aimed primarily at pre-teen and teenage boys. They tend to be Fighting Series
focused more on action than relationships, with romance generally either perfunctory
or Played for Laughs
. Some battles can be sublimated into a form such as a sports competition or even a Tabletop Game
While there was a time where protagonists could be adult men the target audience would look up to, it's more common for the title character, and most of the cast, to be predominantly teenage or young adult male, equally capable of action and Ham. Lots and lots of ham.
Note that while the term "Shōnen" tends to be used to refer to a few standard genres, it literally refers to the target demographic (and in Japan, generally refers strictly to manga, rather than anime). Its older counterpart is Seinen
, although both are enjoyed by other audiences as well
. The Distaff Counterpart
to Shonen is called Shoujo
There is no definite marker for a series being or not being Shōnen. Though the magazine it runs in is a good indicator, many Shōnen magazines aim for the huge Seinen Periphery Demographic
that also purchases them. Some of this is a natural result of the franchise Growing the Beard
together with the audience: many series that are popular with the Seinen demographic (and marketed towards such in omnibus tankoubon volumes) have run in Shōnen magazines when they were serialized. Some long running series will "graduate" to a magazine for an older demographic to follow it's aging audience.
Themes are not a definite indicator either: while most Shōnen works (particularly the action fighter types
) tend to fall in the idealist side
on the scale of idealism vs. cynicism
, there are also plenty of works with Darker and Edgier
elements and outright Deconstructions
that can easily be mistaken for a Seinen
series and evoke a What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?
reaction (Death Note
and Neon Genesis Evangelion
are some of the notable examples). That being said, light and fluffy/dark and moody romance, dramatic, female-led dramas, and cute art styles aren't limited to Shoujo
manga either, as the many stories of either type can attest.
Due to Values Dissonance
, some Shōnen series are primarily
marketed towards adult fans in the West; as such, most of [adult swim]
's anime lineup consisted of Shōnen. One of the most illustrative examples of this is Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
, a highly idealistic Hot-Blooded
, bright and cartoonish Super Robot
series that aired as the equivalent of a Saturday Morning Cartoon
in Japan but debuted on Adult Swim, uncensored, in the US.
Shōnen series were the first to be brought over en masse
to the Western world, and as such, makes up much of the popular American perception of anime.
This is because it is, perhaps, the genre most similar to heavily actionized, Rated M for Manly Western Animation
shows of The '80s
, also largely geared towards teenage males with swaths of Multiple Demographic Appeal
. (Pure shojo
bounces between the realms of cutesy
and melodramatically scandalous
for most Media Watchdogs
, so it does not get shown in the West as much.)
See also: So you want to Write a Shonen Series
- Many series with Humongous Mecha.
- Sometimes, adaptations of stories with Multiple Demographic Appeal will create two versions of the story, one Shōnen and one Shoujo. For example, The Vision of Escaflowne had a Shōnen-version manga produced of its story, while Magic Knight Rayearth's OAVs have a similar bent as compared to the original series.
- All the titles featured in the Weekly Shōnen Jump (or simply Jump) magazine, which should be obvious. They have a kind of legacy with each other, enough that a crossover video game is a common thing to see every few years.
- While more niche in the west, Fist of the North Star is a very important and influence title to Shonen Manga, and is considered to be the work to start the "Golden Age" of Shōnen Jump, with all other subsequent fighting series building on what it established.
- The Dragon Ball series is by far the quintessential Shōnen, and due to its age, length and influence provides examples of most of the classic tropes. Not to mention the fact that its popularity has more or less inspired most of the current Shonen Manga of this day and age.
- Of all the ongoing Shōnen series, One Piece is the most popular. It has drawn a great deal of inspiration from Dragon Ball, but developed a very unique and compelling flavor of its own.
- Naruto, another series inspired by Dragon Ball, was the most popular manga in America for a long time.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, released in 1987, is one of Shōnen Jump's longest running Shōnen series, having reached over 100 volumes in Japan. With its 7th part, "Steel Ball Run", it has switched magazines to Ultra Jump and thus officially "graduated" to Seinen. It drew much inspiration from North Star.
