Top 12 Popular Formulaic and Repetitive Anime
Let’s not kid ourselves, every anime series uses a few tropes to tell their stories. However, some series rely on their tropes a little too much, and they start to feel repetitive. That doesn’t mean these shows are bad (some of these are my favorites), but you won’t be watching them for their originality. Also, being formulaic doesn’t mean every arc follows the same pattern, just the majority of them do.
1. Fairy Tail
A new, dark guild is in town that wrecks havoc. Good thing the Fairy Tail guild is here to beat the first wave of goons! But what this? A small squad appears, causing Fairy Tail to at least sweat a bit. Then the big, bad leader shows up, beats that crap out of everyone, until Natsu is left. Right before Natsu loses, his friends give him a pep talk, then he wins.
Sprinkle in ecchi and a semi-tragic backstory for the bad guys, and you pretty much have every Fairy Tail arc.
2. Dragon Ball Z
Bad guy is introduced. Krillin, Piccolo, and Vegeta get beaten to the brink of death, or Yamcha dies. Goku gets pissed, gets his ass kicked and has to heal or train for 15 episodes. Goku gets strong, and is about evenly matched with the bad guy. Good thing there is the Spirit Bomb! Enter next villain.
If we are watching the movies, Piccolo will always save Gohan and Vegeta will always save Goku. Everyone gives Goku their power so he can kill the bad guy with the Spirit Bomb. All of this is stretched across scenes of yelling and groaning.
Bleach follows the same formula as Dragon Ball Z, but with more filler and masks. A tad disappointing since Bleach started out so good.
Naruto has the decency to give side characters some time to shine. However, all the villains have the same routine: tragic backstory of being shunned by their respective village, giving a monologue about why their life sucks, getting a stern talking to, then a big fight plays out in-between flashbacks from last week’s episode.
5. One Piece
Stray Hats end up on a new location, and they look around for treasure. They meet a character who tells them that they should leave, since some ne’er do wells are causing a ruckus. Luffy gets aroused, especially if food is around. Luffy fights the bad guy, gets his ass handed to him. The rest of crew proceed to do the same thing. Luffy gets better, beats the bad guy, eats a feast, says good bye to the people he saved, then does it all over again. But hey, the formula works since it’s the most read manga in Japan.
6. Sword Art Online
Kirito beats every bad guy he meets. Any new girl swoons and enters his harem, even though he is allegedly in a relationship with Asuna.
7. Sailor Moon
Some girl is having a problem, and the main villain thinks they are in possession of a MacGuffin. Before the villain of the week can do anything, the Sailors appear. The Sailors are on the brink of losing, and Tuxedo Mask appears to give them a hint on how to win. He is basically Navi. Sailor Moon will then win with an attack that she should have used 12 minutes earlier. Their problems are solved, they make a friend that is never mentioned again, then the next few episodes will be filler.
8. Attack on Titan
Titans appear and eat puny humans. Eren proceeds to claim that he will kill all the titans. Everyone squads up for a suicide mission, all the while Mikasa says “Eren” at least 20 times per episode. Hey, everything is going well! There is even some epic music playing in the background. Uh oh, slow motion…and someone just got eaten. More people get slaughtered and Eren starts to lose heart. Mikasa or Levi shows up to extract Eren, and they live to fight another day.
© Kodansha / Wit Studio / Production I.G.
9. Bubblegum Crisis
An old friend of one the Knight Sabers appear. The friend goes on a nostalgic talk on how great the past was while they do a ’80s version of Netflix and chill. Old friend disappears and something bad happens to them. Priss gets pissed and suits up alone. The rest of the Knight Sabers appear to kick the villain of the week’s ass. Old friend apologizes for causing trouble and goes away forever. Enter one liner said by Leon.
10. Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei
Itoshiki rants he is in despair about a certain aspect of society, and takes his class on a field trip to witness his despair. While he thinks about killing himself, Kafuka will show him the positive side of what is causing him to despair. This will then turn into a punchline that we are supposed to contemplate. The next episode will be weird as hell to give us a break from contemplation, then the episode after that follows this same formula.
11. Hell Girl
Someone is being tormented by another person. They go on the internet and find a website where you can contact hell to send the tormentor to hell. Ai (the Hell Girl) gives them a doll with the conditions of what will happen, and they think it over. The person is pushed over the edge and agrees to the terms. The tormentor goes to hell, and the tormented person is shown living with the consequences (which is not always good).
12. Saint Seiya
This is especially true for the movies. A Greek god arises who wants to destroy the world. Athena confronts the god and is captured. Her bronze saints are given a time limit to save Athena and to defeat the evil god. They fall one-by-one until Seiya is left standing. Before Seiya loses, he puts all of his energy and the energy of his friends into a mighty punch. The god turns to space dust and the credits roll.