When I began my first novel, I spent a lot of my free time watching anime. This bled into my writing and caused me to fill my book with characters and plot elements similar to those I had seen in anime.
It was only when I looked back at my first drafts that I saw just how out of place this influence was. These tropes are perfectly acceptable in anime, even if most of them are considered clichés, but don’t belong in a novel. If you’re having the same problem that I had, these are some of the anime stereotypes to look out for and leave out of your novel:
Complex love charts
Practically every anime has a complex chart of who has a crush on who, setting the ground for how the chart will be sorted out and who is going to end up with who in the end. A novel doesn’t have the same amount of time for relationship development as a 52-episode anime, so it won’t have the space to solve such a complex love chart. Novel readers also aren’t as into love triangles as anime fans are, despite what publishers will have you believe. Keep your love charts as simple as possible and resolve them fully by the end of your book.
I’m majorly jealous of the girls in anime. They all have wacky hair colours in styles that are impossible in real life. It’s tempting to give your novel characters a similar appearance in order to make them a little more different or quirky. But while we expect girls in anime to have weird hair colours and styles, it won’t make as much sense in a novel, unless you can somehow explain where a medieval-esque fantasy society are getting so much hair dye.
Casual physical abuse
The trademark of the ‘yandere’ character is to punch their love interest into the sunset for the smallest of mistakes. Not only is this considered horribly abusive behaviour, it makes the characters despicable, not lovable. In real life, this person would either be in jail or undergoing severe psychiatric treatment. If your novel characters abuse their partners, or anyone else, it should only be if you are writing them as purposefully villainous.
A classic anime story – A completely normal, average guy, serving as the surrogate for the romantically frustrated male audience, winds up with at least half a dozen beautiful young girls, who all magically love him despite his complete lack of a personality. It’s a male fantasy that may work in anime and visual novel games, but has no place in actual novels.
I think it’s fairly obvious what this character is all about. It’s difficult to make an outwardly perverted character likeable, as they will come across as creepy and rapey instead. If you try to make this character into the love interest, it will be even more unbelievable, as nobody will believe that this person can magically become monogamous through the power of love. Your novel characters may experience attraction or a sexual awakening like everyone does, but try to keep their perversions to a minimum.