I recently read this question and I gathered from a comment, as all the manga/anime in question was 'unrealistic' (because of the volumes of food eaten) it was considered 'on-topic' even if it didn't otherwise have sci-fi or fantasy elements.

Is this true?


3 Answers 3


I'll offer my opinion as a long-time anime fan.

This Specific Question

in this case, the OP seemed to be asking about this phenomenon within in the context of specifically more sci-fi/fantasy series (Dragonball and One Piece have strong fantastical elements, with magic and crazy science and sword-and-sorcery storytelling elements and tropes obvious throughout the series(es)) as opposed to more realistic slice-of-life anime series, like Yostuba&! or Touch or Honey and Clover.

However, it would be remiss for us to ignore that this trope covers anime at large and not just action-adventure anime series. While this character type is often found in shounen series (explained below) as the main character, there are several female characters of this bent in fantasy/adventure series (Lina Inverse comes to mind, as does Tsukino Usagi) and characters of both genders exhibit this behavior in slapstick comedies and slice-of-life dramas.

Anime Has Genres

Those who deem all anime/manga/manwha as "sci-fi" are basically doing it wrong. Anime, just like any other medium has specific genres. While usually people talk about shonen and shoujo as the main genres, that's a false construct and really more a short-hand for the true genres: action-adventure series tend to be shounen, as do slapstick comedy series and most scifi and fantasy, while shoujo tends to run more rom-com, general fiction, slice-of-life, and some sci-fi with a stronger fantasy element rather than tech.

Regardless, just like television isn't a genre unto itself, anime has distinct genres. Shows like Fullmetal Alchemist cross genre lines with deliberate storytelling choices. FMA is as much a conspiracy thriller as it is military fantasy as it is a character-driven action-adventure series. Anime is large; ignoring its genre subdivisions is not only ignorant but also does the medium a disservice. You wouldn't recommend Tokyo Mew Mew to a Hunger Games fan without good reasons, just as I wouldn't recommend Gunbuster! to a hardcore Disney Princesses fan.

Handling This in the Future

Right now, there isn't an anime site. It's probably going to be here soon but until then, I think the lines are pretty clear:

  • Questions about anime that is clearly scifi/fantasy should be allowed here. This includes questions about scifi/fantasy tropes used in (and that are unique to) scifi/fantasy animanga.
  • Questions about anime that aren't scifi, or that are about tropes that apply to ALL anime should not be allowed here and should probably be shuffled to Movies & TV.
  • 1
    <clap clap clap> The anime proposal isn't going to change the situation, why “until then”? Huh, how is that anime proposal not considered a dupe of Movies & TV?
    – user56
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 23:14
  • 2
    @Gilles Most people who love/watch anime consider themselves distinct from people who enjoy other Movies and Television. It's a historical thing, dating back to The Days of Yore/Usenet. rec.arts.tv was different from rec.arts.anime and it's been that way ever since.
    – Aarthi
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 23:18

The only genre where "realism" is truly critical is hard sci-fi. In all other SFF sub-grenres, realism is an issue of taste, covered by the general concept willing suspension of disbelief. If the user feels that the author has strayed too far outside the bounds of realism, he can stop watching/reading and proclaim to the world his unhappiness with the author. The exact point where readers fall out of disbelief will depend on the reader, the genre and the care with which the author tried to remain self-consistent.

Generally speaking, anime/manga is more about imagination, wonder, and story-telling. Anime/manga fans will give authors a tremendous amount of latitude as long as they maintain internal consistency within the story.

So, to actually answer your question, "lack of realism" isn't, per-se a reason to categorize a work as science fiction or fantasy, in the absence of any science fiction or fantasy elements. On the other hand, some people consider all anime/manga as SFF, regardless of content.


Link to the question: Why do manga characters love to eat a lot of food?

If the anime/manga takes place in a fantasy world with the term 'unrealistic' meaning something not compatible with reality, something extraordinary-- then yes.

The examples used cite two popular anime characters: Goku from Dragonball (1984) and Luffy from One Piece (1997). Other heroes are mentioned in the comments too, which are all from the sci-fi/fantasy genre.

Luffy stuffed with food

It is mentioned in the comments, this kind of behavior also exists in non sci-fi/fantasy based anime/manga. It is probably true, I'm sure somewhere, a realistic story of some sort depicts a protagonist stuffing his/her face with so much food-- probably for comedic purpose.

The kind of extraordinary amounts of food being eaten is 'unrealistic'.

But that doesn't mean that such questions on the historic or social context of such themes found in manga/anime shouldn't belong on a sci-fi/fantasy site.

Either from the anime/manga or where it got it's influence from, has found it's way into reality. Look at Takeru Kobayashi and others in competitive eating. That seems pretty unbelievable and unrealistic, yet it's happening in real life. There are extraordinary amounts of food being consumed.

The X-Men also seem to be 'unrealistic'.

Yet, are there not real mutants in the world that showcase some kind of genetic mutation-- say extra working limbs (example: Lakshmi Tatma), gorilla-like hair all over the body (hypertrichosis), superior strength (Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy), or even long life?

