Shonen Anime. Many of us are familiar with the term. A genre that has shaped a generation of weebs screaming Kamehameha in their school’s bathrooms. You know your Dragon Ball Z, your Yu Yu Hakusho, your Hajime No Ippo. But today, I’d like to show off The Top 5 Shonen Anime that don’t really get put in as many top 5 lists as I think they should.
Starting off our list is the 1987 hit anime based on the works of acclaimed mangaka Rumiko Takahashi. Ranma ½ follows the gender bending adventures of Ranma, a young martial artist in training who thanks to a total preventable accident at a famous cursed spring, ends up being able to transform into a girl whenever he is doused with cold water.
While Ranma is nowhere lacking in the strange characters beating each other up with even stranger powers department, the real meat of the anime is in its comedy and emotional base. Love triangles, animal transforming suitors, and an overall zaniness equivalent with a Saturday morning cartoon gives this anime a certain pop, setting it apart from its 20th century contemporaries. A great ride for its 167 episodes run that is sure to put a smile on your face.
Speaking of strange characters fighting with their strange powers, 2004’s Get Backers is coming in next on our list. Truly one of my greatest disappointments as an anime fan is that Get Backers never got the attention it deserved. The story centers around perpetually broke 21 year olds, Ban Midou and Ginji Amano. Ban, with his super strength and nightmare inducing Evil Eye, and Ginji, who can emit high voltage electricity from his body, are the Get Backers, a recovery service that can retrieve anything that has been taken with an (almost) 100% success rate. The series is relatively short by Shonen Battle standards, with only 49 episodes, but expect high flying battles, complex backstories, and humor you’ve come to expect from the genre. And to this day, I have yet to find another Anime that really captures the “being broke in your 20s” vibe quite like Get Backers.
Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan
One of the few anime you can still watch in its entirety on YouTube. It is perhaps one of the strangest, balls to the wall pieces of animation I have seen to this day. Middle Schooler Sakura Kusakabe struggles painfully thanks to Dokuro Chan, a bludgeoning-happy guardian angel from the future who has come to stop Sakura from inventing an anti-aging technology that would satisfy his (as of yet) undeveloped loli fetish. If that description doesn’t get you, nothing will. The show is racked with diarrhea humor, grotesque displays of blood, and a complete and utter disregard for its own continuity. It exudes that random, at times nihilistic humor of Invader ZIM and I would argue it was Panty and Stocking before Panty and Stocking.
Yamada Kun and the Seven Witches
Sticking to the school setting but moving away from the more grotesque humor, we have a sweeter, calmer story in Yamada Kun and the Seven Witches. Here we follow misunderstood delinquent Ryu Yamada, as he makes his way through high school with the apparent power to swap bodies with his classmate Urara Shiraishi. While the anime sets itself up as a typical body-swap Rom-Com, It doesn’t take long for Yamada to discover that he and Shiraishi may not be the only ones in school hiding a magical secret.
Yamada’s 12 episodes only cover the first arc of the manga, about 11 volumes out of a 39 volume series, something I would say is for the best. The first story arc is bouncy with plenty of humor, likable characters, and a school-based battle manga of the minds (sort of).
Naruto and Naruto Shippuden
Yeah, Naruto made this list. But Author-Kun, you just said that this list was for the less talked about Shonen anime out there, why would you include one of the most successful and popular Anime of the last 20 years? Well, dear reader, the simple reason is that I can. Also, shut up. Naruto recently has dominated my media consumption, as well as many more fans nationwide. The pandemic has regressed some of us back into the safety of the anime that crafted us in the weeb fires, and honestly, it’s a great one to sink back into. You know the story, hyper spunky demon possessed Naruto Uzumaki fights his way through his village of Konoha to become Ninja President, AKA the Hokage. It’ll make you laugh, make you cry, and probably make you scream at your computer once you’re about 230 Episodes into Shippuden. And you heard me right, Naruto is a long series, totally in at a whopping 500 episodes. It’s more than lengthy enough to keep you entertained through the gradual collapse of our world, you better believe it.