While shonen protagonists are generally considered the ultimate "good guys," many of them have generated tons of controversy since their series' debut. Whether the audience feels disappointed by their poor development or because of their questionable actions in the anime, these shonen leads sparked widespread debate.
However, it's worth noting that just because these shonen protagonists are controversial doesn't mean they aren't well-liked. Internet discourse can be tricky and feel like it's all-or-nothing, but just because a character's actions are problematic doesn't mean they lack likable personalities. Though a few are among anime's most disliked protagonists, some of them are from beloved series.
10 Some Viewers Felt Like Asta Was Just Too Obnoxious & One-Dimensional (Black Clover)
Black Clover's Asta has every trait that makes other shonen protagonists lovable. He's outgoing, optimistic, and he never backs down from a fight. Like many of his contemporaries, Asta also yells more often than he speaks in a normal voice.
Though this is generally acceptable with the genre's other leads, viewers felt that Asta's yelling was obnoxious. Luckily, he stopped hollering as much after the timeskip. Unfortunately, fans still felt like his character development was lackluster and one-dimensional. Playing into every expectation of a genre's protagonist is okay if the character does something unique with the tropes. However, Asta just feels predictable and unexciting compared to others.
9 Takemichi Isn't Even The Best Character In His Own Series (Tokyo Revengers)
Unfortunately, Takemichi Hanagaki is often outshined by the rest of the characters in Tokyo Revengers. As much as viewers wanted to like him, his constant sulking and self-victimization make him hard to like.
Takemichi has ruined his likability so many times throughout Tokyo Revengers that viewers either gave up on watching or just started tuning him out. Takemichi's naivety and constant complaining don't make him fit for running with the most badass street gangs. Plus, it makes him especially unconvincing as the protagonist of a shonen series.
8 Kazuya Is One Of The Most Unlikable Shonen Leads Viewers Have Ever Seen (Rent-A-Girlfriend)
Most fans don't watch a harem anime and expect much from its protagonist, but Kazuya sets the bar especially low. Throughout Rent-A-Girlfriend, he's been nothing short of annoying and hasn't done anything of substance in the series.
Rent-A-Girlfriend is defined by its side characters, especially the titular "girlfriends." Chizuru is a fan favorite because she's driven to achieve her goals and uses rental girlfriend work to make ends meet. Plus, it's an excellent way to practice her acting skills. However, fans were disappointed when all four girlfriends eventually fell for Kazuya, despite his lack of redeeming qualities.
7 It's Hard To Root For Natsu When He's Given Everything From The Jump (Fairy Tail)
Though many viewers wanted to like Natsu at the beginning of Fairy Tail, their opinions of him quickly plummeted. He was already strong at the beginning of the series, but he never had decent character development.
Fans root for characters who have believable development throughout the series. Some of them start out with powers, while others don't. Either way, viewers cheer them on as they hone their skills to eventually achieve their goals. Most of the time, the audience knows Natsu will win a battle because he's the protagonist, and that's what he's supposed to do.
6 Yukiteru Amano's Indecisiveness Hinders The Plot (Future Diary)
Future Diary had a lot of potential, but the series was hindered by its own protagonist. Yukiteru Amano is a coward who couldn't make a decision even if his life depended on it. In this case, it actually does. The only reason he even made it so far in the game is that Yuno basically carried him through the entire time.
Viewers found it hard to root for a guy who doesn't even try to make the best out of it and fight for himself. Yukiteru's unlikable personality and unrealistic character development made him disappointing at best and totally irredeemable at worst.
5 Izuku Is A Very Polarizing Character (My Hero Academia)
In theory, it'd be hard to dislike someone like My Hero Academia's Izuku Midoriya. After all, he had an inspiring underdog story and paved his own way after years of being told he'd never amount to anything. Most viewers would be inclined to root for someone like him over someone like the hot-headed Katsuki Bakugo. However, Izuku is one of the series' most polarizing characters.
Some criticize Izuku for being too emotional and argue that the constant waterfalls flowing out of his eyes are just overkill. Others argue that being given an overpowered quirk from the start is a cop-out, and many were even more displeased when he gained multiple other abilities.
4 Some Fans Found It Hard To Like Ichigo (Bleach)
Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach is widely regarded as one of the most well-written anime protagonists of all time. Though he's not the most likable guy on the surface, the series' most avid fans found his rough-around-the-edges attitude endearing and grew to love him.
However, Ichigo is one of the most polarizing characters in the medium. There's no middle ground with Ichigo. Fans either admire and love him, or they despise him and make him the target of their ire. Some felt that he was overconfident, despite his lack of fighting skills and poor spirit energy manipulation.
3 Some Fans Feel Like Jotaro Is The Most Unlikable JoJo Protagonist (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
Jotaro Kujo made his debut in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure during Stardust Crusaders. While Jonathan was a righteous gentleman and Joseph was a lovable prankster, Jotaro was a gruff delinquent. He was the ultimate tough guy, complete with vulgar language and the signature catchphrase, "Good grief."
Jotaro seemed like he was always too cool for everything around him and never really expressed himself, leading some fans to feel like he's the most unlikable JoJo's protagonist. Some fans believe that he's a misogynist because he treated women just as poorly as he treated other guys, while others believe that Star Platinum is simply too contrived. However, Jotaro is still beloved by the fandom and is the series' flagship character.
2 Boruto Uzumaki Just Can't Compare To His Father (Boruto)
Boruto had some pretty big shoes to fill as the titular protagonist of Naruto's legacy series, Boruto. Fans had high expectations of the seventh Hokage's son, but they were let down after the series debuted.
Boruto is an unlikeable kid who just can't compare to his father. Unlike Naruto, Boruto had no real goals at the beginning of the series and focused all of his energy on hating his dad. His resentment towards Naruto was misplaced and left a bad taste in many fans' mouths. Even when Boruto began ninja training, he acted like a stuck-up brat who was too good to be there.
1 Eren Jaeger Is A Morally Dubious Antihero Whose Reputation Is Shrouded In Controversy (Attack On Titan)
Attack On Titan's Eren Jaeger has always been one of shonen's most controversial figures. Before the timeskip, many fans felt that he was too reckless in his pursuit to annihilate the Titans. He constantly put his friends in danger and didn't seem to care who got hurt in the process.
After the timeskip, however, Eren went from a gung-ho shonen lead to a morally dubious antihero. Eren has done plenty of things to ruin his likability, but his antics in the final season truly take the cake. Eren's Rumbling is one of Attack On Titan's most controversial events. In the end, he wiped out 80% of the world's population, and there's just no redeeming somebody after they slaughter that many people.
NEXT: 10 Worst Trends In Shonen Anime, Ranked