- Angel Densetsu
- Assassination Classroom
- Astra Lost in Space
- Barefoot Gen
- Beet the Vandel Buster- Notably put on permanent hiatus due to one of its creators being ill and the other moving onto a different production
- Binbō-gami ga!
- Black Cat
- Black Clover
- Bleach — The third of the "Big Three" in the Noughties and early 10's in the West.
- Blood Blockade Battlefront
- Blue Exorcist
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo— A humorous and surreal parody of shonen
- Butsu Zone
- Captain Tsubasa — up until the Road to 2002 saga, that is: then it moves into seinen territory. Makes sense, the readers are mostly adult males (and some adult females) who grew reading it in ''Shonen Jump'.
- Cat's Eye
- Claymore — although it's sometimes thought to be Seinen for the same reason and because of its dark themes as well as bearing a superficial resemblence to Berserk.
- Death Note — although even plenty of anime fans still mistake it for Seinen, mostly because Light is an adult for most of the series and there's the What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? factor. Played with in the Bakuman。 series (by the same creators), in which several characters support Seinen-type stories running in Shōnen magazines.
- D.Gray-Man, even when its Estrogen Brigade says otherwise.
- The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
- Cyborg Kuro-chan
- DARLING in the FRANXX — the manga adaptation drawn by Yabuki Kentarou is published online in Shonen Jump +.
- Dr. Slump
- Dr. Stone — replaces hot-blooded battles with hot-blooded SCIENCE.
- Dokonjou Gaeru
- Double Arts
- Dragon Ball — It and especially its second part Dragon Ball Z , is a major contributor to many tropes to shonen in general.
- Dragon Ball Super
- Elegant Yokai Apartment Life
- Eyeshield 21— American Football oriented
- Fist of the North Star, although Yuria Gaiden and Juuza Gaiden (the most recent ones) are Seinen. Again, a major contributor to, if not the original fighting shonen.
- Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin
- Hikaru no Go: Go game oriented
- Hinomaru Zumou
- Hunter × Hunter
- Iron Knight
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure — Parts 1-6. It moved to Seinen magazine Ultra Jump starting with Part 7, Steel Ball Run.
- Jungle King Tar-Chan
- Katekyō Hitman Reborn! — though its audience appears to consist mostly of Periphery Demographic
- Kimagure Orange Road
- Kimetsu No Yaiba
- Kinnikuman: Wrestling oriented, but also a major contributor to shonen tropes. Its sequel, Kinnikuman Nisei is Seinen.
- Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen Mae Hashutsujo - The longest manga series to ever reach its conclusion, after 200 volumes and 40 years of uninterrupted publication.
- Kurenai Sanshiro
- Kurogane (2011)
- Kuroko no Basuke
- Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro
- Mazinger Z — its first run, anyway. In 1974, it was moved to Kodansha's TV magazine.
- Medaka Box
- Muhyo and Roji: contains Seinen elements
- My Hero Academia
- Naruto — One of the Big Three, it used to be the most popular manga in America
- One Piece, although it attracts nearly every demographic, from kids to teens and adults. Currently Japan's most popular ongoing manga and a member of the Big Three.
- Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai!
- The Promised Neverland — very rare example of a (non-romcom) shounen with a female protagonist. Also pretty horrific.
- Read or Die: Rehabilitation — Often confused as Seinen due to it being more risque than Read or Die and Read or Dream, both genuine Seinen.
- Red Sprite
- Ring Ni Kakero - Starts as Shonen, the sequel switches to Seinen.
- Rokudenashi Blues
- Rosario + Vampire: Cointains Seinen elements
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Saint Seiya — Trope Codifier for Cast Full of Pretty Boys in the genre, and the Genre Popularizer for the Shonen Estrogen Brigade. Also, the term "Yaoi" was coined by the series' fandom to refer to the Male/Male Slash Fic generated by said fandom.
- Sakigake!! Otokojuku
- Samurai Usagi
- Seraph of the End
- Shaman King
- Sket Dance
- Slam Dunk
- Space Adventure Cobra, but only in its original run in Shonen Jump. Every story afterward is Seinen.
