How Shounen Anime Prepared Me to Be a Bear

Hike with supportive friends
Back in February I went on a hike with Zoe and Natalie, two friends who really helped me grow as a person. They taught me how embrace all of my quirks and to unapologetically be myself. Although I met them through AXO, we all bonded over anime 🙂
Freshman Boba Runs
Back in freshman year I met Christina and Joycelin and would often go get boba with them. They are some of my closest friends who helped me find a balance between school and work. They are also big fans of anime!


With shelter-in-place, anime has become a popular pastime. My favorite memories as a kid were walking to the video rental store with my mom, renting “Sailor Moon”, then heading home to watch the tape through multiple times. Not only was this magical-girl series a brief escape from the world, it also inspired me to help others. To this day, I continue to be inspired and learn from various anime. With the class of 2025’s admissions being released and this surge in popularity with anime, I can’t help but reflect how anime, particularly the “shounen” category, has helped me prepare to be a Berkeley bear.

“Shounen” translates to “young boy”, as these series were originally aimed towards this audience. The typical protagonist is either gifted from the start or receives something that unlocks their potential. When I got into Berkeley, I thought it was a mistake. I felt as though I didn’t stand out much among my peers. Rather than being a genius or possessing super-strength, I saw myself as average. I felt very much like Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist of “My Hero Academia” as I saw myself lacking in comparison to others. In a similar fashion to him and other characters, I had an amazing support system of family and friends that motivated me to go to Cal.

Fast forward to attending Cal and attempting to navigate classes, clubs, work, etc. It felt as though everyone around me had a firm grasp on college and that I was falling behind. Managing my time while living away from home felt like my first arc in college. I felt unprepared to battle this enemy and ended up barely coming out unscathed. As Megumi in “Jujutsu Kaisen” realized he was not as powerful as he could be and went back to training, I went back to my basics and honed those. I set my priorities: I came to Berkeley to get a degree, and went to office hours, the Student Learning Center, and utilized any resources the university provided. Once I mastered how to handle academics, I added on work and clubs. Along the way I made friends. “Hunter x Hunter” taught me that everyone around me is pursuing their own goal and that rather than being in competition with each other, we should support one another. With this notion, making friends in classes came easily as we bonded in study groups.

However, even after I had overcome those obstacles briefly, I was once again met with another defeat as I encountered another antagonist and began my self-journey arc. Similar to how Karasuno felt after being defeated by Seijoh in “Haikyu!!”, I felt that all of my hard work had gone to nothing as I was faced with challenges in my mental health. Through the unwavering support and love from my friends, I was able to get the help I needed. The University Health Services CAPS was extremely helpful, especially as I had no clue where to start. 

I could go on about the similarities in my life as a bear and that of a shounen protagonist. Although it may appear like we are students born extremely gifted, many of us are working hard towards a specific goal and have at least once questioned our abilities. It’s important to remember that no shounen protagonist is ever alone, whether it be friends, family, or animals, they always have a support system to help them when needed. 

Author: Juliana Roper

Hi friends! My name is Juliana and I am a third year from Petaluma, CA studying Sociology with pre-med. Outside of being a Campus Ambassador, I am a part of the Fung Fellowship, Greek Life, and SUPERB Games! I hope my various interests in games, anime, and pursuing my passions give you some insight as to how there's not one version of a Berkeley student.