Throughout decades of anime, shonen has always been a genre of firsts—the first-ever anime licensed by Funimation, first on the list of highest-grossing anime films and best-selling manga of all time, and, more often than not, the very first anime for millions of fans worldwide.
So, as we move into a new era of anime, it’s time to kick off our five-part feature series breaking down what to watch first on Crunchyroll, starting with shonen!
Family owned since 1999, Naruto has raised generations of anime fans, so it was only natural for the ninjas we all know and love to foster a new generation of their own.
Enter Boruto Uzumaki, as stubborn and impulsive as Naruto, but with even more drive to prove himself in the face of overbearing comparisons to the now Seventh Hokage. And it’s true: Boruto forges his own ninja way, learning the importance of working as a team—something he gets the chance to pass on himself—and eventually connecting with the absent father who wants nothing but the best for him.
Just like those of us who grew up watching Naruto, BORUTO: NARUTO NEXT GENERATIONS never forgets where it came from. It’s filled with the same heart that made the original so special, while also offering a new perspective on the Leaf Village and its many inhabitants.
The gang’s all here. Literally.
Another hallmark of the shonen genre is an explosion in manga sales; just as Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba sold ten times as many copies as any other series in 2020 and JUJUTSU KAISEN topped the list in 2021, Tokyo Revengers‘ circulation jumped by 300% from the anime’s start to end. Because it was just that good.
As far as underdog stories go, it’s hard to start lower than Takemichi Hanagaki: he’s broke with no sense of purpose, he hasn’t a hint of self-esteem, and he finds himself apologizing over the smallest things time and time again. But time soon becomes his friend, as he’s transported back to his teenage years and given the chance to get revenge on his life and save another’s in the process.
Despite its familiar fantastical setup, Tokyo Revengers isn’t afraid of getting its hands dirty. There’s an emotional and physical weight to every action, especially in every punch, kick and blunt weapon Takemichi and his peers take as brutal gang wars are waged at every turn.
You can’t change the past, but you can improve the present by watching Tokyo Revengers on Crunchyroll!
Anime draws inspiration from just about every source under the rising sun—video games, stage readings, model kits, non-fiction books, a news app…the list goes on. So it was only a matter of time before the shift into Korean Webtoon adaptations, which was ceremoniously kicked off in 2020 by none other than the global smash hit, Tower of God.
Our hapless protagonist, Bam, arrives with a single-minded goal: finding Rachel, who left him to climb the Tower and have her deepest desire granted. Over the course of 13 episodes and many dangerous challenges, Bam comes out of his shell and bonds with his fellow climbers, most notably the capable Khun and Rak, who bring an infectious energy to the series even among its consistently high stakes.
Rich in storytelling, worldbuilding and artstyle, a little push is all you need to start your climb through Tower of God on Crunchyroll!
Shonen anime has a natural inclination for bodily violence, but none is more gruesomely extreme than Gintama. It splits your sides, slaps your knees and tickles your funny bone until you give up your dying breath to laughter.
Unapologetically, but lazily committing such a heinous act is Gintoki, a freelancing samurai in an alternate Edo where aliens conquered and inhabit the planet. Joined by his friends with deficits, Shinpachi and Kagura, they raise more hell than money in the odd-jobs business.
Clocking in at over 350 episodes, Gintama is the ultimate anime comedy binge laced with marathon-running jokes, slapstick and slapping sticks, parodies of parodies, and more hijinks from its eccentric crew of misfits.
And it’s all available right here on Crunchyroll!
Call me old-fashioned, but there’s just something really satisfying about a wandering buff dude exploding evil goons with his fingertips in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland.
You’ve already read Fist of the North Star‘s vital points, but beneath that visceral exterior is an intimate tale of brotherhood and loss that’ll leave you crying manly tears, no matter your gender.
Unlike the headstrong teens of many shonen anime, Kenshiro is a hardened adult who has been physically and emotionally scarred on his journey across a world perpetually torn apart by conflict.
Join Kenshiro and master the Hokuto Shinken with Fist of the North Star on Crunchyroll!
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