This or That: Who is the Better Shonen Protagonist?

Hear Ye Hear Ye Princess Pinkie has returned with a New Anime Post

Salutations Dear Island Guests and Loyal Subjects, which I hope are one and the same. Shonen is probably the most accessible genre in anime. The desire to be more than our current selves, to grow more powerful and to be respected as a hero might dwell in all of us .. at least a bit. Yet Shonen Protagonists are often a tad .. bland.. made without a very dominant personality so we can place ourselves in their shoes and feel empowered. So what makes a good Shonen Protagonist in my eyes?! Today we find out by comparing a couple and picking my favourite.

Round 1: Gon Freecss and Izuku Midoriya

Let’s begin with two characters who represent the target demographic the best.  Gon and Midoriya are kids of an age that Shonen watchers would be.  They both love the colour green, they both have outfits I do not find very fashionable and they both work by enhancing their physical strength by having a story that is deeply connected to having a father figure playing an important role in their life. Both have high moral fiber and join an organisation that is there to protect human kind from all sorts of unspeakable evils.  Yet which of the two is the better character? To me there is no contest here at all, because I really do not like Deku as a main character at all.

Izuku Midoriya | Wallpaper de anime, Anime

 I totally get why he is the main character and I can see why people like him but I found him so boring I dropped Hero Academia for it. He’s almost literally Captain America.. a trope that has been there since the 40’s!  Steve Rogers is a wimpy boy, that dreams of/wants to be a soldier, like all his buddies. Even though he is not born with the physical capabilities a benefactor gives him a serum that turns him into a super soldier.  One of extremely high moral fiber that always does the right thing… even if it isn’t always the lawful thing.  Midoriya is the exact same character..except soldier has been replaced by the word hero.. and instead of serum , he got a hair.

I already made a post in which I wrote how bland Shonen main characters can be and Deku to me is the epitome of that. On the opposite site of the spectrum though is Gon. Who in many ways is similar but one who has actual layers. Starting with his Goal.. unlike other protagonists of the genre Gon has an objective goal, rather than a subjective one. What is “ a great hero?”  What is a Pirate King, What does it take to become Hokage?”  All these goals are final destinations, when (and not if)  the character reaches them, the manga/anime ends.  Gon’s story is different, he wants to find his dad. Given how often we see and hear of Gin we already know that will not be the end of the story. 

Hunter x Hunter (2011) – A closer look at Gon vs Neferpitou – blautoothdmand

 From the beginning we know his dad might be dead, maybe he is alive and the reunion will be touching, or maybe Gon will be angry with him.  He is written as a protagonist whose journey can go anywhere.  Gon also feels much more like a kid. He is fickle, naive and has a dark side.  He can be very empathic.. but he also has enough apathy to let Killua do the terrible things he does..to some extent. Gon does what he does, for a very personal goal at times maybe even selfish, power and status is not a goal but a means to an end for him making him feel much more real. Midoriya chases in essence what everyone in that world chases.. or at least the cast chases, translated in this world Deku chases the American Dream, which is the most generic story, with a character that has no real flaws.. he is insecure sure that can be noted as a flaw .. but when it matters he always steps up, his flaws vanish . Gon is frustrated and angry, Gon has abandonment issues and these show up as nasty traits at times, which hinder the story or at least his growing curve in a significant matter. Therefore his base narrative as well as the road trough that narrative is so much more versatile and holds excitement… we truly don’t know how his journey will go. With Deku you can make very well educated guess, Gon keeps the audience surprised  which makes him one of THE best Shonen Protagonist period.  No contest here at all!

Son Goku Vs Monkey D Luffy

I would like to classify  Gon and Deku as more serious protagonists, despite the fact that Gon can be carefree, their journey has some gravitas. It’s not about enjoying themselves along the road. Enjoying yourself on your journey is a trope as well and what two characters better to portray that as Goku and Luffy.  The top two selling anime franchises of all time.  Goku and Luffy are both carefree, glutenous characters, who have access to several transformations and continue to get new ones as their journey goes along. They journey across their respective narrative worlds to face their worlds strongest fighters to prove their own worth.  They make plenty of friends along the way and show kindness to both friends and enemies. Unlike the previous bout this one is a lot closer for me to call and not just because I am watching Goku through nostalgia goggles.

