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The Artifact / Anime & Manga

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  • Sailor Moon:
    • For the first three seasons, the Monsters-of-the-Day actually did something relevant to the plot, but in the fourth and fifth seasons, their only purpose was to give the girls something to fight before the end of the episode. It became especially bad in the last season; the targets were supposed to be potential Sailor Senshi (hence why they're attacked very early in the original manga) but no attempt is ever made to target those that show up to every single fight, in uniform.
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    • In the anime, Mamoru Chiba was a Satellite Love Interest, unlike the manga where he had more characterisation. This meant that after he and Usagi hit the Relationship Ceiling at the end of R, the writers really had nothing to do with him, and Usagi had plenty of other characters to emote at. Obviously, being Sailor Moon's destined love, he couldn't be written out completely, but he was pretty much "just there" in the third and fourth seasons, and he was Put on a Bus in the fifth season to allow for Seiya to start a Love Triangle.
    • Funnily enough, one of Sailor Moon's most recognisable symbols, the red and white 'buttons' on Usagi's hairbuns, are technically an Artifact that didn't last beyond the first episode: after Usagi transforms for the first time, she hears Naru screaming through her hair buns, and this is what alerts her to the monster of that episode. The mechanic was never seen again, as often the tracking down of the monster was a plotline, and at other times the show was more than happy with letting the girls and monsters meet up though sheer coincidence. However, as there would be no way for Usagi to know where the monster was in this first episode otherwise, both the 90s anime and the Crystal reboot kept the strange function only to drop it just as quickly as the manga did.
      • This artifact was created by removing another artifact the manga used. In early chapters Sailor Moon wore a white mask similar to Sailor V's. In the first chapter it showed her a vision of Naru being attacked. She quickly ditched them and for a number of chapters was shown throwing it to the side after transforming. The mask shows up once more during the Black Moon arc (long after it stopped appearing when she transformed) to identify people who were replaced with droids.
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    • A few character design elements have become this in newer versions:
      • Makoto's long skirt. When the series first came up, an excessively long skirt on the uniform was a distinctive sign of a sukeban (and she had the fame of one), but by the time newer versions of the series came up it had been replaced by an excessively short skirt and other distinctive signs. On the other hand, Makoto needs a visual sign to justify her fame as a delinquent, so Sailor Moon Crystal still gave her it (the live action instead opted for a normal skirt and having her sometimes dye her hair, something an anime would be unable to do);
      • Minako and Naru wearing ribbons in their hair. When the manga was first published it was fashionable for a schoolgirl to wear a ribbon in the hair (and in fact the manga has Minako started to wear one in an effort to conquer a boy. She continued because it looked good), but nowadays it's not it anymore. Still, it's such a part of their characters' images they still wear it in Crystal, and Minako does it as Sailor V and Sailor Venus in the live action (the live action was able to drop it with Minako's civilian identity and Naru because, for a real-life girl, it would have just been weird). Recently, however, this trend seems to be picking back up as girls would wear ribbons to tie their hair into ponytails or incorporate it into other hairstyles.
      • Minako and Makoto's looks in general in the new anime. Crystal being set during its real-world release, the logic progression would have been updating them into some sub-variant of gals or make Makoto a bosozoku (something she was originally supposed to be) to convey the former being a tomboy who looks extremely feminine and justify the latter's fame as a delinquent, but instead they wore normal clothes in their civilian identities.
      • The Transformation Pens were originally chosen because they were fashionable accessories, but the fashion has since passed. Yet, Crystal still keeps them (the live action instead replaced them with charms that were fashionable back when the series was aired).
      • Crystal also retains both sets of the communicator watches, which in the era of cellphones would require some justification (never given outright by the series itself); their live-action counterparts were fancy magical cellphones which combined the functions of the communicators and the disguise pen.
