Tuesday’s Top 5: Annoying Anime Tropes

While we all know that there are some clichés in anime that just won’t go away (girl running to school with toast in mouth, guy falling on girl and hand accidentally landing…) we all have to admit there are some tropes that we just wish would disappear. This is my list of the 5 common tropes that annoy me and I’d love to hear yours in the comments. No criteria this week other than personal annoyance.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions to weird shot types, dense MC’s, pretty much anything from a harem anime, and the skinny guy that can eat the entire pantry bare.

Number 5: The School Idol or Prince

I don’t know if this is a cultural thing or whether this is an anime thing, but having an entire school of girls fawning over one guy to the point where they make pacts and sign agreements not to date him or speak with him unless there is someone else there just strikes me as ridiculous. It’s impossible to take this character seriously or any of the fan club for that matter. What really surprises me is how many anime this comes up in. While highschool based animes aren’t my favourites the few I can think of instantly are Kazehaya (Kimi ni Tadoke), Yuki (Fruits Basket), Kuran Kaname (Vampire Knight), and even Rem (Dance with Devils)

Number 4: Characters having lengthy discussions about their attack techniques mid-battle

battle.png

You know what, we get that your power is awesome and amazing and that we may not quite get exactly what you are doing without the explanation but, I’m kind of certain no winning strategy in history involved giving a detailed description of your power to the enemy. This is an ongoing annoyance for me in anime as it seems like if the audience had to know how that power worked we probably should have prior to the battle, and if it wasn’t that important all that dialogue is doing is slowing down the pace. Bleach is my main example of this one but honestly, I really would like to gag some characters in some of the fight sequences I’ve watched.

Number 3: The stuttered confession

I get that being too direct in Japanese is kind of rude but why are so many characters unable to express how they feel when they are alone with the person they like. Seriously? From Edward in Full Metal Alchemist, Kadoka in Haganai, to Tomoe in Kamisama Kiss, these characters avoid, use pretext, out right run-away, or divert the issue rather than just give or receive a straight confession. Not to mention the slew of girls running around with love letters that never get delivered or are pushed into shoe lockers to be detonated (Full Metal Panic style).

Number 2: The club is going to get shut down

Club.jpg

Oh the horror. We might have to join another club or find somewhere else to hang out because if we don’t have X members by X date we’ll lose our room. While in a slice of life or comedy anime this is all well and good as something to get the characters moving it is hardly sufficient conflict to build an entire show around. Equally irritating is the we want to start a club but we don’t have enough members. While we’re at it, why do so many clubs seem to not actually follow their purpose and just have students hanging out?

Number 1: The protagonist wins the fight because they are the protagonist

protagonist.jpg

I know that this is true of all stories and not just anime but when the protagonist pulls out a deus ex machina mid-fight it really kind of kills any reason to care about any of the events up until that point. If they had this mysterious power or ability why didn’t they use it earlier?  I know that some anime try to give their protagonists reasons for being unkillable overpowered fighting machines but really this is a bit of a contrivance and sometimes could be avoided just by showing the character build up to that point or maybe making the villain just a little less unkillable. While I don’t normally throw rocks at SAO this is probably my biggest complaint about the first arc. Yeah, they foreshadow that the game is a game and therefore is subject to cheats and that the human spirit might be able to overcome some of the limitations but I don’t think that justifies not dying when your health bar runs out. However, Kirito is not alone in the list or protagonists who really should have just dropped dead mid-battle.

So that’s my list of annoying anime tropes. The thing is, an anime could have some or all of these tropes and still be fairly entertaining to watch. Just having a cliché doesn’t mean that the entire story is derivative or dull. However, sometimes anime leans just a little to heavily on these tropes to fill in for actual character development or plot and that’s when it become a touch annoying.

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27 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Top 5: Annoying Anime Tropes

  1. Annoying, yes. Have I gotten use to them? Also yes. For the most part, I barely even notice them anymore, as they are all so heavily ingrained into anime in general, you would be hard pressed to find one without at least one of these in it.

    Why that is, however, is a whole other discussion.

    Probably the only one that ever really irks me is the one where the female lead goes from a total badass to a helpless damsel the moment the male lead shows up. There is never any reason for that to happen, and it’s completely story breaking.

    Be badass all the time, dammit!

  2. Oh you know that scene with Edward was adorable. Trying to relate love to equivalent exchange fits him so well, and his struggle to face his feelings over Winry were probably over the fact that he never really expected to survive to the point where he could act on them.

    This was a very amusing post either way. I even agree with number 3 in most cases.

    1. The scene with Edward was adorable, and infuriating simultaneously. Just spit it out already. And Winry wasn’t any better. She could have said something rather than leaving him fumbling about.

      1. I believe she is referring to characters being afraid of thunder. It’s probably the number one fear among anime characters, making them curl up into little balls until the mean old storm passes by.

