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.