5 Anime Titles That Failed Miserably
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” – Anton Ego, Ratatouille (2007)
I can emphasize with the opinion that anime is bad. Yes, some of it is, just like any media format. The Harem genre has lent itself to some killers. For example, the infamous bear rape scene from Green Green (2002) is guaranteed to give any sane person nightmares. The panty galore fest of Ikki Tousen (2003) is just one of many titles that display the distasteful end of the anime spectrum: the insulting, sexist and stupid. In a similar vein to Taylor Ramsey’s brilliant “Things that Embarrass Me About being a Comics Fan“, I would like to re-live some horrible memories by letting you in on anime that didn’t live up to their potential.
If any readers would like to share their negative experiences with anime, please do so below in the comments section.
5. Vandread (2000-1)
GONZO is known for their hit or miss quality, and this is one of their failures. Vandread is a 26 episode series divided into two seasons, set in a world where men and women live in different planets to each other- Merjere for the women and Taraak for the men. One day, they collide, and they try to find the way back to the system they were originally from. It sounds like a cool idea, right? Perhaps it was because they enlarged the story from an incredibly short manga that it turned into a pile of nothing.
Considering the potential of the premise, they could have done a lot more with the story. The execution of scenes are disjointed and often confusing. It jumps around between dream sequences, reality, past and present, like Satoshi Kon but in a bad way since it is not supposed to be a serious work. 24 episodes later, I have no idea what happened with the ending, and it didn’t help that I didn’t care. I’m sorry Atsuhiro Tomioka, even though you have assisted with writing shows like Chrono Crusade (2003), Fairy Tail (2009) and some episodes of Pokemon (1998), your screenplay did not get enough polishing here. Takeshi Mori, who is more well-known for his storyboards on shows like Eureka Seven (2005), Noein (2005) and Rumbling Hearts (2003) should stick to what he knows best – drawings, instead of attempting to plan a show.
Why does story matter, right? People forgive shows with bad substance all the time, if it looks pretty. That is not the case here. The generic artwork is square, clunky and the colors are bright enough to induce burns. At least Kazuya Kuroda’s work has improved since with Spice & Wolf (2008). Add in cringe worthy 3D mechas which are comparable to the cars of Initial D (1999) and you have a recipe for disaster. Hey, at least Princess Dieta’s character looks somewhat attractive. The amount and quality movement itself is nothing to write home about.
The standout piece of the soundtrack is the opening song Trust by Salia, which is the only part of the show you need to see. The ending song is forgettable. The English dub is mixed. Julie Maddalena and Tony Oliver were good as the two leads, but the rest did not impress. The soundtrack is not the worst on the market, as it has some passable piano tracks. The only characters you will give an inkling about are the two leads, which consist of 20% of the cast. The others could die for what I cared… and some of them do.
At the end of the day, Vandread falls short. There are other mecha anime out there that are a lot better than this one. Full Metal Panic (2002), Neon Genesis Evangelion (1996) or Code Geass (2006) are just a few titles that come to mind… out of hundreds that exceed this in terms of quality.
4. AIR Movie (2005)
This film made me want to cry, not because it was sad, but because it was terrible. It is a retelling of the 13 episode Kyoto Animation anime by the same name. It takes the story arc of the two leads: Mizizu and Yukito, and condense it into an hour and a half movie. It seems like a smart move, as the TV series was all about Mizuzu and Yukito. However, the changes inspired facepalming.
Art supervisor Osamu Honma has an interesting taste in style. The character are given smaller eyes in this movie, which might appeal to those who hate the big-eyed anime look. The colors are incredibly bright, and the lighting flares and makes the backgrounds and picture look extremely saturated. This is the most disappointing aspect of the animation. Even though Toei Animation aren’t as bowed-down-to as Kyoto Animation, that they are still capable of animating well. It is baffling how they succeeded on making a 2005 production look like a 90’s one. The direction is off too, with scribbled drawings and split screen effects reminiscent of Evangelion’s no-budget days.
