Shonen is one of the oldest and most popular anime demographics of all time. With a rich history and a huge range of titles, it is home to many iconic and beloved series. In recent years, shonen anime has become more popular than ever before, making up most of the best-selling titles every season. Modern shonen appeals to an even wider audience and many fans believe that the genre is better today than it has ever been.
However, much of the success of these new titles is all due to the classics. Old school shonen helped pave the way for the genre fans know and love, with its groundbreaking stories and iconic characters. These classic titles are the foundation of the genre and shonen wouldn’t be the same without them.
10 Astro Boy is one of Shonen’s earliest hits
It’s hard for many modern fans to imagine, but anime dates back many decades, even all the way back to the ’60s. Astro Boy is one of the earliest examples of classical shonen, and it is also one of the most iconic. The series has influenced anime from its inception, from style to aesthetic.
It also helped shape the sci-fi genre within anime, which remains one of the most prominent genres today. There have been many adjustments of Astro Boy over the years, but the original is arguably the best version of them all.
9 Inuyasha remains a fan favorite even decades later
Inuyasha was one of the best anime of the 2000s, and it embodies much of what made that era so great. It’s an epic adventure series full of action and suspense that will keep fans on the edge of their seats. However, Inuyasha is much more than a typical action-based shonen, which also touches on the emotional side of the story.
As a result, it appeals to both male and female fans, giving them both something to look forward to in every episode. Although the series has been over for a while, Inuyasha remains a popular classic series that remains relevant even today.
8 Fist Of The North Star Is A Dark Sci-Fi Classic That Influenced The Post-Apocalyptic Trend
Not everyone can handle the intensity that is Fist of the North Star. It’s an incredibly dark sci-fi and action series, filled with a lot of violence and gore. Despite this infamous reputation, the series is a pioneer in the post-apocalyptic genre. The story influenced many beloved series and movies within the genre, including some outside the realm of anime.
Given his style, it’s no surprise that Fist of the North Star heavily inspired anime greats like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This iconic sci-fi classic is certainly not for all fans, but there’s no denying its fame and influence within anime and media as a whole.
7 The 1969 Dororo series had many dark themes, paving the way for future anime
Many early anime series are bright and upbeat, staying far away from the dark or more controversial topics that modern fans are often exposed to. However, the original 1969 Dororo anime is an exception to this and it tends to be darker than some modern series.
This classic by the famous Osamu Tezuka had a short run, but its impact is still felt throughout the anime. It helped pave the way for future series to delve deeper into darker, more in-depth storylines in anime. The original Dororo is a founding series in the dark fantasy genre, with much-loved modern titles to follow.
6 Detective Conan is a classic mystery series still going on
Many of the old school classics are long gone, but Detective Conan is one of the rare series that is still going on even decades later. It started in 1996 and is one of the longest-running anime out there, and so far it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
Despite his age, Detective Conan has managed to stay relevant even in the modern era of anime, with many longtime fans, as well as brand new fans. It helped shape the mystery genre of anime, and many series have followed in its footsteps. But even those didn’t last as long as this iconic series from the 90s.
5 Dragon Ball is one of the most iconic anime series of all time
There are many great and popular anime out there, but few can compare to the Dragon Ball franchisee. This classic anime is one of the most recognizable and iconic series of all time, adored all over the world by fans of every generation.
Whether it’s the original series, the beloved Dragon Ball Zor any of the modern titles, any Dragon Ball series is someone’s favorite. Even the less popular series in the franchise are equally iconic and influential in their own way. While numerous other shonen anime have seen worldwide success, Dragon Ball is in a league of its own, making it one of the best shonen series of all time.
4 Yu-Gi-Oh dominates the game anime genre
Game anime is now bigger than ever, with a lot of incredible shonen titles coming out of the genre. Yu-Gi-Oh is undoubtedly one of the best and most influential of them all and even years after the original series has ended, it has managed to stay at the top.
The Yu-Gi-Oh franchise has been expanded more than ever with various series, games and of course the trading card game. But despite all the new series and merch, old school Yu-Gi-Oh still turns out to be the best and most popular. With iconic characters and an unforgettable story, the original series is attracting more fans, even years after its end.
3 Rurouni Kenshin is an iconic shnen that takes place in historical Japan
For fans who like samurai and sword fighting, Rurouni Kenshin is one of the founders of the trend in anime. It is a historically based series, set in Meiji-era Japan, and revolves around a wandering samurai named Kenshin Himura.
The iconic series revolves around themes of redemption, forgiveness and self-discovery, making it a highly thought-provoking and emotional series, rather than the typical action-packed shonen. Although the 90s anime ended a long time ago, it remains an influential part of anime, and Rurouni Kenshin is still a popular title among fans.
2 One Piece is an old school favorite that is still popular today
As one of Shonen’s Big Three, it goes without saying that A piece is a very popular series. But unlike the other two Big Three titles, it still managed to maintain much of the hype it had during its prime. Some even claim that: A piece is now more popular than ever.
Although it initially came out in 1999, the series is still going strong with over 1,000 episodes under its belt. Despite being such a long-running series, many fans have watched from the very beginning, showing just how captivating and exciting the series really is. Even as anime’s popularity grows, modern titles can hardly compare to this old school favorite.
1 Yu Yu Hakusho still has an active fandom years later
For many fans, Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the best shonen anime of all time, surpassing even the most popular modern titles. This epic action series shot up in popularity almost immediately and hasn’t faded since. Although the anime series first came out in the ’90s and has been around for decades, fans still can’t get enough of this beloved classic.
Yu Yu Hakusho may be old, but it has an active and loyal fan base, and many still praise its contributions to the genre. With the live-action series on the horizon, this old school favorite is sure to see another wave in popularity, once again cementing his place among the top dogs in Shonen.
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