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  • Pokémon: Team Rocket have been this since the organization they belong to have ceased to be the villains of the main games the anime is promoting after Generation II. The Best Wishes/Black and White series attempted to rectify this by giving them actual purpose in the plot and then attempting to write them out, but it didn't stick and they returned to The Artifact status in the Pokemon XY series. Their high popularity in Japan contributes to why they're series mainstays. That said, there has been in an increase in episodes where Team Rocket only make brief appearances or don't appear at all, so they aren't quite as bad a case of this as they used to be.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z features many characters from the earlier Dragon Ball series (such as Talking Animals Puar the cat and Oolong the pig, and the horned "Ox King") that do not mesh well with the less cartoony and more science-fiction style of characters in DBZ. Particularly notable with Oolong and Yamcha, who were originally clear Expies of Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing from Journey to the West; neither of them were particularly relevant after the series moved away from its roots as a retelling of Journey to the West, but they stuck around nonetheless.note 
    • Repeating history, it was blatantly evident that past the Baby arc of Dragon Ball GT, the creators had no idea what to do with Pan. Pan's explicit function, according to the writers, was to be The Millstone and provide an objective for Goku to rescue. Annoying, sure, but not too out of place when Goku was fighting wimps like the Para Para Brothers, and it made sense as a reference to Bulma's role in the original series (which much of early GT was meant to invoke). She also managed to at least contribute in the battle against Baby, most crucially helping Goku control his transformation. After that point, though, there was essentially no meaningful reason for her to stick around or be Goku's companion: pretty much anyone could have done her job, and she actively hindered Goku multiple times, which was far more egregious against villains that were supposed to be actual threats. It didn't help that the writers seemed to have an allergy to making Pan actually useful, which left her sitting on the sidelines during the show's final battle sequence while Vegeta and the four-star dragon do the actual legwork at Goku's side. Trunks suffered as well, to a lesser degree, but he at least stopped appearing once it was obvious he had no purpose anymore.
    • Beerus in Dragon Ball Super served to introduce the concepts of Gods and the multiverse, as well as providing an Always Someone Better role for Goku. By the midpoint of the series, though, it was kind of evident that he didn't have much purpose anymore, which was especially pronounced because, unlike most Artifact characters in the franchise, Beerus is extremely strong to Story-Breaker Power levels, and should be able to crush just about any threat to the protagonists with ease. It was especially pronounced because, unlike most rivals in the franchise, his whole narrative function is that Goku can never really surpass him, so having the cast and their threats catch up to him couldn't be done. At the same time, he couldn't be written out of the series, because he was a package deal with his attendant Whis, who slotted into the role of being Goku and Vegeta's mentor and Mr. Exposition. Consequently, in the majority of story arcs, Beerus does nothing of importance, and when he does try to do something, it usually fails—probably best punctuated by his appearance in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, where his only appearance is a minor subplot about him taking care of baby Pan.
    • Despite the series Doing In the Wizard to a degree, Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu remained being called "humans" despite their unusual features (although some sources state Tien as being descended from an ancient three-eyed alien race).
    • The Kintoun/Flying Nimbus was rendered completely irrelevant by the start of Z, since pretty much every character of importance could fly under their own power. Despite this, it has a habit of being used in later parts of the franchise more or less just to remind the audience that it exists. (Super actually did manage to make it useful once, by having a scene where Goku couldn't use his own energy to fly without alerting his enemies.)
    • Vegito's design is meant to be a fusion of Vegeta and Goku's. However, when he reappeared in Dragon Ball Super, his design there was the same as his design in the Buu Saga, which includes the singlet Vegeta was wearing then, despite Vegeta wearing grey spandex armor in Super. This was due to the fact that redesigning him to include Vegeta's actual Super outfit would make his design less recognizable (and, it's often theorized, would mean already-existing Vegito toys couldn't be recolored).
  • One of Slayers's most famous running jokes is the otherwise overconfident Lina Inverse's sensitivity about her endowment. While it's reasonable in the novels and comic, it seemed a case of Hollywood Homely in animated form only rationalized by her bawdy and ridiculously curvy cohort Naga. As the show usually compensated by enlarging everyone else, one suspects it was Executive Meddling in order to make a heroine a bit more cute to the television audience.
    • Slayers Revolution-R dealt with this a little better than the 90s series (where she was easily a B-Cup going towards C), as her character design in the 2000s series is noticeably pretty flat - not a complete Pettanko, but definitely an A-Cup.
  • Kinkotsuman & Iwao from Kinnikuman, parodies of stereotypical Toku villains introduced when the series was a straight up spoof of Ultraman continued to show up long after the Genre Shift to Professional Wrestling.
  • Main character Ginko from Mushishi wears recognizably modern clothes despite the story's setting suggesting a Pre Meiji Japanese location. The author eventually admitted that Ginko was made during the early design period where the story was supposed to take place in modern times, with him simply being left unchanged.
  • Likewise Chrono's very distinctive outfit in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is back from when he was designed to be a more important lead character — and a villain — rather than a side character. There not being much to compare him to, even Erio's outfit is much less flashy.
