[NCent] Shonen (Japanese Mangas) Recommendations

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NCent stands for Not C-entertainment. I had been writing this post for what feels like years now. Here is my legacy about mangas. I often read mangas during my free time. They bring me back to my childhood in a way even dramas can’t do. There is such a huge variety and quantity of mangas that I can randomly find true gem. This week, I am sharing my list of favorite shonens (Japanese mangas that has mostly an audience of boys or that is more focused on action/adventure).

The Golden one: Dragon Ball

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It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this is my favorite manga. I love it so much, it is ageless. I read it when I was in elementary school (so about 8 years old I guess) and then reread it at least ten other times. It was a real sensation at my school and I always went to the library, thinking will I be lucky enough to find the missing volumes today. Of course, that was way before I discovered that those art works were available online 😛 In this series can be found my first ever OTP: Vegeta and Bulma. They are both baddies turned nice thanks to Goku and their personality totally matched. My favorite character is definitely Goku although Vegeta and Trunks are closely behind. Hell, I love all the characters! Everyone had character development and changed for the best. DB is a legendary manga that inspired so many mangakas out there.

The Brain Teasers: Death Note and Liar Game

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An amazing manga that follows the two smartest people in the world with the most dangerous killing tool ever imagined. It is the first manga I read that made me really feel just how twisted the world is. Although I remember huge fan wars between Team L and Team Light, I didn’t really feel like siding with either. Light was a bright character turned dark and to be frank, I wanted to see him go beyond human capabilities and change the world. However, as he became more and more rotten, his death was destinated to happen. L had always been smarter than Light, but he did die first. I would say both are winners. The ending was a bit of a let down since Mello and Near didn’t bring much interest in me. The way Light died at the end also crushed his last quality: his confidence.

Liar Game is another must read in the psychological and intellectual categories. It follows a brilliant psychologist Shinichi Akiyama and his newly friend Nao Kanzaki. After much misfortune, they find themselves entangled in the most twisted human created game ever to test human behaviour when greediness and betrayals of humans are exposed. Nao is the MOST mary-sue character ever. Like seriously, if they ever film a cdrama version, I don’t think even Tang Yan can give her justice. Joke. 😛 The manga is full of smart strategies to win the game and amazing antagonists such as Yuji Fukunaga and Norihiko Yokoya, who make this a true thriller that will keep you captivated until the very last chapter (yes! this is a completed manga, how rare…).

Thriller: Ouroboros

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Following the death of their mother figure Yuiko-sensei, two young boys decide to take revenge on the four killers and on the corrupted police who didn’t do anything to stop/arrest the killers. Danno became a yakuza in dark Japanese mafia while as Ikuo became a policeman. Through solving cases, they get closer to their ultimate ennemy, the policeman with a golden watch who dared to threaten them fiften years ago. One of the strongest bromance in mangaland, this manga shows the corrupted world that is the police force and is not afraid to show the ugly side of humans. With many action scenes and twist, the reader follows the main characters as they solve complex cases and gets closer to the golden watch.

Fun and Smart, but yet not masterpiece: Bloody Monday and Fish Gambler

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Bloody Monday  is the story of a hacker who has to prevent multiple terrorist attacks from happening in the world. This one is action packed with some smart moments and shocking twists, but is not too heavy on the brain usage. xD

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Gamble Fish is another fun manga to try-out. You basically follow an extremly smart main character as he arrives in an elite school. There, he starts a chain of gambling in hope of finding his dad. He will face off with the main villain Abidani multiple times. Because of how unusual and exceptional his tricks are, it was a fun read all along. The manga keeps you captivated the whole time, even if some parts make no sense.

Fun good old ones you can’t stop following: Detective Conan

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Who is still reading Detective Conan? Me! I seriously have a love/hate relationship with this manga. On one hand, I really like it and it really brings me back to my childhood. There are still funny moments and clever stories. However, I am starting to get annoyed at how 1) the author Gosho Aoyoma doens’t stop bringing new characters when it is obviously time to end the long epic, 2) nobdoy grows old except … me and 3) most stories are starting to sound generic/silly/impossible. I will still keep reading because it is Detective Conan after all.. But I truly wish we could get to the ending soon. Sigh.

