By Kathleen Townsend
I’m a huge fan of shounen anime. Give me as many monsters of the week, tournament arcs and plucky teenage protagonists as you can fit into a 24-minute episode! And 300-episode adventures? No problem.
Sadly, my husband doesn’t exactly agree. Sure, he likes a good shounen series as much as the next anime fan, but his idea of the perfect anime to end an evening is a rom-com—preferably something new! Of course, that means every night is a mad dash to see who can open the Funimation app fastest.
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But look, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! I’ve done the trial and error, sifting through countless shounen to find those special shows that can satisfy us all. Hey, that’s less work for you!
Here are five shounen series to watch with your partner (or BFF or roommate!) that aren’t just about getting stronger or fighting world-ending demon monsters.
First up is Dr. STONE. You might be asking, “Hey! This one was in Weekly Shonen Jump! There’s no way it’s for me!” Well, think again.
One day, a harsh green light washes over the Earth, turning every human to stone. Thousands of years later, the science-minded high schooler Senku awakens, having counted every second since he was petrified.
Senku, his closest friend and a band of villagers then set out to revive the human race and reinvent human technology in order to take present day from the Stone Age to the Modern Era.
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And while this series isn’t a stranger to action or showdown, it’s not really what Dr. STONE is about. This story is very much about science, discovery and moving forward from catastrophe. It’s about how people should live and why morals can be worth protecting.
There’s also a TON to learn here by way of Senku’s scientific inventions and experiments, all capped off by a sci-fi feel. If you want a bit of education and human optimism while your partner can enjoy the shounen-ness, Dr. STONE is your jam.
Watch Dr. STONE on Funimation!
The Promised Neverland
The first time I read The Promised Neverland manga, I was entranced and confused. I thought, how could this be considered shounen? It’s a lot scarier than I would have been OK with as a kid. And the anime carries this spooky theme.
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This shounen series follows a group of orphans led by the intrepid Emma, the gentle Norman and the cunning Ray, all living at Grace Field House with plenty of places to play and time to spend with their caretaker. That is, until Emma and her friends learn what really happens when kids from the orphanage are adopted. Psssst, something something DEMONS.
And sure, The Promised Neverland does have some shounen tropes, but it’s also packed with fantastic, horror and psychological thrills. So while your partner might enjoy the shounen stylings of a group of ragtag kids fighting against certain doom, you’ll have the rest of the series to enjoy!
Watch The Promised Neverland on Funimation!
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a fantastic series with its roots planted firmly in shounen. But it’s also so much more than the sum of its parts.
Edward and Alphonse Elric are brothers that try to resurrect their mother in an alchemy ritual gone wrong, resulting in the loss of Ed’s arm and leg and Al’s entire body. Years later, the two work as state alchemists in their search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone and a way to right their wrongs—and get Al his body back.
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This series has so much to offer. There’s plenty of magic in this fantasy world, but there’s also political drama, military intrigue and so much around the edges of the Elric brothers’ quest that it just becomes so much bigger. And it does all of this while balancing serious and comedic moments perfectly.
Chances are your shounen-loving partner already digs this one. And soon, you will too.
Watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood on Funimation!
Trigun was one of the first anime series I was introduced to—and it’s a perfect fit for couples looking to watch some shounen with a little bit extra.
The story follows Vash the Stampede, a world-renowned gunslinger with an astronomical bounty on his head. But when Meryl Stryfe, an insurance rep, meets him, she finds that Vash isn’t the natural disaster he’s described as. In fact, he’s a pacifist! So what’s with the bounty? And the secrets?
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There’s so much to love here, including quirky, memorable characters who are all a little older than your standard shounen protagonists. And it all takes place on a sandy planet far from Earth that’s been through some hard times (and mass destruction).
As the series rolls on, its sci-fi flare comes out, and you’re treated to a comedic spacefaring adventure that you and your partner can really dig into, especially if they love late-’90s anime!
Watch Trigun on Funimation!
Attack on Titan
Another fantastic shounen series that straddles plenty of genres is the modern epic, Attack on Titan. Hundreds of years ago, humanity was almost wiped out. The reason? Giant, humanoid creatures known as Titans.
Now, humanity hides behind walls and has held peace for generations. But when a Titan breaks through the outermost wall, young Eren Jaeger’s life is turned upside down. With his closest friends Mikasa and Armin, Eren dedicates his life to waging war on the Titans that took everything from him.
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But we all know it’s not that simple, right?
Conspiracy, political intrigue and some of the greatest twists to hit the anime medium await you in Attack on Titan. And while the battles are stunning (and will likely keep your partner enthralled), there’s so much more here for you.
Watch Attack on Titan on Funimation!
BONUS: Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Wait a second, a romantic comedy? What’s that doing here? Well, what if I told you that Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a shounen battle anime disguised as a hilarious rom-com? Yep, you read that right.
The series follows the ever-long showdown between Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane, two top students hopelessly in love with one another, but their pride has them getting the other to confess first!
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Each segment of the series is framed as a battleground in a larger war campaign to see who cracks first—complete with an announcer, battle stats and insights into the characters’ true strategic motives.
As a shounen-loving, rom-com-wary anime lover, I highly recommend giving this one a whirl with your shounen-loving partner. (And as an extra bonus, check out D-Frag!, a slice of life rom-com with its own full tournament arc!)
Watch Kaguya-sama: Love is War on Funimation!