Shonen Superpowers: What Makes Battle Anime Tick

The Otaku Exhibition

Shonen anime is defined by many things: spiky-haired protagonists, the power of friendship, but one of its most prominent features is a power system. A power system is simply the rules and expectations attached to characters’ abilities in the story, usually a type of power that most of the characters can use. They can adhere to any number of laws or none at all, and it’s more of a story device than a convention exclusive to anime.

The Transmutation Circle: Alchemy in Anime Like FMA - MyAnimeList.net
Edward Elric transmuting the metal in his arm to create a sword.

Within writing, however, there are multiple kinds of power systems. Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series and many others, has written extensively on magic systems in literature and how magic can and should be used to tell a story, and coined the term magic systems. He’s actually written a lot about it, and while I’d love to go in depth…

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