Everybody has guilty pleasures. Some realize it immediately, others take time to let their guilt accumulate before it eventually poisons their common sense. It’s hard to accurately predict what may or may not become a guilty pleasure, but for me, in terms of anime, it typically stems from a touch of nostalgia and a blend of bubbly characters and lusty design. Or, without embellishing it, things that look and feel fun. The type of show that can keep me entertained while roasting marshmallows atop my cerebrum. Stupid fun. The type of fun I can look back on fondly, if only for that feeling alone.
This list will look at anime titles I genuinely feel are bad, if not horrible, in overall quality, but also succeeded in keeping me entertained all throughout. General rule of thumb: the more I enjoy an anime, the higher it will be on this list. You can safely assume that all anime that make this list are ones I feel deserve the “awful” adjective. I will provide the rating I gave to each title and give a detailed explanation for the placing of said title. Without further ado, let’s begin my list of shameful subjective gems.
Oh, and this list may include spoilers. Read at your own risk, but I’ll try not to reveal too much.
10. Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
My Rating: 6/10
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, like many anime before it, is a first. A lot of the subjective feelings I have towards this title come from the bubble of nostalgia that surrounds it. It was the first “currently airing” anime I ever chose to watch. Long, long ago, in the year 2012, I had just finished the first Summer of Anime and was exploring the vast world of anime with naive eyes. What initially brought me to KSC was an intriguing character design (typical newbie mistake) and the title of the show itself, which translates to “Love, Politics, and Chocolate.”
My current rating is based upon the rating I gave it back in 2012, so rest assured that if I were to re-watch it (and I likely will eventually), the rating would probably drop a number or three. The story is unfathomably melodramatic and unrealistic, on top of sporting archetypes for major characters with minor characters who don’t matter much at all. It’s a typical visual novel adaptation at its finest: overly dramatic and overly simplistic.
Without reiterating every detail, KSC is enjoyable to me for nostalgic and aesthetic purposes. It is among the first thirty anime I’ve seen since restarting my anime career in 2012 and it has a very appealing design to its characters and environment. If only its beauty held any semblance of substance.
9. Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de
My Rating: 5/10
A more recent viewing among this list of anime, Kimiaru is a title I had on my radar for a long while. The premise is entirely stupid and I had very low expectations heading into it. However, this series surprised me in many ways. One of which was including full nudity. That was something.
The flaws with Kimiaru come standard with its genre and context. If I wanted to, I could simply copy/paste the issues I had with Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate right here and it would all still apply. Kimiaru has archetypal characters, is an adaptation of a visual novel, and can be horridly overdramatic. The main character is entirely insufferable and has one of the most underdeveloped backstories I have ever seen, which comes back to haunt him (and me) by series’ end. It’s entirely illogical on an almost parodied level as well.
In most regards, this is a pretty bad anime, but not overtly terrible. It at least tried to incorporate interesting events and character development among its episode listing. It also had a cozy family feeling throughout the entire series, too, which is good because they hammer that dynamic constantly throughout the show. I feel if this show decided to not include a plastic male lead (0% chance ever), it would be a much improved show, if only for a more believable romantic interest for damn near everyone in the house. This could be said for 100% of all harems.
8. Allison to Lillia
My Rating: 5/10
It still hurts, even to this day. Allison to Lillia, despite a horribly flawed plot, magnificently captured the spirit I strive for in shows within the adventure genre. Two young friends, drastically different in both appearance and personality, are roped into a war far outside of their reach. The girl’s uninhibited energy drives the story forward, while the male counterpart can only sigh in the background and follow timidly. The relationship between these two characters, while somewhat forced, is a treat to watch and holds a tremendous amount of heart.
Halfway through the series, they decided that was dumb, so they changed it. The story then stars the daughter of the previous two main characters as she travels along with the son of two other characters met previously in the series as they are roped into a “war” outside of their reach. In essence, Allison to Lillia restarts itself and replays the same general plot, only with a different cast and different events. It’s almost like the Call of Duty series. With every sequel, it’s basically the same game, only with a different setting.
As one could probably infer from this change, it pretty much botched any enjoyment out of the show. It was a blindsided hit that left me feeling cheated. The new characters are uninteresting and stupid. The resolutions resort to deus ex machinas and shoddy cliffhangers. Worst of all, the characters from before the time skip reappear completely devoid of their previous personalities. It’s almost like fan service. Well, it’s anime, so it’s expected. I just didn’t think they’d make it so dastardly.
