In Shonen anime and manga, specifically in the action-adventure genre, the central focus is often on a group of protagonists. This group is often made up of diverse characters with contrasting personalities.
More often than not, this group is a trio of central characters, while other times it is a team of four or more. Here is a list of five such trios and five such teams, ranked chronologically according to the release of their respective series.
Team 7, Monster trio, Team Urameshi, and 7 other such iconic Shonen anime squads
5 iconic Shonen anime trios
1) Monster Trio (One Piece)
While the entire crew of the Straw Hat Pirates is legendary across Shonen anime and manga, the Monster Trio stands out not only in terms of strength, but also in their dynamic. Unlike others on this list, Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji don’t face many opponents together as their individual strengths call for individual fights.
But as a dynamic, the clash between Sanji’s calm poise and Zoro’s surly demeanor is often balanced out by Luffy’s sunny attitude. As they lead their crew and engage in fights after epic fights, the three maintain a steady understanding and faith in each other’s abilities.
2) Team 7 (Naruto)
Dai Nana Han, or Team 7, is one of the most iconic trios in Shonen anime and manga history. Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke have all made their spaces in the minds of the fans on their own, but their dynamic as a team is unmatched by any other in the Naruto series.
While Kakashi is an essential part of the team, his position as their teacher keeps him removed from the intense dynamic shared by his three students. Even when Sai replaced Sasuke, their dynamic was not comparable to the original Team 7, as stated by the former himself during the battle against Madara.
3) Odd Jobs Gin (Gintama)
Gintama is arguably the most popular of Shonen anime in the action-comedy genre. Yorozuya Gin-Chan, or Odd Jobs Gin, is at the center of this series, comprising two of the most eccentric characters in the series, Kagura and Shinpachi. While Sadaharu often accompanies them, his status as Kagura’s canine companion does keep him out of the loop.
Truly a trio properly balanced in their imbalanced dynamic, Shinpachi’s strait-laced attitude fuels Kagura’s other-worldly stubbornness and Gintoki’s laid-back, but chaotic, nature. While they are always fooling around, the trio are connected by their inherently righteous nature and deceptive sincerity, much like the series itself.
4) Shiganshina Trio (Attack on Titan)
Eren, Armin, and Mikasa are currently at such a crossroads in the Attack on Titan anime that it would be a stretch to call them a trio. But even so, the story of Attack on Titan has always been their journey, narrated by Armin and centered around Eren and his relationship with the other two.
They have faced everything together, from the loss of their home to them forsaking their idealism. Manga readers will know that, despite Eren’s current omniscient and omnipotent status in the anime, the ending of the series only emphasizes the importance of these three characters and the tangled nature of their fates.
5) Tokyo Jujutsu High first-year students (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Gege Akutami tries to subvert quite a few Shonen anime tropes in Jujutsu Kaisen, but having a central trio is not one of them. While Yuji, Nobara, and Megumi do not conform to most of the cliches associated with their respective positions, their expert teamwork and close-knit relationship is reminiscent of most trios on this list.
They do not have many opportunities to showcase their teamwork as a trio, especially after the Shibuya arc, but they have managed to solidify their position as a unit early in the series, and most Jujutsu Kaisen fans have a hard time considering them as anything else.
5 iconic teams in Shonen anime
1) Z Fighters (Dragon Ball)
Z Fighters are comprised of the most beloved characters in the Dragon Ball universe and Shonen anime as a whole. Starting with Krillin, Tien Shinhan, Chiaotzu, and Yamcha, everyone from Master Roshi to Future Trunks to young Trunks to android 18, has been a part of this team at some point in order to protect the Earth.
Of course, the most famous members of the group are Goku, Piccolo, Gohan, and Vegeta when he joins them after the Frieza Saga. However, despite the Z Fighters’ relevant ranks being thinned by the time Dragon Ball Super starts, the ex-members find ways to contribute in the multiversal Tournament of Power
2) Stardust crusaders (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders)
There is no shortage of teams and squads throughout JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures. Each part has a duo, trio, or team that is both central to the plot and iconic. However, since this list could only consider one, the Stardust Crusaders are undoubtedly the most popular squad in the JoJo universe.
Jotaro and Joseph are arguably the two most popular JoJos in the series, and their semi-functional family dynamic is nicely balanced by Avdol’s steady loyalty, Kakyoin’s gentle nature, and Polnareff’s enthusiasm. The addition of Iggy only enriches the diversity found in this team.
3) Team Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)
While this was the name of Yusuke’s team in the Dark tournament, Team Urameshi primarily refers to Yusuke, Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei. While both Genkai and Koenma are very important members of the team, and often Botan as well, the four protagonists have a dynamic and understanding of their own.
Yusuke and Kuwabara’s friendly rivalry is supported by Kurama’s gentle amusement and Hiei’s aloof attitude. Not only do they trust each other implicitly, but they work incredibly well together, as showcased by the numerous tournaments where they have participated as a team.
4) Gon's team (Hunter X Hunter)
Considering the length of Hunter X Hunter, very little of it actually features Gon, Killua, Leorio, and Kurapika as a team. Outside of the Hunter Exam arc and the York New City arc, we barely see them work together. Leorio and Kurapika remain mostly absent during the Greed Island and the Chimera Ant arcs.
However, they solidified their position as a unit early in the series so fiercely that fans could not think of the four as anything but a squad. Gon and Killua’s collective eccentricity is mellowed out by Kurapika’s caring nature, up until he loses sight of everything in pursuit of revenge, and Leorio’s practicality.
5) Black Bulls (Black Clover)
Out of all the Magic Knight Squads in Black Clover, the Black Bulls are not only the central one, but also the most beloved by fans. For a Squad containing some of the most powerful Magic Knights in the Clover Kingdom, the Bulls barely function as a proper squad at the beginning.
However, Asta’s arrival not only inspires them to capitalize on their strength, but they also become more collected and grounded as a Magic Knights Squad. Their importance in the ongoing battle against Lucifero truly makes them one of the most iconic teams in recent Shonen anime and manga history.
There are far too many incredible and beloved squads across Shonen anime and manga, and not all of them can be incorporated in such a list. While they are reserved, eccentric, chaotic, or loud, every group has a special place in their respective fandoms.