Anime has been wildly popular for decades and it continues to be a prevalent force in the entertainment industry. The surge of newer series like My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer mixed with the everlasting appreciation for shows like Naruto and Dragon Ball Z means the medium won't be fading any time soon.
Of course, after so many years and countless series, there are certain recurring themes that we can't help but laugh (or cringe) at because they're so blatantly overused. Here are 10 common anime tropes that pop up just about everywhere, whether we like it or not.
For the sake of refreshing memories — or informing those who may not be aware — a "Tsundere" is a character who starts off as bitter or aloof towards their love interest. They proceed to warm up to said love interest over the course of time, but they regularly alternate between their conflicting feelings. It's a strange mix of stubbornness, passion, denial, and arrogance.
It's almost guaranteed that any anime you watch will contain at least one Tsundere. They're generally utilized as gateways for humorous dialogue exchange, though their inner turmoil will affect their decision-making during dangerous or dramatic situations.
9 Ridiculous Power Scaling
It's a rule of thumb that the hero will be the strongest or smartest character in their anime and defeat any antagonist that directly challenges them. Sure, they might struggle at first or they might not make the best choices, but they're the protagonist for a reason. Besides, we know they'll be fine thanks to the ridiculous power scaling trope.
Our hero will receive inexplicable power-ups with every top-tier villain they encounter. If the main character is having a rough time, a side character that you completely forgot about will suddenly be strong enough to fend off the overpowered villain that should be way out of their league. When did they get so competent? We don't really know, but honestly... does it matter?
8 Expedited Training
Any anime with fight sequences or tournaments will inevitably feature a good ole' training sequence or two. There's usually a sensei involved that will go on a spiel about how difficult their coaching will be, or how no one is able to complete it within X amount of time.
Naturally, the protagonist is in the midst of a time crunch so they need to master everything right now. And you know what? They always do. Very rarely will a main character train for the proper amount of time to gain certain skills. It's a ubiquitous trope that we suspend our disbelief for because... well... it's anime.
7 Weak Female Characters
Weak anime characters come in all shapes, sizes, and genders, but women are known for getting the short end of the stick more often than not. Some of them are introduced as relatively useless, but they eventually expand on their strengths. Others solely exist to be saved by the protagonist — a damsel in distress, so to speak.
Even when a female character is powerful enough to hold her own, she'll always be weaker than whatever major villain is being confronted. Therefore, she maintains a level of vulnerability, whereas a knight in shining armor is necessary to finish the job regardless.
You might have heard or seen the term "Oppai" before, perhaps because of merchandise like the hoodie that One-Punch Man's Saitama is pictured wearing above. To put it simply, the word refers to breasts, especially large ones.
Nine times out of ten, a female anime character will be very well-endowed in the chest area. On top of that, she'll probably be wearing an extremely revealing outfit, whether it actually makes sense or not. Cleavage is one thing, but "armor" or "gear" that exposes just about every inch of skin doesn't seem too beneficial. Yet, this trope still persists in anime, video games, manga, etc.
5 Non-Existent/Absent/Dead Parents
Comic books are a steady source of parent-less protagonists. You'd probably have a hard time naming more than five comic superheroes whose mother and father are still around. Nonetheless, anime has proven just as adept at making sure their young main characters thrive and explore the world without a single parental figure to answer to.
To add insult to injury, most anime parents aren't even dead! They're just utterly absent from the lives of their children. For example, Hunter x Hunter literally exists because Ging Freecss left poor Gon behind. The young protagonist then had to jump through a series of life-threatening hurdles to reach his own father.
4 Emotional Flashback Before Big Moment
Time and time again, anime has put us on the brink of something massive and then pulled us back for a mood-changing recollection. It could be a big reveal, a highly-anticipated battle, the introduction of a new character... you name it. It's incredibly likely that a pause will occur beforehand for the sake of an emotional flashback.
These aren't always pointless and they tend to cover a character's backstory or the decisions that led them to their current state. They'll occasionally draw tears from viewers and make their subject more relatable, which adds to the personality of the series as a whole.
3 Monologues For Exposition
Anime plots usually get a little convoluted, especially when unique powers and skills are brought into the equation. Most of the top-tier popular series have a long list of user-specific abilities that fans will need to remember. How does one keep up with all those superpowers and the multiple storylines? Monologues, of course!
Whether they be internal or external, anime monologues are a necessary but sometimes annoying trope. They're utilized to clarify certain actions or plot points, but they can also be a bit intrusive if done at inopportune moments.
2 Villain Doesn't Capitalize
A daunting villain is just as crucial as a favorable protagonist and this isn't limited to the world of anime. It's a necessary aspect for any film, book, television show, or video game that features any form of "good versus bad" dynamic. However, anime loves to put their heroes in situations that the villain should've capitalized on... but they never do.
It's beneficial to place heroes in life-or-death circumstances for the sake of tension and story development, but a villain coming to a full stop when they have the upper hand is silly. Many antagonists are forced into a pompous speech by the writers so that someone can swoop in and save the day. Why not capitalize on those moments and keep fans on edge?
1 Character Unlocks Secret/Forgotten Power Just Before Defeat
This trope generally ties in with the previous three. The hero is exhausted, their powers are depleted, and they're about to be defeated by the opponent who currently has the upper hand. Cue the emotional flashback (accompanied by a touching monologue) that reminds the hero of who they are/where they come from/what runs in their blood... you get the idea.
After that's said and done, the opponent will likely hesitate instead of capitalizing on their opening and the hero will summon a chunk of adrenaline-fueled strength/a suitable skill that lay dormant until that very second. As common as this trope is, it always makes for an unforgettable fight sequence.