Best shounen anime — top action-packed series 2023

This top list is for action-packed shounen anime, which mostly has male protagonists. However, they also have beautiful and powerful female main characters, which add spice to them. I’m sure every anime fan has their list of top favorite shounen series that they can repeatedly watch without getting tired of them! Nevertheless, there may be some excellent Shounen anime that you have skipped. Here are our top picks in no particular order:

1. Rurouni Kenshin

Credit: Studio Gallop / Studio Deen

Rurouni Kenshin is the definition of shounen anime. It’s set in a time where guns, swords, and killing people were the norm. When an assassin Kenshin Himura, who is now known as an “anjin” (a samurai with no master) meets a young boy named  Katsura Takitani, he’ll never be the same ever again.

2. Fullmetal Alchemist

Credit: Bones

Edward Elric and his brother Alphonse are two brothers who make the mistake of trying to bring their dead mother back to life with alchemy (which is against alchemic laws). The transmutation fails which causes Ed’s right arm and left leg to be taken away after losing some of his internal organs in the attempt.  The anime follows their journey of finding the Philosopher Stone which will enable them to restore what was once lost.

3. Death Note

Credit: Madhouse

It begins when Light Yagami a bright, young student who stumbles upon a mysterious notebook that says Death Note on the cover. The Death Note’s instructions state that if someone’s name is written in it, they’ll die. After Light tested the Death Note out and found this to be true, he went through a stage of saying “This must be a dream.” but then slowly turned into a megalomaniac serial killer by using the notebook for good reasons at first before going mad with power. With an interesting setup, you just have to watch what happens next!

4. Naruto and Naruto Shipuddin

Credit: Studio Pierrot

Naruto was a young boy who grew up being shunned by the villagers of Konoha for being the Nine-Tailed Fox which attacked the village 12 years ago. He wants to become a respected ninja so he can show everyone that he’s not a monster but is ridiculed even now as an adult. The anime follows his adventures as he befriends other ninjas and eventually goes on to become Hokage (the leader of Konoha).

5. Bleach

Credit: Pierrot

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts ever since he was little, and at first it got him into all sorts of trouble with them until one day when Rukia Kuchiki (a soul reaper) comes along and tells him all about how there are good and bad souls and that her job is to help the good souls pass on while purifying the corrupted souls. Ichigo has his eyes opened about what really goes on in the world (like how there are evil people) and decides to let Rukia transfer half of her powers into him so he can protect Karakura Town from Hollows – evil spirits which take over dead bodies and use them for their own purposes.

6. Dragon Ball Z

Credit: Toei Animation

Dragonball Z is a shounen action anime that is known for its over-the-top fights and cliffhangers. Gokuu Son was sent to Earth as an infant with a mission: destroy all life. Unfortunately, a head injury caused him to lose his memory and become a kind-hearted boy who wants nothing more than to be friends with everyone.

7. One Piece

Credit: Toei Animation

One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy who ate a devil fruit that makes his body rubbery so he has endless abilities such as being able to stretch, become a rubber human bullet, expand parts of his body, etc. He dreams about becoming the king of pirates and finding the legendary treasure “One Piece” left behind by the pirate Gol D Roger (who was said to have acquired infinite riches in his life). Luffy’s crew consists of Zoro (a swordsman), Nami (a navigator/ thief), Usopp (marksman/ inventor), Sanji (a womanizing cook), Tony Tony Chopper (doctor/ animal tamer), Franky (the shipwright with lots of muscle), Brook (skeleton musician).

8. Hyouka

Credit: Kyoto Animation

Hyouka’s protagonist is Oreki Hotaro. He’s not the kind of person who wants to stand out but rather just live a normal high school life with his friends. Everything changes when one day, Fukube Satoshi shows up at breakfast and says he wants to join him in being “energy-saving” which means doing as little work as possible during everyday activities. Oreki has no choice but goes along with Satoshi where he’ll meet Chitanda Eru, a girl whose curiosity knows no bounds! If you’re here for some slow anime with good characters and a good story, this is the one to watch!

