When I was deciding on doing a new top 5 list shounen series came to mind. Instead of doing a top 5 of the best series, I thought it would be more interesting to highlight the best arcs. It was actually quite difficult coming up with the list because there are so many damn good arcs. I eliminated at least 8 arcs from my initial list. I tried to keep only one arc per anime, but even that was pretty hard to do.
5) Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto
An older series, but a classic arc. This was the first arc of the series that showed just how badass Kenshin could be. It introduced a number of new characters and it set a bar that defined the series for a long time. Shishio is still one of the greatest villains you will find in an anime. The earlier arcs lacked a sense of crisis for the series, while New Kyoto made the stakes bigger than ever and made Kenshin question his no killing philosophy. This was the first big arc for the series and it did not disappoint. They are even making a Live-Action movie based on this arc and while it probably will suck, I am still very curious about it.
4) Bleach: Soul Society
Remember when Bleach was still good and it was one of the most talked about shows? That is because it hit all the right notes with this arc. We got introduced to one of the largest and best casts in a shounen series. The battles were intense and the twists never stopped. Even the ending of the arc was really surprising! I don’t think many of us saw it coming. This arc really shaped the story for the rest of the series. It is just so sad when you think of how great Bleach was because after this arc the series started going downhill fast.
3) Hunter x Hunter: York New City
This is not the next arc for the new Hunter x Hunter series, but it will be coming soon and this arc is absolutely amazing. Kurapika is the main character for the arc and if the new series makes it even half as good as the original, you’ll be on the edge of your seat throughout the entire arc. This is where we meet the Phantom Troupe and they are some badass mofos. I would classify them as one of the best group of villains in any shounen series. One thing that makes this arc so good is how powerful they are and how hopelessly the main characters struggle just to stay alive. I won’t say much more than that so I don’t spoil it for anyone. Needless to say, new fans make sure you look out for this arc.
2) Naruto Shippuuden: Itachi Pursuit
This is easily the best Naruto arc to date. Why? Well, it lacks Naruto. Naruto is a good guy, but after the time skip the series got much darker and Naruto just couldn’t keep up. This arc covers everything from when Sasuke defeats Orochimaru to to the truth about the Uchiha Clan. Sasuke gathering a group together and breaking free from Orochimaru was a great way to start the arc. It gave us the long awaited Sasuke minutes that all of us Naruto fans were looking for. We also go two major fights in this arc with Jiraiya v. Pain and Sasuke v. Itachi. After Itachi’s defeat we finally learn the truth about everything. This arc is not about the laughs, but about the more serious side of Naruto. We got put on the edge of our seats, shed a few tears, and dropped our jaws once we learned the truth.
1) One Piece: Water 7
Up until Water 7 One Piece taught us one thing: The Straw Hat Pirates have it made. No matter how difficult things got, they were able to pull through it with a bit of elbow grease and a few laughs. Water 7 forever change that by showing us what actually happens when the shit hits the fan for the Straw Hat crew. All that was left is a divided group. Up unto that point I have never shed any tears for an anime that didn’t have someone die. Even after I saw it for the second time I couldn’t help but shed some more. The raw emotion that is unleashed throughout the arc is just too much to handle. It will define you as an anime fan for life. It even has one of the greatest, yet shot lived, fights in One Piece.
What are your favorite Shounen Arcs?