Anime that fits into the Shonen genre is one of the most consumed forms of media, and fighting is an aspect that is heavily ingrained into it.
With hundreds of thousands of universes built and expanded upon in the various series, there are all sorts of powers.
Now, Shonen anime, more often than not have a factor of fantasy mixed into it, whether it be in regards to unrealistic fighting styles or literal magic.
To build and develop these, they build up a power system. Some examples of such systems are “Chakra” from Naruto or “Ki” from Dragon Ball.
These systems explain the extraordinary powers and abilities of the characters and follow a set of defined and precise rules.
Certain agreed-upon factors make a power system good, such as creativity, strength, drawbacks, and limits. In this article, I will be listing down the top 10 power systems in Shonen anime!
10Ki – Dragon Ball
While the initial concept is almost forgotten by the time of Dragon Ball Super’s release, the original power source in this franchise is Ki.
It is basically energy or the life force of the characters. By drawing this energy out, an individual is able to manipulate it and use it outside the body.
Ki can be used to enhance the combat abilities of the user, and advanced users can emit plasma from their bodies in the form of beams, blades, explosions, etc.
There are more than four variations of Ki, each providing significant strength and abilities.
The reason it is placed so low on this list is that despite being the most basic and important factor of its power system, Dragon Ball seems to have done its best to make the audience forget about it.
9Reiatsu – Bleach
Everyone in Bleach has an amount of Reiryoku in their soul. Some people have higher reserves, which forms the base of their strength. This Reiryoku is the raw element that makes up powers in Bleach.
Reiatsu, on the other hand, is basically the physical force/pressure that a person’s Reiryoku creates when released.
This is what makes up Bleach’s power system. What makes this system unique is increasing and enhancing the quality of your reserves, which in turn helps you use more powerful abilities.
However, the reason it’s placed so low on this list despite its various uses and abilities is the fact that as time went on, more and more systems such as Zanpakuto, Bankai, etc., were introduced and stacked on top of one another.
Like in Naruto, where even though Chakra is the main concept, it is often overshadowed by extremely unrealistic powers; it’s the same with Bleach.
8Quirks – My Hero Academia
Unlike other anime where the main character is the hero, in My Hero Academia, the term is used rather loosely.
In this series, where the majority are born with “quirks” or powers, with enough training, anyone can become a hero.
What exactly are Quirks, though? Sometime in the late 21st century, humans began expressing unique talents, like telekinesis or the ability to fly.
Later on, around 80% of the human population was born with powers that were called “quirks.”
What makes this power system interesting is that while some quirks are pretty standard such as superhuman strength, some are extremely creative.
For example, there’s a character that can manipulate flesh into meatballs, and while it’s not pretty to watch, it is unique for sure.
The main reason Quirks are placed 8th on this list is because of their obvious drawbacks.
While they are superpowers, it may take years of training to be able to use them properly. This sets a limit as well as, like its motto, demands enough effort from the user to surpass them.
7Bending – Avatar: The Last Airbender
Leaving the conversation about its exclusion in anime aside, Bending is one of the most unique and unheard of power systems.
Unlike others where one power is superior to another, in Bending, all elements are equal. The only way one can become stronger is through efforts and skill.
What one should note is that the characters do not actually have the power of elements within themselves. They instead use martial arts to bend and manipulate it to their will.
In addition, other than their physical nature, all four elements represent different personalities, cultures, and philosophies.
Both its spiritual justification, as well as skill and training required, give Bending its own distinguished space, among other power systems.
6Stands – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Stands are one of the major power systems in Jojo. They are basically manifestations of someone’s own life energy.
Hence, each stand is unique, which makes for really interesting powers and battles.
This power system is included in the top 10 because of the sheer volume and variations of Stands. While there may be basic stands like Star Platinum and Silver Chariot that can move fast, there are others that can negate luck.
However, this also means that there is no real power scaling as even if your ability can destroy one person, there are plenty of others out there with abilities that counter yours.
While there are many flaws associated with Stands, the massive amounts of creative freedom it supplies its users place it in the 6th position.
