Shounen is by far the most popular manga demographic in the world, so it is no wonder that every generation always has their own collection of the best shounen manga. As such, when it comes to creating a "top manga" list, it'd be way more fruitful to base it on each decade, rather than trying to shoot for the best of all time.
And that is precisely what this list intends to do. What are considered as "modern manga" are those that were published after 2011 and all the way to the present day. To cast an even wider selection of titles, this list also focuses on three distinct groups of manga: the most popular ones, the underrated titles, and some rising stars. Below is the full list of top 10 modern shounen manga recommendations!
10. Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
- Authors: Horikoshi, Kouhei
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Comedy
- Volumes: 32+
- Published: Jul 2014 - present
Ever since its debut, My Hero Academia has become the new shounen manga staple for the overwhelming majority of manga readers. The story that revolves around superheroes might seem like an overdone cliché at this point, but somehow My Hero Academia still manages to make it interesting nonetheless.
A big part of it is because of its familiar settings and relatable characters. Unlike other superhero series, the story of My Hero Academia takes place in, as you might've guessed already, a hero academy. That alone immediately recalls the familiar setting of almost every shounen manga out there.
Add to that a powerless boy named Izuku Midoriya who was given a powerful quirk belonging to the world's former No. 1 hero, and you get a heartwarming and inspiring story of hard work and perseverance in the face of what is seemingly an impossible dream. But even more than that, it is also about the sacrifice and determination needed to achieve that goal.
9. Jujutsu Kaisen
- Authors: Akutami, Gege
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural
- Volumes: 17+
- Published: Mar 2018 - present
Supernatural powers have always been a part of some of the greatest shounen manga in every generation, such as with Yu Yu Hakusho in the 90s or Death Note in the early 2000s. For this generation, however, the supernatural shounen manga that manages to rise above the rest is Jujutsu Kaisen.
Jujutsu Kaisen is about Yuuji Itadori, a teenage boy who enters Jujutsu High School to become a Jujutsu Sorcerer, a group of people who can use cursed energy to exterminate malevolent curses. And the one curse that Itadori wants to destroy is none other than Ryomen Sukuna, the most powerful curse of all time, who happens to reside inside Itadori himself.
Imagine a happy marriage between Naruto and Hunter x Hunter, and you’ve got yourself a Jujutsu Kaisen. Gege Akutami-sensei uses all of the great elements from both manga and adds his own spin to it. The result is a fast-paced story that is filled with offbeat characters and mind-boggling action sequences.
8. Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)
- Authors: Gotouge, Koyoharu
- Genres: Action, Supernatural, Historical
- Volumes: 23
- Published: Feb 2016 - May 2020
Even though Demon Slayer is filled with man-eating demons and lethal sword techniques with dance-like movements, it actually has a more human story than the previous two entries. The reason is because Tanjiro Kamado never wanted to be a demon slayer, but he didn't have any choice but to become one.
Ever since his whole family was massacred by a demon and his sister was turned into a demon as well, he is desperate to find a cure that could turn his sister back into a human being. Being a demon slayer just happened to be the best way to achieve that goal.
Rather than revenge, Tanjiro is driven more by his desire to save his sister. And in order to do so, he wouldn't hesitate to plunge head-first into any sorts of danger and demons that come his way. And that is why Demon Slayer contains some of the most exciting action sequences and truly heartbreaking moments in the shounen world.
7. Chainsaw Man
- Authors: Fujimoto, Tatsuki
- Genres: Action, Supernatural, Horror
- Volumes: 11
- Published: Dec 2018 - Dec 2020
In many ways, Chainsaw Man is the polar opposite of Demon Slayer. If Tanjiro from Demon Slayer has a clear motive from the very beginning, then Denji from Chainsaw Man simply flows through the motion. And if Demon Slayer has some of the most fluid and beautiful action sequences, the battle scenes in Chainsaw Man are as raw and chaotic as it can get.
Nevertheless, both titles are interesting in their own way. You could even say that the messiness and unpredictability is what makes Chainsaw Man such a breath of fresh air to this overly saturated demographic.
Because from the moment Denji realizes that he has merged with the Chainsaw Devil to all of his subsequent fights against blood-thirsty devils as a public devil hunter, Chainsaw Man keeps pulling the readers along a zany rollercoaster ride with no sign of slowing down.
6. Blue Lock
- Authors: Kaneshiro, Muneyuki (Story); Nomura, Yuusuke (Art)
- Genres: Action, Sports, Drama
- Volumes: 16+
- Published: Aug 2018 - present
There have been numerous shounen manga that revolve around soccer throughout the years. The premise and the settings may be different, but for the most part, they all focus on the same thing - teamwork - which makes sense for a sport that requires 22 people in order to play it properly.
But Blue Lock chose to go the other way. It emphasizes ego and individualism. As the story goes, Japan's soccer team has been in stagnation for a while with no international title to speak of. So the people in charge decided to try something radically different, which is called the Blue Lock Project.
