the feature photo for a spieltime exclusive top ten shonen anime protagonist ranking

The world is hard to live in but it would have been harder without Shonen anime protagonists. The Shonen genre since long has targeted the aspiring dreams of power-ups for the young male audience. It isn’t that girls cannot be initiated into it although one will have to attest to the male-focus to the initiators of the Shonen genreFor better or for worse for some series to be shonen it must have a manga source that is published for the shonen demographics. (Shonen referring to boys in Japanese).

Dragonball Z was among the first of its kind, salvaging the world with Goku the hope of light, and Frieza the dark nemesis. What began ever since was an array of similar storylines that followed a central male protagonist. This protagonist starts off usually as a young boy who wishes to accomplish something i.e become the Hokage of his village or the king of pirates. We bring to you the Top 10 Shonen Anime Protagonists that have revolutionized Anime fandom to the entire world during 2010-20.

10/10  Koyomi Araragi 

top shonen anime protagonists
Koyomi Araragi (via Crunchyroll)

Koyomi Araragi of the Monogatari series makes it to the tenth in the list of Top 10 Shonen Anime Protagonists of the 2010-20 decade. This is mainly because of the relentless muttering and inner monologues in which he engages in before diving dip selflessly to help those wandering near him.

Koyomi is not your usual shonen protagonist. He has no motivation to force his ideals upon anyone. He minds his own fucking business but at the same time is unable to let go if he sees someone suffering.

  • This is made even more evident once he falls in love with Senjougahara san. Koyomi shows one of the toughest commitments shown in any relationship whatsoever. Koyomi earlier had a crush on Tsubasa Hanekawa before. But upon being given a chance by Hanekawa for a shot, Koyomi confidently pronounces his love for the girl he has committed himself to.

9/10  Izuku Midoriya 

Deku in My Hero Academia Chapter 367
Deku sees the state of his friends in My Hero Academia chap 367 via VIZ

The de-facto shonen successor to the big three (Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece) is still My Hero Academia (Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer being potentially the rest). And the green-haired prince of this shonen Animanga is Izuku ‘Hero-Name Deku’ Midoriya. Deku’s philosophy is primarily shonen cliche but it hardly stops him from being a staggering force of fictional work.

  • What really gets you motivated towards Deku is his journey from zero to top. The big three and I mean even Naruto began relatively powerful. Deku even after receiving One For All was initially useless for the first few episodes in Season 1. Despite this, he has come a freaking long way in a very short span of time and is one of the reasons why MHA is such a world-clustered hit.

8/10  Shigeo ‘Mob’ Kageyama

Kageyama in Mob Psycho 100 season 3 release when?
courtesy of Youtube Official trailer (via Anitv Channel)

In our 8th rank of Top 10 Anime Protagonists of 2010-20, we present to you Shigeo ‘Mob’ Kageyama from Mob Psycho 100. Mob here is undoubtedly the uncontended world’s strongest psychic. However, unlike Saitama, Mob isn’t de-facto overpowered from the get-go. His power kinda sets in tone by tone, percentage by percentage. However, upon crossing 100%, Mob reaches a state called ???%.

  • Once he’s here you can kinda bid all other nearing espers goodbye. Mob is overpowered in psychic abilities but has zero physical or social capacities. Yet his journey with his mentor Reigen and his friends and family hones him up as one of the finest shonen anime protagonists that really exploded during the 2010-20s.

7/10  Momonga

Momonga OVERLORD
Momonga Sama, courtesy of IMDB

The great Ainz Ooal Gown makes it to this list for a variety of reasons. One defining factor that I used when ranking these characters is their reliability. The thing about Shonen characters is that they are supposed to be larger-than-life. Yet even amidst such vividly expansive creations, what aspects can we relate to as the readers?

Overlord shines in here with how Momonga is just another hardcore game player. Often time he has no idea how to react but he just tries to scoff it off like an act. Of course, the way it is written, his servants fall glamorously in awe at their master’s grandiose extravagance. 

6/10  Gon Freeccs 

top ten shonen anime protagonists
Image Courtesy via Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter is a masterpiece that comes from the same creator as Yu Yu Hakusho. Yu Yu Hakusho isn’t credited that much, but it was definitely the building factor in making Shonen a genre. The journey of Gon Freeccs is similar to One Piece’s Luffy or Naruto Uzumaki in his childhood. Gon is but a child so there isn’t really that much depth into him. Naruto quite outgrew Gon in certain aspects by the time he grows up but such is the result of aging.

  • We have yet to see a grown Gon but so far we know that what makes him great is his unescaping innocence and goodness in the heart. It’s always good to see portrayals of pure innocence and goodness in fiction although it’s always a hard task to create such characters.
  • Yoshihiro Togashi has done a fantastic job in creating Gon albeit his broken-hearted massive power-up form in which he murdered Pitou will always remain carved in our hearts.

5/10  Saitama

Saitama is just a hero for fun
Snapped from Muse ASIA youtube channel

Written by the same author as Mob Psycho 100, Saitama from One Punch Man is the world standard for overpowered anime characters. He is also the instigator of the 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 10km running workout routine. On the get-go, Saitama looks like an airhead and someone who is completely comical. But that is far from the truth given how in-depth he is actually written. There are numerous examples but here’s the most prominent –

  • Remember when he defeated the Deep Sea king in one punch and some weird-looking nobody started shouting from the crowd how the Deep Sea king must be a fake if he could be beaten by one punch? The crowd slowly started on a path where they listened to this frenzy and were about to disdain the efforts of the heroes who were seriously injured by attempting to defend that same crowd.

