The popularity of Anime has been skyrocketing in recent years with series like One Piece, My Hero Academia, and Attack on Titan, which have attracted readers from across borders. However, this industry has a rich history behind it that can be even dated to the Second World War.  

The reason for the high popularity of Anime and Manga lies behind a list of Sensei who inspired Japan’s young generation to tell their stories to the world, transforming it into a multi-billion-dollar industry.  Let’s look at the top five of the greatest Sensei in Shonen history who have crossed time and generations to reach the hearts of young fans worldwide. 

Top 5 Greatest Sensei in Shonen History

5. Osamu Tezuka, the pioneer of the manga revolution: 

The list can’t be started without mentioning the “Father of Manga”, Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka was a cartoonist from the WW2 era, who brought the so-called manga revolution to Japan with his New Treasure Island in 1947. One of his most notable seinen work is Astro Boy, which gave him immense fame.   

Atom | Astro Boy
Atom | Astro Boy

He also worked on adult-oriented series like Black Jack, and Buddha. Tezuka immortalized himself with his last work, Phoenix, which he began in the 1950s but unfortunately could not finish before meeting an untimely demise. A memorial museum “Takarazuka” was constructed to store his life’s work, as an inspiration to younger generations.

Tezuka also headed an animation production company named Mushi Production, which played a pivotal role in Japan’s anime industry.   

4. Masashi Kishimoto, a promising talent who gave the world their all-time favorite Shonen series:

Sasuke And Naruto | Naruto: Shippuden
Sasuke And Naruto | Naruto: Shippuden

Masashi Kishimoto has been a promising mangaka since the 1990s when he first won the Hop Step Award in 1995 for the one-shot, Karakuri. It started as a series and continued for a few years until it got canceled due to a lack of popularity. Luckily, that setback gave fans one of their all-time favorite series, Naruto.

Kishimoto started the series in 1999, which continued till 2014, capturing millions of hearts worldwide with a record-breaking more than 250 million copies sold. In 2019, before the Covid era, Kishimoto returned with a new series, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru, which was axed the very next year. 

If there’s a poll on the best Shonen mangaka of all time, Masashi Kishimoto will always be towards the top, without fail. 

3. Takehiko Inoue, the mangaka whose craft amazed the world: 

Shohoku Basketball Team | Slam Dunk
Shohoku Basketball Team | Slam Dunk

Manga is always a collab of fine storytelling and mesmerizing artwork. However, authors often fail to provide both at the same time, but not Takehiko Inoue. The author of Slam Dunk and Vagabond lives up to his reputation with a deep story narration and detailed brush strokes. 

Inoue received the 35th Tezuka Award for his debut work in Purple Kaeda (1988). However, his real fame came with Slam Dunk, a story about a high school basketball team, which was serialized from 1990 to 1996 and sold 170 million copies worldwide. In 1995, Inoue won the 40th Shogakukan Manga Award for Shonen manga, and in 2007, his work received the recognition of Japan’s favorite manga.   

In 2024, Inoue was honored with the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at the Tokyo Anime Award Festival, recognizing the contribution the author has made to the Anime and manga world. 

2. Eiichiro Oda, a genius who still puzzles fans with his work: 

Whenever there’s a list of the greatest Shonen work of all time, One Piece will certainly be included. The adventure of Luffy and his friends has kept the fans hooked on the series for over two decades now. 

Straw Hat Pirates | One Piece
Straw Hat Pirates | One Piece

With 1100+ chapters and episodes, Eiichiro Oda’s work is one of the longest-running series around the world. It sold more than 523.2 million copies with a Guinness World Record for “the most copies published in same comic book series by a single author”. This surely shows the impact Oda has on the Shonen comics world, which will grow even more over time. 

1. Akira Toriyama, the author who inspired other mangakas:

Universe 7 team | Dragon Ball Super
Universe 7 team | Dragon Ball Super

If there is one Sensei who will always be on top without contest, it’s Akira Toriyama, the creator of the Dragon Ball franchise. He unfortunately died last month, leaving the whole world grieving. Toriyama’s crafts Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball are considered generational works that inspired several authors, including Oda and Kishimoto.

“Frankly, I don’t know what to write or how to write about something so sudden. But I would like to express my thoughts and feelings towards Toriyama-sensei, something I wish he himself would have asked me someday,” said Kishimoto, Naruto’s mangaka. 

“It still feels too sudden. I feel like a huge hole has pierced through my heart. The thought of never seeing you again fills me with sadness. I have admired you so much since I was a child,” said Oda, One Piece creator. 

Some other notable Sensei such as Kentaro Miura, Hirohito Akari, and Kohei Horioshi have contributed greatly to Shonen comics. Those names and ranks can be interchanged depending on individuals but overall, fans will agree that these five Sensei have paved the way for modern Shonen works.   


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