Goku x female reader - Deeper - Wattpad

On paper Luffy does seem like the character that is better equipped for the win. His character arc is more dynamic and he is a much better person than Goku. He also has a lot more personality than Goku does from the get go as well as the one that is more consistently written. Some aspects of Goku’s personality faded over time, which can be explained because we literally see him grow up from a naive kid to a more aloof man. Goku is often hated upon for being a bad father who only wants to fight. However it is that very aspect that draws me so much to later Dragon Ball and Z-Goku. Toriyama told his readers that there is a toxic element in Goku. I do like the idea of this self destructive toxicity.. Once again it offers excitement. How often can it be done before Goku truly bites something off too big for him to chew?!  Unfortunately Goku was ruined , to an extent..not by Toyataro but by the fans. 

Luffy could win this match simply for the fact that he basically is aromantic and will never be a character that I can see having a kid. That means Luffy’s journey can only be achieved by Luffy. Z-Goku was to an extend designed to pass on the torch to his son! However fan complaints ruined this, they needed to see more Goku.. NOT Gohan. This reduced Goku’s most interesting character trait, his toxic need for growth and bigger challenges, to a non issue. No matter how insane Goku’s decisions will become.. it will always be alright because fans won’t allow him to bear the consequences of his mistakes too much. It made the Buu-arc more convoluted as everyone but Goku had to be benched in the end… and it contributed in Toyotaro making Goku more helplessly naive rather than toxic.. which ruined the Moro Manga arc at the end.  

Luffy grin peace signs | Manga anime one piece, Anime best friends, One  piece manga

Luffy is designed better, his goal is strictly tied to him so he can never be replaced. He WILL have to be the one to overcome obstacles or his goals will not be met. The interesting element of Goku is that he does not want to BE the strongest, he wants to FIGHT the strongest, he doesn’t mind losing once or twice if it means he can continue to improve.  However that is also his detriment..his goal is the ultimate form of subjective..especially now that we have been introduced to the realm of the gods, surpassing the gods and all the other universes. Goku’s goal can only be obtained if the writer can’t imagine anyone stronger.. yet Toyotaro found the solution through the Dragon Balls, with Granola wishing to be the strongest in the universe… which means ANYONE can become the new strongest person in the universe.. his goal goes on forever and we will never see it conclude. Luffy has an end goal, Luffy will reach his finish..he is a character that can win. In a way.. Goku is pacman and Luffy is Mario. For the Audience it is much more satisfying to see Mario save the princess and take her home.. rather than see pacman establish a new high score before trying again.,, at least the majority of an audience.. That is what ultimately puts Luffy above Goku still.

Yusuke Urameshi Vs Kurosaki Ichigo

So we have had the bouts of the young naive kids,  the airheaded but insanely powerful adults, what is next?  The grouchy kid that gets dragged into this lifestyle thing against their will of course. The Delinquent type character. The characters I chose to pit against each other are Yusuke and Ichigo,,, can you figure out which one of the two I watched in Dub?! Other examples of this type of hero would be characters like Inuyasha or a great many of the Jojo’s. However Yusuke and Kurosaki both get visited by a girl from the spirit world, tether somewhere between life and death and face enemies in that theme. Both of them have an evil form they have to control so this seemed like a good fit. 

