June 30, 2023

Shonen Tropes: Examining Common Themes and Conventions

Shonen Tropes: Examining Common Themes and Conventions


Shonen anime, a genre targeted primarily at young male audiences, has captured the hearts of fans around the world with its exhilarating action, epic battles, and coming-of-age stories. Within this genre, certain themes and conventions have emerged, forming what we know as Shonen troupes. However, do these Shonen troupes have a dark side which can disillusion some anime fans. We talk about this in length on our Suuuper Anime podcast episode on the topic “Is Ganbatte enough? Has Shonen Disillusioned Anime Fans?”

Below are some of the points made as part of this podcast, however, to hear the full conversation and points made then do list to the podcast episode.


Training and Growth

Shonen series frequently focus on the journey of the protagonist as they undergo intense training to become stronger. This trope emphasizes the value of hard work, perseverance, and self-improvement. From Goku's rigorous training in "Dragon Ball" to Midoriya's development in "My Hero Academia," viewers are encouraged to believe in their potential and strive for personal growth. However, this is where we look to disagree with this form of communication. While we agree with the values of portraying hard work, given its fictional element sometimes Shonen anime can make it seem that just working hard will get you your desired outcomes irrespective of eternal influences, genetic gifts, resources and environment. As we said on the podcast, while hard work can get you a long way, ultimately to be the best at something you have to have a degree of talent for it.

 Rock Lee training with one Arm push


we are not anime characters, our bodies are not drawn, they are real.


Overcoming Adversity

Shonen tropes often present protagonists facing seemingly unbeatable challenges and adversaries. Through sheer determination, they rise above their limitations and overcome insurmountable odds. This theme is epitomized by characters like Ichigo in "Bleach," who faces powerful enemies while protecting his loved ones, and Gon in "Hunter x Hunter," who perseveres through numerous trials. It inspires viewers to confront their own obstacles with resilience and tenacity. This again can be dangerous for us as humans; we are not anime characters, our bodies are not drawn, they are real. Meaning they are subject to wear and tear, and the common Shonen troupe of over training is a false fallacy that if we over train we will get stronger. We know scientifically that rest is more important for muscle growth than over training is.

Vegeta training in the gravity machine doing a one arm push up


Epic Battles

Shonen anime is renowned for its epic battles that showcase awe-inspiring powers and techniques. These intense showdowns between protagonists and antagonists, often featuring flashy special moves and breathtaking animation, are a staple of the genre. From the iconic battles in "Naruto" to the exhilarating clashes in "One Punch Man," these scenes ignite excitement and deliver pulse-pounding action that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.



Shonen anime captivates audiences with its thrilling narratives, memorable characters, and the enduring troupes that define the genre. While these troupes may disillusion some anime fans to thinking they can just work hard and succeed, the sentiment does still hold true. There is no substitute for hard work, however, hardwork does not always lead to success. There are many variables that play into a real person achieving personal growth and pursuing their dreams. Listen to our full episode here and find out which sports stars we compared to Naruto and Sasuke?  Is Ganbatte enough? Has Shonen Disillusioned Anime Fans?