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Old 2012-01-23, 20:37   Link #1
LunarMoon
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Best Story Arcs In Shonen Anime (spoilers)

Shonen gets somewhat of a mixed reaction in the otaku community, but every once in a while, itís nice to enjoy them for what they are. What are your Top Five story arcs in shonen anime or manga? Mine are:

1. Genei Ryoudan Arc (Hunter x Hunter): Interesting story combined with a focus on one of my favorite characters in the show. Fights are only used when they can contribute to the actual plot, which is a breath of fresh air to someone tired of the random brawling in most shonen anime. I was just as interested in the unraveling of the various plot threads, Kurapica's development, and the anime's world building as I was in the action scenes peppered throughout, and the mangaka did a great job at avoiding the pitfall of turning the antagonists into one-dimensional Dastardly Whiplashes. There was definitely the sense that the Genei Ryodan cared about the members of their own party, roughly as much as the protagonists did about theirs, which is a rare bit of moral complexity, not only in shonen anime, but in the wider medium of animation, in general.

2. World Government Saga (One Piece): This is where One Piece hit its prime. Everything became far more interesting as soon as the Straw Hats arrived at Water 7, and by the reveal at the end, it had already shown the potential to surpass Alabasta. Whether it was indeed the unexpected twists throughout the plot or the presence of character drama within the main cast, something about this saga just did something for me that superficially similar Soul Society Arc didnít. Ichigoís development from random teenager to someone capable of taking down warriors with centuries of experience, within the span of a few weeks, suspended my disbelief, even as far as shonen action anime goes, and the fact the Straw Hatís really did appear to come together as a team in order to save their comrade, sealed the deal.

3. Saiyan Saga (Dragon Ball): It was between this and the Frieza Saga, but I ultimately felt that the Frieza Saga was a bit too heavy on fights to the point where it just seemed to go from random conflict to conflict. That and the fact that the landscape designs from the Saiyan Saga were far more interesting to look at then the continuous strand of blue grass and green lakes on Namek. The Saiyan Saga is also notable for being the last Dragon Ball arc to properly utilize the human characters, which by itself makes it among the best in Z.

4. Chunin Exam (Naruto): I canít for the life of me figure out why Kishimoto seemingly back-pedaled with this one. The Chunin Exam received its spot on my list, if only due to the fact that it actually utilized a larger array characters than those named Naruto, Sasuke, or Sakura. Ironically, these characters, that have become omnipresent in later arcs, are also the ones that I find the least interesting. In that regard, the Chunin Exam excels in the fact that it presents something different for everyone, whether you prefer the strategic, down to earth mindset of Shikamaru, or the incarnate determination of Rock Lee. This, more than anything else, is something that I find missing from Shippuden, and indeed, from many other shonen anime.

5. Kyoto Arc (Rurouni Kenshin): I think that itís largely agreed upon that this is where Rurouni Kenshin Grew the Beard. Itís ranked lower than the others, however, due to the fact that Kenshin doesnít allow for the same degree of world building and because, other than Sanosuke, Shishio, and Saito, there werenít too many supporting characters that I really found endearing.
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Old 2012-01-23, 21:39   Link #2
Arturia Polaris
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My top moment for Shonen, if it can count as being shonen, is the League at the end of the pokemon seasons. I swear that battle between Ash and Gary is like the crowning moment of awesome for the whole series

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Old 2012-01-23, 21:45   Link #3
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Dark Tournament arc in Yu Yu Hakusho, especially towards the end.
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Old 2012-01-23, 23:49   Link #4
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Iíll add some more.

Since the OP mentioned Chuunin exam in Naruto, I have to mention Konoha Crush arc right after it which is also very well done. Next would be the Sasuke Rescue arc simply because we got to witness the full potential (character-wise & skillwise) of our beloved ninjas like Naruto, Sasuke, Neji, Lee, Shikamaru, Kiba, Chouji and the Sound Five. This arc in the manga is already good but the anime makes it perfect.

The arcs involving Black Organization in Detective Conan is also the best imo.

For BTí X, I donít remember the arcs pretty well, but the second half of the series is the best for me.

The dark/black/underground tournament in Flame of Recca.

Oh, yeah, donít forget the Sanctuary arc and Asgard arc as well as Hades: Sanctuary arc from Saint Seiya.
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Old 2012-01-24, 02:00   Link #5
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The interesting shounen arcs for me include :

The Tanners Brothers arc in The Qwaser of Stigmata first season and Roman Curia Academy arc in the second season.
York Shin City arc in Hunter X Hunter.
Kyoto arc in Magister Negi Magi!.
Horizon's Rescue arc in Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere.
Jinchu arc in Rurouni Kenshin.
Broly arc in Dragon Ball Z.

