10 shonen anime with great animation

Eren as the Attack Titan, circa Attack on Titan Season 4 (Image via Studio MAPPA)
Eren as the Attack Titan, circa Attack on Titan Season 4 (Image via Studio MAPPA)

Shonen animes tend to focus on incredible fight scenes, wherein the show gets a considerable animation bump. However, that doesn't usually tend to last throughout the entire show.

Great animation usually has to do with talented artists and the studio, the work culture in Japan, and the weekly vs. seasonal anime divide that tends to happen in the industry. There are plenty of shonen animes with great animations that flow seamlessly and are easier on the eyes, with even casual scenes being well done and looking crisp and beautiful.

Note: Despite this being focused purely on animation, the article will contain spoilers as the animation tends to get a huge bump at the time. Further, the article is just the author's opinion.

10 shonen anime with standout animation

1) Jojo's Bizarre Adventure


Despite the odd art style, the shonen anime created by David Production, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, is known for having great animation that mirrors its manga nearly perfectly. The story follows different members of the Joestar family, and the various animations and art styles reflect the character the season focuses on, such as the Stardust Crusaders arc having darker colors, whereas the Diamond is Unbreakable arc is a lot more vibrant and colorful.

JoJo also has its animated flair, with the "To Be Continued..." bumpers when an episode ends neatly dovetailing into the ending theme song. There are stylistic choices like menacing auras, negative filters when using The World, the colors, and various looks for each protagonist and their Stands.

The repetition of camera angles for certain characters, such as Dio yelling "useless" repeatedly accompanied by frantic zooms, is memorable. Each season's OP and ED are likewise stylish, with Diamond is Unbreakable having at least three openings.

2) Spy x Family


A new, currently airing seasonal shonen anime by Wit Studio and CloverWorks, Spy x Family follows the exploits of a unique family. Undercover spy Loid Forger (codenamed "Twilight") trying to get close to the leader of a political party by masquerading as a father with his adopted psychic daughter Anya and his secret assassin "wife" Yor Briar.

The series is known for its clean and crisp animations, Anya's adorable and memeable faces, and the zany antics Yor and Loid go through to keep their identities secret from each other.

The action sequences are flashy without lens flares blinding the audience, the characters move fluidly, and the comedic moments pop. There are contrasting color schemes for each family member with washed-out colors when Loid is on spy work, bright colors when Anya's in focus, and when Yor kills a target, the scene gets dark and moody.

3) Demon Slayer


Studio Ufotable is best known for fluid animation in the first big hit, the shonen anime Fate:Zero. But while Fate:Zero may have helped put the studio on the map, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is the anime that most shonen anime fans look to when thinking about the studio.

Whether it's the fight scenes being quick, but not so quick as to strain the eyes, or even just Tanjiro helping Nezuko through the snow, the animation on Demon Slayer has made it infamous in the eyes of many a fan of the series. Everything from facial expressions to fight scenes, even something as simple as Zentitsu decapitating a demon and then going back to being a doofus, is very well animated.

4) My Hero Academia


The superhero shonen anime My Hero Academia is still praised as a well-done example of animated superhero action by the Tokyo-based studio Bones. Fans feel the pain when Deku gets hurt from using One for All, the heat of Todoriki's flames, and the punches that transpire during All Might's fights. This extends outside the action, even though the effects and damage are seen to the environment and characters.

There's no real stiffness there, either. The characters all have their own ways of moving, speaking, and animation styles when it comes to looks, powers, and movements. Accompanying explosion effects, chibi effects for humor, and the differing color schemes and lighting set the mood and tone for a hero, a villain, or both. A good example is the League of Villains, which primarily has a darker, more purple color scheme.

5) Jujutsu Kaisen


Another recent shonen anime that's taken fandom by storm is Jujutsu Kaisen, about high school student Yuji Itadori who joins a powerful group of Jujutsu Sorcerers to protect humanity from powerful demons. As far as the animation goes, the MAPPA created action is fluid and even something like a baseball hitting someone in the face is slowed down to show the impact in detail.

There are cutaway jokes, really well-animated eyes, and even some freaky moments, too, as befitting the horror vibe. The hand within the mouth shot from Mahito is one such creepy shot. There's no wasted effort in the animation either, as there are no filler episodes or arcs to speak of.

6) Food Wars!


Food looks amazing in anime, and the shonen anime by J.C.Staff Food Wars is no different! Every culinary concoction looks like it could jump off the screen and into the viewer's mouth, especially with the almost ecstatic looks the characters give when they eat the food. It's so good it blows people's clothes off!

It's not an exaggeration, the food is so good it literally blows people's clothes off when they eat. It's certainly a take on the old "knock their socks off" expression. Aside from that, the process of making the food is directed like a battle with dynamic zooms, speedy montages, and various ingredients in detail.

7) Assassination Classroom


Admittedly, a lot of the fun of the shonen anime Assassination Classroom comes from Koro Sensei. Koro Sensei's face is very expressive, his tentacles very limber, and his constant applause for his student's attempts to kill him are all shown in very comedic lights. Of course, Koro Sensei is the star as he is his student's target, but that doesn't mean everyone else is badly animated.

Studio Lerche's action sequences in the Assassination Classroom are usually slowed down for the audience's benefit. That, or they usually involve Koro Sensei dodging a bullet, knife, or even grabbing a missile out of the air. Other characters pop as well with their looks and general attitude, like Nagisa's mother, who controls him as if he's a girl, and him describing his situation as being trapped in a horror game with accompanying visuals.

8) Cells at Work!


This shonen anime involves the process of cells working inside the body, represented by anime characters. Not only does it contain information on body function, but it's cute to watch the Platelets go around since they're depicted as children. Each cell in the body is of a certain age and has a certain function, and it does get rather horrific when cancer cells and diseases come along.

This is because the anime chooses to represent them as horrifying monsters that can rip, infect, or just eat a healthy cell. It's not too far off the mark from how diseases are described in reality. Beyond that, movements are fluid and bodies are depicted as usually colorful. Bonus? This anime is made by David Production, the company that makes JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

9) Haikyuu!!


This sports shonen anime made by Production I.G is considered one of the best, and for good reason. Haikyuu!! is extremely fluid, dynamic, and almost cinematic with its presentation of jumps, speed, and just hitting of the volleyball during intense matches. The dynamic angles, including getting close to the net, have at least one ball camera, and the sweat and muscles are all in view and detailed.

Even outside the game scenes where things get tense, the more casual anime humor of whited eyes, angry faces, sometimes deadpan faces, and line delivery can be very fun to just watch. The only small thing that people have pointed out is that sometimes players' faces look like they're stuck inside the net, but that's a minor quibble in the grand scheme of the anime.

10) Attack on Titan


Where to begin with the glorious animation and heavily inked effort Studio MAPPA goes into with the shonen anime blend of action and horror that is Attack on Titan? The basic premise is humanity surviving against giant, man-eating Titans. The animation itself is beautiful, whether in battle or speeding through with the wind whipping past the Scouts or the general depiction of the sometimes goofy-looking Titans.

While they look goofy and sometimes move as such, the sense of scale is brought into play when the more massive Colossal Titans make their appearance and the destruction is on full display. This makes it absolutely certain the audience feels terrified of both Titans and humans, especially when Titan shifters are introduced. The particular action scenes in this shonen anime that fans point to are Levi against the Beast Titan, the Battle of the Trost District where Titan Eren carries the boulder, and the Rumbling scene.

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Edited by R. Elahi
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