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The Grand List of Anime Axioms and Clichés

By James D. Deaux IV
06 October 2005 — Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a huge anime and manga fanatic. But even I know that anime can be incredibly goofy at times. In anime, as with any other genre of media, certain things have a tendency to appear over and over and over and over and over... well, you get the idea. With that said, I give you the Grand List of Anime Clichés and Axioms!

01. The Omnipotence Rule: The deadliest force in the universe is not a giant robot. It isn't some lunatic with the remote control to a rail gun pointed at the galaxy ready to annihilate every living thing on any given planet. It isn't even a ninja, a pirate or a bizarre amalgamation of the two. No, the most dominant force in the entire known universe is the all-powerful Japanese schoolgirl.

02. The Visible Spectrum Rule: Every single, solitary color, no matter how bright, dark or neon, that you can possibly imagine is a perfectly natural hair color.

03. The Reflection Rule: You will only rarely be able to see the eyeballs of anyone wearing glasses of any type because there is almost always a reflection upon their lenses. Even if said person is in a cave, subway station, or a dungeon, there is always a light somewhere that will cause a reflection that will prevent you from seeing their pretty little eyes.

04. The Circulatory System Rule: The human body contains roughly 64 gallons of blood, and a well-placed sword slash will demonstrate this better than any so-called doctor or teacher ever could.

05. Are You Done Yet? (aka The Spirit Bomb Rule): Any truly powerful energy attack will take about six days to fully charge. During this time, the person, robot, creature or other miscellaneous being that will ultimately be on the receiving end of this über-blast will essentially do nothing. Except laugh. And maybe throw out a taunt or two about how much greater he / she is than the person charging up. Rule #41 has something else to say about this, as well.

06. Chicks with Guns: If in an anime you are shown a female character for the first time and she has guns in her possession (be they holstered or in her hands), she will either be the deadliest shooter on the face of the planet or a secret agent.

07. The Egregious Rule: Everything explodes. Everything.*

08. The Fuku Length Theorem: The shorter a schoolgirl's fuku (skirt), the more powerful she will be (RE: Rule #1).

09. There Is No Gray Area: When it comes to yaoi (anime with male / male romance), people either adore it or despise it. There is absolutely no middle ground whatsoever.

10. The Paul Revere Corollary (aka the Alucard / Vash Rule): Any character that wears a long, red coat will never die. If by some whim of God they do perish, they will come back to life almost instantaneously.

11. The Center of the Universe Principle: Everything that is worth your attention takes place in Tokyo. If there is action that takes place elsewhere, it means that a character is going to be a foreign exchange student in the United States.

12. Orphaned or Otherwise (aka The Tenchi / Kenshin / Evangelion / Naruto Principle): If the main protagonist is a young male (16 or younger), he will have no parents. They are either dead, kidnapped, the head(s) of some ultra-secret organization, and / or abandoned the main character when he was an infant.

13. The Nuns Rule (aka the Ciel / Rosette Rule): Anytime a nun or group of nuns are introduced in an anime, you can automatically assume that they are expert sharpshooters or swordfighters. Sometimes both.

14. The Law of Coincidental Invulnerability: Anytime the main protagonist is traveling along a dirt road and encounters a ginormous, hulking goon, that giant being will almost always be made of nigh-indestructible rock. However, the main protagonist will always dispatch this behemoth within a matter of seconds; whereas, anyone who came along before the protagonist did and stumbled upon the colossus will have met an untimely and very painful demise at the hands of said gargantuan goon.

15. Glowing Goodness: Any large display of martial arts power or skill will always be represented in the form of a bright and shiny glow.

16. Blondes Do It Better (aka The Saiyan Rule): Blonde hair automatically means you are one of the strongest beings in all existence.

17. The Tentacle Warning: If you are a female anime character, stay away from octopi, Metroids, jellyfish, squids, ramen noodles and absolutely anything else that has or looks like tentacles. Trust me!

18. The Selective Violence Corollary: Female protagonists have a nasty habit of preaching "love and justice" and doing exactly the opposite — which is to say, they blast the antagonists into dust about 97% of the time. However, when a heroine that advocates love and peace finally encounters her ultimate enemy, she will almost never actually fight that villain even though she has vaporized practically every other bad guy before this. Rather, she will choose to reason with this person or being and maybe even sing to them. And somehow, it always works. This ties in more than a little bit with Rule #21.

