Welcome back to my Introduction to Shonen series! Here I’ll be covering the usual staples of a Shonen manga/anime and giving, what I hope can be, an opinionated and in depth analysis on these topics. I figure that with so many common things that appear in these series, it’s best to start with what’s probably the most common and that is the Idiot Hero.
Ahh yes, the Idiot Hero. What Shonen series don’t have you as the shining star? (Death Note, Soul Eater, Yu-Gi-Oh, Detective Conan, FullMetal Alchemist, To Aru Majutsu no Index, Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning, Bloody Monday, Negima, Bleach, Fairy Tail, Nurarihyon no Mago, Ruroni Kenshin)
Well, anyways, the vast majority of Shonen series usually star an idiot as the central protagonist. He (and it’s usually a he) will be of school age and failing miserably, getting low grades and being hounded by his teachers and mocked by his peers. Some series have a justification for having such a person as the main character for example little Son Goku of DragonBall over here! Son Goku was a Sayian baby sent to Earth and at one point hit his head on a rock. Raised by his “Grandfather” Gohan in the mountains and being taught only language and martial arts, Goku is not the brightest bulb in the box although he does seem to get progressively smarter as the series goes on. Goku’s main deal though was that he lacked interaction with other people for most of his early life. Once Bulma showed up and took him away from his little mountain home, Goku started learning more about the world. In addition to this, once he began training with Master Roshi, he received some education from the old pervert in between his training. Goku’s stupidity also played into his main character flaw in the early series of being very gullible and susceptible to manipulation. Despite this, Goku remained pure of heart and ever the optimist who always believed that things would turn out right in the end and it also made him very enjoyable to watch. Goku lacked the social skills and street smarts of Bulma and Krillin but remained the one who’d always risk his life to save any and everyone he possibly could, even a rat. As stupid as he was though, Goku wasn’t foolish enough to not fully recognize a threat when he saw one, at least as the series went on. By the time DragonBallZ rolled around, Goku was able to recognize every single enemy that appeared and dealt with them without actually killing them himself. This is in stark contrast to his behavior in the original series where Goku was quite willing to kill those who murdered his friends or tried to harm innocent people.
The question is why? Why have a character like this? What’s the point? What does it accomplish? What does the reader get out of rooting for some dumbass who can’t even count past 12? How does it benefit the story and what kind of development, if any, can come from having a character like this? Well, let’s look at a few more idiot heroes and see of those questions are answered.
I guess it’d be best to just kind of answer these questions one by one or all at the same time for each example I give on this page. Hmm, well I’ll figure it out but once again back to those questions. Namely the first one, why have a character like this? Over the years, I’ve seen MANY Idiot Heroes but I’m pretty sure that America was exposed to one rather decent one during the 90’s!
You thought it was going to be Ash from Pokemon…didn’t you? Well I’ll get to Ash at a later point. The first example we’re going to look at for this example is Taichi Yagami/Tai Kamiya from Digimon Adventure. Staring a group of kids that got sent to an alternate world and paired with strange creatures called Digimon, Taichi was the most distinctive among the entire group it it won’t take you long to figure out why. One of the things I should’ve mentioned earlier about the Idiot Shonen Hero or the I.S.H as I’ll refer to them is that this character is usually more Western or American looking in contrast to the usually more Asian or Japanese looking Rival. There are exceptions to every “rule” and Tai here is one of them. At the start of the series Tai was a standard Shonen Lead character. Strong willed, impulsive, brash and always the first to voice his opinion on what to do next. Tai was also ALWAYS first when it came to having his Digimon digivolve whenever a new form was available. His reason for being an idiot? Well, Tai wasn’t really an idiot, not exactly. Tai was more naive, no, more…explosively emotional, if that. Tai was a fighter. He was the dynamic and action oriented leader that the group would later look to when in need of someone to make a decision. In the series Tai is often contrasted and foiled by Yamato Ishida/Matt who was the level headed over-thinker. This level head is something that Tai would later start to develop as he’d become a true leader, the glue that held his group of friends together. Generally, Tai would be the one to say and do what many of us watching the show would’ve done if in the same situation. Explore the island, fight the monsters, climb the mountain, beat the bad guys…whatever the decision was that needed to be made, lots of us were behind Tai when he made his. So maybe this is why we have the I.S.H. We’re meant to be able to relate to them and picture ourselves in their situations. But isn’t this somewhat the point of ALL main characters, idiots or not? Aren’t we meant to relate to them in some way from the start? Well let’s look at another example and see what we get out of it!
