Top 7 Overused Anime Cliches
For this entry, I'm gonna go over some of the most common cliches that I've noticed in the world of anime. Now before I go over my list, I want to start by saying that both American animation and Japanese animation have influenced me tremendously since my childhood. And as we all know, both styles have their fair share of strengths and weaknesses as well as their fair share of clichés. But truth be told; everything has its clichés. TV shows, movies, video games, comics, and even graphic novels have their own clichés. And anime, like all forms, tends to repeat itself. But because I'm a big anime fan, the purpose of this entry is not to bash anime for its flaws. But rather, I'm just going to point out some of the things that I feel are a bit overused, which I think Japan needs to go easy on. Without further delay, let's get down to business.
7. Calling Out Attacks:
This is a custom that was used throughout anime's long history. And it is quite common in such anime cartoons that revolve around superheroes and giant robots, which are two of my favorite categories. The "Calling Out Attacks" thing is actually one of my favorite cliches because I've grown accustomed to it since the 80s when I was watching anime as a kid. Examples of shows that feature this cliché include shows like the Mazinger series, Voltron, Dragon Ball, Digimon, Slayers, Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, and the numerous anime adaptations of the Street Fighter franchise. Now, there's nothing wrong with calling out attacks, but they do tend to overuse it from time to time. Thankfully, Street Fighter and Ronin Warriors don't tend to spam this cliché as much as others do. One example of an anime cartoon that totally overuses this cliché is "Transformers: RID", which admittedly is a show that I seriously hate. I mean there's plenty of things wrong with that show as it is. But the fact that the characters call out attacks every two seconds really gets on my nerves, and it just made me want to mute the volume on my TV set.
6. Long Transformation Sequences:
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, anime has had its fair share of TV shows that featured long transformation sequences. This cliché doesn't really bother me much because it was one of my favorite clichés from back in the day. However there is such a thing as overdoing it. This is the sequence in which a character undergoes either a physical transformation, or an outfit change, or when multiple mecha or vehicles transform and combine to form a giant robot. All done in a dramatic sort of fashion while accompanied by flashy backgrounds and colorful lights. These scenes can be lengthy, lasting for at least 10 to 15 seconds. A few examples of shows that have this include "Voltron", "Sailor Moon", "Ronin Warriors", and "Wild Knights Gulkeeva". There's nothing wrong with transformation sequences, but I don't think its a good idea to spam them too much. Because after seeing them about 10 or 20 times, they become imprinted into our minds. And after that, it becomes predictable. Because we pretty much know what the characters are going to turn into before they engage in battle with the villains. All I'm saying is that these need to be less frequent than usual. Now, there are certain anime cartoons I know of in which transformations were quick, plain, and simple. A good example of such a show that got it right is Dragon Ball Z.
5. Emo/Jackass Characters:
This trait appears to be quite common in anime. Especially in a lot of anime cartoons out there today. So this definitely counts as a cliché. Though, to be fair, America has had its fair share of emo/jackass characters as well in a lot of different TV shows and theatrical films. And I can name a few characters so to speak. In many anime cartoons I know of, there are plenty of characters who are totally selfish, arrogant, hot-tempered, antagonistic, and antisocial. Characters who are total dicks tend treat others around them like crap. Either physically, verbally, or both. Examples of these kinds of characters include Tiger of the Wind from Monster Rancher, Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mick Simon from the Area 88 TV series, Ultra-Magnus from Transformers: RID, Tedium from Wild Knights Gulkeeva, Yamagata from Akira, Joe Yabuki from Ashita no Joe, Junpei from Those Who Hunt Elves, Kicker from Transformers: Energon, and Inuyasha from the series of the same name. But by far, Inuyasha has got to be the biggest jackass I've known in the history of anime. Though to be fair, Joe Yabuki does lighten up to some characters. Like his mentor Danpey Tange. There are also characters who are so cold, self-centered, and antisocial, that they prefer to be alone than to be with others. These kinds of characters also tend to think too much about themselves and not enough about others. Examples include Shin Kazama from the Area 88 TV series, Hiro Yui from Gundam Wing, Hiead Gner from Pilot Candidate, and Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. Don't get me wrong; Spike is actually one of my favorite anime characters for his tough guy badassery, but he can be a whiny bitch sometimes. But to be fair, Spike did save Faye's life a few times. And he did express a bit of sadness and despair upon the death of his girlfriend Julia in the final episode of his respective series. So he's not a total dickhead. Though just for the record of it, Faye Valentine is my least favorite character from Cowboy Bebop because she is such a bitch. Now, there are some anime characters I know of who are not complete jerks, and who actually have likable, tolerable, and relatable personalities. Examples include Rick Hunter from the Macross saga of Robotech, Dana Sterling from the Robotech Masters saga, Koji Kabuto from Mazinger Z, Jiro from Android Kikaider, and Ryo Sanada from Ronin Warriors to name a few.
