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14 Shonen Protagonists Who Changed The Most Since Their Introduction

May 14, 2021 7.1k votes 1.3k voters 71.9k views14 items

Shonen protagonists are often accused of being static characters - that is, characters who don't really change or develop over the course of their narrative. While this is true of some shonen heroes, it's definitely not true of all of them. In fact, some of them change so much over the course of the series that they're barely recognizable. With that in mind, for this list, we'll be looking at some of the shonen protagonists who changed the most. Some cases are more dramatic than others, and some are part of arcs that aren't finished yet, but all involve massive developments in who the main character is. 

One of the most shocking examples of this is Eren Jaeger from Attack on Titan, who went from a rage-fueled kid who loved his friends to a serious, cold-hearted person who no longer stands by their side. Here's one that's a little more hopeful: Naruto Uzumaki went from being a talentless kid with no meaningful relationships to a beloved leader who is recognized for his incredible talent. 

  • 5

    Nagisa Shiota - Assassination Classroom

    Photo: Lerche

    Nagisa Shiota used to be a depressed, unmotivated kid who was content to let himself get terrible grades and accomplish nothing in Class 3-E. It's hard to blame him: with his abusive mother who refuses to let him express his true self and school employees that don't see his potential, it's no wonder he's not exactly thriving.

    When Koro-sensei enters the picture, Nagisa blossoms. Not only is he introduced to something he's genuinely good at - assassination - he's also treated with respect and given a concrete goal that he's expected to work with his classmates to achieve. He's driven to improve his skills and take down his tentacle monster teacher, and he also gains the confidence to have some tough conversations with his mom.

    Even after Koro-sensei is no longer in his life, the personality shift stays with him. And he's not the only one: everyone in Class 3-E changes for the better, thanks to their teacher. 

    Massive change?
  • 6

    Izuku Midoriya - My Hero Academia

    At the beginning of My Hero Academia, Izuku Midoriya tells us that we're watching the story of how he became the world's greatest hero. The series isn't over, so we don't know exactly how he's going to get to that point, but we do know that he's changed a lot since his pre-hero days.

    He starts off as a kid with no quirk who desperately wants to be a hero anyway. After All Might sees his potential and chooses him to be his successor, he ends up with one of the strongest quirks in the world: One For All. At first, his bones break every time he tries to use it. It's only through intense training that he's able to use it at all.

    But the changes in Izuku are more than just physical. As he masters his quirk, he starts to learn more about what being a hero actually means. The anime hasn't touched on everything yet, so we won't go into detail, but we will say this: he realizes that in order to deal with villains, it's sometimes just as important to understand them as it is to defeat them. 

    Massive change?
  • Nobody thought that Asta could be a successful wizard. Why? Because he lacked any magical ability whatsoever, that's why. Luckily for him, he soon discovers that there's a lot he can do without magic, whether that's his anti-magic abilities or the Devil powers he'll eventually gain.

    Asta's personality also changes, although this isn't as dramatic a shift as the one in his powers. He gets better at listening to other people and learns to put his ego aside for the good of the group. It's inspiring to watch him go from zero to hero! 

    Massive change?
  • 8

    Yato - Noragami

    Yato used to be a God of Calamity, which means that he was in the business of creating misery. By the time we meet him, he's given up that gig. Now, he's a Delivery God, which means doing odd jobs in the hopes of eventually earning enough money to buy a shrine and get himself some worshippers. 

    Viewers don't learn about Yato's past until later, so when it's revealed and his current self gets a bit more aggressive, it feels new - but in reality, it's a holdover from his past. But the friendly lighthearted version of him isn't his true self either - the real deal is a combination of the two. Like it or not, he can't completely outrun his violent past: he has to face it properly. 

    Massive change?