Look, I care about some weird things. Some really weird things. I know that. But we all have some odd little anime fetishes, it’s o.k., that what makes it fun!

When I started to share my love of anime more with others, I also started to realize that there are elements that no one but me cares about at all (or at least it seems that way). So today, I wanted to share these 5 general anime anime elements that I really enjoy and pay attention to but I sometimes feel like I’m the only one:

by Akiakane

5) Colours

O.k., I know I’m not the only one that cares about colours in anime. I have seen other people talk about it and I always love these posts. Please write more! However, I mention colours in just about every review because to me the palette is just as important as the designs which can be as important as the narrative.

From my experience, this isn’t a particularly popular mindset. Even people who like colours don’t like them that much. Sheesh, they’re just colours. I regularly pick up anime because the colour palette in the thumbnail or promo pics was interesting. This has had mixed results…

DURARARA!!. background
by Kashiko (Phony)

4) Background character behaviour

I actually really noticed this recently because of Blood Blockade Battlefield and now I cannot unsee it. When an anime is populated with a lot of active and different characters in the background, it really makes it seem full of life and lush.

However, when those characters are all going about their own lives, acting and moving according to their own circumstances, it brings everything to a whole new level. The added realism brought by this detail will help me suspend my disbelief through just about anything. It also creates a sense of scale, the world seems so much bigger when it’s populated and heightens the stakes without the need for drama by automatically creating tangible innocent bystanders.

couldn’t find appropriate picture but this is adorable – by Shiuka (Shiupiku)

3) Irrelevant character ticks

We all have these little quirks and ticks. We run our fingers through our hair, scratch the back of our neck, fiddle with our zippers, I play with my earrings a lot. We all do these things because we have physical bodies. You know who doesn’t? Anime characters.

I’m always impressed when I pick up on subtle irrelevant character behaviour. It takes a lot of foresight to animate that. I’m not talking about physical ticks that are frequent and obvious enough to be part of the character’s traits. Rather little things we don’t necessarily pick up on consciously but that give a sense of presence to a character.

For example, there’s a scene in ACCA 13 where a secondary character sweeps his hair away from his face in the middle of a scene. It’s a small gesture that has nothing to do with what’s going on. But it’s the sort of thing people do all the time when they get annoyed by having hair in their face. Seeing an anime character do this fills me with wonder!

perfect – also fits well with the post

2) Voice cast attitude

This one may need some explanation. What do I mean by voice cast attitude? Well I don’t mean performance rather something close to chemistry but that’s not really right either. Sometimes, even in bad anime, you can sort of hear that the cast is having fun! Or maybe it’s all in my head. That’s not impossible…

Let’s assume it’s just me, it still works for this list. When I get the impression that an actor is really psyched to be there and they are enjoying their job, I immediately enjoy the entire show more through some weird happiness osmosis. You may think this can’t work for a serious or dramatic anime but you can still hear it sometimes. Ok…ok… I can.

Sadly, the flip-side of this notion also exists. Occasionally, I can hear actors that seem to be wondering what the heck they’re even doing there. Like they were forced to take the project by their managers or something. This is a huge downer for me. I’m not sure anyone else even notices these things. Heck, I’m not 100% sure they actually exist…

remember that scene where Madoka sketches out her costume? adorable… by Yugake (mrnmrm)

1) Clothes

I know that people care about clothes. Fashion is a HUGE industry. There are tons of people that care about clothes. But very few of them seem to care about clothes in anime. Not only do I care about what anime clothes look like, how they are designed and how functional they are. I went on about this for way too long in my Shin Sekai Yori review…. But I also care about how they “behave”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone attach importance to fabric physics.

Of all the complex and convoluted layers of Yuri on Ice fandom, I have yet to find anyone that wants to talk to me about how great the clothes are in the show. Not so much the performance costumes, those are fine and occasionally amusing. I like that they are all well thought out for skating. But it’s the training clothes that are amazing. Since they are looser sweatpants and shirts, they fold and stretch with the movements of the character models. It was mesmerizing. One of my favourite parts of the series.

Yup, it’s a weird thing to care about. I do…a lot!

There you go, five obscure things I arguably attach way too much importance to. But hey, there’s no right way to enjoy anime!

