Horrible: Anime and Manga
Ignore for a few moments the great Subbing versus Dubbing debate among the anime fandom. There are certain shows or works in that medium that fail on their own merits and prove that being So Bad, It's Horrible is not exclusive to any one side of the Pacific. You know it's bad when even fans looking for a Widget Series exclaim "WTF?!?!?" after viewing. Feel free to curse these titles, anime haters — the fans don't bother defending them, anyway. Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this. Second Important Note: An anime isn't horrible just because Bennett the Sage, Professor Otaku, Don East, The Other Side, Doggy D. Dachshund and Conroy Cat, or any other Caustic Critic reviewed it. There needs to be independent evidence, such as actual professional pannings, to list it. (Though once it is listed, those critics can provide the detailed review(s).)
Examples (more-or-less in alphabetical order):
- Abunai Sisters Koko & Mika landed a spot on many "worst" lists shortly after release. The animation (all CGI) is about on par with a PS1 CG cutscene, despite the show being released in 2009, the voice acting is incredibly annoying (and is in flawed English for some reason), and there's basically no plot. It tries to be a comedy, but crucially for a comedy, it's not even slightly funny (once the shock of "oh god this thing exists" has worn off). With no jokes and no plotting, the show leans heavily on its fanservice, with an uncanny number of scenes focusing on the central characters' breasts. Unfortunately, the characters are designed like bobbleheads, and their vaunted cleavage looks like they've shoved basketballs down their shirts – which, when coupled with the awful animation, renders any attempt at fanservice useless. Only two episodes were ever released, with the studio locking the remaining eight up and never showing them – and frankly, it's easy to see why. If you have any doubts, allow Demolition D+ to relieve them.
- The anime adaptation of the visual novel Amnesia is often used as a shining example of why anime of otome games are usually awful. It has a convoluted plot that tries to be intriguing but instead comes across as confusing and pretentious, ugly and garish character designs, characters that are either extremely bland or unlikable (including a nameless Too Dumb to Live Flat Character as the main protagonist), quite possibly the most poorly handled yandere in anime history, and oodles of sexism. When Sentai Filmworks announced both a English dub and a Blu-ray release, there was actual outrage from anime fan communities as to why it deserved such treatment (it was allegedly to promote a possible English release of the original visual novel).
- Aoi Sekai No Chuushin De, a three episode OVA adapting the first story arc of the comparatively much better manga of the same name. While the concept (an action series heavily based off of the Console Wars between Nintendo and Sega) is interesting, it is ruined by bland characterization, poor pacing, very few actual fights despite being purportedly an action series, a large amount of gratuitous fanservice, phoned-in audio and, most glaringly, a complete lack of any kind of budget, giving the series an incredibly cheap feeling (both the opening and closing comprise largely of still images).
- Art of Fighting had an absolute mess of a 45-minute OVA, with a ridiculous story, depressingly predictable plot twists, and not one interesting or likable character. Heck, the one thing you'd expect it to be able to deliver (spectacular fights) falls flat. And from a video game player's point of view, it has nothing to do with the story of the games beyond the premise of "Yuri gets kidnapped, Ryo and Robert try to save her", none of the signature special moves appear and Ryo and Robert's hair colors are swapped for some reason. About its only saving graces were the decent music and turning Butt Monkey Ryuhaku Todoh into a hilarious nutcase police chief. Watch Bennett the Sage tear it apart here.
- Fun fact: The voice for Yuri Sakazaki in this clunker is uber-famous J-pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki, in her first (and only) voice acting role.
- BlazBlue: Alter Memory, a 12-episode anime based on the popular video game franchise, is a horrible mess due to its cheap◊ animation◊, rushed execution (the 15+ hour-long story from the first game is burned through in just two episodes), characters that behave little to nothing like their video game counterparts, a mediocre soundtrack in stark contrast to the video games' stellar score, phoned-in voice acting in spite of reprising the entire cast from the games, and worst of all, a convoluted story that doesn't bother to tie together the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot of the videogames and actually makes it even more confusing. This could all be summed up by what Ragna said in the preview of episode 2 in the English dub:
"Oh Azure Grimoire, dwelling within my right arm, cancel the jinx on fighting game anime shows! Would ya?"