Quote:
5. Kyoto Arc (Rurouni Kenshin): I think that it’s largely agreed upon that this is where Rurouni Kenshin Grew the Beard. It’s ranked lower than the others, however, due to the fact that Kenshin doesn’t allow for the same degree of world building and because, other than Sanosuke, Shishio, and Saito, there weren’t too many supporting characters that I really found endearing.
Probably because Rurouni Kenshin sets in the real world, I mean Meiji Era.
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Last edited by MisaoFan; 2012-01-29 at 10:22.
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Old 2012-01-24, 02:15   Link #6
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Best arcs for me:

One Piece- Water 7/Ennies Lobby
Rurouni Kenshin- Revenge Arc
Hunter X Hunter- Genei Ryodan FTW!!
Slam Dunk- Sannoh Vs Shohoku
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Old 2012-01-24, 10:41   Link #7
Akito Kinomoto
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The Wave Country/Zabuza arc from Naruto. Say what you will about the series as it is now, but Kishimoto had a talent for putting together brilliant fights and excellent character development. The training episode where Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura climb the trees, for example, demonstrates the dynamic between the former two that grows their friendship but ever pushes them to do better, while Sakura's knowledge actually plays a role in bettering them (for example, said mastery of tree climbing).

The star of the arc, however, goes to Haku. With a merciless offensive approach beneath a gentle disposition, he personifies the inherent ugliness of his world, and perhaps the actions people themselves are capable of. Antagonists need not necessarily be caricatures of demonic features; they can look like any other ordinary person, with people they love and hobbies they enjoy (for example, when he's picking flowers in the forest), but still capable of atrocity. Even as the series has gotten older he retains his status as one of Kishimoto's best characters, something that only a few have managed to do.

Then there are the fights themselves, which have much more focus on the tactical element than they do on overpowering the opposition. A brilliant strategy used during the bell test, for example, or the short bout between Naruto and Sasuke against Zabuza. And whatever cases of overpowering did happen only ever made sense, such as the upper limit of mere strategy in the latter fight against someone of a much higher rank.

I often wonder where Kishimoto went wrong. Why he couldn't keep this level of excitement and character development consistently as time went on. I can only look at the upcoming story with a sense of obligation, to finish what I started, whereas the Wave Country/Zabuza arc continuously leaves an impact for me every time I rewatch it.

Say what you will about Naruto as it is now, but there's no denying the craftsmenship displayed much, much earlier in its run.

By the way, to squash any notions that I've got my nostalgia goggles on too tight, I'm here to inform you that the first arc I watched from the show was the Chunin Exams. I didn't even get back to this until after Sasuke Retrieval. They're good arcs in their own right, but as it stands the Wave Country/Zabuza arc is just plain good in a general context.
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Old 2012-01-24, 23:22   Link #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LunarMoon View Post

5. Kyoto Arc (Rurouni Kenshin):
SECONDED SECONDED!

Quote:
other than Sanosuke, Shishio, and Saito, there werenít too many supporting characters that I really found endearing.
I dunno about you but I really like Misao, Hiko, and Soujirou. Soujirou's backstory had me GLUED to the screen.
Spoiler:
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Old 2012-01-25, 03:07   Link #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chiibi View Post
I dunno about you but I really like Misao, Hiko, and Soujirou. Soujirou's backstory had me GLUED to the screen.
I loved Misao (my favorite character) but I also liked Kamatari !
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Old 2012-01-25, 07:56   Link #10
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YORK SHIN (aka Genei Ryodan arc) from Hunter x Hunter
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Old 2012-01-25, 09:27   Link #11
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I very much agree with those who mentioned the Chuunin Exam Arc from Naruto. It was very well put together and utilized all the characters perfectly.

I also have to mention the Soul Society Arc from Bleach. The one thing that Bleach was always good at, was being cool, and that arc was the coolest, and also the most exciting.

Another one I loved was the Yoshiwara Arc from Gintama. People usually forget about Gintama when talking about shounen, but Yoshiwara arc had one of the best shounen fights ever: Kagura vs. Abuto. I loved it to pieces.
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Old 2012-01-29, 10:14   Link #12
leokiko
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York Shin and Greed Island from Hunter x Hunter.

Water 7/Enies Lobby from One Piece.

Chuunin Exam from Naruto.

Every Black Organization arc from Detective Conan.

Dark Tournament arc from Yu Yu Hakusho.

Kyoto arc from Rurouni Kenshin.
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Old 2012-02-01, 13:30   Link #13
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Your mileage may vary on the YYH.

I personally hated the Dark Tournament Arc because I felt it detracted from the Spirit detectives adventures that I enjoy so much. To me, the dark Tournament is basically what the Namek saga was to a lot fo fans, it took way too long and I didn't really care for the fights.

I enjoy the Frieza and Namek saga respectively, I also enjoyed the Saiyan saga as well. It just felt so right especially the Super Saiyan transformation at the end of the saga although I hated how Goku escaped Namek.
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Old 2012-02-01, 17:11   Link #14
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Kyoto Arc from Kenshin is tops, although the last arc was very good too.

One Piece has a couple of good ones, Water 7/Enies Lobby, The Great War. One of my earlier favorites was Alabaster, that was the first one where Oda really strutted his stuff in terms of epic story scope and detailed sub plots.
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Old 2012-02-02, 04:16   Link #15
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I think a Shonen can be considered successful or 'great' in my book if they can string together a few great story arcs, because that usually equates to a hell of a lot of material, which is enough for me.

