Updated: Jan 19
After years of reading manga and watching anime, after writing countless blog posts about Shonen Jump, and after essentially becoming a shonen connoisseur who knows almost everything Jump related. I think, I’ve managed to read all of the magazine’s biggest titles.
There are a lot of series and manga that Shonen Jump has published over the course of its fifty year life span. A lot of them becoming multibillion dollar franchises that can more than stand up against some of the industries’ biggest players like Marvel and DC.
And so, since I’ve finally read what I believe are most of the important ones. I think I’m qualified enough to finally do a tier list ranking all of the different comics. Ranging from the best to the not so good.
Now, a few things to note before going into the list:
1. I’m only going to be ranking manga that are the biggest heavy hitters in Jump. For reference, I used the video game Jump Force to determine which franchises are considered by Jump to be the most important. This means that there will be a bit of a lack of older series. And this isn’t intentional, it just so happens that most of Jump’s biggest titles came out in the last twenty or so years.
2. This list won’t feature all of the big Jump titles. There are some really big and important series that won’t be here. Including Fist of the North Star, Black Clover, and Saint Seiya among others. This isn’t because I don’t think they’re important but because I haven’t read the manga yet. I’ll probably do so in the future and make a follow up post to this one so don’t worry. Plus, if they were here, this post would be twice as long as it already is.
3. At the end of each series, I’m going to be giving it a grade. However, this grade is only there to represent its place in my personal tier list and isn’t indicative of the quality of the series or even what I think of it. There are a handful of manga on this list with a lot more nuance that make them very difficult to grade in a good or bad scale. So, take each score with a pinch of salt.
4. Lastly, please keep in mind that this is my own extremely subjective and biased opinion. This isn’t the best Jump series or even the ones that I think are the greatest. This is just my own personal opinion and nothing else.
So, with that said, these are all the Shonen Jump manga ranked.
To start off, we gotta pay respects to the franchise that practically created the shonen genre as we know it today, Dragon Ball. The classic. Even people that don’t know anything about Shonen or Jump at least know what Dragon Ball is.
It’s a timeless anime. The story of Goku becoming the world’s strongest fighter and taking on all sorts of other worldly beings never really gets old. The characters are memorable, especially ones with very well written and defined character arcs like Gohan, Piccolo, and Vegeta. The fights are also amazing, with the world and combat system used in the manga being taken to its outmost potential. Akira Toriyama rarely wastes a single panel.
A lot of my friends have told me that the story in Dragon Ball is lame and only consists of Goku screaming and changing hair colors every other episode. But I couldn’t disagree more. I genuinely think that Dragon Ball has more to it than just muscular men punching each other. There’s an actual story about surpassing your limits and striving to become someone greater than you are. The characters feel well developed and you really grow close to them through the course of the story. There’s a constant sense of momentum and the story never really loses steam. Always introducing new conflicts and character arcs to further develop and continue the tale.
It really is the iconic and near perfect series. Establishing a formula and structure that many shonen still follow to this day. If I had to describe Dragon Ball in one word, it would be: Classic.
Big Boy Tier.
Now, the discussion of Dragon Ball brings me to the two follow up series that were created afterwards, Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball GT.
I’ve always liked to make the argument that Dragon Ball has more to it than just fighting for the sake of fighting. There’s character, stakes, conflict, a very good sense of structure. It’s what makes Dragon Ball as great and iconic as it is.
In comparison, Dragon Ball Super really does feel like fighting cause what else is Goku gonna do? All sense of character depth is gone as most of the characters finished their arcs in the original series. And the moments that do have more character in them are usually cheap knock-offs of iconic scenes from Z.
On top of this, there’s no sense of progression and while the fights themselves are fun, they all feel extremely shallow and don’t really add anything to the story. Generally, it feels like a series that has nothing to say and is just here to make money. Though it can be fun at times.
In comparison, Dragon Ball GT is the biggest dumpster fire I’ve seen come out of the Jump name. While episodes like the very last one and the Baby saga where somewhat fun. Most of the series is boring, tedious, and overall, just feels like the worst type of filler arc. The anime had a lot of potential in it and that makes the final product even more of a disappointment. Especially with characters like Pan who could have been a fun character who develops and grows as the series goes on, but in the final product all she does is whine and bitch all the time while not doing anything to help.