4. Repetitive Concepts:
Where do I begin with this one? Well, as I've mentioned elsewhere, the Japanese are entitled to their own fetishes, and so are we Americans. But there are concepts that I do find a bit tedious and repetitive. One such subject I'd like to go over is what is referred to as the "Pokemon Craze". Pokemon originally started off as a series of role playing video games back in 1996. It was created by "Nintendo", the famous Japanese video game company who in the past gave is the NES, SNES, and N64 consoles. Since 1997, Pokemon had spawned its own TV series which has been running on television for years now. And not only that, but the franchise has even spawned numerous theatrical films which surprisingly were even released in theaters here in America. Whereas most anime films sadly never get this kind of treatment. For what reason, is totally beyond me. But anyway, Pokemon is one of those franchises which the industry seems to have become obsessed with over the past 15 years. Now, for those of you who are Pokemon fans out there, I strongly apologize if I sound like I'm dissing it. Don't get me wrong; I don't hate the franchise. But good lord! It just goes on and on and on! And they reuse the same plots and themes over and over again even in the newer seasons. And frankly, I feel that it overstayed its welcome, and its gotten old. As a result of the franchise's ongoing and seemingly never-ending popularity, numerous other franchises followed in its wake, and even borrowed some influences from it. One of the most notable of these influences being the concept of super-powered creatures or beings that are owned by young children, who keep them in cards or some kind of electronic device (an example is the Pokeball). But there are a few of these spin-off series which I have respect for like Digimon, Monster Rancher, and Yu-Gi-Oh. But I can care less about the rest though.
3. Perverted Characters:
This one is another cliché that anime shares with the majority of American cartoons such as Beavis and Butthead, Johnny Bravo, South Park, and Family Guy. But anyway, in certain anime shows I know of, there are characters who are just plain crazy over beautiful women, and they tend to act on their hormones quite a bit. They seem incapable of controlling their sexual lust for women, and they tend to flirt with or grope them instinctively, which usually ends in them getting physically and verbally abused. Good examples of this include Ryo Saeba from City Hunter, Lupin from Lupin III, Miroku from Inuyasha, and Master Roshi from the Dragon Ball franchise.
2. Abusive Love Interests:
This is another common characteristic in anime which can also be described as "Tough Love" where the relationship between a male character and a female character seems to be woefully unstable. I'm not sure how common this one is. But it seems to be abundant in a certain number of shows I've seen. The female character is either a tomboy, cutesy, or a total bitch who very rarely shows the main character any concern, affection, or any sign that she cares about him. She regularly curses him out, calls him names, and just generally criticizes him harshly half the time. And when another female character shows up, the love interest smacks him across the face or hits him on the head with a giant hammer; or whatever sort of object she suddenly manages to find. Just for once, I'd like to see a male character give the love interest a taste of her own medicine, and tell her that he's done putting up with her bullshit. There's no other example I can think of other than Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, who no doubt is a total bitch. And for once, I wish that Spike would have given Faye a real hard smack in the face.
1. It's All About Japan:
Before I go over this one, its worth mentioning that Americans almost always make works of fiction that take place in the United States. Very rarely will we make something that takes place in a different country. But we have done this at least a few times before in the past. And the same applies to anime as well. In most anime cartoons, the setting takes place strictly in Japan, and almost all the characters are Japanese. There are a few rare exceptions however in which the stories in anime took place elsewhere, and the characters were a large variety of different nationalities and ethnic groups. Not that I'm trying to sound racist or anything. But my point is there are other cultures that are worth exploring besides the American and Japanese cultures. If you look at a lot of the films Disney has produced over the years, they have made movies that take place in North America, South America, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and they once even did a story that took place in China. A good example is the 1998 film Mulan. Now, in anime's case, its almost always about Japan. But in fact, Japan seems to have this on and off fascination for American and European cultures, and they have made at least a few cartoons that revolved around those. This cliche doesn't bother me too much, but I think there needs to be more balance and variety in the kinds of stuff that America and Japan puts out. Examples of anime cartoons that didn't strictly revolve around the Japanese culture include "Area 88", "Sherlock Hound", "Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics", "Slayers", "Robotech", and "Vampire Hunter D".
So there you have it. Those are my top 7 overused anime cliches. Again, I'm not trying to bash anime or criticize it in a negative way because anime has played a huge role in influencing my imagination since my childhood. But I couldn't help but notice some of the cliches in it. And it seems the more anime cartoons I see, the similar cliches are becoming more and more obvious. There are probably things that are completely wrong in this list as it is my own impressions on the state of anime and manga stories in general. If there's anything you agree with or disagree with, please let me know and feel free to leave comments below. I hope you enjoyed this review, and best wishes to all.