So if there are random little things in anime that make you happy, share them with me! We can be happy together! Weird is the new cool after all!

Megane Rini

22 thoughts

  1. I am with you on the colors and the clothes, and I always love your posts on color and mentions of color in your regular posts. Also the movement of the clothes – yes, a big deal to me, too. Of course, now you’re going to have me watching background characters. I love how you catch the tiniest nuances. And then teach me to watch for them. Something that is a thing probably only I care about – because I love animals and they’ve always been a big part of my life and my own artwork, I notice how well the movements and postures of animals are captured. Horses are a favorite of mine – I worked with horses for years and I hate how poorly their movement is captured in most anime, games, anything that is drawn and animated. Really bad cases can make me so squicky I can barely watch. I really envy how well some anime have captured cats. They are, for me, hard to capture properly in art.

    1. Ohhh i remember watching How To Keep A Mummy and thinking that Mii really moves like a small animal. A baby squirrel maybe. It added so much charm to the character

    2. OMG, so true about horses. Most of the time running horses look like someone drew some horses and then just jiggled the page up and down! It’s awful. One of the things I love about Polar Bear’s Cafe is how skillfully and lifelike the animals were depicted. Japanese art has a long history of animals acting like humans, and it really shows in this series.

      1. You just described devils and realist. It’s like the animators had only the vaguest idea what a horse even is

      2. I loved Polar Bear Cafe! And they did do a wonderful job on the animals. Actually, the thing that I think is worse is when the horses legs are jointed improperly and move improperly and make the poor things look like they’re running on four broken legs. EEEEK. Another great image – to get that out of my mind – how about the seamless transitions between human and tanuki and back for The Eccentric Family. And never even mind Poco from Poco’s Udon World.

  2. I _try_ to notice all these things! But Dawnstorm hit the nail on the head. I haven’t developed the vocabulary to express it.

    Challenge accepted…

    Colors: Compare the look of No Game No Life or Kyousougiga to Midnight occult civil servants. It gives the show a — and right there my vocabulary fails. Should I say different feel? Vibe?

    Could I be any less precise? Only with effort…

    I tend to gravitate to background characters. I usually joke that Akeno is my favorite character from High School DxD, but it’s more likely Souna Sitri.

    I need to pay more attention to character ticks, because the only one that sprang to mind was Bitter Sweet playing with her hair when she asked the man holding a loaded pistol in her face if they’d dated before.

    I noticed the lackadaisical voice acting in the OVA for High School of the Dead. But beyond saying “lackadaisical,” how do I describe it?

    And clothes? Talk about something I have no frame of reference to discuss! Though I have to say that xxxHOLiC’s Yuuko had some fantastic outfits. But see? How lame is “fantastic outfits?” What about them were fantastic? How does one event describe what she was wearing?


    “There you go, five obscure things I arguably attach way too much importance to.”

    Actually, I’d say it’s a sign of your professionalism as a reviewer, but “toe-may-toe” “toe-mah-toe”…

    1. I think you do great at expressing yourself. and at noticing things. You know, colours aect what chemicals your brain releases so different feel sounds perfect to me

  3. I care about all of those things, but I don’t often have the language to talk about it. Bascially, I have a few stock phrases I can repeat, but they don’t do justice to the variety I feel. That’s why I both love your image threads, but I also rarely reply to them (because I just don’t know how).

    Another problem is that, while I might notice those aspects, my awareness of them is spotty. I think it’s the musical-score effect: a good one fades into the background to support the whole, and when you deliberately pay attention you lose the effect. I don’t know how to get out of this mind-set. For watching I don’t need to. But for talking about it…

    You’re definitely more aware of the details when it comes to all those things than I am. For example, I didn’t notice the loose-strands/lighter-colour thing you mention in your reply to Wingking at all. Maybe I’ll spot it now? I’m not confident.

    Incidentally, right after reading this post I went to watch the current episode of Null Peta, and coincidentally they shifted from their usually bright pallette to something duller/darker with a more stripey? texture (see I don’t have the vocabulary). You immediately notice something’s off, and that feeds both in coming allusions and plot development (Null Peta is an extremely well-constructed show; it’s no surprise they’re using all layers they have to get maximum effect out of around six minutes.)

