Steven originally pointed me towards this exhaustive list of %anime tropes. This is a lot of fun to read through. It’s rather telling how many of these I recognize despite my limited anime experience.
Here is a trope – if not an outright cliché – that has been getting on my nerves lately: Shows that mourn the death of the villian. Between Fullmetal Alchemist and Full Metal Panic I’ve just about exceeded the maximum safe dosage of this one.
The hero will end up in a fight with some sick sadistic bastard who’s killed heaps of innocent people. When cornered, the protagonist will still try to beat him without killing him. Why? Unless you plan on imprisoning him, there is no justification for leaving him alive.
Full Metal Panic did this in the episode where Sosuke has to fight a robot ten times bigger than his own. They stomp through the city while the bad buy blasts innocents and knocks over buildings for fun. When he finally goes down everyone seems worried about what a sad waste of life it was to kill him, and they never give a second thought to the hundreds or thousands of dead civilians below. Sosuke didn’t have a problem offing the guy, but when it was over it seemed like we were supposed to feel bad that he was gone?
I can understand that a character may be a pacifist, but Ed is not a pacifist. I can understand someone who reflects back on a battle after the fact and has regrets about the taking of a human life, but that’s not what we see here. This is someone showing doubt about killing a foe who is beyond redemption and negotiation.
It’s bad enough when soldiers and mercinaries agonize over killing the most hopeless and sadistic murderers, but the real problem is that the writers seem to think we should shed a tear along with them. The slow, mournful music swells up and the camera pans back from the fallen. Farewell, evil bastard. Rest in peace.
This wouldn’t be so irritating if they gave a halfway glance back at any of the many victims of the bad guy.
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