Posted by: AceRailgun | June 2, 2013

A shining suit of plot armor

Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S Plot Armor

The stunning suit of plot armor shimmers in the sunlight as the protagonist stands idly by a lake which events must occur at even though the protagonist has never been there before. That is the job of anything in the presence of the protagonist, sentient or not.


Aside from the normal super powers protagonists and often their supporting cast are god like in the sense that they cannot be killed and often they are immune to injury entirely, this doesn’t always apply but at least 50% of anime guarantee the godlike tendency to win all battles regardless of the foe. This weeks victim of atrociously predictable battling is Misaka from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S who used her plot armor to defeat yet another uncharacterized crazy person who must have spent the better half of a week setting up an elaborate set of explosives only to be beaten by a super human hot head who wander in and ruin them. Sure the battle was entertainment but even with the dire situation not a single person viewing the anime, that’s at least 10 maybe 15 people didn’t even consider the possibility that Misaka could lose even though she was portrayed as the underdog. That’s because of her plot armor, I thought the purpose of a good fight to decide who is the most powerful but clearly this battle and thousands of other battles in anime are decided long before they start simply because they involve a main character and someone lesser.


So why is this entertaining to watch then? Is it more about how the battle happens or the length of time the obvious loser can hold the upper hand or survive in general? I’m actually confused as to why I enjoy this myself and I think it might need some explanations. Plot armor is also active in other forms such for harem type love stories and detectives get an honorable mention as it’s never a matter of if they can solve a crime so much as how and when.


  1. You don’t watch a fight to see who wins; you watch it to see how it is won.

    “Plot armor” is an issue with every show, but the best anime are usually pretty good at being subtle about it. It definitely has a greater influence on action anime where it can absolutely kill any suspense and, consequently, the entire show. (see Bleach, DBZ, etc.) As you said, harem love stories can suffer from it too, but lack of suspense in a romance anime generally doesn’t make or break the show.

    Some shows have even taken advantage of how common “plot armor” is to add some extra shock value to their own stories. Two that come to mind right away are Madoka Magica and Gantz. Both of these subvert their genres by, if not completely removing “plot armor”, at least cutting down on it to an extreme degree.

    • Like you said it’s probably better to take advantage of the plot armor instead of trying to avoid it. I’m always pleasantly surprised that anime like Madoka, Shin Sekai Yori or Gantz because they do go out of their way to surprise you with character deaths.

      During most fights though I always have that feeling in the back of my mind that the good guy is guaranteed to win.

      • I forgot all about Shin Sekai Yori. I don’t think I managed to predict a single event in that show. They kept hinting that Saki would become the head of the ethics committee, but then shit hit the fan, and the show took an entirely different route.

  2. As windyturnip said, I don’t think you really watch battles to see who wins. It’s the battle itself that I find is most enjoyable. I loved all of the explosions and traps that Frenda had set. The hand-to-hand combat also got me riled up.

    • It’s kind of sad that that aspect of fighting is gone because all fighting shouldn’t have a clear victor from the start. That said i feel this battle was more about the visual then anything else as it progressed through so many different stages.

      • In the end, you’re going to have to pick between following the story of a main character and having fights that aren’t predetermined. It wouldn’t make for a very good show if Misaka got beat, and the season ended early.

  3. Mikoto’s battle with ITEM is fanservice for the LN readers. Just have fun with the visuals, since Mikoto is pretty much destined not to get killed by these murderous girls.

  4. This reminds me of Kurosaki Ichigo from Bleach. There was once a time I joked with my friends, it doesn’t matter if the good side (referring to Shinigami) is losing a war, because once Ichigo arrives, we’ll know the good side will win. I continued to watch back then mostly to find out the skills of the Shinigami captains. I was so curious about what Bankai or Shikai the captains had that I stuck around for quite a long time. Eventually, this plot armor thing wore me out.

    • It is a bit of overkill sometimes when characters like Ichigo are just too powerful to the point where they alone can change the outcome of a war. It’s like this to some degree with a lot of poorly written Shonen but there is cases where it isn’t always true which are a joy to watch.

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