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Rules of Anime

Updated on August 25, 2011
Bubblegum Senpai profile image

Nigel, AKA Bubblegum Senpai was voted most likely to die due to accident involving a cuddle pillow. Haruhi Suzumiya for Life.

Anime shows, such as "Azumanga Daioh," tend to be pretty formulaic. But it works!
Anime shows, such as "Azumanga Daioh," tend to be pretty formulaic. But it works! | Source

Making an anime or manga sounds pretty difficult. Or at least I used to think so. Barring any artistic talent though, I can still come up with some pretty good stories. I've submersed myself in enough animes and mangas over the years to realise just what it takes to make a good storyline. It's kind of like the zombie rules, or the slasher-flick rules or any other formulaic show, really.

Just follow these simple rules, and you're well on your way to creating a future phenomenon!

Rule #1: Every Name Must Be in Japanese!

This is of the utmost importance. Let's say you're writing about a Japanese Spy, then it would make sense that he and all of his colleagues would be Japanese, right? Now, let's say he was on a mission to - oh, I don't know - Mexico. Every single Mexican must have a Japanese name, like Yoshitama, or Fujin, or whatever. There cannot be a single "Juan" without a Japanese name.

In every Anime I watch that has an American exchange student, they always seem to have a Japanese name in the original language. And don't let shows like Pokémon or Sailor Moon fool you. The names were changed for American audiences. Most contemporary animes keep the original names of the characters.

An image of Cyclopse from the Marvel Anime Project version of "X-men."
An image of Cyclopse from the Marvel Anime Project version of "X-men." | Source

Rule #2: Don't Be Original

Recently, Marvel signed a deal with Japanese production company Madhouse ro re-imagine many of the marvel characters for Japanese audiences. In fact, Marvel gave Madhouse free-reign and total creative control over the project.

Additionally, I wrote a short while ago about sentai shows. When it boils down to it, Sailor Moon, Samurai Pizza Cats, and Super Sentai are all pretty much the same thing? What have we learned? If it works for them, it can work for you too. Slice of life also has many similarities: A group of mismatched people all hanging out together? Kind of like a sitcom. We know what to expect when watching Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men.

Originality tends to be pretty frowned upon in anime, for whatever reason. Just go with the flow.

Sailor Moon, Season One, Complete and Uncut
Sailor Moon, Season One, Complete and Uncut

The complete uncut first season of the classic series. Including scenes deemed too 'graphic' for North American audiences. Japanese language, English subtitles. This is Sailor Moon as it was meant to be seen


Rule #3: Go Big or Go Home

In the sci-fi genre of anime, this is where creativity is allowed. It's a constant game of one-upmanship. You still don't mess with the characters or the setting, but the general idea is to make thing even more unrealistic than the previous sci-fi cartoon. Time travelers? Done that. Espers (Someone who uses ESP) been there before. Aliens? Only in just about every single show out there. All three hanging out? Now we've got Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

But we still have to make it bigger! This is where the "science" in "science fiction" gets tossed aside for pure fiction. Just throw in some words to make it sound "science-ish" and see what we come up with? I know, how about instead of parallel universes, we go through parallel times? Now let's have the main character involved in a yaoi type of love affair with a robot? Now we've got a story!

Rule #4: The Role of Women

This is the rule I wish was broken more often, but even in many shojo (shows and comics where the target audience is women), there is a severe lack in leading ladies. In general, leading and even major supporting female roles tend to be either

  • ditzy or clumsy
  • a total b****
  • all of the aforementioned.

However, this is where it gets a bit tricky. A female character who only shows up once in a while will almost always a be a strong, smart, able person. Almost always surpassing the lead character - even male lead characters.

While there is a need for more strong female characters, it just seems there's not much place for them in anime.

Examples of shows that have typical female leads or typical major supporting females:

  • NINA
  • Sailor Moon
  • Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Oh My Goddess

Strong female characters in anime:

  • Tsuruya (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Smart, athletic, friendly. Appears in a handful of episodes as Asahina's best friend
  • Adult Asahina: (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Strong-willed. Worked hard to get where she's at. Drops by in our timeline every now and then (only twice in the series, for a total screen time of less than ten minutes), and plays the strongest role in the movie.
  • Megumi (Oh My Goddess) : Keichi's sister. Genuinely smart, genuinely caring for others, genuinely pretty independent (except for the frequent swinging by Keichi's for breakfast). Other than the breakfasts, this is one girl who can take care of herself better than any of the other characters in the show - male, female, or deity.

Ah My Goddess Complete Collection: Volumes 1-6
Ah My Goddess Complete Collection: Volumes 1-6

Keichii Morisato is the unluckiest guy on the Nekomi Tech Campus, until one day the goddess Belldandy appears before him to grant him one wish.


Rule #5: When in Doubt, Go Questing

If you're stuck in a rut, make your characters go on a long wild goose chase, and then find out that what they were looking for was right under their noses the entire time. By the time they've figured it out, maybe your case of writers block will have passed.

So what are you waiting for? Go out there and create the next big thing, and you'll be big - or at least you'll be big in Japan.


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    • Bubblegum Senpai profile imageAUTHOR

      Nigel Kirk 

      7 years ago from Calgary, AB, CAN

      I thought I'd get into more trouble for my comment on women in anime. I'm glad most of you agree with the point I was trying to make though, and that is that there needs to be more strong female roles in anime.

      And also, I'm getting a giant list of shows I need to watch, so thank you all for all your comments!

    • rustyangel profile image


      7 years ago from Earth

      I wish there were more kick-butt leading women in anime but there are a few that come readily to mind. Definitely BGC as the above commenter mentioned (case in point: Priss Asagiri buzz sawing her cast off her still broken arm to go kick the villain's butt in 2032!) and Battle Angel Alita showcase strong female protagonists but there is certainly room for more as they do tend to be outnumbered by the bouncy, bubbly types.

    • The Specialist profile image

      The Specialist 

      7 years ago

      It is true that it is easier to find capable women in secondary characters than in leading roles in anime. However, there are several animes with intelligent and able female leading roles. Versailles no bara, Shoujo kakumei Utena, Slayers, or Bubblegum Crisis come easily to my mind. And yes, some of them are depicted as babes, though able ones, but you can fight against that in a show basically targeted to teenagers :)

      Great Hub!

    • Bubblegum Senpai profile imageAUTHOR

      Nigel Kirk 

      8 years ago from Calgary, AB, CAN

      Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    • animedevil21 profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania

      this hub rocks!

    • Bubblegum Senpai profile imageAUTHOR

      Nigel Kirk 

      8 years ago from Calgary, AB, CAN

      Thanks Simone! I don't want to say that the shows I mentioned in Rule 4 aren't good, and in fact I'm a huge fan of Haruhi. Additionally, Maka from "Soul Eater" is - for the most part - a very capable woman. She can be a bit mean at times, but overall, makes up for it and admits when she's done wrong.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Hahaa, nicely done! That said, there are some pretty awesome female anime regularly-appearing characters... though most are ditzy, dumb, and/or total b****es, and most of the really awesome ones really DO make only periodic appearances!


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