3 Shonen Anime That Prove Demographics Don’t Need A Training Arc


The shonen the training arc can either be beneficial for a anime or the most dominant part of one, although it depends on who is watching. While some fans like to watch the details of character growth, others prefer to quickly skip to the main fights and dramas. The argument made by critical fans is backed up by the anime’s incredible success Mob Psycho 100, Jujutsu Kaisen and Fullmetal Alchemist. Each series proves that the practice arc trope is sometimes best left out in a series.

Typically, training arcs are a time in shonen anime where the main characters gain strength and character. Many times it becomes a way to delve into more lore and universal rules of a fictional setting. However, these three critically acclaimed anime manage to feature brilliant character and setting development without any type of training arc. Each series accomplishes this in its own way, reaping the benefits of cutting to the chase.

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Training arc would have undermined the purpose of Mob Psycho 100

Mob getting ready for a date in Mob Psycho 100

The series Mob Psycho 100 centers around the life of an incredibly powerful psychic named Shigeo. Ever since he was little, Shigeo has always had strong telekinetic powers, but when he loses control, he finds he hurts even the most beloved people in his life. The series focuses less on the college boy’s powers and more on his emotional and interpersonal growth.

As a lost and confused boy, Shigeo finds Reigen, the self-proclaimed “greatest psychic of the 21st century”, who tells him that he can be like everyone else in society without relying on his powers. This speech from Reigen means the world to Shigeo and cements the main lesson of the series: that strength above others is not as important as a strength of character.

While the battle scenes are thrilling, especially with the anime’s invigorating animation, the story’s most impressive feat is its heartfelt moments. Moments like Shigeo’s disappointment at losing control of his powers or finally achieving his personal goals in his private life all mean more to the character and the story. Although there are characters who grow in their physical or telekinetic strengths, these moments of improvement are not as important as the growth of the characters themselves. More importantly, the focus on physical strength that comes with a training arc would take away the impact of the series’ refreshing lesson about true strength coming from the heart.

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Jujutsu Kaisen characters grow in the heat of battle

Yuji Itadori using a cursed technique in Jujutsu Kaisen.

the anime Jujutsu Kaisen might have the familiar shonen format of a main fighting trio with fantastic powers and set rules, but the way the story unfolds is much more condensed. It follows the teenaged Yuji as he is drawn into the wizarding world of Jujutsu, which turns out to come with a life full of heartache and pain. It is the job of these wizards to exorcise dangerous creatures called curses to prevent them from harming humanity, one of the most dangerous being Ryoumen Sukuna, the king of curses.

Yuji ends up getting involved in a student wizard’s mission and takes Sukuna’s power and soul in order to save the day. With his only family, his grandfather, recently deceased and placed on death row as a dangerous individual, Yuji takes the option to enroll in Jujutsu High, become a sorcerer and help exorcise the curses. Although the main characters train at Jujutsu High, there are no extended training arcs. Granted, there’s more behind-the-scenes training, but a lot of the character growth and lore development is found in the key battles that are used to teach and engage the audience.

This anime is a great example of how action anime doesn’t need entire training arcs. There is no need to remind the audience how cursed energy can be used. The general ideas are presented in a few episodes at the start, and as the series progresses new ways of using the power are presented in the fight scenes, without the typical overbearing explanation. After each character is introduced, fans of the series can watch them grow when it matters most: in the the heat of thrilling action sequences. It is for this reason, in addition to the battles with impressive choreographies, that Jujutsu Kaisen has enjoyed immense popularity among action fans.

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Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse with Roy Mustang, Eric Armstrong and Maes Hughes

With its story rooted in heavy philosophical lessons and central themes of politics, war, prejudice and grief, Fullmetal Alchemist’The plot would have been too cluttered if there had been a training arc. The anime centers on two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who are masters of alchemy, fully understanding the possibilities of science for both good and evil.

Their first experience of using alchemy is resurrecting their mother when they are just boys. The attempt costs Edward his leg, while Alphonse’s body is completely destroyed. Only Al’s soul remains, as Edward uses alchemy to bind his brother’s soul to a full set of armor, leading to the sacrifice of his arm. Despite their devastating misadventure, Private Roy Mustang finds Edward’s results impressive for his age and urges him to become a State Alchemist for the National Army. The series could certainly have continued to show Edward’s growth with some sort of training arc, but instead the creator decides to fast-forward to the most essential details and themes.

Over the course of the series, viewers are introduced to various characters, each with their good and bad traits. The anime moves forward to ease political and racial tensions in neighboring countries, and this focused and broad focus helps keep the story engaging. Emphasis is evenly distributed among the characters, adding to the complex conflict as well as its uplifting resolution.

There’s no need for individual characters to have their own training arc in this series, as that would take away from that well-rounded cast. One of the most impactful parts of this series is the gripping drama, even though the action is thrilling as well. Taking more time to focus on just a few characters and few lore wouldn’t have done the anime or manga justice, and any full training arc would have paled in comparison to the intriguing plot that unfolds on the Ed and Al’s journey.

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The Benefits of Limiting the Drive Arc

Naruto training with Gamakichi and Gamatatsu in Naruto.

Each of these titles have found major success as shonen anime, even without the use of a training arc. Mob Psycho 100 focuses on character growth rather than brute force. Jujutsu Kaisen sets up its impressive battles with minimal exposition and uplifting character development. Lately, Fullmetal Alchemist features a gripping plot that doesn’t rely on growing just one or two characters, meaning a practice arc would prove unnecessary.

This is not to say that using a practice bow is inherently bad – for example, a number of training arcs in naruto and Hunter X Hunter are used to add the necessary details to their respective series. The issue many fans have with the trope is the length of a training arc. Regardless of how a creator wants to reveal character and setting development, there should be a better understanding of the many different ways to approach that goal. Perhaps there are series that can benefit from use, while others can do better without it. Either way, it’s clear that the practice arc isn’t an absolute necessity in shonen anime.

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Richard V. Johnson