’s overall quality that it has managed to crack this top 10 list despite only being around for one season. There is good reason for that, though, as this series is firing on all cylinders from what it has shown us so far.

Jujutsu Kaisen boasts stellar characters, enthralling and succinct storytelling, amazing world-building, and a magic system that is so detailed, it even manages to integrate the genre’s overuse of exposition into it. There is no doubt that the show will even higher up this list with time, especially if it manages to put forth more content like that of its debut season.

8. One Piece

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Image Source: Toei Animation

The last of the big three currently still standing, One Piece continues to be one of the best anime around, following Monkey D. Luffy and his gang of pirates as they search for the fabled titular treasure. The show’s fights, narratives, and characters are as solid as ever, rewarding fans who have been watching the two-decade run with plenty of callbacks and new reveals that are built upon previous stories.

The reason One Piece ends up so low comes down to the fact that its overall direction seems stretched thin at times, as filler arcs and story retreading rears its head.

7. Dragon Ball Z

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Shonen Anime
Image Source: Toei Animation

Dragon Ball Z is arguably the most influential anime of all time. You can ask just about anyone about the series, even those who don’t watch anime, and they’ll at least be able to tell you they are aware of it.

The show’s mainstream appeal is built off the backs of interesting conflicts and cool-looking characters, especially when it came to the Saiyans. There is just something about their transformation into spikey yellow-haired badasses that is so appealing.

Beneath all of the yelling and beam fighting, there’s also plenty of great stories focused around family, strength, and trying your very best.

6. Naruto

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Naruto vs Sasuke
Image Source: Studio Pierrot

Naruto is one of those anime that just sounds crazy on paper, as it centers around a bunch of children and adults becoming ninjas and fighting each other with strange elemental powers based around chakras. As almost anyone who has seen it knows, though, it works.

A lot of this has to do with just how creative the powers that the show focuses around are. Whether it is the idea behind the Sharingan or Genjutsu or the secrets of the Jinchuriki, Naruto’s power system still stands today as one of the best ever created.

Combine this with the continuous themes of perseverance throughout hardship and overcoming the cycle of hatred, and you can see why this one made the list.

5. Yu Yu Hakusho

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Shonen Anime
Image Source: Studio Pierrot

Yu Yu Hakusho is as close as you could have possibly got to perfection when it debuted in 1992, as it hit on every single shonen cliche before they were ever truly established. Whether it was its tough-guy protagonists, terrifying villains, or the powers they each possessed, everything the show did was enthralling, all thanks to Yoshihiro Togashi’s direction and character development.

It also goes without saying that the show features a tournament arc, the Dark Tournament, that still sets the bar for quality combat and storytelling.

4. Haikyuu!

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Daichi, Anime Senpais
Image Source: Production I.G

While Haikyuu may stand out like a sore thumb on this list, as it centers around sports instead of the typical brawling combat known to the genre, that doesn’t take away from just how good this series is. From the moment fans are introduced to Shoyo Hinata, you can tell there is something unique about him and his story.

The sheer drive and motivation centered around this character just makes it so that you can’t help but route for him, especially with how quickly he progresses. The best part about the show is that it builds the world around Hinata, devoting plenty of time to his teammates and opponent’s backstories.

This fleshed-out world serves to draw you in, while the insane back and forth combat that comes along with sets keeps you around. It’s a show that manages to keep you invested in the action and outcome even if you don’t like volleyball.

3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Shonen Anime
Image Source: Studio Bones

The story of Edward and Alphonse Elric is a tragic yet triumphant tale, as the two stick together through thick and thin, doing whatever it takes to recover their bodies back after foolishly trying to resurrect their mother using alchemy. Along the way, they meet charming and captivating characters, forming bonds over their struggles, as well as a handful of insane villains hellbent on taking over the world.

Through this conflict, creator Hiromu Arakawa creates a fascinating tale, full of twists and turns that no one could see coming. On top of amazing character and story work, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood also features an awesome magic system, called Alchemy, that is built off of science and the laws of equal exchange.

2. Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Best Shonen Anime 2021

Shonen Anime
Image Source: Nippon Animation

It’s hard to put into words just how special Hunter x Hunter is to the anime genre. This is a show that manages to bring so much joy, yet so much despair, as it features such a detailed, beautiful, and dangerous world.

Hunter x Hunter shows off this world through the innocent eyes of the Gon Freecss, a gifted and charming young boy that wants to become a hunter so he can meet his dad. As the story goes on, he meets lots of interesting characters, forming friendships and rivalries while also learning about the economy and the magic system that rules it.

Despite his constantly cheery attitude, though, the story constantly ramps up, introducing new stakes and missions that not only could kill Gon but ones that could darken his shining heart. This constant threat of danger makes for an intense anime, all while also conveying the joys that come along with going on a grand adventure.

1. Attack on Titan

Best Shonen Anime 2021

attack on titan
Image Source: Wit Studio/Mappa

The world of Attack on Titan is as bleak as it gets, as the show centers around humanity trying to survive hidden behind walls that protect them from giant man-eating creatures known as Titans. Not even the walls can protect them for long, as one day an abnormal, intelligent Titan breaks through, leaving chaos and carnage in their wake.

What follows is an insanely elaborate tale, built on masterfully planned storytelling that spans multiple seasons, introducing twists that are somehow never predictable, despite all of the foreshadowing leading up to them. It’s honestly insane to go back and rewatch the show, as it drops subtle hints about what is to happen in the fourth season all the way back in the first episode.

Thanks to this story and its interesting concept, Attack on Titan has even garnered the attention of mainstream views, pulling in people who don’t normally watch anime but love a good mystery. There will likely never be another show like Attack on Titan ever again.

About the author

Andrew McMahon

Andrew was Twinfinite's Features Editor from 2020 through until March 2023 and wrote for the site from 2018. He has wandered around with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications sitting in his back pocket for a while now, all the while wondering what he is going to do for a career. Luckily, video games have always been there, especially as his writing career progresses.
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