Anime is Cringe: Why Some Feel This Way?

Here’s why anime make some people cringe so hard:

Some of the stranger behaviors of anime fans can make people cringe, like sleeping with a body pillow designed after a character in a show.

Shows themselves make people cringe with inappropriate relationships, worn-out cliches, and excessive fan service.

So if you want to learn all about why exactly some people cringe at anime, then this article is for you. Keep reading!

Anime Making Some Cringe Hard: Why? (Everything to Know)

What Does “Cringe” Really Mean?

A cute woman facepalm looking at the laptop

Let’s be clear, “Cringe” is a colloquial term that doesn’t have the clearest meaning. People use it as a derogatory word to describe situations that they don’t like.

If we’re trying to be more specific, cringe is probably a form of embarrassment.

Instead of being embarrassed about something you have done or said, cringe is when you’re embarrassed for someone else.

It’s usually based on you perceiving a situation to be in some way socially unacceptable. Someone wearing weird clothes can make you cringe. The things people say and do can make you cringe.

And, you can cringe from watching fictional characters in a movie or TV show do things that make you feel embarrassed, It’s all on the table.

Why Does Anime Make Some People Cringe? (6 Reasons)

young woman sitting by the window facepalms while using laptop

So, why does anime make some people cringe? If we’re being honest, anime probably makes most people cringe at some point. I’m not picking on anime. I’m actually a pretty big fan of a number of shows.

But, if we objectively look at anime, there are some things that are weird at best.

And, if you’re not used to anime, you’ll find plenty of reasons to cringe. So, let’s look at it from that angle. Below is a list of the things related to anime that are most likely to make someone cringe.

#1 They Don’t “Get It”

shorthaired blonde annoyed while using laptop

Let’s be brutally honest. Sometimes, it’s not the anime; it’s the person cringing.

Can you think of a time when someone cringed or ridiculed something that they didn’t understand? The irony is that when you cringe at something in ignorance, you become cringey yourself.

But, we don’t have to go down that rabbit hole.Instead, we can focus on the idea that sometimes, it’s not them, it’s you.

If anime really doesn’t make sense to you, it might seem cringey. And, as I’ll show you, there are plenty of times when anime is pretty cringey.

But at the very beginning of this conversation, we need to acknowledge that cringe is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes anime isn’t the problem.

#2 Extreme Fan Behavior

young female cosplayer in Naruto's character

That said, a lot of people who ‘don’t get’ anime also don’t cringe at it.

Yet, just about everyone cringes in the face of some of the very bizarre behavior you’ll see from anime fans at times.

The majority of anime fans don’t fit into this category or description, but there are times when fans can go off the rails a bit.

I’m talking about when fans brag about sleeping with their anime girl body pillows or claim to have virtual girlfriends.

It happens when people cosplay and get very into character in settings where it’s not normal.

By all means, cosplay at a comic con, but you probably shouldn’t be taking your biology final with a Naruto forehead protector on your face.

It’s a little weird. If you’ve been around anime culture at all, you’ve seen the fans who take things pretty far. It’s not uncommon for people to cringe in the face of some of that behavior.

In fact, even fans of anime will see the cringe at times.

#3 Bad Voice Acting

young woman using laptop cringing while listening in headset

This is more common among anime fans than people who don’t really engage with the medium, but cringe is cringe.

No one said we had to limit this to anime outsiders. In anime, there’s a bit of a war between people who prefer dubs and people who prefer subs.

To clarify, since anime is originally produced in Japanese, people who aren’t fluent rely on translations to enjoy the shows.

There are two ways (typically) to translate a show.

You can dub English voices over the original Japanese, or you can use subtitles that leave the original audio intact and allow you to read translations in real time.

When it comes to anime, there’s a particular issue that comes up. A lot of the English voice actors who are dubbed into the shows are not the best at acting.

A lot of anime fans find their subpar acting to be outright cringe-worthy. This was a much bigger problem in the past.

As anime has gone more mainstream, dubbed voice acting budgets have grown, but even with modern anime, you can find really bad voice acting at times.

A lot of people cringe.

#4 Anime Relationships

cute anime couple in love

Oh boy. This is the part where we get a lot deeper into the cringey aspects of anime, and they really are cringey.

Some of these topics are a bit sensitive. I’m going to tread lightly here, and I’m really not trying to pass judgment on anyone or their tastes.

But, these topics involve romance and sexuality, and there’s only so much I can do to present this in a safe fashion.

With all of that said, there are portrayals of romantic relationships in anime series that are . . . not for everyone.

A lot of this stems from cultural differences. After all, anime is produced in Japan, and Japan has a distinct culture.

Sometimes, that culture doesn’t translate well. There are actually a few specific aspects of this that I think are worth pointing out. As you’ll see, each of them can induce plenty of cringe.

Little Sister Trope

This is a little frustrating because, on the surface, the little sister trope is actually cute and innocent. There’s a cultural trope in Japan where little sisters talk about marrying their older brothers.

I’m talking about girls under the age of 8 here, and often even younger than that. It’s not creepy or weird.

It’s just supposed to demonstrate a loving, trusting sibling relationship, and the fact that the younger sister doesn’t actually know what marriage is is portrayed as cute ignorance.

