In case this site hasn't made it obvious already, there are a lot of Japanese Media Tropes. It is common to joke in anime parodies that these are the "Rules of Anime" that cannot be broken no matter how ridiculous to maintain Rule of Cool or Rule of Drama. The joke is most often delivered this way: character "A" points out the stupidity of an event, and character "B" responds: "Anime Rule number "X"..."
See also The Universal Genre Savvy Guide.
Anime Cafe has a compiled list of these laws, complete with pseudoscientific names for them all. Since most of these correspond to tropes on This Very Wiki, the list is reproduced here for your convenience. A longer list is available here.
#1 - Law of Metaphysical Irregularity
#2 - Law of Differentiated Gravitation
- Whenever someone or something jumps, is thrown, or otherwise is rendered airborne, gravity is reduced by a factor of 4. Some things have been known to "Float" for a few seconds before plummeting to hit the ground, vehicle, or someone’s cranium.
#3 - Law of Sonic Amplification (First Law of Anime Acoustics)
- In space, loud sounds, like explosions, are even louder because there is no air to get in the way.
#4 - Law of Constant Thrust (First Law of Anime Motion)
- In space, constant thrust equals constant velocity.
#5 - Law of Mechanical Mobility (Second Law of Anime Motion)
- The larger a mechanical device is, the faster it moves. Armored mecha are the fastest objects known to human science.
#6 - Law of Temporal Variability
- Time is not a constant. Time stops for the hero whenever he does something 'cool' or 'impressive'. Time slows down when friends and lovers are being killed and speeds up whenever there is a fight.
#7 - First Law of Temporal Mortality
- 'Good Guys' and 'Bad Guys' both die in one of two ways - either so quick they don't even see it coming, or it's a long drawn out affair where the character gains much insight to the workings of society, human existence, or why the toast always lands butter side down.
#8 - Second Law of Temporal Mortality
- It takes some time for bad guys to die... regardless of physical damage. Even when the 'Bad Guys' are killed so quickly they didn't even see it coming, it takes them a while to realize they are dead. This is attributed to the belief that being evil damages the Reality Lobe of the brain.
- Scenes involving extreme amounts of action are depicted with either still frames or black screens with a slash of bright color (usually red or white).
- Scenes that only happen once, for instance, a 'Good Guy' kicks the 'Bad Guy' in the face, are seen at least 3 times from 3 different angles.
- Everything explodes. Everything.
#12 - Law of Phlogistatic Emission
- Nearly all things emit light from fatal wounds.
#13 - Law of Energetic Emission
- There is always an energy build up (commonly referred to as an energy 'bulge') before Mecha or space craft weapons fire. Because of the explosive qualities of weapons, it is believed that this is related to the Law of Inherent Combustibility.
#14 - Law of Inverse Lethal Magnitude
- The destructive potential of any object/organism is inversely proportional to its mass.
#15 - Law of Inexhaustibility
- No one ever runs out of ammunition. That is of course unless they are cornered, out-numbered, out-classed, and unconscious.
#16 - Law of Inverse Accuracy
- The accuracy of a 'Good Guy' when operating any form of fire-arm increases as the difficulty of the shot increases. The accuracy of the 'Bad Guys' when operating fire-arms decreases when the difficulty of the shot decreases. (Also known as the Storm Trooper Effect) Example: A 'Good Guy' in a drunken stupor being held upside down from a moving vehicle will always hit, and several battalions of 'Bad Guys' firing on a 'Good Guy' standing alone in the middle of an open field will always miss.
- First Corollary - The more 'Bad Guys' there are, the less likely they will hit anyone or do any real damage.
- Second Corollary - Whenever a 'Good Guy' is faced with insurmountable odds, the 'Bad Guys' line up in neat rows, allowing the hero to take them all out with a single burst of automatic fire and then escape.
- Third Corollary - Whenever a 'Good Guy' is actually hit by enemy fire, it is in a designated 'Good Guy Area', usually a flesh wound in the shoulder or arm, which restricts the 'Good Guy' from doing anything more strenuous than driving, firing weaponry, using melee weapons, operating heavy machinery, or doing complex martial arts maneuvers.
#17 - Law of Transient Romantic Unreliability
- Minmei is a bimbo.
#18 - Law of Hemoglobin Capacity
#19 - Law of Demonic Consistency
- Demons and other supernatural creatures have at least three eyes, loads of fangs, tend to be yellow-green or brown, but black is not unknown, and can only be hurt by bladed weapons.
#20 - Law of Militaristic Unreliability
- Huge galaxy-wide armadas, entire armies, and large war machines full of cruel, heartless, bloodthirsty warriors can be stopped and defeated with a single insignificant example of a caring/loving emotion or a song.
- First Corollary (from Adam Barnes) - Whenever a single war machine (mecha, starship, etc.) goes up against an entire army, the army always loses.
#21 - Law of Tactical Unreliability
- Tactical geniuses aren't....
