So for those not in the know, flomu has declared today, the 28th of December, to be a day for us lowly episodic/what-have-you bloggers who don’t usually write editorials to do break the mold and write one. And no one is keener to jump on arbitrary blogging fads than I am, I’ll tell you that much! That’s why it’s such a shame that my well of ideas has run frightfully dry in the past few days as far as editorials go, and I’ve been forced to type up a rant that questionably borders on editorial territory. So instead of looking into something that I’ve watched these past few months and writing a post on that, I’ve decided to go the easy route and rant about something that’s bugged me since I first noticed it: Why the fuck is anemia the go-to problem for anime?
In all the anime I’ve watched, anemia is easily the most pronounced problem plaguing womenfolk that isn’t skimpy clothing or the voice of a helium-sucking castrati. Girl falls down randomly out of fucking nowhere? Don’t worry; her anemia’s just acting up. Girl feels a little woozy and needs to sit down? Don’t worry, just anemia. Girl gets shot in the head and croaks instantly? Better get her checked for anemia! I’d list some examples, but I don’t want to go through my list of 207 shows watched and find certain instances from shows that I’ve long since forgotten. Just know that it’s happened enough that I see it as a way out of being creative, one that takes little to no effort.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the character consistently had problems with their blood. Hell, while rather unoriginal, it’d at least function as something other than plot Scotch Tape. As it stands though, you could probably line up several episodes of random series together, and there would be at least a third with a girl suffering from anemia that will never suffer from it again. Either that, or the audience is simply informed that they suffer from it. It’s like the breast cancer scene in The Room, which I have handy just for this occasion.
What’s odd is I can kind of see some basis for it, and I don’t know if it’s a kind of nod toward the group of people that insists the girls all look way too malnourished. For the purpose of this post though, I’ll just assume that it isn’t a knowing wink to the audience and is instead just a way to stamp out the episode without too much bellyaching from the cast about some kind of terminal illness or a common cold.
Again, it’s not like anemia is totally out of place in anime. There are two examples I can think of where it’s either completely justified, or it’s just a silly little trait that becomes a recurring joke and thus earns a free pass for at least running with it for so long.
The first is Shiki, where the majority of the main cast has or has had it at some point because they’ve had it sucked from their bodies by vampires. This is the one case I can think of where it wouldn’t have been odd to have anemia as one of the symptoms of Shikification. It’s the only time that it’s really consistent, plays into the plot in a major if entirely unnecessary way, and most importantly actually poses a threat to the people of the village. It’s far from perfect implementation, but it’s the only legitimate case I can think of where it actually plays a major role.
The second is Love Hina, with the potential love interest that we really know our generic male lead won’t fall for, Mutsumi Otohime. Much like in Shiki, her anemia is part of a larger whole; she’s a physical anomaly who for all intents and purposes should have fallen apart at the very beginning of the series. However, since this is a magical slapstick universe where constant fainting spells and near death experiences don’t actually equate to death, she gets a slap on the wrist from the Grim Reaper and is sent back on her merry way. It’s not that this is a particularly stellar example, but it’s one of the few that works in context and remains in the plot, even if it’s only paid lip service after the first few episodes with it happening.
Looking back, even those aren’t great examples of good implementation of anemia in the plot. So here’s my proposal from here on out: Ditch it completely unless you’re planning on making it a part of the person’s character, or something that becomes important to the plot. There are other things that can cause fainting and weakness that are barely touched upon… though oddly, the examples are much easier to think of than those of anemia. The flu, a bad cold, sunstroke, being shot or stabbed, some mystery disease that factors into the plot somehow… these are all easy enough to use without making it terribly out of place. The flu and sunstroke go away on their own no problem, while being otherwise injured or infected with some baffling disorder have no way to simply be forgotten about unless it’s intentionally played as being entirely ineffectual.
To wrap things up and keep this under a thousand words, I don’t know why anime always insists on making anemia its problem of choice for every other frail girl. Well I know why, seeing as it’s a crutch for hack writers who can only type out drivel with all the creativity of a sea cucumber after spewing out its innards, but I don’t know why it just has to be anemia when there are better choices to choose from. In short, influenza yes, anemia no.