Let me start this out by saying, I enjoy watching anime.
I would say that a good portion of my viewing time is spent between documentaries, anime, and random cat videos.. but I’m not here to talk about my obsession with documentaries or with cat videos.
I’m here to talk about anime! I’m here to specifically talk about some of the things that bother me about anime. Just like any other genre, there’s the good, the bad, and the stuff that needs to be archived and buried to the deepest parts of the internet, never to be seen again. Let’s talk about what needs to take a long vacation to Belize… aka go away for good.
If you’re new to the anime genre, or just don’t understand what this is exactly, Harem Anime is typically a male main character with a bunch of female characters that are usually fawning over him. While these roles can shift between a female lead, or the fawning individuals being both same and opposite sex, the basic profile for the characters love triangle is still there.
The first problem I have with Harem Anime is because usually the main character is two dimensional, and just overall boring and annoying. You get animes like “In another world with my SmartPhone”, “SAO”, “HighSchool DxD”, “Love Hina”, “Tenchi Muyo”, etc.. These all have a lead character that is either a klutz or has the charisma of a paper bag. Let’s use Kirito as an example. Outside of being overpowered, he doesn’t really have much when it comes to personality. The team behind the SAO Abridged Series (Something Witty Entertainment) did a better job of giving him a personality than the actual SAO creators.
My second issue is that these types of animes often degrade women. Let’s look at “HighSchool DxD”. While the series itself is already a bit degrading to women just because of the oversexualization of the female characters, you see something else develop over the course of the episodes. Characters that started off as strong and independent, like Rias and Koneko, end the series as helpless individuals relying on a generic main character to save them. The same can be said about SAO and Tenchi Muyo. A lot of these animes are set in a Fantasy/SciFi realm, and it’s just disappointing to see women with access to all these tools and resources lose their BAMF status to peddle some half-assed love story.
My third gripe with the Harem Animes is that usually the female roles are extremely generic. You have the Tsudere, the Loli, the klutz, the rebel, etc. and they are all kind of interchangeable from one show to the other.
How do we fix this?
While I’m sure it probably exists, I wouldn’t mind if Harem were more realistic. There is no way that somehow one, super boring guy was able to charm every single female in the respective universe for the anime. Add another male character into the mix, they don’t even have to be in love with the same woman. It’s just super boring seeing the same, repetitive male fantasy played out in each episode of each series.
Make the main character more interesting. In “ Isekai wa Sumātofon to Tomo ni”, the main character is so oblivious that even the other characters comment on it. I get that they probably are saying that as a joke, but it’s bad when your own series even recognizes its’ shortcomings.
We also need to stop the “Damsel in Distress” cliche that all media has grown so fond of. Furthermore, don’t let a character start out as a BAMF, only for her to meet a man and lose everything that was once strong about her. Don’t drop her as a “force of nature” just to make the male character look “good”. We also don’t need 5 females to every 1 male character on a show. One or two females would be plenty and allow each of these female characters to develop strong personalities and identities.
We can be honest for a moment. When I was a teenager, I used to love animes where at least one of the female leads had oversized breasts. Hormones, am I right? But now as I’ve grown older and have matured somewhat I can’t help but think about all the little details. Like, “Doesn’t that hurt her back?” or “Is that even physically possible?”.
Where do I even start with what’s wrong about this?
It’s overly sexualizing women and holding them to unrealistic expectations and standards. By developing such unrealistic characters, we’re telling young females to “Be a twig, but also have double D’s”. I get it, it’s a cartoon and it’s not real, but it still affects the self-esteem of those who watch as young females get the impression that this is what guys want or how they should be to be “pretty” in the eyes of society. There have been animes like Sekirei where I couldn’t even finish watching them because it was literally nothing but over sexualizing to the point where it got too ridiculous!
How do we fix this?
I won’t tell an artist what they can or can’t do, but I think the conversation we need to have is regarding mindfulness. We need to be a bit more respectful about female characters and usher in more realistic characteristics. The female body is gorgeous, but there’s no reason to go off the deep end and make things disproportionate on extreme levels.
OVERPOWERED MAIN CHARACTERS
You know what makes anime really boring? The jack of all trades main character who always has a power that can get them out of any situation with almost no conflict. The suspense of life or death just disappears when they’re too overpowered.
Don’t get me wrong, I watched a lot of DBZ. I mean, a lot. And I’m all up to date with DBS as well. But there is just something that drives me crazy in the worst ways when I already know that the main character will triumph. Animes like “In another world with my SmartPhone” and “SAO” just skate by with these types of lead characters, thus taking the joy and excitement out of the storyline real quick. It doesn’t help that overall the characters are shallow and two dimensional to begin with, but there’s nothing that sets them apart from the rest.
