Which New Shonen Jump Protagonist Has the WORST Life?

From trying to bring humanity back from extinction to earning the respect of their peers by fighting their way to the top, Shonen Jump protagonists don't always have it easy. Here are some Jump heroes that have debuted in the past few years who have it particularly rough.

Riku Aibetsu (Phantom Seer)

Riku Aibetsu Phantom Seer

It's a common trope for shonen protagonists to contain a dark entity inside them, capable of unleashing devastating power. In Riku's case, it's not so much a physical being as an incredibly inconvenient passive ability called "Beckoning Hand." In the world of Phantom Seer exist mysterious and dangerous inhuman creatures called "Phantoms." Riku's Beckoning Hand grants her a "Spidey Sense"-like warning when these Phantoms appear so that she can act pre-emptively, getting herself and others away from danger.

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However, it's this same ability that attracts these Phantoms to begin with. Despite wanting to help people, Riku actually poses a threat to everyone she's around at any given time, as she attracts danger without any means of defense. It's an isolating and paranoia-inducing ability. Despite having this threat looming over her, Riku pushes forward, determined to help the people she's involuntarily putting at risk.

Fuuko Izumo (Undead Unluck)

Undead Unluck Fuuko

Fuuko Izumo has it even worse than Riku as far as causing involuntary harm goes. Her terrifying technique is to cause a serious stroke of misfortune to those who touch her bare skin, usually resulting in their death. Fuuko has had to deal with this cursed ability since childhood; tragically, at 8 years old, she caused a plane accident that killed her parents and everyone else on board.

Because of her ability, the now-teenage Fuuko has determined that she'll never have a normal love life. Quite tragic for a girl who loves romance manga! It's no surprise that at the start of the series she's ready to commit suicide, before the second main character, Andy, comes into play. It's hard to say whether pairing up with the reckless undying Andy makes her life any easier, but it certainly has given her a reason to continue living.

Mash Burnedead (Mashle: Muscles and Magic)

Mash Mashle

Mashle is a comedy manga, focused on parodying a lot of shonen tropes, but its protagonist, Mash Burnedead, has quite a rough life. In a similar setup to Asta from Black Clover or Midoriya from My Hero Academia, Mash is a magic-less human born in a world of magic humans. He's quite the outlier. In fact, in a case worse than the protagonists from Black Clover or MHA, his very existence is a "threat" to the magic-dominated gene pool. According to the laws of his land, he must be purged from existence.

Despite only wanting to live a peaceful life in the forest with his family, he is hunted by the police. After exhibiting an intimidating display of strength, he's given an ultimatum: climb the ranks of a wizarding school and become a Divine Visionary, or continue to be hunted. If his lack of powers is discovered at school, he will surely be killed. With options like that, it's hard to say that he has a great life, but Mash makes the most of it nevertheless, determined to make it to the top at this school and earn his right to live in peace.

Denji (Chainsaw Man)

Denji Chainsaw Man

Chainsaw Man has proved time and again that it's not afraid to make its protagonist suffer physically and emotionally. The start of the series is already rough, with 16-year-old Denji struggling to pay off a huge debt to the Yakuza that was dumped on him after his father's suicide. He spends his days living in a shed taking on odd-jobs and hunting devils, while the Yakuza takes almost all of the profit. This leaves Denji with enough money to maybe eat a slice of bread for breakfast.

He eventually goes from hunting devils for the Yakuza to hunting devils for Public Safety, an improvement from his old lifestyle but, without getting into major spoilers, this relatively cozy existence doesn't last forever. Denji is an emotionally damaged and desperate child who is continually used by people who take advantage of his naivety and simple-mindedness. As long as they offer him a semblance of normality, Denji will cling to unhealthy relationships. Sadly, his life becomes far from normal.

Yuji Itadori (Jujutsu Kaisen)

Yuji Itadori Jujutsu Kaisen

As far as we know, Jujutsu Kaisen's Yuji doesn't have quite as tragic a backstory as Denji's, but his life gets arguably even worse in a very short period of time. Yuji is a relatively chill, good-natured teenager who eventually finds himself surrounded by a dark world of disgusting violence, cruelty, and evil. At the start of the series, he loses his only parental figure in his grandfather, and he curses himself by swallowing a cursed object in order to prevent the enemy from getting a hold of it. This selfless, but reckless act sets his fate into motion; he is told by Gojo, a Jujutsu Sorcerer/teacher that Sorcerer Executives want him dead.

Just like Denji, Yuji is given two choices: be executed now, or consume the rest of the cursed objects and be executed later. To know that you're going to risk your life to eventually end your life is a pretty raw deal, but Yuji is willing to do so if it means he can live with no regrets and can help people in the process. Unfortunately, delaying his execution allows opportunities for Sukuna, the Cursed Spirit inside of him, to carry out horrible acts of violence. It truly is a lose-lose scenario for Yuji.

When it comes down to which new shonen protagonist has it the worst, it's easy to narrow it down to Denji and Yuji. That said, who has it worse between the two? While it's hard to compare trauma, Denji has more or less come out the other end of his terrible circumstances (at least as of the end of Chainsaw Man Part 1), and Yuji is still in the thick of it, so for now, the answer is Yuji. After all, the only thing he has to look forward to is death, and his relationship with his inner demon (Sukuna) is much more toxic than Denji and Pochita's more familial bond. Unless Sukuna is somehow defeated without taking his host with him, Yuji is in for a tragic existence.

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