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The 5 Worst Anime Tropes, Ranked

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  • Posted on 19th Nov, 2022 15:40 PM

The worst anime tropes can often leave viewers feeling frustrated while also making the series which use them seem uninspired or illogical at times.

p>Few mediums are able to offer quite as much variety as anime. There really is something for everybody, from shows about swimming to series in which everyday people find themselves getting sucked into some truly out-of-this-world settings. However, there are certain themes and ideas that span multiple shows and genres despite the drastic differences between some of their subject material.

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The best anime tropes have been defined and refined over the course of many decades and are the building blocks from which many of the best anime series have built much of their success. However, not every trope is a good one, with the worst anime tropes often leaving viewers frustrated and making the series that use them seem uninspired or illogical at times.

5/5 Transformations

Transformations aren't an inherently bad idea, but the rampant overuse of the mechanic has made it one of the worst tropes in anime. Hearing a villain brag about how they still have another form also raises one important question: why not stay in one's most powerful form indefinitely so as to decrease the chances of being caught off-guard? Well, Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball series, which helped to popularize the trope in the first place, at least tried to answer that question.

Frieza hints that he stays in his weaker form because he doesn't want people to know the true extent of his power. However, this doesn't quite compute, as surely realizing the full extent of Frieza's might would quash any thoughts of a rebellion long before they matured into action. More importantly, going about his business in his weakest form leaves him incredibly vulnerable. Case in point, had Krillin's aim been just a little better, Frieza may well have lost more than just his tail on planet Namek.

4/5 Orphaned Protagonists

For whatever reason, a lot of anime writers seem to think that a protagonist needs to have lost both of their parents in order to be a compelling character. In reality, though, this is little more than a lazy design choice used to evoke feelings of sympathy for the protagonist while also setting these anime orphans up as scrappy underdogs who have to learn things for themselves or from some random guardian who would otherwise have had no bearing on the story.

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To be clear, there are examples of this trope working well, such as Eren losing his mother at the very beginning of Attack on Titan. Though it does in some ways fall foul of the above cliches, it does at least explain his motivation for joining the Survey Corps and taking on the Titans, which most right-minded people would never agree to do had they not lost everything and everyone that mattered to them. Having nothing to lose can at times make a character stronger, though it can also lower the stakes quite a bit.

3/5 The Power of Friendship

Having something to fight for can help people to push themselves that little bit harder, but the idea that the power of friendship can overcome any obstacle is as laughable as it is dated. Friendship isn't going to save the world when an asteroid crashes into it nor will it help when the ice caps melt and everybody drowns. Sadly, it is also incredibly unlikely to help somebody to overcome an opponent who is considerably stronger than them.

To be clear, the idea of highlighting the importance of friendship isn't necessarily a bad one, particularly for anime series which target a younger demographic. However, when this begins to extend into shows designed for more mature viewers and when it is overexaggerated to such extreme lengths, it can begin to feel incredibly preachy and a lot like watching one of those terrible after-school specials from the nineties.

2/5 The Merciful Hero

People tend to think of morality as a very black-and-white affair, but there's actually an awfully large gray area in between those two extremes. This is particularly true when it comes to the act of killing and is something that many great anime series have explored in great detail over the years. Unfortunately, however, many of these series seem to come to the same questionable conclusion.

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In a lot of anime, it's ultimately decided that a hero killing a villain would make that hero just as bad. This really is quite ridiculous and completely ignores the motive behind the deed, not to mention the fact that by allowing the villain to live, the hero is more than likely condemning others to death somewhere further down the line. Killing is never good, but there are undoubtedly times when it is necessary and/or the right thing to do.

1/5 Aroused Nosebleeds

Even some of the best anime series feature questionable moments when it comes to the over-sexualization of women. This often comes in the form of a creepy character who enjoys sneaking a peak or trying to cop a feel. This tends to be played out for comedic effect, which, in and of itself, sends a very dangerous message to younger viewers who may not know any better.

Using what is effectively sexual harassment to evoke laughter not only normalizes this kind of behavior, but also implies that those who indulge in it can expect to get away with little more than a stern look or a slap on the face. The anime nosebleed trope is perhaps not quite as bad, but the two often go hand in hand. The idea that arousal is something to be laughed at or ashamed of is equally problematic and is every bit as unnecessary.

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