Despite shonen anime being majorly popular and having iconic story arcs, sometimes the long-running ones have overtly long or boring story arcs.
The inevitable rule is that the longer a series goes on, the more likely it is to have disappointing episodes or entirely disappointing arcs. This article will chronicle 10 of the most disappointing arcs in shonen anime, ranked from least to most disappointing.
Note: This article will contain spoilers for several popular shonen anime. It also represents the author's opinion. Only one arc per shonen anime series. No series overall.
These were the most disappointing arcs in shonen anime
10) The Future Trunks saga (Dragon Ball Super)
The Future Trunks saga in Super had a lot of brilliant concepts that it executed well - an evil supreme kai, an evil possessed Goku, seeing Future Trunks again, and having more bonding time with Vegeta and Kid Trunks. Plus, there was also father/son Galick Gun and the return of Fusion with Vegito.
The arc may have had incredible action and drama, but it felt like it overrode Future Trunks' happy ending with the additional diabolus ex Machina of Zamasu consuming reality. It seemed more of a fake happy ending, as Future Trunks' entire reality was gone, with him displaced in a new one with Mai. Plus, the arc ran far too long.
9) Goat Island arc (One Piece)
This filler trio of episodes in the shonen anime One Piece might as well be forgotten, but it does bare repeating as to why it isn't very pleasant. It's a three-episode arc with a plot that could've easily fit into one episode: the Straw Hats land on an island full of goats and must help an older man escape the Marines.
It lacks interesting characters, a compelling enough hook to warrant three episodes, and can otherwise be skipped without incident, much like many other fillers on this list.
8) Five Kage Summit arc (Naruto Shippuden)
It was a toss-up between this or the final Shinobi World War arc. Despite the World War arc having plenty of dues ex machinas, too many deaths, and Kaguya out of nowhere, that arc ended with a thunderous climax. The Five Kage Summit Arc chosen is simple: this arc should've cemented Sasuke's villainous turn and it didn't.
Sasuke was on his fully selfish side here, with samurai guards killed and the Kage in his crosshairs if they stood in his way to kill Danzo. The good guys weren't any better, as Sakura couldn't bring herself to stab Sasuke, the Konoha 11 and Naruto being at odds. Any attempt to see Danzo's good side was quickly dashed in light of all the horrible things he did.
7) The Ending (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!)
The shonen anime Katekyo Hitman Reborn! was an oddity for its opening and ending, and fans were mostly disappointed with the ending. The opening felt like an entirely different series, but the ending soured many fans with how Tsuna ended up.
At the very least, fans were split about whether it was good that Tsuna rejected becoming a mafia boss or whether it made the entire series a waste of time retroactively.
While some viewed it as the former, being a subversion of the expected shonen anime arc of a hero attaining a goal, others viewed it as the latter and lamented the fact that Tsuna said he's not much without Reborn.
6) Endless Eight (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
Groundhog Day-style time loops are fun. Especially when a character is stuck in one and needs to find a way out. The problem in this filler arc of the shonen anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is that it dragged on for eight episodes, hence the title.
The problem isn't the premise: Haruhi had a fantastic summer with the SOS brigade and didn't want it to end, so she started a time loop. A very interesting premise, less so the execution.
Because nothing happened to break the loop in these episodes, it was just the same events repeated, ad nausea in the SOS Brigade's minds erased the following morning.
5) Maijin Buu Saga (Dragon Ball Z)
Of all of the shonen anime Dragon Ball Z's story arcs, the Maijin Buu saga tended to get the most criticism and sparked the most division amongst fans. While there were plenty of great moments, the arc got criticized for one huge elephant in the room: Gohan's derailing as a character.
Despite Gohan seemingly being elevated to lead protagonist at the end of the Cell saga, he was swiftly pushed back during the Buu saga in favor of more Goku.
Gohan also endured a massive power loss and was killed by Super Buu before doing much of anything important besides fighting Dabura. SS3 Goku and Gotenks were gone far too soon likewise.
4) Eclipse Celestial Spirits arc (Fairy Tale)
Fairy Tail was a long-running shonen anime, ending with 328 episodes. That meant quite a few filler arcs and unfortunately. At the same time, Naruto is still the king of shonen anime fillers. The Eclipse Celestial Spirits Arc stood out as the most disappointing Fairy Tail had to offer.
The arc revolved around the Celestial Spirits refusing to be summoned, demanding total and complete freedom following the calamity time paradox caused by the Eclipse gate. This could've been interesting, focusing on the bonds forged between spirits and mages.
Instead, the arc is a goldmine of disappointment due to focusing on pointless nonsense, like a character taking part in a dance-off. The arc is not canon either.
3) Bount arc (Bleach)
It was a tough call between this arc and the Agent of the Shinigami arc for the shonen anime Bleach. However, given fans' disappointment at the waste of the concept for the Bount and that the Agent of the Shinigami arc was an introduction to the series vs the Bount being filler, the Bount arc won out.
The gist of the arc is that the Bount, a race of humans who consume human souls for nourishment, threatened Soul Society.
This arc was one of the most disappointing and frustrating for many Bleach fans. The backsliding of Orehime's character, the loss/difficulty of Ichigo's Bankai in the human world (ignored throughout the series afterward), the animation quality taking a dive, and the fact that it was 40 episodes worth of filler that meant nothing in the grand scheme of Bleach's story are some of the chief complaints.
2) The ending/final arc (Fullmetal Alchemist 2003)
It's no secret that most fans of the 2003 version of the shonen anime Fullmetal Alchemist were heavily divided on the final arc and ending. The follow-up Conquerors of Shambala movie gave the anime a decent enough climax, but most agreed that Brotherhood had the superior ending.
While Ed's death and rebirth in the alternate world is a major disappointment, especially when they both made sacrifices for each other, that's only one part of it. The anime ended with Al in his ten-year-old kid body, with no memories of anything that happened and Ed stuck in Munich, Germany.
1) The Final arc (Death Note)
There should have been something grand to make Light Yagami kick the bucket for a dark shonen anime to end with its protagonist dying. Light defeated and killed L and had the world as his plaything for over five years. His downfall was inevitable.
The problem was the method of Light's defeat. Long story short, Near and Mello were not good replacements for L, using underhanded tactics like killing his father. This resulted in Teru Mikami, who was groomed to be Light's replacement, making a huge blunder that resulted in Light's death via a convoluted fake notebook bait and switch.