It would be similar to the same character saying she wanted to be an airplane when she grows up (as opposed to, say, a pilot).

So far, we’re not into the cringey part. The problem with this trope is that some shows take it a lot further.

While most anime series are not graphic in their depiction, there is a recurring trope where siblings take this innocent idea too far.

There are actual romantic feelings (usually one-sided and without any physical realization).

For many who watch anime, these moments are uncomfortable at best, and it’s a trope that doesn’t really receive a lot of backlash in Japan, so it’s probably going to be around for a while.


You thought that was uncomfortable? We’re only getting started. Another cringey trope in anime is the lolicon (or loli) character.

How do I put this? These are characters who look very young—as in they look like they are obviously children—who are put into romantic or sexualized situations.

Yeah, this isn’t fun for me either. There are two ways the trope tends to go. Either the loli character is in fact young, and it’s super cringey.

Or, the loli character is actually much, much older than they look. They just happen to appear very young. It’s also super cringey, and unfortunately, it’s a staple in too many anime shows. 

The Focus on High School

A lot of anime is focused on teen audiences.Unsurprisingly, this means that a lot of anime characters are in high school.

It’s a common thing, and it’s not that cringey. Plenty of media depicts characters in this age range.

For the most part, relationships among high schoolers aren’t any worse in anime than other mainstream media depictions.

In fact, a lot of anime relationships are relatively tame.

One of the common tropes is that simply holding hands is a big step in a romance.

For shows that stick to this, high school relationships aren’t so bad.

But, anime is a large medium, so there are shows that take things a lot further. Anime gets cringey with teenagers are put in excessively sexual situations.

It’s not outright pornographic (unless you’re watching pornographic anime), but it can still be uncomfortable.

It’s accented by the fact that these characters usually have hyper-sexualized features.

The male characters have impossibly chiseled muscles. The female characters have proportions that definitely don’t make physical sense.

To skip any unsavory details, it’s definitely cringey.

Actually, I skipped the worst part. The age of consent in Japan is 13. I’ll leave you to figure out for yourself how that influences these depictions.

Fan Service

The last bit of cringe in this category actually isn’t about relationships in particular, but if you tie it in with the other cringey aspects of anime relationships, you’ll see why it’s here.

This is the idea of fan service.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s basically any gratuitous display of sexuality.

A few years back, you might remember a bit of controversy when a character in Star Trek Into Darkness was shown shirtless for basically no reason.

It was gratuitous, and this is very much the idea of fan service.It happens a frustrating amount in anime. A scene will have a ridiculous camera angle just to put a character’s butt in the center of the frame. Characters’ underwear is displayed for no reason.

It’s a lot of things like this.

Again, I want to avoid any graphic details. The idea is that shows do this type of fan service, and for many people, it’s cringey.

#5 Cliches

female anime basketball player

Getting away from anime relationships, another big source of cringe is the cliches.

Any medium is going to have its cliches, and they can always be cringey. Old sitcoms would always have a sappy lesson tied to the episode.

With anime, the cliches are abundant, so I’m only going to take you through some of the most notable.

At the top of the list is probably the cliche of fighting for friends. It works like this.

An anime hero is fighting an epic battle. But, they’re losing. They take quite a beating, and they’re on the verge of death. The outlook is bleak.

But, they remember that they are fighting for their friends, and a sudden burst of emotion surges through them.

Not only do they find a second wind; they’re much stronger than before. They win the battle, all due to the power of friendship.

In some cases, the anime will outright say that they were empowered by friendship. It can be pretty cheesy, and if you don’t like cheese, it can be pretty cringey.

Another cliche comes up in anime that revolve around a sport. It doesn’t matter what the sport is, the cliche is pretty much always there.

The characters all play on a team, and the lower classmen are determined to win for the sake of their upperclassmen (called senpai in Japanese).

It’s similar to the fighting for friends cliche, but in this case, it’s all for the senpai.

And, at the top of the list of cringey anime cliches is the falling onto another character in an inappropriate way. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds.

A character will literally trip and fall. It’s a genuine accident.

But, as a result, they will fall on top of another character, and in the ensuing tumbling, both characters will end up in an inappropriate, compromised situation.

Hands will be on inappropriate body parts. That kind of thing. It happens a lot, and it can often be cringey.

#6 The Arguments

young woman using laptop with serious, irritated expression

Last on our list of cringe turns things back to fans of anime. I already mentioned some extreme behaviors.

This doesn’t really belong in that category. The simple fact is that fans of things sometimes argue about the stuff that they like.

You can see sports fans argue about who the GOAT is. Movie fans argue about the best movies or scenes.

Anime fans argue too. The arguments come in varieties.

Which characters would win in fights against each other? Which shows are the best? Which villains are the creepiest? Which girls are the cutest?

Did you see the last one I snuck in there? It can get as cringey as you might guess.

Anime fans get caught up in some weird arguments sometimes. If you’re on the outside of those arguments, they can seem pretty cringey.


  • Yukio McDonough

    Yukio McDonough, co-founder of TechWithTech, combines his expertise in audio engineering and tech entrepreneurship to lead a tech blog dedicated to offering actionable tech advice. After success in tech repair and IT with Tech Medic, he now aims to make TechWithTech a top source for understanding and leveraging technology to enhance daily life.

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