    • The name of Raising Heart also qualifies, since its original design was a fairly normal-looking Magic Wand with a Heart Symbol on it.
    • Yuuno having the ability to shapeshift into a ferret. He is the only human character in the franchise to display this sort of power, and the original justification for it, that Earth's "magic field" was incompatible with him, has never come up again.
  • Although Mobile Suit Gundam was the first Real Robot anime, it still carried a lot of baggage from the Super Robot genre, mainly the design aesthetic for Zeon vehicles and an Aerith and Bob naming scheme for their people that evokes the Alien invaders common to Super Robot antagonists, and a number of gimmicky weapons and accessories for the Gundam like the G-Armor, Beam Javelin, and Gundam Hammer. The latter were quickly retconned out of existence in the Movie adaptations, and later Zeon designs have tried to evoke a image closer to World War II Germany.
    • The design of the Gundam itself falls into this a fair bit. By most accounts, Tomino himself was against the idea of it being a blocky Primary-Color Champion with an impractical-looking headcrest that wields a sword and shield, but this was necessary to get the toys made. Of course, by the time Gundam had properly gotten off the ground and Tomino could make the robots look like whatever he wanted, those design cues had become so iconic that they couldn't be easily ditched.
    • Played with in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, where the eponymous Gundams were only called so a handful of times (once in the first series, twice in the second) because that's what their OS's acronyms spelled out. The units were almost always referred to by their production names.
    • The Taurus from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a lesser-known example. Lucrezia Noin was originally going to be a Distaff Counterpart to the original series' Garma Zabi, and as such the Taurus (which was going to be her personal mobile suit) was made to be sleek and sinister in order to match her personality. Over the course of rewrites Noin was changed into a more gentle, motherly character, but the Taurus's design remained.
  • An in-universe example is brought up in the final episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex where a few of the protagonists meet in a library. One points out the uselessness of printed media to which another points out that it is just a habit of mankind.
  • The character of Index can't really be dropped from the series A Certain Magical Index, but her character and abilities after the initial arc don't really add anything. However, she's fairly popular and, again, her name is in the title. So as the story introduces two more protagonists and something of a rival main heroine, poor Index is largely confined to either comedy scenes or used as a macguffin. Some of the less kind fans have taken to calling her a headcrab in response to her perceived uselessness and most common running gag.
  • This is Played for Laughs in Osomatsu-san with Iyami. In Osomatsu-kun, Iyami was a Breakout Character to the point that he eventually took over the Matsuno sextuplets' position as one of the main characters. In -san most of the characters were modernized for The New '10s, but everything about Iyami, from his Showa-era style of comedy to his appearance to his obsession with France, is incredibly outdated and makes him stick out like a sore thumb. Much of the humor surrounding him is how he's in denial of this and how he tries to reclaim his former glory with little success, though in "Iyami-san is Troubled" he finally comes to acknowledge his status as The Artifact and becomes so depressed that he tries to hang himself.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! had Hiroto Honda/Tristan Taylor. In the early manga, he was a mainstay of the cast, helping out a lot in Death-T and Monster World and often acting as The Big Guy. By the time of Duelist and the second series anime, the series became more cardgame-focused, and Honda spends most of his time just kinda standing on the sidelines because he can't just punch most of the gang's opponents and he sucks at the card game. The anime ended up doing its best to add stuff for him to do, but very little of it was consequential.
