We get it, you’re an anime character

Die already

Two things irk me about this scene. First of all, words beginning with a vowel should be preceded by the indefinite article “an”. Second of all, anime characters talking about how they’re like anime characters is lazy, cheesy, unclever bullshit.

It happened all the fucking time in the Daily Lives of High School Boys, where at least it was easy to roll your eyes, shake your head, and dismiss it as a lame filler joke. It’s a completely different matter to stick this kind of line in the finale of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

The cycle of death has finally ended, we’re mourning the sacrifice of our savior—oh, and by the way, we’re just anime characters.

Is there a more effective way to kill the mood? It’s like when Rose of Versailles recreated tense historical moments only to ruin them with unnecessary details that were blatantly fictional. Why go through all the trouble of absorbing us into the show if you’re just going to shove us back into the audience?

Sometimes in everyday conversation I’ll compare myself to an anime character. This is acceptable because:

  • I’m not an anime character (yet)
  • I watch anime
  • I’m talking to people who watch anime
  • They know I watch anime
  • I know they watch anime
  • We’re talking about something that can best be expressed through an anime comparison

We never saw Madoka or her friends watching any anime. If we did, the comparisons might feel natural. Otherwise it makes the anime comparisons seem like cheap otaku fanservice. Holy shit, moé magical girls watch anime too!

Why not make a comparison to TV in general? Maybe even a book or a movie? Meeting someone you think you’ve seen before isn’t unique to anime. It’s not like she got tentacle raped.

UPDATE: The opening screen shot is from episode 1 around 15:34. As some have noted in the comments, the word “anime” is never used. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, not that it’s off the hook by any means.

The word “anime” is explicitly used in episode 12 around 18:14.

47 Replies to “We get it, you’re an anime character”

  1. Kids in Japan will go through anime in their lives one way or another, so I wasn’t really put off by that line. Also, Crunchyroll subs suck.

    • Went through the scene again from my archives. Sayaka says: “Suge-! Madoka made kyara ga tachi hajimeta yo!” which literally means: “That’s great! Your personality’s finally standing out too!” Yep. Crunchyroll subs fail.

    • That obvious it was Crunchyroll? Next time I won’t bother cropping out the watermark.

      If this were a movie or dorama or something, it wouldn’t bother me. But that fact that it’s anime puts any line about anime under added scrutiny.

  2. Cheap otaku fanservice in a Shinbo anime? Madoka miraculously rose above its base premise, “magical girl anime made expressly for otaku instead of little girls more so than even Nanoha” but it wasn’t faultless and it did leave plenty of calling cards explaining what it was.

    Fourth wall breaking used to be clever. But like most things that anime gets a hold of, it’s overdone and boring now.

    • Shin…bo? Remind me to Wikipedia this guy sometime.

      I don’t even like calling this sort of thing fourth wall “breaking”. You’re taken from feeling like a part of the universe to feeling like a part of the audience. That’s more akin to building a wall than breaking one.

      • Man if you still don’t know who Shinbo is after years of not just reading my blog, but any other anime blogs, I will be truly impressed.

        • I don’t read anyone’s industry posts. I’m sure I would if I cared at all.

          By now I know the name Shinbo and that he’s associated with SHAFT somehow. Beyond that I really couldn’t tell you much. When I watched Madoka, I had the reaction, “I’ve seen this sort of style before”, but the name Shinbo never crossed my mind.

  3. An anime character calling another character (in said anime) “an anime character”. Getting deeper here.

    Why not break the fourth wall too? Hey, audience you’re watching a fictional story. Just making sure. Good? Ok.
    Mood killer.

  4. Legend of the Galctic Heroes did this a lot too, with Dusty or Poplan commenting on how their situation is like something out of “a third rate TV anime”.

    I think it’s not so much otaku fanservice, as a lazy way to make the story appear more realistic. As in “See, these characters aren’t just living in some abstract fictionland, where they don’t even realize that they are speaking in cliches! They are normal people like as, and even if clichés happen with them, they point it out, just like we would”.

    The same concept is used with comic book characters commenting on comic books (Ozymandias), soap opera characters commenting on soap operas, or even porn characters recognizing porn tropes. Even Don Quixote used that formula. I think, that when it’s done with anime characters, the writers are just using that old formula, without taking it into account that some people don’t watch anime, and assuming that the characters do.

  5. Haven’t watched Madoka, but here’s how I see it. The character literally says: “Your character is finally standing up!” Now, the pun on the word “character” (kyara) works both in English and Japanese, so “character/kyara” could mean “personality” as well as “role in a fictional work”.  Jdict’s entry for “kyara” is: “character (often in a manga, anime, game, etc.)”.

    It really does sound like the original writers intended this pun deliberately, so it comes off as a cute thing: “Hey, your personality AND/OR character you represent is finally getting strong.” Giggle.

    Subbers could go either way. They could play the anime character side of it, or they could efface it altogether by using the word “personality”. If I had been subbing this I would have left the word “character” so the original pun would shine through. If the result sounded lame then you’d have to blame the writers..

  6. I don’t know how I didn’t notice this. Oh right, it’s because Yesy actually translated this goddamn line properly. My next post might have to be a rant about fansubs.

  7. >>the finale

    Wait, isn’t this scene from the first episode? Or is it that the scene is revisited? In any case I’m pretty sure the same line is in ep 1, so this would be a call-back. Personally, I would’ve already eye-rolled at the first iteration, and given the second one a small pass a as call-back.

    • I put in the shot from the first episode to avoid unnecessary spoilers, but whatever, I’d already heard every major spoiler before I watched the show, why should it be different for anyone else?

