The Salty Anime Challenge Day 9: Least Favorite Anime Trope(s)

I’ve been riding ecchi kinda hard for this challenge (….I should reword that too.) so I’ll restrain myself there. While a bunch of tropes get on my nerves, I’d say the ‘main character gets the best everything’ trope wins out.

Mew Mew Style, Mew Mew Grace, the other mews just fill background space.

I’m sorry I had to remind you of Mew Mew Power’s motto.

This is most prevalent in magical girl shows and shounen gaming and fighting anime. The main character always has to have the best powers, the most powerful transformations, all the cool weapons, win the best matches, etc.

I understand that, as main characters, they’re kinda entitled to have those things. Afterall, you don’t want other characters stealing the spotlight. However, I tend to empathize with and like side or secondary main characters more than primary main characters. And I feel like there are many circumstances where great characters fall to the wayside and eventually become unimpressive at best and useless at worst when they didn’t have to be.

Look at what DBZ turned into. It wasn’t even meant to be about Goku at the beginning. Gohan was meant to surpass his father and take the role as main character, but then MC favoritism boosted him back to the spotlight again. But why bother talking about that when you could discuss nearly any human character in the franchise now? They’re damn near furniture while Goku and Vegeta have gone off to become literal gods. They can’t even hope to dream about trying to help now. If you’re not saiyan or otherwise an alien, you’re screwed.

They didn’t even get beyond the first arc without becoming useless meat shields, even with self-sacrifice.

Goku: “Okay, guys, we have to draw out this fight for 25 episodes, so go off, die, and I’ll go eat a sandwich and defeat everyone you were too weak to even scratch when I come back. Kay? Kay.”

(I’ll be fair, though, Yajirobe basically saved the day in the Saiyan arc….but who wants to root for Yajirobe?)

That’s one of the reasons why I have no real bad blood against Naruto now. You can definitely argue that Naruto, Sasuke and a few others are the strongest and get the best stuff, but they do a good job making nearly everyone else at least seem useful for something. If not, they get cool and unique powers and abilities as well as awesome fight scenes. Ask anyone who their favorite Naruto character is and a very sizable chunk will say someone besides Naruto or Sasuke.

Don’t even get me started on magical girl shows. They are definitely the worst offenders. I’ve felt most irked by Tokyo Mew Mew in this regard because the other girls get literally nothing else after their debuts while Ichigo gets a slue of new weapons and attacks. It takes no time for the other Mews to seem useless outside of Zakuro and even she stagnates. When they actually bother putting the spotlight on the other Mews, it always seems like Ichigo steals it in the climax.

Sailor Moon’s also guilty, but I feel less irritated by this because it never really felt like the other senshi were useless, per se, and they did get upgrades, they just never got anything nearly as good as the stuff Sailor Moon did nor did they get better stuff as often.

Pokemon, to varying degrees throughout the ages, but most notably in the first few seasons, has this as well. Ash gets all the best Pokemon and gets to do nearly everything. The entire journey is about Ash’s desire to be a Pokemon Master. Misty and Brock have dreams too, but they get kicked to the wayside 98% of the time. It actually makes Ash look like he has a better work regimen than the two of them and that’s hella sad.

Ash: “I’m gonna be a Pokemon Master!” Misty and Brock: “And we’re going to rot for five+ years.”

They have to leave Ash’s side before they start becoming, to put it bluntly, interesting characters who grow and develop. Brock goes off to medical school and Misty catches and tames a damn Gyarados for god’s sake. With him, they stagnate, without him they surpass him. I appreciate it, but it takes them way too long for them to actually be impressive and badass, though, and we rarely ever see them beyond this point anyway.

Do I even need to touch upon the favoritism of Messiahchu? He’s the OP powerhouse that Ash always coddles, uses even when it’s ill-advised and he has better more logical options, and keeps around while his other Pokemon keep getting released or box’d.

I guess, in the end, I’m not so much salty that the main characters get the most power and best stuff – it’s that many writers believe that doing so means not letting the other characters grow or stay useful.

“Why would we have (SC) fight this match when (MC) can beat them in a single swoop?”

