Dork Age: Anime and Manga

  • Astro Boy might be a classic, but not even it is immune to dork ages. In the sixties, Tezuka had Astro Boy go through a Face-Heel Turn, and wrote a story where a construction error turned Astro Boy evil. Instead of being a champion of justice who never wanted to hurt a human being, the evil Astro didn't care a bit about human lives anymore. Tezuka didn't actually like the idea of Astro Boy turning evil, but his editor insisted that an Astro Boy who killed people and destroyed buildings would be more interesting. Though Tezuka was fully aware that violent anti-heroes were the latest trend in manga, he didn't feel that it was the way to go for Astro Boy. Still, the editor made Tezuka change Astro. Tezuka himself was convinced that the readers preferred Astro to be a good-hearted robot, and was proven right when the readers turned out to have zero interest in reading about an evil Astro Boy. Tezuka changed him back, but it took a lot of time and effort to get the series' popularity back.
  • Once Reiko Yoshida left the Tokyo Mew Mew project, Mia Ikumi tried to write a sequel incorporating the retcons made in the TV show and replacing Ichigo with a new character named Berii. Ichigo herself lost her powers except as a living accessory to the new heroine, her origins and family life were completely ignored in favor of sending her to Europe, and she became a washed-up hero. It's no surprise Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode has a high degree of Fanon Discontinuity amongst fans who also really dislike Berii. Berii herself has been Mis-blamed, though; the real blame lies in the publishers, who, among other things, restricted the series to just two volumes when commissioning the sequel.
  • For some portion of the fanbase, Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha FORCE has become this for the main continuity of the franchise. The series became Darker and Edgier, but the method of doing so was introducing an Anti-Magic virus into a magical setting. This led the new villains to become a Villain Sue gang that beat beloved favorites almost insultingly easily while being insufferable, hypocritical jerkasses, the heroes have to combat them with Flawed Prototype weapons that barely even work and the new main character is, unusually, a heterosexual male that has so far not done anything beneficial for the heroes. Even worse, it has undergone a massive Schedule Slip, releasing only 30 chapters in the four years of its publishing. Perhaps due to all of these reasons, it is currently on (a most likely permanent) hiatus.
  • A sizeable portion of the fanbase felt that Bleach went into a Dork Age with the Fullbringer Arc. The arc focused on new characters with totally new powers instead of the established characters and featured a plot that seemed almost completely unrelated to any part of the Myth Arc. To be fair, with Ichigo depowered and Aizen alive but imprisoned, there weren't many plot threads that could be carried over directly from the previous arc and at least nothing involved Aizen.
    • There are also fans who consider the four year long Arrancar Arc a Dork Age. In general, the writing became a lot more divisive after the Soul Society arc, and the series' sales and ratings dropped to the point where the anime was cancelled as soon as the Fullbringer Arc wrapped up.
  • Lupin III has Lupin III (Pink Jacket), which consists of the third anime series and the Legend Of The Gold Of Babylon film. Both the series and the movie had Lupin wearing a pink jacket, most of the adult themes downplayed and the slapstick brought Up to Eleven (as well as a bizarre design for Fujiko). Today, it is widely ignored by both the anime producers at TMS Entertainment and most fans in general in favor of Lupin III (Red Jacket) and the yearly specials it inspired.
  • Some renowned studios have also taken big hits. Studio Gainax has lost some key creators like Hiroyuki Imaishi and Hideaki Anno, who have formed their own studios. As a result, Gainax seems to have decayed from producing acclaimed original series to mediocre adaptations of Shōnen manga such as Medaka Box.
  • The retirement (which appears to be permanent this time) of Hayao Miyazaki in 2013 sent Studio Ghibli into an existential crisis. But, even before Miyazaki gave up film-making, the studio is considered by its hardcore fans to have entered a Dork Age starting around 2004 when Miyazaki released Howls Moving Castle, which did well on both sides of the Pacific but got mixed reviews. This was followed by his son Goro's Tales from Earthsea, which was critically-panned (especially by Ursula K. LeGuin) and thrown into No Export for You limbo in North America for several years due to rights issues. After that came Miyazaki's Ponyo, which was a return to the whimsical tone of his late-80s-era movies but still disappointed hardcore fans despite doing quite well at the box office. By 2010, longtime producer Toshio Suzuki openly speculated about closing the studio, although a shutdown was at least delayed by the modest success of Arrietty.