Now, this is probably scraping at the bottom of the barrel in terms of great shonen protagonits but, this is one that I really like. Shonen heroes are usually average kids thrown into strange or fantastic situations and part of the joy of watching them is to see how they react and adapt to their new life. Some take it better than others though as Tsunayoshi “Tsuna” Sawada from Katekyo Hitman Reborn is among the most unsuited progagonists to his story that I’ve ever seen. Now unlike Tai who could really only be called an idiot in part due to the overwhelming maturity of those surrounding him, Tsuna is a scholastic nightmare as far as most people are concerned. He has the worst grades, can’t do anything athletic to save his life and is overall a pathetic loser that only bothers going to school because of the girl he has a crush on and she barely even knows he exists before the plot kicks in. Tsuna’s life changes forever when a baby in a suit appears and claims to be his new Home Tutor and the greatest hitman to boot. Reborn, as the baby is known, takes an active an over the top approach to turning Tsuna into that which he is destined to be, the 10th generation heir to the most powerful Mafia family in the world. This includes physically beating him up on a daily basis and putting him through hell as well as shooting him with magical bullets that ressurect him with his dying will. Tsuna is likely an idiot because the writer said so. He’s more similar to a Harem Hero if anything. Well, scratch that, he’s actually very much like Shinji Ikari from Evangelion. He’s a coward with little to no backbone and utterly fails to stand up for himself. He’s indecisive and almost useless and not at all worthy of being a Mafia boss. Similar to Tai though, Tsuna has shades of being the normal one among his friends. Tsuna is always the one who wants to avoid fighting or confronting the enemy but always the first to put his life on the line for his friends and he brings a very humane element to his Family. Also similar to Tai, Tsuna is a character that I’m sure people can relate to. A useless wimp with no real talents when it comes to anything that suddenly finds out he’s destined to do something he’d never even dream of. It’s his compassion that makes him an endearing character but for Tsuna it speaks volumes for him as a person. He’s got no business trying to lead anyone but is so often looked to when shit goes down that he eventually becomes somewhat comfortable with his position enough to inspire his friends to fight battles of epic proportions. So maybe this is why. Regardless of what we start off as we’re fully capable of being greater than what we appear to be. We’re capable of rising up from the depths of our own uselessness and mediocrity and become something or someone worthy of leading a group of trusted friends to what could most definitly be certain death. We are meant to empathize and at the same time criticize Tsuna because as great of a leader as he becomes, its’ out of necessity and not a natural thing he just has from the start of the series. His idiocy and desire to distance himself from the life that’s already been chosen for him is a contributing factor to his being an idiot because he doesn’t want to be involved with that world. He wants to be normal which is something that many heroes like him also wish for but can usually never get. And now that I’ve mentioned them…it’s time to talk about the next kind of Idiot Hero.
