Best of 2022: How Shonen Anime Thrived All Year

By | January 8, 2023

Best of 2022 is ComingSoon’s weeklong celebration of the entertainment that made this past year so memorable.

2022 was a wild one for fans of action-based shonen anime, which is typically action-filled manga and anime series with a target audience of young boys. Old series made their grand returns, new series debuted with a bang, and exciting movies pushed anime further into the public consciousness. If you enjoy any variation of people battling each other in a clash of ideals, there was something for you this past year.

Here are some of the best of the bunch that made 2022 a really special year for anime:

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War

One series that came back with a vengeance was Bleach, which is finally getting its conclusive story arc adapted into anime form. The first anime adaptation ended on the “Tale of the Lost Agent” (or “Fullbringer”) arc, prior to the original manga’s final arc. The much-loved “Thousand-Year Blood War” arc, which follows the battle between the Soul Reapers and Quincies, is finally getting its due, and it was more than worth the wait.

Though only the first cour of episodes has finished, we’ve already gotten some jaw-dropping moments and battles. The series is more visually stunning than ever, the remixes of classic Bleach tracks (by returning composer Shiro Sagisu) are both nostalgic and fresh, and the stpry itself is riveting. If you fell off Bleach back in the day, now is absolutely the time to get back on the train.

One Piece Film: Red

If there’s one thing I love, it’s One Piece. There was no shortage of anticipation for One Piece Film: Red, as it was said to focus on Shanks and his apparent daughter, Uta. Given how mysterious Shanks is, getting any new lore pertaining to him was an exciting prospect. Plus, Uta’s songs are performed by popular Japanese singer Ado, who has a wildly diverse range.

Film: Red knocked it out of the park. In its just-under two-hour runtime, the movie features brilliant music, an emotional story, loads of fun character moments, and a good deal of Shanks information. In addition to the One Piece manga and anime both begin to ramp up in their respective arcs, it’s fair to say it’s been an excellent year for One Piece fans.

Mob Psycho 100 Season 3

It’s not a stretch to say Mob Psycho 100 is one of the most earnest and heartfelt anime in ages. The series is all about trying to grow and better yourself while being happy, with a dandy coat of psychic power-based battles, dazzling visuals, and hilarious comedy. Season 3 piled on even more laughs and touching moments, with Dimple and Mob’s development being focused on, in particular.

From cults and giant broccoli plants to aliens and the proverbial “shadow self,” Mob and his friends tackle all sorts of personal issues in a way that never once feels insincere or like pandering. Whether you like high-flying esper action or stories about growing up, this new season is a must-watch.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

My guy Gohan has been through the wringer. While I was never too mad about him essentially retiring to be a scholar, seeing him and Piccolo each get new forms as they battle the Red Ribbon Army and its superhero androids is every bit as hype-inducing and thrilling as it sounds.

Super Hero managed to mix that classic Dragon Ball humor with Dragon Ball Z‘s unparalleled action in a way that any shonen fans can appreciate. The focus on characters other than Goku and Vegeta was certainly refreshing too, and the 3D animated visuals didn’t lose an ounce of series creator Akira Toriyama’s charming and iconic style. If this is the first step 3D towards another new era of Dragon Ball films, then we’re all in for some good entertainment.

Demon Slayer Season 2

Earlier in 2022, the second season of Demon Slayer wrapped up. This one covered the “Entertainment District” arc, which sees Tanjiro and his allies collaborate with Sound Hashira Tengen Uzui to, well, slay demons.

As one should expect from Demon Slayer, this season looked magnificent and boasted some out-of-this-world action. Tons of funny moments are packed around a well-told story arc that tests Tanjiro’s resolve more than any trials that had come before. Plus, that opening theme is a banger.

Chainsaw Man

Finally, the big one. Chainsaw Man captivated anime fans this year, delivering an exceptional adaptation that never skimps on the hard-hitting violence, gore, and emotional gut-punches. Watching Denji battle all sorts of fearsome devils has become a weekly highlight, making the last quarter of the year feel just a bit more exhilarating.

Though Denji became one of the internet’s most beloved (and relatable) protagonists, the entire cast has found a loud and excited fanbase. The captivating start has people ready for more, and the series is only going to get more wild as it covers further arcs. If you’re enjoying Chainsaw Man now, you’re in for a treat going forward.

Even one or two of these projects would have been highlights in an average year, so getting such an incredible slate has made for a brilliant 2022. Next year boasts series like Rurouni Kenshin, Undead Unluck, Mashle, and Dr. Stone Season 3, so 2023 may just continue this astounding roll that shonen anime is on.