As with many things in my life, I have a love/hate relationship with anime. I admire the beauty of the art, the excitement of the craft, and most importantly, the use of animation on an audience that’s older than 10 without jumping straight to South Park.
But then…there’s all THIS stuff!
10. Let’s Talk about our Fight!
Remember Dragon Ball Z? I only watched about 8 episodes total, but I quickly realized one problem with the show: for every one episode of combat, there were four episodes of talking about it. I’m not talking build-up to the fight, I’m talking the two have squared off and are about to duke it out, but decide to taunt each other for FOUR EPISODES! Come on, people, it’s an action anime, GET ON WITH IT!
9. Sex In Your Face!
From what I’ve gathered, sexual content is more socially acceptable in Japan than America, so I guess it’s a cultural issue, but COME ON! I know I’m a Christian, so there’s that, but I know it’s not just me. Nudity is one thing, and going to the beach and the guys zooming in on the girls, that’s at least a realistic depiction of a teenage guy.
But when a girl turns around and everything goes ga-boing-boing-boiiiing! Sorry, that’s where things just get stupid. I’m a young, white-blooded guy, and even I have to roll my eyes at the lunacy of some boys’ imaginations, cuz you know a girl didn’t write this crap.
8. Five Girls, One Guy? Let’s all be Friends!
My wife and I watch a lot of harem anime because, well, they’re hilarious. For those of you who don’t know, a harem anime is about several girls all competing over one guy’s affections. Yeah, stupid and adolescent, but there’s always a couple of crack-ups!
But let’s think about this for a second. If 3-5 girls were competing over one guy, what would be the end result? That’s right, BLOOD! And 99% of harem animes take place in high school, where jealousy is the school mascot and common sense gets its lunch money stolen by emotions!
And yet, the only anime I’ve ever seen that depicts this accurately is “School Days,” which actually does end in a horribly dark manner. In most others, the girls are all unusually civil. Come on, there’s not ONE character who’s an aggressive jerk? The worst example is “Shuffle.”
There are five girls and one guy. AND THEY ALL BECOME FRIENDS. They’re all having a great time together competing over this one guy they’re all so adamantly in love with! Okay, it’s originally less than that, but that’s the end result and they’re all chums except for one or two episodes. Even at the end, when the guy has picked his gal, they’re all still in love with him, still pursuing him, and everybody’s still buddy-buddy! I CALL CRAP!
7. My Glasses Make me Pretentious
If someone has glasses in an anime, there’s a 90% chance they’ll hold this pose in EVERY SCENE THEY’RE IN! If your glasses are falling off that much, get new ones!
6. The Lolita Chick
In every harem anime I’ve ever seen and in many other anime as well, there’s always one girl who is…well, illegal. Most girls in harems are teenagers, and therefore underage, but there’s always one that’s, like, eleven. She’s always small, curveless, and basically looks like a child. Sometimes they’re older than they look, but we know what they’re trying to pull.
A younger cast member is good. A younger girl falling for an older guy can be kind of cute. But this is Japan, so every time there’s an underage cast member, they MUST sexualize her. Whether it’s dressing her up in Victoria’s Secret’s finest, having her try to seduce the main character (not exaggerating), or just plain showing her naked (also not exaggerating), anime is well-versed in making everyone in the room do the awkward cringe.
5. All Your Enemies Become Your Friends
This is a staple of action-adventure anime, where the main character will fight and defeat an opponent and that opponent will graciously accept defeat or realize they were wrong to fight and will become an ally of the good guy instead. In moderation, this is a good move because it adds flavor and sometimes character to your enemies.
When used inappropriately, you have side-switching whackos who don’t know what they’re fighting for!
Case and point: “Asura Cryin'”. This is an action anime involving robots. About as original as a sci-fi show that has aliens. Anyway, there are lots of battles and I’m not exaggerating, EVERY SINGLE ENEMY becomes your ally except one. One crazy chick pops up, tries to kill you, then laughs proudly when you defeat her, like she wanted it. Another guy tries to kill a plane load of people, but when he’s in trouble, the main guy suddenly becomes his ally for no reason. The final bad guy kills like 5 people in his first episode alone, then tries to destroy the world. Oh, but it turns out he’s just misunderstood. Let’s let him live and you know what, we won’t even call the cops!
Good grief, no consequences of any sort! Everything is fine! No, SOMEBODY ARREST SOMEBODY!
4. The Bland Anime Male
Let’s compare the male protagonist from four shows. Here’s Kouta from “Elfen Leid.”
Here’s Rin from “Shuffle.”
Here’s Makoto from “School Days”
And here’s Tomoya from “Clannad.”
Notice any similarities?
Even in the shows where the character actually looks like anybody else, they’re all the same. They are BLAND. This is mostly a staple of harems where the only thing the writers focused on was the girls and how big their boobs should be. The male is ignored because he has to be painfully generic for this story to work.
He’s a nice guy. That’s his only defining characteristic. He may have a hobby, but it never goes anywhere. What makes him so special an irresistible? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. These girls are fighting over Blandy McNo-Face.
The only exceptions are Makoto and Tomoya (pictured above). Makoto actually turns out to be the most deceptive, manipulative scum you’ve ever seen in animation. Tomoya actually turns out to be everything the other characters are TRYING to be! All these guys look like rebels, not wearing their uniforms right, not paying attention in class, etc, but only Tomoya turns out to be an actual delinquent with a crap life. And he, of course, becomes the greatest and most endearing male lead I’ve ever seen.
