All right, so Madoka was a serious and depressing topic last time, so I thought I’d go with a pick-me-up for this next discussion. So! Let’s talk about my favorite hilarious troll moves I’ve seen from anime. Now these are just my five favorite trolls that I wanted to point out, and I’m limited by what I’ve seen, so I won’t make this a list of “The Top Five of All Anime” or anything that conceited. Also, another limitation on this list is that I’m only including what I consider as funny trolling in anime, i.e. playing a joke on the audience for a bit of fun, rather than for a sudden plot twist in the story that changes everything, or a scene that is a big middle finger to the fans such as Sword Art Online S1 and its main antagonist’s final spiel. (Also, I’m looking at you, OreImo. The lesson here is if you wanna write a story, but your publisher doesn’t want it written the way you want, get a new publisher.) As such, I’m also excluding any major plot twists from anime that greatly influence the story, such as Madoka: The Rebellion Story or other twist endings that change everything in general. These are all great, but they deserve their own discussion since the anime industry really loves to take a left turn towards the end of their series, whether they need to or not. Since this isn’t including any major plot twists that dramatically change a series, this discussion will actually be relatively major spoiler free, but we will be going over material that’s in the middle to end of some anime so SPOILER ALERT if you care about minor spoilers for a series. Now, let’s get this crazy hootenanny, shindig started!
5.) Kill la Kill – The “Recap” episode
Trigger never likes to do anything the way the other guys decide to make it. As a studio, they’ve yet to have an execution of an anime series that I’ve seen done anywhere else, and each project of theirs is definitely unique. When it comes to Kill la Kill, if you haven’t seen my previous article on it, this is no different. Everything happens at a blazingly fast speed, with ridiculous cuts and humor splattered across the screen. So when they did their recap episode, this was no different.
Some anime have a recap episode in the middle of a series or after a lot of things go down in order to bring people back up to speed. For those who watch a series week by week, instead of stumbling upon the series or waiting to watch one after it’s ended, this means that you can wait a week for a new episode just to find out it’s a rehash of everything you’ve already seen. For longer series, sometimes this is necessary, but it’s understandable that people may not hold recap episodes in their top ten most gratifying things they’ve waited a week for. However, Kill la Kill never likes to slow down. So for their recap episode, we have Senketsu, the sentient sailor uniform, explain that this week they’ll be doing a recap, stating that it’s been a long time coming and many probably suspected they’d be doing one. And with that introduction out of the way… We’re suddenly assaulted audibly and visually as Senketsu takes on the entire series’ plot up to this point in under two minutes. It’s an insane barrage of constantly changing images and information shot at you like a machine gun, all with a backing track of several different fast-paced classical songs, such as the William Tell Overture and Offenbach’s Infernal Gallop, being blasted at the viewers’ ears as fifteen episodes are gone through within just over a minute and forty seconds. With Senketsu and the music finally reaching a climax, we’re left breathless as Senketsu laughs to himself and states that in Kill la Kill even the recap is done so fast as to only take up the intro of the episode. And with that out of the way, the show launches immediately back into where it left off just a week ago.
The crazy two minutes of recap in all its glory (Obviously spoilers if you haven’t seen the show):
This joke is actually a wonderful troll in that it catches the audience off-guard, but benefits the viewer by getting everything out of the way so the series can move on, which in the case of Kill la Kill’s breakneck pacing, is probably for the best. Even though I caught this during a marathon of the series, it still left me laughing as it was another twenty-three minutes I initially thought I’d have to wade through before pleasantly being treated to another full episode minus an initial two minutes of absolute confusion. In a series that throws laughs and tears at you (sometimes at the same time) like mashed potatoes in a food fight, it was a perfect way to do what would have otherwise been a dull twenty-three minutes of rehashed material. It was hilarious, and if you managed to keep up with the barrage of a recap, was a great way to catch the audience up, but not slow down an incredibly fast-paced show.