19. Respect Your Elders... Sometimes: Elderly women are always wise and sometimes psychically imbued. But no matter what, they are always incredibly insightful and intelligent. Old men, however, are all perverts trying to look up a young woman's dress or skirt.

20. The Wind Resistance Factor: Anything and everything, no matter how bizarrely shaped it might be, is completely aerodynamic.*

21. Emotions Matter More Than Strength: Armies of thousands of droids, zombies, robot battalions, pirates and any other evil armada of death can be stopped by a sad song or simple emotion.*

22. The Me So Horny Rule: Anytime a male character sees a hot chick, blood will drip or, in the case of seeing full frontal nudity, shoot like a cannon out of his nose.

23. The Sweat Drop Causality: Anytime a character is embarrassed (or, in some instances, annoyed), a large bluish sweat drop will appear by their heads to denote this. Simply sighing is just not enough.

24. The Id Rule: Any main protagonist with a mysterious past that loses consciousness for an extended period of time will almost always have some deadly alter ego that manages to find its way around to kill or maim something while he recovers.

25. The Boy Meets Girls Effect: Anytime a male accidentally happens upon a situation where there are lots of naked women around (such as a public bath), he will always get the unholy crap kicked out of him by those women. As embarrassed and as sorry as he is, there is simply no time for apologies or explanations. The women are judge, jury and executioner with the swiftest of swiftness.

26. The Law of Identical Reincarnation: Any character in the present time that has been established as a reincarnation of someone from the past will always look completely identical to the person of whom he / she is a reincarnation. Apparently, the cosmic forces at work in the anime realm couldn't be bothered to make their hair a different color or something.

27. Who Needs Training?: Giants mechs and robot suits can be operated on a whim without any formal training at all. And most of the time, the people who exploit this rule are young males who have never been outside of their little town or village.

28. The Indestructible Crotch Rule: Just as it happens in American animated media, a hero can be blasted by nuclear-strength energy beams and all of his clothes will be vaporized... except the crotch area. Oh, and said hero always survives the ridiculously powerful energy blast, too.

29. If a Mech Explodes In Space, Yet Everyone Is Around...?: A giant robot can explode in space and everyone within about 10,000,000 light years will hear it, despite the fact that this is metaphysically impossible.

30. The Silent Pause Effect: Anytime a serious character pauses in mid-sentence, a chill wind will inexplicably blow from out of nowhere.

31. The Clumsiness Rule: Any superheroine between the ages of 13 and 16 will be the biggest ditz on the face of the planet.

32. The J-Pop Band Effect: Any pop music band in an anime will be the most popular band ever. All of their concerts are sellouts, everyone knows who they are and most people would give up the deed to their house in order to get tickets to their concerts.

33. One or the Other: The most powerful weapon in the universe is either a slick looking sword or a pair of ultra-destructive handguns.

34. Do It For a Higher Power: Villains who commit atrocities in the name of religious convictions have a nasty habit of not dying. Here are the reasons why:

A. They are simply bulletproof and cannot be killed by holy water and other such means of destroying unholy beings.

or...

B. They already died and sold their body to science, but still maintain the good fight in the name of some deity.

or...

C. They live on through generation after generation because they exist by feeding on negative emotions and sin. And let's face it — there's no shortage of either of those.

or...

D. They actually made contact with an immortal and they have been imbued with a fraction of their power.

So, let's face it — unless you have the backing of some ultra-powerful, benevolent god yourself, you are basically screwed if you go up against a religious villain.

35. The Manipulation Rule: At some point in their adventures (normally near the end of them) all young females will be manipulated or controlled against their will by the ultimate villain they originally set out to destroy.

36. The Sword / Gun / Good / Evil Inverse Principle: The effectiveness and longevity of a sword or gun is directly proportional to what side — good or evil — that the person wielding it is on. For example, if the villain wields a gun, the hero will defeat the villain with an indestructible sword. However, if the antagonist wields a sword, the hero will overcome this villain with firearms that basically look like they were forged by Hephaestus himself.

37. The Zombie Rule: Anime zombies are essentially the most useless soldier-types you will ever come across. They never get the job done and always end up being dismembered or horribly mutilated; and they wind up looking even worse than they did when they were just lurching around.

38. That Sinking Feeling: Anytime the main character has a bad feeling about someone close to him, it will always end up being true. Even if the person had a dream about them turning into a giraffe with raspberries for eyeballs and a giant garden hose where its tail should be, it will either come true, or already is true and he just doesn't know it yet.

