Three clichés in Japanese fiction that I hardly ever noticed

I happen to be an expert

…until someone pointed them out to me, and thus I shall never unsee.

I'm bullied because I look normal

3. Characters that complain that they’re ugly, but don’t look any different from anyone else.

While I do appreciate tales concerning inner beauty and what it means to people who are considered “ugly” or “scary” on the outside, it’s hard to take seriously once you realize that the character that claims that he/she is ugly is actually extremely cute to the eyes of the viewers. The artists may claim it’s a way to portray everyone as equals regardless of how beautiful they are in-universe, but I claim that since A-ko, who is ugly, ends with with K-kun, who is a cool character and demonstrates his Messiah by falling in love with an ugly girl, they can’t possibly draw A-ko ugly because in the end, they want K-kun to end up with a cute girl. Which kind of kills the message they were trying to send in the first place.

I find it amusing that comedies that focus on the subject take it the other way and jokingly draw their ugly characters as fat monsters or creepy otaku wizards.

Everyone is doing it

2. SWORDS MUST BE DRAWN IN SUPER DRAMATIC AWESOME ANGLES FOR JUSTICE

Does this need a write-up? The camera being at a lower angle suddenly making swords 100 times bigger. Nuff said.

Mission failed

1. The second-to-last seat in the back of the class next to the windows

In every anime, manga, or visual novel involving a school, the main characters will always choose this spot no matter what.

And I don’t blame them. It’s the perfect spot in real life too. A good view of the outside world, and perfect for dozing off without anyone noticing. An absolutely perfect way to stare off into space while giving a monologue in your head or having a believable excuse to talk during class without getting in trouble. The perfect seat for a person that does not want any trouble or attention.

Too bad that’s not the case most of the time. Main character, did you know that the writer puts you there for the sake of convenience? Along with all of the above examples, it’s also perfect for having a character coming into the classroom to talk to you and running straight across the room towards your seat, thus creating a huge scene. The exact same attention will be had if you’re fortunate enough to have Haruhi Suzumiya smack the back of your head onto the desks while you’re trying to take the seating arrangements to your advantage and doze off. Seems your plans have backfired, Shujinko.

5 thoughts on “Three clichés in Japanese fiction that I hardly ever noticed”

  1. #3 is true for just about any media. It’s extremely rare for even an “ugly” main character, or even a plain one, to be played by someone who’s not attractive.

    Another reason for #1 that I’ve heard is that it’s easier for the animators to show the character sitting at their desk with a window and sky backdrop, rather than the classroom with all the other students. But I agree, the staring into space while the internal monologue thing is a good fringe benefit.

  2. @Peter S: True. And then there’s also those multiple cases where characters get picked on for no real reason, regardless of their looks. Though I’ve mostly seen this in films that take place in high schools, where Group of Girls A monopolizes the school and everyone is played by the Ideal Teenybopper Actor. Mostly in those bad American horror films.

  3. Number 3 is pretty much one of my biggest issue (not really a problem though) with anime. In most anime, there really isn’t any ugly girls, despite how the story may want one, and it’s always so jarring to me.

    But I guess the producers know instinctively that for most of the audience to still like and care about those marginalized characters, they have to be cute, regardless of how ugly they’re supposed to be.

    I don’t mind though… Actually maybe I do just a little bit. 🙁

  4. @Yi: It’s a really big shame considering some of the messages the authors are trying to get across. It does bother me when stories try to seriously explore these issues regarding appearance, yet it’s really hard to take seriously when you realize the character that is being agonized doesn’t appear to be ugly.

    Some mangaka do try to draw their characters with an abnormal appearance compared to the rest of the cast. One example I can note is Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!. Funnily enough, the main character comes across as kind of adorable anyways, at least in my opinion. 😛

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