Stock Light Novel Hero

The Light Novel counterpart to the Stock Shonen Hero. Since this archetype also comes from Japanese Media, it shares a lot of overlap but also plenty of differences. In fact, the Light Novel hero would probably be the stock Rival to the shonen hero, if they weren't the main character.

While the Stock Shonen Hero is typically Hot-Blooded, Book Dumb, and starts off at the lower end of the Power Level food chain, the Stock Light Novel Protagonist is typically a Stoic (except when he isn't) Genius Bruiser or Deadpan Snarker with power, skill or moral character that puts most other characters to shame. Further, very few shonen heroes are a Chick Magnet, and typically only have one "serious" Love Interest. The Light Novel hero commonly gains a harem, wanted or otherwise, without fail.

Appearance-wise, shonen heroes typically have outlandish costumes, bright and/or spikey hair, and rough facial features. The Light Novel protagonist is, more often than not, an Ordinary High-School Student with dark and/or neat hair and soft facial features. Costume-wise, the Light Novel protagonist wears either an ordinary high school uniform or some other simple outfiit, often equipped with a Badass Longcoat.

Shonen heroes are almost always part of a Fighting Series or Sports Story and form an action-oriented Power Fantasy. On the other hand, the Light Novel hero is a different type of Wish Fulfillment that can easily work in a mundane Slice of Life story. They are also a very common protagonist for an "Isekai" plot. note 

Even when action is involved, there are big differences. While shonen heroes focus more on "power growth" (utilizing spirit and training, and gradually improving up the ranks to prove their worth), the Light Novel protagonist is focused more on "power acquisition". Rather than training to improve their abilities, the Light Novel protagonist usually starts out already nigh-unbeatable, and typically "unlocks" new abilities as the story goes on. Not typically through training, but merely as a consequence of adventuring or overcoming the Monster of the Week. If the hero is a Non-Action Guy, then his growing Battle Harem is often how he faces the Sorting Algorithm of Evil.

Another way to put this is comparing the powers of a shonen battle manga hero to a muscle that has to be trained and developed, and the Light Novel hero's to a toolset required to progress the story. In fact, they may already have everything needed to succeed in the first place, but simply become a lot more stylish at it.

The Light Novel is markedly influenced by video games and mixes in Dating Sim and Visual Novel elements, such as the most common "acquisition" that the Light Novel hero makes being new members to his harem. The very act of romancing the harem may also be how power is achieved.

While this is not quite the Omnipresent Trope that its shonen cousin is (due to being newer), it's getting there. See our Analysis Page for a quick explanation on why this trope became so successful, so quickly.

See also Harem Genre for another genre it overlaps with, and Schoolgirl Series for one feminine counterpart.


Examples:

