The almighty symbol of terribad.
SCCSAV is a group of weirdos who watch Chinese cartoons with each other on Skype. A distinct sect of this hallowed group watches only the finest terrible cartoons available. Because I cannot often join them due to working on the weekend, I make it my mission in life to keep up with every shitty anime they watch (usually) on my lonesome. And, here, I share my experiences with you, Dear Reader.
So here I present a (highly biased) guide to terribad — from the ones I enjoy most to the ones I enjoy least, because that is obviously how such a list should progress. Enjoy!
(P.S. There are multiple pages to this for you folks on Google Reader. Haha, you have to come here to finish the post!)
(P.P.S. I’ve now added a page at the end that collects all the entries added in the most recent update for those of you who have kept up with this list for a while and don’t want to run through the whole thing to find the new stuff.)
1. Popee the Performer
What is it?: Popee, a clown in a bunny suit, spends his days at a circus with Kedamono, a wolf who wears masks to express emotions. They do lovely things like magic, juggling and slicing into each other with chainsaws. And sticking swords through their bodies. And chucking bombs at each other.
What?!: The fun doesn’t really begin until Papi, the owner of the circus, is introduced. Then they graduate to hypnosis, mirror worlds and bringing darkness upon half the world by cleaving the sun in two.
Your fear: Popee and friends feed on it. It is what keeps them young.
Popee the Performer is twisted in the most wonderful way. If the shorts (each episode is four minutes long) consisted merely of Popee and friends destroying each other in horrible ways, then the show would eventually grow stale. Cartoonishly gruesome violence is fun for only so long. What keeps Popee fresh, however, is the sheer lunatic imagination poured lovingly into every scenario. This series has some of the most inspired Looney Tunes-esque logic I’ve seen in any piece of fiction, much less anime. It’s something I love dearly: creators taking an already bizarre scenario and exploring it to its logical conclusion. Every time I thought I had Popee figured out, it would surprise me with something both terrifying and hilarious.
I am not joking when I say I legitimately love Popee the Performer with all my heart. I want more Popee. I need more Popee. I must have more Popee.
2. Kenya Boy
What is it?: The inspiring journey of a young Japanese boy who teams up with a Masai warrior to battle Nazis, giant animals, and African tribesman who inexplicably become white at one point.
What?!: There are also dinosaurs.
Number of drugs the director took before making it: Just one, but it was really strong.
Kenya Boy is magnificent. I honestly hope that one day someone like Mike Toole will write a massive article detailing how this crazy movie ever got made. Even during the 1980s when anime studios were dropping dollars everywhere, the fact that this movie was actually created and released is inexplicable. But boy am I glad it was made. In the three times I’ve written about this movie here, I’ve never written about the craziest parts, even just now when I casually dropped the fact that there are dinosaurs in this movie. Just drop everything and watch it now.
3. Mad Bull 34
What is it?: Daizaburo “Eddie” Ban (whose name is probably Daizaburo Edi-Ban, or something similar, but the other way is funnier) is a rookie cop in New York’s most dangerous precinct. He is teamed up with John “Sleepy” Estes aka Mad Bull, who is the most infamous cop on the force, a renegade, someone who doesn’t play by the rules. And by “doesn’t play by the rules,” I mean “he blows the brains out of petty thieves.”
What?!: And he never gets punished for it even once.
Number of awkward sex scenes: Three that I remember, but there might be more.
Mad Bull 34, if taken seriously, is utterly reprehensible. It’s an early ’90s OVA, so there’s a ton of violence, rape, and general nastiness toward women, and if they had figured out a way to get some tentacles up in this joint, they probably would have made a token appearance, as well. However, I can’t truly be offended by this OVA because it’s just so god damn goofy. Marriage is used not once, but twice (!!!) to resolve storylines. Daizaburo and Sleepy crossdress frequently. The Manga UK dub adds another layer of hilarity — goofy New York accents, and a gloriously offensive episode involving a Chinese gang, where every member has a racist Chinese accent despite some members clearly being black and white. The whole thing is basically the dumbest, most violent and racist sitcom ever.
4. Garzey’s Wing
What is it?: Chris is your average whiny anime lead who suddenly gets whisked a way by a ghostly duck into a medieval world where an intense war is going on. Also, there are dinosaurs! And his sword is incredibly dull! Somehow only Chris’ soul is whisked away to this world, but it’s solid, and he can communicate with his body back on Earth, and did I mention there are dinosaurs?
What?!: Yoshiyuki Tomino actually wanted this world — which also features in Aura Battler Dunbine – to be his legacy over Gundam.
Yamato Takeru no Mikoto: Damn you!
Yep, this crazy mess of nonsense is the brainchild of Gundam‘s creator. This is perhaps the most “famous” terribad anime — it was my gateway into this craziness. Part of its terribad appeal is Tomino crunching at least a single cours of storylines into three half-hour long OVAs. Absolutely nothing makes sense because every plotline is sped through before it has a chance to make sense. The other part of its appeal is, of course, the English dub. It is maybe the worst English anime dub ever recorded. Not a single correct inflection is used, nor are any emotions expressed that any human being would understand. The first episode in particular is a whirlwind of hilariously awful acting and writing. Garzey’s Wing is truly an experience.
5. Attack of the Supermonsters
What is it?: Evil dinosaurs have returned to rampage on the planet, blow stuff up and generally cause a mess. A special team of experts in silly costumes and Lego cars comes together to fight this evil menace.