The Harem Idiot Hero…GOD I HATE SOME OF THESE PROTAGONISTS! Never the less, I need to talk about them as I need to cover all kinds of Idiots in this post. This idiot is Keitaro Urashima from possibly one of the best Harem manga ever written by Ken Akamatsu, Love Hina. Staring a high school graduate that’s been trying desperately to get into Tokyo University to fufill some promise to a girl he can barely remember, Keitaro ventures to his grandmother’s inn and learns two things. The first is that its’ no longer an Inn it’s an all girls dorm and the second is that he’s the new manager. All guys reading this and thinking of how awesome it’d be, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! The life of a Harem Hero is among the lowest positions for ANY protagonist and Keitaro has it the worst. Why is Keitaro an idiot? Well he keeps failing to get into the school of his choice Tokyo University. But to but this into context for you, Tokyo University is the highest ranking University in all of Asia, the most prestigeous in Japan and 21st in the entire world. He’s basically trying to get into one of the GREATEST schools in the entire world and fails about 3 times in his attempt to do so before finally getting accepted. Why else is he an idiot? Because he’s the main character in a Harem series and they are bound by the constraints of their role as resident punching bag. Keitaro suffers from a nearly endless bout of bad luck as being the only man in an all girls dorm, no one is smart enough to lock the doors or make sure that there’s no way anyone can see you naked or walk in while you’re changing. It’s not so much that he’s an idiot, because Keitaro is fairly smart. It’s just that he ends up in stupid situations because everyone else in his life seems to conspire to make his life horrible. The point of a Harem Hero is roughly the same as the main character of a Visual Novel or a Twilight novel. Men are meant to plug themselves in and pick their favorite girl and then hope they can get with them in the end. It’s entirely obvious who Keitaro will end up with in the end if you’ve never read the series and decide to try it, but it’s rewarding to see how hard each character has to work in order to get the happy ending that they want. Unfortunatly polygamy isn’t legal in Japan to my knowledge so only one girl gets the gold and the others keep pining after him even on his wedding day but are otherwise respectful enough to not get in the way of his happiness. Character development is a MAJOR factor of this series and while the characters keep their basic personalities intact, they’re allowed and somewhat forced to mature due to the main focus of the series being love…and comedy. So Keitaro is an idiot because, of course, no girl wants a man that’s perfectly premade for them. They want someone who’s being pursued by several other females and despite all of his short comings, grows into a man worthy of their affections. It also helps to have a man that’s slightly immortal and later learns archeology and martial arts.
So by this point we’ve covered three very different but very similar characters and what questions have we answered? Well let’s ask those questions again. Why do we have characters like this? Probably to give us someone to relate to. Few people want a story in which there are no relatable characters and we especially want to empathize and sympathize and relate to the lead character. We see the world through their eyes and most of the time the world is fairly unkind to them simply because the plot says so. The three examples listed above are all examples of characters that developed significantly past their basic I.S.H. status. They became capable of holding their own and carrying a good portion of the story on their own backs. Now, let’s look at some more. These next ones will be a bit more…I don’t know. They’re typical but they’re not at the same time and my opinions on them are a bit more…well…here we go.
Ahh, the very epitome of a MANLY hero! When people speak of Team Dai-Gurren’s fearless badass leader…they’re talking about Kamina from Gurren Lagann. This little number came out of a studio called Gainax. Sound familar? No? Well what about Evangelion, FLCL and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt? Yeah, Gainax did those and this. In perfect honesty, Kamina is NOT the protagonist or even the main character of TTGL despite the fact that he’s the driving force behind nearly EVERY single action and he’s mentioned in EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF THIS 27 EPISODE SERIES! Yeah, he also gets a statue and a city and seriously the most awesome pair of sunglasses and the most attractive male of this series so he must be important, right? WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK HE IS?! Well, Kamina is at first glace the typical Idiot Shonen Character. He’s LOUD! He’s PASSIONATE! He’s an IDIOT of the highest caliber with the drive and determination to lead and inspire others to do their absolute best. He fits the bill much better than our actual protagonist Simon who starts off as someone very similar to Shinji Ikari. Kamina will face a giant Mecha with a sword, peep on girls in the bath, and try to win fights with pure will power. He’s most definitely an act first, think later type of person…but he’s not. Underneath all that masculine badassery and overwhelming passionate idiocy, Kamina is a far more complex character. True, Kamina is an idealist and a determined manly badass, but the idiocy is more or less a facade to mask his more or less truly grounded in reality mindset. Kamina is a strategist and despite it not seeming so, he’s QUITE sharp. He merely acts this way so that the others around him, mainly Simon, won’t be too afraid to do anything when the shit hits the fan. His actions are usually dumb but at times he’s capable of brilliance that makes you say, “Hmm, that actually sounds pretty smart.” And so we’ve already answered the question of why Kamina is an Idiot. It’s out of necessity because his team needs someone with his foolish arrogance and unrestrained pride, willpower and determination to lead them out of the darkness and into the light of a new world and a new life. And I think that’s all I’ll say about Kamina before I get into spoiler teritroy.
