The joy, and pain of watching bad anime

Having recently completed Anime-Gatari, and the characters in that series talking about classic anime got me thinking about the bad anime I’ve watched…while currently watching that bad anime. If you could go on my mal profile (which MAL won’t let you see as of this moment) you would notice a good chunk of the things I’ve watched I awarded negative rating towards. A simple fix to this would be to simply watch more good series, in particular a lot of well regarded classics on my plan to watch list. I could do that, but at the same time I’ll feel like I’m missing out on hundreds of titles if I ignore all the bad anime there is too watch.

When I first started watching anime, much like Asian movies, I thought everything I watched was good. After a while, it became increasingly evident that not all anime is equal to each other. The first one that brought up this thought was Beyond the Boundary (Kyoukai no Kanata in Japanese) from Kyoto animation. Being the first bad airing anime I watched to completion. At first, I thought I was going crazy thinking this series was bad when I either scroll down to the comment section of a streaming site, or go to its page on any anime aggregate site to read dozens upon dozens of positive reviews for it. Eventually, I got over it, and finally settled on it was bad, and I was in the minority with that viewpoint. Something that would be more common as I spend more time watching anime.

Over the years, I watched more good anime, and more bad anime. For me, I try to balance my good anime with the bad ones. This way, I feel like I’ll become less jaded in my viewpoint on anime the more I watch it. A lot of people in the community I talk too whenever sharing their experiences of watching anime have one thing in common; they marathon one good series after another. Doing that for months, or years made them eventually reach a point where they don’t see anything on the level they used too. Also, from the same people, hearing, or reading their thoughts on how they feel anime is getting worse over time, and it makes them lose interest in watching anime is something I don’t experience. For me, I never stopped watching anime once I got into it. I do increase, or decrease the amount of anime I watch depending on how busy my life is, but other than that I never once consider dropping anime completely. Some of the people I’ve talked too have dropped watching anime for a bit because of how bad something was.

Now my sample of people I interact with is rather small so their viewing habits vastly differs from mine. For instance, there’s someone on this Discord server who claims to finish one anime a day, which if I’m being honest is probably not a healthy way to consume media. Me, and this individual who I shall nicknamed Orge sometime clash when it comes to the quality of certain animes. This end up going into a long winded debate where neither of us change their viewpoints on something. The best example is me having a strong dislike for Assassination Classroom season 2, and Orge on the other side having the complete opposite opinion to me. I consider Assassination Classroom season 2 among the worse animes I’ve seen, and trying to get that across to this individual was futile since all my points went over his head. Me on the other hand, I more, or less glimpse into the reasoning why someone can like that series, even if I don’t agree with the reasoning. Now that my longer than expected sorta preface is done, I shall more, or less generalize my thoughts on watching bad anime.

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Artistic recreation of me watching Assassination Classroom season 2

First being what does bad anime offer me that I can’t find in good anime? That’s nearly impossible to justify since even I consider good anime to have some bonkers moments in them. Sure, nothing will ever beat the classic bad line of “He has a hat!” in the edgy Ajin anime by Polygon Pictures, but at the same time my favorite anime of all time follows a young man who kills people by writing their names in a notebook in Death Note. For me, it’s all about the experience itself, and it ultimately ends up offering me. Only in my exploration of viewing bad anime can I truly grasp the full picture of a bad series.

Two days ago for example, I finished an obscure anime OVA by studio Magic Bus called Wounded Man with my brother. Needless to say it was awful. My idea of good writing is typically in favor of execution. I feel the same type of stories can be told countless of time if the execution is good. In Wounded Man, needless to say that wasn’t the case. Something about good anime is experiencing those type series that exceed your expectation, and become a new found favorite. The same applies for my experience of Wounded Man. There are just things about writing a story I feel should be commonplace, but surprisingly I kept getting proven wrong. For example, I think it would be outrageous to have your hero rape a woman, and than have the hero claim it was for her benefit to warn her about the danger of the amazon. You might be thinking no one would ever be dumb enough to do that, and yet that is what happened in the first episode of Wounded Man, and on top of that the women ends up falling in love with her rapist. Much like how good anime has the potential to exceed expectations, and engage you in ways you never expected. Well, bad anime has the same power to reach a new low you never thought it could go, or even thought anyone would go to.