Simple, but addictive: Hikaru No Go

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The great friendship of Hikaru and Sai is worth every chapter we get. This story is about Hikaru a kid who likes to play around. After the miraculous meeting with ghost Sai, he is brought to the world of professional Go (Japanese Chess game) and slowly starts to fall in love with the game. Even if you don’t understand the rule of the game, the manga itself is a great enjoyment as it explains the basic notion of friendship, loyalty, passion, competition and pride. The friendships introduced here are beautiful and it is a real treat to discover the world of Go through such a beautiful manga.

Classic: Naruto and One Piece

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Naruto is another manga I grew up with and whatever happens, it is one of the best manga in the world. The will of the ninja is the strongest. As we follow Naruto growing up, we learn more about the complex world of shinobis, the dangers that are waiting for it. Not everyone is nice, everyone has a long past behind them. Many flashbacks are brought in, especially during the Shippuden phase, to explain what happened to make the world of shinobis the way it is. All in all, it is a beautiful manga that sadly got a bit more boring/out of control during the second half. The overuse of flashbacks to explain any plot hole felt weird by the end. I started liking Sasuke, hating him and then loving him again. My favorite characters are Hitachi, Kakashi, Shikamaru and Naruto. This manga brought me so much laughter and I will forever love each ninja in the story for making what it is.

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One Piece is one of the few masterpiece mangas still running. When I first saw it, I thought “What could be so interesting about a group of pirates that doesn’t even look like it?” And to be honest, 900 chapters, that’s pretty scary 😛 However, after I had my first burst of tears in the arc of Nami, I knew I was going to stick with this serious. 900 chapters suddenly doesn’t feel that long, it was pure pleasure and real adventure. It is amazing how talented Oda is and how he managed to create so many memorable characters and story arc. The world of One Piece is one of the wildest ones that I have ever read and it still manage to bring me to tears and keep the reader involved. 🙂 So sad shipping is banned in this manga ><

Fantasy: Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2

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Both written by the same author, Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2 are another two of the many mangas that I read and loved while still being a kid. They introduced me to the world of Magic and adventure. I also saw through it more accurate information about Japanese culture, which were all fascinating. I still go back to them for a laugh when I feel especially nostalgic.

The Most Satisfying Shonen: Dokgo

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Dokgo is officially a manhwa (Korean manga), but I still wanted to add it to this list. It is a short (it has 90 chapters, but they are quick) and extremly satisfying manga to read. We follow Dokgo after the death of his whole family (brother, father and then dad). He takes on the identity of his identical twin Kang Hu to revenge for his brother, dead through a violent bullying session. As he demystifies what really happened to Kang Hu, he shows off his amazing fighting skills. It always amaze me how huge the Korean bullying system is. Here, we have an invincible lead with a noble goal. Without fail, he goes step by step through his plan to achieve his goal. He is backed up by his two best friends and talented fighter. Seeing a good main character succeeding in his role makes the story so much better.

Cooking: Shokugeri No Soma

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I am a foodie and love to see pictures of food. Yes, my diet is going well, thank you for asking 😉 Joke aside, Shokugeri No Soma started off as a unique manga that shows great cooking techniques and innovation. However, as I keep reading now, it feels like it is going toward the silly path of exaggeration and fake reactions. Oh well, I still think it is one of the best cooking mangas out there.

Sport Manga: Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis Season 1, Kuroko No Basuke

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Sport mangas are great because they are the ideal place for … bromance! In each of these dramas, I chose my favorite athlete, but ended up loving the whole team. As someone not exactly in love with physical activities, I find it fascinating that people can put so much dedication into this kind of passion. It is the perfect way to make eternal friends, participate in challenging competitions, silly situations and improve oneself. Team spirit is always the center of each of these mangas. Always striking for the best, having the Olympic spirit, looking great and confident, sport mangas are always fun to read. Slam Dunk’s main character Sakuragi is loud, funny and confident. Prince of Tennis’ Ryoma is arrogand and skilled. Kuroko No Basuke’s Kuroko is small, yet unpredictable. It is because each of these characters had their own past, goals, and personality that these stories are so good.