- The broken English in the title of Cosprayers (short for The Cosmpolitan Prayers) is the least of the show's problems. The characters are incredibly idiotic, inconsistent, and one-dimensional. The girl who loves the male lead makes out with the main (female) protagonist, and the other girl also likes the guy, and there is no motivation for the Triang Relations. There is random unnecessary Fanservice alongside loads of rape imagery which makes anything potentially titillating just plain creepy. There are no transitions — one minute, everyone's chained up in a cave; the next, they're on a pier fighting with tennis rackets (a power upgrade, by the way). It has a plot that must have been thrown together between rounds and the conflict and characters never give the audience any reason to care. It heavily rips off Power Rangers, only it's much less entertaining. It culminates in an extremely lazy Gainax Ending with singing and rainbows… no, seriously. The whole thing was made by the company M.O.E. (Masters of Entertainment), but they don't show their mastery here.
- Dark Cat, an obscure horror OVA from 1991, suffers from many problems such as an unfocused narration; lifeless, uninteresting characters; ugly, practically artless animation; and a horrific English dub, with some of the worst and most soulless voiceovers you will ever hear. One of the many direct-to-video OVAs that flooded the market in the late 80s/early 90s, it is best to be left forgotten. Bennett the Sage remembers, though, and he really wishes he hadn't.
- The anime adaption of Demon Beast Invasion suffers from terrible animation, extremely lousy art, poor characterization, and an awful and sexist story about an alien demon (who constantly shouts 'MOTHER' to the point where it becomes irritating) that wants to rape women and take over the world.
- The Diabolik Lovers anime tries to be a Guilty Pleasure, but manages to fail even at that. It contains bland animation, extremely unlikable characters (the male leads are all creepy assholes and the female lead is supposed to be The Woobie but is as flat as cardboard personality-wise), loads of squick, boatloads of sexism, incredibly insensitive and disgusting attempts to fetishize Domestic Abuse and Stockholm Syndrome, and a stupid and contrived plot. Each episode's only about 15 minutes, but they feel like hours.
- The yaoi manga Dog Catalogue, with its ridiculous use of 2D characters, a frightfully generic storyline with absolutely no development in the characters and with arguably some of the worst art put to paper◊. Every page is an artist's nightmare.
- Eien no Aselia: Spirit of Eternity Sword is a great visual novel, but its OVA adaptation... not so much. The plot is nothing like that of the game. The pacing is horrible, the animation below average, the background music is copypasted from the game, and the characters have almost no resemblance to their video game counterparts. It's as if the staff made this anime on a lunch break. Thankfully, it's only two episodes long.
- Garzey's Wing, a 1996 OVA set in the world of Byston Well, has bottom-tier animation that looks far older than its release year suggests. It also has an utterly generic story that, despite featuring such weirdness as people's souls being kidnapped by giant geese and soldiers riding freakin' velociraptors, utterly fails to entertain. And that's before touching upon the English "adaptation", which earned its place on the linked page of infamy. To summarize: there was even less effort put into this dub than in the already poor animation; localization is nonexistent – they simply had the "actors" read from the (incredibly literal) subtitle script… and evidently only gave them one take, resulting in dialogue so wooden it must be heard to be believed. Sage and Spoony are willing to share their review with you, with the former referring to it as "the Battlefield Earth of Anime". Another review on Anime News Network can be read here, also referring it as "the Battlefield Earth of Anime", additionally comparing the dub to an Ed Wood production. The review from the Gundamn! podcast agreed that it was the worst thing Yoshiyuki Tomino was ever involved with.
- Genma Wars, a spinoff of Harmageddon, of all things. There are two major reasons why this series from 2002 failed so very, very hard:
- The Gratuitous Rape. Now, to be fair, the series is predicated on one sexual assault: a young woman offers herself up to the Evil King to save her clan from raiders, and conceives half-breed twins. But then, one of the twins is taken to eke out a miserable existence among the Evil King's subjects. After he grows up and leaves the King's castle, he meets a woman and, after being at least somewhat friendly and decent to her, decides to assault her, too. Without so much as a "get away you bastard", she doesn't fight him off. She doesn't even seem to understand the way that she was violated, and pontificates to the effect of, "It felt like his life force was entering me..."
- The horrible, horrible animation. It is often recycled, cheap, awful, and so very digital. For example: the "good" Wild Child twin has a wolf for a guide after his mother perishes, and he can talk! The problem? The wolf's jaw literally just flaps up and down. In a better series, it may have been justified, but in this series, it just adds to the seeming laziness of the production crew. His jaw literally hangs open for a few seconds at a time as he "talks", and his English VA has a hokey, Speech-Impaired Animal voice to boot.