Another reason for me watching bad anime is it comes with the territory. I know beforehand in everything I watch, or read I won’t like everything I check out. So instead of avoiding any possible anime I might dislike I’ll simply give them a chance. Earlier this year I saw a shojo anime called Ultra Maniac from studio Production Reed for the first time. Initially, I saw it because I enjoyed it in a ironic sense, but over time I actually began to enjoy it. The characters were being fleshed out, and it surprisingly did a decent job talking about love, and some of the shenanigan the characters got involved in were entertaining. When I finally finished Ultra Maniac, I was pleasantly surprised it turned out to be a good series. If I purely judged it on the first episode, I would have never continued it since it was quite the hot mess! However, I kept going, and found something I enjoyed.

One anime I didn’t expect to have a dislike for would be Rainbow: Nisha Rokubo no Shichinin by Madhouse studio. On paper, I should have enjoyed a drama series that shows it delinquent leads overcoming numerous hardships through the course of their life, except I didn’t. I didn’t go into Rainbow with the expectation that is was bad, but that how I felt by the end of it. There are numerous reasons why I consider it a bad anime, and explaining them is also difficult. Rainbow is the kind of series where describing its bad writing is difficult because the methods it uses to get a reaction from the audiences do work. I watched it with a group of friends, and I can tell even if I saw it by myself I would have still disliked the anime. I saw a story that tried every cheap trick it could think of to make it viewer feel sympathy for it characters, but one other person saw an engaging story. Unfortunately, I never had a back, and forth discussion on why I consider Rainbow bad with that person.

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Ishihara in Rainbow, completely over the top

That same person who also enjoyed Rainbow a great deal, unlike myself, also recommended me an anime called School Live by studio Lerche. I have no idea why she thought I would enjoy that series, but I’m guessing it’s the fact I have Cardcaptor Sakura in my favorites, and in that Discord server it’s pretty much the one thing everyone knows I like a lot. Instead of shrugging off her recommendation because it has zombies which is something I generally find boring. I went ahead, and watched it. Surprised, I didn’t like it, and I told her that too. However, from that experience it reinforce my notion to check out any recommendation, even if I’m not interested in the genre. The reason is simple, someone recommending me something tells me they want to share that series with me. It’s more preferable than someone telling me to skip something because they think it’s bad. For example, I still online numerous posts telling people to skip the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime from 2003 in favor of Brotherhood. Reason being most of the users considered it a bad series for the original material. If I had followed their advice, I would have missed out on watching one of my favorite anime series of all time.

Before I end up going on forever on this broad topic. The last thing I would probably address is in general it’s also an engaging experience in the opposite way. Much like how not all good anime will always be consistent in quality, there are bad anime that have rare moments where they turn out something of good quality. No other example better stand out to me than the character of Jou Yokosuka from the anime of Rainbow mentioned earlier. His storyline about finding his sister, and desiring to be a singer was tackle really well in the anime. Unlike the general series, Jou Yokosuka suffers the least from over sensationalizing it tragic story, and manage to craft a good character arc in the sea of bad writing.

Offline, I watch anime with my brother from to time. Alongside the good series I show him like Noragami, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), and Mobile Suit Gundam: 08Th MS Team we also watch the bad ones. He’s very thankful that I introduced him to Green Green (what he consider the worst anime he ever seen), and Wounded Man. However, we also had some fun enjoying the occasional “so bad, it’s good” type of bad anime like Dark Cat, Brain Powerd, and especially Mad Bull 34. From those selection of title, watching anime is like a roller coaster in a unpredictable pattern uncertain if it’ll go up, or go down at any moment. It’s through these titles, and a balance of good, and bad anime that we both have a lot fun watching anime together when we do. It makes the number of discussion we can have increased compare to if we only saw good series, and it would have simply ended up being a non-stop discussion of things we like. Something we both would have eventually gotten bored with.

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Artistic recreation of someone reaction when seeing Cardcaptor Sakura in my favorites on MAL

Bad anime is simply a bad anime plain, and simple to some. To me however, bad anime is also part of what I enjoy about watching it. If I only watched anime to enjoy it than I’m going to miss out on a lot anime because of that. Some of the bad anime I’ve seen by myself. I would also later on recommend some to see together as a group. Dark Cat I recommend a group to watch together, in the moment they might have hated my guts for picking something that awful to watch, but thinking back on it. Turned out watching it was a fun experience. Sure, the experience will varied every time depending on the title, or if you watch it in a group, or by yourself. Sometimes it’s trashy fun like Mad Bull 34, and sometime it just makes you hate watching anime like Wounded Man. Or it could be the third type like a friend who watch Kakegurui, and it made it quit watching anime for a while. He didn’t like it.

