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Top 8 Cliche's in Shounen Anime and Manga

Updated on March 19, 2013

What is Shounen anime?

Shounen is a Japanese word that could translate to "young boy", referring to boys of the age 15 and below. Though generally the word "shounen" originally means "few years" and can refer to both boy and girl of the age 15 and below, when talking about "shounen" manga or "shounen" anime, it usually only refers to "boy", being the term "shoujo" is used instead to refer to girl. Hence, shounen manga or anime are generally manga and anime targeting young boys of the age 15 and below, though it can also have readers and viewers older than 15 years of age, sometimes even young adults of the age 20 up to 28.

As to how Shounen anime like Naruto, Naruto Shippuuden, Bleach, One Piece, and many more manage to hook up older viewers, it may be for their actions (for those who love actions cooler than Hollywood's) as well as their storyline (depths of story as well as characters development). Shounen anime usually bring viewers into a whole new world different than ours, allowing viewers to engage in a journey of their own as they follow the story.

Shonen Jump Magazine

The cover of one of Shonen Jump issues.
The cover of one of Shonen Jump issues.

The Top 8 Cliche's

However, how good a Shounen anime could be, it usually won't escape the cliche's that most Shounen anime holds. If you are not familiar with Shounen anime, these are what to expect in most Shounen anime you were to watch;

1.) The main character is either loud, dumb, uncool, rejects, probably perceived weak by others in the beginning of the story.

2.) The main character is not popular with girls, but with one girl character secretly in love with him.

3.) The same main character above will then progress to become one of the strongest (or the strongest) in the story.

4.) One of the main character's motivations in battles (some probably in life) is to protect his comrades.

5.) Excessive use of the word "nakama" (means "comrades" or "friends") and "mamoru" (means "protect") throughout the story.

6.) There will be a rival who is a total opposite of what the main character is (if main character is loud and uncool, his rival must be collected and cool, vice versa).

7.) The main character has some dark childhood memories/tragedy.

8.) There will be one female character with big breasts channeling her attention to the main character.

Got more in mind? Add them in the comment box below!


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    • profile image

      Jay 3 years ago

      Naruto has all 8

    • DChance2 profile image

      DChance 3 years ago

      The parents are all knowing or they are not there for the child at all. SHOUNEN has more fighting and less kissing unless it is for comedy relief or they will confuse other charecters.

    • profile image

      omt8 4 years ago

      Another 2 clichés:

      1)The main character always seems to be between 14-17 years old.

      (Some examples like

      Toppa Tengen Gurren Lagann

      Digimon Data Squad


      2)A lot of females are maids in some series.

      (Example Tokyo Mew Mew)

    • nufoundglory profile image

      nufoundglory 5 years ago from Asia

      dc, sounds like you will be interested in other articles I wrote about Naruto going downhill.

      See this:

      AND ALSO this:

    • profile image

      dc 5 years ago

      Naruto is really eating me these days, don't know how much more I can take but I still want to see the ending... or do I oh god I think im dropping it for half a year and check back later...

    • Carlton88 profile image

      Carlton88 5 years ago

      Haha I have started a Shonen-like manga and so far I'm glad I only hit the big breast cliché lol.

    • profile image

      shiko 5 years ago

      why some of shonen mangas have romance?made me so sick *3*

    • profile image

      shiko 5 years ago

      why some of shonen mangas have romance?made me so sick *3*

    • profile image

      Anon. 5 years ago

      Haha, all those basically define Naruto.

    • profile image

      CANCAN55 6 years ago

      lawl i guess these cliches make shounen "SHOUNEN" that we all know and love.

    • profile image

      MisaoFan 6 years ago

      Today, the shounen crowd has totally changed. It was now dominated by ecchi/harem/fansevice/loli/moe works, some titles has shoujo-like design, and there's plenty of more grimdark/gory shounen stuff like Deadman Wonderland.

    • liftingmaniac profile image

      liftingmaniac 6 years ago

      Hahah, good job with this one! I was able to think up an anime for each of your cliches. I find numbers 4 and 5 especially annoying.Voted up!

