Inspired by a video from YouTube’s AnimeAmerica, here is my far less entertaining take on 10 anime I don’t particularly care for but lots of people around me seem to love.
All of these shows are ones that I have watched from start to finish and still don’t really like or ones that I’ve done my absolute darndest to get through but was unable to do so.
As is the case with any “Top __” video, post, whatever that has been made, this is strictly my own opinion. Considering some of the items on this list are very much beloved series in the world of anime, I’d be surprised if people didn’t have criticisms to my criticisms. However, it’s not for these shows’ popularity that I dislike them, it’s for… well, you’ll see.
5. Shokugeki no Souma/Food Wars
I recently finished season one of Food Wars after watching YouTube’s FeastofFiction who recreated episode 1’s pork roast. I was intrigued.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never bothered to sit down and watch an anime about cooking. Sure, cooking anime exist out there, but they always had a little too much fluff, sunshine, and rainbows for my tastes.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a super silly yet high-stakes anime, this is the anime for you. The characters are eccentric and compelling, the storyline leaves room for the characters to fail or accomplish their goals, and it’s freaking hilarious. I never thought that listening to an average of one overexaggerated moan per episode would make me laugh, but it did.
… at least for the first half of season one.
But let me tell you: the moaning gets annoying fast. Other than the fact that most of the time the highly inappropriate moaning comes from 15-year old girls, the moaning is very dramatic. I get it. It’s over the top to be funny. In the beginning, I thought it was hilarious. By the end of the first season, I was so done with it to the point that I would skip past the segments where characters were moaning.
Then there’s the characters. Souma, for example, is a character that is fun to watch but veers a bit too close to Gary Stu territory. He’s not as bad as Kirito from Sword Art Online, which I will address later, but it’s close. As for the rest of the cast, there’s not a single character that I found to be unique. We have the quiet, timid character just brimming with untapped potential, the big-breasted snobby rich girl with a heart of gold, the eccentric foreigner, the god-tier level parent, etc. Pretty much every character is one that I have seen before in other anime. Were these characters fun to watch in Food Wars? Absolutely! Did the constant shoving of their respective character quirks get old after a while? Definitely.
Honestly, I’m still not sure if I want to continue with season two. It was a funny show, but Food Wars relies a bit too heavily on old and tired character and story tropes.
4. Junjou Romantica/Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (/World’s Best First Love)
I grouped these two into the same point because they exist in the same universe, are written by the same mangaka, and are basically both pretty bad.
Loathe as I am to say it, I used to be one of those fangirls who would “squee” over gay anime. Then I grew up and realized that fetishizing people is not cool; it’s creepy and devalues members of the gay community especially as people.
Unfortunately, in the world of manga/anime, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in the shounen-ai and/or yaoi genres when it comes to plot or characters. Both JR and SH as they’re widely known are offenders.
My issues with these series are entirely with the characters and their relationships with one another. In a story where there is no set plotline (ex. girl tries to get senpai to notice her, boy works to become a Pokemon Master, etc.), how do you mess up so badly with the characters?
One of the reasons I cringe now when I hear people talk about Junjou Romantica and/or Sekaiichi Hatsukoi is because these characters’ relationships with one another is so unhealthy to the point of near abuse.
This abuse appears in the form of extreme possessiveness, both internalized and externalized homophobia, sexual harassment, emotional manipulation, and the list goes on.
The fact that these two series are often considered the epitome of yaoi is painful in the sense that, while it is an anime that caters to its predominantly female fanbase, it paints an unhealthy and fetishized picture of what any healthy relationship is supposed to look like nevermind a gay relationship.
3. Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan
I know, at this point, it sounds like I’m picking the most famous anime out there and ragging on them hardcore. Just hear me out though.
I know the cast of Attack on Titan is huge, and I would probably change my opinion of the series if I caught up with the newest manga volumes, but since the second season of the anime only came out a few weeks ago, I am basing my opinions solely on the first season.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m a massive fan of good characterization. Attack on Titan, while it has an amazing cast of characters, has a few duds–namely in the form of its main trio.
I almost considered placing this series at the very end of the list since I think the storyline is unique, the art is beautiful, and the music is catchy as all get out.
Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are boring in season one. As of the first season, they are all one-dimensional, and if it wasn’t for characters like Erwin, Levi, and even Jean, I wouldn’t even watch season two.
The main trio’s character traits go something like this: Armin is smart but cowardly, Mikasa is cool but emotionless, and Eren is angry and impulsive.
My main gripe is with Eren, since he’s supposed to be the hero of the story. Had Eren not discovered his ability to transform into a Titan, he would be completely useless. Why? The first time Eren goes into battle, he tries to take down the Colossal Titan alone, and misses. The second time Eren goes into battle, he impulsively charges in and is the first in his squad to be taken down by a Titan, and the Titans kill the rest of his squad, save for Armin. The next time Eren goes into battle, he gets angry that some of his squad members are killed, transforms into a Titan despite explicit orders not to, gets his butt kicked, and is captured.