“You don’t need to do that (SC), we’ll give (MC) a new power to make that pointless.”

“Train? Pft. Why bother, (SC)? You’ll never get anywhere near (MC)’s level. Just be a meat shield until (MC) shows up.”

Yu Yu Hakusho is a good example of doing this right. I believe it’s highly arguable that Yusuke is the most powerful protagonist (I’d give that to Kurama, to be honest. But I might be biased), and the other characters, even Kuwabara who is the weakest of the team, never seem like they’re stagnating or not useful. They’re always striving to improve, and they do.

Imagine how irritating it would be to be on a team like that. Imagine working your ass off to improve and risking your life on a daily basis just to have the world handed on a silver platter to ‘the leader’, which is usually a self-appointed title. Also imagine if that person was an idiot, egotistical or both, which is shockingly common.

Maybe this is why I tend to like side and secondary main characters over main characters. Maybe it’s because I like the underdog. I dunno. Give your secondaries proper dues, guys.

19 thoughts on “The Salty Anime Challenge Day 9: Least Favorite Anime Trope(s)

  1. Justice for Yamcha. The poor guy got nothing by the end of things. Even his girlfriend realized that saiyans were the way to go and dumped up. 😦

    I dislike this trope also, because it’s meant to prop up the main character but more times than not, it just makes them a Mary Sue/Gary Stu character. Everything great goes to them, while others, who might be presented as incredibly strong, somehow get weaker in comparison.

    This happens a lot in isekai stories as well. Asuna led a huge army and was considered to be one of the strongest characters, but she still somehow ended up being a damsel in distress once Kirito showed up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As much as Yamcha got shafted (I’m more in Krillin’s sympathy corner, to be honest. Poor guy. From the very beginning he was trying to keep up with Goku and he just accepted he’d never be even close to his level and faded into the background….Also, poor Chiaotsu. Kills himself to save the day and barely musses Nappa’s clothes.) I have to kinda ding Yamcha for the loss of Bulma because he had a wandering eye for other girls.

      I don’t think they ever would’ve worked anyway. They didn’t even get together on the best of circumstances – they each just wanted a boy/girlfriend.

      But, yeah, he did indeed get nothing. At least Krillin got a family and a happy life. Yamcha just ends up alone and doing nothing.

      Oh well, at least he can….play baseball. And if you’re taking GT as canon, his final shot is of him fixing his broken down car in the middle of the desert….Whoo.

      The human aspect is actually weird because, early on, they act like humans have intense unlocked potential and that’s one of the reasons why Saiyan/human hybrids were supposedly stronger than regular Saiyans…..and then they were like ‘Eh, nevermind.’

      Writers really need to gain a grasp on power balances. If things worked in the real world the way they worked in these anime, things would go to hell fast because you’d be relying almost entirely on one person to do everything and you just can’t do that. There is power in numbers.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Krillin was sad too, but at least he had a family to lean back to. Yamcha just has a car in the desert. The power levels in the DB universe never made sense anyways, so I suppose we shouldn’t be thinking too hard about it.

        Yamcha may have a car, but at least he doesn’t have to worry about saving the world or dying and then being forced to come back and save the world.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This article has me depressed. Tokyo Mew Mew is one of my favorite shows, and you’re absolutely right about your criticism.

    To make ourselves feel better, let’s think about the other Mew Mews sitting back and happily playing cards while Ichigo fights her tail off!

    Liked by 2 people

    • What powerups would you give the other Mew Mews? Personally, I imagine Mint getting a giant machine gun, Lettuce crushing her enemies with a three-story castanet, Pudding sending monsters really deep underground and causing them to die from pressure or heat, and Zakuro crucifying enemies or performing exorcism.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I mentioned some changes in my last reply, but in terms of weapons, I’d like Zakuro to have a huge spear or something if her original item is meant to be a dagger. She could throw it or stabby stab or even just spin it like a bad ass. Maybe it could be used as a staff for your suggestion of exorcisms. (Defeating chimera animals, when you think about it, is kinda like exorcism.)