5Alchemy – Fullmetal Alchemist
“Equivalent Exchange.” This strict rule makes Alchemy, the power system of Fullmetal Alchemist, one of the very best. Nothing comes without a cost, and the characters of this series know that better than anyone.
In order to use it, something has to be sacrificed; some bargain has to be made to perform Alchemy.
Since Alchemy is based on science, the characters must painstakingly learn and study the mechanics behind it.
There is a clear set of rules and means such as transmutation circles, through which most characters channel this power.
However, despite its limitations, Alchemy allows enough freedom for its users to exercise their creativity and powers.
4Magic / Grimoire – Black Clover
Black Clover is an anime that often gets hate for its typical Shonen tropes, and because of this, its unique factors are often looked over.
Characters in the series channel their magical powers through a Grimoire. What makes it great, though, is that everyone in the kingdom, regardless of their status, is capable of getting one.
So now, what exactly is a grimoire? A grimoire is a book that each mage receives at the age of 15. It represents their personality and traits and consists of spells that suit them.
While there are a certain set of pages, aka spells that come with it, depending on their luck and skill, the user can unlock new ones.
This means that despite the difference in Mana levels, depending on how one uses their grimoire, they can become extremely strong.
The theme of surpassing your limits is clearly displayed in the anime, and while it sounds like utter rubbish, it actually makes sense in this case.
Since Black Clover’s power system is based on a character’s personality and emotional state, wanting to surpass one’s limits in an exceedingly difficult situation triggers the user’s latent power, which allows them to awaken new spells.
While this system definitely is not flawless, and there are certain aspects that are not fleshed out well, with a little bit more time, it can become one of the best ones out there.
3Devil Fruits & Haki – One Piece
One of my personal favorites on this list, the devil fruit system of One Piece, is one of the most unique and well-developed power systems in all anime.
Instead of relying on genetics, personality, or anything else, you can either stumble upon one or actively hunt down the power you want.
The downside is that you could either end up with a power that’s absolutely useless or absurdly strong.
What makes One Piece’s power system great is its biggest drawback. Once a user consumes a devil fruit, they can never swim again.
In fact, they enter a catatonic state if enough of their body is covered by water. This is a major catch when considering that most characters in the anime are pirates.
While this acts as a restraint to devil fruits’ wild powers, it also allows a lot of room for creativity.
As a fruit that initially seemed useless, Luffy application of the Gomu Gomu fruit has shocked both characters and fans alike.
In addition to this amazing system, One Piece also has another called Haki.
People can train their minds and bodies to utilize Haki, which acts as a counterweight to the devil fruits, bridging the gap between stronger and weaker fruits while also rewarding fighters who use their powers in creative ways.
Both the systems balance each other out and provide ways to get stronger while acting within their existing boundaries and limits.
2Chakra – Naruto
Among most anime on this list, Naruto probably has had the most time to flesh out a power system, which explains why it’s so well explained.
Shinobi in the Naruto-verse can utilize and manipulate an amalgamation of physical and spiritual energy called ‘chakra.’ They can do so by channeling them through three main Jutsu’s – taijutsu, genjutsu, and ninjutsu.
Furthermore, Chakra is made up of various elements. By finding which element is affinitive, the user can practice various jutsu’s related to that.
What makes this system great is that there are restrictions on how much Chakra a user has. Even Naruto, who has humongous amounts, has a clear reason behind it and a limit.
While the definitive usage of Chakra almost vanished by the start of Naruto Shippuden, it is still a great power system.
1Nen – Hunter x Hunter
The best power system unofficially in all Shonen anime is undoubtedly Nen. It follows all the top three rules of a good and efficient system, i.e., creativity, power, and limits.
Hunter X Hunter’s Nen system is one of the most well developed as even when it gives its users great power; there are often drawbacks or certain conditions attached to it.
Nen has definite rules and an upper limit that makes it difficult yet much more interesting to see how one would test them to gain more power.
Nen is a reflection of its user and their flexibility in battle. This allows for characters to come back to life without the concept seeming too obscure.
For example, when Hisoka used his Bungee Gum to revive, instead of scoffing at it like usual, fans were fascinated by its mechanism and Togashi’s genius. That itself is a sign of an extremely well-developed power system.