- To Love-Ru: Its sequel is much more shonen
- Toriko - Starting in 2008, it is sometimes considered Bleach's replacement among the Big Three after the later's anime ended.
- World's End Harem - Mistaken as Seinen due being drawn by a hentai mangaka, containing frontal nudidty and basic premise being a man being requested to become a breeding stallion due to men going extinct.
- YuYu Hakusho — another paradigm of Shōnen.
Non-Shōnen Jump Examples
- A Certain Magical Index
- Ace Attorney
- Active Raid
- A.I. Love You
- Air Gear: Roller blade oriente
- Akame ga Kill!
- Akarui Sekai Keikaku
- Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor
- AKB49 – Renai Kinshi Jourei
- Aku no Hana
- The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
- The Ancient Magus' Bride
- Apocalypse Alice
- Apocalypse Zero
- AR∀GO: City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator
- Area no Kishi
- ARIA - Although it contains elements commonly found in Shōjo, Seinen, and Josei manga, it was serialized in a shonen magazine and it tends to be labelled as such.
- Attack on Titan
- Axis Powers Hetalia — Originally, the published manga ran on the Gentosha Comics's Seinen magazine Comic Birz until it was relaunched on Shueisha's Shonen Jump Super in 2014.
- Azumanga Daioh, which, along with the whole genre it codified, is often mistaken for seinen or shoujo.
- B't X
- Baby Steps
- Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts - Oddly, its manga adaptation is Darker and Edgier than its light novel counterpart.
- Batman - the 1960s licensed series.
- Big Order
- Black Butler — even though it resembles a mix of Seinen and Shojo much more than actual Shōnen.
- Blazing Transfer Student
- Break Shot
- Cahe Detective Club
- Campus Special Investigator Hikaruon
- The Case Study of Vanitas
- Cat Paradise
- Cells at Work!
- Change 123
- Chūka Ichiban!
- Most Code Geass manga
- Crimsons – The Scarlet Navigators of the Ocean
- Cromartie High School
- DEAD Tube — Mistaken as Seinen due the copious amount of blood, sex, murder and nudity; it runs on Champion RED so it is expected from them.
- Deadman Wonderland — Often mistaken as Seinen due to its violent content and basically having a similar story to Elfen Lied
- Devilman — Yes, that Devilman. Despite all the blood, violence, gorn, and nudity, it ran in Weekly Shonen Champion in 1972.
- Detective Conan
- Digimon: Mon Trope Codifier along with Pokémon
- Enen No Shoubotai
- Eromanga Sensei
- Et Cetera
- Eureka Seven — the anime can go into many genres, but both the manga adaptations were published in Shōnen magazines.
- Father and Son
- Fairy Tail
- Flame of Recca
- Flunk Punk Rumble
- Franken Fran
- Fukashigi Philia
- Full Contact
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Alchemy themed, as well as a major contributor to anime tropes.
- Full Metal Panic!
- Future Diary — Often mistaken as Seinen due to its violent and horrific content, and its spinoff series Future Diary: Paradox, is genuine Seinen.
- Gabriel DropOut
- Gamble Fish
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun' — Often mistaken for Shoujo due to its romantic themes and plot about a Shoujo manga author, but it is currently serialized in a Shonen magazine. However, it has enough Multiple Demographic Appeal to be reprinted in Shoujo anthalogies.
- Get Backers
- Getter Robo
- Ghost Talkers Daydream
- Girls Bravo
- Go-Toubun No Hanayome
- Great Teacher Onizuka
- Gunslinger Girl — Often mistaken as Seinen due to themes of child abuse and terrorism and bearing a superficial resemblance to Black Lagoon
- Hajime no Ippo
- Hanako and the Terror of Allegory
- Hanasaku Iroha
- Haruhi Suzumiya
- Hayate the Combat Butler
- Heaven's Lost Property
- Hekikai No Aion
- High School D×D
- Highschool of the Dead — Yes, THAT Highschool of the Dead. For all the violence and gorn (and Fanservice), it was published as a Shonen series instead of Seinen.
- Horimiya - despite looking like a shoujo series, it is serialized in Monthly G Fantasy, a shonen magazine.
