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Pokémon

Photo:  Pokémon/OLM

’90s kids have a soft spot for Pokémon, and by all accounts, this series has been a great ambassador for anime in the west. Unlike the franchise’s successful video game titles, however, the anime has failed to evolve alongside its fan base.

Hundreds of episodes have come and gone, recycling the same handful of storylines, and despite being episodic, the series doesn’t even have real arcs. Seeing as how the protagonist is eternally 10 years old, there is no character development to speak of either. As a result, audiences are trapped between repetitive episodes and uninteresting characters for countless adventures.

Pokémon is perhaps a decent kids show, but as many of its (still loyal) fans are now all grown up, it would seem as though the studio is targeting the wrong audience.

Sword Art Online
Photo:  A-1 Pictures

Sword Art Online fans may claim that the show breaks the mold when it comes to adventure anime – but does it really? Taking place in a virtual reality world, a premise touched upon numerous times before in anime like Log Horizon and .hack, this show really doesn’t offer much in the vein of novelty.

Though the production quality is great, what lies underneath is a sloppy narrative that resorts overly sexualized female characters and so much deus ex machina that it’s hard to keep track. Sword Art Online feels significantly mismanaged as a consequence, thereby questioning its rise to fame in the first place.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Photo: Kyoto Animation

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya is an anime that thinks its good. Playing off the typical comedy cliché where a mostly normal teenage boy is thrust into inconvenient circumstances thanks to befriending an energetic yet eccentric girl, this is a show that ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

It’s true, the characters play off one another well and some pretty funny moments occasionally arise, but there’s no justification for the claim that Haruhi is pushing the medium forward in any way. One-dimensional characters don’t exactly help its case, and the irregular airing order is more annoying than it is artistic.

Dragon Ball Z
Photo:  Toei Animation

Like Pokémon and Naruto – among plenty others – Dragon Ball is one of anime’s greatest gateways. These shows are responsible for the conversion of many current anime fans, and, as such, deserve a special place in the medium’s history. However, to say that these titles are the greatest anime of all time is certainly up for debate.

Dragon Ball Z, while incredibly influential, represents some of the major flaws still prevalent in it’s respective genre: incredibly long fight sequences, overuse of exposition, and static characters, just to name a few. Still hailed as one of the greatest anime of all time, perhaps fans are letting their nostalgia get the better of them.

One Piece
Photo: Toei Animation

The biggest barrier to entry on this list belongs to One Piece, an overrated anime that’s over 800 episodes long and not even halfway complete. It diverges into haphazard directions, leaving nothing accomplished, and the pacing is perhaps the slowest and most inconsequential in the entire industry.

Character development is inconsistent and boring at times, and story arcs are formulaic to the point of repetition. Episodes feel as though they’re an excuse to explore One Piece‘s world further, and though the setting is the show’s greatest feature, it alone doesn’t justify watching it.

Bleach
Photo: Studio Pierrot

It’s a bit hard to understand why Bleach is considered such a classic. By the time it’s 366 episodes have finished, fans will feel as though they’ve experienced the same story at least a dozen times over. It follows the generic shonen template in which a boy is granted magical powers and must use them to fight evil and/or rescue a damsel a distress.

Though names will change and more powers are introduced, nothing in Bleach feels as though it’s significant or really wants to exist in its world. Fight sequences can be painful to watch, as characters can spend entire episodes simply talking, and the boring, lifeless Ichigo never really fails at anything. Bleach never finds that one aspect that makes it truly special, and it ultimately falters because of it.

Future Diary
Photo: Asread/Amazon

From the outset, Future Diary has no idea where it’s going. After an excellent first episode, everything just seems to go in haphazard directions, with things like psychotic characters, mature themes, and shock value thrown in just for the sake of attracting as many people as possible.

There’s very little depth to be found in Future Diary and very little space to breathe, as new situations arise back to back and very little explanation is given for any of it. It winds up being a pool of discombobulated pieces, lost in the crazy haze it desperately created for attention. It’s a surprise that more viewers haven’t discovered how shallow the show really is.

Fairy Tail
Photo: A-1 Pictures

Fairy Tail is maddening, and not in the good sense. Most of its story arcs are short and leave much to be desired. Main character Natsu repeatedly runs up to enemies without thinking, gets beat up, loses, and returns to fight his foes only to win a second time through some contrived deus ex machina or “the power of friendship.” By the end of the 175-episode journey, it really feels as though nothing has changed at all from the beginning, begging the question of whether or not Fairy Tail is actually a great waste of time.

