We just spent the last 12 days celebrating the best moments in anime. We will soon have everyone posting their Anime of the Year lists. Everyone is feeling pretty great about anime right now. That’s why I’m here to put a stop to all this celebrating. Christmas is over, it’s time to stew in miserable resentment. As I do every year, it’s time to count down the top 10 moments of suck from 2015. This is something I must do. It’s a cleansing process so that I can enter the new year with my spirits reborn and expectations heightened so another year of anime can let me down all over again.
10: Durarara’s animation collapse
I had waited 5 years for this sequel to come. On the whole it has lived up to my expectations. But there was a scary moment about halfway through the first cours where the animation went completely to pot. The in between frames disappeared and they had to resort to showing bodies fading in and out to demonstrate movement. They cut awkwardly to pixellated faces so they wouldn’t have to show action. What made me panic was this was so early on in this planned triple-cours that I started to wonder if this is what the whole show would end up like. They had changed studios so perhaps this was to be expected? Ultimately it didn’t come to pass, which is why this sits so low on this list, but for a moment there I feared the worst.
9: Iron Blooded Harem
A lot of this list will feature anime I like but made significant missteps. The disappointment is much stronger in an anime I expected something from. When Monster Musume treated its women like equally subservient breast-havers, I didn’t think twice of it. But when Iron Blooded Orphans introduced a dude with a harem and seemed to act like this guy should be aspired to, I felt truly let down. I kept waiting for someone to pull back and yell “hey guys this is really fucked up” but instead we have Kudelia turning to mush at the sight of a baby. I was half expecting her to go “I’ve found what I, a useless woman, can do in this world of men: I can have babies”. It might eventually make this move, which is why it’s fairly low down, but my disappointment remains.
8: Gakkou Gurashi loses all subtlety
This seemed to be a year for some extraordinarily bad endings. Th fact that Gakkou Gurashi’s isn’t even close to being the worst this year is testament to that. At least it stuck to its thematic guns. Telling the zombies to go home is something that they had at least foreshadowed. But to have it done with this extended PA message where they lay everything out destroyed all subtlety the series had been pretty good at building (while also not making much sense since the zombies would surely process a shorter, more natural go home message). Throw in the whole thing with the bloody dog and the graduation ceremony and I was left feeling thoroughly irritated by the whole thing. Graduation episodes are always awful, even during the zombie apocalypse, and this one was at least not as bad as the one from Angel Beats.
7: Seraph’s magical high school
In this case I just feel sorry for the author. I liked the first episode of Seraph quite a bit. It was a touch cheesy but there was a good setup for a story there. A kid escapes a compound and into a barren world where he is picked by the remaining resistant fighters, as he swears revenge against those who killed his friends. But then I guess some editor strolled in and said “hnyeargh this is good but hunyeargh you know what this needs? A magical high school harghnyearrgh”. Yeah sure let’s stamp out all originality from this promising shounen action and make sure it looks like everything else on the market.
6: Death Parade’s disconnect
I remember after watching the original Death Billiards short and liking it a lot, apart from the final few minutes where the story all fell apart. That would be fine though for a full series, I thought. There’s the bones of a great idea here. Which worked fine in pretty much every single episode apart from, as was the case in the OVA, the final 5 minutes. Every single time it felt as though myself and the author had different ideas of what was morally right and wrong. I left every episode feeling irritated. I’m not sure which annoyed me the most. The idea that a woman lying about something was worse than killing someone, or this concept that getting plastic surgery was the most shocking thing, or the entire terrible double episode with the two murderers. Even when we were on similar tracks it just seemed like the writers thought they were far smarter than they really were. I find it difficult to pin this irritation to a specific moment so instead I will call it the disconnect in feelings I felt I should be having once an episode ended and what I was feeling.
5: Blood Blockade confused ending
I could not tell you what the ending of Blood Blockade was about. At some point I tuned most of it out, letting the pretentious dialogue wash over me as pretty things happened on-screen. There was some wonderful moments in Blood Blockade. But the entire White and Black storyline was not one of them. In a way I feel I should be even more annoyed than I am. But I suppose because they waited several months before giving us the ending I had enough time to realise I gave not two shits about their storyline, which is what the ending was going to focus on, so I was able to prepare myself for the disappointment. Still an absolutely garbage ending that was far too serious in an anime that excelled when it was being fun, but not even the worst ending this year.
4: Jojo’s makes babies
While I’m picking on one specific moment from Jojo’s, this stand user is here as a symbol of what went wrong for me with Stardust Crusders. I love Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Battle Tendency is right up there as one of my favourite anime of all time. But Stardust just took too long to get to the good parts for me to maintain my excitement. We’ve had like 20 years to realise which parts of Stardust worked and which parts didn’t. Surely the baby maker was one of the moments they should have looked at and realised this doesn’t need to be here. Surely they could have cut some of these double episodes down to a single one. Maybe I would have been impossible to please either way. But all I can think of watching episodes like this one is how great the first season was and how much I wish I was watching that instead of this crap.
3: Ore Monogatari holding hands
I shouldn’t have let myself get into this position. I should know by now where I stand with shoujo high school romance. But no, this would be different. It’s an award-winning manga with an unusual protagonist! But nope, it’s the same go nowhere, do cute shite that appears to be most of what shoujo gets adapted. I swear there’s some sort of executive decision going on here. No we won’t adapt the badass post-apocalyptic shoujo like 7 Seeds. We’ll keep picking the cutesy yet somehow slightly creepy purity obsessed shoujo high school romance manga where nothing more lewd than hand holding happens. That moment where the girl had a chance to fight back from the “she’s so pure” line but responds with “holding hands” infuriated me. A girl gets the chance to show some agency in her romantic life and that’s what we get? Argh!
2: Yatterman Nights perving on a disabled girl
The ending for Yatterman Nights could easily make this list too with its blatantly unfinished product that left everyone with baffled faces as reused animation filled the screen. But my patience had been worn down long ago with Yatterman thanks to this one nagging thought in the back of my mind that eventually became a sledgehammer whacking the side of my face every time they brought it up: They keep perving on the mentally disabled girl. The blind, traumatised, mentally disabled girl who can barely take care of herself is being repeatedly perved upon like she’s this hot piece of merchandise. Because what’s hotter than a teenager but a teenager with the mental capacity of a toddler. No no no no stop it Yatterman, it wasn’t OK when Pet Girl did it and it’s not cool when you do it either. What’s worse is you keep making references to how the characters used to perv on Doronjo and now only do it as a legacy thing, but at least Doronjo used to be a fucking adult who could punch them back. Now you’re doing it to this girl who wouldn’t know what to do if you touched her inappropriately except maybe cry. Fuck you Yatterman Nights, you were supposed to be good.
1: Rokka’s cowgirl
Rokka’s ending is the worst ending to an anime I have ever seen. People often say that the worst endings are the ones that just sorta end and leave nothing resolved, but I don’t buy that. At least then you still have the feeling of excitement you had from the early episodes and can assume the rest of the story yourself. It’s far worse to produce a conclusion that farts all over everything that came previously, thereby retroactively making all that material worse with this new context. Rokka managed that, which was impressive. But what was doubly impressive was what happened next. At least with the non-ending you would be interested if there was a sequel, and you could always imagine what happens next. Rokka’s cowgirl reveal managed to kill all enthusiasm for a potential second season, killing all interest I had in the franchise whatsoever as it demonstrated the author had no idea how to continue this story. It was such a thorough assassination that it’s almost impressive.