The lack of a strong supporting script made it even worse, even though it cuts out the filler material between episodes 2 to 6. It had an annoyingly large amount of narration, ignoring the classic ‘show don’t tell’ rule of writing. The characters are given a vague amount of detail, which is passable for a film. The ending they chose wasn’t nearly as powerful as the one in the series, although it was nice to see Mizuzu and Yukito get a bit of romance. Overall it wasn’t nearly as interesting, moving or inspiring which are the qualities which made the TV show so memorable.
The soundtrack for the TV show half consisted of documentary music, the other half decent piano tracks. For a film adaption, you’d think they could improve on the hit or miss quality of the soundtrack. Instead, it is even worse than the TV show. You’d think they could have at least remixed the awesome “Tori no Uta” theme song, but instead it is the same.
If you are a fan of AIR or would like to learn more about it, watch through the AIR TV show. Even though it is flawed the lazily made movie makes you realize that Kyoto Animation actually did an alright job.
3. Love Hina Again (2002)
I avoided the original 24 episode Love Hina (2000) due its overflow of criticism in recent years, but I couldn’t resist giving Love Hina Again a try since it was considered higher quality. If something was wrong at least it was only 3 OVAs. Sadly, XEBEC created a good example of a show which looks pretty but is still torture to watch. It seemed to be an excuse for fanservice and stupidity.
A problem with many harem anime is the question as to why so many girls fall for the main character. Here, it is more baffling than others. Keitaro is nice and hard working, but that’s about it. He doesn’t have a sense of humor and doesn’t seem to take much pride in his appearance. Not that we should judge on looks, but the girls infatuation with Keitaro would be rationalized a lot better if he wore contact lenses and got a hair cut. Shinobu’s crush on him is the only one that makes sense, since he helps her with study. Obviously, they all are desperate from living in an all-female bathhouse.
The story is not only stupid, but incomprehensible and IQ melting. Keitaro’s step sister appears to take over the bathhouse, and is in competition with Naru for Keitaro’s affections. This wouldn’t be too bad if they took a serious spin on it, however, they decided to take the silly entertainment route. These OVAs try to be too many things at once, and end up a mess. There’s illogical magic elements like a flying and talking cat, and the characters somehow have machine guns hiding in their pockets. The ecchi was more forced than your average pornography- for example, the female characters decide to fondle each other for no reason. The manga was a lot more down to earth and believable, and I think that’s what made it so popular.
The animation is decent with vibrant colors and fluid movement, but it isn’t good enough to be a redeeming factor. The characters change outfits a lot, and they are tastefully drawn. Kanako is the most attractive of the ladies…. too bad her personality is repulsive. Craziness versus hotness ratio from How I Met your Mother, anyone? It is quite odd that Kitsune looks like Brock from Pokemon and never opens her eyes. In the manga, her eyes are one very appealing physical attribute of hers!
The Opening and ending songs are catchy but nothing mind-blowing, while the sound effects were cute and fit the genre of show. As someone who generally prefers watching the English dubs of a show, I could not stomach Love Hina and had to switch to the Japanese track. The only decently cast voices were Sara, the Samurai girl, Shinobu, Haruka, Mei and her family (basically, the side characters). Keitaro is voiced as Impmon from Digimon Tamers (shudder), Naru’s voice sounds forced and Kitsune was given a Texan accent and it does not fit at all. It is times like these when anime should be released subtitled only.
This viewing experience confirms my belief that Love Hina deserves a 13 episode remake, which is closer to the manga. Also, it would force silly Naru to confess her feelings instead of being uncertain for 20 episodes or so. For those who would rather submit themselves to more pleasantries, I recommend the manga.
