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14 Times Anime Took Completely Boring Subjects and Made Them Exciting

Updated June 14, 2019 6.2k votes 1.3k voters 37.3k views14 items

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One of the most amazing things about anime is the genre's uncanny ability to make even the most mundane subjects interesting. You might not find calligraphy to be a particularly enticing subject, but that doesn't mean you won't like Barakamon. Even if you haven't looked at a bike since you were six, Yowamushi Pedal can get you hyped on life behind handlebars. 

When anime takes a "boring" subject and makes it interesting, it's almost always because that subject provides a lens through which to view the characters. Many of these shows have complex, well-developed casts who would hold viewers' interest even if the show were about watching paint dry. Others find a way to make a seemingly dull concept appear genuinely fun.

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    'Sweetness and Lightning' Will Leave You Happy And Hungry

    Sweetness and Lightning features a young teacher named Kohei Inuzuka and his three-year-old daughter Tsumugi, who team up with his Kohei's student Kotori to learn how to cook. This probably sounds like a cooking show so dull it wouldn't even make it onto Food Network, but it's surprisingly emotionally resonant.

    Not only does the trio make some truly mouthwatering dishes, but its members also learn to cope with serious problems. Kohei's wife died shortly before the start of the series, and neither he nor Tsumugi have been able to move on. Through cooking, the family learns how to make peace with the loss of their loved one. For Kotori, cooking becomes a way for her to get closer to her living mom. 

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  • 'One Punch Man' Complicates Its Overpowered Protagonist
    Photo: Madhouse

    One Punch Man is one of the most popular anime to appear in the last few years, but if you only knew the basic premise, you'd have no idea why. The show is about Saitama, a guy who can win any battle with a single punch. With such an overpowered hook, it's hard to imagine a plot with any real suspense. 

    On the contrary, the show takes a boring concept and makes it hilarious. Sure, Saitama is absurdly powerful, but he's also a huge dork whose main hobby is couponing. The people around him don't consider him to be a hero; they think he's a loser who's probably faking his powers. This show knows all the shonen tropes, and is intent on defying them. 

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  • 'March Comes In Like A Lion' Is About More Than Just Japanese Chess
    Photo: Shaft

    Shogi isn't a game that's fascinating to watch. Sure, it can be fun to actually play, but it involves two people playing a complicated game analogous to chess that necessitates long periods of silence. 

    March Comes In Like A Lion is about Rei Kiriyama, a shogi prodigy, but the competitions he participates in aren't that important; what matters most is Rei's character development. He starts off as a miserably depressed teenager who believes that his presence is toxic to others. Over time, his frozen heart begins to thaw, and he starts to let people into his life. Forget the shogi, March Comes In Like A Lion is a nuanced portrait of a young boy's soul, and it is beautiful

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  • 'Chihayafuru' Makes An Admittedly Dull Card Game Emotionally Gratifying
    Photo: Madhouse

    "Karuta," a card game based off of the classic Japanese Anthology of Hundred Poets, is a snoozefest for many people, including a lot of the characters in ChihayafuruThe main character, Chihaya Ayase, wants to become the greatest karuta player in Japan (and consequently the whole world). Her passion is so great that viewers can't help but feel it too.

    Even if you don't catch karuta feveryou'll still get into the story. Outside of her karuta goals, Chihaya must reconnect with her old friend Arata, who has given up on karuta, and deal with her feelings of inferiority as compared to her model sister. Watch for karuta or watch for Chihaya; either way, you won't be disappointed. 

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