- The anime adaptation of Himegoto suffers from Off Model animation (even in the intro), unimpressive voice acting (nearly all of it is screechy, even the supposedly male characters), degrading fanservice, unlikable and flat characters, poor attempts to integrate new characters into the main story, a Wholesome Crossdresser aspect that's clearly there just to exploit a Double Standard (and also makes the whole thing seem unpleasantly transphobic), and a sense of humor that falls into Dude, Not Funny! territory (99.9% of the jokes involve the main character being bullied, humiliated, and sexually harassed). To add insult to injury, most of its four-minute running time is dedicated to bland opening and ending songs. It's very likely that it'll be the only Otokonoko Genre anime made in the forseeable future. Its only redeeming factor is the occasional stealth Take Thats at the manga it was based on, but they sadly don't come up nearly enough to redeem the show.
- Honey X Honey Drops, a two-part OVA adaptation of the shoujo manga of the same name. Unlikable and flat characters, underwhelming art and animation, and a very degrading and sexist premise that's basically about a teenage girl forced into prostituting herself. Nearly every review on My Anime List is a warning to avoid it.
- The 2 episode OVA of Hourglass of Summer is a prime example on how not to do a Compressed Adaptation. It tries to squeeze a ten-hour character route (Kaho's true ending route, to be precise) into a 45-minute anime. There's a distinct lack of explanation of many major plot points (the time-traveling aspect, most notably), some things no longer make sense (again, time-traveling), and the pacing seems to suffer due to being so tightly crammed into such a short runtime. Makings things worse are a ton of Off Model, and many unwanted and unneeded fanservice moments, despite the original VN being clean.
- Ijime, a short anime OVA released free in a issue of Ciao (which should tell you a lot). It has amateurish voice acting, flat animation, a hideous art style so far in the Uncanny Valley it hurts, and incompetent handling of serious subject matter (childhood bullying). There's also a scene that plays out like a gang rape. You have been warned. It's very telling that it's the only Ciao Ciao TV short so far that never became a mini-series.
- The anime adaptation of Koi Koi 7 does everything one should not do when adapting from a manga. The animation quality is shockingly bad and the design of the mechs and the characters is blatantly ripped-off from far superior shows (the mechs from Gundam, for example). As if the technical shortcomings aren't bad enough, the plot is compressed to the point of being totally bland and leaving virtually no sign of character development nor meaningful action whatsoever. Above all, it's crystal clear that the seiyuus and the music composer phoned in their performances, as the voice-acting and the soundtrack are bland and utterly terrible to listen to.
- The Kyo Koi O Hajimemasu OVA was made by the same people who did Honey X Honey Drops, and suffers from pretty much the same problems, including flat animation and voice acting, unlikable and/or bland characters, a cliché and uninteresting plot, sexism, and zero attempt to make sense to viewers who haven't read the manga.
- The anime adaptation of Mamotte Lollipop, made by Sunshine Corporationnote as a cheap cash-in on a mildly popular series. The manga itself is So Bad, It's Good, but this is just bad. Bland and/or unlikable characters with designs that are either generic or garish, cheap animation (even for 2006) that's constantly reused, a very poor grasp of its target audience, an atrocious English dub that mostly consists of screaming and yelling, an uninteresting romance subplot, and a downright stupid Cliché Storm plot with a Gecko Ending even though the manga was already finished long before it came out. Anime News Network states the only people who could possibly like it are little girls who don't know any better. It's one of the very few anime Funimation seems to treat as an Old Shame (in fact given their handling of it they likely knew it was terrible when they got it – evidently it was forced on them as part of a deal to get a show they actually wanted).
- The short promotional OVA Marimo no Hana has awful voice acting (a preteen boy has the voice of a screechy little girl, among other examples), terrible pacing, stupid characterization, and a vague, borderline nonsensical plot filled with Mood Whiplash (it's apparently about a young girl with a badass Split Personality, but good luck figuring that out). Its only saving grace is that it's actually decently animated, but sadly not enough to make it worth watching.
- The OVA Mars of Destruction is clearly a sad attempt of being dark and edgy like Neon Genesis Evangelion, only the plot is totally non-existent, and the characters don't really have any development whatsoever and are completely forgettable. The animation and fight scenes aren't any better, either, as if the animators weren't even trying to make an anime. And the title has nothing to do with planetary explosions, which would've been far more interesting. Masako X of Team Four Star reviews it here.
- There's an another Idea Factory anime with the same director, Tenkuu Danzato Skelter Heaven, which is a very similar failure to Mars of Destruction, except the visuals are much better. It's no wonder why Idea Factory stopped producing anime and instead focused on video games, and Yoshiteru Satou didn't get the rights for directing the Hyperdimension Neptunia anime. Most anime by Satou in general tend to get this reaction from fans, with his best anime only reaching a 6.00 average audience rating on My Anime List, with one commenter referring to him as the Ed Wood of anime.