4.) Love Live! Season Two – µ’s doesn’t get into the competition
This is another fun one. As a quick spoiler-mild summary of the series, Love Live! is an anime from Sunrise Studio about a group of nine girls who start a high school idol club as the group µ’s in order to bring more interest to their school and keep it from closing down. Along the way, they face other idol groups, typical high school emotional situations, and failure, but persevere and manage to gain popularity and a close-knit friendship with each other. In the second season, the girls decide to enter an idol competition of all the major high school idol groups called Love Live! (go figure) and try to make it big. During the first preliminary, the girls perform their hearts out, but get incredibly nervous about how well they did in comparison to all the other groups. The morning of the results, the girls gather in their club room and discuss how each one is dealing with their nervousness as one of the girls, Hanayo, checks the Love Live website to see if they made it. One scroll after another, the idol groups appear until… µ’s didn’t make it. The whole group freaks out, with some on the verge of tears. After all of their hard work, they failed. The group screams, then suddenly- “And that’s how my dream went!” says Honoka, retelling her dream from the night before. With that sudden scene change, Honoka and the others are back in the clubroom, nervous and waiting to see if they made it past the preliminaries just like a few minutes ago. We see the same scene (sans the telling of the dream) with the same characters being nervous in the same way. Finally, they scroll through the list and… the last one to make it is µ’s, but not without plenty of anxiety that Honoka’s dream was foretelling the future.
The best part about this scene is that Sunrise Studio did everything to make it seem like µ’s was actually not going to make it. This series had previously pulled a few heart-wrenching stunts like this before, but without the joke end. There was no little clue to say it was a dream, and the scene played out exactly as if that was the end of their try at the competition. The scene change to the real world was also so sudden that it hits like a speeding car into a brick wall when it happens. And to top it all off, Sunrise re-did the same exact five minutes after coming back from the dream in the same exact manner with no difference at all, just to make the audience nervous that µ’s really wasn’t going to make it again. Was it necessary? No, but it added humor to an otherwise serious scene and after the fact, it was damn funny watching the characters’ reactions the second time around as they had just gone through the same ordeal as the audience.
3.) Hyouka – Oreki makes a move… Or, wait. What?
As a warning, this scene acts as an epilogue to the series and involves the protagonist, Oreki, and his major crush, Chitanda, so this one’s a bit of a spoiler if you care about the last few lines of the anime, but otherwise, doesn’t directly relate to any major plot points in the series and also doesn’t spoil anything else that wasn’t already shown fifty times over. Speaking of being shown fifty times over, in case you haven’t seen this beautiful series about solving mysteries, what we’ll be talking about is the constant adorable subplot of these two characters, Oreki and Chitanda, crushing hard towards each other throughout the series and how they refuse to act upon their feelings. Twenty-two episodes of crushing from afar, awkward silences, and adorable moments later, we find these two no closer to popping the question of dating. Until now.
Aren’t they just the most adorable couple of idiots in denial?
The last episode of this anime is entirely set up to allow these two characters to bond and become closer as they go together to visit Chitanda’s family and the festival her family puts on each year, as well as work together to keep the festival from failing. Afterwards, Oreki and Chitanda are walking home from said celebration. Both are discussing everything that happened and Chitanda’s role as the daughter of a very important and prestigious farming family. Chitanda mentions how she’ll have to take up a leading role in her family and how her two choices she sees for herself are going into science to learn how to create better crops, or going into business to increase yields and avoid bankruptcy. Chitanda states that she feels she’d be terrible at running a business and has decided to go into science. There’s a pause between them, and then Chitanda suddenly stops as they are walking and says to Oreki that the place they’re walking so peacefully through, is not the prettiest or the most promising, but she wanted Oreki to see it, bravely letting her emotions shine through a bit. Oreki stops as well, thinks for a second, and says “By the way… About the business side that you gave up on… How about I take care of that for you?” alluding to marrying her in order to support her in her pursuit. She gasps as the cherry blossoms from the tree nearby fall down around them, highlighting the scene as time seems to have stopped between these two. Suddenly, one of blossoms covers the camera and we’re taken back in time not ten seconds ago. Chitanda asks why Oreki said “By the way…” to her and paused without saying anything else. Oreki suddenly blushes and says never mind, mumbling to Chitanda about how it’s getting cold. She smiles as she realizes at least partially his feelings towards her and the series ends with cherry blossoms highlighting the moment for them.
The ending lines starting at Oreki saying “By the way…” Sorry, I couldn’t find one with subtitles.
