Anime is a pretty amazing space, full of countless series across many genres. To someone new to watching anime, this can look like a new horizon of ideas and creativity. To a degree this is definitely true, and anime can get away with much more ambitious scenes and ideas than traditional media because it is not limited by physical filming and production. But despite this huge advantage over regular media, we still see many ideas used over and over again. While I don’t particularly have a problem with reused ideas, there are some clichés that I’ve seen enough of and am ready to graduate from. Here are 7 anime clichés that I would not miss if they were never used again.
#7. The Bottomless Stomach
At first I thought the bottomless stomach was limited to shounen heroes, like Goku and Monkey D. Luffy, but then I realized this cliché spans across many genres. For example, Index from Toaru Majutsu no Index at times is basically just a zombie like character that only cares about eating. This is a character that memorized an entire library of forbidden texts, but the only thing I remember about her is that she was a character with a bottomless stomach. Another example of bottomless stomach syndrome is Kyouko from Working!!, although this time its clear that this was intended to be the core of Kyouko’s character.
The thing is, I just don’t understand the appeal of the bottomless stomach. What’s the purpose for it? Is there some sort of symbolism I am missing with this one? I just can’t think of why or how this trait really improves a character, and its purpose is a mystery to me. I put this one at #7 because I can’t help but wonder if I am missing something here, and that the bottomless stomach actually has a real purpose to serve in anime.
#6. The “Guy” Who Isn’t Fooling Anybody
A new character is introduced, under the guise of a feminine male. But the voice sounds like a female trying to sound male. Naturally the main character(s) just assume its a guy, until sometime later, surprise! It was a girl all along. The major issue I take with this scenario is how obvious it is every time, killing the surprise. I can’t help but wonder if this plays out better in manga, where the voice isn’t a dead giveaway. Also to be fair sometimes I think it’s made obvious on purpose. I guess I just don’t really buy into this trope. I don’t HATE it, but at the same time I can’t help but sigh in disappointment when I see this one playing out. I understand it’s part of introducing a female character who has certain insecurities about her identity, but I’m just tired of not being surprised when I wonder if I was supposed to be.
#5. The Obligatory Beach Episode
No slice of life anime is complete without the standard beach fan service episode. I think this is the most overused cliché in the book. I understand the premise, and I’m not going to bash on fan service, but there has to be other ways to provide fan service that don’t involve the beach or a pool that could be explored instead. I understand this is the easiest way to show characters in their swimsuits, but I would love to see a little more creativity in this case. I can’t help but wonder how many hours I have spent watching these beach episodes, that find their way into almost every anime imaginable. Personally, I’d be fine with just cute outfits and the like, but I guess swimsuits are just too embedded in anime and important for fan service to ignore.
#4. Concerning Cases of Amnesia
Amnesia is an overused trope not just in anime, but in general. Especially when you consider that amnesia in real life works much differently than in stories. But in anime, its not traditional amnesia that truly bothers me. What really bothers me is when characters completely forget key details of their past / childhood, but the anime doesn’t even explicitly state that they have amnesia. Usually these situations are just played off as forgotten memories, but it really is concerning when someone completely forgets the existence of one of their closest childhood friends, or of a very important experience they went through in the past. I can understand forgetting the day-to-day events where nothing memorable happened, but it’s alarming how many characters manage to forget their closest childhood friends existence.
#3. Licking The Bloody Blade
Unlike the bottomless stomach cliché, the symbolism of licking a bloody blade is pretty clear. The characters that lick a bloody blade are generally psychotic and savage, which is exactly what this cliché is trying to convey. The thing is, I just don’t like this one. So many times I have watched a character with blood on their blade and thought “please don’t lick that blade”, and then they lick the blade anyways leaving me feeling a little disgusted and disappointed. First off, they could cut their tongue, and second off, they are ingesting someone else’s blood. I understand they are psychotic but they are just risking contracting some disease for no real reason. I think this is a cliché that really accomplishes what its trying to do, but I’ve just seen it so many times now that I just shake my head when I see it play out. Even psychos have rules they have to follow I guess.
#2. Getting Wet Means Catching A Cold
I understand that in Japan people believe the old wives tale that if you get wet / cold, you will catch a cold, but anime takes this to a whole new level. It’s crazy how many times a character gets soaked somehow, and in their next appearance they are in bed with a cold. And when a character catches a cold in anime, usually they are bedridden and unable to function until it goes away. I had no idea how dangerous it really was to go out without an umbrella.
I wonder if this trope is supposed to be a joke, because it’s pretty comical how the NEXT SCENE after getting wet a character is bedridden with a cold – but usually it doesn’t feel like the anime is trying to make a joke out of it. It’s just so common, and in anime its displayed as if this is just how things are. How do anime characters transition from the bath / shower to a towel without catching a cold? At the very least, this phenomenon explains why many anime characters are willing to stand under a shelter for extended periods of time until rain lets up.
#1. Playing Chess With Yourself
Nothing like playing chess with yourself to show that you are a genius who is always multiple steps ahead of everyone else. Like the bloody blade, this cliché does a great job with symbolism. The idea of a master tactician who is merely toying with pawns that are beneath him. Add a little narcissism and you have a character who loves giving monologues while playing chess alone. Although usually they don’t actually play chess, but instead just move pieces around to make it look like they are winning, which isn’t much of an accomplishment because they are playing alone.
This is a trope that I’ve always thought was really funny, because it’s actually pretty pathetic to watch these characters “play” chess alone and act all smug about it. What are they doing? What are they trying to accomplish with this? This is just a funny cliché that in reality makes no sense, but villains love it. These villains are just so smart and devious that they always have time for a lonely game of chess while practicing their monologues. At least they can’t lose when their only opponent is themselves. On second thought, maybe I would miss this cliché because it almost always makes me laugh.