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Tropes of Anime: How Anime Can Transcend From Entertainment To Art

In this second part of a series on anime as an art form, the other side of the coin is examined. Whereas the first part focused on criticisms by Western viewers of anime that were either invalid or unsound, the second part focuses on the criticisms of anime tropes. While tropes themselves are not inherently bad, they can often lead to lazy writing or storyboarding; if anime is to be considered a true art form, it must transcend past entertainment tropes to become artworks.

Many anime tropes are products of an entertainment industry interested in churning out content for the bottom barrel. Tropes such as bland and overpowered protagonists or wish fulfillment are aimed at younger audiences, while tropes such as bad pacing or empty monologues exist due to the stipulations by production and television companies. Care is given not to examine tropes that are cultural in nature (such as Japanese characterization), but facial expressions and their lack of subtlety does hinder the ability for art to resist rationalization, and therefore is included. While the list is not comprehensive, it does help point new viewers in a direction as to what makes good anime and what makes bad anime, and therefore how to discern what shows to watch if they wish to watch anime that are artworks rather than art objects.

  • Always fun to see these sorts of tropes pointed out. However by this point in anime's lifespan, I find it difficult to place whether or not the creators really are just lacking in creativity, or if these tropes are just cultural. I would like to see a Japanese person who is a fan of Western animation, point out common tropes in our shows. – Dominick White 8 years ago
  • As mentioned above, it's always great to get a little explanation of these tropes. We do not see enough articles attempting to explain them to the viewer. They would be certainly helpful to new viewers to the medium. – CheesyJ 8 years ago

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