Evolution Of Ichigo Kurosaki By Order of Power Strength *Current up to  Manga chapter 640* ((CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS)) - Album on Imgur

What defines these characters is that oftenly they “lack” a bit of a goal.  They usually have a goal “by proxy” or at least a goal caused by another person. Both Ichigo and Yusuke get more “jobs” rather than a goal they strive for with all heart and soul. Which can at times feel a bit “forced”  The reason why they put up with this thing is oftenly explained through a macguffin, like Inuyasha’s necklace or in Yusuke’s case being employed as a spirit detective. This is where Ichigo takes a small lead over his rival, his story feels a bit more natural. Rukia is his coach for his new powers and as he learns she gets in trouble because of him.. he feels obligated to help her and from there his story flows naturally…until he defeats Aizen. Yusuke is a lot less likeable and a lot more resistant in the beginning, in fact he never really stops being an asshat until the very end of the show. That though gives mister Urameshi a trait that Ichigo somewhat lacks. Consistency.  He bounces around from having romantic moments with Rukia to having kids with Inoue and from delinquent to overpowered hero that does cool poses.

Character growth is important and Ichigo is a character that grows a lot more than Yusuke.. however I do think Ichigo is also a prime example of it being done in excess.  While Ichigo does start off as a better person than Yusuke already , he loses a lot of the elements that define him in the beginning, ending up as some generic cool looking hero.  The biggest problem with Ichigo is that he really doesn’t fight all that much.  The first part of the series is fine.. but around the Espada Arc it kind of follows a certain format.  Ichigo’s old powers get overwhelmed, he goes to train somewhere  to gain a new power. Hell breaks lose everywhere around him  and his friends do all the fighting and as soon as they begin to lose Ichigo shows up late.. but looking all cool and more powerful, obliterating the current enemy.
Then mid fight we travel to an alternate universe for a few weeks,  return to see him finish off this enemy before he is overwhelmed by the next enemy or encounters a new problem.. he goes back to training.. and shows up late for his next fight. Looking all cool and stuff one again not really having a challenge. As a result Ichigo kind of becomes a gimmick in his own show.  After every other fight he goes to power up and learn stuff again.. vanishes , then poofs back looking all cool.

boton ✨ (jizmund) - Profile | Pinterest

Yusuke kind of does the opposite. He gets his finger gun attack and then for almost half of the series he doesn’t really learn a new technique.. he just can fire it a bit more often. Only when the Dark Tournament Saga begins does he learn a new technique.. except it’s kind of the same technique still. A blue beam power attack.. this one is a bit wider though. That’s dozens of episodes in though!  Then two story arcs beyond that he gets a third power and that’s really it. Oh yeah he also gets a platypus bunny duck thing that only does something once, but I can’t help but feel Yusuke really does not grow that much at all…. yet I am not sure if I mind. Change is great but it has to feel natural. The way Yusuke gets roped into being a spirit detective would make it so that he probably would never go fond of the job. He treats his girlfriend pretty terrible and Botan as well, but he is never really given a very good reason to change. Yes they treat him better than  he treats them but with Keiko that has been ongoing since before the series began change has to be natural and I think Yuske is an interesting case study of it not always being needed.

The last Archetype

Fairy Tail - Natsu dragon slayer roar - YouTube

I thought I would place Natsu versus Sawada Tsunayoshi here as both “fire” based people who can float in the air and do big fire attacks as well as some punches… but they are very different archetypes. Tsuna is more akin to Gon and Midoriya. He would beat Deku but lose to Gon. Natsu is the fourth archetype. The shouty anger issues shone the protagonist. Characters like Naruto and Asta would find their way on this list as well as Edward Elric, though he can also fit in the previous category. This is my least favourite archetype because it oftenly invalidates itself as time passes. The “Wild” characters start out as the Scrappy Doo of anime but are then quickly polished out into something else.  I get this is probably a cultural archetype for Japan where loudness equals rude and undisciplined and seeing them grow into respectable people is part of the journey.. but to me at times it feels like we do not meet the real protagonist until halfway into the series. 