The best part about this moment is how it initially catches the viewer off-guard, but still perfectly fits the anime. In many segments throughout the series, we see Oreki’s thoughts through very imaginative segments of imagery, such as when Chitanda comes very close to him and Oreki’s heart skips a beat. He suddenly sees Chitanda’s hair bloom beautiful green and white flowers and grow to wrap all around him, connecting them. Oreki blushes hard and tries not to let his emotions show, but then we’re suddenly transported back to reality, where Oreki is just standing there blushing at Chitanda as she quizzically stares at him with a smile. There are also moments when the objects in the background change to show different emotions Oreki feels. One great example is when a clock in a coffee shop is completely normal, but after the camera changes to show Chitanda say something potentially misleading to Oreki, we switch back to Oreki and the clock’s pendulum is now a heart. These segments are wonderful to look at, but so sparse throughout the show that each time they occur, they come as a pleasant surprise that highlights the small subplot of trying to get these two together.
However, from the start of the series, the show seems to push these two together at a pace slower than a snail’s first baby steps. In doing this, by the end of it, I found myself on edge, desperately hoping against hope that they’d at least acknowledge that they both liked each other. Then suddenly, out of the blue, in the last scene of the last episode Oreki jumps ahead a few steps and goes right to marriage? My jaw made a small crater in the floor as I watched this. I still feel a bruise on the bottom of my chin. Then just as suddenly, we have that cherry blossom go in front of the camera and ruin the entire moment, with Oreki really just blushing as he can’t seem to get the right words out. I remember yelling at the screen, “Oh, you fucker!” But then suddenly Chitanda smiles, acknowledging at least partially how Oreki feels.
It’s a wonderful scene and a great last highlight to a series that houses a beautiful, innocent relationship between two characters. I really love Hyouka for portraying several different love stories very intelligently, not just the one mentioned above. I also absolutely love the mysteries the group solves throughout the show. While many are deeply inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dame Agatha Christie, each one is entirely unique in how it works in context for the show and massively clever in how they’re solved. It’s an ingenious series and I highly recommend it if you have the time.
2.) Katanagatari – The Fight with Hakuhei Sabi
This one had me in stitches because there was no way to see it coming. In Katanagatari, Shichika Yasuri, a swordsmen who practices fighting without swords, and Togame, a brilliant woman and self-proclaimed “master strategist”, are on a quest to find and secure twelve evil blades with immense power. The problem is each blade has its own individual wielding them, and not a single owner is less than a master in fighting. Each episode of the series follows one month of finding, negotiating and/or fighting, and then taking the blades from each of their owners, ending in one full year of an epic story that borrows heavily from Japanese folklore in artistic style and theming, but throws in modern influences to create a very unique and interesting package. In fact, many things about this show, such as the characters and philosophies, are incredibly unique and the show surprisingly does a great job of blending off-beat humor into the mix of this epic tale. This show can be incredibly funny and the “fight” against the master swordsmen Hakuhei Sabi is one of the funniest moments of them all.
Throughout the first few episodes of the series, Hakuhei Sabi is shown to exhibit an amazing fighting prowess and his blade seems to be shaping up as one of the hardest to achieve by our protagonists Shichika and Togame. The third episode of the series ended dramatically and alluded in its preview of the next episode to finally getting to this epic fight, team Shichika/Togame against Hakuhei, with dramatic action and crazy moves flashing across the screen to tantalize the audience for the next episode. One month of scheduled release later (or in the case of my marathon of the series, one bathroom break later), we head into the fourth episode with massive anticipation. The episode starts with Togame receiving a letter of challenge from Hakuhei for their fight and her complaining about the old-fashioned style he deals with challenging them. With her left eye changing color to reflect a mind immediately scheming, we head into the intro song. After the opening credits, we come back to our two protagonists as they discuss the coming battle. With a little joking around, they’ve made their plans, and we change scenes to a group of ninjas that had been seen in a previous episode planning to assassinate Shichika’s sister in order to provoke him. From this point on, the rest of the episode is from the perspective of these ninjas as they attack and fail to eliminate their opponent in what turns into something straight out of a horror movie.
This is where the joke comes in. The episode takes so much time on this side story that by the time we come back to our two protagonists, they’ve already had the battle and are relaxing and patting each other on the back on how well they did against their incredibly tough opponent. After building up to this battle for an accumulation of four episodes, roughly almost four hours of content, all we get is an after battle scene where they talk about this climactic fight in a play-by-play like you’d expect sportscasters to after just witnessing the best game of the season. Phrases like, “Did you see that…” and “I can’t believe what happened when you…” and “Remember when he…” are continuously thrown out for ten minutes as these two triumphant heroes chow down on an after-battle snack. The icing on this troll cake is that the characters talk about how they’ve bonded even more now through all of the actions we’ve just missed, as they look out at the completely decimated island that was their battlefield just across the waters, showing very obviously how what the audience missed was apparently the most intense scene of the entire series thus far.
