10 most complex shonen anime universes, ranked

One Piece, Naruto, and Pokemon are three shonen anime with complex universes (Image via Pokemon, One Piece, and Naruto)
One Piece, Naruto, and Pokemon are three shonen anime with complex universes (Image via Pokemon, One Piece, and Naruto)

Shonen anime universes are pretty vast and complicated to live in. For every world with a simple Earth-like environment, there's a universe where gods exist and walk among humanity.

There are rules to living in all of these universes, each more complex than the last. Here's a look at the 10 most complex shonen anime universes, ranked from the least to the most intricate.

Disclaimer: Abridged history and organizations are included. Spoilers warning for all anime involved.

Note: This article reflects the opinions of the writer


10 shonen anime worlds, ranked from least to most complex

10) World of Heroes (My Hero Academia)

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The World of Heroes in My Hero Academia seems very simple at first glance. It is a modern world but with superheroes and villains.

However, what makes it complex for a shonen anime is that 80% of Earth's population possesses Quirks. This makes living rather exciting and dangerous.

Quirks can be passed genetically or artificially. They can be stolen and blocked. Many people develop a Quirk during childhood, while others have one at birth. However, there are also those who never develop one.

So, how complex is it? Well, people can choose to use Quirks for a variety of reasons. There tend to be three general areas for Quirk use:

  1. Heroes: Those licensed and recognized publicly by the Hero Public Safety Commission and World Heroes Association. They stop villains, mitigate disasters, and save citizens from any kind of harm. Those that choose heroics as a profession are called Pro Heroes.
  2. Vigilantes: Those preferring to save the day, citizens, and all that without regard for the rule of law. Though vigilantism is technically illegal, many people don't stop becoming vigilantes due to multiple laws and statutes regarding Quirk usage.
  3. Villains: People who use their powers for evil or destructive deeds usually involving death or destruction on a grand scale.

9) Cherryton Academy (Beastars)

Cherryton Academy from the shonen anime Beastars (Image via studio Orange)
Cherryton Academy from the shonen anime Beastars (Image via studio Orange)

Beastars' universe is best described as a parallel Earth where anthropomorphic animals live. The general vibe is best described as Disney's Zootopia but more adult-oriented. Basically, predators and prey species (herbivores and carnivores) are sequestered in their own spaces at Cherryton Academy.

The complexity of the world is quite multilayered. Herbivores and carnivores have unique dietary needs and medicines. The killing and consumption of others is strictly forbidden by law and moral standing. The fact that the Black Market for Animal Meat still exists, however, is rather telling.

Aside from the school itself, which caters to all needs, there are tons of difficulties when it comes to living. Carnivores need meat or substitutes, and this tends to get bloody, especially when a murder case of consumption happens at Cherryton.


8) Soul Society (Bleach)

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The Soul Society from the shonen anime Bleach is essentially a form of afterlife where souls are escorted via Shinigami. It's where most souls dwell until they are reincarnated into the human world. The system's complexity here is the cycle of death and rebirth.

Basically, when humans die, they're supposed to be escorted by a Shinigami into the Soul Society for a rest. They then reincarnate into the human world without any memories if they die. The society is maintained by the Gotei 13 captains and has its own caste system and government.

The only problem is the power struggles between the captains and the Hollows. A Hollow is a human soul overcome by despair and loss. It turns violent and aggressive towards the souls of the living and dead from its hunger and emptiness. This tends to make the afterlife messy.


7) Amestris (Fullmetal Alchemist)

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Amestris is the country that serves as the principal setting for the Fullmetal Alchemist series. The Head of State is the "Führer" (at the time, a Homunculus named Wrath). He is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Military and the Head of Government.

Amestris is a massive nation with its fair share of problems. Notably, the Ishval massacre was a complete travesty of all that is good and just.

The complexity of the country comes into play with the alchemy system. Alchemists can create almost anything they want with the help of transmutation circles. The only things they are forbidden from transmuting are humans and gold. However, this doesn't stop certain individuals from adopting dark and sinister practices.


