Type: Deus ex Machina
What made it popular: Dragon Ball series
Cliche Level: High
Where can you find it: Most commonly used in shounen action titles, otherwise known as ‘battle shounen, but you can occasionaly find it even amongst other demographics such as seinen or shoujo, albeit much rarer as this is a typical shounen mechanic.
I’m sure everyone knows this one.
The character is about to lose and gets beaten up heavily by the villain…..Then all of a sudden he remembers the friends and family that he must protect or else they will die, he gets back up, seemingly regaining his energy just enough to punch out the villain and save the day. This is mainly used in the battle-shönen genre by lazy writers, but it’s not like it matters much, considering that the average person watching this kind of show wouldn’t even realize ( or care for that matter) that it’s bad writing and one of the laziest moves you can commit. It is one of the methods to increase drama and the tension within the show and also a method that allows the protagonist to defeat villains and characters that he would otherwise have no chance against.
This is actually a subcategory of something called Willpower Power-up, which I will also talk about now.This is pretty much the same as the nakama powerups except that it is not necessarily triggered by friendship or nakamas, but instead pure willpower alone. Examples would be like when Kirito was killed in game terms by Kayaba, but he had the sudden urge to defeat allowing him to still be “alive” even though he was dead by game terms and defeat him in surprise or another example would be when Luka from Monster Girl Quest only beat the dragon knight Granberia because she was in the way of his goals and not because he was a stronger swordsman than her.
Why it’s bad: Do I even need to explain this one? As I have already said before, it is a lame and lazy move by the writers, used when they have no idea how to make the protagonist defeat a stronger character with actual explanations and using the mechanics of their story/world. Any person that usually defends this kind of trash has never watched any anime with properly done fight scenes like Shigurui that do not rely on willpower ex machina, but instead make us of actual techniques and skill, and thus make the victory and fight much more believable. Another problem coming from this is that it’s very unrealistic especially when it’s used in semi-serious works, you won’t get stronger in real situation just by thinking about your loved one or ideals, sure there is adrenalin, but it won’t revive you from the death and allow you to do impossible things. The moment this is used in a serious show, you are immediately put into disbeleif due to the otherwise serious surroundings, thus ruining your experience and immersion.