    And I definitely know what you mean with Voice Actor Attitude. It’s especially noticable with one-shot OVAs that come much later in a series: sometimes they feel rote, sometimes they feel like duty-acts, and sometimes its like there’s been no break at all. (I sometimes go back to compare, since I don’t really trust my ears.) It’s just that I don’t like to criticise anime for that, because I’m implicitly making assumptions about people which might not be true.

  4. Yeah, seems like the only people I ever hear talking about fabric physics are the sakuga crowd, but it is one of those small details that helps bring a series to life.

    You know what’s always fascinated me is the animation of hair. Loose hair has so many ways that it can move and ripple and get mussed up and reflect or absorb the lighting. Like I always loved the ED for Koufuku Graffiti, and a big part of that is the way Shaft animated the girls’ hair. There’s a few seconds where Ryo leans backwards, and while the rest of her long hair cascades downward her forelocks stay on her shoulders for a couple of seconds, then slowly slide down her arms before eventually flopping off. It’s something where you can tell the animators studied the way that real hair looks and moves. Like fabric, good hair animation is another detail that really helps make a show pop. Oreki’s spectacular bedheads in Hyouka are great too.

    1. Lately there’s a trend of drawing loose strands in a colour slightly lighter than the rest of the hair and I don’t know how to feel about that

  5. Fun list! I like “Irrelevant character ticks” as well. They usually stand out when they appear, making me think, “Hey, that’s very realistic,” because as you said, most anime don’t include lots of decorative yet lifelike details unless they contribute to the story. Costs of production, I am assuming.

    I am fascinated by anime sound, e.g., music, sound effects, and especially voice acting. I listen to anime (films and TV shows too) in the original Japanese. It is a fun discovery when I recognize a voice in a new anime, watch the credits or look up the cast, and discover that familiar voice indeed belongs one of my favorite seiyū (Japanese voice actors). That’s pretty geeky, right? 🙂

    1. You know what I love and rarely hear about, ambient sound. There are some anime with fantastic ambient sound

      1. Oh yes, that’s good one! The ambient sounds that really stand out for me are nature sounds, especially animals. Most of the time, animal calls and bird sounds are voiced by people, which I find particularly funny. Or the lack of sounds also strikes me as funny. It seems to me that all too often, busy streets and subways are missing the sounds of people and traffic.

        In One Piece, Tony Chopper’s backstory includes a scene of him fighting with another reindeer. The other reindeer is a realistically drawn version of a very imposing male reindeer. And it bellows! With the mating call of a Roosevelt Elk, haha! Reindeer (aka, Caribou), in fact, grunt.

        Among my favorite anime bird calls are crows cawing, “A-Hō! A-Hō!” In Japanese, ahō is a somewhat vulgar word meaning “idiot” I have heard this joke in multiple anime.

        1. The fact that you can recognize specific elk mating calls makes me want you to be my new master/cult leader

          1. Haha, I am a just wildlife geek. One of the first books I fell in love with was called “Wild Animals I Have Known” written and illustrated by Ernest Thompson Seton. Seton was born in England, but his family moved to Ontario when he was a boy. As a teenager, he moved to Manitoba, where he became a naturalist, illustrator and author. His stories inspired me to love critters of all kinds. Eventually I studied and got a degree in Animal Science. At present, I am blessed with a large backyard, so my neighbors include California Quail, Western Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, Towhees, Robins, Chickadees, Scrub Jays, American Kestrels, Ring-Necked Doves, Fox squirrels, Screech Owls, and an occasional Coopers Hawk.

            The first time I heard elks bugling, it was in the middle of the night of a full moon. I swear to god, I thought aliens had landed. 😉 It is the eeriest and coolest sound.

        1. Season 3 of Natsume has the best ambient sound of them all. Terror in Resonnance has amazing sound design all around but people really overlook how amazing and layered the city sounds are. When explosions happen you hear people gasping on the front lines, cell phones and worried one sided conversation minutes later in the mid and traffic stopping off in the distance. It’s really amazing

          1. I will have to go back and watch Natsume S3. I have never heard of Terror in Resonance, I will have to do some hunting. Thanks!

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