Every once in a while, anime, like most other forms of entertainment, have a way of taking us in and setting us up for what lies ahead. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but rarely does it start one way only to begin sliding into new found territory. Even more rare is when something starts off bad, then ends up good. That being the case, I decided to pick apart my anime list for the ten most notable anime that started off well (or well enough), but crashed right into the ground and set forth a wave of chaos that could not be quenched.
Another thing to note is that just because an anime ended badly does not mean that the series itself becomes bad. Only that it hindered the overall piece with unachieved potential that could’ve made it all the more better. I do not hate these anime titles (though I dislike some more than others), but how much I could’ve enjoyed them was ruined one way or another.
The anime on this list are also being listed by their franchise. The “bad end” doesn’t necessarily have to come from the anime itself, but could also be something that shares a name with the anime and is connected to it (and is considered a “sequel”) in some way, like an OVA or a sequel season.
And lastly, spoilers may be present, but I’ll try to keep it as minimal as possible.
Gj-Bu is an interesting anime for me. As a slice of life show, it doesn’t hold much difference from many others. Nevertheless, I kinda love it for some reason. Some people would choose Lucky Star, Nichijou, or Aria The Animation as their favorite slice of life flick. But for me, this one has more value than most others.
Which is why its disappointing end was all the more heartbreaking.
Sometime after GJ-Bu‘s original airing, it was announced that it would get a finale OVA called GJ-Bu@ that would wrap up the series in anime form. One of the selling points of the OVA was that the group would be travelling to the United States, of all places. Upon watching the OVA, the group only spent the first half of the 45 minute OVA in the U.S., and they even copied the clubroom design, so the only real “American” feel to the OVA was their choice in food. On top of that, the rest of the OVA felt contrived and rushed, like they wanted to wrap up the series as quickly as possible, not allowing for characters to develop before trying their luck at a heartfelt farewell. It simply felt forced. It ruined an overall decent show with the need to wrap it in a big, pretty bow.
9. Hitsugi no Chaika
This anime, like GJ-Bu before it, found a special place in my heart as a decently appealing show. It has a nice sense of adventure and the character interactions, while tinged by the tip with clichés, feel genuine and worthwhile. However, it’s the action scenes that really take the cake. Somewhat shounen-ish in nature, the characters don’t feel invincible and add that feeling of helplessness whenever something goes awry. When Histugi no Chaika hits the right notes, it really hits.
The first season does this fairly well, but the second season felt a bit more sour. The second season of Hitsugi no Chaika only had ten episodes to work with, as opposed to twelve in the first season. This apparently led to more plot and less in-between, as the character interactions and the scenes dedicated to them rapidly dissolved. It became more one-dimensional: find out what’s really going on and get to the heart of the matter. No more funny business. Action and mystery took full course, which may have been welcomed by some.
The real conundrum came during the final episode, which zoomed through so much in such a short amount of time, it could’ve been me at an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Everything that had led up to that point became realized, and the main character wouldn’t have it. The problem, the solution, the final fight, the aftermath; all in a span of twenty minutes or so. Because of this, a lot was left unexplained and many characters were only given the “happily ever after” status. Much like with GJ-Bu‘s finale OVA, the final episode of Hitsugi no Chaika‘s second season felt rushed, forced, and a trivial way to wrap up the series as cleanly and neatly as possible.
An anime with a premise like Shuffle!‘s seems like it would be perfect for this list, but not because the anime’s a masterpiece to begin with. Shuffle! starts off relatively normal, a guy must choose between a dozen girls to marry in order to become a king of some monster race or something. Normal, yeah. As it goes along, the plots begin to become more and more dark, and more and more bizarre.
Characters have dark secrets, characters have dark personalities and hobbies. Characters have dark moments that lead to an absurdly high level of drama and tension between the rest of the cast. Despite this, it’s not a progressive downfall towards the end. The show’s quality gravitates between decent and atrocious all throughout the anime, depending on the character it focuses on. And, well, it goes without saying, but the male lead is a complete dolt. Who would’ve thought that in a harem?