9. Hunter X Hunter

Credit: Nippon Animation / Madhouse

If you like shounen action anime with little to no fanservice and great animation, then look no further than Hunter X Hunter! The anime follows Gon Freecss who learns from his father he’s not an average boy because his father was a professional Hunter. He now has to follow in his footsteps as he roams the world looking for adventure and also seeks out his father.  The best part is that it just recently finished airing so you can catch up on all the episodes easily through Netflix.

10. Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Credit: J.C.Staff

Shokugeki No Souma is about Yukihira Souma who works at his father’s restaurant which specializes in ramen. However, Yukihira is so focused on making the best tasting food he completely forgets about how important it is to make customers happy as well! Because of this, the family business is ruined and Yukihira now must go to Tootsuki Culinary Academy where only 10% of students are able to graduate each year!

11. One Punch Man

Credit: Madhouse / J.C.Staff

Saitama was a salaryman who one day decided he didn’t want to work anymore since he couldn’t eat or sleep enough before sleeping with all the money in his account after working for 3 years. One day, however, an interesting cyborg named Genos comes up to him during his daily jog with a request to battle one another. Saitama defeats him effortlessly and realizes he’s a rather strong superhero. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he trains, Saitama can’t become any stronger because his ability is too powerful – the ability to defeat anyone with a single punch! To fight crime now, the only way for Saitama is by becoming a sidekick or helping as best as he can from behind-the-scenes.

12. Code Geass

Credit: Sunrise

If you loved Death Note, you would love Code Geass, although it is a little different because it is a mecha anime. The main protagonist of this anime is Lelouch, a genius with a gift called “power of absolute obedience” given to him by a girl called C.C. Lelouch leads a strong rebellion against the Holy Empire of Britannia. The Code Geass manga is highly famous and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

13. Blue Exorcist

Credit: A-1 Pictures

Ao no Exorcist follows Rin Okumura who lives with his father Shiro (who was killed by Satan). One day, Rin learns that he too is actually the son of Satan! Now that he’s found out about this, Rin decides to defeat his dad for all the pain he caused not just to him but also for killing Shiro. The manga has really good pacing throughout it which makes it extremely well done overall.

14. Monogatari Series: Second Season

Credit: Shaft

The Monogatari series is a collection of light novels written by Nisioisin which have been made into multiple anime series. The story is about Araragi Koyomi, a vampire who doesn’t kill humans but rather just sucks out their blood to survive. One day, however, his sisters are attacked by someone and he decides that he’ll do anything in order to help them recover!

15. Casshern Sins

Credit: Madhouse

Casshern is about a robot who’s lost his memories, and who’s the only one left of his kind in this cruel world. Because he has no memories or knowledge of where to go, nobody knows what his purpose for existing is! He finds out quickly however that there are robots (known as monsters by humans) who try to put up an act that they’re the good guys when in reality they’ll kill anyone in order to survive!

16. Black Bullet

Credit: Kinema Citrus / Orange

In a world where humans have been attacked by beings known as “Gastrea” who feed on their energy, there’s only one way to fight back. Create a weapon that uses special cells called “Cells”. Unfortunately for mankind, however, these Cells can only be found in children. Now that the Gastreas are becoming extremely strong and difficult to handle, the military has created a special force of children known as The Promised Number.

17. Ajin: Demi-Human

Credit: Polygon Pictures

Ajin is a great anime with a great story! The story is about Nagai who’s been killed in an accident after trying to save someone from being hit by a truck. However, he comes back to life! There’s just one problem however, he’s now an Ajin – a demi-human being who is incapable of dying. Because of this, everyone’s after him.

18. Samurai Champloo

Credit: Manglobe

Samurai Champloo is about 3 samurais in the Edo period who are out to have fun. It turns out that Mugen, Jin, and Fuu all have different ideas but they still manage to work together despite fighting each other every time because of their differences! This anime uses really great music throughout it too which makes it even more outstanding.

