Last year I gave myself quite a challenge by assembling a top 50 of my favorite anime series, an upgrade on my very old top 20 on the same subject. It was a fun project to end the year on and I jokingly said I could maybe do a top 100 for this year. Well… I probably could, but I don’t think my tastes have shifted enough to warrant a new list yet and I’d be repeating a lot of what I wrote last year. Not to mention, I have yet to see the remake of Higurashi and that show has the potential to really complicate the top end of the list. Let’s save this idea for later and instead flip the concept on its head for 2020: A Top 50 Worst Anime.
The usual yada yada applies. This is merely my own opinion based only on the anime that I have seen, so don’t take it as gospel. I have also opted to exclude some anime I really didn’t have much new to say on, which mostly applies to the works I did mini-reviews on just recently.
With all that said, thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy this article and have a safe, prosperous start of 2021!
#50 Mirai Nikki
Being iconic does not necessarily mean a work is good. Mirai Nikki was immensely influential in bringing the yandere trope back to the forefront of anime discourse, but that’s about the only feat this anime has going for it. Its horror-thriller storyline sounds good on paper, but the attempt to mix in bizarre comedy characters and strange, magical influences completely undermines it. It’s an anime that’s loved for its great moments, of which there were sadly few.
A spiritual successor to a niché visual novel, Canaan is a crime thriller about terrorism and people with mutant superpowers, that manages to be abysmally boring in spite of its remarkable pedigree. Often remembered well for its tight choreography, there is little of substance to tie its handful of decent action scenes together and even those are held back by overpowered main characters.
While it ranks comparatively low on the list, Jormungand‘s greatest sin is that it’s plain lifeless. Many “bad” anime are at least fun to dissect and talk about, whereas Jormungand is just flavorless. It’s a dull action series that never really excites, nor does it have characters we can be invested in or drama to captivate us. It’s like Black Lagoon with all the competence sucked right out of it.
DNA is just not good at anything; a story hopelessly lost in its own concept. It has a hilarious premise about time-travelling to prevent one horny fucker from overpopulating the planet, but then ends up bouncing between edgy sci-fi action and dumb romance side-plots. You’re watching this cool, spiky-haired dude beat up thugs, after which he goes on a prolonged quest to help a girl with her a flatulence problems. PASS!
#46 Cells at Work
Though its cute character design and weird premise earned Cells at Work some love from the anime community, as an educational tool I found it to be utter rubbish. You constantly have to pause to read screens full of text that explain what’s happening, which oftentimes still left me confused unless I looked up an actually decent explanation elsewhere. With its one gimmick falling flat, the remainder of the anime just feels like a below-par comedy show.
#45 Shigurui: Death Frenzy
Samurai dramas are a staple of Japanese media, but it’s not often we get to enjoy them in anime format. At least, not without a little colorful exaggeration. Not Shigurui! It wants to be a dark and serious samurai tale with a grim tone and some gore for good measure. Maybe the original manga succeeds at this premise, but the adaptation by Madhouse is a drab-looking anime with one of the most boring stories I’ve ever sat through. It’s never outright terrible, but I have yet to experience a show that is as consistently unexciting.
I haven’t actually seen Blood, but was drawn to Blood-C by word-of-mouth when people started telling stories of its mind-blowing gore. While certainly more violent and grim than other anime at the time, its story was constantly vague and uninteresting. The insistence on taking time away from the demon hunting to have protagonist Saya go to school and interact with an underwhelming support cast left Blood-C with too much downtime and neutered its dramatic twists. The anime then ended inconclusively, leaving it to a tie-in movie to actually finish the story.
What a way to undersell one of the most beloved and long-running fantasy series out there. Studio Madhouse took a few volumes of Norihiro Yagi’s manga and turned them into a generic-looking and incomplete anime with some of the worst battle choreography around. I am currently in the process of reading through the original manga and the difference in quality is staggering.
#42 Kill Me Baby
It baffles me that, out of all the great comedy manga out there, people looked at Kill Me Baby and figured this one deserved an adaptation. It’s a series that sounds like it has an interesting theme on the surface: a comedy about school girls who are also skilled assassins. However, the show (and source material) lack the dark humor to make this actually work. The generic gag comedy we get instead is completely forgettable safe for a few “almost-funny” stand-out moments.