      I gave the first one a pass, but the second one coming at a dramatic moment, combined with the fact that they’d done it before, really annoyed me. Once is enough.

  8. They’re probably assuming we can connect more with the characters by pointing out our hobbies (watching anime). Or maybe they’re going by the textbook definition of “anime” being “Japanese cartoons that kids and adolescent boys and girls watch”.

    I’m assuming the latter, but it’s going to be nasty.

    • The latter meaning is certainly realistic, and sensible, but because it’s not the one we instinctively think of when we hear “anime”, the mood is already ruined by the time logic kicks in.

  9. In the Oriko Manga, Oriko did imply that she watched Magical Girl shows.

    So I am presuming the same is true for Madoka and Sayaka since those kinds of anime would be popular for girls their age. Later on, Madoka did imagine what she would look like as a Magical Girl and from a design perspective it was standard Maho Shoujo uniform. The referencing and the leaning on the 4th Wall, it doesn’t hold much significance for the series.

    No-one in the series ever compares the fictional Magical Girls to their lives as Magical Girls.

    And it also leads to the question of why they never find it odd that there is a real-life mascot character who can actually grant Girls magical powers.

    • Man, if only I knew Oriko existed and read it, maybe these scenes wouldn’t piss me off.

      I was fine with the dress design scene. I don’t know much about the magical girl genre, but I thought the style of their dresses seemed unique to their universe. Also, if I were offered super powers, I’d think of a costume for myself, so it all seemed natural.

      Don’t know much about mascot characters either, except that I’d make a pretty awesome one. Giving girls magical powers so they can do all my work. Dream job.

  10. I recommend you don’t watch Symphogear then, there was one girl who kept saying it again and again and AGAIN. It was super annoying.

  11. You make a good point about anime characters talking about anime ! But when Madoka’s mother asked Homura if this drawing was a fictional character, it expressed the distance between them and Madoka, while Madoka herself is now an omnipresent being for all time. I don’t think it was stupid at all, it was indeed very sad. It was also a very abstract ending, because it didn’t explained everything. Some people call this lazy writing and plot-holes, but I think people who say such things are just too lazy to use their own imagination.

    Also: Get Saya No Uta, Blassreiter and Jouka No Monshou, they are all great stories from Gen Urobuchi 🙂

    • Saw Blassreiter. It was a + overall, though I was impressed with the way it completely faked you out about where the story was going and who the main character was. And I endorse Hermann x Amanda.

      It’s precisely because the ending was strong that an otherwise trifling detail bothered me enough to write a post. I’m typically the first to complain about lazy writing and plot holes, but this show left me satisfied. A few plot holes, sure, but all minor in the grand scheme of things.

  12. I’m going to post a non-sequitur here, I hope you’ll forgive me for that, but a friend and I were discussing something that bothers us even more. Anime Intros/Outros and their naming sense. Here’s our discussion of “Tasogare Otome x Amnesia” ‘s intro “Choir Jail”.

    Me: yeah…
    Me: so this Tasogare intro…
    Me: what exactly is a “Choir Jail”?
    Me: I really want to know
    Friend: I dont know.
    Me: where they get these.
    Friend: I’ve been wondering too!
    Me: is there a box somewhere?
    Me: where they store these word combinations
    Me: they lock it and keep it in the basement
    Friend: random english generator
    Friend: prod it with a stick
    Me: like the cask of amontillado
    Me: thumping away
    Friend: buried behind a wall
    Me: in the dark recesses of the vault below the house
    Me: buried
    Me: and they go down there in the dark of night
    Me: with candles
    Friend: like some dark idol
    Me: and for a brief second, open it
    Friend: they visit it
    Me: and catch whatever comes out
    Me: in a bag
    Me: This
    Me: This shall be our new intro.
    Friend: My Lord!
    Friend: What is..”Choir Jail”?
    Friend: INSOLENSE
    Friend: Question not the offerings
    Friend: the words that issue forth
    Friend: are no longer our concern
    Friend: we take them
    Friend: and pass them along
    Friend: the sacred chain
    Friend: to the ones who are responsible
    Friend: for the OP
    Friend: our work is done

      • Aaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuughhhh it buuuuuuurnnns my lord!
        The meanings, master! There are none! Even the last… it is but chaos!

        SILENCE, fool!
        Toss these writhing horrors with the others! Together, let the fetid stench of their verbal effrontery call down damnation upon this world!

  13. I remember that scene in the last episode. I can see how it can be annoying but I honestly gave it a pass. I was too engrossed in the episode to be bothered by it. In my opinion, a show has to earn the right to break the fourth wall. So shows that do it non stop without a point *cough*Symphogear*cough* is the only play I find it bothersome.

  14. hi there. I’m a big fan of your blog and almost always agree with what you post. Here’s a question: can i quote from you in my FB with reference to tour site of course?

  15. […] We get it, you’re an anime character, by Baka-Raptor A tsukkomi post by the resident dinosaur Baka-Raptor.  This is what a good rage post looks like.  It focuses on a single aspect of anime, relentlessly mashes it into the ground, and wraps up before anybody can object. Also, there’s an accent on the letter “e” in “moe.” […]

  16. Considering that the ‘your acting like an anime character’ and ‘moe’ examples were in the first episode, I’d say those were more to drive it into the ground that Madoka is just a silly, typical mahou shoujo anime about friendship and fighting evil, in which nothing bad would EVER happen (also, now that I think about it, the moe thing sorta seems like it’s foreshadowing Homura’s past.)

    As for the thing in the last episode, I don’t know, it just seems logical. I mean, if your little kid drew his imaginary friend on the sidewalk and a random girl recognizes it, it makes sense to think it might be from a cartoon.

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