The significance of plot armor and reverse plot armor have been a long-time topic of debate between otakus. Some agree that plot armor is good for the series, while others disagree. An anime series’ plot plays a crucial role in making the story more interesting. It increases the interest of fans who want to watch and look forward to the release of its episodes. But is an anime series more entertaining and engaging when plot armor is used or when written with reverse plot armor?
The plot of an anime series is the backbone of the story. It navigates the sequence of events, character interactions and developments, and conflicts towards the end of the story. In addition, a well-crafted plot can also develop well-written characters in anime. It allows these anime characters to grow and transform, making them more appealing to viewers. Also, plot twists and revelations can affect viewers’ perception of the story.
It may leave fans becoming more eager to see how it will continue to surprise and evolve. However, there are other things that a plot can do. In fact, some authors even use plots to save and kill characters through “plot” or “reverse plot” armor. In this article, we will discuss how these two types of plots affect the story of an anime series.
Defining Plot Armor in Anime
A lot of anime series have this type of plot. It is commonly used to protect a particular anime character from danger, harm, or even death because they play a crucial role in the development of the story. Plot armor often saves anime characters in situations that potentially and realistically can end their existence in the anime.
Plot armors are often balanced with character development, flaws, or personal growth scenes to maintain their engagement with the viewers. Some anime characters may have plot armor, assuring physical safety, but they are usually put in situations where they get emotionally and psychologically challenged. Also, we must keep in mind that the execution of plot armors may vary depending on the way of writing of the author. Some use it but don’t make it obvious to maintain the integrity and realism of the story being conveyed. On the other hand, some authors use it openly, which sometimes leads to criticism from fans.
Authors utilize plot armor to maintain the existence of particular characters to ensure a better storyline. Sounds convenient, right? But, it can also be annoying, especially when a character is supposed to “realistically” die in a specific scenario, yet they get to live thanks to plot armor.
However, despite all of the supposed-to-die moments in anime history, we cannot deny that it has saved many fan-favorite characters who almost died but deserve a chance to live on in the series. But did you know that using plot armor has its advantages and drawbacks?
Is Plot Armor Bad?
Technically, it isn’t. In fact, sometimes, it helps an anime to have a smooth flow of storytelling without disrupting the hype around the series. So many characters today who are admired for their great strength and endurance have experienced being saved by plot armor. As mentioned above, it can sometimes be annoying because of its hero-like ability to save anime characters. However, despite this annoying factor of plot armor, there are also a few things that it can bring to make animes better and more interesting.
Animes that have incorporated plot armor in their stories have kept well-loved characters in the anime community because of it. Did you think that all characters who have stayed until today could have survived one of their deadliest fights if not for this element? Well, the answer to that is a big NO. No matter how a fan tries to deny it, plot armor has advantages, particularly in sustaining characters despite their grave injuries and heavy battles.
The creators have safeguarded characters who are significant in the series through the use of plot armor. If not for this element in writing stories, characters such as Gon from HunterxHunter and Usopp from One Piece, who have been severely injured from a lot of arcs, would not have survived against their equally and sometimes overpowered enemies. I am running a few minutes late; my previous meeting is running over.
In addition, plot armor in anime is vital in intensifying the hype and epicness during a character’s fight. It helps entertain the audience by showing how the characters can go all out. The characters can bring out massive power-ups that help in defeating their opponents despite almost losing.
Moreover, it also helped in meeting the expectations of fans of the characters. For instance, the main characters of a series are often expected to surpass all adversities with great strength. Hence, even in battles with the slightest chance of winning, it can help them claim victory. This results in fans watching an unexpected turn of events in the series, leaving them surprised and in awe.
Lastly, it plays a crucial role in long-running anime series. In order to keep the important characters alive, plot armor is incorporated to allow them to fight to their limits. At the same time, it ensures that the characters will survive through it. By sustaining the important characters in every arc, the connections fans have with them can become deeper.
However, if this kind of scenario repeatedly goes on in anime series, it may cause some major disadvantages for the series. It can excite the fans when the characters surpass their limits. But if this goes on every single time, it can become boring. It should be taken into account that too much plot armor can remove the thrills and tension of a series. Fans’ excitement can decrease because of repeated utilization of it.