#41 Persona 4: The Golden Animation
Atlus’ fantastic RPG Persona 4 had already been adapted to anime in 2011, so why adapt it again a mere 3 years laters? Golden is a perplexing anime, as it rushes through the game’s storyline at breakneck speed, rendering it completely unintelligible. It mostly just wants to adapt the new bonus stories that were added in the game’s Vita remake, which was itself already out for 2 years at this point. It’s pointless and its few attempts to look like a cooler alternative to the 2011 version only prove that it’s the less faithful adaptation.
#40 Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
Yeah, that review made me some mortal enemies. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai has that right mix of pseudo-scientific nonsense and anime melodrama to get as much under my skin as possible. Worst of all are the cast of characters, which are so forgettable that even some of the folks sending me hateful messages had seemingly forgotten about them. I can’t deny that the show had a massive impact in the anime fandom, so while I personally found no enjoyment in it, I am happy that so many others did.
#39 Terror in Resonance
Thrillers are one of my least favorite genres, especially when placed in contemporary settings, and Terror in Resonance never did anything to hook me in anyway. Its bland visuals and character design kept me at arm’s length, and its story was never particularly exciting. Really, the only reason I didn’t drop the anime is because I was at a marathon with other people. Still, I can’t hate on the show too much. It’s the antithesis to everything I enjoy in anime, but I can see how it would be a great show to someone who loves thrillers and favors this kind of artstyle.
#38 Qwaser of Stigmata II
2010’s The Qwaser of Stigmata was never the most prestigious series, but I could at least somewhat respect and enjoy it. Its sequel, however, is a downgrade on the original in every regard, with the new storyline being particularly bad. The sudden obsession with full-dive VR gaming technology makes for a baffling new direction that the author spends most of the runtime desperately attempting to justify. It goes nowhere, after which the rest of the season slowly peters out.
#37 Shakugan no Shana
Shakugan no Shana is… not to my liking. It’s a very barebones fantasy story that dresses its generic ideas up in layers of nonsensical terminology; it wants to create the illusion of being deep and meaningful, while in actuality its a tropey shounen series with stock characters. This could maybe be forgiven if the show had anything else going for it, but no such luck.
#36 Mitsuboshi Colors
Mitsuboshi Colors is a bog-standard comedy series in which we follow the random adventures of 3 little girls, who between the 3 of them have maybe just enough personality for 1 character. None of these kids are interesting and the only parts of the story I could recall, without looking up episode summaries, were the ones that stood out for being especially unfunny.
#35 Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Power fantasies can be fun, but you kinda want to at least pretend there is a threat to be resolved. Not for Ichiro Suzuki! He has just arrived in a fantasy world of his dreams with an inventory full of epic loot, endless skill points, and maxed out stats. What follows is a rather pointless story where he amasses a harem of female sidekicks for a world-saving adventure, which then never takes off because they ran out of episodes. Good job guys.
#34 Higurashi: When They Cry Outbreak
The fate of Higurashi is a perplexing one, as it just keeps coming back no matter how niche of a cult classic it is. While I hold out hope for the remake, Outbreak was a pathetic final whimper for the franchise. It takes an emotional, character-driven horror story and turns it into a laughable action flick that has nothing in common with prior seasons. The story then arbitrarily cuts off to leave room for a sequel, which naturally never came.
#33 Kowarekake no Orgel
This anime is like trying to speedrun a touching drama. In a mere 30 minutes, give or take, Kowarekake no Orgel wants to make you cry as if the writer’s life depended on it. It’s a SAD, EMOTIONAL story about an abandoned robot girl and the guy who tries to fix her. It’s so transparent and ineffective that the attempted drama comes back around to being unintentionally hilarious. Every once in a while I suddenly remember its final plot twist and it cracks me up all over again.
#32 Momo Kyun Sword
20% Japanese folklore, 80% anime fan-service. Momo Kyun Sword proposes an alternate telling of the story Momotarou, wherein the hero is a big-titty anime girl who teams up with other anime girlies to get sexually harassed together while fighting demons. As an action series it falls completely flat, so Momo Kyun Sword appeals to a host of different fetishes to still get by. The character-design, visuals, and directing are also not great though, so in the end we just got an embarrassing ecchi show that even die-hard perverts will struggle to sit through.
