5 Anime Pet Peeves

Theater drama

I spoke about this one recently in my review of Sweet Blue Flowers. Watching characters in anime partake in drama clubs or otherwise perform theater is unbearable for me. An issue born primarily from my dislike for theater in general, but which is even more pronounced in anime.

My main problem with these is that they go through multiple layers of acting. It’s voice actors acting out their characters that are themselves acting out the characters of a play. This usually results in extra hammy performances, even in cases where the characters are portrayed as being good actors. God help me anytime a theater episode comes by where the characters are bad at acting.

Even just the risk of the acting being cringe-worthy is enough to tense me up. I don’t enjoy waiting for characters to embarrass themselves.

This is a problem for me whenever a play acts as vessel for character development in a show that isn’t about theater otherwise. Figure 17 does this, when at one point a theater performance becomes a major turning point in a character’s arc. Even when this is the case, I still don’t want to actually watch it happen. I don’t want to deal with the anxiety and second-hand embarrassment. I’ll skip over it and read the Wikipedia synopsis to find out what happened instead.

Super Sentai

In much the same vein, I really can’t enjoy super sentai parodies in anime. Partly because it’s acting being hammed up to the max, but also because it’s so absurdly overdone. I have seen hundreds of these fucking parodies and few have ever been actually funny.

Their prevalence alone has made this trope unbearable. Yet there has never been a shortage of creatively bankrupt writers, who yet again trot out their colorful (though legally-distinct) superhero squads. They do their poses and boastful dialogues, all while winking to the audience. It feels so insincere.

I don’t personally care for Power Rangers or its Japanese roots, but I respect their appeal in children’s entertainment. It’s telling that the default way to parody this is by making the cheesy performances obnoxious and imply that you’re doing it to be ironic.

Please note, the picture used here was the only example I know of where a Super Sentai parody was actually funny.

7 deadly sins

Speaking of tropes that are too prevalent…

I have long since lost count of how many anime I have seen where the 7 deadly sins of biblical lore are used as a theme for characterization. Wrath, envy, greed, gluttony, lust, sloth, and pride. It’s a line-up we have seen time and time again, rarely with any genuine surprises. Borrowing themes from theology doesn’t automatically make your writing sophisticated. Especially not if you use the same theme everybody else does and everybody executes it the exact same way.

Sexy ladies that are themed after lust, overweight characters are gluttony, wrath for the short-tempered berserker types. Even if you haven’t seen that many anime, chances are you can envision several series where these descriptions fit. Most recently, I was annoyed with this while watching Kiznaiver. Yet another show trotting out the 7 deadly sins trope; made even worse because the characters don’t actually fit their assigned sins.

Putting aside that it’s overdone and pretentious, I also feel it just isn’t that great of a theme to base characters on. Especially when you outright tell viewers that you’re doing it. You basically constrain yourself to writing characters that have to be one-dimensional. Flesh them out too much and you break your theme. It could work out if a writer commits to really exploring these singular character traits, but I have yet to see that happen.

“fat” characters

I struggled to find a way to properly phrase this one. My problem isn’t that characters can be overweight. Rather, it’s that peculiar habit of anime to label characters as being chubby or even fat, without having that be visually apparent at all.

I first noticed this annoyance when I watched Gourmet Girl Graffiti, but older examples of it exist. Characters complain that they are gaining weight or get bullied for it, except they still look exactly the same as they always had. In fact, they have the same body type as everyone else around them. Maybe they’ll poke at their sides or the undersides of their arms a bit and complain that it’s all soft, but you’ll rarely see female characters with noticeable fat. Outside of exaggerated examples where they are depicted as bloated for comedic effect.

Now, I’d be happy to see more chubby characters in anime, but my issue here goes a step further. By claiming that a character is “fat” and then not having that be actually visible, it draws attention to anime’s lack of diversity. How so many characters feel like they are cut from the same template, which artists refuse to deviate from. Even when the story insists that its characters should look differently. Are artists so that attached to conformity that they won’t draw their characters any other way? Are they afraid that “fans” will be upset when a character isn’t “perfectly” proportioned for maximum horny appeal? Or do the corporate overlords insist on sticking to designs that guarantee the most merch sales?

Whatever answer it may be, it paints a cynical picture of anime as an artistic medium.

Predatory queers

Media has a poor track record when it comes to queer characters and anime is no exception. Growing up, I have seen a lot of shows that starred unflattering gay characters. Stereotypes that depict queer people as perverts, weirdos, and predators. I’d be lying if I said this didn’t affect my own coming out, because so much media reinforced this idea that being gay was absurd and perverse.

That was years ago. Decades even. Yet no matter how much time passes, the gay stereotypes remain the exact fucking same.

I can take a joke just fine, don’t get me wrong. My issue is that its hundreds of iterations of the exact same joke, stretching back years. Flamboyant queer characters, often illustrated as “ugly”, masculine people in drag, who sexually harass and force themselves on others. I’ve done an article on this before and have, unfortunately, found new examples since.

It’s exasperating, both because it reflects some dubious beliefs about queer people and also because it just isn’t that funny. Is anyone still genuinely laughing their socks off whenever another character like this shows up. Or is this just the best anime can do, because putting actual effort into writing queer characters will cause some folks to accuse you of making it “political”.

4 thoughts on “5 Anime Pet Peeves

  1. This was a good rant to see. I will say Shinesman was an exception of Power Rangers/Super Sentai parodying done right (especially the dub and the business satire). You bring up other good points like characters being perceived as “fat” despite not looking overweight since that annoyed me as well.

      1. Thanks! Shinesman is one little OVA I’ve enjoyed for a long time and I’m surprised by how funny it still is even if the anime was clearly made in the 90s which unintentionally makes the humor more effective since that was the decade Power Rangers was most relevant in the West. There are even some witty anime gags, too.

  2. Predatory behavior in general, especially depicted as something normal, is annoyingly and disturbingly prevalent in anime. You have the girls groping their peers in the bath, older women obsessively chasing after young men, busty women shoving their boobs in little boys’ faces, boys sneaking to peek at girls in the shower and locker rooms, boys actively molesting girls, and more.

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