14 Things About Anime That Are Confusing To Non-Anime Fans

List Rules
Vote up the things that leave all non-anime fans scratching their heads.

Even for the biggest fans, anime can oftentimes be confusing, so it stands to reason that non-anime fans can be totally lost when it comes to some of the genre's more bizarre tropes. Why do anime dudes have so many nosebleeds? Why don't the Japanese characters "look Japanese"? Why do characters always scream when they are doing a special move? Believe it or not, many of these oddities actually have explanations. Some seemingly random cliches have roots in Japanese culture, while others are more specific to the anime industry. Whether you're a non-fan, a casual viewer, or a total expert, there are probably some pieces of anime logic that you've never been able to wrap your head around.


  • 1
    742 VOTES

    Why Do Super Old Characters Physically Resemble Children?

    Why Do Super Old Characters Physically Resemble Children?
    Photo: Masamune-kun's Revenge / Silver Link

    There are a surprising number of anime characters who don't look their age. While it's not always as drastic as a 40-year-old woman who looks like a young girl (sorry, Kinue), more mild examples can still be jarring. While this trope appears frequently in anime, there's no established explanation for it.

    In some cases, the choice may be somewhat insidious. If a super young looking character is really an old person, it's less morally reprehensible sexualize them. Even if your eyes signal that something is predatory, official canon can step in and say "no, really, this character is an adult." Otherwise, it might just help to differentiate one character from another, and sometimes the discontinuity is explained in the plot. 

    742 votes
  • 2
    805 VOTES

    Why Do Anime Dudes Have So Many Nosebleeds?

    In real life, people get nosebleeds for reasons that include dry air, allergies, and other causes that have nothing to do with being turned on. In anime, nosebleeds have a more lustful cause, as they're a visual stand-in for a feeling of arousal. This isn't completely illogical, as arousal does involve increased blood flow, just not to the nose.

    However, strict Japanese censorship laws make it hard for anime characters to talk openly about feeling aroused, so anime studios get their point across via fountains of hemoglobin.

    805 votes
  • 3
    703 VOTES

    What's With All The Weird Hairstyles?

    Some of the weirdest hairstyles ever conceived are featured in anime, and it can be baffling for both non-fans and those who are well-versed in the style. The reason why some character's hair resembles a robotic crab hood ornament all comes down to marketing.

    When characters have bizarre hair, it creates a silhouette that distinguishes them from others in the series, and it also helps make the franchise instantly recognizable. This makes it easier to create merchandise, and solidifies brand recognition. 

    703 votes
  • 4
    731 VOTES

    Why Do Characters Always Scream Their Names And Moves?

    If you've seen Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, or basically any anime that involves fight scenes, then you've heard characters loudly announcing their moves. This happens so often that most anime fans don't even question it, but for non-fans, it can be a little strange. This oddity is actually a byproduct of adapting manga series into anime. When depicted in static, written form, it can be hard to tell who is attacking who, so shouted moves make it way easier to follow the action. This isn't as necessary in anime, but the tradition carried over anyway. 

    Characters also repeatedly announce their names, as well as the names of the people around them, to the point where it can seem absurd. This actually goes back to samurai culture, which emphasized individual, honorable battles. If one's opponent was renound, defeating them yielded more honor, so knowing exactly who you were fighting made a huge difference.

    For this reason, duels often began with the duelists announcing themselves, and that tradition is lovingly recreated in many anime. 

    731 votes
  • 5
    683 VOTES

    Why Don't The Japanese Characters Look Japanese?

    One question non-fans often ask is why anime characters don't look Japanese. First of all, the characters often appear inhuman, since no ethnicity has sparkling purple eyes that take up half their faces. Even in anime with more realistic styles, it's not unusual to find characters with blue and green eyes or blonde and brown hair, even though most Japanese people don't exhibit these traits. 

    In Japan, Japanese people are the majority, so there's no need to use visual signifiers to show a Japanese character's ethnicity. Instead, artists prioritize making their characters look unique and interesting by using whatever features they choose. When a character is meant to be part of another ethnic group, the animators usually try to make them visually distinct. In the wrong hands, these efforts can be kind of racist, like when Black characters are drawn with abnormally large lips.

    683 votes
  • 6
    603 VOTES

    What's With All The Absentee Parents?

    While orphaned kids are par for the course in Western media, anime handles the issue in a unique way that can seem baffling to those who aren't used to it. In anime, underage characters often live totally alone. One popular explanation is that their parents are dead. Even more common are characters whose parents are alive, but who live on their own anyway. This is usually explained by the parents getting a job far from home, or the kid attending a school in a neighboring town. While this does happen in Japan, it's not nearly as common as anime leads one to believe. 

    In real life, Japanese bureaucracy makes it pretty hard for new parents to actually adopt orphaned children, and kids with no parents typically live in orphanages or with relatives, not by themselves. However, this trope is fantastic for smoothing out plot holes, since normal parental limits can get in the way of fighting giant monsters or starting love nests with groups of alien cat girls. 

    603 votes