A great start to an overall flawed series, Allison to Lillia simply dragged on for far too long. Had it ended after twelve episodes, it probably wouldn’t have made this list, as it wouldn’t have reached the criteria for shitty quality that I require. Sadly, it didn’t. It went on. And on. And on, and on, and on.
My Rating: 5/10
Another very early entry into my revived anime career (expect this often), MM! is among the most bizarre anime on this list. The focus on fetishes and disturbing content matter is unlike many other mainstream anime titles. However, it still incorporates the harem angle and makes the bland protagonist irresistible to the archetyped women around him. This anime is also interesting because it focuses on using dramatic character development early on in the narrative, as opposed to within the last few episodes. But that’s pretty much it.
The recurring sense of nostalgia encompasses this title much like half the anime on this list. It was a time when my cynical senses weren’t as sharp, and I still gave this a five out of ten. I knew even back then that this was immensely stupid, even back then. It probably had something to do with the “perverted super saiyan” shit they were spewing around episode five or so. It’s been three years. I don’t remember the exact details.
I think the cherry on top came with the final episode, when the title focused on a Christmas/birthday combination for the blonde girl up there. I have a certain weakness for Christmas episodes (I blame Toradora), and it had a lasting impression on me. There was something sweet about the typically tsun girl showing her dere side. It’s almost like that’s how her character is designed. Why do I find this sweet again?
It’s ridiculous and flawed, but it was enjoyably sweet. If not for the strangely dramatic plot points near the beginning, it would be much like all other anime of its genre. I think the reason I enjoy these titles so much is because I am, in fact, the main character of MM!.
6. Shinmai Maou no Testament
My Rating: 3/10
This list goes back and forth between anime I saw long ago to anime I saw recently. Shinmai Maou no Testament, compared to a lot of the titles on this list, has a considerably low rating from me. Don’t let that fool you: I really do regrettably enjoy this series. Its rating just reflects how shitty and mundane this series really is.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized how much I don’t care for stories that stray far from how logic is supposed to work. With the inclusion of magic and secret societies and all this good shit, it only opens the door for loopholes and gives the author creative freedom to do whatever they please, whether it makes sense or not. Sure, people can shoot magic at one another, but what makes one source of magic stronger than the other? What constitutes as strength? Why does molesting someone under a “pact” allow you to become more powerful? What part of forced sexual bonding results in a closer emotional relationship, thus making the two stronger? It’s a reason for fan service. It’s all it is, and it’s a chore to even try to process.
There is no suspense because the heroes suddenly become stronger for no reason other than “feeling like it.” When we don’t have any structure of logic in place, we can never not expect the heroes to win or get out of it somehow, or reasonably explain why someone hasn’t died or why an attack doesn’t hurt them, or so on and so forth. It’s this type of freedom that effectively destroys shows such as this for me. This, along with the underdeveloped characters, is most of the reason for the low score.
Despite all this, I love the creativity. And my inner weeb is calling out to me! I love the character designs! The characters are so cute! The intimate moments are heart-pounding! What is this?! Honey being poured on exposed tits! Is this my fetish?! Is this someone else’s fetish?! Undoubtedly!!! All of the cringey elements as to why a series like this would be so popular have that same effect on me, if even to the minimalist degree. Of all the titles on this list, this is one of the more shameful pleasurable associations. Better yet, the second season is turning out to be much of the same. Oh, joy.
5. Mayoi Neko Overrun!
My Rating: 5/10
And my trend continues with a series I watched long ago.
Mayoi Neko Overrun! is a bit of an interesting explanation. The story begins with an actual story: a girl, who looks like a cat (see: purple-haired girl above), joins a cast of characters and becomes a part of their family, and focuses on her for the first few episodes. Then, it devolves into a series of slice of life/parody plots that have next to nothing to do with anything. It finishes with some drama (not surprising) and some insight to the value the characters have with one another. While it wants to showcase some of that dramatic tension in bits and pieces, this title is generally feel-good in nature.
The aforementioned “parody” tag gets this series some points in the enjoyability factor. One such episode, episode seven, I believe, seems to come completely out of another series, featuring the main characters in a mecha/drama setting. It last the entire episode and evens sets up a cliffhanger ending for the next episode, only to never mention it again. I remember this very clearly, as I was stunned that it even happened. To dedicate an entire episode to parodying another genre of anime, not once breaking the facade or even mentioning it again, left me in a state of disbelief. I was both impressed with its spirit and enthralled by its stupidity. I never took the series seriously from that point on.