Is life imitating art, or the art imitating life?

These are some examples of stories that are exaggerated that form the basis for sci-fi/fantasy. The question seeks for the historic and/or cultural references that lead to such a theme for such modern Japanese sci-fi/fantasy heroes.


I just wanted to add that the SF&F Stack Exchange community doesn't really have much anime/manga fans asking/answering questions. Whether Japanese cartoons seems on/off topic or not, this doesn't seem to be a good place for such topics.

A simple search (as of 11/8/2012) reveals how many hits are for anime/manga keywords, which is very little. Western sci-fi/fantasy is quite dominant.

Dragonball - 6 hits
Anime - 26 hits
Manga - 21 hits

Star Wars - 626 hits
Marvel - 324 hits
DC Comics - 219 hits
Harry Potter - 811 hits
Dr. Who - 3,301 hits

  • Not full reply to this, as I'm still considering all the points. But X-Men are not just unrealistic, they are more than that, they're science fiction. The 'mutants' You've linked to are science fact. I'd argue that large appetites are also fact, and not at all fictional. If the question was how can Luffy eat so much and not be sick, or why does person from 'fictional culture x' eat so much then I'd say its on topic, but in the same way Lakshmi isn't fictional and not on-topic I don't see why Japanese culture is.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 17:10
  • @Pureferret Yes, the mutants I've pointed to are science fact and extraordinary by their own means. Yes, the X-Men are sci-fi/fantasy stories. But also Kobayashi is also real, but Japanese characters with huge appetites like Goku and Luffy both also fit into the scifi/fantasy genre. Sure they're not like America's Han Solo, Superman, or Optimus Prime, but they should have their place here on SF&F just like all American and European based characters we love. And I don't see why Japanese's real culture doesn't pass muster, but maybe Thor's mythology or America's real life Hollywood culture does.
    – spong
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 19:52
  • Hollywood culture shouldn't, and mythology is by nature about myths that are deemed to be fantastic ancient stories. Asking why do characters in manga have huge appetites, is like asking why does Batman think bats are scary (western culture) or why does <character> from english sci-fi drink tea (English culture).
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 20:10
  • @Pureferret SF&F contains users from around the world. How many of them share in their answers something that starts out like: "In America..." or "In India...", just insert name of country in. People on SF&F are sharing their cultures-- what they see from their location. Cultures also influence the stories told to which we create classical and modern mythology to which is akin to scifi/fantasy worlds. Just because something real has sway on how we tell our stories shouldn't be reason to label it off-topic.
    – spong
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 20:25
  • @Pureferret These all fit into as a contextual question.
    – spong
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 20:26
  • Is Jughead sci-fi, or "not compatible with reality"? Honest question, as I've never read any Jughead or Archie comics.
    – Beofett
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 21:03
  • @Beofett Jughead isn't scifi, although there have been some fun stories told with their characters given super powers. But those are more of the special stories.
    – spong
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 21:35
  • @sunpech Hmmm, I'm still 50/50. Could I ask 'Why do Shaggy and Scooby always eat so much?' That's definitely Sci-Fi, but I wouldn't think it was a great question because the fact they eat a lot can just as easily be asked about and off-topic subject.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 21:38
  • @Pureferret Asking about Shaggy/Scooby eating a lot is less interesting since it's very localized and uncommon in America. But think of Pixar's Incredibles when Mr. Incredible wanted a cape for his costume-- something prevalent for the super-hero mythology. That's interesting because it's quite broad. I consider manga characters with big appetites interesting for the same reason. It's always a main character, and most likely the main hero of the story that has such a characteristic. What does this reflect about the culture? Why this common element of 'lots of food/eating' used in storytelling?
    – spong
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 0:20
  • But again, that's in my opinion a flawed argument: superhero capes are inherently linked to a sci-fi/fantasy trope. Eating in general isn't.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 7:18
  • @Pureferret Certainly in Western culture stories superhero capes are part of the SF&F genre. But the characteristic of eating a lot of food is often seen in the anime/manga heroes, which is my point you seem to ignore. This is becoming an East meets West based culture clash. Interestingly enough, capes aren't often found in Eastern (Asian-based) superheroes-- it's more likely to be a karate gi or some martial arts outfit.
    – spong
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 11:59
  • @sunpech: I'm not ignoring the 'eating a lot of food' in manga/anime. My point is that it's not specifically a sci-fi/fantasy trope, it's purely a manga/anime thing. Not all manga/anime is on-topic for this SE. I'm not saying the question definitely is or is not on-topic here, I was just asking.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 21:03
  • @sunpech You mentioned the "Historical or societal context of a work" aspect of the FAQ, both in comments on the question and, less specifically, in your answer here. I'd make two arguments against that: 1. I'd say that it has to be a SciFi or Fantasy work for that to apply (you provided examples that would fit this category, but there are others that wouldn't). 2. That question isn't asking about a specific work. Commented Nov 11, 2012 at 0:09

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