7 Anime Clichés We All Secretly Love

Graham Host
TV Anime
TV Anime

Few formats in the world have the same breadth of genres or themes as anime. Live-action has budget issues, films can’t quite get the same pace of story, and we’ve waited so long for Game of Thrones to get another entry that books were just dropped from the list. Yet even with the vast amount of shows to choose from, anime can’t stop itself from running out the same old clichés that have now somehow ended up becoming endearing. So, here are seven anime clichés that we secretly like.

Amazing Sword Techniques

In reality, swords require constant upkeep and can easily blunt themselves. In anime, they can cut missiles in two without a problem, outsize their owners, and also tend to have magic powers. You can’t get through any popular anime without seeing at least one character drawing a blade with some hidden power.

The current katana of Roronoa Zoro from 'One Piece'.

With everything from laser swords to just the air being moved by a swing of the blade, swords are easily the most powerful weapon a normal character will find. We might have a little voice reminding us that swords don’t actually work that way but when a giant katana is cutting buildings to shreds, we just don’t care.

The Eccentric Old Teacher

Generally accepted as the former best in their field, the ‘out of the game teacher’ is a much-loved stereotype. Their training typically involves a series of unorthodox but highly effective training techniques for their spiritual successor (usually the main character). Certain teachers take a Mr Miyagi approach and have their newest acolyte perform seemingly menial tasks as the basis for more advanced training.

Master Roshi from 'Dragon Ball'.
Master Roshi from 'Dragon Ball'.

In some cases, the teacher chooses to take on several apprentices after training the main character or comes out of retirement to act as a general mentor to the next generation. Regardless of their future, it’s always fun seeing the old-timers kick ass one more time.

Glasses Nerd

In a world where everybody unimportant has one of maybe six hairstyles and the same face, how do you pick out the smart kid? Stick a pair of glasses on them. Typically tall and the only smartly dressed one around, the Glasses Nerd spends most of their downtime gently reading books, searching for information on the internet, or sometimes both.

Hōka Inumuta from 'Kill La Kill'.
Hōka Inumuta from 'Kill La Kill'.

There are actually two sub-categories of nerd in anime. The first is your typical bookish nerd who wouldn’t harm a fly. The other can use their genius intellect to kick-ass and outperform most every expert in their field of attack. When it’s the latter, they tend to be a bit overpowered.

Last Minute Arrivals

In a showdown between the good guys and their current-ultimate-foe, the hero regularly leaves it until the last minute before turning up. It could be they are on a highly concentrated training regime, stuck inside a snake, or just directionally challenged. Regardless of the reason, it’s then up to the sidekicks to hold ground against the villains.

'My Hero Academia': All-Might arrives to save a group of students.
'My Hero Academia': All-Might arrives to save a group of students.

Though it can sometimes come across as just dumb, it does make the villain look awesome. After all, it’s easy to look like a badass when you easily smack the hero’s friends around. That is until the hero shows up just in time to stop the final blow, which, in turn, makes them look even better than the villain.

Crazy Hair

When it comes to stupid hair, there are three standards – the mullet, that one guy from college, and the lead anime character. No anime series is truly complete until it has at least one character with outrageous hair to gawk at. Silly hair might sound absurd but it can be as simple as bubblegum-pink hair or as dramatic as having tri-tone-tips. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Yu-Gi-Oh.

Yami Yugi, the main character of the original 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' series.
Yami Yugi, the main character of the original 'Yu-Gi-Oh!' series.

Once in a while, we actually get an explanation as to why the character has such stupid hair — such as the Super Saiyan‘s overflowing energy — but most series just shrug it off as character design. Having hideously impractical hair is such a recurring gag that it has become a solid corner of animated format and is sometimes seen as a mark of a good show.

The Bendable Rules of Physics

Remember the time a university physics professor tried working out how Captain America’s shield works? Anime has far less realism. It’s not uncommon for characters to kick their way through doors in one movement, run along walls without fear of falling or ignore gravity altogether. Time also tends to slow down for dramatic impositions and speed up in the fight scenes.

Kakashi teaches Team 7 to climb trees in 'Naruto'.
Kakashi teaches Team 7 to climb trees in 'Naruto'.

Whether it’s dungeon deserts beneath the sea, flying islands, or the inevitable ‘jumping from a building unharmed’ trope, anime gets more leeway from physics than a celebrity does the law. Buildings crumble at the slightest provocation and a decent shout tends to travel hundreds of miles. Even accounting for whatever strange rules the writers throw in, anime physics are not to be taken seriously.

Giant Mecha Robots

Let’s end on a high note – the mecha cliché. If there is a war to be had, at least one participant will have secretly developed a mecha to use. Aliens attacking? Mecha. That guy across the room throwing a bagel at you? Mecha. Somebody else has a mecha? Upgrade your mecha and go smash theirs to pieces.

Evangelion Unit 01.
Evangelion Unit 01.

Unlike most other parts of anime, the mecha is one of the few areas that could potentially become reality. A Japanese firm called Suidobashi Heavy Industry has already developed a 13-foot mecha capable of shooting 6,000 BB pellets a minute when the pilot smiles. The system is appropriately called ‘Smile Shot’.

That said, the day of wide-spread mechas is still a long way off. The Suidobashi Heavy Industry has a base price of a mere $1.3 million for their mecha known as ‘Kuratas’. Best start saving those pennies.

Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
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