#31 Tokyo Ghoul √A
While its first season left me somewhat intrigued, my interest in Tokyo Ghoul completely collapsed when its second season began airing and was a total flop. The writing was on the wall by episode 1 and it kept steadily declining from there, ultimately concluding with a final episode that, to its credit, tried very hard to make it look like it wasn’t a total cop-out. I must admit that I don’t know where the series is at today, but after the shitshow that was Tokyo Ghoul √A, I really don’t care to find out.
#30 Banner of the Stars
Crest of the Stars and Birth of the Stars were great little stories, but the multi-part Banner of the Stars saga steered the franchise straight into disaster. After a rocky first season, Banner of the Stars wastes its entire second chapter on a side-story and then has to rush the trilogy to conclusion in a short OVA series. It’s a show that constantly tests your patience and then never delivers a satisfying pay off, tragically dragging the rest of the Seikai Trilogy down with it.
#29 Phi Brain
An anime about solving puzzles sounds fun and unique, making it a shame that Phi Brain is such a colossal failure at it. Puzzle-solving is generally a meditative and relaxing activity, yet here it’s forced into a high-adrenaline shounen action series with a spikey-haired protagonist barking dramatic dialogue at his rivals. It feels fundamentally misguided and the anime has an amateurish feel to it that’s noticeable in almost every aspect of its design. I hope someone revisits this concept some day and figures out how to make it work.
#28 The Wind Rises
One of Ghibli’s most boring feature films, The Wind Rises feels like a soulless regurgitation of the usual Ghibli themes and motions. Tediously prolonged to over 2 hours, it’s a movie that constantly felt like it found new ways to stretch itself out further just to torment me.
#27 Akema ga Kill
A boring fantasy story that is almost entirely dependent on shock value and misplaced fan-service. Lacking an interesting fantasy world or a good story to tell, Akema ga Kill‘s only course of action is to keep throwing murder, rape, and torture at you instead. Surely that never gets old, right?! The gore wasn’t even that impressive and its shocking twists already get predictable by episode 4. It’s fortunate that Akema ga Kill came out during the brief time where I tried watching anime seasonally, or I’d have gotten bored and dropped it an hour or so in.
I played around with the idea of reviewing Isuca, but its so bizarrely incompetent that I couldn’t muster the energy to be mad at it. The whole show is an overwritten fantasy story that basically just turns into a harem-action series where two teenagers hunt monsters. Most episodes are easygoing, shounen action stuff with the kind of monsters you’d expect, but at utterly random times Isuca suddenly goes full grimdark fantasy with gore and body horror, before suddenly shifting right back to comedy. There’s no consistency to the series and the story is a trainwreck, but I am keeping it at #26 because I at least never knew what to expect while watching it.
#25 Pop Team Epic
Pop Team Epic is a show desperate for viral appeal and it wants to cut out anything that stands between it and that goal. Story? Characters? You don’t need those! Just have a constant barrage of RANDOM humor and the internet will sort out the rest. While there are some funny moments in there, trying to find them is like going treasure hunting in a swamp.
#24 Junji Ito Collection
The painful truth behind some of the grandmasters of manga is that their work is utterly unadaptable. You can’t take art as detailed as that of Junji Ito, hand it to an animation studio, and tell them to just make that but with movement between the pictures. Junji Ito Collection is an assortment of Ito’s short stories, completely ruined by animation that is far below-par. It is easily one of the most ugly anime of recent times and it saddens me that some people may be turned away from Ito’s work thanks to this shoddy attempt at an adaptation.
#23 Bladedance of the Elementalers
Bladedance of the Elementalers is a show that tries to be half-a-dozen genres at once, yet fails at all of them. It’s a harem, ecci romcom series with fantasy battles and drama mixed in there. All of this is glued together by the most predictable tropes imaginable and characters so generic I honestly didn’t remember any of them.
#22 Cluster Edge
To this day I am still left wondering what in the world Cluster Edge was trying to do. There were certainly shimmers of potential throughout the series, but it was too convoluted and mishandled to have any hope of succeeding.