39. Stop Embarrassing Me!!!: If a story revolves around an unrelated male and female, the male will always embarrass the female repeatedly. Usually, it's because he's a guy who likes big-breasted women. Which means he will do something ridiculously stupid to try and get with such women. Which ultimately leads to the main female character slapping the guy senseless roughly 37,000 times over the course of their daily lives.

40. The Law of Ineffectual Knick-Knacks: The most important item a group of characters will ever carry around on an journey is always either a locket, a necklace, a keychain or some other seemingly useless gold-plated trinket.

41. Survival Skills: A truly evil antagonist will always survive the most powerful energy blast a hero can muster. Later, said villain will be downed by something as simple as a well-placed knee to the stomach.

42. The Law of Romance: There is no such thing as a romantic couple when you are first introduced to the main characters of an anime. Relationships, if they occur at all, develop extremely gradually over time; and they almost always involve one of them (the male or female) embarrassing themselves repeatedly trying to impress the other. Eventually, the one who isn't embarrassing him / herself will feel sorry for the one who is, and they will instantly become a couple.

43. The NBA Invades Japan: Everyone can jump 50 feet into the air. It really doesn't matter how old, heavy, crippled or dead you are. If you are an anime character, you can practically leap tall buildings in a single bound.

44. The Law of Benevolent Absenteeism: Young protagonists who lead double lives secretly fighting aliens and other random monsters will miss roughly 60% of their school schedule. Yet, their teachers will rarely question why they are always absent because most of the time they are either too jaded with their job to care, or they are just oblivious to everything. The lesson here, kids? Cutting school is okay as long as you have a secret identity and are blasting away monsters in the name of truth and justice — even though no one knows that's what you're doing!

45. The Bishoujo Quandary: Any girl that transforms into a special magical uniform to fight evil will always wind up wearing a sailor suit. My question is — wouldn't army fatigues be a little more apropos? Because my thinking is — if I was a hideous monster, I'd much rather fight some chick wearing a short skirt than someone that looks like Solid Snake.

46. No Shortage of Real Estate: For the most part, innocent bystanders in an anime show need not worry about their towns or cities being destroyed. There is always some gargantuan mass of barren, rocky, desolate, unpopulated desert or mountain area where people can just duke it out for weeks on end without the risk of hurting bystanders. There is a glaring exception though...

47. The Robots in the Big City Rule: If robots, especially those of alien origins, descend upon a city, you won't see a structure of higher than 10 feet still standing within about 10 minutes. Which means, if you're an anime character and you live or work in a big city, you basically need to pray to a higher power every night that giant mechs don't come near. If they do, kiss your ass goodbye because everything you've ever seen is about to be vaporized.

48. The Not-So-Thin Line Between Heroes and Antiheroes: Pure anime heroes live by a strict moral code, are normally very spiritual and have meticulous personal guidelines that they adhere to every waking second of their lives. Anime antiheroes are all atheists or the living dead and can get away with utterly anything. (Thanks go to my friend James for informing me of this one.)

49. The Dress Code: Anime heroes have spiky hair and generally don't wear a lot of extra clothing. Anime antiheroes will always have long, dark hair, wear long, dark colored coats and sport humongous boots. Anime villains are all gangsters, aliens or glorified goths that have spikes protruding from every imaginable fold of their bodies.

50. Where Do They Keep This Stuff? (aka The Chrono Rule): Anime heroes who use firearms will always have some astronomically large carrying case where they keep their arsenal. And most of the time, they make someone half their size carry it for them.

51. A Promise Made is a Promise Broken: Any brooding protagonist who vowed many, many years ago that he would never under any circumstances use a certain weapon again, will always wind up using that weapon again. This weapon is almost always a sword, and the reason the protagonist doesn't want to use it is because it caused pain to someone and he couldn't handle the consequences. A sword causing pain? Wow. Next thing you know, people will be using guns to shoot people.

52. Opposites Do Not Attract: Strong, silent-type anime males are always adored by every loud, annoying, superficial, teenage anime female within 100 miles. This happens in school settings ad nauseum. And the stupidest thing of all is that this male will never pay one iota of attention to any of the lovestruck girls. Despite this, the girls will keep going after him until the end of eternity in the face of the fact that they will never get through to him. The reason they will never get his attention is because he is either too arrogant or he has an important task to accomplish and can't be bothered by trivial things like the opposite sex.