- Ikoku Meiro no Croisée
- Inazuma Eleven: Soccer themed
- Kamisama No Iutoori
- Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san: Adorable Puppy Love "rivalry" gives this one a strong Periphery Demographic, though.
- Karakuridouji Ultimo
- Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon
- Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl
- Katteni Kaizo
- Kengan Ashura
- Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer — by CLAMP, a mangaka team well known for their work in Shoujo.
- Kimi to Boku
- Kishuku Gakkou No Juliet
- Komi-san wa Komyushou desu
- Kongoh Bancho
- Kotaro Makaritoru
- Kunisaki Izumo no Jijou
- Kurogane Communication
- The Law of Ueki
- Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato
- The Legend of the Legendary Heroes
- Live On Cardliver Kakeru
- Log Horizon
- Lost+Brain — which is mistaken for Seinen for just about as much as Death Note.
- Love Hina
- Lucky Star
- The Mage Will Master Magic Efficiently in His Second Life
- Magic User's Club
- Magi – Labyrinth of Magic
- Magimoji Rurumo
- Mai Hime
- Mazinger Z — second run.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!
- Mai Hime — again, has been mistaken with both Seinen and Shojo.
- Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
- Metroid: Samus and Joey
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam
- The Morose Mononokean
- Murenase Shiiton Gakuen
- Muv-Luv Unlimited
- My Celestial Family
- Neko-de Gomen!
- Neon Genesis Evangelion- often mistaken as pure Seinen, but most of its manga adaptions as well as the anime are either Shōnen or Shōjo. The main manga series eventually switched its run to Young Ace, a seinen magazine, while Rebuild of Evangelion was primarily marketed towards adults from the get-go due to the original show's reputation (if still unclear whether the movies are shonen as well or actual seinen).
- Oku-sama wa Mahou Shoujo: Bewitched Agnes (a.k.a. My Wife is a Magical Girl: Bewitched Agnes)
- Onihei Hankachou
- Osomatsu-san— The anime fit under this, but the 2016 manga is being printed in a Josei magazine.
- Pandora Hearts — like many series published in GFantasy, it has a Multiple Demographic Appeal and blends shounen and shoujo tropes with more mature storytelling.
- Pani Poni Dash!
- Phi Brain: Puzzle of God
- Pokémon, which, along with Dragon Ball Z, helped to popularize the genre in the West. While most of the series is halfway between this and kodomomuke (with the Kalos seasons most closely resembling other shonen anime in terms of characters and plot), Origins and the Mega Evolution Special episodes are solidly shounen.
- Popcorn Avatar
- Princess Tutu — the manga, ironically, according to That Other Wiki.
- Rave Master
- Red Eyes
- Rising × Rydeen
- Ronin Warriors — the manga adaption was aimed at a younger male audience with heavy depictions of violence and gore.
- Saijou no Meii
Commonly Mistaken for Shonen:
- Aldnoah.Zero: All the manga adaptations are seinen, despite being a mecha series with teenage protagonists.
- Bokurano: Seems to be a normal shonen Humongous Mecha series, but is actually a seinen deconstruction of those.
- Dennou Coil sometimes gets mistaken for shonen because of its emphasis on high-tech action scenes, but the manga adaptation ran in a shoujo magazine.
- Fate/stay night adaptions are occasionally mistaken as shonen due to heavy emphasis on fighting and a protagonist heavily remeniscent of stereotypical shonen heroes (albeit a heavy deconstruction of such characters), though the series is adapted from a +18 H-Game. Notably, the manga adaption did run on a shonen magazine.
- My Love Story!!: Often mistaken for being a shōjo-themed shōnen a la Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun due to its humor and Gonk male protagonist, but it is currently serialized in a shōjo magazine.
- One-Punch Man: A Superhero parody that deconstructs many Shonen tropes. The manga remake actually runs in Young Jump Web Comics, a seinen magazine. It does run in the English-language Shonen Jump despite this.
- Place to Place: A comedic yonkoma, that's seinen.
- Tiger & Bunny: A superhero action manga, that's seinen and runs in Newtype Ace.
- Tokyo Ghoul: Easily confused with similiarly violent shonen series like Attack on Titan and other