It may also lead to fans predicting how a certain scene will end. This removes the element of surprise that fans usually anticipate in a series. In addition, characters will not be able to build a strong foundation of emotional attachment to fans if there is an overuse of it. If fans know that the characters are protected by plot armor and will survive the battle anyway, their connection and interest in it can be less, or worse, vanish.
Defining Reverse Plot Armor
As its name suggests, reverse plot armor is the total opposite of plot armor. Unlike plot armor, which prevents characters from being harmed or even saves them from potentially getting killed. Reverse plot armor does the other way around. In most anime series, characters are written with plot armor, particularly the main characters. So, with the existence of reverse plot armor, it has defied this common narrative of people towards the storyline of an anime.
Reverse plot armor abolishes fans’ expectations that the main or essential characters will always emerge victorious without any life-threatening injuries from a deadly situation. This means that instead of protecting, it often leads characters, both protagonist and antagonist, to harm, danger, or even worse, death.
For example, a certain anime character has escaped death and difficult situations many times. This gives fans the idea that this character has a significant role towards the end of the series. However, characters with reverse plot armor will eventually suffer grave injuries or death in the most unexpected scenes.
Thus, reverse plot armor greatly contributes to the unpredictability with a sense of realism to the narrative. Like plot armor, it also makes anime series more engaging for the audience, but with a touch of tension and fear of losing your favorite characters.
Is Reverse Plot Armor Bad?
Just like plot armor, reverse plot armor is not bad or will ever be bad. To put it in the simplest way, reverse plot armor counters all of the disadvantages the other has. First, reverse plot armor ensures that there is a strong emotional attachment between the characters and the audience. In an anime where this type of element is utilized, the audience will end up empathizing more with the characters.
For instance, when they are gravely injured or dying, fans become more invested in the story or how they will end up. If fans are aware that the series does not incorporate plot armor, their anticipations are higher, and emotions such as fear, suspense, and sadness can be felt more. In short, the happenings in the series become less predictable and more engaging.
Aside from that, reverse plot armor’s touch of relatability is highlighted more. In the real world, no one can really be invulnerable to any amount of challenges. There are moments when people in the real world fight their own battles in life. Therefore, anime characters who experience loss and difficulties are more relatable to fans.
In connection, the different setbacks that the characters go through can provide opportunities for them to grow and develop. Making a character win every fight and hurdle isn’t always the best way to keep the audience’s interest. Letting them experience problems and allowing them to make decisions that help them surpass is what makes them interesting. By using reverse plot armor, the anime becomes a thought-provoking series that makes the fans stay and anticipate the series until its end.
While reverse plot armor sounds better because it countered all plot armor’s disadvantages, it also has its drawbacks. Some fans have defined reverse plot armor as ‘stupid’ and a product of poor writing. Because of reverse plot armor, some worthy anime characters can be overshadowed for the sake of the plot.
In order for the writer to follow the plot he or she wishes for the series, some characters are sacrificed. Whether a rushed decision or not, this act by the writer can prevent the sacrificed characters from having the development and spotlight they deserve. While this theory has not been confirmed, many fans have argued that Neji Hyuga from the Naruto series died for the sake of the series’ plot. To ensure that romance between the shonen protagonist, Naruto, and long-time admirer, Hinata, Neji was killed, and he entrusted his cousin to Naruto. Lastly, characters who always go through misfortunes can make them less entertaining to watch. Putting the characters in constant despair can make it more difficult to provide solutions that would maintain the interests of fans.
Plot Armor and Reverse Plot Armor: Which Is Better?
To know which is better between these two kinds of elements in writing the plot is subjective. The notion of which is more acceptable and applicable in a story is highly dependent on the goals of the writer. There are a lot of things that should be considered first before deciding whether to use them or not. A writer or creator must take into consideration the theme, genre, the emotions it will try to bring out from fans, as well as the length of the series.
Furthermore, whether one decides to use plot armor or reverse plot armor, he or she must be reminded of the risks. As stated above, both of these elements have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, a writer or creator must always act cautiously in order not to end up disappointing its fans. Many anime series have been the center of jokes and mockery because of overusing plot armor in their narratives. However, these types of negative situations can always be avoided when one knows how to balance the elements well.
It must be ensured that characters face exhilarating challenges or engage in fierce battles in a way that does not affect their roles in the series. By balancing the amount of plot armor or reverse plot armor, the overall story of a specific anime series can become more outstanding, captivating, and compelling to fans. But let us know what you think. Are you more fond of animes with plot armor or those with reverse plot armor?