10 Most Common Shounen Anime Clichés

cliche shounen anime

If there’s one genre that dominates anime and manga, then it’s definitely shounen. After watching countless anime of this genre, I’ve realized most of these shows make use of certain clichés that give them exactly what they need to be successful amongst fans. I tried to find ten of these stereotypes, which seem to appear in almost every shounen anime and manga. Let’s see what it takes to become as successful as Dragon Ball, Naruto, or One Piece.


1. Unsatisfied appetite

toriko one piece dragon ball food

Many main characters of shounen series don’t care for world hunger. They eat everything they can find and complain about being hungry most of the time. Anime and manga girls out there, take this piece of advice and only marry a shounen protagonist if you are able to prepare and cook truckloads of food, because the way to a shounen man’s heart is through his enormous stomach – or through telling marriage is food. Good job on that one, Chi-Chi!


2. Flashbacks kill more people than the actual series does

robin one piece

As funny and dorky most of our favorite shounen characters are, some of them share an emotional past, a tragic childhood, or other heartbreaking experiences. If you are watching an anime of this gerne and flashbacks appear, prepare some tissues. You will probably start crying like a toddler – or more like a waterfall if you’re into One Piece.


3. I am going to be Pirate King, or Hunter, or Hokage

gon hunter x hunter

Every shounen story needs a reason to be written, and this reason is probably to see a main character fulfilling his lifelong dream. That’s why most shounen anime require a huge amount of episodes to tell every detail of accomplishing the protagonist’s life goal. But the funny thing is, that we don’t want our favorite characters to reach their goals. We want to see them struggle as long as possible, to ensure that the fun will never stop – all because of us cruel Otakus.


4. Unlikable friend

rin ryuji ao no exorcist

Some shounen mangaka really misunderstand the saying of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer. Even though main protagonists are surrounded by numerous comrades and friends, at least one of them has to be his archnemesis. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to understand why so many rivals are claimed to be true friends. Men say females are complicated, but do they know Naruto?

Shinigaming5. Only for my nakamas

tsuna reborn

Being around comrades and friends can be so nice. However, if one of them gets hurt, kidnapped or even killed, the hero always goes wild. The fact is that the actual main character would never start a fight because of personal reasons. At least comrades need to be hurt or in danger to make protagonists do something. So let yourself get in trouble if you want to see some action – like Orihime, over and over again.

Shinigaming6. Kame-Gumo-Burner


Fights in shounen anime are always entertaining, but why do the characters have to spoil their upcoming attacks? This is actually the only advantage of being a shounen villain. You can easily predict every signature move of your opponent, as they announce it loudly with much fanfare. But is it really necessary to yell Kamehameha each and every time? I’m not sure.

Shinigaming7. Time for a rematch

yusuke spirit gun

Most of our favorite protagonists seem to be absolutely strong and unbeatable. However, once in a while every main character has to lose. But don’t worry! Soon after facing humiliation, he returns – almost without any training – to kick his opponent’s ass.


8. Insert new fancy attack name here

oga beelzebub

Luckily, the hero comes back to have his revenge, but not without a new special attack, of which nobody has ever heard before. Sometimes we don’t even need any explanation where or how this new attack comes from. All that matters is that the protagonist is now able to perform something even cooler and fancier, which is probably called something like X-Burner, Spirit Gun, Gear Second or whatever. The name should at least sound stylish.


9. Let’s go freaking nuts

hollow ichigo bleach

The struggle of being in fights and complicated situations all the time can be quite hard. That’s why many main characters go crazy or mad, or even change into giant monkeys, monsters or nine tailed foxes, since they can’t handle the pressure or too much power any longer. Friends and comrades should try to keep safe distance, as most of these gone-mad characters don’t flinch from hurting people who are actually close to them.

Shinigaming10. Things get better if you say a person’s name five hundred times in a row

sasuke naruto

You want stop your brother’s execution? Try screaming his name over and over again. Do you want to beat your worst enemy? Try shouting his name over and over again. Do you want to stop your best friend from becoming evil? Try saying his name over and over again. Do you want to rescue the girl you love? Try calling her name over and over again. That’s how things in shounen anime work. They really do. Every single time. Just shout out some names!


What is your favorite shounen? Can you think of any other anime clichés? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

  • Quotenfrau mit einer ungesunden Obsession für koreanische Musik, Essen und Fernsehserien. Liebt Fighting-Games und JRPGs. Besitzt ein lebendiges Evoli, und ist wahrscheinlich der größte Tollpatsch Mitteleuropas.

  • Show Comments

  • Daniel Baumgratz (@DanielBaumgratz)

    Above all yu yu hakusho is the most consistent anime and has the best soundtrack. 🙂

  • Erik

    Hahaha good, but HxH is the most unique shonen of the list. It only has the “I wanna become hunter” thing, but other than that is pretty unique with a very well written plot (unlike 99% of the shonen out there) and pretty dark story.

    • Dominik Jersabeck

      Hunter X Hunter is my favourite too. 🙂

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