  • VS Knight Lamune & 40 Fresh, a sequel to VS Knight Lamune & 40 Fire, breaks the concept of the original series of light hearted and comedic Super Robot fantasy adventure genre into a dark military story with girls showing off her breasts. It didn't go well, considering every previous show before it was made for children.
  • Saint Seiya hit the dorkiest of all ages with Saint Seiya Omega. It's not Kurumada canon, it changed the super-suit from metal armor to spandex, it added a superhero school, the eponymous character is rarely in the spotlight(!), and so on. It seems that the writers eventually understood why it was so hated, and gave it a second season that thoroughly reverted all changes.
    • On the other hand, this has caused a broken base, with people that liked the first season of Omega (including some fans who didn't like the original SS) being unhappy that they reverted things, and declaring season 2 a Dork Age.
  • Among certain fans, the Pretty Cure franchise has been in one since the end of Heart Catch Pretty Cure (which admittedly was a Darker and Edgier Tough Act to Follow and is almost universally considered the franchise's highpoint).
  • The shoujo magazine Nakayoshi is considered to be going through one, as most of their series in the last 5 or so years are either otaku-bait or a cheap attempt to be Hotter and Sexier.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam AGE is simply condemned a mediocre and a mixed bag inconsistent attempt with a multi-generational plot. Some fans criticize it for looking too childish, others says it rips off everything the previous Gundams had, others notice that the series digs deeper and deeper into having needless deaths, violence and stupidities. The 2nd arc is considered better, but the 3rd arc pushes the series into rock bottom.
  • Not even One Piece has remained unscratched. After Marineford, which is the climax of the first part of One Piece came Fishman Island and then Punk Hazard. Fishman Island was poorly received by fans, who cite the very slow pacing and weak villains as the reasons for disliking the season. Punk Hazard was better received, but not by much. Punk Hazard's problem, according to most, is that most of it was running.
  • Happened to Yu-Gi-Oh! once it hit filler. Arcs tended to give Kaiba's backstory or company more prominence, and each arc had its own kind of sin for the fans: the Virtual World interrupted Battle City, and was incredibly weird and nonsensical to many people. Waking the Dragons/Doma had irrational characterization for both Yami and Mai, and screwed with the history of the Shadow Games, and the KC Tournament arc was perceived as just a long breather episode that did little even to expand on Kaiba's character, who the Big Bad of that arc was targeting. And that isn't even mentioning the oddness that is Capsule Monsters.
    • And when the people who write the filler arcs have to do their own series, you get the first two seasons of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX. The original series ending and the considerably lower quality of GX's dub did it no favors in the popularity department, but even fans of the series acknowledge that the series's lack of focus, slow pace, and excessive goofiness did a lot to ingrain the "spinoffs are always awful" mindset. That it came directly after one of the most filler-heavy and poorly-animated segments of the original meant that fans tend to label just about everything after Battle City to be a Dork Age. Thankfully, it Grew the Beard with the Yubel arc, rescuing the franchise from its Dork Age in time for the first season of 5Ds.
    • You also won't find many fans of the first two arcs of the second season of 5D's, which is sometimes considered the weakest point of the franchise. Criticisms include either dropping plot threads from the first season or resolving them in anticlimactic ways, demoting the female characters to extra, an absurd amount of Product Placement, and a gargantuan block of irrelevant filler episodes at the beginning of the season. The season had to be extensively rewritten following a real-life scandal, namely the discovery that one of season 1's voice actors was a member of the dangerous Roma Sophia cult, under investigation in Japan at the time. In particular, it was required that almost all elements of mysticism be removed from the series, which led to a hasty retconning in of a sci-fi rather than magical origin for the Big Bad Yliaster organization, among other changes.
