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The 16 Best Shonen Anime Not About Fighting or Battles

Updated November 9, 2020 3.5k votes 681 voters 15.5k views16 items

When most people talk about shonen anime, they're talking about battle shonen. These action-packed series excite their viewers with intense fights that often determine the fate of the world. These series are great, but shonen isn't actually defined by fighting. Actually, shonen isn't defined by its themes, but by its demographic. Shounen is aimed at young boys, usually between the ages of 12 and 18. While high-octane action is popular amongst teenage boys, it's by no means the only thing they enjoy. That's why shounen is actually an expansive genre, one which includes everything from a teenage boy's experience in an agricultural high school to a cat and mouse game between a renowned detective and a vigilante with a magic notebook. 

Some of these anime do feature fights, but they aren't one of the series' primary themes - The Ancient Magus Bride is way more concerned about Chise's emotions than it is in her battle prowess. Others involve contests that aren't fights, like the competitions featured in Food Wars. Then, there are a few examples which feature no battles at all - emotional outbursts like those found in Your Lie In April don't count. 

What's the best non-battle shonen anime? Vote up whichever series you think deserves that distinction. 


  • After a mysterious phenomenon causes the entire population of the planet to be encased in stone for thousands of years, a teenage science genius named Senku Ishigami wakes up to a world that's completely changed from the one he knew. Surviving in the wilderness will be hard, but he intends to do more than just that. Senku is going to rebuild the technological world he once took for granted, from scratch. 

    Great anime?
  • Haikyuu!! isn't the only sports anime out there, but it's one of the most beloved. Instead of contests that involve world-ending battles, the characters in this series duke it out on the volleyball court.

    Most people think that Shouyo Hinata is too short to play volleyball, but thanks to his idol The Little Giant, he knows that his dreams can come true. When he joins Karasuno High School's volleyball team, he'll get his chance to prove it. Unfortunately for him, his former rival Tobio Kageyama is his teammate - and he's not exactly easy to get along with. Will the two be able to work together to bring the team to victory?

    Great anime?
  • Photo: Madhouse

    When bored teenager Light Yagami picks up a magical notebook that lets him eliminate anybody whose name he writes inside, he decides to use his newfound power to eliminate criminals and become the god of a new, crime-free world. To do that, he'll have to deal with L, the detective trying to figure out the identity of this criminal slayer. As he becomes more and more obsessed with eliminating L, becomes increasingly difficult for Light to stick to his ideals. Will he become the kind of person he once hated? To find out, you'll have to watch this classic series. 

    Great anime?
  • Photo: J.C. Staff

    Food Wars! technically is about battles, but they're so completely different from the battles that one normally sees in shonen that it's still worth mentioning. After a childhood spent working as a sous chef at his dad's restaurant, Souma Yukihira suddenly finds himself enrolled in Tootsuki Culinary Academy, a hyper-competitive high school where students have 'food wars' - intense showdowns in which only the best chef wins.

    Souma starts off thinking he has nothing new to learn, but as he gets to know his classmates, he soon realizes that the world of cooking is far more vast than he ever imagined. 

    Great anime?