- Master of Martial Hearts (a.k.a. Zettai Shougeki -Platonic Heart-) isn't certain whether or not it wants to deconstruct the Panty Fighter genre, as it starts out using many of the very same tropes of the series it appears to mock. The OVA series is only five episodes long, blundering its way into a Darker and Edgier final episode with a baffling plot twist out of nowhere in a last-ditch attempt to give the series some substance despite very little reason for the viewer to care about any of the one- and two-dimensional characters. Watch JesuOtaku rip it a new one.
- Ninja Resurrection, based on the novel Makai Tensho by Futaro Yamada, and falsely marketed in the US and UK as a sequel to Ninja Scroll, has horrible no-name voice acting that makes the words "Tokugawa Shogunate" a Brown Note, extremely gross fanservice, and a nonsensical plot about the Stupid Good Amakusa Shiro Tokisada with a Devil in Plain Sight Evil Chancellor leading to the pointlessly squicky resurrection of Amakusa into Satan where his new evil cronies begin slaughtering townspeople... and on top of all that, the series finally ends there due to people wisely avoiding any further trick-marketing. Sage has some harsh words on the matter.
- Some could argue that the series ended just as it was about to get good (it actually ends as the antagonist groups leap off-screen, implying a big showdown and/or massacre to come). It also features Mataemon Araki, the only likable character by virtue of being a gigantic badass who kills ninjas with combat tentacle entrails. He has barely three lines, but is somehow one of the most fleshed-out and interesting characters.
- The 4-part OVA adaptation of the yaoi manga Okane Ga Nai. The animation and anatomy is awful, none of the characters are likable (and it suffers from some of the worst Protagonist-Centered Morality in all of anime), it manages to feel deeply homophobic despite being a yaoi series, the sexual stuff is so brutal and rape-y that it becomes borderline Nightmare Fuel, there are attempts to be "deep and dark and edgy" that just come off as horribly immature, and the story doesn't even make much sense. This is even believed to be the series most negative stereotypes about the genre come from.
- To top it off, because it's anime and because it's yaoi, it always ends up topping searches for the title, much to the dismay of people looking for the 90s J-Drama by the same title that certain universities use in their curriculum.
- Pure Love, a.k.a. Rhythm, is a horrible excuse for a hentai that has dreadful animation and artwork that literally looks like it was done on MS Paint, a non-existent story, ugly sex scenes, awful characterization, and a terrible English dub. Luckily, it's only two episodes long.
- Pilot Candidate, a.k.a. Candidate For Goddess, had horribly-integrated CGI even for its era, plot holes practically from the start ("Only men can be Goddess pilots… except for this lady"), and an aggressively unlikable protagonist in Zero Enna (imagine an easily-excitable combination of Ash Ketchum, Amuro Ray, and Taichi Kamiyanote , but with none of the redeeming qualities of any of them). The greatest failing, however, is that every piece of the story is incomplete. Several characters and concepts are introduced but never explored, each battle is an unfollowable mess with key points missing, and while the focus on cadets should make for an interesting angle, the main characters are barely involved with the plot. And to top it all off, even though the story is too thin and weak to support twelve episodes, it still has a Gecko Ending. Watch Bennett the Sage make fun of it along with Blue Gender (which while mediocre, is nowhere near as bad as Pilot Candidate) for his "[adult swim] Month" feature.
- Interestingly, the series was based on a longer manga by Yukiru Sugisaki, the author of D.N.Angel, but the company who animated the series declared itself bankrupt after releasing the last episode as an OVA. It also made her very hesitant to allow D.N.Angel to get an anime adaptation. Eventually, XEBEC (producer of this series and of Martian Successor Nadesico) made a competent adaptation.
- [adult swim] aired this anime once, when the block was still finding its legs… and we do mean once – this is one of very few shows that [as] never showed again after its initial airing. A commercial bumper over five years later said, to paraphrase, "Pilot Candidate: Never Again."
- What's worse is that it was originally going to be on Toonami (back when Toonami was a daytime action cartoon line-up) and was edited down to Toonami standards, making it more incoherent. When Adult Swim decided to air it, it was the Toonami-edited version.
- Locomotion, a (now defunct) Latin-American animation channel, dubbed the whole series to Spanish, and in the period before changing hands they repeated this daily since it was one of their few anime left. Not even the (surprisingly good) dub could save this series.
- Psychic Wars, a 1990s OVA that suffers from a nonsensical plot, boring characters, flying plot leaps, and bad pacing. It was originally going to be a three-episode miniseries, and unsurprisingly, only one episode was made due to its low budget.