F Tier. I try, but there just aren’t enough redeem qualities in this one for me to give it anything higher.
My Hero Academia
I love a lot of what modern shonen has too offer. We’re living in an era where there’s a ton of variety in the manga Jump is publishing. More so than in a lot of previous decades. And the one that spearheaded it all is also one of my favorites: My Hero Academia.
This is one that takes a lot from previous heavy hitters like One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball and mixes them all with western superhero comics to create something that feels weirdly unique in an industry over saturated with superhero content.
The characters are all extremely well written and very likable. Main protagonist Deku, who is one of my favorite protagonist in recent manga, never fails to make the scenes he’s in more fun and exciting. And there are tons of other great side-characters too. Bakugo, All Might, Todoroki. All of the characters relevant to the plot feel very well developed and always make the scenes they’re in better.
Even side characters (of which there are a lot) stand out with extremely unique designs and personality traits to make each of them memorable.
The story never lets up with constant heavy hitter arcs right after another. With new developments stirring the world of the manga in interesting ways. All of which leads to two major climactic arcs which is some of the best stuff I have seen out of Shonen Jump in the last few years.
Definitely recommend this one, it’s the face of modern shonen and for good reason.
Out of all of the currently running manga on this list, Dr. Stone is probably my favorite (excluding One Piece).
It’s a story with an extremely unique and interesting conflict. One day, every single person in the world is mysteriously turned to stone. A few thousand years later, Senku, an extremely intelligent high schooler breaks out by never losing consciousness. He now seeks to rebuild society using science. Essentially, it’s about a guy speedrunning society.
Right out the bat, the first chapter had me instantly hooked on the story. The concept is just so strong, and the execution is even better, with characters and developments introduced that will keep you engaged.
And speaking of characters, they’re all really strong. Even though new characters are constantly introduced, none of them really outshine each other. The mangakas somehow managed to make them all memorable and fun to read. With only few being boring or lack luster.
Not to mention, the story never loses steam, with everything up until the end of the Treasure Island arc having very few flaws in my opinion and begin thoroughly entertaining.
That’s not to say that the subsequent arc is bad. I just felt that at one point Dr. Stone started introducing a bit too many characters and it made the story start to feel a bit overcrowded. Something that felt especially apparent when certain decisions taken by the cast feel completely out of character and like they only exist to push the story forward. Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of strong story moments and overall, it’s still great and entertaining. But at the same time, these things do bother me slightly.
Even with that, Dr. Stone is still one of my favorite currently running shonen and is easily one I can recommend.
Hunter X Hunter
I feel like I’ve talked about Hunter X Hunter a bit too much in this blog already, so I’ll try to keep this one as simple and brief as possible.
Hunter X Hunter is a shonen that has fascinated the hell out of me ever since I first watched it at the beginning of this year. The characters, the way conflict is introduced, the way engagement is created. It’s all very different to what you expect from a story, let alone a shonen.
The writing and storytelling techniques Togashi implements are so weird and untraditional that it feels like they shouldn’t work, yet they do, and don’t at the same time. It’s really weird.
Now, if you want to learn more about what I think about Hunter X Hunter, then I highly recommend reading my Bizarre story structure of Hunter X Hunter and Chimera Ant arc posts which goes into much further detail on what I think of the series.
But to summarize, while I think Hunter X Hunter has a lot of great moments, it has an almost equal amount of boring or tedious ones. The story structure is fascinating, but just because it’s fascinating doesn’t mean it’s very fun to watch.
While I do generally really like the series. I just think it has too many things going against it for me to say it’s one of my favorites.
Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the most recent shonen I’ve seen on this list and it’s also one of my new favorites. Unlike Hunter X Hunter which is a huge departure from average story structure based narratives. Yu Yu Hakusho very much follows a structure of three acts very closely. This means that you don’t have the same amount of thought provoking material like in Togashi’s other big name title. But it more than makes up for it in other regards.