3. The Mary Sue
If you’ve watched even one anime before, you can point this chick out the moment she appears on screen. She’s shy, sweet, reserved, and just needs a push in the right direction. She’ll often be awkward and cute for it (the first 5 times), but in truth, she’s got a strong spirit and will fight for the main guy no matter what.
That sound generic and familiar yet? This girl will do everything for the guy for pretty much no reason. Often times, she’s in love with him, so yeah, power of love, blah, blah, blah, but in some animes, she’ll go even farther. Sometimes she comes over to the main guy’s house and cooks every meal for him so he never has to make his own food. She’ll clean up after him, make sure his clothes are ready, and never ever ever ever EVER complain about anything because that would shatter the illusion that THIS IS NOWHERE NEAR REALITY!
What girl does that? What girl just caters to the guy’s every single whim every day without ever looking tired, acting tired, or even feeling the slightest bit used? Sorry guys, she doesn’t exist. This is a 2-D character there to make you think women are curvy, human-shaped dogs that want to make our lives as wonderful as possible. They don’t have personalities of their own and the illusion is really getting old. How about some female leads that are actually characters?
2. Upgrade Anime
I’m looking at you, “Bleach.”
Action animes can be so awesome, but I often have to stop watching them because they get to the upgrade system and from there on, the show is doomed.
What’s the upgrade system? Well, you’re not powerful enough to beat this guy, so go through some training here to get this weapon or learn this special move and yay, you beat the bad guy! That’s not so bad, but when the plot continues…oh, no, that new move you learned is ineffective against this new bad guy so you must train all over again! Yay, you beat him! Oh, no, an even bigger guy who you are unable to harm despite all your awesomeness. Time to learn something new! I wonder what’s gonna happen next…
It’s an endless cycle of filler so that the show has a million episodes, but never goes anywhere! And every time they learn a new move, all their others become obsolete and you never hear about them again. The problem here is that each new upgrade is said to be phenomenally awesome, like this will make you a demigod. And yet, there’s always something stronger out there, so this awesome upgrade comes off really cheap. They do this every single time.
I jabbed at “Bleach,” so let me explain myself. Ichigo starts out as an uber-awesome Shinigami. His sword is huge and his powers are unnaturally awesome so that he’s taking on the toughest enemies. Then the other Shinigami appear and floor him. Why was he even considered to be so awesome if any other Shinigami can take him so easily? So he trains to become awesome again and he becomes so awesome that he beats the first guy and BARELY beats the second guy. Oh, but these are low-level Shinigami, so don’t be proud of yourself, bro.
Ichigo fights some tougher guys, quickly realizing he sucks, so he has to hone in and understand his weapon to really do any damage, and when he finally does, he ALMOST kills the guy he’s fighting. Then he gets slaughtered by another shinigami.
Time to train AGAIN. He goes through many episodes of intense training to unlock his special move to beat this one bad guy and when he finally does, he STILL almost flubs it. And then he’s still not strong enough to stop the ultimate bad guy from succeeding in his plans.
But the show isn’t over! Suddenly, his ultimate move can’t be used in the real world and his super speed is not helping him. All his upgrades are for naught! What will he do? I have no idea. I stopped watching that drivel.
1. Never Say You’re in Love. You Could Die.
I know that saying you’re in love makes you vulnerable, I know that high school is no place to be vulnerable, and I know that if they reject you, you feel like dying…but every…single…show…ever…made?!
For some reason, in the anime world, telling someone you love them is a cardinal sin. If you admit your feelings, your family will be slaughtered in front of you. Or something horrible the way these people act. There’s always at least one character who, instead of being, I don’t know, SMART, and admitting their feelings, they hide them. I don’t mean keep them a secret, I mean HIDE them, as in fight tooth and nail so that they never find out. They deny, they lie, and they make up the DUMBEST excuses.
Seriously, even when it’s obvious! Even when they ADMIT IT they still won’t ADMIT IT! Let me paint you a picture with Kaede from Shuffle.
Kaede lives with Rin, the main guy. She’s the Mary Sue I mentioned earlier. She cooks for him, cleans for him, darn near dresses him, all because she’s in love with the guy and has been since she was young, like 8. They’re in high school, so she’s kept this secret for at least 6 years, all while living with him.
Why? I honestly…don’t…know. I have no idea why she’s never said anything. Awkwardness, maybe, but if you’re as crazy about a guy as she is, at some point, it comes up in conversation.
In the first episode, one of Kaede’s rabid fan club members tries to beat Rin to a pulp with a nail-bat so he can be with Kaede (this show is more over the top than Moulin Rouge). To stop him, Kaede screams “You can’t! I’ve already promised my whole heart, body, and soul to Rin!” That sounds like a confession. What does she do? “Oh, just forget I said anything.”
And. He. DOES. It’s only because Rin is an absolute IDIOT that Kaede gets away with this crap over and over and over. She’ll let it slip that she’s interested in being more than just friends with Rin (or screams it), and then withdraws the statement.
That’s just episode 1. And that’s just one show. Anime is full of this nonsense, where people want so badly to admit their feelings, but apparently, something horrible will happen to their loved ones and this is not only stupid, but sometimes even a device used to stretch the run time of the plot. When people run away, they have to ponder and think and worry for thirty full minutes, so hey, more episodes!
Oh, anime, it’s only because I love you that I complain. I just want you to be perfect!
What about you? Any anime tropes you hate? Anything you love! Any disagreements? Speak up!