What places this series on the list in the latter half of the final episode of the series. Dark secrets and personalities aside, most of the characters in this show turned out to be tragic heroes or victims of external circumstances, but not in this case. In the last episode, someone writing the script decided to do a complete 180 and make everyone act completely differently from normal. And the results of these changes is something that needs to be seen to believe. It is one of the most insane and twisted endings to an anime I have ever seen. If you care for massive spoilers, I dedicated a long and cynical section for it within my anime list. Otherwise, just know that it made the anime go from heartfelt dramatic enthusiasm to batshit insane merrymaking.
Going into Chobits, I had known of its popularity among anime enthusiasts and Youtube anime-critics alike. It was something I watched more out of curiosity than for any sense of interest. What I got was a cute-looking robot who chants “Hideki!” every three seconds who is activated by pressing into its robotic vagina. Didn’t recall anyone mentioning that in the reviews.
For what it’s worth, Chobits is a cute anime about the relationship of a down-on-his-luck guy and a robotic companion in a slice of life setting. For a good part of the series, it follows this formula nicely, with little bits of drama and foreshadowing placed here and there. Foreshadowing to what, exactly? Well, Chi’s (the robot) importance to the plot, to humanity, and to Hideki (the guy). It is because of this importance that Chi has that puts it on this list.
Chobits plays out better as a cutesy romance than something of a Bible-esque tale of prophecies and chosen ones, which is what it does by the end of the series. With the last two or three episodes, Chobits decides to turn the mood towards the dark side and make things overly vague, mysterious, and cryptic concerning Chi and what she means to society. It makes her into this sort of catalyst for world domination or something, like the key to great power or… wow, where the hell did my cute romance anime go? This kind of setting just doesn’t really fit the atmosphere of the show or how it was proceeding up to that point. To make it worse, the ending is full of 1. clichés, and 2. deus ex machinas, which makes the shift to dark and dreary all the more convoluted. The reason a robot was thrown in the trash and has a different design than all the others doesn’t mean it has to be special; it could just be different. Unfortunately, Chobits thought it would be totally rad to knock up the epic scale.
6. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Ah, memories. Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu was the sixth anime during my original Summer of Anime, and holds the distinguishable honor of being the first anime I ultimately hated. I don’t hate it now, though. It’s sort of a semi-sweet feeling of nostalgia and general irritation.
Re-watching this series back in 2014, I had discovered that the first season wasn’t as bad as I had originally noted it to be. It was cliché and dumb, but it was nothing to really rant on about. The characters were upbeat and carried the show to something of an interesting watch, with a notably decent chemistry between the two central leads (though probably only for the first few episodes).
It wasn’t until the second season that this show decided to become awful. It decided that the side characters pestering the two leads to further their relationship wasn’t enough, so they threw in even more distractions for the male lead to think about. People fell for him left and right, with the writing giving him every opportunity to show what a good-hearted and nice guy he is. And the side characters are given even more attention to showcase how annoying and useless they are, all for the sake of… entertainment? It becomes far too one-dimensional and far too predictable to really take any emotional scene earnestly. It tries too hard to appeal to everybody.
It isn’t over there, though. Oh, no. This anime decided to wrap up the series with a four-part OVA finale. And this time, it’s serious. The male lead has a hard decision to make (even though it shouldn’t be… it really, really shouldn’t be), and once he finally has his answer, he goes to her… and is met with some gauntlet-type boss run leading to his goal of finally showcasing his feelings. And it’s just… really, really dumb. The pacing is incredibly slow, the logic is on vacation, and the whole thing is just dumb. It’s dumb. That is the one word to explain this entire series, and especially this OVA finale: dumb. It was never really good in the first place, but it certainly didn’t do itself any favors with its ending. The only series I can think of that wore out its welcome more than this series was—
5. Zero no Tsukaima
Like with Haruka, this series isn’t one I hate anymore, but more of a bittersweet in-between feeling of nostalgia and irritation. It’s clearly bad, but seems to have garnered more of a following than the entrant before it. Probably because people love fantasy. And Rie Kugimiya. I don’t know.
