Most anime falls into one of two categories for me when it comes to completing them. I either watch a show all the way to the end or something causes me to drop it within a few minutes of episode 1. The reasons for why a show won’t make it past the first 10 minutes for me are diverse and honestly not that interesting.
What is fascinating are the few shows that I get pretty far in before dropping them, because that’s a sign it was doing something well until some bizarre calamity wrecked my enjoyment of the show. Today I picked out a few of these anime I have a story with. If you have some of your own I’d be interested in hearing about them.
This is certainly one of the anime that inspired me to do this article because I actually fondly remember watching it a few years back. A friend of mine that is into visual novels recommended Angel Beats to me, claiming it would be right up my alley. And for a while, it definitely was.
It’s about this group of kids that are stuck in the afterlife after deciding they didn’t want to take their chances with reincarnation. Instead, they formed a small army and are waging war against an angel, with the ultimate goal being finding God or some other authority figure and giving them a piece of their mind. I was totally down with their crazy adventure in which death is not a permanent issue anymore. At the same time, I enjoyed and teared up at scenes in which characters come to terms with their regrets in life and decide to abandon the fight to pass on willingly.
The show lost me when it just became clear that the starting goal of picking a fight with God wasn’t going to happen, nor were we going to see the characters come to terms with their pasts gradually, either of which would have been fine with me. Instead, a series of events occur which introduce shadows as the new main enemy, whereupon the entire army and all the fun side-characters just kind of disband. You don’t get insight into what was keeping those characters in the afterlife, they just pass on and leave the stage while a core few main characters carry on to the finale. While Angel Beats had more going for it than just the comedy, when it was so abruptly taken away from the show I just found no motivation to carry on anymore.
I actually loved the first season of Log Horizon. it was a rad take on the trapped-in-a-video-game type story that was more about politics than combat. It was one of the first anime I bought for my Blu-ray collection and, though it was expensive, I have rewatched it numerous times since then.
Going from season 1 to season 2, it was clear things changed. First and foremost, production switched from Satelight to Studio Deen, with a drop in animation quality following in its wake. While the show didn’t look as bad as other Deen productions, it was definitely a shame to see Satelight go, after they did such a neat job on the first season. Outside of Deen’s control though, is the radically different flow to the story.
What I appreciated in the first season was how fast the story moved and how much was happening within it. Each arc was exactly as long as it needed to be and they all followed each other up perfectly, making it feel like a show bursting with content. Season 2 is drastically different and spends half its runtime setting up two big story arcs that run in parallel. Perhaps an attempt to make it more epic, yet the final result was a show that just got boring and slow. The pinnacle of this comes in one episode where Shiroe’s raid group is demoralized and they just sit around for twenty minutes while a side-character delivers a speech.
At this point in the show, the cast had become so bloated it didn’t feel like anybody got the spotlight they deserved. So many story developments were competing for screen time that everything moved at an absolute crawl. When the story then shifted focus from the established cast of characters to tell the story of a bunch of new characters in a completely different country, I just threw in the towel and gave up on the series.
This entry is at least 50% my own stupid fault. When people told me to watch Hell Girl I did basically no research and just fired it up, but what I found turned out to be Hell Girl: Three Vessels. The third season. That I wasn’t exactly keeping up with the plot is pretty much down to me being a dumbass.
Even so, once I did a little digging and read summaries of the two preceding seasons, I ended up not getting a lot of mileage out of Hell Girl. The show has an interesting concept: people can use a website to wish death upon somebody. Hell Girl will come and torment them before dragging the victim off to hell, at the cost of the soul of whoever made the request. The format, however, relies on each episode telling a standalone, short story that does tie into an overarching narrative, but which isn’t moving forward at a steady pace.
Each episode is much of the same, with a character that wishes death on another person being introduced. We explore their relations a bit, maybe they are having second thoughts, and eventually we get to the scene where Hell Girl takes whoever dies away with her. While these scenes are creative, the short story format gets contrived, with some episodes having absurd reasons for why a character wants to sell their soul just to be rid of somebody else. Like one episode has a kid murder his best friend because he witnessed said friend being scared one time.
I got pretty far in before I realized this was just 26 episodes of the same kind of short story, in a franchise now counting four seasons utilizing this format. I couldn’t for the life of me imagine how anybody would be able to stick with such a repetitive show.
Sometimes I feel cursed, as a lot of video games I enjoy are the kind of games I find hard to play. Therefore, it’s appealing for me to seek out anime adaptations of games like Persona 4, though in that example I did eventually beat the video game. I attempted the same with Valkyria Chronicles, but that didn’t work out.
The lack of a dub makes this a bad package for me. Normally I don’t mind watching sub or dub, but Valkyria‘s heavy European influence make it a series I much prefer in English. This isn’t helped by the fact that the game itself has English audio and a pretty good cast of actors to boot. By far the most egregious problem, however, is how much they meddled with the story.
It’s been years since I watched this show, yet I perfectly recall how absolutely indignant I was when first working through it while still playing the video game. Many important chapters—like the battle in the Barious desert and much of the Vasel Bridge encounter—are cut entirely or reduced in ways that make no sense. On top of that, it’s also just a whole other story in terms of tone.
The video game, despite being about waging war, was actually about the struggle of characters desiring peace above all else. The anime feels more like a celebration of war, with its fast action scenes, ridiculous set-pieces, and more aggressive feel. A good example is the scene in the cabin, which in the game is a scary scene culminating in a tragic and beautiful moment, whereas in the anime it’s a whole lot of characters shouting and threatening each other.
If anything, it served as a proper motivation to be less of a wimp and finish the game instead.
Season 1 of K-On! is pretty much exactly what I look for in a comedy anime and then some. It’s a lighthearted and masterfully-directed show about a bunch of girls who start a band together, with episodes showing us how they practice and perform music alongside all the other goofy stuff that happens to them while at school. It’s slice-of-life at its best and it’s fast-paced to boot, as the show races through the first two years of these girls’ school careers in just 13 episodes.
It’s a show I hold very dear indeed, yet I can’t say the same about season 2. For the most part, season 2 retains and even improves upon the qualities of season 1, but typically these aren’t the kind of shows I want to see too much of. 13 episodes generally sate my needs for fun slice-of-life anime and on rare occasions, I can handle another cour if I really liked something, see also New Game! and Non Non Biyori. But season 2 of K-On! isn’t just another cour, it’s a full 26 episodes. That… is pushing it.
I feel season 1 just already did everything I wanted K-On! to do. It showed us these girls coming together and starting their band, having to do everything for the first time, Yui had never touched an instrument before. There were lots of problems to overcome and all the characters were anxious yet also excited to be part of it. Season 2 still has fun things going on, but none of it was as interesting as season 1’s dilemmas. Five episodes in, I just felt like watching a show with more going on in it.