One of many bottom feeders from the 90s looking to get in on the hype for violent OVA series. Its massive time-skips between arcs leave it without any room to build on the ideas that worked, and mean there is no point in getting invested in the setting and characters of individual episodes. Its gore scenes are admittedly very cool, but so rare and short you might as well look up the gifs online.
#20 The Magnificent KOTOBUKI
CGI has a ton of promise and even anime largely made in CGI-fashion, though contentious, can be really amazing and visually spectacular. Then anime like The Magnificent KOTOBUKI show up and turn CGI into a laughingstock. It looks almost objectively bad and, no, the story doesn’t make up for it.
#19 Cyberteam in Akihabara
The only “good” aspect of Cyberteam in Akihabara is its OST, with “Koishi Masho Nebari Masho” still being one of my favorite insert songs in anime to date. The rest of the show is sadly not up to snuff, with its most glaring flaw being the utterly hateable characters. With a nonsensical plot and horrendous art to back it up, Cyberteam in Akihabara is a spectacular failure of an anime.
#18 Di Gi Charat
Originally intended to be an advertisement for a series of geek stores in Japan, Di Gi Charat went more than a little overboard as sequels kept coming. The already thin storyline became overloaded with running gags and references, and soon the humble geek store setting was abandoned for an overambitious adventure story. I tried to stay positive and give this new direction a shot, but it’s painfully underwhelming.
While my love for Diebuster casts a positive light on Gunbuster, there’s no denying that this old school OVA fell short in a lot of places. I ended up thoroughly resenting the protagonists of this story. Its boring plot was already not doing the anime any favors, but it was the relentless, selfish whining of the supposed heroes that made it a real struggle for me to sit through Gunbuster. I acknowledge that it’s a vital part of anime history, but I will never touch it again.
I joked about it in my review, but the combination of heavy fan-service and Mouse‘s childish story is really unsettling to me. The OVA goes back and forth between lighthearted comedy and brazen ecchi, but the extremes of both are too frequent and too far apart. Its sexy scenes are mere inches away from just being porn, while its comedy is not exactly adult-oriented at all. Having recently seen Agga Ruter, I now realize how much better Mouse could have worked if the two sides of this show worked together better.
#15 Sword Art Online II
I rather enjoyed the first season of Sword Art Online, flawed as it was. The show’s second season takes all the criticisms leveled against the series and doubles down on all of them. The video game setting makes even less actual sense, the story is even more strenuous, MORE RAPEY VILLAINS, more Kirito worship. Worst of all, the new first-person shooter setting is just abandoned after a quick tournament arc, after which SAO II closes out on two negligible storylines set in Alfheim again. What was the fucking point then?
I was challenged to watch Fuuka and knew within the opening minutes that I was going to resent every minute of it. It’s a miserable romance anime starring two of the most hateable protagonists in anime, and this is coming from somebody who absolutely loved Scum’s Wish. My buddy threw in the towel after a tortuous episode 1, leaving me to finish the fight alone. If you too suffered through Fuuka, then be sure to also read a bit of the manga for a more satisfying, alternate take on the story.
Mushi-Uta is a smorgasbord of random, “cool” ideas all piled together into a single story with little to no cohesion. Like Isuca, its tone bounces around all over the place, but now its characters happily bounce along. A gunslinger edgelord transforms into an eccentric love-crazed teenager between scenes, then moves on to being a selfless shounen hero moments later. Most insulting of all is that the anime doesn’t go anywhere. It flops around for 12 episodes and then concludes, having achieved literally nothing besides wasting the viewer’s time.
Crude, unfunny, and spectacularly ugly in its animation, Muromi-san is an anime that was just depressing to sit through. Despite its short episodes, each one feels like a slog where every joke degrades into random acts of violence or fan-service, often with a weird, fetishistic touch to them. I honestly wonder if anybody actually liked this show, because I was just uncomfortable throughout all of it.
Clamp is a big name in manga and has produced some of the most renowned series to date, but X/1999 was the last drop for me and the definitive point where I no longer considered myself a fan of Clamp’s work. It’s a melodramatic series about the supernatural battle between two opposing forces, rooted in folklore that is never adequately explained of explored. Having no existing knowledge of the manga and the many characters that just appear and disappear by the bunch, I found X/1999 to be terminally boring and one of the hardest animated movies I ever sat through.