Still, I have to give this show credit for an interesting premise and world. It’s similar to that of Dog Days, which it may have inspired. The only thing is, the inhabitants of said world are all giant archetypes. One personality trait defines them and that’s all one really gets throughout the show. There are moments of growth and conflict that brings people closer together, but for the sake of comedy, balance, or whatever else, they all revert back to their default setting through some way or another. That may be the biggest problem with this show, besides the glaring leaps in logic and bullshit resolutions. Or the unfunny running gags. Or the lack of a lot of world-building. Or the petty conflicts that prop of every so often. Or the bland evil characters. Or the… yeah, I’ll be here all night.
Despite this, the first season wasn’t all too terrible. It did a swell job of setting the stage and introducing the characters. It had a charm to it that made it tolerable, despite being near intolerable. Amazingly enough, I (remember) the second season being even better, full of moments of growth and character sacrifices and struggles. Like the actions of the characters mattered and they weren’t OP or whatever. It felt like it tried to do something. The second season was the high point of this show (despite a bullshit ending). But then, something happened. The third season came along and, well, I was tired of it. It was introduced similarly to the way the entire series is introduced. Something bad is happening, let’s go stop it! But first, let’s bring in some fan service and harem tropes. Yay, magical spells and big, flashy words! OoOoOoOoOoOo!
It was at that moment, nearly four long years ago, that I felt tired, tired of what the series was doing, because at its core, it was the same thing. Every season. Guy gropes girl, Pinkie gets jealous and blows him up, then forgives him later after he saves her through some convenient plot device, only to have it come full-circle. It’s the same formula every season, and what’s worse is the final season of four seasons, tries the least in putting in any effort. Just fan service and some random threat that’s defeated in less than an episode. Whoop-de-doo. Let’s reap in the money. It’s not the ending that the now-deceased author intended, but it’s the ending the anime portrayed, so it counts. As an anime, Zero no Tsukaima has finished, but the light novels live on. I doubt they’re much different, though.
I feel like I got off-track a little bit. Basically, after season two, it stopped trying. It became fan service and big, bad wolves trying to eat the little girls of the world. 24 episodes of it. How I sat through it all, I can’t even fathom.
4. Golden Time
This one stung a little bit. It stung a lot, actually.
This anime derives from a light novel written by the author of my favorite all-time anime, Toradora!. So, needless to say, my expectations of this title were fairly high. Is that fair? Not entirely, but that’s how it happened. I came out of it disappointed.
The show isn’t bad, by any means. The characters are odd, but realistic. The story feels like a ploy at first, but it basically dissolves into a character-building project for the rest of the way. Whether or not it’s successful is up to the viewer, as I couldn’t care less about half of these characters… if any of them.
But it’s not the character development or the story or anything like that that puts this show on this list. It’s what happens during the last few episodes of the series. Something I like to call Golden Time‘s “jump to fantasy.” Somewhat like Shuffle! in absurdity, but more of its own unique way of bullshitting everything up to that point, Golden Time‘s ending is the pinnacle of a rushed and laughable excuse of providing a happy ending for its characters. Defying the laws of everything in order to get to its destination. It wasn’t even unexpected, either. It was built up to, much like Chobits‘s array of foreshadowing was. It was just the way that it was executed that made it completely devoid of any credibility whatsoever. I’ve seen some reaches in logic before, but Golden Time seems to like pushing the boundaries of what can and can’t be deemed acceptable. Everything was fair up until that point, but the ending ruined what moderate enjoyment I had in the anime. I still hold disdain for it now.
This was from the author of Toradora!. Ho-hum.
3. Allison to Lillia
A familiar face appears on this list for good reason. I won’t spend too much time on this choice as I’ve already discussed its flaws in the past.