How do we fix this?
In order to fix this, animes should really take a page out of “My Hero Academia”. During the Tournament Arc, I honestly thought that Deku was going to win. He was constantly able to inch out of every situation and was always one move ahead of the opponent. But at the end, I was left with my jaw hanging. Not only did the lead actually lose, but lost to one of the main supporting characters. There was a ton of action and suspense that made the fight scenes amazing. And it was great to see another character get the spotlight.
INCEST LOVE THINGS
I don’t even know what to call this one, honestly. Let me describe it.. We have a young girl who is madly in love with her older brother. I get that families are super close and that there is family love, but there’s a big difference in anime when it comes to “I love my brother” and “I want to make babies with my brother”. I seriously don’t understand the allure or appeal to it and it really creeps me out. It seems a lot of animes throw this in as “Forbidden Love” and think it’s a great idea.
My first issue with it is it typically wastes a lot of screen time to flesh out the idea, and this time could have been spent on character development or exploring the world that the anime was creating in. Looking at you, Season 2 of SAO…
My second issue is that we already know that this “love story” is not going to go anywhere, unless it’s a hentai. The brother/sister love thing never gets off the ground, and just sits around as naggy dialogue to fill out the episode.
How do we fix this?
Seriously? Don’t do it. Just don’t. Avoid the whole issue entirely by not including it into the story in the first place. You won’t have to fix the problem then. If you really have to throw in some “Forbidden Love”, make it something where two siblings fall in love with the same person. Boom, Forbidden Love included.
Okay, so I don’t have an issue with animes where the main characters transform in general. I have an issue with a couple of things that happen in those animes..
First, why do I need to see the same 30-60 second transformation every time? I get the reason for seeing it initially, but when I’m at Episode 10+ I think I get the jist of it. Whether it’s a full transformation or it’s them “summoning” some weapon or beast to fight by their side.. It’s all the same and extremely unnecessary after the first 3-4 times.
My second issue with transformations is that a lot of the time, it’s just a cop out for dealing with a bigger threat. Instead of finding an honest solution, they discover a new form that gives them a HUGE POWER BOOST. A lot of animes are guilty of doing this on a consistent basis, just as a way for the character to get stronger. Usually it’s a “random” transformation. Calling you out, DBZ/DBS.
How do we fix this?
The first issue is easy to fix, because once you have seen the original transformation, all you have to do is create a shortcut version of it. Cut it down to 10 seconds and save us the trouble of having to see the same thing over and over again.
The second issue is a bit more complex, because my initial idea would be to give them a “Deus EX” answer. The characters should have to search for a tool/item that can help them grow stronger. The problem with that idea is that it isn’t ideal to leave the middle of the fight to go off and find said MacGuffin. Also, most animes are only 13-26 episodes with a limited amount of airtime. It doesn’t make sense to stress the momentum by adding another story arc into an already cramped episode.
I think the better solution is dealing with the limitations and mortality of the characters (or lack of it). Let the characters become a bit more humanized and have flaws. Let them explore those flaws and find ways to work around them or challenge them.
I could probably talk about this for days, maybe even years. I’ll try to spare you and keep it short.
I’m so sick and tired of all these “filler” episodes. I get that there isn’t always something exciting happening in the world created in the anime, but I had to force myself to finish a lot of anime or just straight up rage quit the show because there were far too many filler episodes. It’s especially frustrating when the anime is only 13 episodes long and they somehow manage to throw in a filler episode or just an episode that has nothing to do with the show altogether.
I get that they try to create a connection between the characters and the world, but when you throw a couple slice of life episodes in order to force that feeling, it’s more insulting to the characters and the viewers rather than something memorable to drive the plot. I remember watching “Deadman Wonderland” and really getting into it, but then I got to episode 13 expecting some huge revelation and instead, I got backstory about a supporting character and no questions answered. I almost felt robbed by the anime because here I am completely invested in the show and just utterly confused, begging for answers, and they gave me a throw away episode wasting my time.
How do we fix this?
I feel like this is another one of those Just don’t do it moments. Don’t waste my time for watching your content, and don’t waste your time creating it. This is especially true when it’s back to back episodes that go nowhere or just have an unfulfilling narrative that’s irrelevant to the main story line.
Sometimes, it just feels good to rant. Don’t get me wrong, I love anime. Most of the animes I’ve pointed out have had amazing highlights throughout the series. Almost any series out there, even outside of anime, has it’s good and bad points. These are just somethings I think could improve the art and writing direction of anime in the years to come.