It’s the type of goofball, feel-good humor that’s so corny, it’s likable. Every harem and rom-com stereotype is present in this show, but still seems to come across as charming and adorable. The girls aren’t even that cute. I may just have a thing for catgirls (more on that later). But no explanation of this title would be complete without mentioning the almighty Daigorou. He is the one character from this series I genuinely and truly enjoy. Not because he’s interesting or because he’s developed, oh no. Daigorou is simply amazing because he is the single-most ignored side character I have ever seen from any anime. And I don’t mean they intentionally ignore him as a running joke, either. He is literally just there to take up room. He has lines and he provides humor, but he is never really, well, regarded that often. He is the epitome of the invisible stock friend, and I love him for it.
4. Senran Kagura
My Rating: 5/10
To be perfectly honest, I don’t see why this show is ranked so low. It’s current rank on MyAnimeList, at the time I am typing this, is #4947. That’s embarrassingly low, even for anime standards. I mean, I get it, this show is really bad. But compared to some of the other titles I’ve seen (including some on this list), it at least knows how to keep one’s focus on the screen.
Yes, it’s complete and total fan service. Yes, it has stock characters and its plot is constantly overlooked for the sake of exposing the women’s more personal assets. Yes, there’s this weird fascination with the women eating cucumber rolls or whatever they are. But are you really going to convince me that the fan service is any worse than others of its kind? Shinmai Maou no Testament has more bizarre bouts of sex play than Senran Kagura does. It’s ranked much higher, too.
One could also say “Well, Senran Kagura doesn’t have a plot.” Correction: it does have a plot. It’s not a good plot, but again, I’ve seen much worse. To an extent, I feel people bag on this anime because its an adaptation of a video game, and it didn’t correctly adapt to the standards that fans of the game had. Whether that was showing more tits or focusing more on the plot, whatever, it just didn’t deliver. But I have no solid evidence of this; it’s just a feeling.
To be perfectly honest, the one thing about this show that had me most enamored was the art style. Once every blue moon, there comes a show that completely captures my attention simply from the art style. The type of style that leaves me clamoring to infest my room with body pillows and gratuitous posters of lolis and all the other horrifying imagery that anime has polluted my brain with. Senran Kagura is one of those shows. There’s just something about the character design, the lighting, the detail to their “features,” the environment, the action; it’s breath-taking to me, and I hardly know why. Perhaps it’s my creative mind able to find sustenance in a show with little nutrients to bare. So, I latch onto a certain aspect and suck it dry. I really enjoyed staring at those stupid girls on-screen. And their tits. That was fun.
(I actually didn’t hate most of the characters, either.)
3. Ladies versus Butlers!
My Rating: 5/10
Quick discretion: I completely realize that this show is beyond stupid. Everyone is far too willing to strip down to nothing for the sake of stripping down to nothing. But in some sick, twisted way, I sucked this series dry like a tootsie pop. I can’t point to the animation, because I felt it was nice, but not spectacular. I can’t point to the plot, because what is a plot? I can’t point to the characters, because they’re either archetypes or only think of being naked. So then, what is it? What is it about this show that I enjoy so much?
I have no idea.
To be perfectly honest, to try and describe what I find so immersive about this title would be like asking a dog why it likes to play fetch: I’ll probably look at you funny. There’s just this sort of magical quality to it that makes it bearable, despite being completely unbearable. It is among the bottom of the barrel in terms of what anime has to offer. Ladies versus Butlers! is that stereotype title that everyone brings up to bar anime from the general public, and I would agree with them. If all anime were like this, I wouldn’t watch it, because this is really bad.
I think it’s the tits. Now, normally tits aren’t a big factor in my enjoyment of a bad series. How often before now have I mentioned that I enjoyed the tits in a series? But for this, there’s this sort of weird feeling of sexual freedom and rebellion that sort of wraps around itself as a series. It defiantly and shamelessly flaunts every morsel of skin the ladies of the series have to offer, and they show it damn near every episode. I guess if I had to put it without sounding like a sex-depraved, horny guy, I like its effort and energy. I like the fact that it shows tits and continues to show tits for the sake of showing tits, and doesn’t try to hide behind a PLOT like most others do. The show could go on without audio and it wouldn’t matter. It’s just tits and I’m okay with that.
2. Asobi ni Iku yo!
My Rating: 4/10
Here’s a funny story:
I was walking through my local [Insert used game retail store here] when I came across the anime section. Now, I saw the usual suspects: Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist; the usual. But then I ran across a familiar image. The image of Eris (pictured above with the cat ears), smiling bubbly and curling up like the feline she’s made out to be. For the next few minutes, I simply stared at her, completely shocked that I would find her series in the store that I was browsing. I had seen this title at this point, but seeing the blu-ray series in that store that day made me realize something: I loved the series. How did I know this? Because it took everything I had to not buy that collection then and there, knowing full well I could use a wide variety of other free resources online.