53. The Hammer of Horniness Halting (aka The Arumi / Amy Rose Principle): Anytime a male character (with a female companion in tow) is acting like a complete idiot around some buxom female stranger, the female companion will instantaneously pull a giant mallet from out of nowhere and crack it over the male's skull. Thus extinguishing those naughty thoughts for another... 27 seconds. No one has ever ascertained where they keep that giant thing hidden, but they always have it handy, by golly. (NOTE: Sometimes, the girl will wield a fan instead of a hammer. But the means and ends are always the same.)

54. The Emo Kid Rule: Just about any main characters that are young males are either full-blown emo kids or are emo kids at heart. At the very least, they're always moping around because of Rule #12.

55. Ugh: Whenever someone tells an atrociously bad joke or pun, everyone else in the scene will fall down in the background and all that will be visible are their crinkled-up feet. I tell you, if Captain Planet ever entered the anime realm, the entire world would collapse and reek of sweaty gym socks.

56. Less = More: Female warriors will wear as little clothing as is concretely possible. Even if a female warrior is fighting at Ice Station Zebra, she could be wearing a thong bikini and a seashell top and she wouldn't feel any effects of the brutal weather. This also goes back to the highly scientific theory that the less clothing a female battler wears, the more powerful she is.

57. Does Adamantium Exist in the Anime Realm?: Swords held by heroes are virtually indestructible. Even though they will use the same sword for their entire life, slicing up countless thousands of people, blunt objects and other swords, anytime you see a reflection of light off their blade, it is flawless without so much as a scratch on the metal.

58. It Was Probably Nothing: Anytime an anime character says something really stupid, embarrassing or confusing in a very loud voice, everyone around that person will turn and look at them. However, they will forget it ever happened roughly 12 seconds later. This also applies to people who get caught in a very awkward position in a public place. What does this mean? Well, basically you could send out a profanity-laced tirade at a gathering of school children on a street and moments later no one will care. Disorderly conduct be damned!

59. Villainous Breasts!: Whenever a hero or group of heroes encounters a group of female villains, said villains will always have ginormous breasts, but will almost always have very little brain cells to go along with them.

60. The Sidekick Rule: Anytime the main character is a young female, she will have a diminutive (and most of the time, obnoxiously cute) talking animal or android that tags along with her. In addition, this thing, whatever it may be, will pop up and criticize, lecture, or otherwise annoy her at the most awkward times.

61. The Crybaby Effect: When a character starts crying, you should head for the hills or the nearest lifeboat because it will always be like ridiculously big gushing waterfalls coming out of their eyes. (I have my own theory about Noah's Ark. I'm pretty sure he had to build the ark because a group of anime schoolgirls somewhere all sobbed in unison. Probably because of Rule #52.)

62. Choose Your... Weapon?: Anything, no matter how silly it may seem, is perfectly usable as a weapon. Guitars, broomsticks, keyboards, water bottles, sushi, you name it. (Hell, sometimes the aforementioned items have lethal weapons concealed within their structures.) Which means, of course, that you always have a chance in a fight, no matter how bleak the outlook may be.

63. The Law of Blossoming Sadness: Whenever there is a poignant or otherwise sad scene that takes place outdoors (mostly in daytime, but occasionally on a clear night), at least one cherry blossom tree will be shown with its petals falling off and fluttering along in the wind to symbolize this mood. Oddly enough, Rule #61 will never come into play during such scenes. The cherry blossom trees will not stand for such silliness!

64. The Law of Tactical Failures: Any subordinate anime villain who is an unmatched and unparalleled master of technical weapon systems and battlefield commandment will be foiled time and again by your run-of-the-mill 15-year-old protagonist. Thus, he will consequently be killed by the main villain for his failures. This, despite the fact that the tactical expert has flawlessly worked for the main villain for, like, four decades prior to these failures. There truly is no appreciation for dozens of years of faithful dedication.

65. Shine For Me, Baby: Whenever a beautiful female character is shown for the first time, the following events will happen in exactly this order: first, the entire show will grind to a ridiculously slow pace as if the time-space continuum just got a crowbar to the knee. Second, the camera will pan even more slowly from the girl's legs up to her face. Third, every male within a five mile radius will stop and stare at her until someone smacks them back to reality. And during this entire sequence, the beautiful girl will have a bright, sparkly shine all around her as if she just got off the elevator from Heaven. This leads me to the following...