  • It is then that Saitama decides to play the villain and speaks out loud about how he only beat the monster because he was already weakened and is basically siphoning the credit of the works of the heroes before him. Well, this one incident alone is more than enough to put the world’s strongest man with the greatest of humanity right in our list of Top 10 Anime Protagonists of 2010-20.

4/10  Meliodas 

The Seven Deadly Sins Anime Sequel
via a-1 pictures

The brilliance of Meliodas is in the depth of his tragic love story. The very formula of a good Shonen protagonist is to make him a complete airhead, pervert or goofball, or all these. But deep within him lay something tragic and of depth. We have seen these examples before with the most prominent being Saitama and Luffy. 

  • Both these examples come out as airheads but in reality, they are characters of immense character (pun not intended). Aside from being a force of freaking nature in terms of strength, or being an admirable captain and leader to whom every member of the sins follows, Meliodas is also a kind person.
  • Meliodas begins as a pervert but upon hearing the thousand-year-long cycle in which he has continuously lost and regained his love and lost again, you cannot help but put him in this list. 

3/10  Edward Elric 

top ten shonen anime protagonists
from Devinart

The pride of Fullmetal Alchemist series is definitely Alphonse and Edward Elric. Edward has always, and I mean always been the elder brother. Even when he first attempted the human transmutation and lost his brother, he immediately plunged into the chaos of the world. He then sacrificed his leg and arm to pull the soul back and attach it to a piece of metal armor. Edward Elric has always learned from his mistakes and tried to make them better.

  • The depth of this character lies in the way he didn’t want to revive his mother again after a failed human transmutation attempt. The sheer tragedy of his childhood and the disdained look of doom that conscripted his soul following that tragedy remains still in my heart as a memory of when I watched the series.
  • Truth be told, despite all the evil Elric has seen in the world, he let his heart remain open. He ends up marrying Winry as he should, which he did. Thank god for that. One of the finest written anime surely will have one of history’s finest written Shonen Anime protagonists.

2/10 Koro Sensei

top shonen anime protagonists

Koro Sensei begins as a villain. Not that he actually begins as the villain but he more or less seems like the ultimate big goal. All his students are tasked with the responsibility of killing Koro Sensei, the man responsible for the destruction of the moon. Koro-sensei promised to kill the Earth if his students didn’t kill him before they graduate. What ensued was a battle of assassination teachings, attempts, and a lot of emotional build-ups.

  • The peak of the emotional roller coaster reaches its destination only towards the end when something staggering is revealed. What it is would be a spoiler and a pretty major one. One you wouldn’t be able to walk away from. Koro Sensei is history one of the finest written characters for all the things he left behind in his students.
  • Under the demeanor of assassination, what Koro Sensei instead taught his students were lessons of life and how to be able citizens of a society. All this is under the rug of assassination. For the greatness of his character, we rank him no 2 in the top ten shonen anime protagonists.

1/10  Eren Jeager

Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama
Eren Jeager in Season 4, IMDB

The writing of Eren Jeager is god-level. The depth of his imagination only unravels properly starting in season 4 although hints are laid bare in previous seasons also. Eren Jeager for all his life has chased freedom from perils. Freedom of all kinds – freedom from suffering, from limitations, from walls, from wars, from Titans.

But in the epic tale told of Attack on Titan, Eren Jeager is ultimately a prisoner of his own mindset. A prisoner of his own endless journey towards freedom – for which he was willing to sacrifice the world.

  • The one moment where you know Eren is the nominal best Shonen character ever written is when he double turns Zeke. The entire analogy of how it has always been him who hunted his own father, and also his past self is mind-shatteringly genius. The insanity that went into the detailing of his philosophy was apparent when he didn’t brainwash the people into believing his cause. Now listen up –
  • If Eren Jeager has the founding powers he could definitely just make all Eldians believe in his cause through the paths connected to brainwashing. Yet upon being asked, Eren replies that everyone has the freedom to stop his procession, just as he has his to defend his freedom. This is the moment you realize that Eren has gone beyond the philosophical dualities of good and bad. For all reasons, he is indeed beyond human and our best pick for No 1 Shonen Protagonist of 2010-20.

Conclusion

Although here I have primarily written Shonen Anime Protagonists. I have done this primarily to separate Manga from the Anime, despite the fact that Anime originals (without manga) cannot properly be called Shonen. Although so far it is true that Shonen is no longer limited to manga publication or demographics, with rising debates of many works being considered crossing borderline Shonen despite being Seinen.

Take this list with a grain of salt and understanding of the thing called Subjectivity and you’ll be free from the ravishes of toxic internet calling-out culture just because your opinion ain’t the same as mine.


Also Read: Top 5 Summer Anime 2022 that you should watch before Fall season

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Rhytham is a Philosophy graduate who founded a state-level organization that promotes anime and Japanese culture in his home state of Assam India. The org is named Assam Senpai Society. He is also an ardent writer, poet, musician, vocalist, graphic designer, and photoshop artist. He has worked on multiple state and national level conventions. Other than anime, catch him watching western series that really have in themselves the solidity to catch his attention.