I think Tsuna is how this trope is done correctly. Naked Tsuna who is the super mode of the first part of the series doesn’t always show up so we get to know the real Tsuna already before he turns into this obnoxiously present trope. Until he is ready to learn discipline.. but we got to know him already. But he is such a different take on it that I don’t think he classifies. So how about I let you guys decide? Who is your favourite, high spirited, loud and almost feral anime protagonist? Let me know in the comments! Do note that I think that none of the shows I mentioned are bad. Some are just not for me. I am kind of picky with what I want to see in my main character. What makes for a main character you like?! Type a comment while I go imagine my own ideal Shonen protagonist in my mid day nap! Because remember folks!  Friendship is Magic, but dreams are even more wonderful! Oyasumi.

Pinkie’s Who Would Win: Naruto VS Luffy

Hello my dear island guests. It is time for yet another new series on my blog. It’s all based around a simple question. A question anime fan ask all the time! Who would win? Now of course Pinkie’s Paradise is a haven of peace and joy! Gladiatorial combat will not be part of it. Ram would have to much cleaning to do! That’s right she stayed! So instead for each face down we let our combatants duke it out in more mundane situations. This time the Gum Gum Pirate and the Nine Tailed Ninja duke it out…. in my game-room!

<This post features some atmospheric music suggestions found below each segment title viewing this post on the actual site is recommended for the full experience>

The Challenge

Of course the challenge will vary every installment of this. Combatants are allowed to use their abilities and we take into account how their mindset works. By placing them in a much more humble situation we do not need to do some math to find out that Luffy punches with the power of one octillion ton of tnt or having to go to weird science to show that Naruto’s beast bomb can blow up the moon.. which is more than Luffy can handle or something! No! These fights would cause planetary devastation and that’s not nice!  We would pick something you and I could compete in and feasibly win against them, why? Because that is how we make friends with them! Also I think it’s a bit more of an original idea than just analyzing their abilities or letting people vote who would win! This is more on brand for me.

Culling the competition!

So how do we place a flexible man and a duplicating man on equal level? Well it is very simple! We call in the help of Nintendo! In februari 1999 a game of theirs released that could test how flexible your hand was, how fast you could tab buttons and how strategical one can be! It forces people to work together..as well as against one another.  Today we will find out who of these two will be our Superstar. That is right! We are playing Mario Party. Now there are a lot of Mario Parties to choose from and the winner may depend on our choice. Obviously the ones with the car would bore both to death.. as those are proper mario party games. To keep things a bit simple.. I decided to go with the first game. This way there can always be a rematch, should there need be one!

The Set-Up

Luffy and Naruto would meet in an epic staredown, but smiling, both be handed their N64 controllers for the first time. Immediately we see a difference between our two contestants. Naruto like any normal human being has difficulty  holding this weird spaceship shaped controller, while Luffy wraps his hand around it with ease! The Rubber-Devil-Fruit Powers are coming in clutch already! Now since Naruto is Japanese he will hold the controller by the middle prong, tiny hands and all that, as the N64 controllers were designed that you could hold it depending on our hand size or what stuff you needed. Since the D-pad is barely needed in this game Naruto is not to disadvantaged but Luffy struggles less when needing to switch positions and has an advantage in minigames.

Now it’s onto selecting their characters, this doesn’t give them a advantage… or does it?  Luffy would as mentioned before have less trouble with the controller and would be able to select his character first. Choosing Yoshi.Why? Because I believe Luffy would get excited of having a dinosaur as a Nakama. Naruto who saw the frog like features of Yoshi would have most likely picked him as well but now decides to choose Peach. A choice which will come into play later.  Donkey Kong and Wario would be selected as the computer controlled opponents, as both tend to fight villains and these two are the closest to that..even if they are thinking of the wrong Donkey Kong. 

Now for a board they will select DK’s Jungle Adventure. Luffy would be to distracted by the cake .. in Princess Peach level and Luffy would not want to give Luffy the advantage of duking it out on a tropical island, as a pirate, islands like that would be Luffy’s favored terrain. They would consider the Wario Stage for a bit but both have had their fair share of war and are not to keen on reliving it.  Which brings me to what versions of both characters we use. We use both their “young adult” post time skip forms with most of their abilities intact. However transformation states are not allowed. So no foxfire Naruto and no Geared up Luffy. 

The First Half

Immediately after the turn order is decided,  Luffy tries to activate his conquers Haki to knock Naruto out or gage his inner strength, which obviously would not knock out Naruto but would knock out just about everyone else on the island… maybe if Irina is visiting she would have already been knocked out by the cocktails beforehand. This action does come back to bite Luffy in the posterior though. Now that there is no one to tell them how to play the actual game.

Naruto is much more likely to pick up video games more natural than Luffy. His world is a lot more contemporary than Luffies. Just less for ninja’s .. however there are computers and technology in his world. Additionally Naruto is less obsessed with his goal. While in his free time Luffy would eat, train or think of what new Nakama he wants to at, Naruto would actually spend his free time more “normally” making it much more likely he can slip into the right mindset. As a result in the first five rounds of mini games or so, Naruto would most likely come out on top, though perhaps still losing to the A.I. ..at least in the first two games.

In the second quarter of the game however we will see a much more balanced and equal game.  Luffy would use his gum gum arms to completely dominate the stick spin minigames, (these are mini games where you rapidly spin your analog stick around to win a minigame) and Naruto would use his shadow clones to win the rapid button presses minigames, however since Luffy is cute used to his Gum Gum Gatling Gun.. he develops a finger technique based on it called the Gum Gum Mini gun as he gains ground on Naruto. Having two clones aid with button presses is less effective than a flurry of rubbery fingers, so it looks like the most minigame award would go to Luffy. 

There is a reason that Naruto chose Peach. He readies his ultimate distraction technique as he asks Luffy. “Can you see my character”  he uses his Sexy-No-Jutsu to transform into a bikini Peach. This distraction would work, for about two minigames. Not because Luffy got a nosebleed.. but because he is super excited that he now might be able to add a Genderfluid-Ninja Nakama to his team and become Pirate King for sure.  Naruto would tease Luffy for long enough to win a couple of games and take some momentum back.

Luffy gets excited about a cool trick he sees!

The Second Half

In the second half of the game Luffy would recover, Sanji would somehow burst in and begin to swoon over Naruto causing him to turn back and yell at the chef. Where he came from nobody knows.. but when there is a half naked girl he just would show up. Luffy is gaining more and more advantages in minigames.  In games like Bumper Balls, where you try to bounce each other of a small island using big rubber balls for example would be akin to physics Luffy is very familiar with, there are a few similar games like swimming around a rubber hammer and other things. 

However in the water based games Luffy is a bit overly careful and ends up losing more than once.  For some reason in the bonus game you can dive up treasures he manages to get his character down under water.. but he can’t get it back up, not because he really can’t but because he believes he can’t .  As a result Luffy is not very good at the bonus games that allow you to earn more than 10 coins.. as a large part of them include water. Around turn 15, Luffy has won about 8 minigames, Naruto won 5 and the NPC’s have won two. However since Naruto wins the bonus games.. he would most likely still have the most coins…it doesn’t really help that Luffy likes to land on red spaces as that is is defining colour.

Team games are alway won by Luffy.. if Naruto is in his team or not.. he is very good at working with other people, while Naruto technically should he is much more a I need to do this guy. Something that really developed more after his time skip. Luffy is having more fun than Naruto, he lands on more question mark spaces and would luck out more having three stars where Naruto only has one. He is enjoying himself so much he loses sight of the tactical aspect of the match, as Luffy is prone to be distracted. 