66. That Girl: Whenever Rule #65 comes into play, said girl will instantly become a focal point of the entire show; and 99% of the time, the main male character will either be trying to score with her, or his friends will be constantly egging him into asking her out because he's too shy.

67. The Popularity Happenstance Effect: Famous people in animes (who aren't the main characters) will always interact with the main character(s) of the show in some fashion at some point. Whether they are being saved from villainy by the main character(s) or they just happen to be buying ice cream at the exact same little kiosk in a mall, you should expect some kind of communication to occur between them. Everything that happens afterwards is irrelevant to the overall plotline 99% of the time. (This is all really amazing when you take Rule #32 into account.)

68. Feline Tendencies: When a character is up to mischief, or is doing something sneaky or crafty, their face will immediately morph into a catlike shape, sometimes with the whiskers, as well. Baka neko! ^^

69. Anger Shrinkage (aka Chibi-Fury): In every anime comedy, a character will inevitably become irate at some point. However, to showcase this anger, they will suddenly appear in the immediate background and will have shrunk to roughly 18 inches tall. And as they appear in the background, they will violently flail their arms in a speed that would put the god of all hummingbirds to shame. Interestingly enough, this fit of rage is rarely ever noticed by those in the foreground.

70. Abstinence in the Face of Would-Be Orgies: Anytime a young male is living together with more than one attractive woman, he will still be a virgin.

71. The Law of Educational Exemption: Teachers in the anime realm can get away with absolutely anything. Hell, a male teacher can invade a girls' high school swimming class and all he'll get is a few sharp glares. But they'll let him stay, of course. Because, you know, this is perfectly normal. Female teachers, if they have any flaws at all, are normally just incredibly lazy, and sometimes don't even know anything about the subjects they are supposed to be teaching. Somehow, they keep that paycheck coming in, though.

72. Size Doesn't Matter: Zweihanders, scythes, battle axes and any other manner of gargantuan bladed weapons can be stopped and overcome by something as simple as a spoon if in the hands of a skilled enough hero. This is basically an extension of Rule #62 and in some instances, even Rule #21.

73. The Life and Times of Sensei: During their quests, young heroes will oftentimes run across an old man in a mountain range who knows virtually every martial art ever. Despite the fact that he is a complete pervert, he will ultimately end up transferring some critical fighting technique to the young hero right before he sacrifices himself to the main villain.

74. The Law of Telescopic Vision: Any serious character, good or bad, can look across an area of land that probably spans over 25 miles in length with their naked eyes. And not only see another person across that distance, but make out exactly who it is, what they are wearing and what they are hauling along with them. Not only that, but based on this information, they will automatically ascertain what they are up to. Anime characters could make a killing in the Law & Order universe.

75. The Law of Whatever: Anytime an annoying, sanctimonious jerk starts bragging about himself, he will stop mid-sentence to find that the group of people around him have all turned around and are looking in the opposite direction. The funniest thing of all is that most of the time, the group will be looking at something as simple as a traffic light to spite the self-righteous moron.

76. Hidden Surprises: Anything over 50 feet tall can (and most likely will) conceal or transform into a giant robot / mech. Buildings are especially useful in such cases.

77. You Can Fit What Into Your Mouth?!: Anime characters can eat anything in one bite because their mouths can open to preposterously large sizes. This includes, but is not limited to, a stack of 20 pancakes, a whole bowl of noodles, a roasted pig, an entire buffet of sushi or a Honda Civic.

78. The Law of Adolescent Invulnerability: All children under the age of 12 are invincible. Or it would seem that way considering that they never ever die no matter what. Incurable disease? Oh, no, there's a cure somewhere, and it almost always comes from a rare plant found only in a faraway land. Gun pointed to their head or a knife to their throat? A vigilante antihero will inadvertently save them in time and mutilate the bad guy. Falling off a high ledge or building? Someone who can fly will catch them... or some piece of jewelry they're wearing will start glowing, allowing them to float harmlessly to the ground. Locked in a cage above a pit of molten lava? Some annoying, furry, talking rodent companion will spring them out. Even when a child is willing to sacrifice his / her life for the good of others, somehow they'll live through it. Why hasn't some evil character in an anime ever thought about creating an army solely comprised of preteen children? They'd never lose a battle. Ever! (In hindsight, those emo-kid crybabies in FFVII: Advent Children were going to do it, but they half-assed it so badly that the children were never really able to showcase their innate indestructibility.)

