The Great Shonen Tier List is an ambitious, long-term, spoiler-heavy, and frankly ridiculous attempt to determine the relative strength of shonen manga characters. All of them. Occasionally on our live stream (Fridays 7 PM Eastern on our YouTube channel), new characters will be placed in the list according to their supposed relative strength. Furthermore, the list will be updated as existing entrants improve and evolve.
It should be noted that we are trying our best to remove any bias or favoritism while determining rankings. Being a purely creative endeavor without any factual basis on which to rely, this project inherently relies on opinion, but character placement in this list is not intended to reflect personal taste in any way.
Reading the List
The Great Shonen Tier List is divided into multiple tiers of relative strength, with a page dedicated to each tier. The navigation bar reads from left (strongest) to right (weakest):
The navigation bar also appears at the bottom of each tier page.
Understanding the List
Each character’s entry in the list is laid out as follows:
Chapter: The latest chapter considered for that character’s list placement. An outdated Chapter field does not indicate the list itself is outdated, but that the character in question has not changed enough for his/her position to be reconsidered. To prevent constant reorganization, characters who do display enough new traits to be updated will not be moved until the arc in which they gain said abilities is complete.
Description: A brief summary of the character’s most powerful and relevant abilities. Generally, characters are judged at the peak of their power or ability, but their position relative to other characters may be determined by any abilities at their disposal within their series as a whole. Any powers or abilities must be explicitly shown in the series to be considered; characters are not judged on potential.
|Characters with this background color are currently considered established.|
|Characters with this background color are under consideration for re-tiering.|
|Characters with this background color have recently moved or been added to the list.|
The Great Shonen Tier List is structured according to who would defeat whom in a fight. In most cases, the ordering of the list is self-explanatory, but for further clarification, specific details follow:
- Each fight takes place on a deserted planet in a hypothetical universe, separate from the universe of any series. The planet has no special topographical features or structures, and no bodies of water exist. The planet is solely flat land and breathable air.
- Fighters begin the match standing on the ground 10 feet (roughly 3 meters) apart from each other.
- Characters have only their usual skills and equipment at their disposal. Temporary special weapons, items, abilities, or any other non-permanent benefits are not considered.
- Characters are judged only on their own personal strength, not their strength when assisted by any other character. A character’s peak condition can include a new form that has been achieved thanks to the help of others, but only if that new form is fully controlled by the singular character and does not require active participation from anyone else. This does not include characters who are judged as a duo, such as Soul Eater pairings. For example, Gash and Kiyomaro can use the Golden Book because they fully control it, but Goku cannot use the Spirit Bomb because it requires the help of other characters.
- Characters are considered to have killing intent, regardless of their usual personality. Even pacifist characters like Vash the Stampede or Himura Kenshin are fighting to win.
- All types of cancellation abilities are used only as tiebreakers. Characters with supernatural cancellation powers are often able to defeat highly ranked characters, yet they are simultaneously inferior to characters who do not rely on supernatural abilities. Therefore, any “cancelling” character is first judged on his or her battle capability without the use of the cancellation ability; after this, the character’s cancellation technique is reintroduced, and the character is judged anew against the characters above his or her current placement.
Victory and Placement
- The first fighter to die loses, regardless of whether the other fighter is guaranteed to die thereafter.
- Majority Rule / “2 out of 3″ Rule: Given specific matchup issues, characters are sometimes placed according to how many opponents they defeat in a section of the list. For example, if a new entrant beats the strongest and third-strongest character in a trio, yet loses to the second-strongest, the new entrant is placed above all three. Among other reasons, this means that characters would not necessarily defeat every single other character below them on the list.
- Since the objective of the list is to consider the relative strength of characters outside of their respective series, characters from the same series are judged against each other last. Similarities between series compatriots may be considered for various reasons, but series-specific hierarchies are ignored unless a new entrant is to be placed next to a character from the same series. To use One Piece as an example, Monkey D. Luffy and Enel are both currently listed above Whitebeard; under no circumstances would Whitebeard lose a canonical fight to either of them, but the abilities visibly demonstrated by Luffy and Enel each defeat more of non-One Piece characters than Whitebeard. A practical way to consider this rule is to judge each character purely as a set of abilities, rather than attaching a face and name to them. If one of set of abilities is superior to another set, that set is ranked higher, even if that means placing one character above his or her canonical superior.
- Currently, the actual division of the tiers themselves is mostly based on balancing the size of each tier. New characters who fall between tiers will be placed according to which tier’s average level of power he/she more closely resembles. Strict guidelines defining the characteristics of each tier will only be introduced when the list is sufficiently large and balanced.
All of the above rules are considered on a case-by-case basis, and any new character may require a specific exception to any rule. Any such exception will be detailed in the Tier List Tuesday conversation for the relevant character.
Discussing the List
We would be delighted for you to participate in The Great Shonen Tier List, as the primary aim is to provoke interesting thought and stimulate conversation. Please remember this is a lighthearted attempt to bring sense and methodology to an absurd concept with no right answer. Your opinions and suggestions have a far greater chance of being considered if you present your argument in a positive fashion.
Disagreement with characters’ placement on the list is understandable and welcome, but please remember two key rules:
1. This is meant to be fun.
2. We don’t claim to be always right.
If you feel the list is inaccurate, don’t get angry and rally your friends in private. Talk to us! We’re happy to hear your opinion, assuming it’s presented in a constructive fashion. Be mature and respectful when presenting your disagreement, and keep in mind that getting worked up over what fictional character is strongest makes you look silly.