This will end up costing him dearly in the final five turns, coins are ample except with Luffy who keeps spending them. Still seeing Naruto as a potential Nakama he shows him kindness and doesn’t steal from him using Boo. The Water 7 arc shows how easy to forgive Luffy can be and in general he really treats his friends well. Now Naruto  is not a bad person but he had Sakura tell she had feelings for him even if she did not and his best friend betrayed the village.He also wants to knock sense into said friend…destroy his goals and motivations and drag him back to the village. He also has more drive to win. Naruto has been in way more petty competitions than the stretchy pirate and he wants to win them all, while Luffy is more prone to see non essential competitions as “fun”

This will result in Naruto tactically allowing an NPC to steal a star first, as Luffy has the most he would always be the target of the NPC.Naruto holds off until this has happened to snipe a star of Luffy as well, planning it out as close to the final turn as possible, just to end up using his coin lead to buy himself an additional star as well. Luffy who is just having fun would tactically not be prepared for this being considerably less intelligent compared to Naruto. While both are tactically about equal in combat, Naruto’s time with Shikamaru makes him much more likely to pick up some of the strategic skills needed here. He has also displayed them more in finding enemy bases and plans where Luffy usually shouts enemies out of hiding or creates other ruckus.

The betrayal would anger Luffy and cause him to go all out in the last phase. Activating his armament Haki for more rigid button presses and even faster spinning. Most of the future pirate king’s  big fights end with an enraged Luffy giving it his all. This can result in either two things of which the latter is more likely to me! Luffy completely dominates the last two minigames crushing all former records OR he accidentally breaks the analogue stick or buttons during a flurry of matches and in actuality losing the last two matches due to controller failure. Since normal people already break N64 controllers when Mario Partying to zealously, this would be the scenario I’d think would unfold with angry Luffy as well.

The Super Star

Now that the match is over it is time for the bonus stars.  First of is the minigame star, a bonus star that has been present since game one. This would be very close since Luffy won more mini games but really struggled with bonus games..because his fear of water. Naruto would have won less but he is more money aware than Luffy and would have  bested him in the bonus mini games, partially due to more natural gamer instincts part due to a lack of fear. Wether or not the controller broke for Luffy during the end phase will decide whoever wins this bonus star. Which in fairness would be more likely to be Luffy so we will give this star to him.

The Happening Star is a bonus star that would be awarded to those who landed on the most green event spaces. This would definitely go to Luffy, he is much more prone to experiment on a games board and just see what happens if he goes on that square. Naruto oftenly being short on cash would prioritise blue spaces and getting cash..because he also is put on the backhand of minigames.


The Coin Star would be close again but I feel like this would end up going to Naruto, even though he spend more money than Luffy. Here is my “math” for that.  During an average math on DK Jungle you can buy about 5 ish stars. Due to him dominating in the Minigames I gave Luffy 3 and Naruto 2. However Naruto spend 50 coins to steal a star of Luffy as well. So Naruto spends 90 coins and Luffy 60. From minigames Luffy wins somewhere close to the 150 mark the Ninja boy not being that far behind due to the bonus minigames paying out a lot more. However where Luffy would explore a board and see what stuff does, plus he likes his icon being red I feel on the board Naruto would easily make double of what Luffy makes.  Easily compensating for the 30 coins he spend more. Luffy would want to try out a bowser square just to see what it would do and from that alone losing that amount of coins is fairly easy. The fact that Bowser is on this board and sells you fake golden banana figures for 10 coins is something I feel Luffy would also fall for more than once thus Naruto ends up with the most coins.

Now depending on how RNG went four likely scenarios can unfold.

Naruto did not manage to buy a second star after stealing Luffies, because he needs to time it close to the end if the game, in which both players would end up with three stars.
The NPC blundered and did not steal a star, in which case both the heroes would end up with four stars.
Naruto’s strategy worked completely, in which case he would end up on 4 stars and Luffy on Three.
The NPC would fail to steal a star, and Naruto would have bad rolls on the final dice and not make it to his third star. In which case Naruto would end up with 3 stars and Luffy would take 4.
Now it would seem that we have two ties and and one victory for both, but in Mario Party in case of a tie the victory goes to he who holds the most coins. So in most of our simulations ..victory would go to the blond boy! Naruto is the super star!

Now I hope you all enjoyed this first edition of Who Would Win! How do you think should win?! What type of match up would you like to see you next? I had a blast making this post so there will be a lot more of these!
I shall all wish you an amazing day and will leave you with the teaser for the next one.