It was an enjoyable anime, for what it was worth. A boy and a girl in a pseudo-European world, adventuring around and getting into trouble. It had this uninhibited feeling of freedom to it that I really enjoyed, and I thought the two lead characters had good chemistry. The logic was totally shot, but I was willing to excuse it out of pure enjoyment. It just felt right.
Unfortunately, once the thirteenth episode struck, everything changed and now the daughter of the two leads was the star, along with a friend of hers born from familiar faces. The writing became more cliché, lacked more logic (if that were possible), and the characters didn’t have that same magic as their parents once had. The sense of adventure was gone and felt more like the old characters babysitting more than anything. Wrap it up with a bullshit ending and you have Allison to Lillia, one of the most disappointing wastes in potential I’ve ever seen. It was fun while it lasted.
2. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
I might get some flak for this one.
Kiseijuu is a very popular anime. It’s a very popular anime for a reason. It’s a good anime, overall. It just didn’t end well. At all. In fact, it had the second-worst ending I’ve ever seen. But you guessed that already, seeing this was here.
It has that sense of dread to it, that sense of us against the world. It has enough intrigue towards the alien species that carries interest within the show. Another high point is that the author doesn’t simply write off the aliens as blood-thirsty monsters, some being able to attain higher knowledge based on how they’re absorbed, which makes them more interesting to learn about. It makes the story more gripping, the characters more relatable. It has a way of pulling you in and building that suspense as to what the monsters are capable of and how one average kid has to defend himself against them. It has a bit of a campy feel, too, which is nice.
The thing, though, is that the end cannot be any more shounen. It’s preachy, it’s drawn out, and it’s resolved in the most bizarre of ways. Somewhere along the line, perhaps around episode nineteen or so, this anime decided to spend less time on dialogue and suspense-building and more on big, long battles with enemies straight out of Dragon Ball. Not to mention, one of the characters that was given bits and pieces of development earlier on was turned into a tool for the main character to save/fuck as a sort of catalyst to “become stronger.” It was a real shame, for both characters. One becomes a shounen hero and the other becomes expendable.
The worst part was the loooooong monologue about the morality of what the male lead was doing. The whole “Are you really doing the right thing?” message that was brought up rarely early on suddenly became the message for the entire show, apparently. It came off as whiny and thoughtless.
Oh, and forced happy endings, because that’s what everyone wants. Ho-hum.
This one hurts. Not because it was by the same author of a bad anime or because it was annoying or anything. No. This hurts because Working!! is a damn good anime. Among my most cherished of anime. And it ended the way I never wanted it to: horribly.
This anime gets top spot simply from the giant drop-off of ratings from me throughout the seasons. Here is a visual of my ratings for the series as it goes on:
- First season: 8
- Second season: 8
- Third season: 5
- Final OVA: 2
This series literally crashed and burned, from a very high point to a very low point.
Working!! was originally about people working. But it was more than that, it was a show built upon character interaction. And for a while, it worked wonderfully. The chemistry everyone had for each other made the show so fun to watch, and the number of characters was damn near perfect for development and a number of ongoing inside jokes between them. The show, while not entirely funny, was humorous and had a unique appeal to it that not a lot of other anime had.
When it came time for the second season, it decided to focus a little more on the romantic aspect of the characters, which, to an extent, hindered the show, but still retained a good portion of that appeal that the first season had. There was a noticeable influx of characters in the second season as well, but they weren’t focused on as much as the major characters. But it was sure signs of the end that I chose to ignore.
Which led to the third season, which focused far too much on serious conflict and romance to balance out the light-hearted and comedic atmosphere of the show. Working!! is not a show built for romance and drama. Why it chose to continue down that road was inevitable, but the execution just felt wrong. The entire series felt like it was dying. And for me, it was. The third season was the crash.
The final OVA was the burn.
Infinite Stratos, Isshuukan Friends, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate.