The deus ex machina (or “God in the machine”) receives a lot of criticism from shonen anime fans, even though most of them don’t fully understand it. Deus ex machina aren’t inherently bad as they can come out of nowhere or help heroes suddenly win. my hero academia and A play show how the trope can be used well.
A Deus ex machina becomes evil or blatant when it helps the heroes win in a practical but unconvincing way. These Deus ex machina were deployed in the most frustrating way imaginable. Worse still, these Deus ex machina diminished the efforts of their heroes while easing the tension of their anime.
10/10 Chao Lingshen and Hakase Satomi had a time machine
Negima! was true to its manga for most of its run, but suddenly changed things up in the final act. Asuna Kagurazaka died on her 14th birthday, and it looked like Negima! would end up dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy. Luckily for Negi Springfield and his friends, Chao and Hakase had a time-traveling watch that could undo anything.
The Cassiopée watch existed in Negima! manga, but it was a recurring element that was also better explained. Since the anime cut or compressed a lot of material, Cassiopeia was abruptly presented as a last minute deus ex machina. This lazy deus ex machina negated any emotional gravity that Asuna’s death might have had.
9/10 Vylk had royal blood all this time
The promised never-never land
One of the greatest pitfalls of The promised never-never landit is second season was his laziness. Complex conspiracies and conflicting ideologies were hastily resolved by deus ex machina. One of the most egregious was Vylk, the demon Emma befriended. Vylk seemed like an ordinary demon, only for him to have royal blood.
Royal blood was one of The promised never-never landit iskey plot points as he cured the demons of their hunger. In the manga, Mujika was the only demon that had blood. The anime-only Vylk also had it, meaning there was a lot of blood to share. That, and Vylk led the demon uprising off-screen.
8/10 Conan Edogawa always solved the case
The best and the worst thing about Case closed is its strict adherence to the formula. No matter how unsolvable the case or how murky the evidence, Conan (or Shinichi Kudo) would find the culprit. It could be written off as Conan is a master detective, but his convenient eureka moments quickly lose their novelty.
Case closedit isdeus ex machina came in the form of revealing evidence that Conan only noticed at the last second, with the culprits succumbing to guilt just before the episode ended, and everyone being too distracted to notice that the detective Kogori Mouri fell asleep. Conan’s few close calls were the only thing that broke the monotony.
7/10 Alluka Zoldyck and Nanika were a living Deus Ex Machina
Hunter X Hunter (2011)
For the majority Hunter X Hunter fans, Alluka (Kilua’s sister) and Nanika (the entity that lives within her) are more deus ex machina than characters. Additionally, Nanika’s Nen ability is a literal deus ex machina. Nanika basically has the equivalent exchange power. She can wish anything, but for an equivalent price.
When Gon fell into a state of insensibility after fighting Neferpitou, Killua ordered Nanika to revive him. Not only did Nanika return Gon to full health, but she did so without anything of value being taken from Killua in return. What made this frustrating was how the high stakes of combat and Gon’s pride was so easily defeated.
6/10 The heart of the cards and the duels decided by friendship
Yu Gi Oh! Duel of monsters
“Heart of the Cards” by Yami and Yugi is Yu Gi Oh! Monster Duelit is the most (in)famous deus ex machina, but he was not the only one to use it. Joey, Tristan, Téa and all of Yami and Yugi’s friends didn’t win with clever tactics. Instead, they used the power of friendship to convince their decks to give them the right (overpowered) card.
Yu Gi Oh! Duel of monsters too didn’t follow real game rules or any kind of logic. The cards worked as required by the plot, which also made it deus ex machina. For example, Maiku, Magical Mist’s effect was replaced with whatever Yami currently needed. Similarly, Yami defeated Arkana after the latter’s Dark Magician Card defected.
5/10 Fairy Tail has turned friendship into a literal Deus Ex Machina
Fairy tale is polarizing among anime fans due to how diligently it obeys shonen cliches. Nowhere has this been made clearer than in the way Fairy tale weaponized the power of friendship. This is somewhat justified by the fact that the magic system depends on the emotions of mages, but it got ridiculous at times.
Natsu and his friends almost always won after a rosy flashback made them stronger. Fairy Tail’s enemies being individualists who didn’t care about having friends also helped them. The Power of Friendship has always been one of shonen’s favorite deus ex machina, but Fairy tale abused it so much it felt like self-parody to some viewers.
4/10 “Plotkai” became infamous for a reason
We talked a lot about how the very human Ichigo Kurosaki is mastered and endowed with the powers of all the supernatural races. These unfair odds also applied to other Shinigami. No matter how powerful or divine their opponents were, the Shinigami always won through a last-minute deus ex machina that fans dubbed “Plotkai”.
Plotkai (derived from “plot” and “Bankai”) refers to abilities and bonuses that were never announced and only used for a specific fight. By simply existing, the Plotkai denied Bleach of any issue. Examples include Zaraki Kenpachi’s unique mastery of basic kendo and literally every invention of Mayuri Kurotsuchi.
3/10 “Plot No Jutsu” was invented by frustrated fans
naruto is an important anime for many fans, but its nostalgia has been marred by an abundance of deus ex machina. These tricks were so common that fans mockingly named them “Plot no Jutsu”. Whenever Naruto or someone else miraculously survived or used a handy technique, it was dubbed Plot no Jutsu.
The Morally Complicated Sasuke was the most guilty user of Plot no Jutsu. Sasuke has won battles that should have killed him by using a Plot no Jutsu, or because someone gave it to him. The most egregious examples are Sasuke summoning the serpent Manda to survive Deidara’s explosion and the Sage of the Six Paths giving him godlike powers to defeat Madara.
2/10 Z Fighters have all Deus Ex Machina
Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z became legendary through his battles, but not all were won equally. Goku and the Z Fighters have often won solely through a last minute stoppage. These plot devices either came in the form of convenient power-ups or literal deus ex machina. Therefore, Dragon Ball Zit is the stakes were constantly canceled.
For example, the Hyperbolic Temporal Chamber and the Zenkai Boost were used sporadically despite their lack of limitations. Additionally, Vegito defused in the World-Ending Super Buu even after his fusion was said to be permanent, and Porunga’s limit of one resurrection at a time was conveniently undone just before Vegeta wished Earth back to life.
1/10 Everything happened like Kirito
Sword Art Online
The very existence of Kirito is one of the reasons why Sword Art Online is so divisive. Kirito is often ridiculed for being a transparent self-insertion from the public, and his excessive deus ex machina emboldens that. Regardless of the gravity of the circumstances or the power of his opponents, Kirito has always won through intrigue.
Kirito’s deus ex machina broke all internal logic and stakes during the Aincrad arc. For example, he resurrected Yui by easily hacking the game’s source code, and he kept himself alive through his strength of will even after Kayaba reduced his HP to zero. Sword Art Onlineit isthe use of deus ex machina only became more blatant after this.