The characters are extremely strong. Yusuke, Hiei, Kurama, you really get to know all of them through the course of the series. Their personalities are extremely likable, they all bounce well off each other, their designs are unique and seeing them work together is always really satisfying.
The story as well is usually pretty simple and easy to follow. Which gives the narrative a bit of a magical feeling to it. You’re not being constantly overloaded with information and developments. I truly feel like I can sit back and enjoy an episode of Yu Yu Hakusho without having to worry about getting lost or having to keep track of too many things. Especially when it comes to the anime and it’s great English dub.
There are barely any boring or down moments. It constantly feels like the story is moving forward in some way. And seeing the way the characters and character relationships evolve gives another layer of engagement to the overall narrative.
Now, there are some developments near the end that I’m not a big fan of. And if I started going into it, we’d be here for way too long. So, just know that I think the series peaked with the Dark Tournament arc. Everything after that isn’t bad, but there are some decisions taken by the characters that are very unsatisfying and I don’t really like.
But even so, this is one I recommend. It’s fun, has great characters, and it has a story that feels like it can truly be enjoyed by anyone.
A Tier. And also, just because I’m ranking it higher doesn’t necessarily mean I like Yu Yu Hakusho more than Hunter X Hunter. I just feel like I can have a lot more genuine fun with the former rather than the ladder.
Now we’re getting into the good stuff.
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about Naruto before on this blog, but it’s easily one of my favorite manga of all time.
To me, Naruto is a series that has mastered the art of storytelling, especially during the Pain arc which is in my opinion the moment when Shonen Jump peaked. Like, it doesn’t get much better than this.
There are a ton of deep philosophical elements. Ones that have been explored to death in other series but have never really impacted me as deep as in Naruto. Hatred, violence, revenge. These themes are explored through the eyes of two characters: Naruto and Sasuke. One of them not being able to forgive and constantly sinking deeper into his own pain and hatred. And the other who is willing to forgive and finds enlightenment.
It’s kind of a beautiful story. Especially because of main character Naruto who’s such a fantastic character. His beliefs and philosophies feel foolish in the world he’s living in, yet it’s because of that, that he preservers. You are with this character all the way, believing in him from the very first chapter. And seeing him become from a bullied outcast to someone much greater is one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in fiction.
There’s tons of incredibly emotionally impactful moments in the series. Stuff that will make you ugly cry. It all feels very genuine and at no point do any of the emotional moments feel forced.
I could probably make an entire post on just the Pain arc and the relationship and contrast between Naruto and Sasuke. But for now, just know that Naruto is top tier manga and easily one of my favorites.
This brings me to the follow up series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. Now, I’ll be honest, I haven’t caught up with this one yet. I’ve only read the first 18 chapters of the manga and a handful of episodes from the anime. But that’s mainly because everything I’ve seen so far from Boruto is extremely disappointing and almost feels like an insult to the original series.
Boruto in comparison to Naruto feels like a spoiled brat who isn’t thankful enough for what he has. And I get that that’s the center of conflict in between him and Naruto, but it just feels forced. There’s just nothing going for Boruto’s character in any sense that makes me wanna cheer for him.
The series as a whole just feels like it’s capitalizing on Naruto’s success and doesn’t have an actual story to tell. I don’t really recommend it even if you’re a Naruto fan like me. Though, I have heard it gets good after a while, so maybe give it a shot if you’re willing to sit through a lot of boring material.
D tier, because at least the fight between Naruto, Sasuke, and Momoshiki almost makes watching the entire series worth it.
The Promised Neverland
The Promised Neverland is one of the most divisive manga I’ve read and for multiple reasons.
The first arc of the series which comprises the first 37 chapters is really well done. It’s a damn good psychological thriller and while nothing out of this world, it was definitely really strong and well written.
The characters were good enough, but it was the plot that stood at the fore front for why it’s so engaging. Like the best thrillers you constantly want to know what happens next. Every chapter ends in some sort of cliff hanger and you’re always trying to get in the heads of the characters to find out what happens next.
This is what makes the subsequent material even more disappointing.
