There's a lot to love about shonen anime. From the relatable characters, to the mesmerizing action sequences, to the slew of hilarious anime gags, watching a great shonen series can bring out the warm fuzzies in fans both new and old. However, the shonen formula can at times be tiring, and it's hard to get excited about yet another loudmouth hero who's oblivious to the feelings of his childhood girlfriend, as he's too busy trying to outdo his stuck-up rival best friend. When the viewer finds out that the hero has a golden final form, their true power is never as surprising as the creators might have hoped. Even the most trope-ridden shows can still be fantastic (after all, who doesn't enjoy the occasional episode of Dragon Ball Z?), but once you see the patterns emerge in the genre, they're amazingly hard to ignore.
Why do all shonen characters shout out the names of their signature moves right before they unleash upon their enemies? It ruins the element of surprise, and who on Earth would fight like that in real life? Anyone who's ever gotten a little too buck at the bar will tell you that no one has time to yell out an attack when they're trying to land a punch to the jaw.
There's nothing more endearing than an anime hero with the caring heart of a child, but must they have the intelligence of one as well? Sure, a character's childlike naivety can be refreshing when you compare it to the cynical viewpoints that flood our real lives, but at a certain point, you have to wonder why these heroes haven't gained any wisdom from their years of worldly travel. When the simple-minded viewpoint gets pushed to its extremes — as shonen anime tends to do — it can be frustrating to watch the hero of the story act like a shockingly buff version of SpongeBob Squarepants.
Tragic flashbacks are abundant in shonen series. They're a great way to cherry pick through the most awful moments in a character's life in order to show them in a new, often more sympathetic light. Unfortunately, tragic flashbacks can come off as melodramatic, or worse, they can fail to convey to the audience why they should feel sorry for a villain who's been tormenting the heroes since day one.
Shonen anime are particularly guilty of over-explaining every physical action that goes down, even in mundane situations. While inner monologues work well in text-driven manga, they don't usually translate to animation. A brief written explanation of a unique anime ability can become a monotonous animated scene where the hero and villain stand still for hours on end explaining what they're about to do.