Shōnen manga is sometimes seen as childish or immature, however, within many are complex themes and philosophical elements. Beyond the screaming and the power levels are stories that genuinely matter to people. Before everything gets started there should be an agreement on terms. Shōnen isn’t a style, it’s a genre. It is a marketing tool used to separate manga into appropriate age ranges.
Moreover, in the manga, there are four different age ranges. Shōnen is written for young boys. Seinen is for older boys. Shojo is a manga that is for young girls. Josei is for girls that are a bit older. However, the most popular manga genre is Shōnen. It also tends to get the most sales. Shōnen manga has tropes and general ideas that spring about in most of those stories. Now that all that background information is out of the way, let’s talk about why Shōnen is a great genre of literature.
Shōnen Done Well
Shōnen, done well, always comes out as a great story. For example, “Demon Slayer” is a Shōnen manga that was released in the late 2010s and outsold the greatest-selling manga of all time in 2021. It was able to do so because it had a well-animated anime and a very simple story. Simple and noncomplex storytelling works very well with Shōnen as a genre. This isn’t to say that more complex Shōnen doesn’t exist. Rather, the tropes and conventions of Shōnen manga lay themselves out easier for more simple storytelling.
Across the several decades of Shōnen storytelling, there have been a few themes that have stood the test of time. Some of those themes progress through struggle, the power of friendship, the competition of ideals, hard work vs talent, and many more.
It must be said that the mere presence of a theme, complex or not, does not make for a well-written story, it is how those themes are implemented in the story that makes for a well-written story. The difference is a story that is tripping over itself trying to portray complex themes and doesn’t know how, and a story with simple themes that are well implemented. Shōnen takes these themes and tries to tell the best stories it can.
Shōnen is typically action comedy as far as wider genres go. There are usually comedic characters mixed in with all the drama and the powers. Shōnen manga typically has characters, who tend to be pubescent boys, who grow up and get stronger. They sometimes disagree on fundamental issues about their world and they resolve them by fighting each other using the abilities established in their world. This is the Shōnen formula, and for the most part, it works well.
Furthermore, Shōnen manga is some of the best ones out there. Shōnen includes the big three from “Shōnen Jump,” “Dragon Ball” and its sequel “Dragon Ball Z.” My hero academia, Chainsawman, and Jujutsu Kaisen.
All of the manga named previously are top-selling manga that has sold millions of copies. This genre is full of twists and turns and stories that are waiting to be read. No Shōnen story is the same. Some like “Fairy Tail” emphasize the theme of the power of friendship, and Dragon Ball emphasizes progression through struggle.
Shōnen Has A Lot To Offer
Shōnen has a lot to offer as a genre of literature. The art is almost always amazing, the character designs are always great and they are generally a great time. Shōnen is marketed towards young boys however even fans of classic literature may find something to enjoy.
It isn’t just for young boys, it’s for everyone. Shannon can be a great way to start young boys into reading or for adults to have a nice afternoon. Shōnen is narrow in its target audience but very wide in people’s enjoyment.
Written by Kenneth Mazerat
BooksAndBao: 18 Best Modern Shonen Manga 2022 by Will Heath
BookRiot: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO SHŌNEN MANGA by Ann-Marie Cahill
FictionHorizon: 30 Best Shōnen Manga You Need to Read by By
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Daniel Héctor Stolfi Rosso’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image Courtesy of Narcisseae’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License