Naruto
Photo: Studio Pierrot

With 220 episodes to its name, Naruto can best be described as an overrated shonen anime that offers little in the way of progression. This is best exemplified through the show’s one-dimensional characters and the show’s long-winded plot. As an anime it does little to distinguish itself from the crowd, seeking to convince viewers that its style is enough reason to overlook its substance.

Additionally, filler episodes and arcs truly hinder the story’s momentum down the stretch. Childhood nostalgia can be blinding, and Naruto is a prime example.

Tokyo Ghoul
Photo: Studio Pierrot

Tokyo Ghoul is the epitome of failed potential, yet still gets praise from horror fans for nothing more than its gruesome outer shell. Adapting the struggle between ghouls and human into an anime could have presented to audiences outside of the manga a unique dialogue on modern day race divides and cultural insecurities.

As a show, Tokyo Ghoul instead decides to devolve into a disjointed narrative that prioritizes aesthetic and action above everything else. Essentially, the biggest draw of the anime is its opening. Aside from that, Tokyo Ghoul fails to provide any meaningful reason to exist beside its excellent manga.

Attack On Titan
Photo: Wit Studio

Though Attack on Titan is a great gateway for non-anime fans, it struggles in handling critical areas outside of that – specifically, character development. Protagonist Eren continuously makes the same mistakes, Armin reiterates what was already known, and the mystery of the basement is constantly brushed aside for the sake of killing more titans.

Attack on Titan feels as though it takes two steps forward only to take three steps back as the series unfolds. If fans of the show haven’t noticed these fallacies yet, they’d best take a look again.

 

Spice & Wolf
Photo: Spice & Wolf/ASCII Media Works

Spice and Wolf is essentially the anime version of Twilight, and while fans will argue the contrary, the show doesn’t offer much in the way character depth. Whereas other entires on this list supply too little in the form of exposition, Spice and Wolf supplies too much.

Economic buzzwords are quickly followed up with definitions and characters talk for minutes on end as if they were giving a lecture. Sound is hardly used aside from the aforementioned dialogue, which only emphasizes the fact that people in this show belabor every detail. Spice and Wolf requires a great deal of patience to stomach, so it’s quite difficult to see why it’s praised so often.

Food Wars
Photo: J.C.Staff

An example of another missed opportunity can be found in Food Wars. With a premise that relies so heavily on its characters, one would think that the show would offer some progression for each of its main personages.

Instead, Food Wars figuratively throws as much spaghetti as it can on the wall, only to have none of it stick, as each one of the many characters introduced fail to really establish him or herself as a truly meaningful ally or enemy. Throw in the overused ecchi animations and Food Wars winds up being served undercooked.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Photo: Ufotable

Behind Ufotable’s flashy animations in Unlimited Blade Works lies an anime devoid of any real tension, choosing to pander to its main character above all else. Indeed, Shirou is perhaps one of the most self-serving protagonists in the entire medium, as he somehow turns the Holy Grail War into a drama about whether or not he can get with the girl he has a crush on.

It’s a bit nonsensical and all the more annoying as the series moves on, as Unlimited Blade Works does little to offer fans any sympathy for its lead roles. Everything just winds up feeling pointless by the end, with no character development or any sense of closure in sight. Of course, who cares when the fight scenes are this cool, right?

One-Punch Man
Photo: Studio Madhouse

It’s hard to describe what exactly One-Punch Man is, as the anime seemingly has no identity. Main character Saitama can defeat anything with only a single punch, and that’s about the gist of it.

Though this may seem like an innocuous criticism at a glance, having one joke serve as the basis of an entire show removes all tension, drama, and intrigue – replacing those critical features with repetition and fanfare. This gives viewers no incentive to keep watching other than to see what next thing Saitama will punch.

There’s nothing much to be found in One-Punch Man other than its heavy reliance on parody, and if that’s all one wants from anime, he or she will have a great time. For those viewers who want to enjoy something a bit more intelligent, One-Punch Man just doesn’t have the brains to deliver.

Noragami
Photo: Studio Bones

Noragami feels empty as if it doesn’t have any real reason to exist. Its most interesting (and only) draw is its world of gods and roots in Japanese mythology. There’s not much of a story to follow, and just when viewers think Noragami is going in one direction, the narrative shifts focus and explores another idea. It all makes for a dizzying experience, to say the least.

The majority of this show’s popularity can assumedly be attributed to its cute, albeit generic cast, and nothing much in the way of its sophistication.

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