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The cult of Shonen manga

Shonen manga refers to an editorial line of manga in the West. Indeed, Shonen means "boy" or "young" in Japan. Shonen publications are therefore generally aimed at a male audience aged 10 to 15. Manga such as Naruto, Bleach, One Piece or Hunter x Hunter are among them.

A genre more than an editorial line

With time and the success of these publications, Shonen has become a real genre. There are often similarities between the works, such as the presence of Nekketsu: a theme in these mangas that highlights an initiation quest. This concept is particularly present in literature and cinema. It includes works that base their approach on fights (Dragon Ball) or manga that stand out more for their sports competitions (Olive and Tom or Kuroko no Basket). This theme encompasses beautiful values such as friendship, team spirit, the pushing of limits or the taste for effort. Most of the manga that fit the Shonen style were published in the same weekly newspaper in Japan: the Weekly Shonen Jump.

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The influence of Weekly Shonen Jump

The weekly magazine is really the media that pushed the genre towards fame. Thanks to a rating system, the magazine has allowed previously unknown works to reach the popularity they have today. For example, works have become particularly well known in the magazine before being adapted into an anime. The genres that the magazine favours are fantasy and heroic-fantasy. One Piece, for example, has been the most successful shonen for many years. It very rarely leaves the top of the ranking.

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A genre in constant evolution

If there is one certainty in the world of Shonen, it is that the genre is constantly renewing its themes. If works such as Dragon Ball, Saint Seya and One Piece have succeeded in laying the solid foundations of the genre with the need to surpass oneself in order to achieve one's ambitions and dreams, other works have paved the way towards more depth. Naruto comes to mind. This manga is not a journey of initiation, but it puts forward strong themes such as the passage to adulthood and knowledge. There is also a more nationalistic side, Naruto being ready to do anything to defend his country, no matter how the inhabitants feel about him. With this, he puts forward another strong theme: you shouldn't hate those who hate you. It is better to try to change their minds through our actions.

The best Shonen

You don't know much about Shonen yet and you'd like to see what it's like? Here is a list of works that could keep you busy for hours of reading:

  • My Hero Academia: this work is considered the greatest Shonen manga and anime in the world. It involves superheroes like in the Marvel or DC universes. It is the battle of super villains against superheroes at its purest.
  • Spy X Family: We follow the life of Twilight, a notorious spy who tries to reach his new political target by building a family from scratch. The only way he can get in touch with this politician is by enrolling his children in the same school as his own. He adopts Anya from an orphanage without knowing that she has telepathic powers resulting from scientific experiments.
  • One-punch Man: what makes this superhero manga special is that the main character can defeat all his enemies with a single punch. He has no motivation and is constantly confronted with his frustrations and disappointments as he has to fight enemies that are always more imposing than the others.
  • Chainsaw Man: The absurd story sees a young man, Denji, forced to hunt demons to pay off a debt to the Yakuza. He is accompanied by his devil dog, Pochita, a friendly chainsaw-like demon. When he is killed by a Yakuza, his body merges with that of his chainsaw dog.

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