Eren is little more than an impulsive hothead who charges into battle with little regard for his odds in the fight and the trouble it might put his squad mates in, and by the end of season one, shows no hint of improving.
In a nutshell, Eren is one of the most painful main characters to watch that I’ve ever seen, and for the sake of the series, I desperately hope he gets better.
Before I’m chased down with torches and pitchforks, let me just say that I love this show.
Out of “the Big Three” as I like to refer to them (Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece), Bleach was the only one I managed to stick with from beginning to end. This is why I feel comfortable criticizing Bleach since I never bothered to finish Naruto or even attempt One Piece.
Now Bleach is very much a product of its time. It is a typical action/shounen genre anime in which 99% of the issues are resolved through exciting, fast-paced, high intensity battles.
My criticism partly comes from the fact that this is essentially all the anime is a series of the main character fighting a bad guy and gaining a new power. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes the cycle feels a bit like the chicken and the egg. Which came first, gaining a new power or fighting a bad guy?
The next part comes from the fact that the show drags on way too long. I don’t mean in terms of how many filler episodes there are–because there’s a lot. I actually enjoyed some of the filler arcs like the Zanpakuto Arc and The Past Arc. Despite that, the show dragged. I say that because the end of the Arrancar: Downfall Arc felt like a series finale. When it turned out that wasn’t the case is when I felt like Bleach had become that series that just keeps going and going because it doesn’t want a good thing to end.
Finally, I spent half the series in any one respective season asking, “Where’s Chad? Where’s Uryu? Where’s Nel?” So many characters are introduced in the beginning, then are tossed aside in favor of flashier, more skilled fighters. While I understand that not every character needs to make a return, it seems pretty lazy to introduce them as part of the main cast, forget about them, bring them back for a major arc, then forget about them again.
While this is a much beloved show for many people, including myself, my recommendation for people asking about this series would be to watch up until season 14, then stop.
1. Sword Art Online
With all the hype surrounding this show, you can’t honestly expect it wouldn’t appear on some people’s list of shows they didn’t like.
What first drew me to this anime was the animation style and the character designs. The animation is modern and fits its subject matter well, and the character designs are a good blend of diverse and stylish yet minimalistic.
I’ll be honest, my first watch-through of season one was very enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the random time jumps in between episodes, but considering the story is told over a two-year time span, that much is forgivable.
Then I watched it again, and hoo boy, I saw a lot more things I didn’t like.
Let’s start with the bizarre camera angles in certain scenes that exist only for the purpose of subtly saying, “Look at this girl’s butt.” If the camera angles were shown at a lower angle looking up more often, I wouldn’t think anything of it, but the only time these angles are shown is when one of the female characters’ butts is in the shot. Considering the characters this happens to are 15 and below, that’s sexualization of minors.
Speaking of sexualization of minors, can we talk about episode 4? This episode shows an extended, full body-length shot of a character who was 12 at the time of this scene in only a bra and underwear. When I did some research into Japan’s age of consent, in most regions of Japan it’s 13. This means that the shot of the character who is 12 years old is borderline child pornography. No. Just no.
Lastly, we have Kirito. Remember earlier how I referenced the nearly Kirito-level protagonist, Souma? There was a reason for that.
Kirito is attractive enough to gain and keep the affections of multiple female characters throughout the series. He’s skilled enough at swordplay to go head-to-head with the commander of the lead floor-clearing guild and be worthy of being given the dual-wielding sword skill that no other player has. He’s humble enough to not want all the attention that comes from his reputation and smart enough to create a medium for his AI foster daughter to interact with the real world. He’s able to fight off two real-life crazy people with knives and be the hero of multiple SAO seasons.
I’m not sure how it gets more Gary Stu than that. In my opinion, the best series have characters that have faults and work through them as the series progresses. The best we get with Kirito is that he’s a little anti-social because he’s on the computer so much. Even then something about him is so appealing to literally everyone he interacts with that they flock to him despite his preference to be by himself. Heck, if that’s how life worked, I’d be flocked with thousands of admirers.
While Sword Art Online is entertaining to watch, you can only watch it once before you start to notice some glaring flaws, and from that point on, it doesn’t get any better.
With that last point, my list is concluded. Let me put a millionth disclaimer out there that I don’t hate any of these series. Whether it was appreciating a flat out ridiculous scene for no reason other than it was just funny or learning to be more critical of the subject material certain genres perpetrate, each series impacted me in a profound way.
Hopefully this list gave you a reason to stop and think too.
[Photo cred for Food Wars to Three If By Space]
[Photo cred for JR/SH to Wikipedia and Pinterest]
[Photo cred for Attack to Titan to Metro.co.uk]
[Photo cred for Bleach to Anime News Network]
[Photo cred for Sword Art Online to SlashGear.net]