If you’ve grown up in the past twenty years obviously you’ll have seen an anime show at some point. There’s literally hundreds. And an entire otaku culture behind it for the more dedicated fans. Many of these shows are quite enjoyable. But many, even the best ones, suffer from certain worn-out trends. I’ve tried to compile a list here of what I’ve noticed, and I’m not even the most seasoned anime-watcher, so I’m sure there are a lot of people who can clarify further. But these are 5 clichés that I’ve come across while watching anime shows that really ought to be used less frequently.
1.OVERLONG FIGHT SCENES THAT LAST FOR MULTIPLE EPISODES AT A TIME
Dragon Ball Z. That’s the first one that comes to mind. It may not be fair just to take shots at that, considering that the entire show is just one big, cool, awesome fight, often devoid of plot or character development. But, after a while, it just gets really tiring and really excessive. The fight between Goku and Frieza alone lasted about 20-30 episodes. And that was after Krillin, Piccolo, and Vegeta had an epic showdown with each of his first three forms. Planet Namek was on a time clock, set to blow up in five minutes or less, but it took about ten or less episodes. And in between the fight we got constant side-dialogue and cuts to King Kai giving commentary, some hundred million miles away. In other shows like Ruroni Kenshin, we see characters going from room to room to face some brand new opponent each episode. Which is really cool for a while, until it just keeps going for hours and hours. Also Yu Yu Hakusho and pretty much every popular shonen suffers from this. The formula is basically long battle, short rest and filler, and then another long battle, short rest and filler. It looks good on comic strips, but for TV shows there should really be more of an emphasis on plot development that doesn’t always rely on big, epic fights.
2. CHARACTERS WITH CONVENIENT HIDDEN SUPERPOWERS THAT CAN UNLOCK AT JUST THE RIGHT MOMENT
Luffy’s about to die. For like the one hundredth, thousandth time. But we can always rest assured knowing that, in the last moment, he can stretch his body into some crazy proportion that’ll turn the tide in his favor. Goku will always have a power-up in reserve somewhere. If his limit is super-saiyan, he can go super saiyan level 2 or level 3, depending on which looks cooler. Once again, this feels more like a video game than an actual show. At the last moment a character will scream out some random move in Japanese, followed by a collective gasp from the audience who, throughout the entire fight, is just standing on the sideline making observations. “He just unlocked the ______ move! No mortal man has ever achieved that!” It’s a deus ex machine tactic that’s employed all too frequently once the bad guy starts looking winning.
3. CHARACTERS THAT ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE
This one is really a continuation of number 2. Because the characters are so powerful they can always raise themselves from death. Or someone else with a magical healing hand can do the trick. If they don’t die, then they survive through an awful lot. In One Piece Luffy will get stabbed, shot, or hit by a cannonball, and then get right back up to fight not too long after. Naruto might get skewered by several sharp objects and still have the strength to stand up, while he’s literally bleeding out of every limb. Almost every character from Dragon Ball Z has died and then come back to life, just so they can fight another badass battle. What’s better about shows like Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, and Full Metal Alchemist is that the dead characters stay dead for the most part. There’s no ultimate mechanism that can bring them back to life.
4. CLUELESS FEMALE CHARACTERS
This is pretty much everywhere. Googly-eyed, big breasted, miniskirt-wearing, obsessed with guys females who keep getting into trouble and serve as a stumbling block for the entire show. You really can’t point out a particular genre. Like I said, this is pretty much everywhere. You’ll have the rare exceptions of well-written female characters (Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Kino’s Journey, Hellsing, Black Lagoon, Legend of Korra isn’t technically anime-but oh well), but for the most part they’re there to look hot and tasty. And stupid. Really, really stupid. Even Death Note, my favorite anime, suffers from this (Light’s dumb, obsessive girlfriend). I hate seeing covers of shows with perky, laughable high-school girls who really don’t do anything but prance around, smile, and act as enticements. Sure there’s plenty of girls who act like that, but there’s plenty of others who don’t.
5. THE STEREOTYPICAL EMO WHO’S ALWAYS ISOLATED AND CAN’T FUNCTION IN SOCIETY
So, let’s say there’s this kid with black hair. Half his face is covered, with one eye peeking out. And half the time he’s either plotting something really evil (Pride from FMA: Brotherhood), or doting out dry lines in English dubs that sound as if they’re all spoken by the same actor. Death Note was one of the few that could pull this off successfully, with the Holmesian character of L, who functioned, not as a whiny loner, but a brilliant detective, and a counter-intellect to the show’s villain and main protagonist, Light Yagami. Let’s just call him a high-functioning emo. But in other places they feel the same. They’re quiet guys, and girls, relegated to a diary or computer screen, psychologically separated from the rest of their peers. Or else they’re really grim and intense, like Sasuke from Naruto. Or else really apathetic and speaking few words. Or they’re Crona (sorry guys, can’t deal with that). Either way they’re extreme caricatures of certain personalities.
Honorable Mentions (“Honourable” for the British of spelling):
- BADLY DUBBED VILLAINS WHO ARE ALWAYS YELLING AND SCREAMING
- SHITTY THEME SONGS
- PLOTS THAT ARE OVERLY CONVOLUTED (Unless your name is Fooly Cooly)