79. The Law of Cosplay Crossdressing: Every anime female character that has ever worn a schoolgirl uniform has been portrayed by no less than 10,000 single, white male cosplayers at anime conventions all over the globe. Not too surprisingly, it's rarely a pleasant sight.

80. The Law of Random Ventriloquism: At any given time, anime characters can go into arbitrary scenes where their mouths simply hang open, but perfectly spoken and enunciated words will still flow outward. Conversely, they can also go into such scenes where their mouths are firmly shut, but the words still come.

81. Girl Power: In anime comedies (mainly), a melee punch or kick (or even a hard slap) delivered by a female has the raw force to knock someone (usually a guy) several hundred yards away. Perverts be afraid. Be very afraid.

82. Teachers Get No Respect (aka The Onizuka Effect): Anime high school students can threaten and swear at teachers until they are blue in the face and even hurl blunt objects at them, but rarely (if ever) are they punished for these acts.

83. The Pseudo-Kids' Guide to Skimpy Clothing: Very young-looking female characters (i.e. women who look no older than 12) can go around as scantily clad as they please, because the storyline will always reveal them to actually be about 7,000 years old.

84. Numbers Game: If a hero stumbles upon a 100-plus-strong horde of villains, it will take no more than one strike of any kind to defeat each one of them. They can run around and kick, punch, chop or poke the enemies all with the same result: death. This is done to save time, of course. If, however, this hero encounters only one villain, suddenly they will have to spend hours trying to muster some way to defeat the bad guy.

85. The Law of Flailing Appendages: For some reason, anime characters (especially young heroes) seem to be able to run faster with the arms flailing behind them instead of just running normally with their fists and arms pumping back and forth. Also, when they do this, it more often than not means they are running up an inclined surface while gearing up to unleash some ridiculously flashy attack.

86. The Law of Obsolete Power: No matter how strong a given character gets, there is always another level of power beyond that which the character has currently attained. And once they achieve this insane power level, it will become useless after roughly four episodes. Thus, the Möbius strip of pointless powering-up continues.

87. Why Isn't This Working?! (aka Elemental B.S.): If there is a tactic you use in an anime-based video game that always works to neutralize an opposing elemental force in spite of your generally weak overall stats, then that tactic will only work some of the time in the anime from which the game was derived. Apparently, some characters in animes don't really believe that you can just gain experience points, get to Level 99 and mindlessly destroy anything and everything in your path regardless of your actual size, strength, intellect and fighting ability. Holy crap! It's actual logic!

88. The Law of Exotic Domestication: Oversized, yellow rodents that shoot lightning bolts out of their faces are not only considered cute, but also make great pets. Moreover, this also applies to fire-breathing lizards, ghosts, piles of poisonous sludge and giant mounds of rock (among other things).

89. The Law of Omnipresent Felines: No matter what anime universe you enter, chances are there is a race of catgirls residing somewhere.

90. Zero-Sum Game: Any mech unit with the codeword "Zero" anywhere in its name will always be the most powerful mech / giant robot on the planet. Many times, the Zero unit is the prototype, but, somehow, it's always the strongest and normally will demolish anything in its path. Unfortunately, the Zero unit will ultimately blow up at some point — normally in the very last episode of a series.

91. The Hitchhikers Corollary: All cold, dark, mysterious antiheroes will pick up, befriend or otherwise enlist a timid and much smaller companion (usually a teenage girl) during the course of his journey. These companions are usually victims of one or more of the circumstances of Rule #12, and they need to find a direction in which to lead their newly shattered lives. Who knew antiheroes had such a soft side?

92. The Law of Introspective Wickedness: Any time an anime series has an entire episode dedicated to the dark past of a villain, that villain will probably become a good guy somewhere down the road. However, most of the time, this antagonist-turned-hero will meet an untimely (and brutally violent) end at the hands of their former employer — aka the über villain.

93. h4xx0rz: Anytime you are introduced to a computer hacker, he or she is absolutely the greatest in the world. No questions asked. Second to none. Can't be outdone. Just once, I'd like every anime universe to crash upon each other so that we can have every anime hacker meet each other. It would be funny to see them all leer at each other without saying a word. (Except Ed. She'd annoy the hell out of everyone. But at least she has charisma... unlike the others.)

94. America Sucks: All Americans in animes are loud, stupid, brutish, unrefined, violent, smelly and generally just unpleasant. They are also completely expendable in any large-scale battle.

