Student Internet portal My Navi Gakusei no Madoguchi recently polled 269 college students (129 male and 140 female) who regularly watch Japanese animation and/or read Japanese comics, asking them what anime and manga situations they’re sick of seeing over and over again, and found particularly negative reactions to the following five.
Sure, some moderately high-profile series, like Birdy the Mighty and Kokoro Connect, have involved characters switching or sharing bodies, and it’s the primary hook of mega-hit Your Name, but a lot of casual observers wouldn’t point to this as one of anime’s go-to storytelling devices. Nevertheless, many of the survey respondents said they’ve already seen enough works that fall into this category. One woman wrote the genre off with “You know what’s going to happen,” and apparently has no desire to sit through another anime where the two souls learn to appreciate each other’s differences through joint body custody.
2. Time travel
Time travel series have been picking up steam, with the convention showing up in Re:Zero, Steins;Gate, and Puella Madoka Magica. “There’s a surprising sameness to [time travel anime],” declared one respondent, and she might have a point, as stories in this category almost always end up funneling the narrative towards a last-ditch attempt to avoid butting up against an unwanted future.
“They’re almost all exactly the same,” lamented one respondent. Introduce the main character, add potential romantic partners at the rate of one character per episode through meet cute or meet sexy moments, and by the time the harem is stocked, and there’s not much time left for anything of import to happen before the show has to wrap up.
4. Alternate world stories
It’s a tactic anime writers have been relying on since at least 1983’s Aura Battler Dunbine. “They’re boring, since you know what’s going to happen next,” grumbled one male respondent, with another giving the more specific complaint of “Eventually some god-like being makes an appearance, and that just spoils the fun.”
5. Bringing characters back from the dead
For a medium that’s extremely comfortable portraying violence, anime can sometimes be rather reluctant to let its stars rest in peace. “You just know they’re not actually dead,” said one male respondent.