The New Shounen: Human Connection at the Center

I just completed Noragami Aragato. and a thought crossed my mind about shounen anime.

It looks like the mainstream action shounen genre is finally starting to morph into a deeper and smarter popular genre that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence.

In Noragami Aragato, human connection and character development (as opposed to mindless action and fan-service) are set on the foreground of the story. There are full and nearly uneventful episodes exploring only the characters’ feelings and their interactions. When it is time for the action, the characters’ relationships have a strong influence on the outcome of the fights.

noragami aragato

Ushio to Tora and Haikyuu! are good examples of such an approach to the shounen genre. The characters develop thanks to their interaction with one another. It’s a psychological portrayal  without the complicated rendition of the psychological genre itself. We’re still in a mainstream shounen circle, after all. That’s why it’s smart and as real as it can get for a shounen (as opposed to seinen and more mature genres).

Almost all shounen stories emphasize friendship. It’s the formula, i guess! but the way they go about it is what’s important to me. They can make it a mere launchpad to throw at us their 2 to 3 episode-long fights like in Bleach or make it the core of the story and keep the action aspect at the rim like in Noragami Aragato. I most certainly prefer the latter.

This new shounen is still rare but it’s getting there. Maybe I’m being harsh on the shounen shows but that’s probably because I’m a seinen fan. (I’m in my late twenties too so..!) Still, I enjoy a good shounen when it’s not too childish and entirely action-oriented.

I think the only title that encompassed all those elements and I still tolerate and even consider one of the best animes out there is One Piece. Whoever you are, I’m sure you agree! 🙂