For me, bad anime are part of the medium I’ve come to appreciate. They are frustrating, and some in particular anger me to no end, but that’s something I value from what I watch. As opposed to it leaving me with no impression once its over. Whether it ends up making me hate teenagers like Assassination Classroom season 2, or make me want to punch something like My Hero Academia season 1. It all keeps me watching anime in the end. Knowing there’s a counterbalance to something like Cardcaptor Sakura that made me consider being a father with something like School Live that made me hate little girls ensures watching anime is never just a single path. Rather, I feel it keeps the rollercoaster that is watching anime a ride worth taking; whether I end up liking it, or not.

Well that’s about it. I went all over the place with the topic, but that sometime happens when I have a lot to say, and plenty of it just rushing out all once. If you made it to the end, I would give you a digital cookie, but Cookie Monster destroyed my house once I mentioned the word cookie. Blame him for stealing your cookies! I have nothing clever left to say, or a clever exit to end this post. Have a nice one, and keep on watching anime (even the bad ones).

5 thoughts on “The joy, and pain of watching bad anime”

  1. I enjoy watching bad anime and bad movies, because they help me keep my perspective about average stories. It is hard to watch something that is middling and not call it bad if you don’t ever watch something that is truly terrible. The other part is, that just because something is objectively bad, doesn’t mean it can’t be fun in its own way or offer some sort of insight, however small it might be. Still, there are some stories that just aren’t going to work for an individual no matter how they choose to view it. They might even be quite good but just not connect with that viewer.
    For me, I just like stories and I like experiencing a wide range of them, both good and bad. That probably explains why at the end of each season I’m so thankful about half my watchlist is going to end and so sad the other half is about to end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You nailed it on the head. I try to explain the same to some friends both offline, and online. Some do aspire to be writers, or make comic books. They don’t bother taking my advice since they only want to see the good stuff, and think they’ll be able to duplicate good writing just by that. Thankfully, my brother who plans to create his own web comic understands this. He more, or less thanks, and hates my guts for showing him the stuff I do. Besides, for me, a one sided experience to any form of media isn’t a true experience I feel.

      As for the current season of anime, I might be sad WIXOSS is ending depending on the last two episodes. Other than that one, I’m just glad most of what I’m watching that airing is going to end soon haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. true, bad anime is just part of being an anime fan I love watching bad anime, since I get to just rant non sense in my review I actually did start like most people who default like anime, and I also realized I hate a lot of shows people like. Especially a lot of KyoAni shows, some people would just default like them. It’s ridiculous, but I realyl value my experience with bad anime Without them, I won’t have a base to judge other shows, either good or just meh.

    and hey, Ultra Maniac is one of my faves growing up, lol. I also like Midori Days, but I recently learned its not loved by many, lol. Wounded Man sounds trippy. Is it an 80s anime or something? most oldies from that era are just nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That experience with bad anime is what mostly everyone I know try to avoid. A shame too, since I know a few of them want to write reviews, but don’t want to see bad anime. They’ll be missing out unfortunately. You got the right idea of experiencing bad anime, and creating a base to judge other anime by. Better help with that distinction you mentioned. Haven’t seen much of Kyoani stuff, but I can say I hated season 2 of Haruhi, and disliked Beyond the Boundary by them too.

      I love me some good old ranting on anime. Haven’t recently found many that deserve me to unload on them, but man, they are pleasure to tear into.

      Ultra Maniac was surprisingly a lot of fun to watch. Me, and my bro who I saw it think about it fondly. I feel it holds up pretty well, even with some cheap animation. Midori Days I never seen, or heard off. I read a quick synopsis of it on MAL, and man, that’s something I need to watch with my bro. It’s crazy enough for us to enjoy.

      Wounded Man is from the 80s, even more surprising was learning mangaka Kazuo Koike who did Lone Wolf & Cub (one of my favorite manga), and Mad Bull 34 also did Wounded Man. Learning that just blew my mind. The only official release I know about it was some Chinese knock off on DVD with horrible subtitles I found uploaded to YouTube. I had the displeasure of watching it with terrible subtitles. Since I’ve finished it, someone uploaded the whole thing on YouTube with good subtitles XD. Trust me, when it comes to Wounded Man anyone can have a field day with it, and just rant on it. I would recommended it if you’re just in the mood to tear into something because logic is non-existent in Wounded Man haha.

      Like

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