Reflection: Lookism

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The first chapter may feel weird and uninteresting at first, but you need to tough it through because the best scenes are to come later! We follow a bullied and ugly “pig” like boy as he changes to a new school. There, he suddenly finds himself with.. two bodies. One that is super handsome and the other one is his old self. As we read through the book, we learn more about once again, the Korean bullying system. We also question ourselves about violence, love, friendship, looks and bullying. It is a great manga to read and learn about a different perspective over the world. As a bonus, the drawings are extremly pretty.

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24 thoughts on “[NCent] Shonen (Japanese Mangas) Recommendations

    • intellectualkitten says:

      Hikaru No Go used to be my life >< Such a classic manga, I read it again a few weeks ago and realize it is no longer for me (guess I grew up :P). Still, this manga is magical.

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  1. From this list Ive read only Naruto and Dragon Ball, which second is my second favorite shounen (I don’t like this demography because it consist of cliches and stereotypical characters ). Truly epic manga. The most favorite shounen is Fullmetal Alchemist that I read till the end and watch all anime-adaptation. It’s masterpiece. Naruto was promising at the beginning but than sunk in complete bs as so as One Piece. Ranma I only watched and enjoyed a lot, still re-watching sometimes. I’m always confused about spokons because it supposed to be about sports but all I see it bunch of reflecting boys doing fan-service and saying something that must be related to the certain sport but actually have no sense.

    p.s Liar Game and Ouroboros seinen

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    • I differentiate mangas in two: Shoujo and Shonens. I have a vague definition of what Seinen are, so I just decided to class Liar Game and Ouroboros as shonen. 😛 Don’t hate on me, hard core manga fans!!
      Dragon Ball is legendary for staying true to its root (well, I know DB and DBZ are a bit different, but you get my idea xD). I never checked out Fullmetal Alchemist and I don’t even know exactly why :O Maybe I should… I think I missed out on the trend of FA, Reborn, etc while they were hot. xD
      Yeah, I see what you mean. Naruto is still special to me, but I honestly like the start of Shippuden era the most. It did get a messy ending and I am still not sure what I read. Haha, and now, they have the Boruto nonsense… :’D
      Haha, but I love sports mangas! I always fangirl the most with these as they are sooo handsome, proud, and talented. :’D Yeah, I remember PofT being called a Shoujo before. Oh well, I feel like most shonens nowadays have a balance audience of both girls AND boys.

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    • intellectualkitten says:

      I read Full Metal Alchemist and despite been the favorite manga of a large number of people, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I just didn’t feel connected to the manga? But it has its merits 😛
      One Piece is honestly a masterpiece and Oda is amazing to be able to to create such a beautiful and strong world full of amazing characters. Because he started the manga so long ago, I feel like the manga is changing to fit the modern standards. Not a bad thing, but it now has a different kind of charm to it. One of my favorite shounen.

      EDIT: Wasnt able to finish this comment :”D

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      • Really, alchemist is dramatic and more mature somehow, maybe that why I like it and lead aren’t act fool which makes me dislike shounen manga in general. I don’t like OP because after couple of volumes I felt story stopped developing and it just went on repeating the same thing again and again in different forms. That is the main flaw of shounen mangas they ran very long time and loose intrigue very fast.

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      • intellectualkitten says:

        True! Alchemist has a lot of nice elements, I am sad I didn’t feel connected to it :x…
        One Piece has a lot of character developments, the only thing that annoys me is 1) how much the girls boobs grew for no reason and 2) Too many characters imply lack of character development. Still, Oda has been able to create characters like Dofflamingo and Ace, who are just wonderful 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • fiveinone says:

        just writing to second the opinion that one piece is amazing (I hesitate to call it a masterpiece but for a long running manga I feel that Oda is still going strong even after so many years is an amazing feat itself!)