After the end of the first arc, The Promised Neverland makes a very quick nosedive into mediocrity. With the very next arc: Goldy Pon being a huge departure from the previous section and not for the better. It wasn’t exactly bad, but it wasn’t that good either. I just don’t think The Promised Neverland pulled off the more action oriented elements that well.
And things just got worst from there. With weird pacing, characters growing into two dimensional versions of their previous selves, and tons of total bullshit developments that make no sense and ruin a lot of what the series was leading up to in the beginning.
Even the ending couldn’t save it. With a finale so unsatisfying and disappointing that it genuinely made me wonder why I wasted my time reading the over 180 chapters leading up to it.
I know a lot of people like this one and I’m not trying to dunk on you or anything if you like it. I just didn’t like this one personally at all outside of the first arc.
Ever since the major success of Attack on Titan, Jump has been trying to follow suit with a lot of similarly gory and bloody manga. This created a new sort of trend with modern shonen and lead to what I call the Gore Trilogy. Which consists of Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen and Chainsaw Man. All three being extremely popular and successful manga featuring lots of gore and blood and are somewhat reminiscent to Attack on Titan.
Starting with Demon Slayer, this one stands out to me as being one that does a lot of things right. Especially in regard to following story structure. Every arc has compelling and interesting characters and a very well executed use of the three act structure leaving you on the edge of your seat almost the entire time.
It very rarely faulters and there’s not really and dull moments.
At the same time though, I felt that the use of traditional structure made a lot of the later arcs feel a bit formulaic. There just aren’t a lot of new things introduced or surprises to keep you engaged and keep the story interesting. Subsequently, the flashbacks used to develop a lot of the characters sometimes has a bit of over narration and a lot of the time I felt like the story was being told to me rather than shown.
This is still a great manga but generally I felt like it could have been better. Which is why I’m excited for Gotouge’s next work.
Jujutsu Kaisen is a shonen I’ve had a bit of a weird relationship with. From the beginning of the manga, I’ve never really been super on board with it. Don’t get me wrong, I like the story and violent aesthetic, but I didn’t really think it was as great as a lot of people online said it was. And the more I read the more I felt that way.
While there are a lot of things going for it, great action, great worldbuilding, a clear goal and conflict for the overarching story. I just didn’t think it had enough great characters to keep me invested. Yuji Itadori just isn’t a protagonist I particularly like; his motivations feel pretty shallow, and he doesn’t have much character depth. And outside of characters like Gojo, I didn’t think any other character was relatable or well written.
It wasn’t until I watched the incredible anime adaptation by MAPPA that I decided to give the whole thing a fair shot and I actually really enjoyed it. A lot of my criticisms still stand, but arcs like the Shibuya arc really made me reconsider my opinion. The fights were amazing, the story developments were shocking, brutal, and completely unexpected while still having lots of emotional moments driven by character. This was the first time that I though Itadori’s character was used to his maximum potential and him and Sukuna were my favorite parts of the arc.
There’s a lot to love in Jujutsu Kaisen and I especially like reading it weekly, but I still have lots of problems with it which is why I wouldn’t exactly call it one of my favorites.
Out of the three titles of the Gore Trilogy, Chainsaw Man is by far my favorite one. Though you probably knew that already considering how many times I’ve talked about it in this blog.
It is the near perfect manga in my opinion. Having tons of well-developed and satisfying surprises, characters that while mostly bat-shit crazy, still have a very profound humanity too them, and one final plot-twist that changes literally everything you thought you knew about the series and makes you want to read the whole thing all over again with this newfound knowledge.
Everything that happens in Chainsaw Man happens for a reason. Whether it’s to develop the story and characters forward, or to set up some future surprise with another surprise.
All the while giving you some spectacular manga paneling alongside some gory and beautiful art.
As far as I’m aware, Chainsaw Man is already a very mainstream Jump manga, and it hasn’t even gotten an anime adaptation yet. That’s how good it is.
I can’t really talk too much more about the series without spoiling things, but just know that this is one you are not going to want to sleep on. After you’re done reading it, you’re going to want to do so again. To pick up on all the foreshadowing moments, the references to many different stories and media, and to re-experience that emotional rollercoaster that is chapter 81.
S Tier. Oh, and the trailer for the anime is one of the most glorious things I’ve seen in a long while.