The whole idea of purposefully misleading the audience by having a preview that shows nothing of what actually happens is hilarious and on top of this, having the anime poke fun at the audience by having an entire scene dedicated to explaining what they missed out on had me both fuming and laughing at the same time. This series is clever and never likes to repeat the same exact joke, unless it’s a gag that they can farm for pure hilarity gold, so it never did a scene like this again. It came and went like a random guy that pushes you over and laughs at your fall while jumping off the bridge to his hidey hole. In other words, a typical troll. And while your normal troll has crazy hair, plastic skin, and haunts my childhood memories of playing with toys (along with furbies), this troll is one that I love. I love this show for all of its clever plot, unique and interesting characters, and never-ending ridiculous jokes.
1.) Monogatari Series: Second Season – Medusa Arc’s prediction of the end
This is my all-time favorite troll I’ve ever seen in an anime. I may be biased here. For one, I absolutely love this anime. For another, this one was really clever, but so absurd that it took me way off-guard. Without spoiling too much of this beautiful story, at the end of the Medusa arc of episodes, one of the main characters of the show falls into insanity after attaining godhood and attacks the main character Araragi. Senjougahara, the girlfriend of Araragi and all around clever bad-ass, strikes a deal with our insane friend to spare her and her love’s lives until after graduation from high school. However, secretly it’s to give Senjougahara enough time to come up with a plan to save them. Not knowing this, our mad god finds the idea of waiting until an arbitrary time, such as high school graduation, to murder someone simply hilarious and allows it. Not promising to do no harm but just letting them live through any injury their crazy godliness inflicts upon them. After this, Insane in the godly Membrane, who narrated the entirety of this arc of the series from their perspective, talks directly to the audience one last time and states how instead of the typical epilogue at the end of each arc of this show, she’ll give a trailer for the end of the season, with the play-by-play of a fierce and horrible end to the series. Every character will be there and a lot of blood will be spilled as well as a few poetic deaths for several of the main cast. Finally, we see nutty god deposit our protagonist’s body in a box for this god to seemingly forever have as a trophy.
For those that don’t mind major spoilers of the final scene of the Medusa arc, here’s what I’m talking about:
While the mad god is twisting the scene to fit how he/she feels it’ll end, everything does seem to lead up to a bloody and horrible final battle like this trailer states, with everyone planning for an ultimate fight for survival against a mad god. But here is where it gets good. The show leaves us with a cliffhanger, as the arc after this gives us a little reprieve via a side story, heightening the tension the audience feels by not getting to the end already. Afterwords, we get a complete jump to another character altogether who decides to take matters into their own hands to save our wonderful cast of characters. Without spoiling the end of the season, everything comes to a head with time running out until… We get nothing. Nothing at all at least as far as our crazy deity’s prediction goes. The final “battle” suddenly doesn’t involve anything that was foretold from on high. The scene goes from a nerve-racking situation to absolutely laughable in the best way possible with an all-out airing of dirty laundry and not a single character smitten as the embarrassed mad god can’t even keep their emotions in check, let alone kill someone. It’s hilarious, and shows how a person achieving the powers of a god is still just a person at heart, no matter how far apart from humanity they seemed. The mad god is defeated in an absurd way and all is saved so this wonderful story doesn’t end well before it needs to. This paragraph will not do this scene justice as I didn’t want to spoil the punchline for those who haven’t watched the show, but I implore you to see it as this anime does a wonderful job of writing some of the cleverest twists and endings I’ve seen, and this scene left me in stitches, forcing me to pause the video so I could try and stop laughing before continuing the show.
And these are my favorite funny troll moves I’ve seen done in anime. Once again, this is a list unique to me and only represents which ones I thought were the best. It also is a bit of a nitpicked list as I tried to avoid troll moves I thought were too much of a spoiler for a series or were too dark to be considered funny. That said, I feel these are really great and all come from great shows. If you haven’t seen any of these shows, I highly recommend them as they all have a lot of great and clever ideas to bring to the table. If you have any thoughts on these or can think of any you’ve seen that had you laughing, let me know!