A lot of shonen anime series have soared in popularity over the years like Naruto, the Dragon Ball franchise, and One Piece to name a few.
But for every shonen anime that gets well into the 500 or even 1,000 episode mark, there are a few that barely last even one season of 26 episodes or otherwise go under the radar. This list will chronicle those shonen anime, ones that may not have reached such lofty heights but are still worth watching.
These are 10 of the most underrated shonen anime series, ranked for their memorability and watchability.
Note: This article represents the author's opinions. The content listed ahead contain spoilers for their respective anime.
10 most underrated shonen anime series like Yu Yu Hakusho, Claymore, and Hajime no Ippo, ranked
10) Yu Yu Hakusho
Among shonen anime, dying and being reborn in a new world is an isekai staple! Yusuke Urameshi doesn't quite get that lucky, instead being forced to be a spirit detective to atone for being so deliquent. That's how Yu Yu Hakusho starts and it gets crazier from there, with demons, spirit weapons, and more!
Whilst it may have gotten swallowed up in the Dragon Ball craze, the shonen anime Yu Yu Hakusho was named the second best anime just behind Sailor Moon in 1993, and deserves a rewatch because it's still good for action and character drama.
An anime/manga about making anime and manga? Yes, those exist! Bakuman is the story of artist Moritaka Mashiro and aspiring writer Akito Takagi, two boys in ninth-grade who wish to become mangaka. They are joined by aspiring voice actress Miho Mashiro, who tells Mashiro that she'll marry him when their dreams come true.
The anime and manga is more of a comedy and coming of age story about the pressures and difficulites of becoming a mangaka. Mashiro and Takagi face multiple rejections, horrendous deadlines, and even the dreaded fear of overwork leading to death. Even if it's a comedy, it works in some real-world commentary on what working in the industry is like.
The story of the dark shonen anime and manga Claymore centers around the character of Clare, a half-demon and human hybrid manufactured for the sole purpose of exterminating demons that infest their world, and a human named Raki who joins her after his family is killed by the demons.
Fans of darker anime like the Castlevania adaptation or Attack on Titan will certainly love this anime, even if the anime itself lasted barely one season because of the lack of popularity. The manga, on the other hand, lasted well over 13 years and is well worth the time.
7) Hajime no Ippo
After being saved from a vicious beating, a shy high school student named Ippo Makunouchi is taken to the Kamogawa gym to treat his wounds and is introduced to the world of boxing. After hitting a sandbag harder than anyone in the gym and completing a test involving grabbing 10 falling leaves out of the air simultaneously, Ippo sets his sights on taking things professional.
Sports anime usually tend to be shonen anime, from popular ones like Haikyuu!! to the Prince of Tennis to name a few. Hajime no Ippo is considered one of the best in terms of the sports genre in anime, with one review stating that fighting and character development tango well together. It's that classic underdog-to-champion story that most sports media have, akin to the Rocky series of films in anime form.
Ishiyama high is a school for delinquents, with no rules and/or laws really to speak of. Enter Tatsumi Oga, a first-year student at this school who is violent, but not unnecessarily so.
Despite wanting to be left alone, his life takes a sharp turn when he finds the future Devil King baby named Beezlebub IV and is forced to raise him. Now he must take care of this demon baby whilst trying to avoid fights.
As can be inferred from the plot synopsis, this shonen anime is an action comedy. The proceedings are a funny contrast between the demon baby and the delinquent who's trying to avoid fighting since it raises the baby's demon power and can subsequently be used to destroy the Earth. This story is highly recommended, even if its anime has ended.
5) Baki the Grappler
The term Street Fighter could best be used to describe the adventures of Baki Hanma in the shonen anime series Baki the Grappler or simply Baki. Baki's goal starts with fighting and surpassing his father Yujiro. However, after that fails the first time around, he starts traveling the world and continues training, which brings him to an underground fighting arena to hone his skills.
As mentioned prior, Baki will be for fans of the Street Fighter video game franchise and/or MMA scene of the sport. Different art styles and wacky fights are fun enough alone to recommend, and it's a world of just humans even if characters survive being shot.
The differing fighting philosophies are also a selling point, as every fighter has their own.The current ongoing Netflix reboot has sparked more interest in the series.
4) Shaman King
The title of Shaman King is highly coveted among those that can control and commune with spirits, granting the user the Grand Spirit's ability to control reality. The Shaman tournament, held every 500 years, calls all shamans to fight for this title. Enter Yoh Asakura and Anna Koyoyama, two competitors vying for the title.
Shaman King was mainly underrated for being released in 2000, when anime was only just beginning to hit the mainstream. It flew under the radar when compared to fast movers like Naruto and Full Metal Alchemist some years later, but is still enjoyable for its blend of spiritual action and comedy, especially between humans and their spirit partners. Like Baki, it currently has an ongoing Netflix reboot.
3) Ushio & Tora
Another 90s anime that completely flew under the radar, Ushio & Tora focuses on the rather unique relationship and adventures of a temple guardian boy named Ushio Aotsuki and the tiger-like monster Tora.
500 years ago, Ushio's ancestors sealed Tora away in a stone using a cursed spear. But when Ushio accidentally unleashed Tora, demons sprang forth to consume humans and the two were forced to team up.
Similar to Kurama and Naruto's relationship in Naruto, the duo of Ushio and Tora started very frosty with Tora trying at all times to kill Ushio. The anime, as said prior, was outshone by Yu Yu Hakusho and others due to it's monster-of-the-week formula. It's still worth watching, whether it's the 90's OVA or the 39 episode anime that started in 2015.
2) Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
The Vongola crime family is a powerful and ever expanding mafia organization with a twist: they all have superpowers and have selected a rather clumsy underachiever named Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada as their 10th boss.
With an infant hitman from italy named Reborn's aid, Tsuna will have to face off against rival mafia families and supernatural beings to accomplish this goal.
This shonen anime and manga is rather unique in that it changes things up after the first 20 episodes and first 60 chapters. It was a gag series first, before it became more action-oriented. Tsuna's character is also unique for being a change from the cliched shonen anime hero, and refuses to be a mafia boss even at the end.
A mixture of science fiction, dark fantasy, shonen anime, and manga, D.Gray-man focuses on the struggle of young Allen Walker as he joins a group of excorcists called the Black Order in an alternate version of the 19th century. Their goal is to combat Millennium Earl and his demonic Akuma army before they destroy humanity.
With themes such as identity, lack of black and white morality, and tragedy throughout, this particular shonen anime and manga is very memorable amongst people who enjoy darker subjects. It also has a wealth of characters in the Black Order and other factions to root for, and the manga is currently running as well.