Before venturing forth into the X-rated, tentacled unknown that is hentai, an anime fan’s formative years were spent watching Tagalog-dubbed shows on the local channels, then English-dubbed on cable, and then subtitled ones online. The stories geared toward the dudes consisted of a teen/young adult protagonist, an eternally quotable mentor, leading ladies that made you realize you were attracted to cartoon characters, and lots of kicking, punching, and shouting. Shows that fit these tropes are categorized under the Shounen (male) genre.
We’re gonna talk about the shounen shows that can be considered gateways to the weeb life. And from the shounen genre, we’ve narrowed it down to the more action-packed titles but didn’t include the slice-of-life, sports-oriented (as both deserve their own list).
And if you cry foul or #fakenews over the list, then feel free to share your own ranking in the comments…you weeb!
17) Fist of the North Star
The anime is drowning in testosterone. The main character is a Bruce Lee knock off who can make people explode with his fists. What’s not to love about it?
16) Air Gear
A bunch of teens use super special rollerblades that give them the ability to leap tall buildings and pull off some very cool parkour moves. And we don’t know how the show did it, but they made rollerblading look like serious business that’s needed to save the world.
15) Fairy Tail
It’s a world full of magicians from different guilds and everyone’s ripped. It’s like Harry Potter but with more muscles, gravity-defying hair, busty women, and a lot of emphasis on the value of sticking by your nakama (a family-like squad).
14) Hunter x Hunter
A tween with abandonment issues searches for his father and in the process gets involved in the world of elite mercenaries. Lots of treasure-hunting and crime-fighting abound. Also, if you think main guy Gon’s hair looks odd, just wait until you see his adult version with hair that defies the laws of physics.
13) One Punch Man
An outright parody of the superhero genre, the show definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. One episode even had some accidental ball-punching.
12) Boku No Hero Academia
Shounen anime is known for inspiring the fuck out of its viewers. Nothing is more motivational than seeing a dude unleash his powers for good despite breaking every bone in his body with every use.
Plus, All Might is the kind of badass mentor that you will fanboy over. (Notice me, sensei!)
11) Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
There’s a bunch of people named JoJo, an immortal vampire, and a grudge match that spans a century. It sounds batshit crazy on paper but once you start watching, you’ll be copying the Stands (those character poses that look like glam shots but are really special attacks) in no time. The show has grown in popularity locally, so much so that its live-action movie was shown in cinemas.
10) Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A mecha series that’s more fantasy than sci-fi because it doesn’t give a crap about the law of physics. But hey, they wield gigantic drills which pierce the heavens—may or may not be a euphemism considering the amount of fanservice in the show. Gurren Lagann subsists on being extra AF with their oversized weapons and impractical battle gear. There’s isn’t much logic, just as long as it looks badass.
9) One Piece
This show about pirates has outlived contemporaries like Naruto and Bleach and keeps sailing along on the Thousand Sunny. With most characters far from the pretty boy aesthetic (except a few) and looking more silly, almost like a caricature with their exaggerated features, what's not to like? Its unique art style makes it a timeless classic.
The show that made reaping souls look cool and gave us a tour of the afterlife. Thanks to the extremely long Soul Society arc, we got to know so many characters that you could barely keep track of them. And the Hollow Forms where the reapers wore skeletal masks was like every emo kid’s dream cosplay.
7) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
A supernatural military army that performs alchemy, the steampunk look, metal arms and a huge, hulking metal robot, which houses the soul of a kid—but it’s so much more than that.
6) Attack on Titan
A giant naked humanoid doesn’t sound scary in theory until you see the titans. Before you can laugh at them waddling around in their birthday suit (inside out for some), you’ll be horrified at seeing these man-eating creatures snacking on the humans in gory details. But don’t let that distract you from the kickass opening theme song, “Guren No Yumiya” by Linked Horizon that’s a great tune to listen to while you’re on the treadmill.
5) Rurouni Kenshin (A.K.A. Samurai X)
If Naruto made us want to be ninjas, then RK convinced us to be samurai and wave sticks around like a sword. The animation was top-notch when it came to the sword-dueling scenes and it’s almost as if Kenshin was dancing around the battlefield.
4) Yu Yu Hakusho (A.K.A. Ghost Fighter)
Most people probably forgot that Yusuke/Eugene started his journey by dying in the first episode and being resurrected later on. That’s because The Dark Tournament Saga was the most popular arc in the show. It featured back-to-back brawling with barely any filler episodes and that earth-shattering battle against Yusuke and Toguro. And who knew the latter would end up being a style icon for the fuccboi undercut hairstyle decades later?
3) Gundam series
Choosing just one show from the series is impossible. Who didn’t dream of participating in an epic mecha-on-mecha battle in space? The closest thing you can get to your Gundam pilot dreams is to buy a Gunpla model and customize and build your own ’bot. Or maybe visit DiverCity in Tokyo and try to climb the Gundam Unicorn. (No, don’t do that last part.)
Ah yes, the anime that launched a thousand ninja runs to the tune of “Fighting Dreamers” by Flow. (If you haven’t heard, local universities like UP and DLSU recently staged their own ninja run event.) The long-running shinobi show taught ’00s kids how to perform summoning jutsu hand signs, eat ramen, and run like the wind.
1) Dragon Ball Z
Goku and his muscle-bound squad (who happen to be #gymgoals) are synonymous to manly anime. If you didn’t perform the kamehameha and the fusion dance then you are probably lying to yourself. (And you probably went Super Saiyan mode when you were pissed off.) The plot progression may be hella sluggish with battles going over several episodes, but the high-flying, hair-raising action more than made up for it. The show’s epicness is over 9,000!