This show seemed tailor-made for me. I love all things military, I am super into fantasy, mash the two together and success should be guaranteed. Sadly that doesn’t fly when your fantasy world is just a generic template, a thinly-veiled excuse to surround your “cool dude” protagonist with fantasy pussy. Without joking: I have literally never watched an anime with dialogue this awkward. It’s so badly written, particularly anything relating to Rory, that I felt actually embarrassed to be watching the show. Keep in mind, I review hentai and was making excuses for Qwaster of Stigmata a few paragraphs ago.
The failure of Cleopatra is utterly pathetic. An erotic passion project by Osamu Tezuka, it desperately tries to appeal to just about anybody by throwing in any idea it can think of. They even tried to sell more tickets by giving themselves an exclusive X-rating, marking it as the most adult anime of all. It was universally loathed for its random nature, shoddy directing, and childish comedy, going down in history as a cultural and financial failure of at the hands of a man once hailed as the father of the medium.
#8 Dai-Shogun – Great Revolution
An oversexed bastardization of the warring states period that felt like a slog from start to finish. Its failures are too many to list, but most hilariously of all is that they attempted to Kickstart a CGI revival of the series. The boring action scenes were among the show’s greatest flaws, yet here they tried raising $200,000 to bring these battles to life in VR. It went almost completely ignored and didn’t even come close to its funding goals.
#7 Samurai Warriors
Samurai Warriors is such a rubbish anime that it gets completely outclassed by Sengoku Basara, an anime born from a game ripping off the Warriors series. Whereas Sengoku Basara is full of life and explosive action, Samurai Warriors is just a dull regurgitation of the warring states period, but with all its players swapped out for basic shounen characters. Fatally, its animation then also cheaps out, falling back on slideshows and overlong panning shots whenever action does finally break out.
Good job guys. You somehow made the original looks like a cheap knock-off.
#6 Mobile Suit Gundam: MS Igloo
Why does this exist? MS IGLOO is a series of side-stories spread across 3 OVA releases, which are all pointless additions about unimportant details within the Universal Centuries setting. The first 6 episodes are formulaic mini-stories about failed weapon development programs, with the final 3 episodes being random fragments of warfare. Neither are interesting to watch and they don’t add anything of value to the setting, with the severaly-outdated CGI being the nail in the coffin for this overambitious side-project.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but screenshots of 2001’s Run=Dim are an even bigger goldmine than that. It’s a CGI monstrosity that’s impossible to take seriously, yet still laughably attempts to tell a dramatic storyline clearly inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion. It was torture to sit through, but hilarious to look back on.
#4 Peeping Life
Taking slice-of-life to its literal extreme, Peeping Life was meant to be a series of shorts that were literal glimpses into people’s everyday lives. A cute idea that fails due to just how little effort is put into it. Audio quality wavers, the animation is ugly and stiff, and most episodes are overlong rants about nothing in particular. It’s so boring that it almost feels deliberate, in which case I both commend and condemn its creators.
#3 Only Yesterday
When a movie presents itself as being the life story of a character, you assume that character has an interesting life worth talking about. This is not the case with Only Yesterday, which asks viewers to sit through a tedious 2 hours as its protagonist Taeko reminisces about her childhood. A childhood in which nothing of note happened, so instead we get overly-detailed accounts of random memories, like the time Taeko had some pineapple. The film is unbearable to sit through and I can’t see any kind of redeeming value in it.
#2 Ultraman USA
I am unfamiliar with the Ultraman series and this animated feature from 1989 definitely didn’t sell me on it. It’s a rushed, subpar kaiju film with an ugly artstyle and fights that are never really cool or exciting. Its plot is also so poorly presented that laughing at its awkward moments became the highlight of watching the film. To this very day we still jokingly reference and quote the movie, so even though it was absolutely terrible, it still has a little place in my heart.
#1 Bobby’s Girl
What infuriates me about Bobby’s Girl is that it pretentiously attempts to sell itself as an arthouse anime, while it’s blatantly obvious that the film is just unfinished and missing lots of content. It’s a romantic drama with gaping holes in its plot that are never addressed, like an overlong montage introducing a cast of characters who then never actually play a role in the movie. I am going to review it one of these days when I can force myself through it a second time, but as it stands, this is the only anime I have ever given a score below 1/10.