Anime is awesome. Let me start by saying that. This post is not to eviscerate the medium itself, but when anime fails, it fails hard.
Four years ago, I wrote the original 10 Anime Tropes That Need to Die, and it’s still one of most popular posts ever, so clearly it resonated with you guys. Well, it’s been long enough that I finally have a follow-up list.
Remember: this is MY list, meaning I hate these tropes, but you may enjoy them. And that’s okay! We all have our tastes and guilty pleasures. You may hate a trope that I adore. Tell me what tropes you love or hate in the comments.
1. I am smart. You are not. Muahaha.
Mr. Bad Guy is so superior to you that your feeble attempts to best him are mere amusements to him. His face is set in a permanent smirk and he always closes his eyes when he talks to you to shake his head at your quaintness.
And he’s about as tolerable as a squirt of tobasco sauce in the eyes.
This villain is only acceptable in two scenarios: A) They’re a genuine, well-written threat or B) They get their face pimp-smacked right off in the most glorious fashion.
2. He’s a pervert. Funny.
This character is usually the main guy’s best friend whose only purpose is to make the main character look better. Because he’s a pervert. He likes boobs. He will peak in on girls changing.
That’s about where his character development stops. Haha?
3. He’s mistaken for a pervert. Funny.
Name that anime! A guy and a girl bump into each other, likely falling over. When the guy opens his eyes, his hands are on her boobs. Scream, violence, pain.
Could you guess it? The answer is all of them. All the anime.
I may laugh at this once if it’s brief, properly set up, or if the animation/voice acting is hysterical. On its own, I just think, “Oh, we’re out of ideas already?”
4. He’s a sexual predator. Funny?
Maybe “funny” isn’t always accurate, but there are a lot of anime shows where a girl is stalked, groped, spied on, or preyed upon by a monster with overly-feely tentacles. Remember the second arc of Sword Art Online where a good female character gets sexually assaulted just because?
It’s the casualness that makes me shiver. Sometimes it’s played for laughs at the expense of the guy (number 3), but other times there’s just a guy peeking on girls or touching them inappropriately. Other times, it’s jail-worthy.
Because acting out your perverted fantasies is fine as long as it’s on television.
5. Love and friendship trump established rules.
This one is low on the list because everyone’s already said it. Down-and-out good guys overcome the evil one by the power of believing in themselves or the the power of love and friendship.
Not only is this lazy, trite, and overdone, but it undermines all established worldbuilding. Whatever rules the anime made for fighting, magic, etc., they go out the window because the writer found himself in a corner with no way out.
The only exception I’ve found, personally, is My Bride is a Mermaid because that was a comedy which only made rules so it could laugh at them.
6. Glasses pt. 2
I mentioned in my last post how I was sick of guys doing the touch-your-glasses-in-the-middle thing, but let’s expound upon this character. And that character is…glasses.
Sad? Take glasses off. Determined? Touch glasses. Talking? Touch outside of glasses. Got a devious plan? Reflection on glasses to block the eyes. This character begins and ends with their glasses. Take them away and the writer wouldn’t know what to do. Oh, and they’re always a brilliant know-it-all because that never ever ever gets old.
7. We’re a couple now. The end.
Maybe I’m biased as a Westerner. In American romances, the story is about how they get together, grow, break up, then get back together and possibly end with a wedding.
In anime, they gasp, blush, stare, and finally end the show by confessing their attraction and possibly going out.
Rare is the anime that actually follows the couple as a couple. That’s why I like Clannad After Story; the harem is over, yet the romance continues. I like seeing romances that go beyond “Gasp! He’s looking at me!” That’s a fine start, but if that’s all it is…
8. Overly Shy Girl.
She’s shy. The end.
Put her around more aggressive characters who can cram her in revealing clothing or make her do sports or public speaking, anything out of her character because it’s moe.
Rinse, repeat, cash check.
This is one of those tropes that doesn’t even try to NOT be a trope.
9. Pop Idols
I give zero craps about this character. She’s a pop superstar with millions of adoring fans, likely with a secret life that’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There’s just nowhere to go with this trope except grinding on Robin Thicke.
Worse, if there’s a pop idol, she will sing, because when you run out of material for an episode, try padding!
10. The Fuko
I don’t know what this trope is actually called, but I’m referencing Fuko from Clannad, the most insufferable part of one of my favorite shows.
This character is usually small and cute, obstinate beyond reason, and refers to herself in the third person. Essentially, she’s a braindead child. Now if they’re literally a child, fine(ish). But when they hit high school, that crap needs to stop.
Seriously, is this a Japanese thing I don’t know about? To announce your every whim as if you’re standing outside yourself and demanding that everybody else play along because it’s moe or something?
This person mugs the camera in the most literal sense. They beat down the other characters in the shot and demand attention without ever being compelling enough to earn it. Go. A. Way.
So that’s all I have for now. Do you like some of these tropes? Do you hate any others I missed? Sound off in the comments and check out the original list!