- The anime adaptation of Pupa. For one thing, fans of the horror genre had high hopes for it due to the lack of good-quality horror anime, but then it was postponed from its original Fall 2013 line-up, and pushed back to the Winter 2014 line-up, where it was revealed the episodes would only be four minutes long (which is its only saving grace, according to viewers). It's been universally panned for horrid writing and piss-poor pacing (including a sub-plot that was the dropped the moment it was introduced), uninteresting characters, mishandling of the manga's disturbing material, shoddy censorship as it was airing, simultaneously disgusting and dull "scares", and a final episode that did nothing to wrap up the plot. Special mention goes to the infamous episode six (and eight when it comes to the censorship). Not only is it one of the lowest-ranked TV anime series on MAL, it also broke Anime News Network's rating scale in its Shelf Life review, earning the column's first "Flushable" score in over a year. Anime Viking also has a few words to say regarding the matter.
- Roots Search, a 1980s OVA with stiff animation; unlikable, poorly-developed characters; and a pretentious and incoherent plot ripped off from Alien. Anime News Network analyzed it, and found nothing good to say about it.
- Fans of the first person shooter video game SIN absolutely loathe its horrendous anime adaption Sin: The Movie and they like to pretend it doesn't exist for several good reasons. The misleading title is a bad start (it's called 'Sin: The Movie' even though it's actually a two-episode miniseries), but to make matters worse, major unnecessary changes have been thrown in. Examples include John Blade being changed to a cyborg (even though he wasn't one in the original game), JC Armack being killed off and replaced with his Suspiciously Similar Substitute sister (whose sole purpose seems to be Fanservice) and the setting being moved to the 2070s (even though in the original video game is set in 2037). Other problems include mediocre animation and art, lame new characters that never appeared in the original game, a few giant plot holes, and a bland story. It's painfully obvious that Sin: The Movie was created just to cash in on the success of the original video game it was based on. Watch Bennett the Sage make fun of it here.
- The anime adaptation of Togainu no Chi has been panned by fans of the original game for good reason. Admittedly, given the nature of the game and its multi-route system, some elements had to be removed for the censors, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that so many things were removed from the story, people being introduced to the series for the first time didn't know what the hell was going on. Terrible animation (to the point that Episode 12 nearly completely consisted of animation recycling), constant deviation from character styling, and a mediocre script combined to make a fairly celebrated BL game into an animated train wreck. There are even rumors that the anime's staff deliberately sabotaged it (the reason why is currently unknown).
- While it isn't surprising that certain parts of Tsukihime were changed for its animated adaptation, given the original visual novel's content and structure, what was changed is completely awful. The writing is littered with plot holes, outright bringing up important details from the VN and then ignoring the actual cause or context, the animation is cheap enough that a character falling is shown as a moving still frame, the music is dull and repetitive (the only good song is the opening, an awesome instrumental that makes the rest of the soundtrack even more boring in comparison) and, despite only being 12 episodes long, the plot often slows down to a dull crawl. Predictably, it was savaged by critics, did terribly and to this day Type-Moon fans pretend it never happened. By contrast, the manga adaption is pretty faithful to the source material and avoids a lot of the anime's failings.
- While Transformers Armada got off to a bad start, the show did improve as it went and eventually became fairly decent by the end. The same cannot be said for Transformers Energon, which is widely considered the worst show the franchise has. The story itself is fraught with Padding, plot points get introduced then quickly dropped, and an unlikable Jerk Sue leads the main storyline. Animation for the robots is stiff and lazy, looking as if the animators tried everything they could to avoid giving them too much movement. All this is topped off by a terrible translation that makes the already confusing story nigh-incomprehensible, and voice actors that were not only unsuited for their roles but were cheap voice actors anyway. Even though the series can occasionally have one or two So Bad, It's Good moments, trying to watch the whole thing to find them is considered an act of torture. This could all be summed up by what Alpha Q said in the final episode:
"Something cool finally happened!"note
- When Transformers Kiss Players was announced, most American fans generally chuckled at the concept of girls kissing Transformers to bond with them and power them up… but the manga scans depicted characters being swallowed whole and alive, blatantly suggestive scenes (such as the Legions' infamous "penis-tongues" and the endless stream of implied-rape imagery), the sexist antics of Atari Hitotonari (and the Ethnic Scrappy Shaoshao), and late teenagers/young adults appearing to be eight years old (no this isn't an art style quirk, they're literally and intentionally drawn that way) American fans were left disgusted and Japanese fans feared this would set a very poor example for the perception of anime in the West. As a result, most fans tuned out. Even with the heavily fractured nature of the series' fan base, it's pretty much the only thing in the Transformers franchise that's universally hated (with the possible exception of Energon above), which is a real accomplishment.