Much like any form of media, anime can be categorized into many different subgroups, based on different criteria. One of these criteria is the target audience. An author’s target audience greatly impacts the type of story they choose to tell and affects the themes they can attempt to include in their narratives.
Shonen anime is aimed at a young, male audience and usually aims to be adventurous and energetic. Shojo anime is aimed at a young female audience and they usually include themes of romance and friendship. Throughout the years, Japan has produced some stellar anime in these categories, and this list will point a few out.
10 Shonen: MY HERO ACADEMIA
My Hero Academia follows the young protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, and his journey to become the strongest hero. He is referred to as ‘Deku’ (meaning useless) by his childhood friend and future rival, Bakugo, owing to his origin as someone with little power.
In a world of people born with quirks (80%), Deku was born without one. But, despite this, he’s spent much of his life chasing the dream of becoming a hero. This led to him developing a strong sense of justice, one stronger than everyone around him. My Hero Academia is renowned for its great characters, the themes of friendship and bravery, lovely animation and is an all-round great watch.
9 Shoujo: MY LOVE STORY
Takeo Goda is not at all your typical Shoujo male lead. In fact, the series makes sure to remind us of this throughout its run. Takeo isn’t used to getting on well with women, and they never express any interest in him. In fact, these women usually go for his best friend, who is more conventionally attractive.
This wouldn’t be much of a story if it went on like this though and, eventually, Rinko Yamato peels back Takeo's layers and finds the kind and loving person, inside all of that muscle. A love story for the ages, My Love Story is sure to leave your heart in a flutter.
8 Shonen: FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST BROTHERHOOD
Alchemy is a fundamental part of this universe and this ability system is guided by the fundamental rule of equivalent exchange. A young Edward Elric broke this rule and, in the process, he lost his left and right arm as well as his brother's entire body. This sends them both on a hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone in a mission to get back Alphonse’s body.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a phenomenal work of fiction that provides a commentary on the truth of life, and how this truth affects all the inhabitants of the world.
7 Shoujo: OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB
A juggernaut of the genre, Ouran High School Host Club follows the life and adventures of Haruhi Fujioka. After coming across an eccentric group of characters in the club, she accidentally breaks a vase. As a means of recompense, she’s then made to join the club as one of their hosts. Her look makes it possible for people to mistake her for an actual boy, and this gag is funny to witness through the episodes.
This anime isn’t just funny but heartwarming as, with every episode, the characters grow more and more until they become fully-fledged characters, worth cheering on. Ouran High School Host Club is a story about finding your place in the world and having loving people to share it with.
6 Shonen: DEMON SLAYER
Demon Slayer is a fairly new anime but, in its short run, it has announced itself as one to watch. With its fresh cast of young and interesting characters, juxtaposed against the older and dangerous demons, it is sure to provide intrigue. However, Demon Slayer does not stop there.
It goes even further by mixing in the themes of family bonds and friendships to get the tears running. It then adds exciting and intense action scenes to make an all-round great anime. Watching Tanjiro walk his path as a Demon Slayer in order to save his sister, is one of the best things any anime fan could do with their time.
5 Shoujo: VAMPIRE KNIGHTS
Cross Academy is a school literally divided in half due to its day and night classes. The day school consists of normal human students, while the night class consists of vampires. Yuuki, our protagonist, was rescued by one of these vampires in her past and, in the current storyline, holds the position as guardian of the vampires. In this role, she is tasked with keeping their secret from the students of the day class.
This sometimes tears a rift between her and her close friend, Zero, a boy who loves Yuuki but hates vampires, due to his bad history with them. The anime follows Yuuki as she goes about her duty while trying to prevent as much bloodshed as possible. This is a Shoujo that is a bit darker than its contemporaries and this creates a tense and interesting atmosphere.
4 Shonen: HUNTER X HUNTER
Hunter x Hunter follows Gon as he sets off on his journey to become a hunter, and to find his father, Ging, who left him at Whale Island to chase his dream of becoming a hunter. What follows is easily one of the most interesting and best-told stories to ever make it out of Japan.
Hunter x Hunter features a lively and lovable cast of characters, who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The series often shifts the point of view so that the audience could better understand each of the protagonists. This ensures that the audience cared about the main cast, which makes everything they achieve so much more rewarding.
3 Shoujo: YONA OF THE DAWN
Princess Yona has grown used to her carefree and luxurious lifestyle, having been raised in abject luxury for all of her life. One day, she tells her father that she wishes to one day wed her longtime friend, Su-Won, but her father forbids her. Later that night, Yona witnesses Su-Won murder her father, before revealing he’s long been planning a coup d’etat.
This forces Yuna and her bodyguard to flee the country and they begin a long journey to reclaim what was lost. On this journey, Yona learned the harsh realities of the world she’s been living in, and this changes her for the better. Yona of the Dawn is a fantastic coming of age story that all young people should experience.
2 Shonen: ONE PIECE
On an unremarkable day in the simple town of Foosha village, a young Monkey D Luffy met Red Hair Shanks and the two immediately formed a lifelong bond. Meeting Shanks made Luffy want to become a pirate and, 10 years later, he sets sail to achieve this.
This story follows Luffy and his crew's journey, adventuring around the mysterious sea, know as the Grandline. The Grandline is referred to as the "Pirate Graveyard" since most pirates who go there never make it back. Despite this, the Straw Hat Pirates rushed into this sea and became the most notorious rookie pirate crew in the world.
Eiichiro Oda weaved his magic when writing this, the most epic adventure story to exist. One Piece is well known for its glorious world-building, the fantastic main cast, and interesting side characters.
1 SNOW WHITE WITH THE RED HAIR
Shirayuki is a normal girl living in the country of Tanbarun, whilst working as a herbalist. Her life as a herbalist brings peace to Shirayuki, but this comes to an end when Raj, the prince of the country, notices her beautiful red hair. He then tries to force her to become his concubine, but Shirayuki refuses. She then cuts her hair and attempts to run away into the forest, so that she might be able to retain her freedom.
This leads to a chance encounter with the prince of a neighboring country, and he saves her life. This leads to Shirayuki restarting her life in a new country, with the goal of becoming a court herbalist, during which, she gets closer to the prince, Zen.
A romance story for the ages, Snow White with the Red Hair truly delivers on all fronts.