Now he’s a story I’d have LOVED to see become it’s own spinoff manga. I mentioned earlier that Ruroni Kenshin was one of the few manga I’ve read that doesn’t star the usual I.S.H. but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a character like that in the series. I present to you Yahiko Miyojin as one of my interesting examples. At the beginning, Yahiko was just a bratty kid that Kenshin and Kaoru took in and despite my always liking Kenshin, Kaoru, Megumi and Sanosuke I always really liked Yahiko’s story lines and subplots. He was the kid character, the one that most readers were probably meant to relate to. As for why he’s an idiot? He’s a street urchin so it’s justified. As the series went on, Yahiko became a far more active character than his teacher Kaoru and was even able to take out some pretty heavy hitters along the way all by himself. At the end of the manga, Yahiko was 15 years old and the kind of character people wanted to read more about, well at least I wanted to read more about him. Sure, his happy ending was already set up. He got Kenshin’s reverse blade sword, mastered the Kamiya Kashin Style and even got Tsubame as a girlfriend in addition to being able to catch swords and break them with his knuckles! That’s everything you need for a continuation, but I guess that’s what fanfiction is for isn’t it? You know, I can see why Kenshin was a better protagonist than Yahiko and Sanosuke. Kenshin had a mysterious past and a troubled history. He was a former assassin and a complex character. But as I said in my review of the series, if this were a typical Shonen series, Yahiko or Sanosuke would’ve been the main characters. But now I feel like I’ve gotten off topic. Yahiko was interesting because he was the little kid character that wanted to be a man. He wanted to be taken seriously and respected and treated like he was a valued member of the team insetad of that kid that was just allowed to tag along for the ride and fight a few times. He brought that childish outlook to the series that made it a bit more enjoyable and he grew into a strong man when everything was all said and done. And I guess that’s why he didn’t get his own spinoff manga. Not only did we finish Kenshin’s story but in doing so we also finished Yahiko’s. We saw the little kid who wanted to learn swordsmanship grow into a capable man and that’s really all we needed to know.
First let me start by saying that I LOVE THIS PICTIRE! Second, we’ve reached…what can probably be described the Dork Age of DBZ with this picture. Yeah, I’d like to know what editor proclaimed from oh high, “We should put Gohan in High School!” Well, I think we can also agree that this was probably the worst arc of the entire series. So why am I even bringing it up? Well to start off I was searching the internet for a picture of Gohan going to school for about an hour so that’s one reason. And the second reason is that while I’m well aware that Gohan isn’t an idiot in the intellectual sense, he still can be described as an idiot in some ways due to his actions at this point in the story. See we all remember that Goku died trying to beat Cell ONLY because Gohan over here didn’t kill him when he actually had the chance to do so. Then Gohan killed him and we had a Time Skip! The point of this was that Toriyama felt that Goku’s story had finally come to an end and it was time for him to pass the torch to his oldest son, Son Gohan. This arc focused on Gohan going to High School and playing superhero to avoid people pestering him about his powers, you know simple shit that’s been done the world over by this point. Now to be perfectly honest…I LOVE THIS ARC! No joke, it’s probably my favorite arc of the entire series. Why? Well because we get to watch Gohan act like an idiot. We the audience are laughing at him as opposed to with him due largely to how near needless this arc is. In personal opinion though I still like it, even if it does make me feel embarrassed for Gohan at times. Gohan would’ve made for a rather decent protagonist had Toriyama decided to keep Goku out of the picture. The kind and gentle nature, the need to help everyone in need and the well of unused power resting within him makes Gohan a character that I’d enjoy watching go to high school and try to struggle with keeping his powers a secret while fighting increasingly powerful opponents as opposed to having Buu come in right from the get go and I kind of think that that’s what Toriyama wanted to do but I guess the world hadn’t gotten enough of his idiot father and thus the world got the goody goody that failed to kill pretty much any major villain throughout the entirety of the series. Now how does Gohan fit into this discussion on idiot heroes? Well Gohan has the same traits that I think a lot of more intelligent Shonen heroes usually suffer from. Gohan is smart and intelligent but he’s also socially awkward and like his dad, not very in touch with how the modern world works. He’s an idiot in the sense that he just doesn’t really use common