19. Fairy Tail

Credit: A-1 Pictures / Bridge / Satelight / CloverWorks

Watching the Fairy Tale anime provided me with an unforgettable experience. I got to watch some fantastic characters, beautifully animated fights, and most importantly, I learned about friendships. Fairy Tale is an anime that takes you through a roller coaster of emotions; it will make you emotional at times or make you laugh a lot. It revolves around four characters members of the best magic guild in the kingdom, Fairy Tale.

20. Terror in Resonance

Credit: MAPPA

Zankyou No Terror is about two mysterious individuals who had some type of connection with a terrorist attack and yet nobody knows where they are. Now, the ace detective who’s in charge of trying to solve the case and find these 2 people must fight the clock as his time limit for doing so is only 12 days before he retires! Not only that but there seems to be more than meets the eye with these 2 individuals which makes this anime even harder to predict what’ll happen next!

21. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Credit: David Production

Jojo is a series that has become a legend in Japan. The anime has been going on for over 30 years and there have been many seasons released but it still manages to keep its charm! In Jojo, you follow the adventures of the Joestar family as they battle their way through different enemies. This is easily one of the most unique animes out there because each protagonist has his own Stand – a spiritual being that gives them abilities! For example, Jotaro Kujo can stop time with his stand called Star Platinum while Josuke Higashikata’s stand Crazy Diamond allows him to heal wounds quickly.

22. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Credit: Gainax / Tatsunoko

Eva tells the story about how Shinji Ikari is called upon by his father to pilot a giant mecha known as an Evangelion. The story is really deep and involves him trying to understand himself while he fights off the mysterious beings known as Angels. This anime is very popular for its psychological themes, symbolism, and religious references.

23. Emiya-San Chi No Kyou No Gohan

Credit: ufotable

Kuroko no Basket is about how Taiga Kagami transfers into Seirin High School where he meets Tetsuya Kuroko – someone who has no presence whatsoever! Kuroko decides to join the basketball club so that they can win some matches but not everything turns out great when they get paired up with Kise Ryota (who’s also known as “The Perfect Copy”) in their first match. Luckily, Kuroko’s still got what it takes to pull through!

24. My Hero Academia

Credit: Bones

This anime is about a boy named Izuku Midoriya who has no superpower whatsoever and yet he still dreams of becoming a hero without one. However, one day he miraculously gains the power known as “Quirks” which allows him to do some extraordinary things like shoot lasers from his eyes for example. This anime has become extremely popular because of its interesting use of powers and how they all work together in battle.

25. Assassination Classroom

Credit: Lerche

Assassination Classroom tells the story of how a race of aliens known as Irous decided to come down to Earth and destroy it in March of 2015. Their time limit? 3 years – which means by May 2017 all humanity must be destroyed! The only thing standing against these Irous are a bunch of 3rd-year students who are tasked to assassinate their alien teacher Koro-sensei. There’s only one problem though – the students have no superpowers whatsoever! If they don’t succeed then all humanity is doomed!

26. All Out!!

Credit: Madhouse

You probably know this anime because you’ve at least watched an episode, right? Well…if not then go watch it now because you’re missing out on a show with tons of potential and great characters! It takes place in rugby where there are teams that represent schools throughout Japan. The story basically revolves around these boys as they train hard each day to become better players while also having fun along the way. Who knows? You might even start rooting for some particular character as I did too!

27. Attack on Titan

Credit: Wit Studio

Eren Yeager lives in a world where mankind is under attack by these monstrous titans who just love to eat people. They literally do not even care about humans and that’s why they’re such a threat. Eren along with some friends decide to join the military so that they can fight off these titans and finally get rid of them once and for all! The story has become extremely popular because of its dark tones and how it gives us an insight into what happened to civilization after the main event between man and titan happened.

28. Tokyo Ghoul

Credit: Pierrot

In Tokyo, there exists a place known as “The 20th Ward” which is said to be filled with ghouls – human-like beings who enjoy eating meat and other ghouls as well. The main character of the story named Ken Kaneki used to be a normal human who just loved books but one day he was attacked by a ghoul. Then, another person named Rize Kamishiro decides to save his life by giving him half of her organs – which are actually “kagune”. This anime has become extremely popular because it’s got quite the dark atmosphere about it along with some psychological elements that make it really interesting to watch!

29. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Credit: A-1 Pictures

This anime is different than the others because of its Eastern setting and characters. Its animation is also remarkable as A-1 Pictures have done it. It revolves around two characters, Alibaba and Aladdin, who go on an adventure to find a treasure so Alibaba can achieve his dream of becoming a king. I love this anime because of its uniqueness, and if you are looking for something different, you must give this anime a try.

30. Yu Yu Hakusho

Credit: Pierrot

No matter how many Shounen anime I watch, there will always be a different place in my heart for Yu Yu Hakusho. The main characters are badass and powerful, with the villains being almost equally strong. It follows the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a teenager who dies trying to save a child’s life. Afterward, he’s brought back to life in the afterlife, where he becomes a detective.

31. Black Butler

Credit: A-1 Pictures

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who lost his parents to an accident. Since then he has been living under the care of a butler named Sebastian Michaelis who is always willing to help out with whatever trouble Ciel Phantomhive might end up in! The story takes place in Victorian London where we get to meet many characters such as Charles Phanomy, Mey-Rin, and Grell Sutcliff – all three of those characters are part of the Queen’s Guard! This anime has become famous because it talks about how people interact and what methods they use when trying to make money.

32. Haikyu!!

Credit: Production I.G

The main character of the story is a high school student who hates to lose and always aims to become number #1. He decides to join the volleyball club at his school which has been having some problems ever since they lost in the past year’s tournament by losing all of their matches! Now it’s time for them to win and finally defeat everyone else but first, they need to learn how to cooperate with every other teammate on their team.

33. Gintama

Credit: Sunrise

Gintama is a long anime, but it is worth watching. It has action and science fiction comedy which kept me laughing the whole time. The anime protagonist is a samurai named Gintoki who doesn’t follow the rules made by invaders. He and his gang have the morale of swordsmen, and they make trouble wherever they go. Although Gintama has a comedic tone, it has many serious arcs, which can make the anime emotional but entertaining at the same time.

34. The Severing Crime Edge

Credit: Studio Gokumi

Kiri Haimura is a boy who loves cutting girls’ hair – well, he thinks of himself as an artist so this isn’t actually considered weird at all. However, one day Kiri gets scolded by a girl named Iwai Mushanokoji because she believes that her long hair is part of her charm. Not only that but she believes in supernatural forces which can be seen when something bad happens to someone. Then she tells him about how every single strand of hair on her head is connected with danger and if anything were to happen to them then would spell disaster for Iwai.

35. Sakamoto Desu Ga?

Credit: Studio Deen

A high school student named Sakamoto has a reputation for being the “coolest” one out of all – he has never lost a single fight and his classmates look up to him because he’s so popular and handsome. The problem is that no one actually knows what Sakamoto does other than going to school, doing his job as a cool guy, getting rid of delinquents… oh yeah, he seems to be pretty good at cleaning too! Now it’s time for everyone to find out about how exactly this mysterious character works or even talks!

36. Akame ga Kill!

Credit: White Fox

Akame ga Kill has one of the best female characters I have ever seen because all of them are powerful and gorgeous. Akame ga Kill has only one season but it pretty much sums up the story. It has battles in almost every episode and each character in it has unique abilities. The anime follows the story of Tatsumi, who travels from his village to the Capital to get funds to fight the poverty in his village. However, upon arriving in the Capital he finds out there is even more corruption in the Capital.

37. Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign

Credit: Wit Studio

In a world where mankind is constantly attacked by monsters known as “vampires” there exists a group of talented monster slayers who are determined to wipe out all the vampires once and for all! However, things don’t go exactly as planned when young Yuichiro finds his mother about to be killed by one of these creatures. Even though he was given orders not to hurt humans, he ends up killing it anyway in order to save her but this only leads the vampire queen – Krul Tepes – into thinking that Yuichiro is just like them!