#22 - Law of Inconsequential Undetectability
- People never notice the little things... like missing body parts, or wounds the size of Seattle.
#23 - Law of Juvenile Intellectuality
#24 - Law of Americanthropomorphism
- Americans in anime appear in one of two roles, either as a really nasty skinny 'Bad Guy' or a big stupid 'Good Guy'.
#25 - Law of Mandibular Proportionality (from A. Hicks, Tom Williams, and Ben Leinweber)
- The size of a person's mouth is directly proportional to the volume at which they are speaking or eating.
#26 - Law of Feline Mutation (from A. Hicks)
- Any half-cat/half-human mutation will invariably:
- Be female
- Possess ears and sometimes a tail as a genetic mutation
- Wear as little clothing as possible, if any
#27 - Law of Conservation of Firepower (from Tom Williams)
- Any powerful weapon capable of destroying/defeating an opponent in a single shot will invariably be reserved and used only as a last resort.
#28 - Law of Technological User-Benevolence (from Tom Williams)
- The formal training required to operate a spaceship or mecha is inversely proportional to its complexity.
#29 - Law of Melee Luminescence (from Tom Williams)
- Any being displaying extremely high levels of martial arts prowess and/or violent emotions emits light in the form of a glowing aura. This aura is usually blue for 'good guys' and red for 'bad guys'. This is attributed to Good being higher in the electromagnetic spectrum than Evil.
#30 - Law of Non-Anthropomorphic Antagonism (from Tom Williams)
- All ugly, non-humanoid alien races are hostile, and usually hell-bent on destroying humanity for some obscure reason.
#31 - Law of Follicular Chromatic Variability (from Spellweaver)
- Any color in the visible spectrum is considered a natural hair color. This color can change without warning or explanation.
#32 - Law of Follicular Permanence
- Hair in anime is pretty much indestructible, and can resist any amount of meteorological conditions, energy emissions, physical abuse, or explosive effects and still look perfect. The only way to hurt someone's hair is the same way you deal with demons... with bladed weapons!
#33 - Law of Topological Aerodynamics (First Law of Anime Aero-Dynamics)
- Any shape, no matter how convoluted or odd-looking, is automatically aerodynamic.
#34 - Law of Probable Attire (from various sources)
- Clothing in anime follows certain predictable guidelines.
- Female characters wear as little clothing as possible, regardless of whether it is socially or meteorologically appropriate. Any female with an excessive amount of clothing will invariably have her clothes ripped to shreds or torn off somehow. If there is no opportunity to tear off the aforementioned female's clothes, then she will inexplicably take a shower for no apparent reason (also known as the Gratuitous Shower Scene).
- Whenever there is a headwind, male characters invariably wear long cloaks that don't hamper movement and billow out dramatically behind them.
- First Corollary: Cryo-Adaptability - All anime characters are resistant to extremely cold temperatures, and do not need to wear heavy or warm clothing in snow.
- Second Corollary: Indecent Invulnerability (from Nyctomania) - Bikinis render the wearer invulnerable to any form of damage.
#35 - Law of Musical Omnipotence
- Any character capable of musical talent (singing, playing an instrument, etc.) is automatically capable of doing much more "simple" things, like piloting mecha, fighting crime, stopping an intergalactic war, and so on...especially if they have never attempted these things before.
#36 - Law of Quintupular Agglutination (from Daniel Mikula)
- Also called "The Five-man Rule", when "Good Guys" group together, it tends to be in groups of five. There are five basic positions, which are:
- Between these basic positions are distributed several attributes, which include:
#37 - Law of Extradimensional Capacitance (from Jason Bustard)
- All anime females have an extradimensional storage space of variable volume somewhere on their person from which they can instantly retrieve any object at a moment's notice.
- First Corollary (The Hammer Rule) - The most common item stored is a heavy mallet, which can be used with unerring accuracy on any male who deserves it. Other common items include costumes/uniforms, power suits/armor, and large bazookas.
#38 - Law of Hydrostatic Emission
- Eyes tend to be rather large in anime. This is because they contain several gallons of water, which may be instantaneously released at high pressure through large tear ducts. The actual volume of water contained in the eyes is unknown, as there is no evidence to suggest that these reservoirs are actually capable of running out. The reason water tends to collect in the eyes is because anime characters only have one large sweat gland, which is located at the back of the head. When extremely stressed, embarrassed, or worried, this sweat gland exudes a single but very large drop of sebaceous fluid.
#39 - Law of Inverse Attraction
- Success at finding suitable mates is inversely proportionate to how desperately you want to be successful. The more you want, the less you get, and vice versa.
#40 - Law of Nasal Sanguination (from Ryan Pritchard and Jason Aylen)
- When sexually aroused, males in anime don't get erections, they get nosebleeds. No one's sure why this is, though... the current theory suggests that larger eyes means smaller sinuses and thinner sinus tissue (see Law #38 above). Females don't get nosebleeds, but invariably get one heck of a blush along the cheeks and across the nose, suggesting a lot of blood flow to that region.
