Anime tropes have been around since the beginning of the medium and are used as a tool to point out a series’ motif. While tropes make it easier to quickly identify the underlying theme of an anime series, some have become quite repetitive and tiresome, showing up in an infinite number of shows. Fortunately, there are few series that entirely avoid these popular tropes or manage to keep them to a minimum. Here are 10 shows that avoid some of anime’s biggest tropes.
Trope #1: Tsundere
The tsundere are often female characters who have a soft side to them but give the male protagonist a hard time even though they are interested in them. These characters are often physically violent and verbally abusive towards their male counterpart. While some tsundere characters drive an anime’s plot, in some cases it can become extremely distracting and annoying. Despite the popularity of this character trope, there a few shows that don’t fall into this archetype.
Say “I Love You”
In Say “I Love You”, Mei Tachibana has no friends to avoid being hurt by them. But, her perception changes when she meets Yamato Kurosawa. Yamato finds Mei intriguing and, despite her cold demeanor, he insists on being her friend. When Yamato rescues Mei from a stalker, she develops feelings for him. They begin to date, and their relationship goes through obstacles, making it harder for them to learn how to say “I love you.”
Mei expresses her feelings in a way entirely different from a tsundere. Instead of using violence like tsundere would, Mei shares her love for Yamato in a civil manner. She shows how romantic emotions should be expressed to get a positive reaction from the other person.
Snow White with the Red Hair
Shirayuki is famous for her rare, apple-red hair. Due to her mane, she gains the attention of the prince, Raji Shenazard, who wants Shirayuki to be his concubine. Unwilling to comply, Shirayuki cuts her hair and escapes into the woods, where she meets Zen Wistaria, the prince of Clarines. In exchange for healing his wounds, the prince invites Shirayuki to come to his kingdom and she sets out to become an apprentice herbalist and stay close to the prince.
Shirayuki is a strong-willed and bright young woman. Her optimistic nature, compassion, and determination gained her the admiration of the prince. So, when Zen expresses interest in her, she gets easily flustered and doesn’t know how to respond. Yet she doesn’t become easily angered or insult him as a tsundere would.
Trope #2: Invisible Parents
If anime is to be believed, it seems that every parent in Japan who has children is never there to take care of their kid due to work, social commitments, or in many instances, the parents are dead. Many anime feature the trope of nonexistent parents who let their kids run around getting themselves in unbelievable situations like fighting monsters or poking their nose where they shouldn’t. Thankfully there are a few anime parents and guardians who are still around.
Being a single mom is hard, but being a parent to wolf children is even harden. When Hana was at college, she fell in love with a mysterious man. During the full moon, he would transform into a wolf, and now he’s the last of his kind. Regardless of knowing his dark secret, Hana’s love for him remains strong. They start a family and have two healthy children, Ame and Yuki, who, like their father, can transform into wolves.
Hana’s world falls apart when her lover, in wolf form, is found dead. Now, she must raise her children alone in a populated city while keeping the identity of her children a secret. This heartwarming tale puts parenting at the front and center as Hana raises her two energetic little kids on her own.
Yuri!!! On Ice
Yuri!!! On Ice follows Yuuri Katsuki, who, after coming last at the Sochi Grand Prix Final in ice skating, returns home to assess his future in the sport. But, when a video of him performing a routine executed by the world champion and his idol, Victor Nikiforov, goes viral, he’s thrust into the spotlight. Victor then offers to coach Yuuri and bring him back to the world stage.
In many instances in anime, the parents aren’t around to see their child compete. However, Yuuri’s parents are always present at his competitions. This is a much more realistic portrayal of parents and the series shows how much they love their son, who after a devastating performance are just happy to see him. Their presence is one of the key factors why Yuuri is so kind and loveable.