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    Played Straight 
  • High School D×D: Issei Hyoudou sits on the fence between this trope and Stock Shonen Hero. He looks and acts more like a shonen protagonist, but (aside from literally debuting in a light novel) fills the Harem Genre, Ordinary High-School Student and "power acquisition" requirements. He's the current host of the Red Dragon Emperor—a being so powerful that Angels, Demons AND Fallen Angels had to join forces to break up a fight with its Arch-Enemy. The harem aspect, however, is not by accident—Issei's greatest dream is to become the "Harem King".
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito is the most well-known example of the trope and quite possibly the Trope Codifier. He's an Ordinary High-School Student with a Badass Longcoat, an Invincible Hero, a Clueless Chick Magnet, and acquires new weapons or abilities without any sort of training whatsoever.
  • In Another World with My Smartphone: Touya Mouchizuki takes the trope to an extreme. He's an Ordinary High-School Student who dies and gets transported to another world, acquires a Badass Longcoat, and quickly becomes a Showy Invincible Hero with a harem. Unlike many shows of this type, however, this is the entire point—God feels guilty for killing him before his time and actively works to give Touya the best life ever, with nigh-unbeatable power and an endless supply of women willing to share him in marriage.
  • Date A Live: Shido is, of course, an Ordinary High-School Student. The necessity to build a harem, though, is baked right into the plot—the danger threatening the world are Apocalypse Maidens called "spirits" who can only be saved by falling in love with him and then kissing Shido, who absorbs their power into his body. This is because, before the story started, he was temporarily killed and resurrected to be capable of wielding Spirit powers without any drawbacks. When he achieves adulthood, he will have the potential to become a magical god.
  • My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU: Different from other light novel heroes, The Protagonist Hachiman Hikigaya is a Genre Savvy that usually battles against this, mostly being an Ineffectual Loner and Snark Knight, but he eventually becomes a hero by his own: he's a Badass Bookworm who has the ability of quickly analyse and come to a fairly accurate conclusion of a person's hidden motivations and personality traits. Being obligated to help students as part of the Service Club, Hachiman is rediscovered for the others as a Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold, the main reason why eventually he gets an Unwanted Harem, starting with his club mates Yui Yuigahama and Yukino Yukinoshita.
  • Strike the Blood: Kojou Akatsuki has silver hair and often wears a hoodie, but other than that, perfectly fits the style of an LN hero. He's the Fourth Progenitor, by his own admission "the most powerful vampire in the world". Progenitors can summon an entire army of familiars—each one by itself a Person of Mass Destruction, but to awaken familiars he must drink blood. The familiars literally won't respect a "virgin" vampire, and some of them still won't respond if he only drinks blood from the same people over and over, thus requiring him to acquire an Unwanted Harem. Even if he didn't have to, though, Kojou's power, good looks, and desire to protect others draws a large number of girls (and some men) to him.
  • Campione!: Godou Kusanagi is another Ordinary High-School Student who winds up being The Chosen One that kills a god and thus becomes the seventh and youngest "Campione". He is even special amongst that elite group by defeating the God of Victory, whose power allows him to kill any other god once Godou understands the god's origins and powers. The moment Godou becomes a Campione, Erica throws herself at him and "permits" him to have other mistresses (although she insists he only have one) so long as it helps him fulfill his destiny. However, the fastest way to grant a Campione knowledge is by kissing them, and the Girl of the Week is usually the only one with the knowledge he needs.
  • Asura Cryin': Tomoharu is an Ordinary High-School Student who happens to have a best friend that's a ghost. However, it turns out that said "ghosts" are actually the power sources of Humongous Mecha called "Asura Machina". In addition to this, various factions become worried about Tomo's growing relationship with various beautiful demon girls, because any romantic and/or sexual commitment to a demon allows a human to gain a Familiar called a "Daughter". A human with both an Asura and a Daughter is called an "Asura Cryin"—a Person of Mass Destruction whose own powers erase both their memories and ability to love, driving them mad.
  • Log Horizon: Shiroe is trapped in a game world along with many other players, and he happens to be one of the greatest strategists alive with the highest level cap (at first) in the game. His exploits earn him the affections of multiple women, and as he learns more about how the mechanics of the game world work, he learns that his abilities and his intellect are perfectly suited to allow him to break reality itself through Magically Binding Contracts.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: The protagonist was just a nameless Homunculus created by the Yggdmillenia to be a slave in the Holy Grail War, until he attempts to escape and gets heavily injured. The hero Siegfried sacrifices his heart to save him, dying in the process. Renaming himself Sieg in honor of his fallen savior, the protagonist goes on to become a leader to his fellow homunculii, a major figure in the war and one of the most powerful characters in the story albeit not without cost. He lacks the Harem traits though, as he's both Oblivious to Love and only one girl character is actually in love with him, though his male best friend (not that you could tell at a glance) isn't shy about his affection either.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar: While not quite The Stoic nor an Ordinary High-School Student, Ash has a Unique Protagonist Asset in that he and his sister can ride any Dragon besides the one that belongs to him. In only a few chapters/episodes, he goes from being on the lowest end of the power spectrum to one of the highest as a Dragonar, with various characters promising that he isn't even close to his fullest potential. He's also the only known person whose Parr, Eco, has human form. In addition to the aforementioned Eco, he also has several girls who are either in love with him or want to have his child for a variety of reasons. And that's not even getting into the other things related to being the Knight of Avalon which make him even more special.