#41 - Law of Xylolaceration (from Lyndon Harris)
- Wooden or bamboo swords are just as sharp as metal swords, if not sharper.
#42 - Law of Juvenile Omnipotence (from Erin Alia)
- There is no Law #43.
#44 - Law of Nominative Clamovocation (from Luiko-Ysabeth and Adrian Hsiah)
- The likelihood of success and damage done by a martial arts attack is directly proportional to the volume at which the full name of the attack is announced.
- Exception Clause #1: If an attack works well on its first use, it will be far less effective on future uses. If it works perfectly on its first use, it will never work again.
- Exception Clause #2: An "ultimate" technique will inevitably be replaced with something more ultimate.
- Exception Clause #3: Announcing that your attack has "never been survived, escaped, countered or defeated" ensures that its intended target is about to become the first person to survive, escape, counter or defeat it.
#45 - Law of Uninterruptible Metamorphosis (from R. A. Hubby)
- Regardless of how long or involved the transformation sequence or how many times they've seen it before, any 'Bad Guys' witnessing a mecha/hero/heroine transforming are too stunned to do anything to interrupt it.
#46 - Law of Flimsy Incognition (from Conrad Knauer)
- Simply changing into a costume or wearing a teensy mask can make you utterly unrecognizable to even your closest friends and relatives.
#47 - Law of Early Blooming
- At least one female must have large breasts.
#48 - Law of Scars
- If a character has a scar, there will always be a long, usually angsty, emotional story behind it.
- All rules of anime must have unnecessarily complex names that are impossible to pronounce.
#50 - Law of Academic Seating Placement
- The main character in a Highschool MUST always at one point of another, sit in the third row window on the left side.
Some other frequent jokes on the "Rules of Anime" are:
- Let your enemy ''finish'' his long monologue before you attack.
- Don't interrupt a flashback.
- Don't question the transitional phase and/or plotholes.
- The girls hit harder than the villains.
- Only the main character can defeat the leader of the antagonists.
- If you are older than 17 and nothing interesting ever happened to you, never had a not-girlfriend from space, never engaged in any kind of Ki based fight or generally just led a boring life until your 18's, you'll never meet that kind of opportunity again, since it is scientifically proven that all interesting stuff happens only to high-schoolers.
#53 - Law of Inverse Blusterality
- In a duel or a competition between two characters, the amount of time each character spends boasting about his competence is actually inversely proportional to his actual competence in this particular duel. In other words, the person who brags less will win. Using body language or facial expressions to express smugness does not apply to law 53.
#54 - Law of Tangible Power
- If spiritual energy or some variant exists, the protagonist and/or the antagonist will have sufficient amounts of it so that it's presence can be felt.
- If this energy is possessed by most (or all) ordinary people, the named characters will have above average control over it and the protagonist will be in a class of his/her own.
#55 - Law of the Scorned
- Even a tough as nails or superpowered (male) protagonist is vulnerable to a stiff slap from his love interest.
#103 - Law of H
- Enjoy your Fanservice, but do not try to take any further peeks in an Ecchi comedy anime. Attempts will result in painful experiences ranging from having various objects thrown in your face to a pink elephant dropping out of the sky and landing right on top of you.
#105 - Law of Amorous Tragedy
- In the beginning, if you find that you "Cannot Spit It Out", but throughout mutual trials and adventures you finally tell her how you feel, understand that she will eventually have to sacrifice her life because of some ancient rule or to fulfill some prophecy that is her birthright. Try as you might to talk her out of it, it will be pointless, as her entire being hinges on her suicide/heroic sacrifice. Or she could succumb to the mysterious illness that she alluded to when you first met her. Rest assured that the two of you will be parting soon after attempting to build a life together.
#106 - Law of Superiority of Bladed Weapons
- In any Shonen anime, characters who use swords will be able to fight either on par with or much better than an opponent with a gun. The reasons for such phenomena are: Cutting through bullets so well that the remnants either fly in different directions or lose almost all momentum, martial arts that give the user superhuman abilities, or the gunman will either be a talentless mook, or someone who seems to only miss through bad luck.
- At the very least, one pair of two same-sex characters will have an accident that places them in a seemingly-compromising position or get themselves in a situation where it can be misconstrued that the two are in a gay, and to a far, far lesser extent, lesbian relationship.
- At least one group of an anime's fans will see romantic subtext between two characters, no matter who they are or if the characters in question met or even know who the other one is. Actual canonical romantic subtext notwithstanding. Related to rule 109.
- If any character has an opposing character, such as a rival or an arch-nemesis, with them both being almost exclusively two male characters, there is guaranteed to be fanart and fanfiction shipping the two together, regardless on whether or not the two characters like, dislike, or even flat-out hate each other. Exceptions cannot and will not exist.
# 110 - Law of Proportionate Badass Entrances
- In a battle, the party with the most epic entrance, no matter how incompetent, is the most likely to win.