    • The term "Duel Disk" came from the original prototypes, which were actually thrown discs that worked a bit like mechanical tops. In the Battle City arc, the production model was revealed to be an arm-mounted affair that didn't look much like a disk, and this became the standardized design. Needless to say, the name stuck, though anyone to have not watched those early arcs would probably be baffled as to why.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX seemed to struggle with handling certain characters as the series drifted away from its episodic school-slice-of-life origin, generally having them serve as Combat Commentators at best. Asuka's main hook (finding the fate of her brother) got resolved about two-thirds of the way into the first season, and consequently left her with very little to do in the rest of the series aside from chasing off suitors, getting brainwashed, and briefly dying. Kenzan no longer had much purpose once the Society of Light arc ended, as his deal of being Immune to Mind Control came up only once afterward. Misawa was meant as a rival but quickly got displaced by better ones, and his later character arc was basically one long Lampshade Hanging on how he had no real purpose anymore and had fallen Out of Focus, before he was written out completely.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's somehow had this happen to its entire premise. The original concept of the series, as seen in the title, was that there were five individuals known as the Signers who used their mystic dragon powers to battle ancient threats. However, the main mystical threat of the series, the Earthbound Gods, was defeated less than halfway through the series. From then on out, the main characters almost never used their Signer abilities (Aki, the most powerful one, was even depowered without explanation for most of the show's last third), and most of their opponents had absolutely nothing to do with the Signers or mysticism in general. The show also largely jettisoned the concept of the Signers working as a team, with nearly everything from then on out being accomplished by Yusei, Jack, and Crow (the latter of whom wasn't even a Signer until it had stopped being relevant). Despite the clumsy Retool, the series seemingly continued to advertise itself as being about the Signers. By the end of the series, there weren't even five Signers - there were six.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL eschewed the traditional holograms in the series in favor of AR Vision, where the characters instead wore eyepieces that were linked to a network that showed the monsters. The idea was that this allowed monsters to appear to affect the environment. Over the course of the series, this came up about three times, and at every other point they're treated as identical to the holograms. It's also never really explained why, say, characters still flinch when hit, or how beings that couldn't possibly have a link to the network, like ancient spirits or aliens, can see the monsters. Despite this, characters still activate their eyepieces with dramatic flourish all the way to the end.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V's Performapal Hip Hippo featured very prominently in early advertising and the opening theme, and when it showed up in the first episode and was used quite a bit, it seemed like a long career would await the distinctive little cutie. One problem: Hippo's effect is one that makes Tribute Summons easier. Main character Yuya, by the third episode, specializes in a mechanic that renders Tribute Summoning completely unnecessary. Consequently, Hippo ends up showing up far less in Duels than outside of them.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS underwent a heavy retool before the series was even made, which significantly altered its premise and main character, seemingly with the intent of distancing itself from the prior ARC-V after that show suffered a major backlash. However, two major characters remain that seem to be orphaned from this concept: Go Onizuka and Aoi Zaizen, who are both entertainers with prideful, glitzy public personas and feel like they'd be right at home in ARC-V. VRAINS in its final form lacks any other signs of those themes, and consequently, both Go and Aoi, despite being prominent early on, are fairly infamous for the show not knowing how to handle them once it got into its actual narrative.
  • The font of the main titles of each new installment in the Madoka franchise. Originally, that was to pass the original anime and manga off as yet another cutesy Magical Girl show, before it would show its true colors. The manga's volume numbers also retained this even after they had served their purpose, but afterwards, only the main titles for subsequent installments do so, while subtitles and volume numbers are displayed in a more serious font.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist Ishvalans all have dark skin, red eyes, and white hair as a racial characteristic. In the 2003 anime this is changed so that most are brunettes. Scar is the only Ishvalan who doesn't have age-related white hair. He was born with brown hair but was Locked into Strangeness.
  • In the Cast of Personifications of human cells series Cells at Work!, originally there's only one personification for all different types of white blood cells. That arrangement only lasted for at most one chapter as the cast diversified, and this pan-white-blood-cell personification only represents the neutrophil. Still, he is still referred by other cells as White Blood Cell, and he's the only character with a white Color Motif, having paper-white skin and uniform.
  • The One Piece anime adaptation is a remnant of a past era where other long-runners, such as Naruto and Bleach, all kept trucking along at a weekly release schedule, but also had to stall at times by implementing Padding, such as Filler arcs, whenever they could so that they wouldn't fall victim to Overtook the Manga. With the Naruto and Bleach adaptations over, and current day animes switching to a seasonal 1-cour or 2-cour format where adaptations are better adapted and paced within 12 or 24 episode seasons, this leaves One Piece as the odd one out as the prime current day long-runner still holding on to the old way of doing things. The Padding techniques that were once glossed over as the standard of the industry have now become extremely apparent with fans believing that the One Piece anime would be better off if it adapted to being a seasonal series as well.
  • Berserk has Puck, Guts's original companion. Very early on, his purpose was to act as Guts's conscience, heal him between battles, and liven up the incredibly miserable atmosphere, and he managed to play a major part in the Lost Children arc. However, as Guts's cast of hanger-ons grew, Puck's role mostly started to slip into irrelevance. A particularly big case is Cute Witch Schierke, who does essentially everything Puck did and does it better, down to being able to act as Guts's conscience by literally going inside his head. It's often remarked by fans that Puck's Super-Deformed state used to be brought out only in particularly wacky moments, but now essentially makes up all his appearances because those wacky moments are really the only thing he provides anymore—and it's not like he's the only character in the series capable of providing comic relief or lightening the tone.

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