I don’t mean that literally. Although it would be hilarious to have a character immediately wolf down everything is sight whenever they find someone attractive! What I mean is, has it replaced the latter as the anime trope standard?

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good nose bleed gag. I remember the exaggeration of it in Charlotte but the newer shows don’t really tend to use that particular trope much anymore. Is it passé? Also, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the toast in the mouth thing, it’s basically just a parody of itself now.

Image result for charlotte anime nosebleed
um… is she ok?

But instead, it seems like huge amounts of eating are a trend now, especially in the cute girl shows I’ve been watching.

Don’t get me wrong, ridiculous overeating has always been a part of anime. Shonen heroes are traditionally voracious and distended tummy jokes are a staple but it seems to have really broken out of the Shonen mold lately, especially with dainty young lady characters being portrayed as ravenous beasts. It’s been by far the most obvious to me in Yuru camp last season where most of the episodes featured enough food to make you queasy and in Pretty Derby this season where the unhealthy binging is used as a running gag but I’ve noticed it for at least specific characters in most shows. It’s a frequent drinking game cue.

I’m wondering why the switch in tropes? Were the nosebleeds considered old fashioned?

Image result for dragon ball kame sennin
I can’t imagine why that would be

We still frequently get classic such as having characters who are attracted to each other accidentally fall over one another. Although not all short girls are tsunderes anymore, tsunderes are still frequently the smallest/ cutest character. I get that it’s playing on the gap moe there but it’s getting a touch predictable.

So why do some tropes survive the march of time while others fall by the wayside?

Is it like memes? Once too many people catch on to it, it’s no longer a thing? Were tropes like the nosebleed and the toast just overused to the point of saturation? Or is there another explanation for the movement of trends?

Related image
I think I can work with this

One thing I have noticed is that anime is getting more…innocent(?)  Sexuality has gone from obvious to implied. Most fanservice is now the sweet accidental flash rather than the intended showing off of assets. A lot of fans now seem to dislike overtly sexual characters that were more popular in the past.

In that way, maybe the nosebleed trope was a little too obvious for modern fans as well. It’s already inexorably associated with sexual desire so unless you use it as parody, it’s always going to be just a little naughty. This doesn’t have it’s place in a cast full of pure and noble characters. It’s also a little silly for grittier, more mature shows.

It also may be that huge amounts of blood simply rubbed badly against international censorship standards and as anime became increasingly international, that concern gained importance. Obviously, I’m not talking North American standards. We LOVE our gore.

Image result for anime gore
so this is an educational children’s anime?

In case it’s not amply apparent, I haven’t done a lick of research on the subject. It’s just a thought that occurred to me and I found the thought experiment amusing. If I’m spouting wild theories on something that’s already been thoroughly documented, I apologize. If you’re having a little fun thinking about this supremely unconsequential subject with me. I’m happy!

As far as I can tell, the toast trope fell victim to parody. I’m not sure how prominent it ever was in fact or whether it was simply used in a few very popular anime and therefore became part of the general consciousness but I’ve personally seen it used as a gag much more often than otherwise. For a while, comedies or even more dramatic series, would often include an exaggerated version of this trope for laughs. Eventually, the joke itself became old and we saw it less and less. It might make a comeback eventually but I figure its heyday has passed.

Image result for anime toast
nice – you can combine it with binge eating

Speaking of disappeared tropes. People no longer walk around with their hands behind their heads. Kilua from Hunter x Hunter did this all the time. Maybe animators finally realized it was not an actual “thing” and no real person has ever walked liked that, ever. Or maybe we now know how to draw hands…in any case, it’s another cliche that I haven’t seen in a while.

So now we have small, mostly female characters ridiculously overeating for no reason, isekais and inside joke winks to voice actors’ other roles. I may have made the last one up because I want to magical think it into existence.

Image result for anime wink
how about making nuanced complexe characters a thing ? teehee (I love Yuru Yuri, don’t come for me)

I get that these are also classic and recognizable to long time fans without being quite so overplayed. They are also all innocent enough to avoid any trouble and easy to animate. But to me they lack a certain outlandish quality.

Both of these are also very well known staples in western fiction. Healthy appetites having all sorts of implications have been used for petite characters forever. So how about we, as in the anime fa community, come up with the next great anime cliché? Any ideas? How about making brainy characters always really like strawberries? Why? I…don’t…know…


Image result for anime strawberry
it’s Strawberry Panic, get it?


36 thoughts

  1. I think the last anime I saw with a nosebleed was Gakuen Babysitter, but even then the nosebleed was more on the innocent side. It did seem bad, because we view nosebleeds as sexual attraction, but the show was more about the cuteness of babies so I think it was innocent….at least I hope so.

