A Trinity of Good Boys
I want to talk about some good anime boys. Lately, the shounen genre has just come out with really likeable protagonists. Ones you want to root for and follow anywhere. In the past anime has had protags have been kinda annoying and you only follow them because their supporting cast is great, and some they have put up the tough guy act and scowl all the time. The three protagonists I want to talk about, smile and laugh and I love them, so let's look at the protagonists of My Hero Academia, Demon Slayer and Fire Force and figure out what makes them so likeable!
Deku is the youngest of the three I'm going to talk about, being the only one still in school. By far his best strength as a protagonist is his relatability.
His hero's journey doesn't come from the kind of tragedy you see in epics. He hasn't lost his family, he lives with a loving mother and a slightly absent father. His home town isn't burned, he had no siblings to disappear him. He's pretty damn normal. Deku's tragedy is just how he was born. In a world where basically everyone is born with powers, Deku is part of the small percent that doesn't.
His hopes and dreams of becoming a hero are dashed but he doesn't give up. He holds onto that dream but he's not as positive about it.
When you boil that down though it's the dream of becoming a superhero. A dream most have had at some point or another. Mostly in childhood but something that can resonate with so many people. Who hasn't lamented the fact they don't have superpowers? Growing up with fantastical TV shows and just wishing they could have super speed or fly or even just the money to have all of batman's cool toys. Seeing Deku be given powers from his hero is a fantasy many of us have played out in our heads and Deku's story speaks to many people because of it.
Demon slayer is very much the opposite of My Hero Academia is a few ways but getting into those details is for another post. We're focused on Protags today. Tanjiro's hero's journey begins much more traditionally. His whole family is murdered by demons, only he and his sister surviving. But, his sister has been turned into a demon so he goes on a journey to find her a cure.
Tanjiro's best strength as a protagonist is that he feels so much more human than most. His goals aren't as grand become a hero, save everyone, profit. It's a personal quest to save those near and dear to him and the fact that he's his sister is the cutest things on the planet makes it a motive you can get behind.
His 'superpowers' aren't something he's born with or gifts. (I mean there's something in the latest episodes but until then) The first few episodes span a couple of years that he dedicates to training, slowly honing his skill as any human does to get better at something and his battles are usually won by him having to use his mind to analyse his opponents and find the best use of his power rather than yelling loud enough.
Shinra is the most generic protagonist on this list. He yells to get stronger with powers we were born with. His hero's journey started when his family was taken from him. He stubbornly hits his head against a problem until it's fixed. Usually, I can find this kind of protag really kinda annoying but with Shinra, I didn't.
I think it's because his greatest strength as a protagonist is that he's surprisingly mature. He's not a student. He's an adult with a job. that job is killing fire demons but a job is a job.
Shinra's back story left him with something to prove. People shunned him, called him a devil and blamed him for what happened with his family so Shinra aimed to be a hero. Someone who could save people and make the world a better place.
By the time the story starts Shina is in the perfect position to achieve this goal. He's out of school and ready to take on the world. He doesn't like that people call him a devil still but he's mature enough to shrug it off and keep his eyes on the prize.
His main problems at the start is that the world has been unkind to him. Watching him lean the kindness of his squad and slowly open up is very satisfying.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on some very good boys. I highly recommend all three of these shows.