Before I get into Bleach, I wanna preface by saying that this is the only manga out of this entire list that I haven’t actually finished (unless you count Boruto). I’m about 300 chapters in, so a little under half-way done. But I wanted to talk about it anyway cause I’m actually a big fan.
Bleach is a manga that has impressed me a lot over the course of reading it both in the insanely well done paneling and extreme sense of style. Visually, every chapter feels very unique, the art style stands out, the action is done in such an extremely fluid and satisfying way, and the manga uses dialogue very reservedly, only using it when it needs to which makes the flow of it all smooth as butter. Even after only reading half of the story, I can already tell that Tite Kubo is a master at his craft.
But Bleach isn’t just style, the story and characters are also very well written with great use of visual story-telling to develop characters in a way that feels natural. Main character Ichigo is at first glance pretty generic and your average anime protagonist, however, as the story goes on you learn more about him, both from the perspective of the people around him, but also inwards as you see more of his own personal struggles. And the same thing goes for all the other characters, especially the members of the soul society like Rukia and Renji, All of them feel very much like multi-dimensional people with their own goals and motivations which in combination with the manga’s style makes Bleach very hard to put down at times.
It does have some flaws, especially with how complicated it can get, but so far, it is one of the best manga I’ve read in a long time.
S Tier. Though, keep in mind that this position is subject to change once I actually finish reading.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Has been one of my personal favorites ever since I started reading it at the start of this year.
It’s a pathetically simple comic, some might say dumb. But that’s what gives Yu-Gi-Oh its charm. Like other shonen on this list, it’s extremely ridiculous and over the top. But the manga knows this and has fun with it. It feels like in every game of dual monsters Kazuki Takahashi is just having a blast coming up with all the different things that could happen and all the ways that Yugi can bullshit his way out of every problem he encounters. And because he’s having fun with it, you’re also having fun.
There’s not a lot of story or character or plot to really speak of. But that’s not what Yu-Gi-Oh is about. It’s about having the dumbest fun imaginable, and on that sense, it more than succeeds.
In fact, I actually enjoyed the Yu-Gi-Oh manga so much that I bought some of the real life booster packs and even started playing some of the online games with my friends. It really is an amazing experience, and I would recommend it to anyone.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is by far and wide one of my favorite shonen out there and for a few personal reasons.
Let me tell you a bit of a story. Before I became a writer and story enthusiast, I actually wanted to be a filmmaker. I watched mountains of movies, studied film, learned scriptwriting. The works.
But there came a point where I got really bored of it all. Every movie that I came across felt the same. While I could appreciate a good film, I never truly had fun with any of them, because there came a point where no matter how great the movie was, I was pretty much guaranteed to be looking at my watch the entire time.
But then JoJo came along. I saw the anime because my friends recommended it and it was the complete opposite of everything I thought I liked. It was over the top, it made no sense half the time, in a lot of sections it feels like it’s pissing on the grave of everything I knew of storytelling. But even so, I loved every second of it.
Seeing what random bullshit would happen next was so fun. The characters were surprisingly well developed, and I loved seeing all their interactions both with the people around them and also the world itself. The idea of changing the main character with every arc blew my mind. Even more so than Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which pretty much did the same thing. But JoJo does it better in my opinion.
And that’s just the first handful of parts. Then you have some of the later sections like Golden Wind, Stone Ocean, and especially Steel Ball Run which are genuinely amazing and well written stories in my opinion on top of having the style and non-sense of all the previous parts.
It was because of JoJo that I got into art and manga to begin with, and it has inspired me in ways I can’t even begin to describe. I owe a lot to this series, and it is easily one of my favorites.
Big Boy Tier.
Death Note as always been a bit of an enigma for me. This is one of the first anime I ever watched and ever since I was a kid, I’ve seen the show at least three times and read the manga once.
The first half of the series is fantastic, probably the best thriller I have ever seen in my life. With the conflict and mind games between L and Light Yagami being the fore front to the story’s greatness.
The writing is fast and to the point, with long sections of dialogue tightening the plot and further progressing the narrative. No moment is wasted in Death Note as the story grabs you in the beginning and never lets go. Every chapter there’s some new and shocking development. Something to keep you engaged. All the while taking its time and having moments to breath.