It’s funny, because when I came up for the title of this list, this was the series that come to mind. Most of the others titles I enjoyed while watching them. But Asobi ni Iku yo!? I barely thought of it afterwards. This was the one title that truly had to take its time to finally grip itself around my rotten heart. Once it did, I realized how much I genuinely enjoy this title.
Y’see that 4/10 up there? That’s almost all subjective feeling. This series is debatably the worst, objectively speaking, of all the other titles on this list. The plot is hilariously bad. The characters don’t give a shit. The logic! Oh, the logic! One of the most mindless titles I have ever seen. The animation isn’t even that great, with the characters looking great sometimes and clunky otherwise. While this title isn’t completely dedicated to tits, it’s completely dedicated to fan service: complete with catgirls, doggirls, and every other physical female stereotype that sweet little boys like me can get off to. Truly, a series one must see to believe. Objectively, this series is easily a 1/10.
Yet, I love it. Why do I love it? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to two things:
1. Eris. Something about her character, as brainless as she is, really sticks with me. I find her adorable. She’s the sort of character that you just want to take in and coddle until she’s grown up and can fend for herself. Her airhead personality, combined with an unreasonably optimistic attitude and sexual frustration because cats or something, just make her irresistible to me. Oh, and she’s a catgirl. I really like catgirls. I’m gross, I’m sorry.
2. So bad, it’s good. Have you ever watched that movie that’s so bad, you can’t help but revel in its unbelievable inferiority? I have, plenty of times. This series is undeniably one of those cases. The plots are so bizarre, so out of sync with reality—it’s almost like it’s a fantasy or something! The characters’ motivations are on par with kindergartners and everything is solved with the help of what may possibly be the wimpiest-looking protagonist in anime history. I fucking mean it. You cannot look or act as wimpy as the male lead in this series. He faints from a single swig of alcohol! HOW?!
A lot of great subjective meaning behind this pick, but there is one that barely surpasses it. Let it be known, despite not being my #1, that it will inevitably be someone else’s #1. It’s that magical of a series. Go watch it. Immediately.
1. Mayo Chiki!
My Rating: 6/10
My feelings for this particular anime reach far and wide, caressing the edges of my spirit in every which direction imaginable. I have tried desperately to find any translation for the light novel, so that I can further indulge in the quirky relationship between the gynophobe and female butler. I’ve considered the manga adaptation, but there’s so little there that I figured I wouldn’t bother. I want the source material, and knowing how much content there is to this title, it frustrates me to know that I would have to learn a whole new language just to read it. Not to mention, only a single, one-cour season, with no plans for a sequel. Ho-hum.
But don’t let me desire for more fool you: this series is pretty bad. In terms of every major category, it’s pretty standard at best, and miserable at worst. The plot, like many of its genre, is a placeholder for “Slice of life, let’s go on wacky adventures with the characters and get into misunderstandings, hehe!” Its characters, aside from a select few, don’t matter, and their limited personalities show that. And hey, what would an anime be without a bland, non-initiating male lead in the middle of a bunch of attractive, well-off women who all want him? Something good.
But like a few others on this list, this was watched right after the first Summer of Anime, so the barrier of nostalgia surrounds it like controversy around Donald Trump. Not to mention, the few characters that aren’t useless are actually fairly likable, if not tolerable. I feel characters actually develop in this anime, without completely changing their core personality. I feel, as controversial as this may sound, there’s actually soul put into this work. There’s that sort of detail and marksmanship that only few people can pull off when it comes to crafting stories and characters. While Mayo Chiki! should most certainly not be used as the gold standard for this, it at least exhibits some of the qualities necessary.
I’m not quite sure why I like this anime so much. It’s one of those titles where you simply love it because you do. I genuinely enjoy the romance between the two central characters. I find it cute, in a way. I enjoy the female butler’s master. She’s my fetish: manipulative, dark, and demeaning. There’s this oompa loompa catgirl who writes porn or something involved, too. I don’t really like her, I just feel she’s worth mentioning by description alone. Mayo Chiki! has a collection of little things that accumulate into a product that just speaks to me. It’s nowhere near perfect and had I watched it a month ago as opposed to three years ago, I’d likely not like it as much. The way my life turned out helped this series grow on me. I don’t regret watching this show. I don’t regret re-watching the show. And I won’t regret re-watching it again sometime in the future. It just works for me.
Honorable mentions: Honto ni Atta! Reibai Sensei, Sakura Trick