Being a hero is all about perspective, as in My Hero Academia, which announced a new season this year. Being a hero can be a profession, and you can even be a hero to a single person.
As for most anime, being a hero is about doing the right thing despite your weaknesses, and the fact that a character does this alone can also make them a hero. Anyone can be a hero in anime, and a hero isn’t always strong, but not everyone has what it takes. Fortunately, the shonen subgenre provides some great examples of heroic characters who also have weaknesses, from which every fan can learn.
Yamcha (Dragon Ball)
Once regarded as one of the most popular characters in the Dragon Ball, Yamcha has fallen far from grace. Compared to the rest of the humans on Earth, Yamcha’s strength is inhuman. An ode to this was the fact that he was one of the few on the front lines when the Saiyans first seemed to take over Earth.
However, as the series progressed, his strength stagnated significantly. He died to mobs during the invasion, so today he has no chance against the galactic threats. Although he disappeared into obscurity, it should not be forgotten that he has the ability to fly and the ability to shoot energy balls from his hands.
Shigekiyo Yangu (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable)
Although he doesn’t have any of the scariest standing abilities in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Shigekiyo Yangu was a supporting character who for the majority of the series stood out as a nuisance. Both his ability to manipulate an army of miniature stands and his obsessive greed to the point where he tries to kill his only friends made many fans loathe his existence.
But that all changed when he heroically spent his final moments uncovering the identity of Yoshikage Kira for his friends to see. In that moment, he showed an impressive level of cunning and intelligence as he used the tripod to trick the genius killer, and it was strong enough to fight Josuke and Okuyasu.
Tenten stands as one of the most unfortunate characters in Shonen history, and she was simply a forgotten character in Naruto series. Originally, great emphasis was placed on her as a member of what was considered the strongest Genin team. As a trained ninja, she is incredibly skilled in combat. However, her specialty is using throwable weapons.
Being an expert in throwable weapons in a world where most enemies are able to use a jutsu that can shield them even if they were standing in the middle of nowhere isn’t exactly a good sign of her strength. However, she is shown to have a lot of potential, as seen when she invents her own jutsus to suit her style, despite coming from a civilian background – a feat not many Jonin-level ninjas can do.
Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)
Ciel Phantomhive’s position as the main character is that of a champion, with his main force being his servant Sebastian Michaelis the demon. Despite being a 13-year-old boy, he almost never acts his age. He displays a level of cleverness and intellect that makes even adults decades his senior nervous.
Despite the magical themes the show presents, Ciel himself is relatively weak. As said, his main strength is his servant along with his intellect. He occupies a position of command and his servant does all the actual heavy lifting. This is not exactly something for him to be ashamed of, as most people after life have an inhuman level of strength and abilities.
Mr. Satan (Dragon Ball)
In the world of Dragon Ball, a slightly above-average human like Mr. Satan is the least likely hero to appear in a universe full of beings who can destroy planets with hand waves. With his background as a skilled martial artist, he can take care of non-threatening problems such as thugs or gangs. Compared to the average human, he displays a superhuman-like level of strength and speed.
The funny thing about Mr. Satan, though, is that he refuses to believe that beings like the infamous Cell and Majin Buu are out of his league. Ultimately, he sees himself as a protector of the innocent, as seen when he challenges Cell before any of the Z-Fighters. Despite facing beings that could kill him with a flick of the wrist, Mr. Satan can be counted on to show up.
Usopp (One Piece)
Usopp is another character in the Shonen genre whose strength does not come from his physical prowess. But he’s not exactly super intelligent either. Instead, he is somewhat more of an inventor or mechanic who creates his own weapon that he uses against his opponents. For that reason, he is known as the “Sniper King”, thanks to his remarkable marksmanship in tandem with his inventions.
Once known as a coward, Usopp stands as one of the bravest members of the One Piece crew. It is this transformation that makes him a lovable character. However, i One Piece world, where almost every strong opponent has a technique to move quickly, his accuracy is often tested. He is a character who, compared to his compatriots, is the weakest when dealing with more than one opponent.
Minoru Mineta (My Hero Academia)
Minoru Mineta is a character that fans have complicated feelings about when it comes down to it My Hero Academia, as his personality doesn’t exactly fit someone who wants to be a hero. To be honest, he is a pervert who gets on the nerves of both boys and girls. His fighting prowess isn’t impressive either, in fact he might be the weakest in all of Class 1-A.
But despite being one of the most hated characters of My Hero Academia, Mineta is still someone who can be considered a hero. His ability allows him to pluck sticky orbs from his head that only lose their stickiness when he wants, making this a useful ability to limit opponents. The bullets are bright and easy to avoid, but limited in quantity as Mineta can only remove a certain amount from his head before he bleeds.
Hiyori Iki (Noragami)
Before she became a half-spirit, Hiyori Iki was just an ordinary middle school girl who knew nothing of the supernatural events happening in her world. But thanks to her half-spirit form, she was given several abilities: enhanced speed, strength, and senses. But even with these powers, she mostly stands on the sidelines during the series’ conflicts, and for good reason too.
When in her spirit form, she has a tail which ends up being a major weakness that enemies can exploit. Her great strength depends on being there for the main characters, and it is because of her that many internal conflicts are resolved. It is also because of her that Yato, the forgotten god, does not disappear. Thanks to her ability to read memories, she has become a valuable member.
Tsukune Aono (Rosario + Vampire)
While it is uncertain whether Rosario + Vampire can be considered an old anime that stands the test of time, it was incredibly popular in the early 2010s. However, compared to its manga counterpart, the main character in the anime, Tsukune Aono, is significantly weaker and just an ordinary middle school boy before he mistakenly enrolled in a school for monsters.
As such, he is constantly surrounded by entities that can accidentally kill him. If he didn’t happen to befriend some stronger monsters at school, then that might have been his exact fate. But despite all of this, he doesn’t show an iota of fear when interacting with these inhuman entities. Finally, as far as the anime is concerned, Tsukune is just an average human in a world of monsters who sometimes succeeds with the help of mysterious tools or monsters.
Mumen Rider (One Punch Man)
Mumen Rider is arguably the most heroic figure in all of shonen anime. Despite being a normal human, he runs the streets with his trusty bike fighting monsters and villains, all to save others. Even when faced with insurmountable enemies, he never hesitates to put his life on the line if it means giving others hope, as he saw during the Deep Sea King incident.
Despite being the #1 C-Class hero, Mumen Rider is by no means the strongest C-Class hero. His ranking comes more as a sign of approval by the populace who see him as a greater hero than those with inhuman strength. He’s neither skilled in martial arts nor incredibly intelligent, he’s just a normal guy who can bounce back, no matter the setback.
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