    • nufoundglory profile image

      nufoundglory 6 years ago from Asia

      @notguru: it's not about how different the culture is between eastern and western countries. Cliché is overused ideas or plots to the point that it lacks originality. Of course we still enjoy these shounen series, but somehow it gets pretty tiring if you can tell what's going to happen next or if you hear the very same lines in all different shounen anime you watch, like "I'm going to protect my comrades bla bla". I swear i can subtitle these anime series without knowing japanese lol.

    • profile image

      not guru 6 years ago

      How old r u when u did realize the word "cliché" mean?

      I think when u grow up that cliché make u feel disappoint but...

      when u were younger like 10-15(I'm not sure for your culture that consider mature but here in eastern country we still call kid), nothing more funny than fighting,friends,opposite sex,comedy...

      the first manga I read was Dragon ball and then Fist of the north star,Plawres Sanshiro..etc,(now I'm 36,it's 25 years ago)

      I didn't feel boring or anything at all, it's I still find that in fairy tail, one piece, naruto, Bleach etc,... almost all shonen manga still use the same fashion as Dragon ball use, and go into top ranking shonen manga.

      why? Because the main market never change, KID(I mean average kid not a nerdy,intelligence one)... love it, they never get bore, they identify with a cliché character like that.Japanese manga is made for japanese reader, their comic culture is different from usa comic,their heroes never been in weight training or natural born muscular guy(even Goku is a small kid when it's start the serie),and

      the female character will always show their boob and panties more for good....

      (western culture may feel disturbing but in japan still be male-lead society)

    • profile image

      Shounen has no meaning anymore. 6 years ago

      I dunno, lately the shounen series have me screaming "how is this shounen?"

      Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro has somehow missed the male radar (there were no male fans during the scanlating process & no men were scanlating), Gintama only has a type of ecchi that appeals to women, Hunter x Hunter & GetBackers are sausagefests with prettyboys & bromance, Noblesse, Black Cat, & Once Piece has asexual heroes, & Axis Powers Hetalia, Black Butler, & Gensoumaden Saiyuki might as well be shounenai.

    • profile image

      Mechy 6 years ago

      hi nufoundglory,

      I'm a beginning a shoenen manga, and I'm trying to make my manga story and character concept as unique and orginal.

      I found this article and thought it is an excellent review and I'll be sure try avoid these cliches that you mentioned.


    • profile image

      CK 7 years ago

      1. there is always an onsen scene

      2. characters have confusingly long japanese names

      3. Names have subtle meanings and are strangely

      relevant to the character's power/drive/reason for killing

      blah blah blah. eg. in Bleach, Ichigo is all like "My name

      means to I must...PROTECT NNGH" in real

      land we don't care what our names mean

      4. Stabbed through the chest...and lived (Bleach is a

      good example of this)

      5. Everyone will have dead parents and not stop

      bitching about it. it's like the X-Factor...

      6. Bullheaded, Tsundere, Whiny-useless-STFU-pain-in-

      my-ass-bitch, all strangely are friends and make a great

      team :'D......urgh just watch season 1,2 & 3 of Naruto...

      7. There will be some sort of creature that is stangely

      adorable, isn't of any known/combined breed of animal,

      and is purely and simply for comic relief.

      8. You can beat the crap out of the enemies in season 1

      however you will soon be season 2's bitch. there is

      always someone stronger...


      because you see when I was younger I-" STFU!!! I don't

      care about your effed up childhood...well not in the

      middle of a battle. and why the hell does the bad guy

      just kinda stand there and listen to it all like "wow no're parents are dead?! NO WAY ME TOO!!!"

      10. Sexist. Unless it's a Maho Shoujo (sailor moon,

      tokyo mew mew etc) you will rarely find a good team of

      USEFUL WOMEN!!! Why are women so useless in anime

      ;_; maybe it's because Japan is still kinda in the 30's

      were everyone is a foreigner thus must be looked down

      upon, and that women are lower than men (that's what

      she said giggle giggle snort snort) in the social food

      chain. but still BLEH!

      These are only 10 cliché's from anime and I swear I can

      (and probably will) go on. If you want to see more anime

      cliché's please go and watch Girlchan in Paradise. it will

      explain all.

    • profile image

      phantomsage 7 years ago

      Lmao! Jackpot man! I especially like the last one (icha icha grin). Naruto (nakama) Bleach (mamoru)....Thumbs up!