What?!: The movie is a mix of live action and animation that looks quite silly. But it has enough budget to propel flames from the mouths of dinosaur puppets!
Do the dinosaurs talk?: Of course they do!
This movie is vaguely related to Return of the Dinosaurs (still to come), which features similar heroes and the same filmmaking style. What makes this the clearly better feature, however, is that it takes the already silly nature of its counterpart and cranks it to supremely ridiculous levels. The dinosaurs speak in the stilted manner of ’50s cartoon supervillains. They belch flame and shoot lasers from their eyes. They explode when they die! If I didn’t know better, I would have assumed this to be some ironic cartoon someone made to parody old, silly cartoons. Nope! This is a Genuine Movie. A Genuine Movie that also has zombie dogs. Also, one of the heroes looks like he is 60 years old. If you love the goofy ass movies Mystery Science Theater 3000 was so fond of viewing, then this is a must watch.
6. Angel Cop
What is it?: At an undefined point in the future, Japan has become swarmed with terrorism. Angel is a cop who fights for justice through ultraviolence. Her bloodlust sees her squared off first against a communist organization, and then a band of psychics . . . and a conspiracy that goes straight to the top. And there are cyborgs.
What?!: It turns out that The Jews Did It, but not in the English dub.
Number of early ’90s rock icons: One. Slash is totally one of the psychics. Prove me wrong.
Angel Cop has much of the same appeal as Mad Bull 34, except its goofiness is born through stone-faced seriousness. Everything has so much gravity and direness in Angel Cop. It’s so morose that it turns around and becomes pleasing to watch. Once again, part of that is the hilarious English dub, helpfully provided by Manga UK’s wonderful practice of punching dialogue up with as much swearing as humanly possible. There are many infamous lines — “FUCK AND PISS!!!!!!!” is perhaps the funniest use of gratuitous swearing ever — but my favorite bit is when the Other Lady Cop on the Force flips out at Angel and ends her conversation with, “Anyway, see you tomorrow, Ice Bitch.” She’s so mild-mannered before then!
7. Legend of Duo
What is it?: So there’s this stuff called prana, and humans are losing their prana, and are dying as a result. However, a vampire called Duo tells humans the secret of prana so that they may live. But this ain’t cool, so a vampire named Zieg — who was turned into a vampire by Duo — is going to punish Duo because Prana Is Bad. Or something.
What?!: Look, I don’t remember any of this shit.
Number of episodes spent flashbacking by a brick wall: Four.
Legend of Duo was once the cheapest anime I’d ever seen, but it has since been topped by other anime to come. However, take whatever you believe to be the cheapest-animated show this season, and Duo beats it handily. There is no action in Duo; hell, there isn’t even act. It’s more like ac. It has a story that you need to be Landon to understand. And flashbacks . . . mountains of flashbacks. There’s also puppy kicking. And I think the dog turns into a vampire at some point? And the Shiki Owl. Fear the Shiki Owl. This would be ranked higher if it had the awful English dub it deserves.
8. Vampire Wars
What is it?: Kuki Koshaburo is a KGB-trained Japanese badass who is wrangled into a mission by the French: He’s to track an actress who is being watched by the CIA . . . and by vampires. So he does what any KGB-trained secret agent would do, and he totally bones her. And he also blows up vampires.
What?!: The vampires are also from space. They are space vampires.
Cocksucking: It’s now an adjective. Vampire Wars has spoken.
This is basically an ’80s action movie with space vampires. If that doesn’t make you want to watch it, then I don’t know what will. And yet again, we have ourselves a hilarious Manga UK dub. It doesn’t have one line that is funnier than anything you’d hear in Mad Bull 34 or Angel Cop, but the totality and ridiculousness of the swearing makes it a worthy successor to the throne. It really is beautiful.
9. The Prince of Tennis: The Two Samurai, The First Game
What is it?: A group of middle schoolers who look and sound much older than they are go onto a cruise ship for high-stakes tennis matches. And by “high stakes” I mean that people actually gamble on middle schoolers playing tennis.
What?!: They also killed the dinosaurs, as seen in the above video.
Most obvious adult on the team: This guy. There’s no fucking way he’s actually in middle school.
Um, it’s a ridiculous shonen movie about middle schoolers who play tennis with ridiculous shonen moves. There’s not much more to it than that. I remember it fondly because it was the first anime I watched with the terribad group.
10. Return of the Dinosaurs
What is it?: A meteor crashes into the Earth, and dinosaurs once again roam the planet! It’s up to a highly skilled expedition group and the strongest blimp in the world to contain their destruction.
What?!: I’m not lying about the blimp. It not only carries a cage large enough to hold a humongous dinosaur, but it can also lift the cage with the dinosaur and still float away. The mind reels!
VCR: You know you’re in for a good movie when the video file starts with VCR tracking.
Not quite as memorable as Attack of the Supermonsters, but still good enough to earn a top 10 terribad spot. Not bad, I’d say! This movie is all silly toys unconvincingly battling stop-motion dinosaur puppets that occasionally battle each other. Actually, when the dinosaurs fight each other, it looks more like they are trying to make out. Maybe they are! It could be that the humans are rolling in and wrecking a good time. What do we really know about dinosaur mating rituals? (If you do know something, then comment about it in exacting, excruciating detail.) The best part of the movie is at the end, when a Texan (?) with a monocle (?!) tries to capture a dinosaur by blasting it with a shotgun from inside a tank (?!?!?!). Really, just watch it yourselves. It’s quite befuddling!