As it is in real life, shonen anime has showcased multiple varieties of governments and systems of governance. Though most shonen anime don't bother with the political side of world-building, those that do often end up either making them an ally (the Hokage to Naruto) or a steadfast adversary/oppressor (the World Government in One Piece).
What usually ends up making an awful government in a shonen anime is usually callous disregard for civilian casualties if it's a wartime situation, the unending avarice of those at the top, and the strict enforcement of conformity whilst keeping plenty of deadly and dark secrets.
There are plenty of other ways to be a bad government, and this article will list 10 examples within the vast ocean of shonen anime.
Note: This article will contain spoilers, and is likewise the author's opinion. Content warning for discussions of genocide, abuse in all forms, and horrifying amounts of state violence. Also, some s*xual content in one entry.
10 governments in shonen anime, ranked from simply awful to evil
10) The student council (Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler)
A student council, on a list like this? Preposterous, you say?! Well, not so much if you consider student councils to be proto governements in schools.
The student council in the psychological thriller shonen anime/manga Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler is arguably one of the lesser known, but most certainly dastardly governmental bodies and organizations even if it's at a lower scale.
It's not at the same level as Classroom of the Elite's points-based system or Kill la Kill's combat-based system.
However, the de-facto governing body in this shonen anime's school Shiritsu Hyakkaou Academy has an insane amount of control over its students. It even goes to the point where they require mandatory ever expanding donations and run the gambling system in the school.
Case in point, what happens if a student cannot pay their debt or otherwise loses a gamble? They become the housepet of the more financially well-off, literally their slaves to degrade, humiliate, stripping them of any rights as a human being.
9) The Japanese Government/"Peace Makers" (Shimoneta)
Though the Shimoneta anime itself certainly isn't shonen, the manga is targeted at that demographic. This may be a controversial choice, but it fits the parameters.
The world of Shimoneta is quite dystopian, wherein any material that is declared dirty or lewd is completely destroyed and/or hunted down to the point where even ownership of such material is punishable by jail time.
This repressive government goes the extra mile by affixing devices dubbed "Peace Makers" to the Japanese population that constantly monitor and record spoken words and hand gestures for any signs of illicit or immoral behavior.
This results in an emotionally stunted, not to mention extremely s*xually repressed populace like Anna. No wonder the SOX organization was founded.
8) The Hero Public Safety Commission (My Hero Academia)
Yet another controversial example, though this one sets a precedent for why it's here. Long story short, the Hero Public Safety Commission, or HPSC, for short in the superhero shonen anime and manga My Hero Academia was originally founded to improve the balance of influence between heroes and regular society.
Criminal investigation and licensing exams were some of the many things they carried out.
The ugly truth was that this 'heroic' shonen organization had an underhandedness to it, effectively whitewashing criminal acts to maintain a clean image of heroes.
So, sabotage, blackmail, and assassinations like the ones Lady Nagant carried out, or double agents like Hawks? All perfectly legal as long as the facade was maintained. Well, when Lady Nagant couldn't take it anymore and killed the former president after he threatened to silence her? The HPSC covered it up as always, shoving her back into Tartarus.
The truth being revealed alongside the deaths of many members at the end of the Paranormal Liberation War arc led to the organization’s dissolution.
7) The Hidden Mist Village/Kirigakure (Naruto)
Far and away from being the only one with a literal bloodsoaked past, the fantasy shonen anime, Naruto, has the the Hidden Mist Village that earned the monikor "The Bloody Mist Village" for several reasons:
- During the Warring States Period, Kiri's second Tsuchikage and Iwa (the Hidden Rock Village) second Mizukage were responsible for several conflicts, eventually leading to their mutual death.
- The caste system: the highest-ranking civilians were family originally from within Kirigakure, the second caste was for Kiri's wartime allies and the lowest consisted of members of the families that were defeated in said wars. The lowest caste was shoved into all the special operations and high-ranking missions to prevent them from revolting.
- The graduation exam from their academy was a duel to the death, with those who survived going on to be ninja. It only ending after Zabuza Momochi killed an entire graduating class.
- The entire saga with the Three Tails, from Rin who was forced to inherit it to Yagura.
All that history and strife was only exacerbated thanks to the corruption of the fourth Mizukage, who filled his top people's pockets and was bewitched by Obito Uchiha.
6) The World Government (One Piece)
This entry marks the end of past history and the beginning of current (as of their respective anime) affairs.
The World Government in the shonen anime One Piece is literally a worldwide government that has ruled for 800 years. They've stayed for soower that long owing to the massive amounts of information control and suppression of historical records like the Void Century, the World Nobles, and Five Elders' debased greed.
Assassinations, the Ohara massacre of which Nico Robin was the only survivor, human experimentation, and slavery are more of the unethical missions they carried out.
