Normally I’m a person that really likes anime tropes. I find them comforting and it makes me feel like I’m really watching anime when I come across them. That last sentence is nonsense. Sheesh, you would think I’m being paid by the word! I’m not. I’m not being paid at all!
Just to make it clear, I’m not saying that these tropes are always awful, there are always ways to execute a trope well. And some of them I don’t mind at all it’s just that I like them less.
As always, this is personal taste. The very fact that these are tropes is because audiences have reacted well to them over the years!
Ok enough wishy washy disclaimers. Let’s get this list on the road:
5. Abuse as romance
In a way, Tsunderes can fall into this trope as well. Somewhat throwing a fit and making their partner feel horrible about having an innocent conversation with a friend because they are jealous is not a sign of love. Someone having feelings so strong that they lash out at their supposed loved one is not passion.
I’m already super picky about romantic storylines as it is, but the second someone gets raped but it’s o.k., you’ve lost me. I just immediately stop rooting for that couple. I think most people agree with me but this is just so common in all media that I have to believe someone likes it.
4. Stupidity as purity
I get that some notions are really though to bring across in fiction. But why do characters who are presented as particularly “good” or “pure of heart” have to be painfully naive? Once again this isn’t restricted to anime tropes, it happens a lot. But I do see it a bit more often in anime.
This isn’t a hard set rule but I very often see the good or kind characterization illustrated by a character that believes every lie, is easy to fool or doesn’t seem to ever think or question anything too deeply. And that goes for boys as much as girls. It just makes for boring characters is all.
3. Isekai exposition
Now this one isn’t really fair. Isekais have it though by virtue of being set in worlds that are different enough to our own that if the rules aren’t explained to the audience, it’s hard to understand what’s going on. However, that doesn’t mean you have to just get a bunch of characters sitting around explaining to each other how everything works. There are smoother ways to do it. I’ve seen it.
But the exposition route seems to be heavily favoured lately and a lot of new shows depend on dialogue to get the details across. There are up sides to this and I know for a fact that a lot of viewers like this approach. But I don’t!
2. Freudian excuses
Sure they’re evil but they had a though childhood. They betrayed us all, but their family was in trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all good with redeemable villains, some are fantastic. And it’s great to give characters backstories, conflict and nuance. But once in a while, you can have someone who’s just a jerk. No excuse needed. They just have values, preferences and beliefs that clash with the heroes (and probably the audience) and that’s all there is to it.
They aren’t lonely or misunderstood and they don’t regret their actions. And characters like that can still be complex and layered. Heck, they could even be redeemable. There are a lot of complete jerks who I would never want to meet or even talk to in real life, who I think make amazing characters.
It’s just that sometimes I get the feeling authors don’t want to risk completely alienating their audiences with regard to any one character (to be clear this happens in every form of media, not specifically anime tropes) so they find excuses for their bad behaviour. And lately, it happens so often that finding a plain bad guy cause they just are, is getting to be a thrill.
Also, when excuses are done badly it can really muddle the themes and messages of a story. Am I suppose to feel bad for this dude that just killed a whole bunch of people because he got made fun of at school?
1. Love triangles
I hate them!
I actually have not one but two friends who consider love triangles as one of their favourite anime tropes. They are more likely to pick up a story if a love triangle is involved. I think I have seen this trope executed well exactly 3 times out of 12887352490475624541872. But who’s counting.
This said, I still like quite a few stories that have them so it’s not like it’s gonna destroy everything. Peguindrum only had love triangles and that’s a masterpiece!
Hey look at that. I managed to contradict myself in my own post! Go me!
Like I said, there are ways to execute these tropes that I really enjoy. So it’s definitely not absolutes. But these are somewhat common narrative elements that I have noticed I have very little patience for in general.
Are there any tropes that you don’t like? Do you know why? It’s o.k. if you don’t, sometimes stuff just bugs us!
22 thoughts on “My 5 Least Favourite Anime Tropes”
Is this a republished piece? I swear I’ve read something like this from you before…or maybe just deja vu…speaking of tropes I hate… 😒
I republished it. Some weeks I just don’t have the time to write 8 posts so I figured I would take advantage of my archives
I agree with no 1, and I would add the infatuated younger sister too, that is just creepy and unnecessary.
But I think the one that needs most discussion is the teen (usually male) left alone who is somehow perfectly domesticated and seemingly financially solvent to boot with zero mention of their parents. I know that means 80% of anime wouldn’t exist without it but it’s the laziest of he tropes for me.