    • The 5Ds Dork Age extended into its successor series, Yu Gi Oh Zexal, which took the childishness, stupid designs, filler, and Recycled Script of the other series and magnified them. Thankfully, it pulled itself together by the introduction of the Arclights and jumped heavily in quality with ZEXAL II, but the back-to-back combo of 5Ds second half and ZEXAL first half was quite the blow to the show's older fanbase.
  • The second season of the Black Butler anime is seen as this by nearly all of the fandom. The shotacon fanservice was cranked up to intolerably squicky levels, the new characters were poorly written and completely unlikable (and the returning ones were derailed or flanderized), and the plot was a near-complete mess that had nothing to do with the manga and had a Gainax Ending. It took years for another season to be made, and it unsurprisingly ignores everything that happened in this.
  • The Unicron Trilogy as a whole is considered a Dork Age for Transformers, even among the franchise's notoriously split fanbase.
    • Transformers Armada was very rushed, with many bouts of Off Model on par with those seen in Generation 1, an English dub with clunky dialogue, incorrect names and originally silent moments filled with inane chatter and stock phrases, and a slow beginning with repetitive episodic adventures happening before the plot really kicks off. But the main reason why Armada isn't considered the worst Transformers series ever...
    • ... is because Transformers Energon took that spot with almost little competition. All the problems with Armada were amplified, with the plot starting off good, before repeating itself halfway in and having the final few episodes have nothing to do with anything, character arcs largely being quietly dropped or else ended in a way that doesn't actually resolve them, the setting robbing the cast of any real need to transform, and the CG models lacking emotion (to the point where sometimes they're hand-drawn just because it looks more impressive). The dub is even worse - unfinished animation is used, Lull Destruction is in full effect (seriously, count how many times you hear "Uhh?" in a moment of silence), mistranslations are plentiful and an important episode is dropped and replaced with a Japanese special that is non-canon in the series. Just read what has to say about it.
    • Transformers Cybertron is, however, agreed to be a massive improvement over its predecessors (with the dub and animation being far less shoddy than them), though it still has its flaws (such as an abundance of Stock Footage used to pad episodes and a drawn-out first half with a comparatively trunciated second half).
  • Pokémon: You'll get a lot of answers for what the anime's have been. Two examples crop up more often than others: Johto and Unova.
    • The first one (chronologically) is Johto; between the start of the fall of Team Rocket, Brock and Misty being reduced to moving background, Flanderization of the main cast, and the "Filler Hell" in general. While it started within Season 3 (with the GS Ball becoming an Aborted Arc and such), it is Season 4 where the reputation for Johto comes from: very little of significance takes place (no captures, only several evolutions and three very spaced-out badges), and the Filler was less memorable overall - the slower pacing led to much of the old vanguard becoming disillusioned with the show. That said, the succeeding "Master Quest" season is largely considered a return to form: more development of the show's Myth Arc, more Story Arcs to spice up the plot, stronger standalone episodes, and wrapping up the Original Series with a solid Tournament Arc (the Silver Conference being a Tough Act to Follow judging from the overall response to later League arcs) makes people more forgiving of it compared to what Johto previously gave them.
    • Unova, due to how hard the Reset Button was pressed, the amount of potentially awesome plot threads that were left untapped, having several Scrappys, the massive Ass Pull to make Ash lose at the Unova League that's possibly worse than Tobias, and ending on a Filler Arc. And that's not even getting into the Genesect movie.
  • Majority of fans believed that Clamp entered the Dork Age when their first original anime, Blood-C, took off which earn a Love It or Hate It reaction from viewers and poor BD sales for having a Failure Heroine which invokes a lot of Genre Blindness, Idiot Plot and the needless gore and violence. Though many argued that the dork age started when the last chapters of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle enter into Mind Screw territory and the No Ending of Xxxholic. Clamp is now trying to Win Back the Crowd by continuing Tsubasa and xxxHolic in order to fix the problem, the sales went down on its second week which indicates that Clamp really needs to step up from their game to pass the dork age.