For years, shounen has dominated the charts with hard-hitting titles about friendship and strife. It’s no secret that action-packed adventure has found a home in the hearts of thousands of anime fans since its invention. These five shows helped make a stable name for the genre in the US and beyond, and with all this time inside, it’s a great moment to look back, smile, and remember.
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In 2009, Studio Bones came out swinging with its second adaption of Hiromu Arakawa’s Full Metal Alchemist — a tale of two brothers on a mission to right the wrongs of their past. Working alongside a cast of dynamic characters, Edward and Alphonse Elric embark on a journey through post-war Amestris. If you were looking for elements of science, religion, politics, family, sacrifice, and psychology, you’ll be pleased to know this story masters them all.
Attack on Titan
No fan could’ve predicted the monumental effect Shingeki no Kyoujin had on the world in 2013. At any con, left and right, people were dressed like the Survey Corps, clenching their fists over their chests and backs in salute to this masterpiece. My first memory of this show was my mother asking if I’d fallen due to the sheer scream of despair I let out toward the end of the initial season — it’d been years since I felt so committed to a show. After three seasons, it continues to stun us with unique animation and plot-twisting genius. If you ever wondered what would happen if humans were not the top of the food chain, basically, look no further.
Finding an anime fan who didn’t watch this show in the mid-2000s would’ve been a mission all on its own. With its gripping plot, striking soundtrack, and edge-of-your-seat pacing, Death Note is a sight for sore eyes. The concept of good and evil gets flipped on its head as our valedictorian protagonist stumbles upon a notebook that gives him the power to kill anyone he chooses. He’s well-intended, planning to do what he considers to be the “right thing”. But that’s the catch. Is it evil to punish evil?
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
One of the most common qualities of shounen is adventure, and this one has it in spades. Whether you’re an older fan or a newer one, it simply doesn’t matter. The fight scenes, banter, and imaginative character design hold up against the test of time. Much like Full Metal Alchemist, this 2011 adaption of the original show delves deep into themes some would be shocked to discover in a show with protagonists as young as Gon and Killua. But one thing is for sure: the bond they have is more than heartwarming.
You can probably already hear the opening. It’s jazzy, snazzy, and classic. With its cast of lovable characters — Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein — Cowboy Bebop gave us more than enough to love. The music was so good I listened to the soundtrack in full before I knew it was a show with a movie and a fanbase spanning the globe. Who knew space rangers doing martial arts in trains and grungy alleyways could make for such a perfect story? And if the concept of cowboys in space doesn’t impress you, then get ready to turn a new leaf. You’ll be giving them salutations by tomorrow.
Lauren is a 23-year-old cosplayer and writer from Chicago. Her favorite shows include Wolf’s Rain, Terror in Resonance, and Samurai Champloo. If you can’t reach her for whatever reason, she’s probably reading or figuring out how to turn her kendo skills into functional ones. She’ll be back in a minute.