sense. Any logical person in his situation would simply let the police or Videl handle the bad guys but Gohan being Gohan can’t allow any innocent person to be harmed or any wrong doer to go unpunished. So, he dons a colorful costume and makes a fool out of himself and it doesn’t take long for Videl to figure out who he really is especially in the manga where she discovers him the first time he uses his new hero identity. I guess one can also make the case that Gohan is an idiot for letting his father die during the Cell Games. Yeah, that might be a low blow but it’s true. Once Gohan finally snapped, EVERYONE knew that he was perfectly capable of killing Cell and ending this shitstorm. What did he do? He drew the battle out and played with his opponent like Vegeta and this is largely due to lacking two things that his father and Vegata both possess. Gohan lacks his fahter’s tactical battle skills, if you can call them that and the killer intent of Vegeta. This would’ve been a WONDERFUL chance to explore the potential problems these flaws could’ve caused but no. Goku comes back and the rest is history. Such a waste. Honestly, have Videl get kidnapped by someone or something with ACTUAL power, nothing like Buu but something challenging for the young hero and then let’s have this guy…wipe out a few major cities, kill some innocents and to cap it all off…mortally wound Gohan’s family and loved ones while still threatening his lady love. This sounds like something I’m sure some fanfic writer has come up with and out of the first 10 pages of the DBZ section on fanfiction.net only 10 stories focus on Gohan in high school and none of them seem to utilize that idea. Oh well, I think we’ll look at two more atypical examples of this before looking at the three that EVERYONE seems to love for some reason or another.
Now, as I’m sure you’re starting to notice, for these examples I’m not using the actual protagonists of the series. This is because of a certain trend I’ve noticed. When reasonably intelligent, level headed or outright average characters in a shonen series are in fact the main character, they’re often paired with an idiot. Why this happens is anyone’s guess but I guess I’m supposed to be the one to answer this question, aren’t I? Well much like in the case of Kamina, let’s see how these next three (yes three, hell I might even do 4) characters help to shape our lead.
By far probably one of the best examples of being paried with an idiot charcater happens with Yugi Mutou from Yu-Gi-Oh! In his case, the small boy was paried with this guy, Katsuya Jonochi/Joey Wheeler. Joey started off as meerely a playful antagonist to Yugi at the start of the series. A more unlikeable and bullyish version of Kamina from Gurren Lagann. But Joey never physically caused Yugi harm or put him in danger…intentionally. Joey, for some reason or another, wanted to make Yugi a man and as previously stated, treats him in a similar manner to how Kamina treats Simon. But the thing that turns Joey into arguably the second most important character in the series among the supporting cast is when Yugi defends him and Hiroto Honda/Tristan Taylor from a bully. Joey returns the piece of Yugi’s Millennium Puzzle to him and the two boys become best friends. Now Joey is straight up stupid, no doubt about that. He’s headstrong, hot blooded and constantly rushes into thigns without thinking them through. He often relies on Yugi’s help to win duels against far stronger and mroe experienced opponents and when that’s not enouh, Joey relies on straight up dumb luck. Now why do I even bring up this character? Well, even if Joey isn’t the main character he’s still an idiot shonen character which is what this post is about. Since Yugi is the smart one in his group, Joey is the dumb muscle. But there’s more to him than just that. As I’ll cover in a later post, the power of Friendship is an important force in the land of Shonen and here it’s among the strongest forces in the universe. The bonds of Friendship shared between Yugi and his friends resonate strongest in his friendship with Joey. In Japanese “Friendship” is translated as “Yujou” which and is made up of the first sylables of both Yugi and Joey’s names. Their friendship is brought up constantly and is one of the reasons why Yugi is able to grow and develop into his own person. Because Joey was always there supporting Yugi, the boy was able to grow into becoming his own man…despite the fact that he also relied on the spirit of a 5,000 year old Pharaoh. Anyhow, the friendship between these two has been tested in just about every season to my knowledge and each time they’re able to overcome this obstacle and become even stronger which culminates during Battle City where Yugi confesses that he loves Joey from the bottom of his heart, not as a LOVER but as an irreplaceable friend that he’d gladly risk his life and die for. Say what you want about this show but you’ve got to admit that the Idiot made a Man out of our main…sort of. That and FRIENDSHIP!