I wrote a whole post on that once. In the land of orphans. It’s a pretty classical convention and there are narrative reasons for it but it’s a bit ridiculous.
AGREED. Diabolik Lovers has got to be one of my most hated anime, personally.
Concerning love triangles… how about triangles that become harems? Also SO annoying.
Harem anime (and other anime) which feature incest and/or pedophilia.
The endless groping and up-skirt shots.
The unending trope of the guy being perfectly innocent but getting into a compromising position entirely by accident, and getting beaten up by a girl, no matter how many times his innocence is proven.
Not to mention how all of these can simply pop up in anime which, to that point, were rather nice and wholesome.
It sounds like you basically aren,t a big fan of traditional fanservice. And get it. It can really get in the way of a good show.
I don’t mind it existing, but there’s just so much of it. It saturates anime even more than isekai, harems, and OP protagonists put together. And I think, as I get older, I’m coming to appreciate clean, wholesome stories more than I used to. Things I can share with the whole family, ya know?
Abuse as love is definitely one for me. Always hated that one.
Sibling and step-sibling love is another. I just can’t get my head around that one at all.
Oh man, and that one is so common in anime!
Right? Which means there’s definitely a market for it. I’m just not part of that market.
For a followup post, how about one where you discuss examples of how these infamous tropes are properly done?
I’m not sure I have the patience to sit through all the awful examples in order to find the good ones.
The thing that bothers me about love triangles is that not only are they overdone, but inevitably, at least one of the characters will not be satisfied no matter what happens. I keep thinking that I wish polyamory was more socially accepted, so they could just have all three characters date each other!
Oh yeah, a happy three way ending would rock! And subvert expectations. I want to see that now
Definitely agree on the “Abuse as Love,” “Purity = Stupidity,” and “Freudian excuse” ones. Far too often there’s that attempt at Villain redemption because “their dad was mean to them” or what not. Like, yes that sucks, but it doesn’t excuse mass murder. It’s right on par with the shonen hero having some strong choice of “No I won’t kill you, then I’d be as bad as you!” despite having no qualms slaughtering dozens of the main villain’s henchmen.
Oh yeah, henchmen are so disposable, it’s terrifying
Great list! I definitely agree with love triangles being the worst. I hate them in all forms of media. It’s so difficult to write them in a manner that isn’t completely obnoxious, and way too many people think it’s the most compelling form of romantic story. I’ll usually end up either thinking all three of the people in the triangle should just be with other people because they’re all so awful to each other or I’ll just be tapping my watch wading through the drama because one of the pairings is so obviously the endgame one that was locked in from the start. I think the best one I ever saw was in White Album 2, and I wasn’t even totally satisfied with the way that ended. Non-harem-wise, my least favorite experience with love triangles was with Inuyasha. It’s amazing how the series is so old and yet anytime I think of it I can immediately get in the mood to write about how much I hate that love triangle lol
If I could add one thing, it’d be that, I totally agree on the stupidity=purity thing, but I also especially hate it when they’re not just stupid, but they’re also totally useless. Like they literally can’t do anything for themselves – essentially teenage newborn babies. They need their love interests to do everything for them, they fail horribly when they try to do the simplest of tasks, including eating and walking, and it’s considered so sweet and innocent and adorable and everyone falls in love with them. I don’t get it.
I don,t know if you are watching Platinum End but Saki comes to mind as a particularly useless characetr and I think it’s suppose to make us like her more… It’s not working for me
Good choices on all of your picks. I think in all of your choices if these things are poorly done then it completely breaks the immersion of the story. If Tsunderes were real then you would have a lot more people needing therapy as those are the definition of abusive relationships. As for the love triangle choice, I can tolerate those way more than the harem concept. I would agree that it does have to be done right which is hard to do. I just find the characters in love triangle stories less frustrating than harems. At least in a good love triangle story your main characters come to terms with what is happening versus just blindly loafing around and getting a million love interests.
I think I prefer harems because they don,t pretend to realism and don’t really dwell on relationships. But I know a lot of people are fed up of them
Good anime choice for the exposition one. I enjoyed the explanations in the first seasons of Food Wars, but by the end it was getting ridiculous. It felt that half the episodes were being stretched out with information on a single ingredient in a dish.
It becomes a joke in itself…