2. Neia Under 7 (2000)
If the artwork looks familiar, you may know it from the popular 90’s series Serial Experiments Lain. From Yoshitoshi Abe’s name alone you can form some sort of expectation about this show – perhaps it is slow, but eerie and mysterious? Maybe funny? Sadly, Neia Under_7 is none of these things. This 13 episode Geneon Entertainment show is not only pointless, but boring and infuriating. Perhaps there is some lucky soul out there who will find it hilarious or moving, but I don’t think it is worth the risk.
The animation is choppy and awful, even for a show in the 2000s: the animation is clean, but the characters don’t move realistically and even change shape as they move. The character designs are alright, if the characters themselves weren’t so annoying.
The opening song is still the worst opening song I have heard to date. The singer sounds like they are dying of lung cancer and the music isn’t very inspired. The ending song is like a kindergarten nursery rhyme. The sound effects were frustratingly overused. The English dub wasn’t too bad. The main character suits the character and sounds natural. Neia is appropriately annoying. The side characters don’t do well and the voices don’t fit the mouth flaps.
The story can be encapsulated in the synopsis: an alien is living in the main characters house. The story does not develop or progress at all from this stage – it doesn’t do anything interesting or entertaining with the concept. Hell, even SHUFFLE! (2005) or Elfen Lied (2004) which follows a similar “Mysterious girl in normal world” setup does a way better job. The story ends by reinforcing the friendship between the two main characters, which is anti climatic and done better in other shows where a proper friendship is actually developed. The climax of the anime was an episode where the two of them go to a Go-Con, which had some touching moments.
This show deserves an award for the most annoying main character ever. Neia is a loud, boisterous little girl (who is an alien, but she doesn’t do anything special) who is obsessed with food. The side characters are, dare I say it, even worse. There’s a random Indian guy who speaks gibberish and frankly doesn’t have any role in the show. They are altogether unlikable and flatter than pancakes. The only one who is slightly sympathetic as is the voice of reason is Mayuko – who initially finds Neia, whom isn’t given a great deal of attention despite how tolerable she is.
Only those who enjoy slice-of-life anime will find any entertainment in this. Even then, countless of other titles, like Fruits Basket (2001), The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006) or Kanon (2006) are more worth your time.
1. Comic Party (2001)
Comic party is a disastrous 13 episode show by Aqua Plus, KSS and Oriental Light and Magic. It deserves to be in a list of the worst anime ever made.
The animation is shocking – most distracting are the square, generic character designs – which are topped off with sketchy lines beneath the eyes seen on Ash Ketchum and every character of Saikano (2002). The artwork like backgrounds and outfits were simplistic and boring. Like in Neia Under 7, the characters sometimes move like a glitch from a 90’s game – they move in one block rather than like a normal human being (that said, most anime walking doesn’t include torso rotation but that’s getting too technical).
The opening song is catchy but forgettable, and the ending song was meh quality wise. The music or vocals are not stand out material. The Background music wins the award for the worst I have heard to date. It is like a collection MIDI files. The English dub, much like the one of Love Hina, was miscast and overdone. I had to switch it to the Japanese track within the first few minutes.
The premise of the story is promising but is lead in the wrong direction. It follows the characters who try to write their own manga – but it isn’t done in an interesting or intriguing way. The manga aspect would have worked better as a side story, in order to make us care but focusing on the characters. Thinking the show would improve, I was ready to throw a shoe at the TV when it ended with a “Life goes on” epilogue. Nothing changed or happened, it was disappointing and anti climatic. It made me wonder why the anime was made at all. The attempt of comedy is typical “This guy stared at my badly drawn boobs, let’s hit him!” humour, which is yawn inducing considering that the characters aren’t even attractive, and romance is not believable.
The characters are mostly annoying or predictable. You have one of every category: the bland, nice guy – the eccentric friend, the nerd, the childhood friend – it’s all here. You don’t learn anything about them except their names, and I can’t even remember those. I don’t know how this show managed to get the green light.
For an anime that portrays anime or manga creation in an interesting light, check out Welcome to the NHK! (2009) – it’s about video games, but still, or alternatively Lucky Star (2007).
What do you think? Leave a comment.