OG shonen anime like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Dragon Ball Z need no introduction. Their lovable characters, interesting plot, and of course, mind-blowing fight scenes have earned the hearts of millions all across the globe.
However, as Trigun protagonist Vash The Stampede once said, “The ticket to the future is always open.” Even our once beloved kings of shonen anime will have to step down from the throne and give their respective crowns to more modern series and shows.
As proud otakus, we need to keep our options open and be willing to explore new series. And to be honest, if you limit your choices to the same anime, you’ll be missing out on a lot. Change isn’t a bad thing!
Here are the three new shonen anime, listed in no particular order, that rival the popularity of the original Big three during their heyday:
1. My Hero Academia (Boku no Hīrō Akademia)
MHA takes place in a world where people are born with quirks, more commonly known as superpowers. They vary in strength, power, and function. Some characters have the ability to stockpile their energy into one colossal punch, while some people have milder quirks such as being able to see objects from distant places.
The protagonist is a young teenager, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya, who has always been teased and bullied for being quirkless. Apparently, Deku is one of the rare people born without quirks.
Everything changes, however, when his childhood hero All Might grants him the power of One for All. It’s a one-of-a-kind quirk that can be transferred from user to user.
Because of this encounter, our protagonist Deku will soon learn what it truly means to be a hero. He will have to overcome his inner troubles, become friends with former bullies, and of course, master the power given to him.
Why We Love It
What sets MHA apart from the rest is its characters. The entire anime is currently only 88 episodes long, but character development is unbelievable. MHA is able to make their characters grow at a fast yet steady pace. There are no wasted scenes. Every second is devoted purely to giving their characters a chance to mature. After all, they are heroes.
2. Black Clover
Black Clover is about two orphan boys, Asta and Yuno, who want to become the wizard king, the greatest mage in their universe. Yuno is a brilliant mage who gained the ability to cast spells at a very young age. Meanwhile, our protagonist Asta is a talentless loudmouth whose only solution to everything involves brute strength and hard work.
The story primarily revolves around Asta and how he will overcome various challenges. It will be tough, but with the help of his beloved squad, he just might be able to prove to the world that even a talentless nobody can become someone amazing.
Why We Love It
Black Clover is the very definition of shonen anime. It’s action-packed, straightforward, and the protagonist has a clear goal: to become the wizard king. Plus, they have a template shonen anime superpower: magic.
What makes it stand out is its innovativeness. Black Clover is able to take an extremely generic plot and turn it into something fresh, new, and even unique. The magic powers are completely different, the characters -- while template personas -- are exciting, and the plot will keep you on the edge of your seats!
The only thing that bothered new fans is Asta’s constant screaming. His cries will literally pierce your ears. But once you get past the cringey screaming, you’ll be able to enjoy Black Clover for the masterpiece it is.
3. Demon Slayer (Kimetsu No Yaiba)
In Demon Slayer, demons and humans are mortal enemies. There’s even a special corps whose sole purpose is to slay demons.
Overcoming this interspecies clash is the main challenge of Tanjiro Kamado, our protagonist. Due to the attack of an unknown demon, his little sister Nezuko has turned into a demon herself. But unlike other demons, Nezuko is still in control of herself. Not only does she prevent herself from attacking humans, but she also goes as far as to protect them as well.
The story revolves around the siblings’ adventures as they travel in search of a way to cure Nezuko. They hope to get answers from the very demon who attacked them, whose identity has yet to be confirmed. Along the way, they’ll have to overcome demons who want to eat them and humans who are opposed to leaving Nezuko alive.
Why We Love It
Unlike the first two on this list, Demon Slayer is a fairly new shonen anime that is only 26 episodes long. What allowed it to secure a spot as one of the big three shonen anime is its compelling story. It has a unique plot filled with tragedy, action, drama, and even comedy.
Plus, the anime barely scratches the manga and there’s an upcoming movie to boot, so there’s a good chance that the producers will continue the anime.
Also, unlike other shonen anime, there is no plot armor in Demon Slayer. Our lovable protagonist is faced with real issues with real consequences and he will have to resolve them using real solutions.