        I LOVE FMA, the few manga which I can re-read and still love it as much as the first time..

        i guess i’m the abnormality seeing that the 2 of you are opposites, liking one so much and don’t really like the other as much.. XDDD

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      • intellectualkitten says:

        Haha… definitely! But it is totally normal to love both mangas at the same time… they are both so popular. I wish I enjoyed Full Metal Alchemist more… but I wasn’t able to enjoy the characters as much 😦

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  2. Fabi says:

    Thanks
    Awesome post

    I never have read a manga in my life.
    But I did watch the TV’s drama version of some of the mangas posted here. I still watch TV dramas based or adapted from mangas when something looks good to me.
    I used to be an avid anime watcher. My favorite genre is shoujo, this is the one genre where I found animes to go crazy for them.

    My brother is a fanatic of mangas. He has bought several and have downloaded way too many. I can’t name five, shame on me.

    Like

    • WHAT? Not one? wow, you should give them a try. The way mangas tell a story is totally different from a novel or a drama. They are trully beautifully done and most of them are better than Western comics (not all, but I feel like having Black&White and irregular frames make the whole story even more real). It has been such a long time since I watched a manga to drama project. Not that I don’t want to, but in recent years, there just hasn’t been many good quality dramas of this type. Taiwan does a good job at this though such as with Meteor Garden and It Started With A Kiss. I liked Chinese Prince of Tennis too.
      I don’t watch animes and only read mangas. Some people think I am the weird one :’D
      Haha, go ask your brother for recommendations too 8D Especially since you can get physical copies!

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      • fiveinone says:

        haha, I used to watch animes when I was still in school, but have stuck to just reading mangas now.. because i find that mangas don’t take as much time to complete a chapter.. so you are not really the weird one :p

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  3. Maymay says:

    You should try the baseball genres i loved them so much (wind up and diamond no ace are my favourites) though actually i only watch the anime versions. One out is one with psychological edge. The bicycle and volleyball one each has a good one too. I watched almost all of the sports anime available. But my fav of all is still slam dunk.

    I watch the long running ones as well. Naruto i watched while skipping the fillers then reading the manga for ending. Bleach i am still watching after ditching it so many years ago cos of the fillers. One piece i watch after every few months so that i can binge watch.

    I always watch anime in between drama draught..glad to see someone else read manga …

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    • Oh, I never tried!! Except in some shoujos where the male lead play baseball xD These two have really nice drawings, I feel like giving them a try soon! I don’t watch animes though (I like mangas a lot more!) Wow, One Out looks good too! You are giving me really tempting suggestions, thanks a lot!! Slam Dunk is sooo good! Love the male lead even if he is super loud. Your classic adorable big guy xD
      Naruto sometime had better fillers than the ending though. The ending was a mess so don’t think too poorly of the manga for that part 😉
      Same for Bleach and One Piece, they are good, but I pretty much gave up on reading them. Read a fair share, but not the bests.
      Yeah, glad to see that our readers love mangas too ❤

      Like

      • fiveinone says:

        yes yes.. i love the baseball mangas! I tried watching real baseball games because of my love for these mangas, but i really cannot appreciate the real game itself.. why is it so much more interesting in manga form? hahaha

        slam dunk is one of my fave sports manga, the funny parts don’t get old even now..

        if you are looking for more shojo genre of baseball mangas i’ll recommend those written by Adachi. i can re-read Touch many times and still love it..

        naruto’s ending cannot be compared to bleach’s (the messy part) haha.. though i’ve dropped bleach for ages, i just picked up the last 2 chapters to check the ending and…………. no regrets dropping it.. i love naruto so much in the beginning – i think it set the stage for the current new shonen mangas (i can sort of see the similar mold in a few).. the reason why i completed it must be my strong love from the beginning.. but boruto is just….. *skip*

        actually i love HunterXHunter as well – but the hiatus is really too much ):

        Like

      • Haha, so true! Why can’t tennis players be like the ones in Prince of Tennis?! Slam Dunk is so funny!! A true masterpiece!
        Ohh, that Touch manga is so old school *nostalgic* Thanks! I will keep this in my list of to read. So many people gave recommendations and right now, I am going through the shoujos recommendations first!
        Haha, was not a die hard fan of bleach and end up reading a few random volumes and that’s it. So, didn’t even bother with the ending.
        Naruto is SO good and I think everyone read it. It really sets the standard high for well thought mangas. So many characters and still, everyone can shine. Boruto is… *tries to forget*

