Formulas for different anime and manga series rarely ever change for a very good reason: they work. I know in the past I have mocked certain arbitrary parts of the anime formula, the harem and exploitation anime in particular but my reasons were quite clear. Harem relies on sexy girls (or guys) to keep your attention and exploitation with over the top violence. But the formulas that work in anime usually involve characters of the show fulfilling various character archetypes we’ve seen time and time again in the past. There is the “we were childhood friends growing up” formula, the “turn the cold, distant character into a loveable guy”, and more that I really can’t be bothered to list.
One formula I enjoyed as a kid growing up and still do to this day is a formula that, in my opinion, can be used in any anime or manga and still work: the teenage team.
The Teenage Team, as I like to call it, is when a group of adolescences or pre-teens get together in a group in order to save the world/an alien species/the evil dictator who wants to take over…put whatever antagonist you want, the team bands together against near impossible odds to triumph over the said evil. But why does it work so well?
For starters, the team will always have characters that you can honestly like. Of course there will be personality issues with one or two characters that you might not like and want to reach through the television just to punch them in the kidneys, but they always have a redeeming trait to counteract this off-putting trait about them. Let me pick a few examples. In Teen Titans, Beast Boy was an annoying, hyperactive prankster slob but when the time called for it, he knew how to be a real badass and a reliable ally. Tai from the first season of Digimon fell into a similar construct, but his abilities as a leader and as a friend and older brother really make you like him. And as much as it pains me to say this, Naruto can also be a genius when the time calls for it. Look at his battle with Pain. That battle had some clever thinking on his part mixed with three parts strategy, two parts strength, and a whole lot of luck.
The goals of the team are always admirable, if not amazing. Granted I feel a little sour at times when a group of teenagers is asked to rectify the issues of the area they live in since they may be the only ones to do so, but the fact that they go into battle with the idea that failure could occur and they themselves could be killed is quite noble and brave. Although you got to wonder what sorts of organization local armies have if they ask a group of thirteen year olds to combat monsters.
Growing up with shows like Pokémon, Digimon, Sailor Moon, and Yu-Gi-Oh! pushed the teenage team formula again and again and it never faltered to be awesome. I think it has to do with my love of Power Rangers before watching anime that made me enjoy a team, but that aside, with the small amount of nitpicking there is when it comes to the posse of kids in puberty, you really can’t discredit the notion. Hell, I admit all of you have at one point wished you were a part of one of the amazing dream teams. I know I wished I was a Digidestined when I was a kid growing up. But that’s another story…