At Hitek, we love shonen, and more generally manga. We note, however, that many of the criticisms that are made of manga are in truth due to the shonen genre. Here are six examples!
Warning: this article is not intended to criticize the shonen genre, but to take stock of the criticisms made of it.
The new formula of Japanese anime tends to reverse the game, but when we talk shonen, we think of the leaders of the genre, those discovered in the years 1990 to 2010, namely Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto. Three works known for their excessive longevity, in particular because of the rhythm of production of the episodes which were done simultaneously with the manga. So when the latter didn’t have a chapter out, you had to furnish with content only created for the anime and quickly. The latter are often ugly or under-treated and have a very hollow plot. Fortunately, this is no longer the case today.
#2 they are too long
And speaking of the latter precisely, some shonen have smooth, even extremely fast-paced narration, such as Demon Slayer who does not waste his time in intrigue. But others look like real marathons, like Naruto, Black Clover or again and above all One Piece. No one can be happy to realize that they have to watch over a thousand episodes to be up to date.
#3 heroes all look alike
Some shonen feature interesting variations in the writing of their main character, such as Eren Jäger, becoming the antagonist of his own manga. But most are overly stereotyped so that the targeted adolescent male can identify with the hero. If you get the following sentence: “He is a hero who wants to become the strongest, with a special power, very cheerful and sometimes childishly humorous, very fond of food“Do you know which shonen character this is?
#4 the power-up is always the solution
A problem ? The solution will always be to get stronger. In a shonen, victory seems artificial and cheap, offered by the appearance of a new power, sometimes in the form of a Deus Ex Machina. The strongest in this game is Bleach, when Ichigo managed to bypass a full decade of training to achieve Bankai in just three days. Fortunately, My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer are less anchored in this archetype, since the power-ups are less powerful and systematically painful.
#5 The representation of women is sometimes a problem
What is called “Fan Service” affects shonen less than other genres, but this does not prevent manga from having a bad image of women in general. A shonen focuses on a male protagonist by definition. But when he incorporates female characters, it is often to make them weak and fragile pin-ups with advantageous shapes or defying all logic. Fortunately, this shot is improving, since we recently had Nobara Kagisaki, Ochaco Uraraka or Nezuko Kamado.
#6 heroes don’t die
Occasionally, shonen kill their heroes or main characters. Mangakas are often too touchy or attached to kill off their fan-favorite characters. Fairy Tail has earned quite a reputation for it, rendering obsolete any attachment with the characters, since the fear and tension of seeing them one day disappear fades with the seasons. And generally speaking, only certain archetypes die in shonen. Death is reserved for the hero’s family as well as his enemies, and more rarely for his companions, who often resurrect.
But deep down, isn’t it a bit for all these reasons that we appreciate these works so much? If the shonen is your favorite manga genrethen you have surely heard the rumors concerning the return of Hunter X Hunter. The Shuesha who produces the manga wanted to make things clear officially.