Bottom-10 Most Annoying Anime/Manga Clichés
Now to properly preface this article, I am an anime fan. That claim comes from the fact that I watch quite a lot of anime (Japanese cartoons). However, watching a lot of anime means that inadvertently you are going to find certain ideas and the like being repeated over and over again. The same is true really for cartoons made in any country but I decided to focus on these since they’re rather easy to pin down.
The following are not really in any particular order, just as they pop up in my mind.
- Androgynous characters – This is something that has been going on for a long time now – but it has never really stopped annoying me. Why is it so necessary for men and women in anime to be more or less indistinguishable from one another? The mark of a series that’s trying too hard to be on the andro-train is where everyone looks like an anorexic supermodel with more eye-liner and mascara than is physically possible to apply to one’s face. “Manliness” and masculinity in general have been turned into a joke. I honestly can’t stand to watch a series where characters aren’t distinguishable from one another, except for maybe their hair colour.
- Villains with no personality – I love villains because being evil is fun. Why do you think villains laugh so much? However another very depressing development has been going on really since the late 90s where villains seem entirely uninterested in being… you know, villainous. No evil laugh, no throwing a fit and screaming at the main character for foiling their plans. Fate from Negima is a prime example of this problem. Not only does he have no facial expression, like at all, he also has no past. Why are villains these days so damned secretive? You know what the effect is? When someone doesn’t have a past and aren’t interesting to be around, they become BORING!!!
- Is it normal to be naked? – It’s an old gag but it’s repeated in practically every anime, a character misplaced his/her clothes and walks into a room not knowing there’s somebody there. Now, what would you do if you were the person this naked person walked in on. You might blush, you might look away, you might point your finger towards the nearest most convenient towel… but in anime? Apparently the reaction to seeing someone else naked is mass-hysteria with everyone running around, screaming and flailing their hands around so that they are sure to do something embarrassing… like trip and fall on the naked person (usually happens if the naked person is a she). And if a character doesn’t throw a shit-fit you can bet that in a few seconds they’re gonna make a really pervy pass at the other person. So you either A.) Panic or B.) Act like Perv. WTF!? Seriously!
- Twins and Twincest – Firstly, if I had a twin I’d be rather offended by the way twins are depicted in anime in general. 1.) They’re almost never brother and sister 2.) They are almost certainly identical or at least similar enough that one could take the other one’s place for a convenient story device 3.) If a writer is feeling particularly lazy the twins are inadvertently each others’ complete doubles, and if all three happen to be the case then this usually leads to 4.) Bizarre sexual tension between the twins or twincest. The fact that we even have a word for it is disgusting in and of itself. What makes this cliché so annoying is how persistently it’s depicted. Even good series like Ouran High School Host Club tend to fall victim to it.
- The Nosebleed – Why? I just want to know why the Japanese think nosebleeds are, in any medical terms, explainable by characters being sexually aroused. There probably isn’t any reason and it’s most likely just a substitute for a character having an erection; since for all their pervertedness that Japanese are guilty off, they don’t particularly enjoy showing genitalia.
- Over-sexualization of… well, everything – Now we all know cartoon women are hot. This also used to be the case with American cartoons right up to the point when all American animators decided they didn’t have to know how to draw anymore (roughly round the mid-90s). It was quite an effective way to get teen boys to keep on watching cartoons. However anime, as we all know, is not only more explicit about the sex-appeal of female characters but has actually turned it into one of the prime ingredients for selling the series. And this seems happens with all anime. This even entails Shojo or Girls’ anime and manga. The pin-up style cover of a scantily glad woman or girl is apparently the most effective sales technique (never mind things like, oh I dunno, characters or storyline).
- “Training in the Mountains” – I get this a lot in manga. Now as geography-student, I’m well aware that there are mountains in Japan. I’m also aware that physical training in high altitude is very effective – because once you come down you’re much stronger. This is what I call “dragon balling it” for the sake of giving someone a beating. The thing I hate about it is that everyone “goes to the mountains to train”. What mountains? Could someone, please, at least once throw in the name of an actual mountain to just mix things up a bit and make it just a tad less repetitive.
- The *huh*? – When I was reading Ranma ½, a good third of the way into the series I started to notice how practically every story began with someone asking stuff like “The Holy Grail?” “The Golden Cave of Wonder?” “The Strawberry Hat of Getting Some?” As if the story jumped right into the middle of two characters having a conversation, while someone is describing something that’s going to be important to the storyline. It worked the first couple of times – but when they started using it to begin practically every new story-arc, it just started to bug me. Look, manga writers, can we just have the plain introduction of the plot device instead of trying to be fancy repeatedly?
- “Your folks are douchebags” – Another cliché which has a strong cultural vibe to it is how every anime characters’ parents (given they are alive since a rather noticeable percentage of anime characters are either orphaned or living with a single parent) are complete and utter douchebags. I’m not counting the comic-relief parents and family members, they’re fine. I’m talking about the elitist, old upper-crusts, over-protective and often abusive parent characters and some that just wanna fuck up their children (or grandchildren) beyond all hope. I’m sure anime and manga writers are using this to comment on the Japanese value system – but is it really necessary to do it all the time? Does every rich parent need to be a douche? Does every anime grandparent (who isn’t dead) need to be a scheming evil bastard?
- People not finishing their… – This is probably my least favorite dramatic device in manga but especially in anime. PEOPLE NOT FINISHING THEIR FUCKING SENTENCES!! I don’t know why the manga and anime writers think they get away with it. It’s okay if a person is cut off by someone but more frequently, they’re not. They’re just so stunned by something they wanna leave a meditative [blank] at the end of their sentence. In manga you get away with it since the pace is really set by the person reading it but if you keep on doing it people are gonna notice. However, in anime it’s so stupid it’s not even funny. I’ve seen characters say five incomplete sentences in a row and every time I try to convince myself that what they were trying to say wasn’t very interesting to begin with. Why? Because otherwise it’s gonna start bugging me and I don’t need a stupid dramatic device bugging me. This one is just plain stupid, please stop doing it.