The anime landscape is often dominated by colossal shounen series like One Piece, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, and Hunter x Hunter. These giants have left an indelible mark on the industry and have become synonymous with the shounen genre itself. However, their immense success sometimes overshadows lesser-known gems. Here, we shine a spotlight on five underrated shounen anime series that deserve more recognition.
Top 5 Overlooked Shounen Anime Series
5. Kemono Jihen
- Studio: Ajia-do
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Mystery
- Episodes: 12
Kohachi Inugami, an occult detective, is summoned to a remote village to investigate a series of gruesome livestock mutilations. During his investigation, he crosses paths with a socially outcast boy named Dorotabou. How will this chance encounter alter the course of their lives?
“Kemono Jihen” is a masterfully crafted story. It fearlessly explores mature and challenging themes like child abuse, assault, torture, and incest, setting it apart from many others in the genre. While the pacing may start slow, don’t give up; it rapidly accelerates, making it one of the standout shows of its time.
- Studio: TMS Entertainment
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
- Episodes: 103
Allen Walker serves as a soldier for the Black Order, an organization dedicated to liberating souls trapped within Akuma. Armed with Innocence in his arm and a cursed eye capable of perceiving the suffering of those ensnared by Akuma, Allen, along with his comrades, must thwart the malevolent designs of the Millennium Earl and his army.
“D.Gray-man” is a mysteriously well-crafted series. Laden with numerous secrets within its narrative, the show offers astonishing character development, with each character acting as a piece of a puzzle that unravels the overarching mystery. Featuring intricate world-building and a well-paced storyline, the series will evoke laughter, tears, and fury throughout its runtime.
3. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
- Studio: Artland
- Genres: Action, Comedy
- Episodes: 200
Tsunayoshi Sawada, a self-proclaimed loser, experiences an unexpected turn in his life when an assassin from Italy’s most powerful mafia family asks him to assume the role of the ninth Vongola Family boss. Can Tsunayoshi become the next mafia boss with his mentor being an infant?
If you enjoyed the comedic dynamics of Beelzebub, you’ll undoubtedly fall for “Hitman Reborn!” The series begins with in-depth character development before diving into major battles, allowing the full force of shounen’s “power of friendship” to shine. With numerous hilarious moments, especially as it initially parodied shounen anime, the protagonist’s reluctance to grow or change keeps the story engaging as he becomes more powerful.
- Studio: Sunrise
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Supernatural
- Episodes: 52
Yoshimura Sumimura is a Kekkaishi, an individual capable of battling Ayakashi. These malevolent entities venture into the human world to feast on human energies. Taking on the responsibility of a Kekkaishi, Yoshimura must defend his village against Ayakashi.
Despite its seemingly straightforward premise, the story is surprisingly intricate and features moments of unexpected resolution. The narrative presents high-stakes situations where characters can and do die, offering a refreshing experience. If you enjoyed watching “Jujutsu Kaisen,” here’s the old-school equivalent.
1. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
- Episodes: 25
Mages possess mastery over magic that shapes the world and is said to determine its destiny. Each mage selects a Magi, who, with their guidance, becomes a ruler. Aladdin, a young mage, embarks on a journey across the world in search of his true self. Accompanied by his friend Alibaba, what will this Magi ultimately discover?
This show has it all—plot, world-building, ecchi, iconic characters—you name it. The pacing is impeccable, with brilliantly written characters and character development that delivers some of anime’s most heart-wrenching moments. It features some of the most breathtaking animated battles in the medium. Whenever Sinbad makes an entrance, you’ll want to throw a celebration.
With the rise of newer-generation anime like Kaguya-sama and Jujutsu Kaisen, older shounen series are at risk of being overshadowed. However, let’s not forget these shows. They’ve not only contributed to shaping today’s shounen anime industry but remain precious works of art cherished and loved by many within the anime community.”