Do you remember watching anime as a kid? Cross-legged on the floor, wrapped up in a blanket waiting for the latest episode of Dragon Ball Z to come on? As adults, we know now that this type of action-based, fighting-and-friendship show is aimed at children, but that doesn’t stop us watching. Here are a few reasons why the shonen genre isn’t just for kids:

A Sense of Achievement

If there’s one thing these shows have in common, it’s training. The hero usually gets advance knowledge of an incoming threat and has to work to improve their skills before it arrives. In a way, shonen anime offers us an easier world, one wherein hard work leads directly towards real, quantifiable results.

So how is this useful? As many of these titles involve working out, they can help give you the motivation to achieve your own ambitions. Maybe it’s something as small as exercising more, or maybe you’d like to make more friends; either way, shonen titles place major emphasis on both these areas.

Higher Stakes

dragon ball z
Toei Animation

When I was younger, Dragon Ball Z blew my mind. The Frieza saga was the first time I’d ever seen blood or swearing in a cartoon. Of course, I was immediately hooked. In all seriousness, it wasn’t the violence that drew me in – it was the feeling that this show had something to offer that no other did.

Over the course of a typical shonen anime, people will die, worlds will be destroyed, and the personal stakes only increase with every new villain. This gives this genre room to explore topics that many other anime shy away from, for instance, death, what it means to succeed, and the price we pay for security.

In-depth Storytelling

A short shonen series is a rare beast indeed. Generally, these shows have over a hundred episodes, which gives them time to explore every main character’s backstory and motivations in great detail. In fact, with so much time to fill, you’ll often find that new characters appear regularly, so there’s bound to be at least one you really like.

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

my hero academia young deku
Bones

Perhaps the most important thing we learn from shonen anime is that you can’t do everything by yourself. Remember the Cell Games, or more recently, My Hero Academia’s licensing exams? Everybody has a role to play, even if it’s not immediately obvious.

You might not be the most athletic in your group of friends. Maybe not the fastest, maybe not the strongest, maybe not even the smartest. But if you can do something better than anyone else, no matter how useless your skill might be, you’re a valuable part of the team. Even something as simple as remaining cool under pressure counts, and this is an idea that shonen anime reinforces almost every episode.

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

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