38. Black Clover

Credit: Pierrot

The story takes place in a world where witches and magic exist and the main character named Asta has been gifted with a unique ability to use swords and spells at the same time. However, the problem with this is that no one else on his team has such an ability! Asta’s dream is to become “The Wizard King” but he also finds himself having many enemies who are all aiming for his title as well!

39. Welcome to the Ballroom

Credit: Production I.G

In a world where ballroom dancing is considered a sport, there’s one main character who gets asked by a professional to join their team. However, this guy named Tatara isn’t interested in that at all – It doesn’t matter which type of dance it may be because he doesn’t care about it either! However, when his friend Shizuku gets scouted as well then Tatara decides to take on this challenge with them and see if they’re able to catch up with some of the other competitors out there!

40. Clannad

Credit: Kyoto Animation

The story takes place on an island named “Izumidai” where young Nagisa Furukawa meets Tomoya Ok for the first time after school. It turns out that he’s the same guy who bullied Nagisa in high school years ago too! However, Tomoya gradually changes after meeting this girl and they even end up living together.

41. Grisaia no Kajitsu

Credit: Eight Bit

Yuuto is the main protagonist of this story and when he was in high school, he found himself with nothing to do because his parents suddenly left! Luckily, an acquaintance of his named Ryouji Muramasa ended up taking him in and becoming his guardian which led Yuuto into meeting all his cute friends like Amane Suou at their all-girls school. However, there may be more to them than just being regular girls – it’s time for Yuuto to find out what these characters are really about!

42. The Promised Neverland

Credit: CloverWorks

There exists a group of gifted children who live inside the Grace Field House orphanage together until one day they suddenly decide that it’s finally time for them to escape. The catch is that if they were to leave without permission then they wouldn’t be allowed back inside! This is because the children aren’t actually abandoned kids – instead, they’re being raised there so that their bodies can be used as food for demons who need human flesh in order to survive!

43. Hajime no Ippo

Credit: Madhouse

The story follows a young man named Makunouchi Ippo who’s just starting out his life as a high school student. However, he ends up meeting with some bullies on his way home one day and after defending himself against them, he decides to join their boxing gym. It doesn’t take long before he realizes how passionate this sport is and makes it his goal to become Japan’s best boxer like any protagonist would!

44. Demon Slayer

Credit: Ufotable

Demon Slayer or Kimitsu no Yaiba in Japanese is a relatively new anime that was released in 2019 and took the world by storm. It won the best anime of the decade award and is extremely popular nowadays. Demon Slayer has an emotional storyline, great characters with superpowers, a beautiful soundtrack, sound effects, and character development. The animation is done by studio Ufotable and is one of the best animations. Demon Slayer has characters with an emotional background story, it focuses on themes of family and togetherness. It has fighting scenes that are simply too good.

The anime follows the story of Kamado Tanjiro who is the oldest of his family and after his father passes away he looks after his family. He and his family live peacefully in a cold, remote mountain. One day, Tanjiro is coming back from down the mountains after selling coal. He gets late and a man gives him shelter telling him demons lurk in the night so he should stay until morning. However, when he comes back, he sees all his family has been slaughtered except his sister, Nezuko who has been turned into a demon. Tanjiro swears to turn Nezuko back into a human and so, he starts working hard to train to join the Demon Slayer Corps and achieve the means to cure his sister. Demon Slayer then follows the journey of these two siblings as their fight for their goal and become stronger.

45. Jujutsu Kaisen

Credit: MAPPA

Jujutsu Kaisen is another very recent anime on the list as it was released in 2022. However, Jujutsu Kaisen has become one of the most popular anime of this period. Its manga sold 30 million copies in 2021 which made it the best-selling manga of 2021. Moreover, the animation is done by studio MAPPA so, of course, the animation is beyond amazing. Jujutsu Kaisen has broken multiple records and has become an exceptionally good action anime. There are badass characters and strong female characters which sets it apart from much other anime. Each character is unique and the fights are so good, this anime is bound to give you goosebumps.