    I haven’t really thought of it until you brought it up. There’s a lot more blushing now, so maybe they just replaced nosebleeds for a more realistic version of attraction?

  2. Well, while I kinda like the more innocent flow of anime nowadays for my stressed psyche, I do wish that more anime like the old gritty 90s action stuff like Ninja Scroll or Akira were still a thing and not completely forgotten.

    Also, if overeating is the new nosebleed, then Goku’s actually more pervy than Roshi XD

  3. There’s nothing new about cute girls eating a lot. It’s been a CGDCT staple at least since I’m watching anime as it airs (which is since around 2010). There’s almost always at least one character, and sometimes it’s part of the show’s concept (I’d count Yuru Camp here, also shows like Koi to Senkyou to Chocolate). I mean Hyakko (2008) has the character of Suzu, who’s always eating. They even have half an episode dedicated to her walking around and everyone who meets her giving her snacks, which become increasingly hard to carry…

    I think you’re right that mainstream anime is becoming more innocent lately (I think it might have been an influence of idol anime-game-synchronicity – where you flaunt innocence as a commodity), but at the same time dedicated ecchi seems to be on the rise again. I’m seeing more flat out nudity again (something that went away around 2011/2012 I think? I didn’t pay attention), ironically both the innocent and the perverted sort.

    I think anime is currently in a phase where it re-invents itself: we’re getting a lot of throwbacks, sometimes to very old shows. This season we have Gundam (doesn’t count, when don’t we?), Lupin III, Gege no Kitaro, Cutie Honey, Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Ashita no Joe (Megalo Box), Captain Tsubasa, Major, Full Metal Panic, Basilisk, Card Captor Sakura, and Fist of the North Star (Soten no Ken). That’s not counting newer shows like Steins;Gate or Sword Art Online. There’s always been one or two of those, but they’re becoming more and more frequent (hasn’t FLCL started recently? have to check). I think it’s part of a re-orientation: what has worked in the past, what could come back?

    Highschool harem shows, who have been one of the bastions of ecchi, have become much less frequent (well, they had a boom period, so that was bound to end some time), so at least one constant source of nosebleed has drastically decreased. I think it’s more straightforward rom-coms that take that slot (this season: Tada-kun, Wotakoi, 3D-Kanojo). I never much liked the nose bleeds, so I don’t notice them that much, much less remember them. They’re definitely reduced, but they’re still around, and I doubt they’ll go away. I remember nosebleeds feeling creepily out of place in Gakuen Babysitters (an otherwise incredibly cute show about Toddlers!) last season – that’s why I remember them.

    I also seem to remember new laws as to what you can show on TV, when, a few years back, which I think might have had an impact.

    I’m not sure how many instances of runs-with-toast I’ve seen that weren’t self-conscious meta commentary, or flat out Evangelion reference. This season it’s Uma Musume (carrots) and Mahou Shoujo Ore (various including a full-course meal on a tray dangling from the neck) that play it up, but it’s been used as romantic training in Love Lab, for example. It might have been a CGDCT staple at some time, might still be – not sure. I can’t think of examples of people playing it straight, but then that’s not something meant to be memorable if played straight.

    I’m actually curious where the dice will fall. It’s an interesting time to be watching anime, but it’s also a time where the mainstream is… cautious?

    1. I’m very optimistic. Even lackluster seasons have at least a handful of enjoyable shows. I started ACCA 13 last night and so far I’m thrilled.

      I still think we need a new flagship cliché though. Some weird little trope that everyone who doesn’t watch anime can imagine when people mention japanese animation

      1. Acca was great. I don’t think I’ve ever had a season since winter 2010 where I enjoyed nothing. My fave shows this season (sequels excluded) are Hinamatsuri and Rokuhodo Yotsuiro Biyori.

        If everyone not watching anime were to imagine nosebleeds, I’d have trouble explaining that’s not usually why I watch anime. And then they ask “Usually?” And then I really don’t want to explain. There are already people who think I’m watching child porn. Nosebleed signature wouldn’t help. I’d be fine if they thought of this face: ^_^

  4. I’d actually buy the whole anime getting more innocent thing…
    But that’s probably my confirmation bias with people seeming more aroused by intimate emotions than bouncing boobs recently… which is probably why so many are obsessed with vulnerable lolis (Just look at Dragon Maid’s Kana)
    I’ve been thinking that sex doesn’t ‘sell’ that easy anymore, and quite a few people are trending towards disgust with outright sexuality…
    Then again that would be a disgusting trend in itself, so I hope that my friends are isolated incidents!

    1. I think we’re amendeing what sexy and sexual means in the view of the general public. I personally diliske villifying overt sexuality but I notice a lot of my guy friends also tend to not like the obviously sexy types and go towards the fragile, innocent, dumb as a brick types.