Its writing is very precise and meticulous. It’s easily some of the best in the anime industry.
However, for some reason all of that changes half-way through the series. With the whole thing taking a massive turn for the worst after one huge development. The mind games stop being compelling, the story becomes less precise and at times feels like the writer is making stuff up as he goes.
By all accounts this section isn’t bad and even after seven years of reading and watching this story, I still have a hard time pinpointing why exactly it and the subsequent ending is so disappointing in comparison to what came before.
But even with that, Death Note is still one of the best and most though provoking shonen and anime out there and should be on everyone’s too read or too watch list.
Now, trough the course of this list, I’ve talked about a lot of manga I love, a lot of manga I don’t like, and a lot of manga that I think could be better. But none of them have reached the heights that have been achieved by my favorite manga of all time: One Piece.
This is it. This is as peak as you can get with the comic book medium. One Piece is not only my favorite manga of all time, but it’s also up there with Cowboy Bebop and Final Fantasy VII as one of my favorite stories of all time.
Protagonist Monkey D. Luffy is probably my favorite character in all of fiction. He’s always been such an inspiration to me. He lives in a world where much everyone is much stronger than he is, and he has to suffer through some of the worst life has to offer. Death, loss, doubt in your own beliefs. But even so, after everything he goes through, he still gets up and keeps on going. All the while saying to everybody he meets that he’s going to become the next king of the pirates no matter how foolish or short sighted he sounds. Luffy is my inspiration in life, and I will be genuinely sad if he doesn’t become kind of the pirates.
The side characters as well are amazingly well written. With each one of them getting very detailed and at times emotional backstories that tell you everything you need to know about the characters visually and through small actions. Some of my personal favorites include Nico Robin who has one of the best moments in the entire series, Trafalgar Law who you learn to love throughout the course of Dressrosa, and Jimbei who’s always there for Luffy during his worst times.
The story as well develops in such an astonishing way. There are so many mysteries and secrets that this world has to offer. What is the One Piece? What happened during the void century? Who is Joyboy? What is the importance of the Luffy’s straw hat? All of these questions make the adventure that Oda takes on feel more like a grand quest. It feels like you’re discovering new things around every corner. With islands and worlds that are extremely unique and stand out among each other.
And even though practically everyone I know complains about it, I actually like the fact that it’s so long. It makes the adventure feel all the more epic as you slowly discover this world with all these amazing characters who you’ll grow extremely attached to. At times, I like to say that One Piece is more than just a story, it’s an epic. It truly is an adventure unlike anything else I’ve experienced in my life and easily tops this list as my favorite Shonen Jump manga of all time.
Big Boy Tier.
And with that, those are all the Shonen Jump manga I’m going to be ranking in this post. For reference, here’s a visualization of all the final tiers:
The Big Boys: One Piece, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Dragon Ball
S Tier: Naruto, Chainsaw Man, Bleach
A Tier: Yu Yu Hakusho, My Hero Academia, Dr. Stone, Death Note, Yu-Gi-Oh!
B Tier: Hunter X Hunter, Demon Slayer, Jujutsu Kaisen
C Tier: Dragon Ball Super
D Tier: The Promised Neverland, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations
F Tier: Dragon Ball GT
Now, I want to reiterate, keep in mind that this list is my own personal and extremely biased list that isn’t supposed to represent the popular opinion. If you have a different opinion to mine, then tell me about it in the comments below. We all have our own personal favorites and just because they’re different doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
If you want to check out other Shonen Jump related posts by me, then make sure to check out my History of Shonen Jump post where I go over the entire history of the magazine and my State of Shonen Jump in May 2021 post where I go over all the Shonen Jump manga releasing at the time and giving my thoughts on it. I’ll probably be making a follow up post to that soon so make sure to subscribe to The Lechuga newsletters, follow the Instagram account @the_lechuga_adrian or follow me on Twitter @lechugadrian to get notified of new posts.
Also, make sure to tell me what you thought of this post in the comments. Even if you didn’t like it, I still appreciate you reading all the way to the end.