Anime Trope Bingo!


Glomping chibis, people with animal ears, and a host of perverted characters—at first glance, it’s hard to tell what makes Cuticle Detective Inaba at all offensive. After all, it’s all of the same stuff anime producers have been dishing out at us since I was twelve and watching my first anime show, The Slayers. Exaggerated faces and emotional responses, hapless villains and slapstick violence; over the years these tropes have become indiscernible from anime as a genre.

And that’s when it hit me—this stuff has been going on for decades. In every season—in nearly every title—you can expect to see a handful of the same old tropes. Some series are good at putting their own spin on tropes, or at least elbowing the viewer in acknowledgement, like Nichibros or Sergeant Frog. What makes Cuticle Detective Inaba so obnoxious is that it wholeheartedly embraces so many tropes without irony or comment.

Luckily, I’ve thought of a way to spice up this otherwise uncreative show. Last night with the help of Twitter, I brainstormed some of anime’s most tired tropes to create an anime trope bingo card.

Feel free to print it out and try your luck. I’m going for a blackout with Cuticle Detective Inaba.

What are you watching from the Winter 2013 anime season? I’d appreciate your recommendations for a show that doesn’t make my eyes roll so much.

Update: the talented NightMiles created a randomizing HTML/JavaScript version of my bingo card. Check it out!

  • Maverynthia

    Somehow I want to make one of these specifically for otome game anime, only with tropes as “I will protect you” and “yangiri” as well as the famous “doormat hero”. Then again Arcana Famiglia had a breast groping scene. …. HEY another TROPE :D! Accidental/Intentional breast grope.

    • Lauren

      That’s a good one. A less specific “guy falls on girl and grabs her boob” trope. Feel free to take my template and put in your own tropes!

  • Fábio Emilio Costa

    Other tropes you could put:

    Big weapon in small pocket
    Attack presentation
    Destroy wall, but not ball (Like Ryugaa Dragon’s Kick from Captian Tsubasa)
    Puu Puu (from Mokona fame)
    Macross Missile Massacre (for similar attacks)
    Sisters-bashed guy…

  • Serdar

    It’s heartening that a number of my favorite shows score zero only 1-2 for this card. Also, some of this is in how you pull it off: “Princess Jellyfish” wouldn’t be the show it is without the crossdressing character.

  • soaring_wings

    I love this, it’s such a fun idea~
    I agree, I think the tropes are starting to grate on me as well and certain ones in particular more than others. I guess it happens to everyone who consumes too much anime. xD