    Parodies 
  • Konosuba: Kazuma is a light-hearted parody of the trope. When he first arrives in his new world, he thinks he'll be overpowered, but turns out to have some of the weakest stats, aside from luck. And his teammates form the very definition of an Unwanted Harem, as each one of them is hilariously incompetent except for VERY specific circumstances as well as have character flaws which indicate very questionable levels of sanity. Kyouya, his rival and foil, is the epitome of this trope: an extremely attractive Chosen One with an overpowered sword and his own adoring harem. The irony is that Kazuma's harem includes the heroine, Aqua, who Kyouka thought was his main heroine, but it turns out she forgot all about him. In fact, Kazuma's entire harem hates Kyouya and, despite denying it, adore Kazuma for various reasons.
  • The Devil Is a Part-Timer!:
    • Well, to start with, Maou is The Devil (granted, only the latest in a long line of them, but still) and was the most powerful demon back in home world. On Earth, however, his power can't replenish itself without human emotion, which means each arc requires him to figure out a way to reacquire his abilities. He's rather unremarkable with plain black hair and a wardrobe that consists of Unislo and a fast food uniform. He's also quite intelligent and perceptive, having completely mastered everyday living on Earth in virtually no time at all. And finally, he of course winds up with an Unwanted Harem (albeit a small one). The overshadowing joke about all this, however, is that all he wants to be at the moment is to live as a regular part-time employee and Take Over the World by playing society's rules.
    • Emilia is the Hero Antagonist of the story and, thus, an inversion. But otherwise, Emilia fits the role of a Stock Light Novel protagonist including her massive fighting power that allowed her to [[One-Man Army almost single-handedly defeat Maou's forces). However, because she lacks the main character status, she lacks the rest of the trope's requirements, such as a harem.

    Deconstructions 
  • Re:Zero: When he first arrives in his new world, Subaru assumes he's gained powerful magic or some other talent, but initially has none. The only unique ability he gained is to start over from a "save point" after he dies, which is only a blessing considering the horrible ways he constantly meets his end. Gaining a harem means that he has more people to protect (thus meaning he often has to kill himself to save them by trial-and-error) and if he advances his relationship in any way and then dies, said advancement can be completely undone, forcing him to start over from scratch while also trying to figure out what went wrong.
  • The Irregular at Magic High School: Thanks to its heavy political themes, Tatsuya Shiba discovers this trope's setbacks.
    • The Invincible Hero that is so prevalent in light novels. His soul was changed when he was still in his mother's stomach, and in childhood was forced to become Child Soldier to master the most powerful magic known to man so that he could guard the Yotsuba family forever. Many people, however, fear a possible Beware the Superman scenario and would rather keep their distance from him. The Yotsuba family even created Miyuki to restrain him.
    • His Stoic nature isn't by choice. To prevent him from destroying the world on a whim, the Yotsubas altered his brain chemistry and made him unable to feel any strong emotion, except for his love for Miyuki.
  • Classroom Of The Elite: Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is revealed to be a deconstruction: Multiple hidden talents? He was trained at childhood to be the best at everything, to the point he only cares about winning. Gaining the attraction of women? Calculated moves to earn their trust and make them easier for him to manipulate. Moral conscience? He has no such thing. He only wants to protect himself and will only help people if it advances said goal...at least until he starts making genuine bonds with people like Karuizawa and Airi. And his insistence on having an ordinary life? All just to get out of the influence of his obsessed father, who believes that he's borderline invincible and unstoppable (which is true), making Kiyotaka vow to find a way to get his father disinterested in him.
  • Suka Suka: The main character, Willem, was a standard light novel protagonist 500 years before the main story. He acquired a formidable number of skills and abilities in typical light novel hero fashion. However, his strength ultimately had zero impact on humanity’s fate. His final battle was a Sensless Sacrifice and everything he held dear was destroyed by the 17 Beasts. He learns this unfortunate fact after being unfrozen 500 years later and discovering he’s the last living human. To add insult to injury he lost most of his fighting ability due to being petrified for so long, resulting in him being forced to remain a bystander while others fight and die in his place. Suka Suka shows just how insignificant even a Stock Light Novel Hero is in what is basically a Cosmic Horror Story.
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