Once again we return to Ruroni Kenshin for a supporting Idiot. Now here we have a rather…unusual case…in a way. Often when paired with the idiot supporting character, our lead will be of reasonable intelligence but lacking in masculity or a backbone. Thus the idiot will often be the most masculine member of the cast and the best freind to our main and will try to man him up. Not so much in the case of Sanosuke Sagara. Kenshin’s already a 28 year old man by the time he works his way into the plot and despite the protests of some that Bishonen characters aren’t manly for some reason just because they’re pretty looking, Kenshin is the established man with a backstory and everything. He’s the one with the vow to never kill and goes out of his way to save people. Suck it up, Kenshin’s more of man than Sano. Back on topic here, Sano serves to knock some much needed sense into our favorite former Hitokiri. Sano also served a similar role to Yahiko, being a character others could have an easier time relating to and he was also like an older brother to Yahiko. He was also the resident second badass and more or less second in command…if you could call him that. As the male character closest in age to Kenshin (for the first part of the story), the two were able to easily have conversations and bounce off each other so why is Sano an idiot? Well because of that personality of his. Sano was…I’d dare say at the lower end of intellectually average but he knew his way around the battle field. He was a support character and like Yahiko and Kaoru, he quickly realized that he was…not quite up to snuff and needed to get stronger during the Kyoto Arc. Like all the characters, Sanosuke got a significant amount of development. He started off as a simple fighter for hire and eventually became something of a wanderer himself at the end of the manga.
Just about the only really contributing side male character in a Harem series is Kotaro Inugami from Negima. Similar to the two above, he started off as something of an antagonist to the lead (are we seeing a pattern yet?) before switching sides and becoming Negi’s friend. Now of all the characters in this series why would I bring up this one? Because Kotaro has a much more obvious effect on Negi than any of the girls do. Kotaro was introduced in volume 5 during the Kyoto Arc (wow that’s two series with a Kyoto arc now) as an antagonistic obstacle in Negi’s way. Kotaro is a Hanyo or Half Yokai/Half Demon specifically an Inugami or a Dog Spirit and he makes it very clear that he has a hatred for Negi during their first fight because Negi is not only a male Western Wizard, but he also depends on a girl to protect him and do all the physical fighting for him. In his second battle with our main character, Kotaro is beaten by Negi who despite doing most of the fighting for himself still has to rely on the help of one of his partner’s with the ability to read thoughts. After the Kyoto arc is finished, Kotaro returns in volume 8 as a main reoccurring character and a friendly rival to Negi. Now like Joey and Sano, Kotaro is an idiot in the intellectual sense but he shines brightest on the battlefield. He might not understand things like philosophy but Kotaro has street smarts and battle experience and is an invaluable ally to Negi. Now, this might not be the best time to bring this up but when I say “in depth analysis” I mean I get what I get out of it. I’m no expert on this stuff so like I say, grain of salt. Back on topic, why does Kotaro matter? Well let’s look at what Kotaro is. He’s a Dog Demon. On the one hand, he sees himself as a lone wolf but it’s obvious that he’s more like a wounded street puppy. Kotaro has been shunned away from his family due to what he is (this is implied within the series). This makes Kotaro value the relationships he’s able to make with Negi and some of the other girls. In turn Negi, who up till this point has really only had female friends, values Kotaro as a playmate and a true example of what a male to male relationship is like. Kotaro inspires Negi to think a little outside the box and act like an idiot while Negi inspires Kotaro to become stronger and eventually become a Magister Magi himself. Kotaro is a rare character in Harem series because the males that do appear often fuck shit up as best they can which isn’t funny. They often give stupid advice to the lead male who takes it against his better judgement. Kotaro has no interest in romance. He often tells Negi to stop getting caught up in so many different relationships with girls and in a way kind of thinks them inferior to men on the battlefield in his first appearance. Kotaro is chivalrous though as he refuses to physically fight girls under any circumstances and is always there to help the girls if needed.
