Shounen Manga Cliches — The Ones I Love and Hate

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Welcome to my post on shounen manga cliches.

FINALLY!! I get a 2-week break ∠( ᐛ 」∠)_ …well, not really lol. I still tests after the break is over but I’m intending to fully enjoy this little relaxation before classes start again.

As such, I wanted to start off this line up of posts with my most loved and hated shounen manga cliches because shounen manga is really (and I mean really) popular and even if you don’t read a lot of shounen manga, I’m sure you’ve seen these cliches spliced somewhere in the other manga genres.

Shounen manga became really popular in the 90s with the emergence Dragonball and Pokemon (not actually a manga but there are adaptations so yeah..) and has continued to be well-known among anime and manga fans today. With such a long history of writing and a huge fanbase, you can bet that the cliches have lasted as long as it did.

Unlike shoujo manga, shounen manga has changed quite a lot over the years because it is the most beloved genre of manga and had to move along with the social trends of its demographic. Famous shounen manga today are vastly different from the shounen manga of the 90s and even the early 2000s. But despite that gap, some cliches do prevail and that is really what defines the shounen manga genre best.

I like shounen manga cliches a lot more than shoujo. I guess it’s because the main character isn’t a girl and so I’m less critical of his actions??? I dunno haha I don’t take sociology/psychology (゚⊿゚) But even so, I still get miffed at certain things that happen in shounen manga that makes me want to flip tables in rage and complain to the nearest person who is willing to listen.

Once again, this isn’t a rant. It’s just something I like to talk and laugh about so just sit back and enjoy my ramble about the shounen manga cliches I absolutely love (ノ^∇^) , and absolutely hate (; ̄Д ̄)

Related post: What is Shounen Manga?

Adventure’s Out There!!

The one thing I love about shounen manga the most is that it is almost always about adventure.

Sure, there are shounen manga about school and all but I exclusively turn to shounen manga to see some fantasy (urban, RPG, etc.) stuff happenin’

I guess it’s because I’m not the truly adventurous type so I’m content with dreaming about it. I think fans of the genre have the same reasons as me haha since we are mostly living in cities where life is pretty systematic and normalised. We never had to fight to protect our loved one or train to guard our land against monsters or an invading nation.

Of course, there is the demographic to consider as well. Young boys are pretty hyperactive and to keep them still, stories of action-packed adventure are told to them. Even if the boy has grown a little and isn’t as hyperactive as before, I believe they will still enjoy the fantasy adventures a lot.

So good job shounen manga for making my imagination run to my heart’s content (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Dense as F Protagonist

Apologies for the crude language but yeah I really don’t like the shounen manga protagonist at times.

This cliche is more common in the shounen manga of the 90s and the early 2000s but this aspect is one of the most recognisable features of a typical shounen manga — loud, gluttonous, dense as F protagonist.

I do understand that having this kind of protagonist emulates the immaturity young boys express but it can get really annoying after reading a couple of chapters. I know some people will disagree with me because ‘put yourself into the kid’s shoes and you will see’ but I just like some variety in my shounen manga. Can there be a shounen protagonist that is a little different? Well, yes — Boku no Hero Academia or My Hero Academia as it is known in English. The protagonist Midoriya is insecure and prone to crying so that’s a change. But this trend is only for the shounen manga of recent years so we still have this prevailing cliche.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t abhor this cliche until the end of time. I just don’t like it after I’ve read enough shounen manga. If I’m reading shounen manga after a while, I’m more than happy to put aside my frustrations and enjoy some action-packed adventure.

Lack of Female Representation

Once again, this is another cliche that is more prominent in the shounen manga of the 90s and early 2000s but unlike the dense protagonist, this is slowly being phased out with more girls taking centre stage in shounen manga.

I thought that by the 90s at least, there would have been some effort to include females in a more prominent role than just ’emotional support’…not that I hate females as emotional support because naturally, they are much better suited than males obviously (;¬_¬). I guess I was wrong because some shounen manga during that time had very few females to speak of, and even when the females do have a prominent role, it is the damsel in distress kind.

Lol, as a female myself, I didn’t come here to see my gender look pathetic ( >д<). We can kick butt too!! I mean, females are physically weaker than males but allow her to do what she can before the dude saves her. At least, we know she is capable to an extent so we don’t feel that she’s sidelined.

However, as I mentioned before, this cliche is slowly being phased out. With recent manga like Tokyo Ghoul, Boku no Hero Academia, and Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) having pretty badass females, I’m glad that the trend is starting to shift.

So good job for the trend change ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ

Very Value Centric

Unlike shoujo manga which focuses on drama, heavy emotions, and romance, shounen manga likes to round their characters based on being a good person all-round.

I like seeing this because it fills me with much hope for the future, I don’t know why though…I guess it’s because I get tired of people hurting each other emotionally in other genres and want to see some really innocent kindness once in a while.

It’s kinda cute and I just end up grinning ear-to-ear when I hear the protagonist declare that they will save everyone or show his righteous nature to convince people that he is a good person.

Although this cliche is becoming less popular for more jaded protagonists, I’m glad I still get to see some before it gets totally phased out for more realistic heroes who do hurtful things at times because it teaches children that not everyone is so kind.

Oh well, such is the game of following social trends ヾ(-_-;)

Final Thoughts

As you can tell from the many Japanese kaomojis I’ve been using, I do like talking about my cliches…maybe too much hahaha ∠( ᐛ 」∠)_

Shounen manga is one genre that is everchanging as the social trends move towards a different direction. It is something that I follow closely as some of my favourite series are shounen manga. I don’t hate the irritating parts of shounen manga as much as I do with shoujo manga. I suppose it’s because there isn’t as many haters of shounen compared to shoujo and like I mentioned before, it’s probably because I’m a woman and I look at female-centric stuff a lot more critically.

As always, if you have anything to say about this post, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂


  1. Good to have you back again, Please keep rolling ’em on. One other thing is that of the horrible childhood the favourable character use to have; shoehorns in flat and overdone variants of this for the sake of being angst – unfortunately it ends up trivializing abuse, bullying, poverty, family problems. 

    Awesome write-up Ann.


    1. Oh yeah that…the tragic hero. More common in fantasy RPG adaptations or something of the like. I’m not too fond of it but at the same time, I don’t hate it enough that I can rant about it haha but great that you mentioned it 🙂

  2. This post was so enlightening. I teach middle school students and had absolutely no idea about the Shounen Manga. But, it became popular in the 90s just as I was busy with college and getting my first job. So, it makes sense that I missed out on it. 

    It is interesting to see society evolve. In the 90s all of the protagonists were dense as F whether they were on television or Shounen Manga. That’s just how writers were writing back then. 

    Writing changes over time as society changes. I’m not surprised to see that they are incorporating more female representation. 

  3. The idea of females being the weaker characters in shounen manga is slowly phasing out. Of course the males still hold this part but there are more females now coming into the scene. I even like looking out for female characters in shounen mangas that can kick some ass. The males doing this is kind of a cliche but the females doing this has a sought of vibe I just cannot describe.

    1. I agree 🙂 I guess it’s because we’re not used to seeing females kick butt so we’re quite fascinated when we do see it.

  4. Both shojo and shounen manga are  interesting. I understand your view about the shojo manga but a person that has been reading a romance books from the author like Catherine Bybee and Carolyn Brown will prefer shojo manga to shounen manga. Well, this is the reason why they say “our taste differs”.

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