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  4. ChocolateCosmos says:

    Yay coming across has made me happy since most websites I visit talk about tv shows/ dramas. Honestly, looking these mangas brings back memories. It’s been a while since I follow shonen mangas and the last one I remember reading was Gintama. Aside from Dokgo, Lookism, and Blood Monday (I don’t recognize them that well nor do I read them) the rest of the ones you mentioned did make up a great portion of the high ongoing popularity with Japanese mangas and anime and were the ones that people rave about to me (despite not watching/reading some of the ones up there). Even if I don’t actively read them I still feel sad when some of them ended (ex: Naruto). Out of the ones mentioned, I am only following the anime of the cooking one for now since it’s still airing (the art for the food is superb lol) and something I watch when I eat. Although I was not an avid dragon ball fan, my brother was. So I remember their names and stuff. Also Detective Conan. My brother’s situation is like yours. He will keep on watching over 700 + episodes of Detective Conan and read the manga (although he takes his time with it). I keep asking him what was the ending lol.

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    • Haha, you would be surprised at how many people who roots as Japan fangirl/boy. xD I mean, just yesterday, everyone was freaking out about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics teaser as they put tone of their cultural references. People from many non-Asian countries knew what it was about (Mario, that football/soccer manga, etc).
      My friend loves Gintama! I never tried though 😛 Haha, the list here is quiet good (since I came out with it hihi) Yeah, it did feel like something ended when Naruto did. What a long running and successful manga that represented a full generation!
      I didn’t check out the Shokugeri anime version, but I am sure it must look yummy. This manga draws food so well. Also, I find some of Japanese mangas/animes’ food drawing look so good (sometime better than the actual deal xD)
      Dragon Ball is so cool! I still remember all the names too :3 Haha, me and your brother are suffering… when we think of when it will end. Because, just this year, the author came up with some new intriguing characters. Which is good, but also means we will not get an ending for a while :’D

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  5. taka3105 says:

    almost those lists of mangas. i enjoy it, and couple of them, like Bloody Monday, Liar Game and Ouroboros, i know them because of they made it into drama.

    Especially Death Note. once, ,i left this manga-reading-livestyle because i was busy growing up (wth is that supposed to mean.lol). then by accident, i’ve found Death Note through my friend. dang,, what a beautiful story line. i like the idea behind it. idk most people, but, i think the movie also great, unlike in manga, the “war” between L and Light was the highlight in the movie.

    nowadays, i try to collecting Boku dake ga Inai Machi also. It’s really good story. have you try it?

    Like

    • Very true! Although I often like the manga versions more, these three are perfect for some live action 😛
      Yeah, Death Note was huge when I was at school. Everyone was sharing the books and talking online about it. Love the story and trully one of the masterpiece in the thriller category. Happy to see it received so much praise. Bakuman as its follow up is really popular, but I don’t see the same level as with Death Note. I am team L :3
      Nope I didn’t! It looks good, but not exactly my type of drawing style. Thanks for the recommendation though, may still check it out one day!

      Like

  6. Aw says:

    Never thought I’d ever enjoy Naruto cuz I thought it was overrated but a few months ago I saw a clip of minato and kushina’s death and was instantly hooked. My favorite characters from Naruto are: Naruto, Minato, Jiraiya, Might Guy and Rock lee, shikamaru, hashirama aka God of Shinobi, and on and off Sasuke. Lol. Too many favorites. I also loved Fullmetal Alchemist because of the fantasy element and lessons it taught. I’ve never read one piece before cuz it’s just too long and I don’t like the drawings. Lol

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    • Wow, Minato and Kushina’s death. As fan, I remember waiting so long for that flashback. They are wonderful parents and although Naruto grew up lonely, he had always been loved ❤
      I like Kakashi, Shikamaru, Naruto and Itachi the most!! ❤ Yeah, on and off Sasuke. There are scenes where he is a real jerk and I strongly believed there would be no way he can come back to the Shinobi society. But he did.. I guess I should be satisfied at that happy ending?! Haha

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