Who comes to your mind when you think of shonen protagonists? Maybe it’s iconic shonen protagonists such as Son Goku from Dragon Ball, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya from My Hero Academia and Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto.
But what about the lesser-known shonen anime heroes who win cooking competitions, raise farm animals, or even take care of baby demons? Read more to find out about these awesome characters and their most notable moments!
Let’s do a quick recap of what the shonen genre is in the first place.
Shonen is Japanese for “young boy”, and it specifically refers to a genre of Japanese comics and animated film. The creators of these work target a young male audience, typically characterized by action-filled plots.
Common tropes in shonen anime include tournament arcs, big blowout fights and of course, the “power of friendship”.
You can find these tropes in more popular anime such as Hunter x Hunter, My Hero Academia and Dragon Ball. They inspire people the world over to work hard, create meaningful relationships with others, and do everything they can to defeat necessary evils. Ranging from action/adventure to dark fantasy, shonen anime and manga are loved the world over.
In fact, there’s so much good shonen anime out there, that a few are more likely to go under the radar, along with their protagonists. Here are three protagonists that you should know about and their most notable moments!
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Soma Yukihira is the lead male protagonist of Shokugeki no Soma, known in English as “Food Wars”. While we here at TokyoTreat have mentioned Food Wars in the past, this is the first time we’ll go in-depth about Soma himself!
He is a young chef with a passion for making “any dish that the customer wants”. Soma transferred to the prestigious Totsuki Academy so that he can become one of the best chefs in the world.
Even though he is passionate with a bold personality, Soma is one of the more laidback shonen protagonists out there. Rather than win over his opponents with brute force and bravado, Soma prefers to use his creativity to outsmart them.
Notable Moment: Using discounted steak, umeboshi (pickled plum) paste, onions to make an elegant and well-rounded chaliapin steak rice bowl during one of his first cook-offs. This is notable because his opponent was a meat specialist who relied heavily on her A5 high grade wagyu beef to automatically win her the competition.
Yūgo Hachiken is the protagonist of Silver Spoon, a slice-of-life manga that takes place in Hokkaido. After failing his high school entrance exams, Yūgo moves out of his Sapporo suburban home and enrolls in a rural agricultural high school called Yezo High.
While his original intention was to escape his strict father, Yūgo eventually develops confidence in himself as a person, and develops friendships while rising to the challenge of agricultural work.
He’s a high achieving, yet soft-spoken individual who manages to be a sought-after problem solver during his time at Yezo High. He has many moments when he struggles with the ethics surrounding agriculture. Luckily, Yūgo is able to push through and make the best out of an uncomfortable situation.
Notable moment: Raising a weak piglet as his pet, despite knowing it will be sent away in less than three months. He then decides to specialize in organic pork farming later on in life.
Tatsumi Oga is the protagonist of Beelzebub, an action-comedy about raising a demon baby. Through a series of absurd events, high-school delinquent Tatsumi ends up the guardian of Baby Beelzebub, son of the Demon King. His classmates know him for being extremely tough and sadistic, which makes him a perfect fit to raise a demon.
Yet over time, Tatsumi does his best to keep his temper and violent nature under control. He has to do this in order to prevent the Earth from being destroyed by his growing demonic powers.
Despite being known as an uncaring person, Tatsumi is chivalrous towards women and usually won’t fight them even if it’s a life-or-death situation. Also, he is capable of taking advice from other people, especially for the sake of Baby Beel.
Notable moment: Magically fusing with Baby Beel to defeat a high-ranked military leader of the Underworld.
Soma Yukihira, Yugo Hachiken and Tatsumi Oga are just three of many lesser known shonen protagonists. Each of them have their own unique tales of triumph as their mature over time. Plus, the friendships they make along the way make the world around them a little brighter!
Not to mention, all of their series are easily available on line! This just goes to show that even with their respectively smaller followings, their impact in undeniable.
Have you heard of these lesser-known shonen protagonists? Who else would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Writer living in Tokyo who likes stories, music and video games. <3
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