So, we’ve looked at three typical examples, three atypical examples and three supporting examples. The Idiot Shonen Hero comes in many flavors and the best part is that most times he doesn’t even have to be the main character. But now we’ve reached the three that just seem to roll right off the tongue. These are the last three examples before we wrap this up with my favorite Idiot Shonen Hero.
So for this one we’ll start with the new and go back in terms of series. Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, is what happens when you take InuYasha and try to make him into a combination of Yusuke Urameshi and Kazuma Kuwabara and fail to do it the right way, if there is a right way to do so. He is practically those three characters all rolled into one scowling package. Unlike most Shonen heroes, Ichigo isn’t really an idiot in an intellectual sense since he ranks 23rd in his class in order to not get shit for his grades and natural orange hair. He’s troubled and he’s got a sad sob story that involves the death of his mother and he’s weird in that he can see ghosts and people pick fights with him because of his hair. He’s got friends, a loving family, good looks and an unusual talent so what’s his goal? Well, he doesn’t have one. Ichigo is one of the “normal” Shonen main characters that gets dragged into the story and has no set goal in mind nor any aspirations to do much of anything with his life. Ichigo suffers from what I like to call “Plot Power Disease” meaning he gains new powers for no logical reason other than “Oh yeah, the plot requires you to get stronger!”. Now many other Shonen series are afflicted with this disease but its’ not always a bad thing when the threat will be resolved in a timely manner. NOT WHEN THE VILLAIN MAPS OUT THE ENTIRE PLOT AND IS AROUND FOR THE GRAND MAJORITY OF THE SERIES! Sorry about that, I’ve got issues with this series. In many ways Bleach was off to a fairly decent start and the way it was structured wasn’t horrible, but very enjoyable! Even with the shitstorm of characters that kept flying out of Kubo’s ass and the walking abomination that is Aizen who makes Haruhi Suzumiya look like a stage magician in comparison to the power he wields. IF Aizen was killed…in like…2 more arcs after the Soul Society arc, I wouldn’t have minded him so much but no. And once again I’ve gotten off topic but not really. Anyways, Ichigo isn’t a horrible protagonist, not really. He’s just not a very compelling one when you get down to brass tacks. He fights for his friends and to save the world but…really what else? What does he get out of it? Why does he exist? Well, don’t ask me! I could care less! In a lot of ways I don’t have too many problems with Ichigo’s character or many of the other supporting characters either. My MAIN problem starts with Aizen and then the plot itself. It’s like it’s on this grand journey to nowhere but wants you to think that it’s actually going somewhere.
And now we get into uselessness territory. Naruto is the shit series ripped off of…I mean inspired by a series called Ninku and for some reason, it’s become like the Twilight of the anime world. You have the people that like it but can see all of it’s flaws and just don’t watch it (like ME), and then you have the people that ARE FUCKING OBSESSED WITH IT AND TREAT IT LIKE IT’S FUCKING SHAKESPEARE OR LITERARY GOLD WHEN IT’S NOT! IT’S NOT DAMNIT! Okay, I…I need to calm down. It’s just that this series ANGERS ME! Not because of how bad it is but because of it’s many many many many many many many MANY MANY MANY FLAWS THAT PEOPLE CONTINUE TO IGNORE FOR SOME REASON! IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS PEOPLE! IT’S STUPIDITY WHEN APPLYING IT TO THIS! Once again…I need to calm down. Okay, now where do I begin? Naruto is among the biggest idiots in his universe. He’s loud, annoying, idiotic and of course he’s got problems (don’t we all?). Naruto’s got a demon fox taking up residence inside his body and EVERYONE in the village hates him for it 🙂 🙂 So Naruto wants to become the most badass ninja in his village because then people will HAVE to look up to him and respect him or else die (or something like that). So in his quest to become a great ninja, Naruto CONSTANTLY skips school and plays pranks! TOP GRADE NINJA, RIGHT FUCKING HERE FOLKS! I’ve got SO many problems with this series, it’s not even funny :(! First, the story is OLD AS SHIT! We’ve SEEN this story MANY times before, and we’ll no doubt see it MANY times in the future. Despite this, I liked the series when it first hit America. I liked the idea of Naruto becoming