Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My thoughts on shounen anime's Big 3

When the subject of anime comes up, inevitably one of 3 names will pop up in the conversation at some point: Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. These three are by far the most popular anime in the world. Two of these anime suffer from main character syndrome. To clarify what that is, its a term I coined to describe the phenomenon wherein the main character is the only one who can do anything and gets insanely powerful simply because the plot says so while the side characters get reduced to background roles. Though one suffers to a much greater degree than the other. Anyway here are my thoughts on the Big 3:

For the record, my knowledge of the events of the Bleach anime only extends to how far the dub has gotten on Toonami and I haven't caught up with the manga. This is my least favorite of the big 3 for the simple reason that it has a tendency to drag and repeat itself during the canon arcs. The Hueco Mundo arc is the exact same arc as the Soul Society arc just swapping Rukia for Orihime and the Arrancars in place of Soul Reapers. The War For Karakura arc is where the show just hits the fan for me due to Aizen having the largest amount of plot armor/plot convenience I've ever seen. Seriously, it got so bad that I ended up doing a massive rant about Aizen. The less I say about Aizen here the better so just go check out my Aizen rant for my full thoughts on him. The show actually has some interesting filler arcs. My personal favorite being the Zanpakuto Rebellion arc because it gave you the feeling that they were more than just weapons used by the Soul Reapers. I almost cried when that arc ended. The overall plot for the canon portions of the anime simply boil down to "Aizen was responsible for everything up to the War for Karakura" so the plot really only hinges on him and Ichigo. Ichigo's personality is kind of hard to pin down since he has that generic "I will protect everything precious to me" type of personality and well he doesn't go very far beyond that. Ichigo suffers from main character syndrome and his friends often have to rely on him to save them (Orihime and Chad). Orihime's downgrade is especially stupid since she basically has the powers of a God and can reverse any phenomenon she wishes yet she is basically reduced to acting as a medic and mostly uses her healing shield. This show is by far the biggest offender of the 3 when it comes to main character syndrome.

Naruto/Naruto Shippuuden:
This is the one I'm more neutral on so it might be harder for me to put this one into words. Its better executed than Bleach that much is for sure, though Bleach has the more interesting filler arcs. The characters are alright and don't seem to constantly suffer from main character syndrome or at the very least not to the degree that Bleach's side characters do. It has a nicely built up world and I like its history. With that said I do have some issues, like Sasuke not being killed off yet. Seriously, Kishimoto kills off better characters yet lets Sasuke live. Its gotten to the point where even some of my friends who are Naruto fans are calling BS on it. Granted my knowledge extends more into the manga than it does the anime and I left off at the 4th Great Ninja War.The only reason I stopped reading the manga was because SJ magazine went all digital. Though from what I've heard, it might have been good that I stopped there as I've had some people tell me that the rest of that arc basically amounts to spring cleaning in terms of character deaths. This included two really shocking ones, Neji and Shikamaru.This anime had a strong start with some really great fights early on. My personal favorite fight is the Zabuza/Haku fight. Anyway thats about all I can say for this series.

One Piece:
Well what can I say about this one that hasn't already been said by other people. Out of the Big 3, this is the one people seem to love the most and honestly, I think that love is totally justified. The characters are lovable, the villains feel threatening, the world is nicely built up, and the plots are nice. The show just seems to have a knack for making the implausible plausible and making weird stuff look completely normal. Only in One Piece can a cola-powered cyborg shipwright, a skeleton musician with an afro, fish people (not just mermaids, actual fish people), and a shape-shifting talking blue-nosed reindeer that is also a doctor not seem out of place. None of the characters in this anime suffer from main character syndrome. The entire crew feels like they are actual characters and don't get reduced to background roles. Each member of the crew is able to hold their own in a fight, even Usopp who as of the Franky arc earned his spot as my favorite character during his fight with Luffy. Luffy is one of those Goku-remakes that is able to take on a life of his own and step out of Goku's shadow to become his own character instead of just an example of his archetype. The only thing I can think of that I dislike about this anime is the second half of the Foxy Pirate arc. The world is actually set up well enough to where Oda can write side-stories for some of the characters outside the Straw Hat crew. I'd personally love to see a side-story based on Buggy the Clown, Jimbei's adventures before becoming a warlord, the story of how Crocodile founded Baroque Works and a whole lot of of other things. While a lot of characters can be seen as over-powered, it is shown from the very beginning that no matter how strong someone gets there will always be someone stronger down the road. Every shounen anime/manga series will inevitably hit the point where they start to drag and One Piece is no exception to that but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

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