Everyone that’s been reading manga for long enough knows that shounen manga are the most popular. If you don’t believe it, just check out the 10 best-selling manga of all time. At least half of them are considered shounen manga. However, we won’t be looking at those behemoths in this post. I want to showcase some of the smaller shounens of the manga world.
I’d like to make one more thing clear. When most people think of shounen, the first thing that pops into their head is a battle manga, like Naruto or One Piece. However, a shounen tag for a manga only means that the target demographic for the title are male teenagers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a manga about fighting.
Without further ado, here are my 5 shounen manga recommendations.
5) Baby Steps
By Katsuki Hikaru
Baby Steps is a fantastic sports shounen manga, but strangely I don’t see many people talk about it. It seamlessly incorporates themes of romance into the plot without overshadowing the actual sports. If you’re into that kind of stuff, Baby Steps definitely is the manga for you.
Even if you’re not a huge fan of romance, if you like tennis, and manga where the protagonist evolves from a weak player to a very strong one, I think you should give this one a try.
Baby Steps made my Top 10 Best Sports Manga of All Time list.
4) Konjiki no Gash!!
By Raiku Makoto
Konjiki no Gash, or Zatch Bell as it’s known in the West, is what I’d call an oldie but goldie. I don’t see many people recommending or reading this manga nowadays, but it’s an absolute classic battle shounen.
Some of the manga on this list are hardly shounen and could easily be on a seinen magazine in terms of the themes explored in them, but this one is definitely more aimed at children. However, if you don’t mind a little bit of silly humor and oldish art, I think Gash Bell is actually a really good manga, with excellent fights, a lovable cast and actually excellent world building.
By Adachi Mitsuru
It feels a bit weird putting Touch on this list considering it’s one of the best selling manga of all time, with over 100 million volumes sold. However, this only really shows that this manga is popular in Japan. I haven’t found many English speakers that have read this title, which is strange because it absolutely is one of the best sports/romance shounen manga out there.
The art is a little bit old considering it was serialized in the 1980s, so if you’re picky with your artstyles, you might want to skip this one. Other than that, I think it’s a must read for any sports fans. Baseball fans in particular.
2) Hinomaru Sumo
The sports manga scene is pretty wild right now with powerhouses like Haikyuu dominating sales numbers. Hinomaru Sumo is a title that seems to have been overshadowed by them, but I think it’s one of the best ongoing sports comics.
You might think Sumo is a bit of a weird sport to read a manga about, but with like most manga in this genre, the actual competition being done isn’t really relevant. What makes a good sports manga is excellent art, a good cast and exciting matches. Hinomaru Sumo brings all of those in spades. I think this is a criminally underrated shounen manga and I highly recommend it.
1) Gin no Saji
By Arakawa Hiromu
You might know Arakawa Hiromu for her world famous manga Full Metal Alchemist, considered by many to be the best battle shounen released. It’s quite surprising to me that her manga Silver Spoon isn’t as popular in the west as it should be.
Admittedly, Gin no Saji is in many ways a polar opposite to Full Metal Alchemist. It’s set in the real world, doesn’t have any fantasy elements and is more of a slice of life type deal. But the classic Arakawa Hiromu style is definitely still there. This manga has a solid cast of characters with real depth. Good comedy. Superb art. What more could you ask for? If you aren’t reading this manga, you’re missing out.