      1. Yeah…
        I’m thinking that this type of thinking will never become mainstream, but in a more niche community like anime-
        The trend towards innocence seems scary! This trend towards simplicity! I’ve always had a hope that humanity is trending towards open discussions- that more people would really begin to take a hard look at their expectations of the world.
        But it seems like a lot of people, in reaction, are closing themselves up…
        Instead of embracing a world full of ambiguity and uncertainty, and coming out triumphant through trust and acceptance- we’re willfully limiting our views and experiences. It makes me scared that Plato might have been right, in his cave allegory.

        This may seem like an over reaction, and it generally is, but there are some terrifying real world consequences that happen at the extremes! That’s why I keep reminding people…
        There is such a thing as dying for a stupid reason. I don’t future generations to get brutalized by their spouses because they weren’t innocent enough for the spouse’s expectations. I want kids one day, and I don’t want them to live like that!
        *sorry for the long comment!*

  5. At one point, anime developed a language of visual shorthand – sweatdrops, depression lines -_-“, vein pop-outs from irritation, nosebleeds for arousal, SD/chibified reaction shots. Note how all those are hyperbolic representations of human reaction, to the point that people foreign to anime often don’t even initially “get it” until you explain what a given symbolic reaction means.

    The shorthand was developed out of necessity, during a time when drawing even semi-realistic faces was a chore and expressing emotion through changing expressions and body language was way beyond what a TV series could realistically attempt. But time moved forward, and the necessity disappeared.

    By 1998’s Cowboy Bebop, the exaggeration was much more minimal and facial expressions more varied, by 2006’s Suzumiya Haruhi, the series would flex its muscles with minute body language while intentionally omitting typical anime shorthand cues to minimize strain on the viewer’s suspension of disbelief, in preparation for the moment when the close-to-realistic characters and their world seamlessly shift into the obviously supernatural.

    So nowadays, you have options that were out of reach for those who invented and popularised the nosebleed, and often those options are plain better for what you want to achieve. The old hyperboles tend to contrast too much with a semi-realistic approach to character and setting design.

    Genki types eating a lot, on the other hand, is not at its heart a visual cue, nor by any means something that anime invented. Even my grandmother would repeat how eating a lot is a prerequisite for good health. If this idea/trope has been around for hundreds of years, a couple dozen years of exposure in anime cannot make it become trite or go out of vogue.

      1. No idea, and I don’t think that’s what you want to look out for. “Flagship tropes” come to life after a brilliant originator changes how we look at a given element of storytelling or presentation, and an army of followers try to recapture that impact.

        Kugimiya’s chemical reaction with Shana, herself a complex character, changed how we look at tsunderes. The massive reuse of that tsundere archetype, on the other hand, was often shallow. Madoka asked questions and did things with the MG genre that opened up new territory for those series. But “kill off magical girls in a violent fashion” shows are now becoming a dime a dozen, and rarely do they realize that there was method and purpose to Madoka, not only shock value.

        So rather than looking at copycats and whatever baits them, we should think about how the popular tropes of today can be subverted or reinvented yet again to create something new.

        1. That is excellent too!
          Personally, I Love tropes and clichés – I am fascinated by the mechanisms that make otherwise innocuous, even unexplainable moments, take on a life of their own and gather cultural meaning that resonates with so many. The underlying social or psychological elements that bring them about add a layer of context to the experience for me. I tend to appreciate the elegance of subversions more when I understand *what* in fact is being subverted.

  6. I was about to come in here and refute this by saying there have been a couple of nosebleeds in this new season of High School DxD but then I remembered that even though it’s a 2018 anime it’s adapting Volumes 9 & 10 of the LN which were written in 2012 when nosebleeds were probably still cool. Looks like you might be onto something…

  7. ….wait, people DON’T walk like Kilua?? Have I been doing it wrong ALL THESE YEARS?! I always thought it was perfectly normal to walk like Kilua, and run like Naruto!!! man… is my face red…

  8. As you say, trends ebb and flow like memes. Nosebleeds are definitely still a thing — certainly in games and visual novels — but you’re right, I haven’t seen them much in anime recently.

    As for stuff like the short girl being a tsundere… well, I still see that happening now and then, but at this point I almost feel like subverting the expectations of a trope is in itself a trope by this point — I can recall a number of times in recent memory where I’ve written about a character who you expected to be one way but actually turned out to be another. And I’m not talking about just regular tsuntsun and deredere, I mean “this character is designed to make us think they will be a tsundere but they’re actually something different”.

    This is good, I think! It keeps us on our toes, so you actually have to pay attention and see if a vanilla trope is being used, or if a subverting “anti-trope” is used.

    Mm, vanilla. Now I want ice-cream.

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