95. The Law of Abandoned Honor: Every anime villain that has a personal code of conduct, one which seems pretty honorable, will betray said code simply because he or she is really, really pissed off at the hero.

96. Pet Names: Only in anime will you find action heroes who yell out the names of their techniques before unleashing them. InuYasha is quite possibly the biggest culprit. Ever. Yeah, we get it. It's a wind attack that scars things. Please shut up now.

97. The Law of Computerized Exaggeration: Any and all typical anime facial expressions can be expressed on your very own keyboard at home. This includes, but is not limited to:

O.o — "Huh???"
>_< — "ARGH!"
<_< — "Sigh / Ugh"
^_^ — "Hee hee!"
(>'.')> — "Kirby"

98. Waxing Poetic with the Bad Guy: In American action movies, the badass hero (or antihero) will start a cool, long, drawn-out speech after which the villain to whom he is speaking will be killed. The villain will just stand there while the hero throws out threatening one-liners and insults. Most of the time, the villain never fires a shot... even though the hero is basically just slinging bravado. In anime, however, the villains don't hesitate to shoot the badass right in the middle of their intimidating monologue. However, because it's an antihero that is (more often than not) speaking these monologues, they will normally recover or come back to life and kill the villain anyway.

99. Fallers Can Be Choosers: If an anime character makes a resolute decision to leap off of a high ledge, cliff, building or whatever, he or she can fall as far as they want or need to. And not only will the person live through this massive plunge, they will also be fully ready to do it again or prepare their next ungodly quick attack. However, if they fall by accident or were shoved off, they will die (unless someone saves them).

100. The Ultimate Rule: No matter what, every anime character (regardless of size, shape, sex, species, age, race, whatever) at some point will hang their mouth open aghast at something for an inordinately ridiculous amount of time. During this massive waste of time, not a single word will be spoken by the character (though thoughts will occasionally and miraculously come to their minds). And they will do this forever and ever until the end of eternity when they could be doing, well, pretty much anything to actually solve whatever predicament brought about this jaw dropping. In other news, efficiency is not a trait that is found in many anime characters.

101. The Law of Psuedo-Osakan Dialects: Any character in an English-dubbed anime that hails from Osaka, Japan will have a thick Southern drawl that would put a white flag in Dolly Parton's hands.

102. The Law of Construction Consequences: If you see construction equipment, it means that the people operating it are tearing down or otherwise destroying some archaic landmark in the Japanese countryside that is forgotten by all but maybe three people. (One of these three people will forecast imminent doom for the entire world at some point.) Furthermore, because they are bulldozing this virtually useless spot of land, there will always be a demon or ghost that is awakened by this activity and is ready to wreak havoc upon the world in revenge.

103. Just Die Already: Any upper-tier anime villain can be mortally wounded in any number of particularly gruesome manners, but still have the strength to give an absurdly lengthy and unnecessary introspective monologue before they finally kick the bucket — 10 minutes later.

104. The Law of Shiny Sounds: Anytime a stoic anime character pulls out a knife or sword, it will somehow make a metal sound well after it has already been unsheathed or otherwise withdrawn. This is because the laws of physics in the anime realm state that reflections of light can make noises. Similarly...

105. The Law of Sneaky Sounds: Many times, a villainous character will sneak up on another person. When this happens, a sound effect will almost always accompany their entrance. When the person slinking around happens to get near the person they are stalking, the sound effect (that only we, the viewers, are supposed to hear) will occur, and somehow the potential victim will be able to hear it, alerting them to the danger.

106. Look At Me. Aren't I Cool?: Anytime you come across a group of anime teenagers in a city or school, at least 75% of the males will be propped against a wall or fence with one foot up on the aforementioned surface, and their arms will be folded behind their head. Most of the time these hipsters will also be staring at the ceiling or sky. It has never been scientifically determined what these people are staring at.

107. Red vs. Blue: Martial artist heroes can counter any destructive red aura or energy utilized by a villain with their own magical / mystical blue inner strength aura. Furthermore...

108. The Color Wheel Rule: Anytime you see purple energy of any kind, it means that it originated from someone or something evil, and most of the time it will be accompanied by malevolent black lightning swarming around it. I'm not sure why purple is typecast as such, but it's bad news, nonetheless.

109. The Law of Arboreal Ninjitsu: Ninjas will always travel by running and leaping through trees and forests.

110. Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel: If you run or spin really, really quickly and powerfully into someone, you can cause an explosion, regardless of whether or not you actually possess any combustible material. Remember, anything and everything can (and will) explode.

