12 Most Common Anime Weapon Tropes and Cliches, Explained

Swords and other weapons throughout anime tend to share all kinds of tropes and mechanics. Here are the most common ones.

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Normally, we see weapons like swords, guns, cannons, bows and arrows as cool and badass items. But if we look deeper into the context of each items and their mechanics, we can find a lot of similarities across many different series—especially in anime.

Though weapons might be crafted differently in terms of design and backstory, it’s inevitable for them to look, feel, and even operate the same way as other weapons found in almost all anime series and movies.

These repeated concepts and similarities are called tropes, and when they become eye-rollingly commonplace, they’re called cliches. Here are some of the most common weapon tropes and cliches in anime.

12. The Bigger, The Better

It’s obvious: the bigger the blade, the more destructive it is.

Huge swords depict that their wielders are brutally strong as they’re apparently able to carry and swing a massively gigantic blade, slashing every enemy they come across.

Yoru of Mihawk (One Piece) and the Executioner’s Blade of Zabuza (Naruto) are notable examples of big anime blades.

What about guns? Well, bigger guns are sure to be more explosive, with huge bullets packed with gunpowder—or even magic. Or the gun may be more like an automatic machine gun, with single or numerous barrels for rapid-fire, like Wolfwood’s Punishers (Trigun).

11. Souls on Weapons

A lot of anime series feature weapons with souls, but the most notable ones are Bleach’s Zanpakuto and Shaman King’s Spirit Guardians.

The most common idea we see as far as weapons with souls is the importance of harmony between the wielder and the wielded: the more synchronized they are with each other, the more powerful they can be.

10. Weapons Can Morph

You’ve probably seen an anime series that has weapons that can morph into different versions, either in response to different situations or as a way to upgrade power to the next level. For example, the Zanpakuto in Bleach has both first-level Shikai and second-level Bankai forms.

With a morphing weapon, the wielder must train and learn how to wield each mode’s power, like Flame of Recca’s Kaoru Koganei and his Kogan Anki, which has six transformations. Another notable example of a morphing weapon is the Quinques in Tokyo Ghoul.

9. Long-Ranged Melee Weapons

If a target is out of reach or backed away some distance, you’d normally have to use a gun or bow to harm them.

But not for One Piece’s Roronoa Zoro and his 180-Pound Phoenix technique, allowing him to swing his swords and shoot compressed air that acts as a violent projectile. In anime series, melee weapons can somehow close the gap between swords and guns.

We can find other characters who use sword techniques that work the same way, like Ichigo’s Getsuga Tensho (Bleach) and Yami Sukehiro’s Dark Cloaked Avidya Slash (Black Clover).

8. Risky Cursed Weapons

The series Jujutsu Kaisen features cursed tools and cursed weapons, which are objects imbued with cursed energy that gives their users the ability to fight off cursed spirits.

More commonly, the idea of a cursed weapon in most anime series is one that’s cursed (literally) by a demon or evil being, such that anyone who wields it without sufficient strength or willpower dies or gets possessed.

Other anime series feature cursed weapons as powerful items that bring bad luck and misery to their wielders. Some well-known examples include the Cursed Gears in Seraph of the End and Murasame in Akame ga Kill!.

7. Just Some Ordinary Items

Sometimes, normal and random items can be as lethal as any weapon when it comes to anime. It can be a playing card, a walking stick, a suitcase, or even a fishing rod.

And in some anime series, a simple enhancement can turn anything into a deadly weapon, perhaps with Nen (Hunter X Hunter) or Armament Haki (One Piece) or just a mechanical upgrade via tinkering.

6. Wierd Yet Cool Weapon

Some weapons may look unconventional and weird, but are still cool and useful once they show their true capabilities. One example is the Shibuki, a sword that doesn’t slice but instead explodes by utilizing explosive tags in its blade (Naruto).

Another example is the Extase from Akame ga Kill!, which looks like a giant pair of scissors. It’s incredibly sharp, but also has a trump card: it can creates a blinding flash of light.

5. Summoned Weapons

There are characters in anime who can conjure their weapons out of thin air, or sometimes summon them over to the wielder’s hand. Calling forth a weapon is common to characters in shonen anime series, allowing them to be ready for a fight at a moment’s notice.

Erza Scarlet of Fairy Tail summons her armor and weapons using her Requip Magic. The Blazers in the Chivalry of a Failed Knight series summon their weapons by calling out their names.

Kite also summons random weapons using his Crazy Slot (Hunter X Hunter) while Maki Zenin and Megumi Fushiguro use weapons stored in Megumi’s shadow (Jujutsu Kaisen).

4. Instantly Created Weapons

Contrary to being summoned, some weapons can be instantly created on the spot, usually by manipulating elemental attributes: fireballs, flame swords, ice daggers, water bullets, and more.

Gray Fullbuster creates weapons using his Ice-Make Magic (Fairy Tail) while Recca uses his dragons to create fire weapons (Flame of Recca).

There are also weapons that are created from the wielders body parts, like Izumi’s hand that turns into deadly blades (Parasyte: The Maxim), Vash’s Angel Arms (Trigun), and Baby 5 who can turn entirely into a gun, cannon, or any weapon (One Piece).

3. Power-Granting Weapons

Some characters don’t have powers and abilities until they get a hold of a weapon that grants them one. These weapons become the treasures of those characters and can’t move on without them.

Asta is a magicless individual who’s granted a five-leaf clover grimoire housing an anti-magic sword (Black Clover). The mystical weapons like the Ensui of Tokiya Mikagami and Fujin of Fuko Kirisawa grant them the ability to control water and wind (Flame of Recca).

2. Built for a Certain Target

There are certain weapons that are only effective against certain targets and useless against everything else. Many times, these special weapons are the only thing that can harm a specific being, usually because they’re built for the sole purpose of defeating a particular target.

One example is the God Arc, a large blade (or gun) of the God Eaters that can damage monsters called Aragami (God Eater). Another example is Nichirin swords, the only effective blades that can kill demons because of their Scarlet Crimson Iron Sand and Ore (Demon Slayer).

1. They Choose Their Owner

Soulless or not, some weapons choose their wielders while other weapons are meant for a certain person. These weapons can hurt or kill those who dare to use them if they aren’t the rightful owner, or they simply might not be able to carry or unsheath the weapon.

Galand of the Ten Commandments, despite being a demon and far stronger than any race, can’t raise Escanor’s Divine Axe Rhitta (Seven Deadly Sins). The weapons in Soul Eater are assigned to their wielder. The Tessaiga of Inuyasha and Tensaiga of Sesshomaru are swords no one else can wield except them (Inuyasha).

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