There inside a prison-like structure, 300 forward players, including the main character Isagi Yoichi, are rigorously trained under an eccentric coach aptly named Ego Jinpachi. This elaborate project has only one goal, to create the ultimate egotist strikers that could bring Japan's soccer to the top of the world stage.
5. Jigokuraku (Hell's Paradise)
- Authors: Kaku, Yuuji
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Supernatural
- Volumes: 13
- Published: Jan 2018 - Jan 2021
From the modern world of soccer, we go way back to medieval Japan... to the time when the executioner failed to kill Gabimaru The Hollow, a ninja from Iwagakure, for the fifth time in a row. This time though, Gabimaru along with other death row convicts are gathered in the royal court before the shogun himself.
In exchange for a full pardon by the shogun, they are forced to go on an expedition to an island in the southern seas. The objective is the elixir of life. The destination is an island that looks like a paradise - mesmerizing scenery, majestic trees, and beautiful flowers that would sprout from within your body.
Just like Demon Slayer, Hell's Paradise is also a shounen manga with a main character who has a clear motive and objective from the beginning. And similar to its predecessor, this is also a story filled with mystery, violence, and mind blowing action sequences at every turn of the page.
4. Kamisama no Iutoori 2 (As the Gods Will: The Second Series)
- Authors: Kaneshiro, Muneyuki (Story); Fujimura, Akeji (Art)
- Genres: Action, Horror, Supernatural
- Volumes: 21
- Published: Jan 2013 - Dec 2016
As the title suggests, this is the second series of the As the Gods Will franchise. Weirdly enough, the first one has never been officially translated to English. Fortunately, you don't need to know about the first one to enjoy this second series.
This manga is about a death game that happens simultaneously across every high school in the world. Threats range from a Daruma game that shoots a laser through your body to demon statues that can blind, freeze, and kill every unsuspecting student - including the main character, Yasuto Akashi. And the death count will only increase at every turn of the game.
Though the story might seem like a bunch of random violence at first, As The Gods Will offers something deeper than that. It is a story about determination, perseverance, love, betrayal, and puzzle-solving in the middle of multiple life-threatening situations.
3. Spy x Family
- Authors: Endou, Tatsuya
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 7+
- Published: Mar 2019 - present
And finally the time has come for the new players in the shounen world. Spy x Family is a relatively new addition to the shounen family, and yet it has absolutely taken the world by storm. In just a few years since its debut, it has managed to surpass the sales and popularity of its predecessors.
The strength of Spy x Family comes from its unique premise, quirky characters, and a string of hilarious moments from one scene to the next. Spy x Family is about a master spy, Lloyd Forger, and his attempt to infiltrate the enemy base by creating a fake family.
Unbeknownst to him, his fake wife, Yor Forger, is actually a legendary assassin while his adopted daughter, Anya, is capable of reading other people's thoughts. As they cluelessly move through the mundanity of everyday life while also dabbling in dangerous missions on the side, hilarity ensues.
2. Kaijuu 8-gou (Monster #8)
- Authors: Matsumoto, Naoya
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
- Volumes: 4+
- Published: Jul 2020 - present
In the world of Monster #8, giant monsters, also known as Kaiju, are an everyday occurrence. The title of Monster #8 itself comes from its main character Kafka Hibino. Each catastrophic-level Kaiju receives their own unique identification number, and Kafka Hibino is Kaiju number 8.
Kafka is an employee of a company that specializes in cleaning the aftermath of battles between Kaiju and the Japan Defense Force. One night while recovering from a terrible injury due to a Kaiju attack, a little monster flew into Kafka's mouth and turned him into a powerful Kaiju. Not one to mope around, Kafka swiftly decided to apply to be a member of the Japan Defense Force.
Monster #8 has all of the familiar ingredients of a great shounen manga: interesting story, exciting action sequences, super powers, and some comedic moments as well. But it also has its own unique flavors that make it different and exhilarating to read.
- Authors: Tatsu, Yukinobu
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
- Volumes: 2+
- Published: Apr 2021 - present
If Monster #8 is all about the right use of all of the familiar elements of a great shounen manga, Dandadan is the exact opposite. Mind you, it still has some of the things that are staples in a shounen manga, such as the action and the comedy. But that's about it.
It is a story about a boy, Ken Takakura - who believes in aliens, yet doesn't believe in ghosts - and a girl, Ayase Momo - who believes in ghosts, but not aliens. As it turns out, both of them are correct. Apparently both aliens and ghosts do exist, and they are as nasty as the stories claimed them to be.
Dandadan has only been around for a short amount of time, but the premise and the execution of said premise have been flawless thus far. Not only do we get the exciting and outrageous story, the illustrations are also impeccable. Everything is so dynamic and brimming with personality.
The highly popular manga listed here are those that have successfully carried on the tradition of the shounen greats of the past, the underrated titles represent some of the overlooked masterpieces, and the rising stars are the manga that are brimming with promising potential for the future.
This list is the result of that precise mixture. And you won't go wrong with any of these titles. That being said, if you know any other manga that you think would be perfect for this list, please feel free to share your picks in the comment section below.