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The Five Best Underrated Shonen Manga

The Shonen manga demographic has been responsible for some of the most popular series worldwide, including the legendary “Big Three” consisting of Naruto, One pieceand bleachingas well as new hits like Demon Hunter and Jujutsu Kaisen. As broad as this demographic is, there are plenty of quality manga that have sadly fallen by the wayside compared to the best-sellers mentioned above.

It should come as no surprise that Shonen manga is about more than just action-packed combat and outrageous power scaling. In fact, many underrated shonen manga are being released right now that deserve a chance in the spotlight that shonen fans might not know they are missing.

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Kemono Jihen

Kemono Jihencreated by Sho Aimoto, is a particularly good choice for fans of darker Shonen series like Jujutsu Kaisen. The story follows Kohachi Inugami, a detective specializing in paranormal activity, as he travels to a rural village in the Japanese countryside. After being hired by a local hostess to examine mutilated cattle, Inugami comes into contact with a strange boy named “Dorotabou” because of his pungent smell. Inugami enlists Dorotabou to assist him in his investigation, and soon Dorotabou is exposed to a strange world filled with animal-like beings known as “Kemono”.


Kemono Jihen slightly became a dark horse in the 2021 winter season as its well-produced anime adaptation went under the radar due to the release of the highly anticipated sequel attack on Titan. Despite its quiet release, the original manga is an excellent paranormal action series with a charming cast of characters and beautiful artwork. The anime adaptation is also of high quality and serves as a competent introduction to the series.

Kemono Jihen is currently available in English through Seven Seas Entertainment, with the anime adaptation currently available to stream through Crunchyroll and Funimation.


Kaiju #8

Naoya Matsumoto’s Kaiju #8, which was recently confirmed for an anime adaptation, is an exciting sci-fi action series that subverts established tropes from other shonen manga. Not only does it exceed expectations with its underdog story, it also features a main character who is in his 30s. Kaiju #8 follows Kafka Hibino, a man who once had high ambitions to join the Defense Force – a group working to root out kaiju threats across Japan. His childhood friend, Mina Ashiro, achieved this goal and rose to fame in the Defense Force’s Third Unit.


Unfortunately for Kafka, he only managed to become a member of Monster Sweeper Inc. and do the much less exciting work – cleaning up the mess left behind by the Defense Forces. In an unexpected twist, a monster flies into Kafka’s mouth, granting him monstrous powers and transforming his body into that of a kaiju. Dubbed “Kaiju No.8” by the Defense Force, Kafka is somehow able to retain his humanity in this new form and decides to use his new gift to achieve his dreams.

Kaiju #8 stands out in the shonen realm because it’s one of the rare series where the protagonist is a grown man. Not only that, Kaiju #8 manages to tell a compelling, action-packed kaiju story while also taking the time to thoroughly develop its cast. With an anime officially announced, there’s no better time to delve into Kafka’s adventures Kaiju #8.


Kaiju #8 is currently available in English through Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint. RELATED: Chainsaw Man: Trailer, Release Date, Plot & What’s New to Know

blue box

Koji Miuras blue box is one of the best shonen romances currently in production. After Taiki Inomata, a high school student dedicated to his school’s badminton team. Each morning, he shares practice time with his upper-class wife and longtime crush, Chinatsu Kano, a local basketball superstar.

Chinatsu unexpectedly moves in with Taiki’s family when her parents travel abroad for work. Now that the two have become roommates, Taiki wants to expand their relationship and confess his feelings as they both strive to take home national championships in their respective sports.

While it’s by no means action-packed or philosophically deep, blue box is an entertaining sports romance that serves as the perfect departure from what is currently expected of a shonen manga. With a refreshing art style and an endearing cast of characters, blue box is a heartwarming story of human connection that follows two young people as they support each other to achieve their goals. 2021, blue box was nominated for the seventh Next Manga Award. While it ended up finishing 8th, the series took home the Global Prize.

blue box is currently available in English through Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku

From the former assistant of chainsaw man‘s Tatsuki Fujimoto, Yuji Kaku’s Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is a terrifying, blood-soaked survival story. Set in the Edo period, notorious criminal Gabimaru the Hollow is captured and sentenced to death – however, no amount of torture or brutality seems enough to destroy his superhuman body. Famed executioner Yamada Asaemon Sagiri firmly believes that his unwavering love for his wife will keep him alive, giving him the chance to be pardoned from his crimes when he finds the lifeblood of remote Shinsenkyo, a recently discovered legendary realm , can salvage.

Curiously, the expedition teams sent to the island have all disappeared, prompting the shogunate to dispatch a team of death row inmates. Each convict is assigned an executioner with whom they must return to receive their pardon.

Initially appearing like a standard death game series, hell paradise quickly undermines that expectation by introducing terrifying monsters that threaten both the criminals and their executioners, forcing these opposing forces to work together for their survival. Body horror and violence isn’t the only thing hell paradise This speaks for itself, as it’s clear that mangaka Yuji Kaku deeply loves the characters, and the bonds that have been formed between the cast are just as essential and important as the horrific setting.


similar to chainsaw manthat was announced Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is getting an anime adaptation from Studio MAPPA. Although there is currently no release date for the adaptation, the manga has been completed, with thirteen volumes available in print and digital formats.

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku is available in English via Viz Media’s Viz Signature imprint. RELATED: What Spy x Family Loid’s Arc’s First Cour Is Like

Sakamoto days

One of the latest additions to Shōnen Jump Magazine‘s lineup, Yuto Suzukis Sakamoto days is the perfect series for fans of Spy x family to jump in. Based on Taro Sakamoto, an unrivaled hitman-turned-supermarket owner and family man, Sakamoto days follows the very fun and action packed life of the retired hitman. Although Sakamoto has left his days as a hitman behind, the life he left behind still haunts him, and his normal life is interrupted when other hitmen start stalking him. Sakamoto enlists the help of Shin, a young man with the power of telepathy, and vows to protect his average life – or die trying.


With punch lines as good as their fistfights Sakamoto days skilfully combines action comedy with family slice-of-life. Despite being a man of few words, Sakamoto stands out as an incredibly powerful yet humble protagonist. His devotion to his family is heartwarming, just as his superhuman fighting prowess is terrifying.

Sakamoto days is currently available in English through Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint.

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