It’s easy to criticise someone else’s plan when you are not the one having to pull it off and are not relying on the plan succeeding in order to survive (take over the world, win the war, impress the girl, etc). That said, there are some plans in anime, that could only be described as being a bad plan. A terrible idea from the outset and at times it is difficult to fathom why the writers thought it would be a good idea to include it.
Of course, people in real life have bad ideas all the time, but some of these plans are so obviously terrible, it seems unlikely that no one else in the story would have told the character not to attempt it.
What separates the truly bad plans from just ill-conceived ones or ones that have limited chance of succeeding is subjective. Though personally I feel that a bad plan is one that wouldn’t solve the actual problem even if it does succeed or one that relies on way too many variables falling in favour of the plan maker for there to even be a small chance of success (one might as well just wish on a fallen star).
Then again, there’s also the mind-numbingly stupid plans that are occasionally floated.
Whichever way, below I am going to look at some bad plans that various anime have put forward and explain just why it was probably not such a great idea. Feel free to object to my choices or to suggest other anime that have executed some truly dreadful plans.
A Bad Plan Involving Pudding?
I guess an anime based around the government relenting to a yellow-octopus creature’s demand to be allowed to teach for a year before blowing up the planet, and recruiting the kids in the class to try to kill him, isn’t exactly an anime that I should look for logical plans in.
And let’s be real, Assassination Classroom put forward some utterly insane plans.
From attempts to throw a baseball loaded with anti-sensei pellets at him, to using porn magazines to keep him still, the kids came up with one bonkers notion after another in their earlier attempts to assassinate their teacher.
Admittedly, they did get more sophisticated in both their planning and execution as the series continued but then we had the truly bad plan of making a giant pudding.
Now I accept that there was a small amount of logic in Kaede’s suggestion here. I mean, Koro-Sensei did like pudding. And the smell of the pudding was potentially going to hide the smell of all of those explosives.
However, when the fate of the world relies on giant desserts loaded with explosives you really have to wonder where it all went wrong.
So many things could have gone wrong with this plan from the beginning. Largely, it was pretty obviously a trap. However the time it took to make it gave Koro-Sensei plenty of time to figure it out. Also, even if the whole thing had succeeded and the pudding had blown up as planned, the likelihood of catching the not-immobilised octopus in the blast was pretty remote.
Yep, this was a bad plan doomed to fail from the beginning and let’s be honest, any assassination attempt that involves a giant pudding can probably be dismissed as a bad idea.
A Bad Plan To Make Your Enemies More Viscious?
It is understandably quite difficult to write genius characters and smart plans all the time. Most writers aren’t geniuses themselves so they can be forgiven for occasionally having smart characters do stupid things. Not to mention, smart people sometimes just do stupid things because being smart doesn’t mean you always think things through.
However, when Norman returned in season 2 of The Promised Neverland and revealed his plan, about the only reaction I could have was to ask whether or not the audience was ever supposed to swallow this?
Norman, the cautious and careful planner who always thought through all the possible pitfalls of his plans in season one, suddenly decided that forcing the demons to revert to more animalistic forms so that they would fight and kill pretty much anything was somehow a good idea for the weak human children trying to escape?
I mean, if you thought the humanoid demons who could talk to you were bad news, why not turn them into mindless ravaging beasts who would tear you apart?
It was such a bad plan and one that Norman should have instantly realised was a bad plan. If he was going to release some kind of gas or poison that affected the demons it should have knocked them out or killed them or made them vegetarian or literally anything other than what it does.
Though this wasn’t the only time The Promised Neverland had a character with an unspeakably bad plan. Ray’s attempt at self-immolation in season one wasn’t exactly the best idea he ever had.
And don’t even get me started on Emma’s decision making in the final episode.
Sure, the characters in The Promised Neverland are children who are under a lot of pressure in a high risk situation, but when you’ve set them up to at times be ridiculously smart, some of these moves are just foolish beyond belief.
Bad Guys With Bad Plans?
I guess it is a staple of a lot of stories that the villain’s plan doesn’t make a huge amount of sense and has limited chance of success. If we look at most of the Sailor Moon Villains, their plans ranged from ludicrous to truly stupid with very few seemingly set-up to succeed even if the scouts didn’t intervene.
However, when a story sets out with a more serious tone and presents the opposition as some mysterious agency that one assumes was at some point competent at their jobs given the resourcing they have, it really does make it hard to suspend disbelief when they make mind-numbingly dumb decisions.
Although we could put almost every mecha anime where the people in charge are kind of evil and for whatever reason only emotional teens can pilot in the category of bad plans. Redesign your robot. Or better yet, don’t use a giant robot. Sure they look cool but as Irina correctly pointed out, they aren’t exactly practical in the first place and you do not want to hand that sort of fire-power over to a traumatised teenager.
And then we have Elfen Lied. Here we have a case of one Diclonius escaping, and bathing the halls of the institute in blood in the process and so the best plan they could come up with to recapture her was to send another Diclonius who had also been kept in captivity and had no reason to really help.
Not to mention they sent one Diclonius at a time even after Lucy defeated the first one they sent. This was not just bad planning, it was also a blatant refusal to learn from past mistakes and to just keep repeating them over and over again.
A Bad Plan Disguised as Genius?
Finally we have characters who execute bad plans and then spend a great deal of time justifying why everything went exactly the way they assumed it would and it was all deliberate after all. Sure if they talk fast enough and it isn’t that important, the audience will probably just swallow it and move on.
And then we have the entire plot hinging on a gamble taken by the protagonist and somehow it all just works out.
Dr Stone took this path when Senku confronted Tsukasa in the first season. Unprepared to actually defeat Tsukasa, Senku came up with a great plan to have Tsukasa kill him by striking the one spot that hadn’t de-petrified by using body cues and subliminal messaging to goad him into it.
This was a bad plan.
Tsukasa could have stabbed him, pushed him off the cliff, struck him in the spot Senku wanted but realised he’d hit stone, etc etc. There are so many ways this could have gone wrong and you know what, some obvious cueing prior to the blow doesn’t make it a better plan.
That Senku actually does survive the encounter allowing the rest of the season and sequel season to occur is definitely more good luck than good planning and honestly I would have swallowed the story better had they just accepted that luck plays an important role in success as well sometimes.
Which anime plan did you think was a bad plan?
Honestly, there are so many other examples of bad plans in anime (and other stories) and yet when the characters themselves admit they are just making things up as they go or are hoping things work out, it can kind of work. Not everyone can come up with a brilliant idea when put on the spot.
Do bad plans necessarily ruin the story?
Not at all. Sometimes a bad plan can be kind of fun.
But when a bad plan succeeds without a hitch or the characters try to act like it wasn’t a terrible idea, then it makes it hard for the viewer to really get too invested.
So what are some anime plans that you thought were pretty terrible? Be sure to share them in the comments below.
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