Shonen manga and anime are geared toward a male audience in middle and high school. Most shonen manga are written by men, but there are many classic and contemporary titles written by women.
Titles written by women contain traditional shonen tropes like the chosen one, tsundere love interests, high fantasy adventure, and blood-soaked battles. Shonen readers who look forward to content with themes like comradery and friendship, bravery in the face of the insurmountable, and the responsibility that comes with power won’t be disappointed. Along with those oft-repeated tropes and themes that otakus understandably love, many women writers experiment with genre and add depth, truly setting their stories apart.
Creator: Akira Amano
Reborn! is an underrated series, and fans are still hopeful for more content, but it’s unclear whether that will happen. Luckily, between the 42-volume shonen manga, 203 adapted episodes, and five light novels, there’s plenty of media to check out.
When a person dies by the Dying Will Bullet, they’re reborn with the power and will execute their unfinished business. Mafia anime are awesome, but a mafia anime with a unique magic system is even better. Tsuna is traditional, kind of clumsy, and aimless shonen protagonist, but his character evolves into something great as he’s reborn.
9 The Case Study Of Vanitas
Creator: Jun Mochizuki
Vampires are popular in shojo romance and seinen horror, but The Case Study of Vanitas by Jun Mochizuki is a newer anime release that gives vampires the shonen treatment. The setting is a steampunk-inspired world, and the protagonist Vanitas is reminiscent of everyone’s favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Though there is romance, it takes a backseat to the grimoire-based magic system and vampiric intrigue. The first season deserves more recognition; hopefully, the second season will get more attention. Mochizuki wrote one other notable shonen titled Pandora Hearts.
8 The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Creator: Kore Yamazaki
Nearly all shonen manga and light novels have boy protagonists, but The Ancient Magus’ Bride has dual protagonists, a male humanoid mage named Elias and a human girl named Chise. Chise is new to Elias’ world of magic study, but she makes an apt pupil with her own natural gifts.
The manga author and artist Kore Yamazaki combines paranormal fantasy with elements of slice-of-life and romance. The subgenres blend beautifully to make a strange kind of fairytale full of unique characters and strange magic.
7 The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent
Creator: Yuka Tachibana
Though The Saint’s Magic Power Is Omnipotent doesn’t shy away from battle scenes, it doesn’t do so at the sacrifice of its calming slice-of-life tone. The girl protagonist Sei is a complex character, along with the rest of the cast. Plenty of time is devoted to their development. Though there is romance, it’s not at the cost of external conflict in the plot.
Saint’s straddles the lines of genre and demographic. The original light novel by Yuka Tachibana is published for a male demographic, while the manga is marketed as a shojo. Likewise, the anime adaptation is popular with all viewers.
CLAMP is an all-women group of manga authors and artists; in 2011, they produced Blood-C. The vampire shonen that follows the shrine maiden Saya Kisaragi is so popular that it became a franchise. Though romance-heavy, the writers didn’t shy away from blood and gore in Blood-C.
Nanase Ohkawa is the head of the CLAMP writers, and the team has incorporated many artists since forming in the ’80s. The group actually got their start by producing self-published fanfiction, which should say a lot about the validity of fanfic writers and what they have to contribute to the creative world.
5 To Your Eternity
Creator: Yoshitoki Oima
To Your Eternity published by Yoshitoki Oima Weekly Shōnen Magazineand the Kodansha manga is still ongoing. Oima is also known for her award-winning work, A Silent Voicewhich is a shonen with many shojo-worthy sensibilities.
To Your Eternity, as the name would suggest, explores themes of death, immortality, and what it means to be human. Though highly emotional (Oima’s own familial loss helped inspire the concept), the series is still packed with action and external conflict. The way that Fushi, a shape-shifting entity, experiences humanity is as impactful as it is unique.
Creator: Q Hayashida
The post-apocalyptic series Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida is published as both shonen and seinen. It combines dark fantasy magic with mob dynamics. The magic system is complex, with a hellacious hierarchy and bloodthirsty homunculi transformed by sorcerers. The protagonist Caiman has a bone to pick with all sorcerers and wants to find the one who cursed him to be a half-reptile.
Fans enjoy the series for its gore, complex setting, and dark humor. Not all writers can balance slapstick comedy tastefully with seinen-level violence, but Hayashida certainly does.
XxxHolic is also produced by the female mangaka group CLAMP. The shonen is geared toward the older end of the demographic. The series is more all vibes and little plot, but atmospheric stories like they deserve their flowers, too.
The Paranormal Shonen takes a lot of inspiration from Japanese folklore and some fan-favorite horror tropes like wish-granting gone wrong. The gothic aesthetic and ghostly plots are the strongest elements of the series. Not many shonen anime combine slice-of-life with ghostly mystery and a dour but soft tone.
Creator: Hiromu Arakawa
Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most beloved and enduring anime series of all time. Themes like family ties, loss, and the cost of magic tug on fans’ heartstrings. The core of the story is the bond between the two brother protagonists. A desperate attempt to save their mother through alchemy has catastrophic consequences.
To restore his brother’s physical form, Edward Elric seeks the philosopher’s stone. Fullmetal Alchemist boasts a huge ensemble cast of characters. The flawed, complex heroes and the equally complex and memorable villains are a huge part of the series’ staying power as a shonen classic.
Creator: Rumiko Takahashi
No one can deny that Rumiko Takahashi is the reigning queen of shonen anime, and that InuYasha is the shiniest jewel in her crown. Takahashi created several successful shonen titles throughout her career, but the story of Kagome as she falls into a well and comes out the other end into a fantastical, feudal world is a timeless tale.
Romance is the series’ strongest point. The yokai Inuyasha’s slow-burning relationship with Kagome keeps fans watching through every season and OVA. But the romance is just one of the series’ excellent qualities. Naraku and his incarnations make excellent, and at times terrifying, villains, and Sesshomaru is one of the anime’s most adored anti-heroes.
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