The Flanderization process is not confined to sitcoms. Sadly, many popular anime characters were flanderized throughout their lives.
Hens adore roosters, geese adore ganders, and everyone matters adores Ned Flanders. However, not when characters are flanderized. Long before The Simpsons, the process of a character becoming progressively one-dimensional in order to make people laugh existed. Yet it was Homer’s good guy neighbor who coined the phrase, as Flanders transitioned from being the cause of Homer’s one-sided jealousy to the diddly-doodily Christian.
It happens in almost every long-running form of media because it becomes easier to just throw in a crowd-pleasing catchphrase or a silly joke based on a single character attribute or defect. This includes anime, which has a history of characters becoming dumber, shyer, or generally one-note season after season.
Tsukuyomi – Negima
At first, this Fate Girls mercenary was just that: a villain reluctantly obeying someone else’s orders for a payout, albeit one with an odd attraction in the side character Setsuna. Then, over time, she evolved from a sword-for-hire to a troublesome trope. She effectively became a stalker sex pest, attempting to assault Setsuna in all of its forms before killing her.
Tsukuyomi finally picked up the Hina Blade, a blade that was increasingly feeding off her soul and twisting her will, as the show attempted to explain this character development. Despite her defeat, it is reported that she continues to stalk Setsuna. Why, of all the characteristics, was that one vilified?
Brock – Pokemon
If this individual hadn’t been the first to have the term named after him, it would have been named after him. When you Google ‘flanderizing’ and ‘anime,’ Brock from Pokemon is likely to be the first name that comes up.
On the anime, he was initially Ash’s big brother-style tutor, in contrast to Misty’s big sister role, Professor Oak as the father figure, and Gary Oak as that jerk from school who always got the showy stuff first. Brock had a thing for women as well. Then it became his sole eye, as he became more interested in seducing one gorgeous woman or another than in providing his cap-wearing pal raising advice.
Hinata – Naruto
Naruto lasted so long, in both its original and Shippuden incarnations, that a large portion of the cast may be included on this list. Sakura is an overly violent jerk in the anime, despite her relaxing out in the manga. Ino transitions from a conceited character to a Valley Girl archetype. Or Naruto himself, who suffered from brain drain until he fell in love with Hinata.
It would have taken some thought to approach her. She was always the stereotypically shy one in comparison to the rest of the female cast. Though the anime took it a step further by having her linger from afar, observing Naruto like a ninja ghost. Then he’d faint if he went any closer than an orange speck on the horizon. Nonetheless, unlike some of the other entries on this list, she would be able to overcome her shyness and hold her own in a fight thanks to the various teams she’s been a part of.
Sanji – One Piece
Speaking about long-running anime, One Piece includes a series of characters whose unique characteristics outweighed the others. Nami is avaricious. Zoro is unable to offer directions. Usopp is terrified of everything. Luffy flails and shines dimly. However, Sanji stands out as one of the show’s more notorious characters to be flanderized. While he wasn’t the best lover on the high seas, his interactions with Nami and the other primary female characters seemed regular at first.
He’d be quieter, even thoughtful at times. But that didn’t stop the yucks. As a result, he evolved into a hapless perv, the anime equivalent of the howling wolf from vintage Tex Avery cartoons. Some argue that it’s a fault that puts him on par with the other Strawhats and makes him less of a bland, heroic type. But did they have to reduce everyone to one attribute to do so?
Mihoshi – Tenchi Muyo
Dumb characters are more likely than others to slip into the flanderization trap. At least, that’s how it feels. Homer Simpson moved from a dim light with a heart to just a dim bulb, and Peter Griffin from Family Guy to just a dim bulb. Ace Attorney’s Detective Gumshoe and Slayers’ Gourry have both become so stupid that people wonder how they function.
Mihoshi is another. Tenchi Muyo’s space cop was always a touch ditzy, but when duty came, she could hold her own. But it was her ditziness that set her apart, and it was exploited to the point where her IQ appeared to be in the negatives. As in the spin-off Sasami: Magical Girls Club, where she attends class sans a skirt. She progressed from a likable side character to one of the series’ most vexing, if not plain disagreeable, characters.
Goku – Dragon Ball GT & Super
When it comes to being stupid, Goku was never meant to be that smart. He grew up in the woods and didn’t learn much more than the basics. He wasn’t very good there, either. Still, later shows made him seem even more like a silly country bumpkin. By the time Dragon Ball Z came out, he could count to 9,999. In the first Dragon Ball, he could count up to 10, so as he grew up, he learned a lot. In GT, when he turns into a child, he keeps his adult knowledge… but can only count to three now.
Dragon Ball Super paid more attention to his need to fight. It wouldn’t be out of character for the man in DBZ who put a revived Cell on his son to hire Hit to kill himself just so he could fight. Or he could risk losing his universe because he wanted to fight the most powerful beings in the multiverse. Still, he learned that what he did to Cell was wrong, and well-known events like his first Super Saiyan transformation showed that he could be serious. It would be nice for Goku and every other fictional character to remember what they have learned.
Here are the 6 Anime Characters Who Were Flanderized !
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