It's too bad so many shonen seem to decline after a period, but it's more of a shame that some seem to focus more on the decline than how good it was for such a long period of time.

Naruto and D. Gray-man are good examples of this. If you produce around 250 chapters (or ~100 episodes) of great story and action, that's a great series.
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Old 2012-02-02, 04:23   Link #16
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Originally Posted by Kakashi View Post
I think a Shonen can be considered successful or 'great' in my book if they can string together a few great story arcs, because that usually equates to a hell of a lot of material, which is enough for me to have great respect for it.

It's a shame so many shonen seem to decline after a period, although you could probably think of a number of ideas why this might happen.

Naruto and D. Gray-man are good examples of this. But if you produce around 250 chapters (or ~100 episodes) of great story and action, that's plenty.
There are many shonen series that contain less arcs and/or less volumes than Naruto with To Love-Ru being a perfect example. However, there's more shounen that can be canned after 2-3 volumes like Double Arts or SWOT.
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Old 2012-02-02, 05:27   Link #17
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My vote goes to the Kyoto Arc of Nurarihyon no Mago. The ones before it and after pales in comparison. D=
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Old 2012-02-02, 07:42   Link #18
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Being a Bleach fanboy (especially when it all began), the Soul Reaper arc beats anything I've ever seen. It had the pattern/formula, the characters were growing, the feeling/aura kept on building up. Then came Soul Society Arc which was also good but it introduce WAY TOO MUCH CHARACTERS ON ITS OWN GOOD. Oh apparently Kubo still thinks there aren't enough characters, let's add into the mix the ARRANCARS! The Espadas! The Vizards! The Fullbringers! The series pretty much imploded.

I miss the down to earth Bleach days. . .
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Old 2012-02-02, 21:30   Link #19
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Utawarerumomo - The Shikeripetim arc. One of my favorite anime of all time, I liked this arc because it had a lot of good drama and introduced some of my favorite characters, Karura and Touka.

Fairy Tail - The current arc (S-Class Wizard Exams arc). This show has TONS of good arcs, but I really am enjoying this current one, with Zeref and the Fairy Tail Guild island. The character development is a lot deeper and surprisingly emotional than what you might expect from your typical "beat 'em up" shounen anime.

Naruto - The Saving Gaara arc. While the animation was a bit kooky now and again, (most of) the fights were great and there was real drama behind Naruto and Gaara's connection as fellow Jinchuuriki. Second favorite is Azuma's arc.

Bleach - Arrancar arc (a.k.a. saving Orihime arc). Yes, I know everyone else likes the Soul Society arc. It's not hard to, when Ichigo fights Renji, Zaraki and Byakuya as well as getting his bankai, etc etc. I really liked the various Arrancars as characters, and while yes Orihime could be a bit unbearable at times, I do think it showcased her kindness very well, especially after she revived the Arrancar that mistreated her after Grimmjow killed them. Not to mention the fights with Ichigo vs. Grimmjow were just fucking awesome.

Rurouni Kenshin - The Trust and Betrayal OVAs. Oh my God they are so good. Even hardcore fans have to admit they were better than that actual show itself, though I love that show to death. Kenshin is so much more human, with a lot more faults and vulnerabilities than the normal TV show, despite the fact that he is arguably more dangerous because he kills people. Not to mention the story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking simultaneously, and is probably one of the most emotional stories I've ever seen on anime.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann - The entire thing. Well, although it is true, my favorite specific event (I don't think I can possibly call it an arc) is in the Lagann-hen movie during the final FINAL battle between Simon and the Anti-Spiral, and they're duking it out with their fists. So epic.

Hajime no Ippo - Sendou vs. Ippo. The fight with Sanada came close, but no other arc in this show was as bone-shaking as Ippo's rematch with Sendou. I really can't say more than that.

Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger - Takamura vs. Hawke. Incredible powerhouse match, I loved every minute of it, even though Takamura made an ass out of himself at the very end. Still great.

Black Lagoon - I definitely like Roberta's Blood Trail OVA the best. While I wouldn't say it's 100% accurate to the manga, per se, it's still violent, gritty, dark, edgy and totally awesome.

Amagami SS - Probably the Morishima arc. Maybe because it was the first, but the story is very complete (with a mini epilogue and everything) and has plenty of heartfelt drama. I also really liked the Kaoru arc (Kaoru is actually my favorite character), but I didn't feel the story was quite as... resolved.


That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I'll post some more later.
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Old 2012-02-02, 21:37   Link #20
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FullMetal Alchemist from chapter 1 to the final chapter.

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@Spectacular_Insanity
Utaware is late-night anime based on adult game. Not Shounen.
Black Lagoon is seinen manga. Not shounen.

Amagami isn't classified, but it's based on a romance game, and the manga version was seinen manga that ran in Young Animal.
It could be considered different demographics, but most likely not shounen (no connection).
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