Trope # 3: Big Breasts
In many anime series about high school, there’s often at least one female character whose chest defies gravity, biology, and even logic. Often, the main male character will either accidentally fall on them or make jokes about them. The breasts seem to exist purely for male characters to interact with. We get it, sex sells. But there are plenty of anime series that have succeeded without falling for this tired and overused trope.
The mystery school anime, Hyouka, doesn’t use this trope. It follows the members of The Classic Literature Club, the apathetic and calm Houtarou Oreki, the sarcastic Satoshi Fukube, the easy to anger but friendly Mayaka Ibara, and the ever-curious Eru Chitanda.
Together they go to various lengths to solve the club’s 45-year mystery. But the magic doesn’t stop there. Multiple classmates come to the members of the Classic Lit Club to address a range of cases including the numerous thefts during a school festival and a missing movie scene. The series is rated PG-13, and has no mature content nor any body parts that defy the laws of physics.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. revolves around Saiki Kusuo a seemingly average teenager, except that he has pink hair and antennas sticking out of his head. He also has psychic abilities like telekinesis and teleportation. But despite these powers, he can’t stay away from the spotlight, as he inadvertently attracts the attention of his classmates who make it difficult to have an ordinary, hassle-free life.
While the anime is a comedy, and large chests are commonly used as a comedic tool, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. has barely any jokes involving breasts or exploit female characters for cheap laughs. Instead, the comedy comes from typical everyday situations like cultural festivals or summer trips. The series is good, clean fun that doesn’t objectify women.
Trope #4: Fragile Female Leads
Unfortunately, helpless female leads are still a major trope in anime, most notably in shows that have a lot of action. Often these young women are stereotyped as very physically weak and almost completely dependent on the male lead. Luckily, there’s a lot of anime with strong female leads that can balance the scale.
Yona of the Dawn
The Kingdom of Kouka has only one heir to the throne: 15-year-old princess Yona. On her birthday she anticipates a celebration with her devoting father King Il, her best friend and bodyguard Hak, and cousin Soo-Won. But the festivities don’t go as expected when Yona witnesses Soo-Won murder her father.
Now Yona and Hak must flee Kouka to ensure their safety. Along the way, Yona sees how Kouka is in a state of disarray, plagued with poverty, conflict, and corruption. Although she seems shy at first, Yona quickly learns that she has to be strong to get her kingdom back.
Michiko to Hatchin
The “free-willed diva” drives her motorcycle through the wall of Hana’s home, grabs her, and claims that Hana is her daughter. Together they travel across the country to find Michiko’s love from the past and Hana’s father, Hiroshi Morenos, a renowned criminal. On their tail is detective Atsuko Jackson, and thus begins their cross-country tale.
The relationship between Michiko and Hatchin gives the anime a female power vibe without it becoming a cliché. Throughout the series, their opposing personalities balance each other out and they support one another through various life obstacles.
Trope #5: Kids Save the Day
There are countless shows where a child suits up to save humanity from an invading force. While anime, like other mediums, play with this fantasy, in reality, children don’t possess the level of mental or physical strength to save people nor destroy a powerful bad guy. Good thing there are several anime shows that avoid this trope and feature adults saving the world.
One-Punch Man follows Saitama, a regular guy who dreams of becoming a hero. After saving a kid from a monster, he vows to become a hero, even going bald to achieve his goal. His intense training pays off, and Saitama can defeat anyone with a single punch, hence the name One-Punch Man. Throughout the series, various villains challenge One-Punch Man and each falls after just one punch.
The sci-fi western anime, Trigun, revolves around a $60 billion bounty on the head of Vash the Stampede, also known as the Humanoid Typhoon. Due to his past life and the massive bounty on his head, Vash hides from civilization, but his antics and destructive nature lands him on the radar of two insurance agents, Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson. These two agents try to track down and stop Vash from causing any more damage.
A great portion of the comedy in Trigun comes from the three adult main characters who try to stay out of trouble but fail miserably. The rest of the series is formed by other adult characters who either help the trio in their adventure or thwart their plan.