The anime is set in a world where there are “curses” that terrorize and harm people and there are jujutsu sorcerers to protect people against these curses. The anime follows the story of Yuuji Itadori who finds a mysterious finger along with his friends. His two friends open the finger wrapped in a cloth which unleashes its power and puts them in great danger. Itadori, in a desperate attempt to save them, swallows the finger to get its power. Surprisingly, Itadori can control the power. The finger is of the strongest curse known as “Sukuna”. From that moment onwards, Itadori’s life changes as he starts to train for becoming a Jujutsu Sorcerer so he can control his power and save the ones in need.

46. Mob Psycho 100

Credit: Bones

Mob Psycho 100 is another hit anime series by the manga artist of One Punch Man, ONE. It is animated by studio Bones and has 25 episodes. The first season only has 25 episodes and the second season has 11 episodes so if you want to watch an amazing short anime series with a great storyline, characters, and fights, then Mob Psycho would be your ideal choice.

The main character of Mob Psycho is Shigeo Kageyama, a teenager who puts in all his efforts to control his emotions because the moment his emotions reach their peak, his superpowers are unleashed. However, when it comes to his crush Tsubomi, Shigeo loses control over his emotions. Hence, he decides to take mentoring from Arataka Reigen, a con artist who pretends to be a psychic. He starts to train but if his emotions get out of control then his tremendous powers will make him something different. As the anime progresses, things start to become more serious for Shigeo and Reigen as they have to face dangerous obstacles.

47. Sword of the Stranger

Credit: Bones

Sword of the Stranger is an animated movie filled with action, emotions, and a lot of history. If someone is new to action anime, starting their journey with this animated movie would be a good idea. Although it would take them on a roller coaster ride of emotions.

The anime is set in Japan during the Sengoku period where an orphan child named Tobimaru and his dog called Kotaru are being chased by the Ming Dynasty for unknown reasons. Luckily, they encounter a samurai named Nanashi who’s willing to be their bodyguard until Tobimaru and Kotaru reach their required destination. Afterward, their journey continues to be difficult as they are attacked by opponents one after another. If you enjoy the action with a mix of history, then you will certainly enjoy Sword of the Stranger.

48. Fire Force

Credit: David Production

The list comes to an end with Fire Force which is one of the best anime released in 2019. It provides a crazy amount of action and takes you on a roller coaster ride full of thrill. The pacing of the anime is great, and the animation is the best which makes the scenes look much cooler.

The plot is set in Tokyo in the Solar Era 198 where a phenomenon called “Spontaneous Human Combustion” suddenly turns ordinary humans into violent flames called “infernal”. However, there are also people known as Pyrokinetics who can remain, humans, while controlling their flames. Hence, a special force called Fire Force is made to fight against the infernal threat and figure out the cause behind it. The main character is Shinra Kusakabe, who is called Devil’s Footprints for his ability to ignite his feet over his will. He joins the Fire Force to find out the cause behind the mysteries of these fires.

49. Devilman: Crybaby

Credit: Science SARU

If you’re looking for a crazy action anime filled with brutality and oh well, Devils, then this would be an anime worth watching for you. It is a remake of Go Nagai’s manga, Devilman. This anime will take you on a rollercoaster ride which will make you cry and question your existence. If you’re a daredevil then you should give this a try. Also, the soundtrack is wonderful for this anime.

Devilman: Crybaby is set in a world where there are devils who cannot take physical form without taking control over a human. However, if a human has strong willpower they can take control of the devil and become Devilman. The main character is Akira Fudou whose called a “crybaby” for having a sensitive heart. One day, Akira and his friend Ryou Asaka accidentally go to a Sabbath which is an immortal party of degeneracy. Bloodshed begins and Akira becomes desperate to save his friend due to which he merges with a devil. He ends up becoming a Devilman and gains the power to kill the demons. From that time onwards, Akira lives to protect the lives of humans in danger by the devils.

What do you think of the best shounen anime of all time? What would you consider as your personal favorite shounen anime? Share them with us in the comments below and let’s discuss!