6) Death City (Soul Eater)

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Death Weapon Meister Academy is a school from the shonen anime Soul Eater. It was founded by Death himself to train meisters, maintain world order, and prevent the uprising of an ultra being capable of destroying the world known as a Kishin.

The complexity in this universe comes when magic is a concern. Basically, witches, sorcerers, and monsters exist in this world. They can control different forms of magic and cause various levels of death and mayhem. This causes the Madness within everyone to go out of control since it's viewed as a magic disruptor and force.

Another complexity is the feuds between monsters and witches. Meisters themselves also tend to feud, as Black Star and Death the Kid proved. Medusa Gorgon also proved the villain doesn't need to be a major monster to do a ton of damage to the world.


5) Eldia/Marley (Attack on Titan)

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In the dark shonen anime Attack on Titan, there are two central nations of people locked in a seemingly eternal blood feud: Eldia and Marley.

Eldia is a small nation currently located on Paradis Island. It is chiefly populated by the Subjects of Ymir who can turn into Titans.

The blood feud originates from ancient times when the Eldians used Titans to build an empire, slaughtering countless people and colonizing their land.

Long story short, the Marleyians and Eldians warred. Eldia ended up being annihilated, and the Eldians fled to Paradis Island.

The complexity? The blood feud is still ongoing and hasn't stopped. This has led to many problems, including Eren's insane genocide plan with the Rumbling.


4) Age of Piracy (One Piece)

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The swashbuckling adventure shonen anime One Piece is dominated by a large body of water across the world called the Blue Sea.

Nearly everything in the world can be found in the Blue Sea, save for the sky islands such as Skypiea and Weatheria. Most of the action itself is usually found in the sea as well as various islands and landmasses.

There's always something to be found in the sea, from pirates and strange fruits to weird wildlife. So, if all that's true, and the world is nearly dominated by water, where's the complexity?

If one ticks off the wrong Marine captain or pirate, they can expect to be killed, if not dealt with in a cruel manner via any of the Devil Fruit eaters.

There are more than a few things that would disrupt life on the seas, like various pirate gangs, Big Mom's ambitions, the Four Emperors, and much more.


3) Ninja World

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Naruto's ninjas are iconic in shonen anime. The ninja world in the series is excessively large and complex.

Every human on the planet has a certain amount of chakra, thanks to Kaguya landing with the God Tree and eating its fruit. People who can weaponize the chakra or effectively wield it as ninjutsu become ninjas of the various Hidden villages.

The problem with becoming a ninja is being embroiled in espionage, various stealth missions, and evil schemes. The Kaiju-sized Tailed Beasts, the machinations of elders and government officials, as well as people of ill intent, lend complexity to this world.


2) Dragon Ball Universe

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How do you feel about Earth being destroyed several times over and humanity being brought to near extinction? Combine that feeling with the fact that aliens exist and gods can destroy planets, and you get the world of Dragon Ball.

Believe it or not, there is actual complexity even in the shonen anime series Dragon Ball. People can fly, teleport, shoot energy out of their hands, blow worlds up, and the Dragon Balls can summon a dragon to use on one wish (usually reviving the dead).

Like many shonen anime, gods exist in Dragon Ball. The series has Gods of Destruction and Angels.


1) Pokémon World

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The world of Pokémon is so vast and complex for a shonen anime. Gods of all kinds exist, and kids are allowed the freedom to roam with their own animal companions. The world also has bad guys who try to steal and enslave Pokémon for their own ends.

Kids are left to travel with their animal companions and try to either become great trainers, breeders of Pokémon, or caretakers.

Why is it the most complex world in shonen anime? Well, Pokémon can go from small little caterpillars to massive beasts. They can then be used for many things.

However, cooperation and mutual trust are always taught in the series, and those who exploit Pokémon are usually punished.