I have to say that in the last year, I have probably watched more anime than I have my entire life. Since I graduated last summer, I finished Samurai 7 (Awesome), Vandred (Annoying main character, but good story), Shikabane Hime (pretty good), Claymore (REALLY good), Girls Bravo (Dumb, but cute), all current 505 episodes of One Piece (In my Top 3), as well as large chunks of Dragon Ball Z Kai, Love Hina, and I just watched the first 18 episodes of Naruto. Even so, I know I have barely scratched the surface. While there is much that I have come to love about the style Japanese culture brings to its animation, I have also started to notice many reoccurring traps anime series fall into far too frequently. That is why I am now going to dedicate this Authentically Awesome Anime article to five elements of anime that are prone to turn people off from the medium.
5. Sprite Moments
For those who need a clearer understanding, a Sprite Moment is when a character on screen has a stylized expression that is depicted through a sharp, extremely cartoony reaction: something like an enlarged head during a shout fest, or stress marks, or when a character punches another character and they immediately get a large bump or bruise, or in the case of Nami from One Piece, she flips out with whited-out eyes and large scary pointy teeth. For many children shows, this is a very popular tactic to get a humorous reaction, and I’d be lying if I said I never laughed at it. The problem I have with it is when script writers overuse it and let it become their one and only source of comedy in place of genuinely funny dialogue and clever situations. One Piece is extremely guilty of this. Even Fullmetal Alchemist does this, which is even more jarring as the show takes itself far more seriously, so their occasional sprites feel far too out of place.
4. Flashbacks (of previous episodes)
Since I made a few drastic judgments about Naruto in my first Avatar article a year back without having actually watched the show, I understandably received some animosity from genuine fans of the anime. As such, I have taken it upon myself to finally give that show a legitimate chance. I have currently finished the first plot arc of the series, and not going to lie, it’s pacing is so slow I feel like I’m watching the whole story on bullet time. One of the biggest problems with its pacing comes from constantly having to hold our hand through the plot, reminding us of what we just witnessed not five episodes ago. One Piece does this too, but when they do it, usually there is a much bigger gap in the events when they flash back (like when they replay the Straw-hats meeting Laboon 200 episodes later in the Thriller Bark Arc. That’s understandable).
Avatar showed an almost perfect solution to this problem: At the beginning of each episode, show a montage of any previous episodes that will hold significance for this current chapter. That way you don’t have to flash back to them mid scene.
3. Generic cute animal side characters
I want to make this very clear. I am NOT talking about Tony Tony Chopper from One Piece, Bota from Gurren Lagann, or any of the Digidestind’s partner Digimon. All those are pivotal to the show’s plot and are actual characters. I’m talking about other anime where the plot never calls for that kind of critter, yet the creators shoehorn some cute fluffy blob in there anyway with no purpose but to be cute and sell plushes. Momo from Avatar was really close to being one of these, but the writers were smart enough to give him an actual personality and use him to broaden their horizons as far as dialogue and humor went. The little…white…whale…thing that Tomo had in Girls Bravo is more what I’m thinking about. It’s so bland and forgettable that I can’t even remember its name. Had I never watched Dragon Ball, I’d say Oolong and Puar’s existence in DBZ is completely pointless as well. In the case of the fourth season of Digimon, where the kids took on the spirits of legendary warriors and did all the fighting themselves, they didn’t have partners like the former season, yet the show still felt obligated to give them diminutive Digimon companions to act as their guide. The result is Bokomon and Naimon, quite possibly the most annoying, cliche, unfunny, unappealing, useless Digimon side characters to date (Data Squad not withstanding).
2. “Romance gives you coodies.”
This just may be the Avatard/Scott Pilgrim fan inside me that has gotten far too use to having realistic romantic stirs woven into the anime style, but it bugs me that just about every single anime aimed towards children I’ve watched (Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, One Piece, and everything else) are given such obvious moments to develop romantic leads and the writers choose to either phone it in or awkwardly side-step the subject entirely. The regular argument has been that young boys watching these series don’t want romance in these shows. I have several problems with this argument. First of all, I for one remember watching Pokemon when I was 10-12 years old and even then, in the far back of my head, I was thinking to myself when are Ash and Misty going to kiss? Come on! You know it’s gonna happen. Point is, even though we act all tough and lovephobic, we really don’t mind it. If it makes sense in the plot for two characters to be together, than make it so. If you don’t, that’s when young boys start to notice something’s off. Remember the boy from The Princess Bride being told the story and his reaction at the end? It’s kinda like that.
My second problem with that argument is even if it were true, for a show like One Piece that has been going strong for almost 15 years now, all those little boys who watched it way back when it began are all grown up now, and they’re openly interested in romance. A good chunck of them are publicly taking part in shipping debates across the internet, so the argument is completely void.
1. “I’m not quite dead yet!”
As I said earlier, I just stared watching Naruto, and already in the very first arc they try to pull a fakeout death scene for a character we know all too well can’t die yet because it’s way too early. They do the whole song and dance: Sasuke takes the bullet for Naruto and then slowly loses consciousness in his arms, Naruto reflects on their time together (which wasn’t really that long). He gets angry to the point where he triggers his Super Saiyan Fox form and demolishes his enemy in a fit of uncontrollable rage. When it’s all over, Sakura crawls over to Sasuke’s corps and bawls her eyes out, but wait… he’s alive… barely… but alive. Yay.
There’s no way around it. These scenes are a cheep way to create fake drama. One Piece is infamous for having the most impractical survivals I have ever seen, and has done it at least once in each of their really big arcs since Alabasta back in Season 2, though they usually do it with minor characters. First it was Pell out-flying an atomic explosion after already having his back snapped and his wings shot. In Skypia, Wyper endured using a Reject Dial (a weapon that would destroy any normal person after two uses) three times AND taking an a electric attack of over 200 million volts. At Enies Lobby, an ENTIRE resistance crew of about 50 people, (including TWO ****ing GIANTS), escape a full frontal navy cannon barrage completely unscathed by jumping off a cliff and hanging on a net Paulie made in a matter of seconds. And to top it off, let’s not forget Zoro’s ultimate sacrifice for his captain at the end of Thriller Bark.
Both Digimon and DBZ side-step this by having worlds where anyone who’s killed will simply be resurrected, which is almost just as cheep. If there is one good thing that comes out of this, it’s that now I can’t help but be shocked and surprised when someone actually does buy it on one of these shows. Probably the real reason no one [until recently] died on One Piece is because Oda-san still needs all his precious supporting cast to bring them back in a world ending final battle at the end of the New World between the World Government/Blackbeard Pirates/Supernovas and the Straw-hat’s with all their allies on hand (THEN people will start dropping like flies).
Alright, that’s enough being harsh on anime for one day for me. If you have anything to comment on, perhaps if you feel one or more of these aspects is justified, please comment. Or say there is another pet peeve of yours you would like to share, please do. Remember, not being afraid to criticize what we love is the best way to help them improve.
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