111. The Law of Teflon Clothing: Blood will rarely stain clothing. Normally, when several gallons of blood are spraying everywhere, it will simply drip off of a person's garb. I am not sure what anime garments are comprised of, but I'm convinced they have to have a layer of Pam Cooking Spray on them whenever a violent fight ensues.

112. Made You Look: Anytime a female with magical or spiritual powers transforms, a ridiculously bright, prismatic light will appear in the background, causing the character to become silhouetted, obscuring all the naughty parts. (Cue the collective "damn" from all the hentai-lovers.)

113. Something of a Distraction: Any plot holes, terrible dialog, or other miscellaneous production problems with an anime can be rendered forgotten by adding in a few random panty shots.

114. Strike a Pose!: Even when they are mere inches from one another and about to attack, two enemies will sometimes slow down and jut out their arms and weapons in bizarre ways for no logical reason. This, despite the fact that all either of them would have to do is hold their arm(s) straight out and just gut, shoot, blast, or otherwise wound them quickly. Remember what I said about anime characters not being efficient types? By the way...

115. The Law of Symmetrical Assaults: Once the combatants finally do decide to attack, they will run at each other at the exact same speed, leap into the air simultaneously, attack each other in the exact same manner, and land on the respective opposite side of the battleground at the same time, facing away from each other. (In between this, there is commonly a close-up on the eyes of each fighter, again in the same manner.) Where the mirroring finally ends is when one of them crumples to the ground after several seconds of standing perfectly still in another pose.

116. Son of Sweat Drop: While the oversized blue sweat drop on a character's forehead represents exasperation and embarrassment, the symbol for anger and rage is a goofy, red, bulging "vein" on a character's forehead. The two have never been seen together on one character at the same time in recorded history since, apparently, anime characters cannot be humiliated and full of righteous fury simultaneously.

117. "The Answer is '... and I'll Hear Nothing to the Contrary': "What is 'Live-action Death Note movies suck,' Alex?" In fairness, though, this rule applies to 90% of live-action adaptations of animes.

118. I Was Enlightened for This?: Any character suffering from amnesia over the course of an anime series will eventually regain his or her memories; however, said character will almost never like what they have rediscovered about their life.

119. The Law of Vocal Baton-Passing: When there is a scene of mass panic, characters will generally say or ask something in sequence to really drive home the severity of the distressing situation. Once each character is finished, though, they will completely freeze in place while the next person adds their two cents. They don't move a single muscle, and, most of the time, won't even blink while their colleagues speak. You'd think they'd at least fidget around a little bit considering that all hell is breaking loose. (And lest I forget, their mouths will hang open, too.)

120. Imminent Disaster... but Not Really: If it has been determined that the planet is about to explode in mere minutes, there will always be an exponentially longer amount of time that occurs in order to let more characters escape. This amount of time is usually measured in episodes.

121. The Law of Weeping Aftermath: As an addendum to Rule #61, anime characters who have just finished crying (or are about to start crying) will many times have a white mushroom cloud-shaped tear hanging from their eyeballs. Always remember: crying in anime is a deadly force of nature.

122. The Law of Unsystematic Titles: If you think that the titles of most animes are nonsensical, just keep in mind that they made perfect sense to the creators of those shows when they were finished randomly picking words out of the dictionary.

123. The Triple (or Quadruple) Take: Truly powerful, turning-point-of-a-battle-level physical attacks (or explosions) can't just be seen once. They absolutely must be repeated quickly back-to-back-to-back or sometimes in even longer repetitive strings just to really get the point across that it hurt the person or creature on the receiving end.

124. The "WTF" Factor: If there is one thing you can absolutely give Japanese anime that makes it better than American cartoons, it's the fact that they are not afraid to show things that might offend or just plain horrify people. Some examples include: robots having gigantic objects inserted into (and ejected out of) their asses, heads exploding from being touched with one finger, potential incestuous relationships, and little girls getting run over by trucks.

125. The Law of Supplementary Confusion: If the final episode of a series ends in such a way that it confuses the hell out of you, then it's probably a safe bet that a movie will follow along later and baffle you even more.

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* Clichés 7, 20 and 21 were derived from a T-shirt I purchased at Anime Weekend Atlanta 11.

Updated: 16 January 2006, 03 August 2006, 01 October 2009


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