Anime has never been as big as it is today. After spending decades as a niche interest, anime finally broke through the mainstream and even became a way of life for some dedicated fans. But now that anime reached countless people around the globe, the medium also attracted more criticism and scrutiny.
To put it bluntly, anime is still something of a very acquired taste. As such, there are specific anime staples and storytelling conventions that are equally loved and hated by audiences. Anime’s biggest fans praise these mainstays for defining the medium, while detractors mock or even show open contempt for things that are, in brief, “too anime.”
10 Dubs & Subs Have Their Own Equally Passionate Fans
There’s probably no anime debate as heated and pronounced as that of choosing between dubs and subs. Dubs (localized anime for English-speaking territories) and subs (subtitled anime that retain the original Japanese voice acting) are really a matter of preference, but both have very ardent defends who demand that their case be heard.
Some prefer to watch anime in their unaltered states, while others gravitate towards anime dubbed in their preferred language. Helping the latter’s case are the likes of Cowboy Bebop and the parodic Ghost Stories’dubs, but these are rare exceptions to the rule. Either is fine, but some absolutists demand that one be put over the other.
9 Anime Episode Counts Range From Intimidating To Excessive
One of the most obvious hurdles that scares some newcomers from even setting foot in the anime fandom is the massive episode count. At best, an anime has 12 to 20 episodes that are all roughly 30 minutes long. At worst, highly recommended titles like One Piece have almost 1000 episodes, plus movies and side materials to go through.
Needless to say, finishing just one anime can feel more like an obligation than fun. Worse, some long series may be bad, or they just won’t be as good as intended. Because of a fear of wasting time and emotional investment, newcomers and even some older anime fans balk at an anime’s demanding episode length and deep mythos.
8 Anime’s Exaggeration Of The Human Experience Is An Acquired Taste
If there’s something anime isn’t known for, it’s subtlety. Whether it’s the way characters are drawn to how their stories are told, anime always goes big or not at all. For example, Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War is an otherwise straightforward romantic-comedy told through the most creatively expressive and heightened writing and visuals possible.
As is tradition in the animated medium, anime is a celebration of exaggerated actions and expressions, and this storytelling method isn’t for everyone. Realistic anime that are more grounded and restrained than their mainstream counterparts exist, but they’re too few in numbers for the medium’s detractors to change their minds.
7 Anime Fanservice Will Always Be A Contentious Point
Fanservice is, without a doubt, one of anime’s most controversial elements. Though “fanservice” technically refers to anything that exists to pander to audiences’ basest desires (ex. a nostalgic reference), it’s become shorthand for jarring or unnecessary sexuality in anime. The problem here isn’t the adult content itself, but how it’s used.
take sword art online, for a fantasy adventure, it has a distracting habit of showing female characters in moments of undress or suggestively compromising situations. That’s to say nothing of the fact that most of SAOs cast are underage. This type of fanservice can be a deal-breaker for critics and even the most ardent anime fans.
6 Unapologetically Over-The-Top High Concepts Are The Norm
Nuance is something that’s practically foreign to anime, and nowhere is this made clearer than in how almost every anime —regardless of genre — is built around high concepts. Case in point, giant robots, magical abilities, or explosive action (or all of the above) in otherwise relatable stories about friendship are normal sights in anime.
The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiyais a good example of this, since it’s a dramedy about high school life that just so happens to star a group of super-powered teenagers (and Kyon). While fans love anime precisely because of how imaginatively they can execute even the most mundane of plots, others can’t take it seriously for the same reasons.
5 The Genre Formulas Are Practically Set In Stone
Well-defined genre conventions aren’t anything new, but what sets anime apart from other storytelling mediums is how locked down its genre formulas are. Whether it’s a shonen sports anime or a josei romance in question, anime follow their genre’s formulas right down to the last letter, and those that buck the trend only appear sporadically.
This issue is incredibly pronounced among shonen battle/fantasy anime. To the untrained eye, Black Clover and Fairy Tailare practically indistinguishable from a narrative level. Anime’s critics aren’t unjustified when they point out how formulaic and repetitive most anime are, but fans don’t mind this since this familiarity is exactly what they came for.
4 Achingly Sincere Emotions Are The Order Of The Day
When it comes to parodying or just mocking anime, the power of friendship, and love saving the day is a common punchline. As corny as this may sound on paper, anime’s lack of irony when it comes to being as emotionally sincere as possible is one of its most defining (and sometimes inspiring) features.
Depending on the anime in question, this trope can be used positively or negatively. if SSSS.Gridman wholeheartedly declares that humanity’s potential for good will save lives, Bokurano fully commits to its fatalism and nihilism. There’s simply no emotional in-between, and the absence of nuance can be a selling point or turn-off for people.
3 Anime Character Archetypes Aren’t Changing Any Time Soon
When it comes to characters, anime seem to follow a preordained scheme. Anime archetypes are practically unchangeable, and it’s been this way for as long as anyone could remember. Every shonen anime will have a hot-blooded fighter like Attack On Titans Eren Yeager, and almost every romantic pairing needs a hostile tsundere like Toradoras taiga.
Very few anime challenge these stereotypes and, even then, those that do just obey another formula. case in point, The Rising Of The Shield Heroes Naofumi is one of numerous edgy isekai anti-heroes. Fans don’t see a problem with this since they love seeing different spins on their favorite archetypes, but detractors hate this lack of creativity.
2 Anime Wears Its Japanese Roots With Pride
In brief, anime is a reflection of its country of origin: Japan. This is why many anime are either about every day Japanese life, or are based on the country’s history. demon slayer, gintama, naruto, and more can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of nationality, but they’re so rooted in Japanese culture that it’s hard not to feel out of the loop at times.
While fans appreciate this and use anime as a gateway to learn more about a new culture, there are those who feel the opposite. Those in the latter often prefer titles like Berserk, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Spy X Familyand so forth since they have more international appeals due to their lack of overt Japanese references and themes.
1 Anime Is A Predominantly Youth-Oriented Form Of Entertainment
A common complaint about anime is how the most mainstream shows are about juvenile concerns like high school and living out adolescent power fantasies, or how the characters are mostly teenagers. Even some seinen anime just tend to be gorier and more profane versions of their shonen counterparts (see: Kill La Kill), but none of this is a problem.
Anime is, first and foremost, aimed at young people and/or the young at heart. Teenagers to young adults make up a large fraction of anime viewers, and this is why the biggest shows skew towards their interests and feature characters of their age. Fans are perfectly fine with this, while their opposites prefer something that give off a more “adult” vibe.
NEXT: 10 Best Anime Series We’re Glad Are Over