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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