Shonen manga or anime is aimed at a young male audience. Therefore, it showcases events that evoke a lot of emotions in them and seems relatable. Many of the shonen manga in existence have male authors. But women have always excelled in the field just as much as men did. Some were able to perform better than men and create such brilliant works that we sometimes feel they understand young male characters better than male writers. Similar to how English novelist Mary Ann Evans worked under the pen name George Eliot, the Japanese manga industry also has authors who still use a pen name.
When you take an overall estimate, the number of women mangakas is still few in comparison to male writers. But in no way does that make their contribution to the manga and anime culture less important. In fact, most of these can be present in your Top Ten Favorite Animes list. They have created beautiful storylines with gripping characters. I can assure you that some of these had made me very emotional. Below are 10 famous shonen works that have been created by women. You may not expect to see some of these names
1. Fullmetal Alchemist (Hiromu Arakawa)
What better start to this long list than Fullmetal Alchemist? The shonen action-adventure series follows brothers Edward and Alphonse who are on a journey to seek out the Philosopher’s stone. Their mission is to regain Edward’s lost limbs, Alphonse’s entire body, and to bring their dead mother back to life. The series was equally touching and exhilarating and continues to be one of the best series to exist.
Fullmetal Alchemist is written by Hiromu Arakawa, and Fullmetal is her first official work. When it received an anime adaptation, Arakawa requested an original ending as the manga was still ongoing at the time. It concluded with a sequel film called Conqueror of Shamballa in 2005. But once she completed the manga, the comic-accurate series called Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood came. It became an even bigger hit than the first version.
2. Blue Exorcist (Kazue Kato)
Blue Exorcist or Ao no Exorcist is a dark fantasy series that began in 2009 and is still ongoing. It tells the story of Rin Okumura, who discovers that he and his twin brother Yukio are the sons of Satan. However, they are half devils as their mother is human. They were raised in a church by Father Shiro Fujimoto, who is also an exorcist. However, Satan shows up and kills Shiro, and Rin is forced to go away and learn exorcism. His ultimate goal is to slay Satan and his evil forces.
Blue Exorcist is written by Kazue Kato, the award-winning mangaka of Robot to Usakich. It became the first and only Jump Square manga to reach one million copies. By the seventh volume, Blue Exorcist had sold 15 million copies.
3. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (Koyoharu Gotouge)
Undoubtedly one of the most popular animes to exist, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba began serialization in 2016. The story is set in a fictionalized version of the Edo period in Japan. It follows a teenager named Tanjiro Kamado, who loses all family members except his sister Nezuko to demons. While Nezuko survives, she herself has turned into a demon. Tanjiro vows to return Nezuko to normal, and kill all demons by becoming a demon slayer.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is written by Koyoharu Gotouge. The anime has sold over 150 million copies as of February 2021.
4. D.Gray-Man (Katsura Hoshino)
D.Gray-Man is a dark fantasy series that takes place in an alternate 19th century where demons and exorcists exist. The protagonist is Allen Walker, a new recruit to the exorcism society called Black Order. The series first appeared in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in 2004 and is still ongoing. It was adapted into an anime series twice. The first one came out in 2006 and ran till 2008 with 103 episodes. A renewal called D.Gray-Man Hallow came out in 2016 and consisted of 13 episodes.
D.Gray-Man is written by Katsura Hoshino, and is still regarded as one of the best mangas to exist. It became the best-selling shonen manga and manga in general between 2009 and 2010. In 2021, it ranked at #95 in TV Asahi’s Manga Sosenkyo poll.
5. Deadman Wonderland (Jinsei Kataoka)
Deadman Wonderland begins with a massive earthquake destroying most of Japan’s mainland, with three-fourths submerging into the Pacific Ocean. Fast forward ten years, and we see middle-school student Ganta Igarashi. He is a survivor of the earthquake tragedy but retains no memories. However, things turn upside down when a strange person in red armor shows up at his classroom window and murders his entire class. Ganta is held responsible for mass murder and sentenced to death at Deadman Wonderland, a theme park/prison.
The dystopian thriller is written by Jinsei Kataoka and illustrated by Kazuma Kondou. It continues to be a popular shonen series, long after winding up in 2013.
6. Noragami (Adachitoka)
Noragami debuted in January 2011 of the Kodansha Monthly Shonen Magazine. By 2014, it became the 14th top-selling manga series. it tells the story of a nameless god named Yato, and his mission to make a name for himself and earn his own shrine. Along the way, he comes across a young girl named Hiyori, who is a half-phantom. She can live in the normal world and the spirit world. Later, Yato acquires his live regalia or divine weapon that was formerly a human named Yukine.
Noragami is written by Adachitoka, a pen name, and portmanteau of its two female creators – Adachi and Tokashiki. Aside from writing, Adachi serves as the character artist and Tokashiki serves as the background artist. Noragami was their first original work, which is amazing, to say the least.
7. Black Butler (Yana Toboso)
Black Butler was first published in 2006 and continues to be one of the biggest series to exist. The story is set in Victorian-era London. The lead character is a twelve-year-old Earl named Ciel Phantomhive. He is kept as the queen’s watchdog and is in charge of solving the various crimes that occur in London. Aside from his daily duties, is also seeking the criminals who tortured and murdered his parents to take revenge. For this purpose, he forms a contract with a demon called Sebastian Michaelis. Sebastian disguises himself as Ciel’s butler and accompanies him in his duties.
Yana Toboso is a writer and illustrator and has sold over 28 million copies worldwide.
8. Magi: the Labyrinth of Magic (Shinobu Ohtaka)
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic draws inspiration from the stories in 1001 Arabian Nights and features the characters with various adjustments. It first appeared in the Weekly Shonen Sunday in 2009 and ran till 2017. The chapters consist of 37 volumes. The series has characters like Aladdin, Alibaba, and Sindbad, and the story is beautiful and exciting. It ranked at #75 on the TV Asahi 100 Most Popular Manga of all time poll for 2021.
The widely successful series comes from Shinobu Ohtaka.
9. The Case Study of Vanitas (Jun Mochizuki)
This dark fantasy series recently got its anime adaptation and is now one of the most trending animes to air. The Case Study of Vanitas began serialization in Monthly Gangan Joker in 2015. The story takes place in 19th century Paris during the steampunk era. Paris is crawling with vampires, and the story follows a young human named Vanitas, with a grimoire that can heal cursed vampires. However, he gets bitten by the Vampire of the Blue Moon and is now indirectly part of the Blue Moon Clan. Another vampire, Noé Archiviste, comes across Vanitas and joins his cause on healing cursed vampires.
The Case Study of Vanitas comes from Jun Mochizuki, who got the inspiration for the story after her first visit to France and watching a movie on vampires.
The Case Study of Vanitas
10. A Silent Voice (Yoshitoki Ōima)
This list would not be complete without A Silent Voice. The popular 2016 movie is based on the mini manga series that ran from 2013 to 2014. It is a shonen coming-of-age story of a former bully-turned-social outcast. Shoya Ishida, the main character contemplates suicide, but at the last minute decides to make amends. He starts by going to Shoko Nishimiya, the girl he bullied in sixth grade. The two then begin a new journey of starting anew.
The brilliant piece of work comes from Yoshitoki Ōima. Her mother is a sign language interpreter, and seeing her inspired Yoshitoki to write the story. The story won her numerous accolades, and it became a worldwide sensation.
We have now come to the end. Did any of these surprise you? Let us know in the comments.