Lately I’ve realized that more often than not, tropes themselves don’t bother me as much as I thought they would. Tropes are usually looked down on as lazy writing (which isn’t completely off), but what I think matters way more than anything is the execution of the ideas in a product rather than the product trying to be completely original.
The worst trope of them all: Best Girl never wins.
Anime is pretty bad when it comes to tropes, we all know that right? I mean, anime’s so bad with tropes that some of them have their own genre (e.g: Harem anime vs Romance anime). But of course there are examples where these tropes are done well and the show is remembered for “doing it right”. Take a gag/reference anime for example: Seitokai no Ichizan isn’t as popular and well loved as something like Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, even though both reference other anime and are comedy shows. Seitokai no Ichizan’s humor isn’t as well crafted as Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. That isn’t to say Seitokai no Ichizan’s a bad show (well, I didn’t like it, but that’s just me), but one of the two shows was clearly done better.
What really bothers me is when a show has the right elements to be a good or even great show…and then it just falls on it’s face. To demonstrate, I’ll single out two shows from the spring season (which is just about over at the time of this writing) that could have been a lot better, but ended up falling short: Akuma no Riddle and Brynhildr in the Darkness.
My face during the entire ending of Akuma no Riddle
Akuma no Riddle’s main problem was that Haru’s life never felt like it was in any real trouble. Haru is stuck in a class where 11 people are skilled assassins that need to kill her to get their wish, but each one just can’t seem to seal the deal even when Haru’s wide open. Hell, someone had a fucking bomb necklace on her with a timer set to explode after several hours, but for some reason the person decided to lay out clues to the lock’s combination (Never mind the fact that she desperately needs to win this whole god damned thing to find the cure to her disease). If the show just took some time to maybe throw the fear of God into the viewers when it was go time it would have been so much better. It does this once or twice in the series and those are the best episodes I felt (maybe not “fear of God” quality, but it still went from a light jog to a hard run).
Brynhildr in the Darkness suffers a different problem. All the pieces are there, but the finished product doesn’t hold up. It’s like going to McDonald’s and looking at the menu. You see those pictures of food, but your big mac never looks as good as what’s pictured on the menu. That’s Brynhildr in the Darkness. There are so many better ways they could have framed scenes and added some dramatic weight behind certain events, but instead it feels like we got a C attempt when we know that they could have given us a solid B+ at least.
If you’re looking for a show that does tropes right with great execution, I’ll offer up Bakemonogatari.
Bakemonogatari (and the rest of the series) is at it’s core about a guy helping the women he runs into with their supernatural problems. He ends up with something of a harem because of this, and he’s able to come out on top more times than not. The series does an excellent job weaving dialog with the background (meaning that the background will reflect the dialog instead of being a static image, though that’s a thing more in Nisemonogatari and up), the music is top notch, and most importantly the character are entertaining and put the main character in situations that aren’t so black and white. The main character is far from perfect (which is refreshing really), he’s a giant pervert with no sense of self (to his own detriment), and sometimes stuff just doesn’t go the way he’d like.
I don’t mean to imply that anime is the sole propagator of shit writing, but it’s readily more apparent with anime I feel. So often we see shit anime adaptations or shows that just pander to a certain interest and not even trying to go for the gusto, instead they just rely on the subject matter to sell. It’s just profitable enough for the trend to keep continuing, which I feel is why people claim that anime is worse now than it’s ever been. I don’t subscribe to that mindset, but I don’t think it’s completely off either. I think half assed attempts are the culprit behind the anime industry’s decline and not just simply shows that pander to a certain demographic (though they’re not helping either).
Contradiction on my part: No amount of effort would have saved DEEN’s version of Fate/Stay Night
In the end I suppose it’s all business anyway and they’re going to do what makes them the most money. I just wish they would try a little bit harder, that’s all. If they had tried harder, maybe season two of Chuunibyou wouldn’t have sucked as hard as it did (I’m still salty over that shit! They had such a good first season, and then KyoAni just fucked it up and produced whatever the hell it is we got with season two.).