Hokage not for the GOOD of his village but because he was tired of being treated like shit and wanted some damn respect! I STILL like that plot! It deals with a character having to find his place in a society that neither wants nor cares for his personal well being. Sure, Naruto’s existence has saved the village but they all think he’s just the fox in human form. Naruto’s goal and plan to become the Hokage is a rather smart move and rational decision on his part as it would force the villagers to respect him REGARDLESS of the nameless monster fox living within him. I’m not going to really get into my reasons for not liking the series, or at least I hope I don’t because I want to focus more on the character rather than the shit series as a whole. Now part of my dislike for the series stems from the fact that Naruto still wants to become the Hokage but now is primary motivation is gone. The villagers already respect him and he’s among the most powerful of his class so what does he really have to gain by becoming the Hokage? What’s his reason for aiming that high? Naruto’s still stupid after the time skip, he wouldn’t make a great leader in a time of crisis or war! Now if the village still hated him even after he saved their asses from Pein that would be different. He’d still have perfectly reasonable reason for wanting to become Hokage but why does he still want to now? Does the Hokage make him a babe magnet? Will he become smarter? What’s his reason? If any of you can or wish to answer this question, PLEASE DO IN THE COMMENT SECTION! Now, I’ve talked about this idiot as much as I really want to without shitting all over it. Despite my MANY reasons for not liking it, I still do like it in a way.
Now we move onto my FAVORITE of these three series, One Piece and it’s idiot lead Monkey D. Luffy! Shit, even his name has “stupid” written all over it. Luffy is…an idiot in every sense of the word. He’s…he’s just an idiot but I still like him. Despite being stupid, Luffy still manages to be likable and the kind of person you’d be inclined to follow on an adventure across the seas. Like Naruto, Luffy also has a (Truly truly truly) outrageous goal in mind. He wants to be the Pirate King. He gathers his crew (most of which is smarter than he is) and sets sail for the Grand Line. As stated previously, I find Luffy to be extremely likable despite him being an idiot. Maybe it’s his childish determination, or that goofy smile he always has on his face or just the fact that YOU KNOW Luffy will get shit done that makes me respect him as a lead character. Why Luffy is an idiot is something that the world may never know and I don’t really care, to be honest. I know that I bitch and whine about there being too many idiot Shonen leads but that doesn’t mean that I hate all of them. Luffy here is my absolute favorite, to be honest. Who’s you’re favorite Idiot Shonen Character and Why and then who’s the character you hate the most and why?
In conclusion, idiocy is the thing that humanity is stuck with. We can become smarter but we all make stupid decisions at some point or another and we learn from those mistakes, do we not? Maybe this blog was a stupid mistake of mine. But back to Shonen, let us now return to those questions that I asked before we got into the examples. Why have a character like this? What’s the point? Well, I believe the point is to give the character a believable flaw. Their idiocy is their undoing sometimes but most times these characters are able to come away despite their stupid decisions. What do we get out of it? Well, humor for one. To be honest, I’ve never really seen idiocy played in a serious or tragic light where it REALLY has a devastating effect on the main character and as much as I’d like to see that, I doubt people would sympathize very well. Everyone has access to information with which to develop and improve their intellect so it’s a flaw that’s played for comedy and at times dramatic irony. SOME situations do exist where the character goes through a tragic ordeal because of a stupid decision they made but it’s never really too big of a thing. We the audience are able to connect with the character. As for possible development, LOTS cam come from having an idiot for a main character. Their idiocy may be a result of immaturity and as the series gets more serious, the hero must cast off that childish immaturity and idiocy and become an adult. I hope that this has been an informative and insightful post and I hope that in reading this you were able to learn something you didn’t already know. Join me next time for…I don’t even know!