Shounen anime cliches are timeless. Because even though they can get:
- Irritating sometimes.
They’re still priceless, and when used the right way, shounen cliches make the “anime” more entertaining.
There’s nothing like watching a shounen with that “familiar” feeling, after all. That’s what gets you hooked in the first place.
So with that said: let’s get into the most noticeable cliches in anime history. For the Shounen genre.
Shounen Anime Cliches:
1. Screaming out the name of your attack
It’s usually a loooong scream or shout as well. Goku’s famous “Kamehameha” is a classic example, and probably the MAIN reason why this cliche is so prominent in 2019.
It’s the Shounen anime all the new “shows” take inspiration from, after all.
Anime like Akame Ga Kill are on the “subtle” side when it comes to how dramatic it is (unlike DBZ).
2. The main protagonist starting out WEAK
In typical shounen fashion, the main protagonist always starts out weak, pathetic and hopeless. Izuku Midoriya is one of the greatest examples of this.
He’s weak, fragile, and even cowardly in the early stages of My Hero Academia.
In true Shounen fashion, Deku comes across a type of mentor, someone who “inspires” him, and that’s the catalyst for his growth in strength and as a person.
It’s a classic cliche that will never die.
3. The main protagonist has a secret hidden ability or talent
Akame Ga Kill is the only anime I can think of that doesn’t follow this traditional Shounen cliche. Almost all shounen characters, despite working hard, ever needed to do so because they were gifted from the beginning.
Naruto Uzumaki is an obvious example (that’s why I used the picture). And he’s not the only example out there in the world of Shounen.
Even Goku to some extent can be considered “already talented with a hidden ability” because he’s a Saiyan. The original dragon ball doesn’t highlight that until DBZ.
My Hero Academia is a good example of an anime that strays from this cliche, slightly.
4. The main protagonists eating a lot of food
Goku, Monkey D Luffy, Naruto Uzumaki, Tatsumi… the list goes on and on.
This cliche will never die.
It’s one of those cliches that will stick around without ruining the experience.
5. Characters being saved by some mysterious power
In the original Broly movie from DBZ, Goku wins by some BS power up and defeats Broly. Even though it’s clear how the legendary super saiyan was LEAGUES above anyone’s power beforehand.
In the anime: Twin Star Exorcist, Rokuro is saved by some mysterious BS after having his stomach cut open (he should have died). Or something to that effect.
This is a cliche you tend to see in Shounen a lot.
Sometimes it’s “the power of friendship” as well that saves the day (Fairy Tail).
6. That one girl that supports the protagonist
This might not be as common as the others but it’s still there.
For Goku it’s Bulma in the early days. Later on it becomes Chi Chi in a romantic way.
For Yuichiro (Owari No Seraph) it’s Shinoa Hiiragi.
For Tatsumi (Akame Ga Kill) it’s Mine, Leone and Akame in different ways.
In Naruto it’s Hinata, etc. We’ll always see this cliche play itself out in different ways for years to come.
7. The protagonist never truly dies
In Dragon Ball Z the dragon balls save everybody. So it doesn’t count. This is a historical fact in the DB timeline.
Especially when it comes to the MAIN Z fighters.
In other Shounen anime the protagonist never dies. Plain and simple.
There’s only one anime I can think of where that doesn’t happen, but I won’t mention it to avoid spoilers.
8. The protagonist is cheerful or hot tempered to a degree
- Monkey D Luffy
- Naruto Uzumaki
- Ichigo Kurosaki
Not as bad as other cliches, but it’s definitely a thing in Shounen anime and manga.
Sometimes the female characters who travel alongside the protagonist have “cheerful” personalities, too.
9. The one girl who’s able to “beat up” the protagonist for comic relief
Sometimes the protagonist is so insanely strong, that in reality the “weaker” character wouldn’t be able to touch them in a fight.
But for comedic reasons, sometimes the weaker female character can land a strong hit on the protagonist, and “wound” them.
But it’s all for sh*ts and giggles. So we won’t be seeing this cliche disappear anytime soon.
10. A tragic childhood
We all about Naruto Uzumaki’s sad childhood. The same is true for many protagonists (Ichigo Kurosaki).
Akame is on the more depressing, heart-breaking end of the stick compared to most Shounen protagonists… But the cliche is still there across so many Shounen that it’s impossible to deny.
After all – that’s the catalyst that gives the protagonist strength and courage to make something of themselves.
It makes the “struggle” more relatable and inspirational.
11. The protagonist or antagonist revealing their “trump card”
Captain Aizen in Bleach is ONE example of a villain who “reveals” their power. It’s a running joke at this point.
This cliche highlights the fact that “arrogance” gets to people’s heads too easily. Especially when the antagonist has so much power and influence in the storyline.
And that’s why they end up losing when all is said and done.
Share more Shounen cliches in the comments
I’m the Founder of Anime Motivation.
The 1st anime I watched was Dragon Ball Z. Followed by Claymore, Inuyasha, Attack On Titan, and the rest as they say is “history”.