  3. Great post! I have encountered one or the other of these tropes in almost every anime I’ve seen. Though I’ve pretty much come to terms with these and accepted them as an inherent factor of the anime itself, number 5 had bugged me for the longest time.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. I think number five can be expanded to include the “Princess” idol of schools, too. Where the mere mention of them being with the MC (most likely) will cause outright violent riots in-between classes.

    Number two is pretty funny. I didn’t even consider it a cliché until you mentioned it, then it clicked.

    One of the more enveloping clichés I’ve noticed recently is the overwhelmingly popular setting of “high school.” It’s gotten to the point where people are calling anime with kids/adults as leads “different.” High school has become so synonymous with anime that one can’t help but associate the two together. Comes with the demographic, I suppose.

    A bit of an odd nitpick, but I can’t stand when characters get flustered and do that action where they put their hand behind their head and start rubbing it. Why do they have to do that EVERY TIME? What even is that action?

    1. Agree that the high school setting is overdone. It doesn’t annoy me but one of the few people who watches anime with me blanket refuses to watch any anime set in a high school. It really limits the watch options.

  5. All of these, except 4 which I haven’t encountered much, irk me most of the time as well. Especially number 3. There are only so many times it’s entertaining to watch a character fumble around in an attempt to stretch out the romantic tension. But to be honest, I’ve also become used to certain tropes and even like some despite how overused they are.

    A few of the ones that still frustrate me would include: the aloof asshole whom every girl (and maybe some boys) fawns over, random groping played for laughs, doormat character acquiring a harem overnight. The usual stuff.

    1. That one it depends how it is done. Sailor Moon relies heavily on this one too and it doesn’t bother me because it is a fundamental part of the show. But I hate it when friendship is thrown in as a last minute power boost when it hasn’t been thematically relevant prior.

  6. Tropes sometimes can be used well, often when they are being made fun of or the like much like character tropes. Event or action tropes like the explaining of the fighting move are quite tired I agree completely. And the worst one is the protagonist winning the fight because good must win, even if its sloppy. I love trope use if used intelligently, or satirizing the tropes within a genre of anime or even adding layers to it. And sometimes its fun to watch all the tropes that become a checklist when you watch specific shows.

    My least favourite trope besides the protagonist one, is the villain letting the hero go without a good reason to do so even though they have the upper hand…Tales of Zestiria the X! It kind of ties into the protagonist must always win trope, but out of all the facets of that trope I find this one to be the most mind-boggling since most times there is never a good reason for the villain to let the hero go after almost winning.

    1. Must agree. Villains who let the hero go because they want to play some more or watch the protagonist struggle are so hard to care about because all they’ve done is guaranteed a weak protag will come back later and defeat them.

    1. While that is definitely a trope it is also kind of reality that there will always be someone in their last year of school on the team (unless somehow it is a brand new team). Still, it is an overused plot driver that they have to get to championships because of that.

  7. Great post. I have to agree with Sophiethestark’s comment though. I have kind of accepted them as well. And honestly at times it is something I am prepared for. It almost surprises me, if some of these don’t appear in an Anime show lol😂 In the end though, it also part of what makes anime so much fun to watch (well at least most of the times lol 😀)

  8. All that and more…….. there’s always a rival…. from the guy’s past whom he hasn’t forgotten nd doesn’t want to forget, an ex whom he hasn’t forgotten, and doesn’t want to forget, or, the protagonist gets a fever from a mere drizzle, ( he or she faints, of course ) girl falls in love because he once helped her get up when she fell down, falling down the stairs and the guy, always the object of her affection, is there to save her, the guy is alwys the top of their class, or #1 is national mock exam, and not only that, he’s the son and heir of Japan’s biggest conglomerate, but problem is, there’s already a fiancée chosen by the family…….

    I think I’m getting old for this. ^__^

  9. I guess I just stopped caring after a while and simply accepted them hahaha. There’s no point in being annoyed because they are such a big part of most animes (good or bad), they’re hard to escape from. So I just ignore how ridiculous they are nowadays, or laugh my head off instead.

    I think some are definitely a cultural thing. Or they became one afterwards? Don’t know. Great post, though 🙂

    1. Yeah, as I said at the end of the post some of these are in anime I really like but then there are all the anime that use them and just do it so badly.

      1. Oh I agree 🙂 There are definitely overboard cases but I think, at that point, the team’s just doing it on purpose… At least I hope so! Since some anime actually become famous for their tropes, it just makes sense to take advantage of them.

  10. I love how ridiculous number 4 gets in anime sometimes so it amuses me more than irritates me. Totally agree on number 1, and the flip side of number 1 which is the villan being over powered and winning so much that it’s frustrating and instead of the characters seeming like they have an obtainable way to defeat the big bad it just….sort of happens. Plus, it would be a far more interesting story if the protagonist lost a few times then had to figure out a different way to beat the bad guy.

    1. Totally agree that it would be more interesting if there was strategy or working around the weakness rather than just hoping being the protagonist was enough not to die.

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