        I’d like Mint to have like a mix between a crossbow and a machine gun. Darkening the sky with a rain of arrows. Or maybe even have the arrows be razor sharp feathers or something.

        Lettuce’s is more perplexing to me….Considering her animal I’d like something that utilizes sonic waves into a big blast of energy, but I’m not sure about keeping castanets.

        Pudding would have a massive hammer that she’d slam on the ground (or slam into her enemies) making a massive earthquake or like an earthbending kind of control. I just like the idea of Pudding with a big hammer for some reason lol.

        Like

      • Your ideas are way better than mine.

        I was thinking about a weird fanfic sequel idea. There’s this thing everyone needs to get to save the world, and to get it, they need to enter each of the major characters’ minds. But someone causes an accident in Ichigo’s mind and BAM she’s mentally crippled for life and can’t even speak anymore, so she can’t transform. The queen of the Mew Mews is dead. Long live the queens!

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    • I love Tokyo Mew Mew too, which is why that particular criticism pains me so much. It’s not like they never had the opportunity to give them better things, they just flatout didn’t want to.

      I’m just imagining Mint as this awesome aerial warrior with big wings, Lettuce as an undersea badass with maybe a slightly cooler mermaid design, Pudding as a super-agile and quick-as-a-flash monkey while Zakuro gets like fangs and claws and becomes an intimidating powerhouse. But alas, I was robbed.

      Ichigo: “Hey guys! A little help here?!”

      “Oh sorry, right, we’ll put up that totally necessary barrier for you while you defeat the bad guy.”

      Ichigo: “What barrier?!”

      “Can’t you see? OooOooOOOOoo! It’s invisible. HAH! Full House! I win!”

      Like

    • I’ve heard that – and it’s not even Ichigo who takes the limelight, it’s the new chick, Berry, who even gets TWO red data animals when she becomes a Mew AND becomes leader just because she’s a replacement for Ichigo. Feh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I just don’t even get that from a Mary Sue Standpoint. Gush over a hot cute guy who loves you, fine, but a perfect fantasy fairy tale relationship is just so boring to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I actually liked Tasuku. He’s energetic, sweet, and has a similar backstory to Berry. I’d like to have seen him and Masaya meet up. The quiet one and the loud one making an odd duo sounds cool. Personally, my only problems with À La Mode was its shortness (hard to tell a story in 2 volumes; would be better as an anime) and Berry being the leader.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is sad that in many shows the supporting cast is just fodder that the bad guys beat up until the main character shows up. What makes things worse is that often the side characters have more personality than the protagonist.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been saying for the longest time DB should focus on someone else or some different part of the world or a different one entirely. Show us a different technique they use to fight or something. It’s called dragon ball not Goku. I give Naruto a pass because of the name but even then it changed its name for his son.

    And just to throw this out there. One of the tropes I hate is when the theme song plays during the final battle, removing the threat of anything can happen. It tells us MC is going to win now, you can relax. But that’s just me. I see people say it gets them hype but I hate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can see how that trope would be irritating. It doesn’t tend to bother me too much because it usually only happens during moments where the scene itself implies that the MC is going to succeed, like they achieved a new transformation or technique or something, but you’re right that the theme song just drains any semblance of remaining tension. Plus, it’s a little cheesy.

      It’d be funny if they had the character get beat down in the middle of the theme song though, then have the song suddenly cut out lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t thought too much about anime tropes, but I share similar feelings with the whole “main character gets the best stuff” trope. Much like you, I think the supporting characters in fighting shows are more interesting than the mains. Even with what little magical girl stuff I’ve seen, I thought Pluto was WAY more fascinating than Sailor Moon (How many anime characters whisper their attack names besides her?). Yeah, I certainly agree my favorite Naruto characters weren’t Naruto or Sasuke (Rock Lee, FTW!). At least Hunter X Hunter got this right when one could make a case that Kurapika got the best abilities way before Gon and Killua did, not that I’m knocking them since they are both interesting characters in their own right. I understand when a main character has a decent amount of stuff or powers, but I hate how their buddies become glorified meat shields for the bad guys.

    Liked by 1 person

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