Are you looking for a show in a certain genre that is totally different from other animes in the same genres? I'm here to help. Here are some animes that completely deconstructs their genres.
Common Cliches: Long fight scenes, super powers, tornaments
Deconstructions: Death Note, Fullmeteal Alchemist (2003)
Death Note: So this anime is totally different in a sense that they have a mind game in place of fight scenes. It's really interesting to see how they can bend the rules of their mind game to their advantage. There is also a lot of discussion of morality, which is unusual for shonen, so Light uses the Death Note to kill criminals and at times, L the detective sees his cases as a mind game, it brings up a question of who is right or wrong. Death Note deconstructs Shonen quiet well.
Fullmetal Alchemist (2003): This anime is more like a well crafted drama then a typical shonen. Granted it is shonen, it never feels that way. It embraces its shonen elements while never being subjected to the cliches. So the amount of fight scenes is kept to a minimuml, I would say that there is about 5 major fights in this 51 episode anime, in place of most of the fights is suspense and drama and boy does it deliver drama.
The drama is what drives this show, at some points I felt like I was watching a very stylish stage play with its gothic imagery and fully orchestrated music.
Breaking away from its shonen roots is its dark turns. Shonen is ment for a younger audeince, so I wonder how exactly did it get away with what could be shown to the young ones. FMA has some of the darkest twists in shonen, probably even more so than Death Note. I don't want to spoil anything you'll have to see it for yourself.
In short FMA is a very different anime when it comes to shonen.
Common Cliches: Love Triangles, Bishies, Transformation Sequences
Deconstructions: Revolutionary Girl Utena, Princess Tutu
Revolutionary Girl Utena: People often say that, Revolutionary Girl Utena is to Shojo what Evangelion is to Mecha. I agree to a certain extent but Utena is totally different to what Utena deconstructs in your typical shojo anime.
What Utena does first is embrace it's shojo elements (Rose motifs, cross dressing, homosexuality, incest) and deconstructs those elements by shining them in a dark light, however while it's true the show does shine them in a dark light, it never condemns these topics but instead just sorta shows these taboo topics to you. It doesn't tell you how to feel about it. There is also a lot of symbolism involved, Utena is an allegory which means that every action, every word, every plot point means something and you will have to pay attention to what the show is trying to tell you, but even if you don't this show is still enjoyable. Utena is deconstruction down to a science.
Princess Tutu: This anime deconstructs the shojo genre by adding elements from classical media such as ballet, classical music, fairy tales and stage plays. Now you may think that this is some sort of gimmick and to a certain extent I agree with you but those gimmicks just make this show all the more unique.
So this show, like Utena, embraces its shojo elements by having a "Shard of the week" scenerio, like something out of Sailormoon or Cardcaptors Sakura. The character, Mytho has lost his heart and the main character, duck as to find the shards of Mytho's heart. So the "x of the week" scenerio is a plot device that is a lot more common than you think for shojo, Princess Tutu deconstructs this cliche by putting a dark twist on things.
Because Princess Tutu is drawing elements from Stage Plays, it also draws a certain genre from that media.... Tragedy. So as the series progresses, Princess Tutu becomes more increasingly dark. It's a rather brilliant turn because some villians become heroes and some characters you thought were good people become villians. Princess Tutu has some of THE most brilliant twists in anime period.
One more thing that Princess Tutu deconstructs is its use of the forth wall. This anime completely obliterates its forth wall, and it doesn't break its wall for the sake of humor, this plot device is taken completely seriously. Thats the first time I've seen that done in any show. Like its dark turn, as the series progresses the characters become more aware that they are in a story within a story, some characters take this fact with acceptance, some with defiance, some even determined to out write the author of this tale themselves.
This is an anime that shouldn't be missed. Both men and women can enjoy this anime.
To all the male reads: Real men watch Princess Tutu.
Common Cliches: Politics, Lazer Beams, Faux Technology
Deconstructions: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass
Neon Genesis Evangelion: So you've probably already heard of this anime so I'll try not to talk about it too much. Evangelion seems like it deconstructs everything in its genre from its submissive protagonist to the focus of the characters over its complicated story.
There is a lot to talk about when it comes to deconstructing its genre, I think the biggest deconstruction is its use of psychology, so this isn't the most psychological anime out there, that award goes to Paranoia Agent but Evangelions use of it is pretty brilliant. It's relatable to real life and I think everyone can see a bit of them selves in these characters.
The show is also infamous for its dark turn half way through the series. A dark turn hasn't been alien to mecha, the first mecha anime to have a dark turn would be Ideon, but Evangelion did make dark turns famous in anime. Now your milage may vary on whether or not this turn is a good thing or not, some people say that this turn is brilliant while other people say that the show is worse off for it. I for one am in the middle when it comes to that, I do like some aspects of the dark turn, such as the use of psychology and the dream like sequences that come with this dark turn, on the other hand it does get boring at some points because of it.
Ahh well. I'm not going to tell you to watch this because chances are, you already have or at least plan to at some point.
Code Geass: Now, this anime is deconstructs the genre simular to how Death Note deconstructs shonen. The protagonist isn't morally black and white, he is a shade of grey. Good and evil are questioned in this show. Who is good and who is evil in this show? Who should you be rooting for? These questions have no real answers.
The moral delimas comes from racial biggotry. Lelouch is trying to make the world a better place for his sister, Nunally by using giant mechs and his power called Geass, which allows him to control anyone he sees but only on one occasion. Lelouch's friend, Suzaku is a Japanese student who works for the Britannian Empire. Sliding on the scale of Good and Evil, this show really begs the question of who is in the right and who is in the wrong the same way Death Note does, which is some what unusual for a mecha anime. What's more unusual is the use of strategy involved. Like a game of chess, Lelouch plans every move as if he this was a strategy game, the tactics involved is fast paced and intense, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the shows run. What is also interesting and worth noting is the Geass aspect of the show. As I said the geass allows the user to control anyone he sees but only on one occasion, this allows for some pretty interesting mind games ala Death Note style, and adds another level of strategy.
Code Geass pretty much is the deconstruction king when it comes to mecha.
Hope you've enjoyed reading this article and sorry if this is a little choppy. I'm not a good writer yet. :S
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