The really scary part about this shadowy shonen government is the falsification of the Empty Throne, a seemingly empty large throne in the center of the world controlled by an individual named Im.
The World Government pretends that the throne is empty, while the Five Elders and Im plot from the shadows and control their world while maintaining the specter of goodness.
5) GHQ (Guilty Crown)
These next three (the World Government included) can handily be considered open and shadowy threats, albeit with good publicity. GHQ has somewhat good publicity contrast between Amestris and the World Government. This is because they're supposed to be helping Japan in the shonen anime Guilty Crown, a decade after a massive earthquake and viral outbreak devastated Japan.
The problem is that it cost Japan its independence, its ability to to defend itself, and it cannot break that dependence because the government is flat out broke or practically there.
GHQ ended up acting along the lines of the Britannian Empire in Code Geass. Sure, they've got great publicity and they hand out supplies, however civilians shouldn't pay attention to the capture and kill squads on their way to a district.
They ramped up the authoritarianism by literally shooting up districts to quash a small resistance movement. Plus, their leader allowed the violent disease to ravage the populace again just to save face.
They also have giant mechs and machine guns which they handily use on civilians.
4) The Amestrian Military (Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood)
The Amestrian military arguably has some of the best publicity in the Amestrian populace in their shonen anime Fullmetal Alchemist, so long as one is not Ishvalen and is a State Alchemist able to keep their job.
There's a bit of a disparity with how the 2003 anime and Brotherhood handled the military and the fallout from the revelation of King Bradley being a homunculus. Both are taken into account with this entry, hence it being higher on this list.
In the 2003 version, the military were active participants in the Ishvalen Civil War, and a lot of it came back to bite people in the modern day. There were plenty more horrific actions committed by the military in '03, that characters like Roy Mustang vowed to answer for at the end.
Brotherhood focuses more on the fact that everyone was duped into being homunculus playthings and doing their bidding to make a Philisopher's stone, though the imperialism and genocide isn't washed over either. It's just a matter of how things are settled, as some fans prefer the the older iteration's handling of it.
3) The Beastman/Lordgenome (Gurren Lagann)
Moving on from the shadowy part to the active genocide, and another example where the manga is targeted at the shonen demographic.
The Beastmen and Lordgenome from the Shonen Manga adaptation of the Studio Trigger anime Gurren Lagann actively oppressed and killed millions after a failed resistance against the Anti-Spirals.
Lordgenome was thoroughly mind warped by the Anti-Spiral itself, which had him give into the demands to stop Spiral Nemesis and to save the world by killing everyone.
This caused humanity to be pushed underground, with any humans that dared to come to the surface being killed. This was accurately portrayed as rather horrifying, considering that Spiral Nemesis didn't seem to be real!
This was never told to the other Beastmen, who only knew humanity had to be subjugated. So it was no wonder that Team Gurren erradicated most of the hostile Beastmen.
2) The nation of Marley (Attack on Titan)
From one genocide to another, this one is a perpetuating the cycle of hatred! The nation of Marley in the dark shonen anime Attack on Titan was the victim of the Empire of Eldia in ancient times, overthrew that nation and decided to continue the oppression.
Granted, Eldia had Titans on their side but the later generations had no knowledge of this. So, let's count the crimes by Marley which affect the modern day.
They kept the Eldians in a ghetto, killing those who step out, including a little girl. There's injecting people with Titan serum and setting them into exile on Paradis. Then there's the constant invasion of Paradis, never letting anyone have any peace, not accounting for them successfully fighting back even after invading the island with blimps.
Then there's still trying to convince the world to wipe Paradis out and causing the Rumbling. Yes, Eren's insane 'kill the world' plan could've been averted if Marley just stopped. The only reason they're not number one is that Akame ga Kill's Empire is colder about it.
1) The Empire (Akame ga Kill)
The Empire of the shonen anime Akame ga Kill has lasted for 1,000 years. The first emperor was a glorious and determined man, who worked tirelessly to ensure their peaceful prosperity would last forever, leading to the creation of grand weapons called the Teigu.
1,000 years later, however, the Empire has fallen into decline due to many years of corruption and decay. Now, as is the case with the top five on this list, the Empire is run brutally by the Prime Minister and the military who do not hesitate to be as brutal as possible.
The Empire has done things like burning an entire city and allowing their men and beasts to wreak havoc, as seen with the Ban Tribe to horrifying results. They have also buried 400,000 people alive, crucifixing enemies to execute them, breaking people via torture, burning people alive, slavery, and then letting some of the more sadistic like Seryu murder the prisoners of war.
It makes it all the more grand when this evil shonen empire is brought down, or at least the corrupt and sadistic get removed.
Poll : What is worse for a government in an anime to do?
Lying/Keeping world changing secrets from it's own populace