The Controversial List of Overrated Anime

Spoilers are written in black text, highlight to read. More info on my badass grading scheme can be found here.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

From the animation studio that brought you Air TV comes The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, another show that did almost everything right yet still managed to suck. OK, so maybe it didn't suck. Maybe it was one obvious step away from perfection but chose to settle for mediocrity. No, that's not it. Maybe it was already perfect but chose to strive for mediocrity.

Unlike Air, which was screwed from the start by weak characters, Haruhi was perfect on paper. If you stack the show up against my checklist, you'd think it has everything I could possibly ask for (except dinosaurs and lesbians). Kyon and Haruhi are almost as cool as me. Mikuru, Nagato, and Koizumi are each unique and useful. Art and animation are top notch. Unlike Cowboy Bebop, the plot and dialogue of Haruhi are intellectual without seeming pretentious. There's even time travel, a reference to Touch, and a catchy dance sequence during a consistently timed ending theme at 22:20. So what was missing? A character who was also missing from the Daredevil movie: Transition.

I'm obviously talking about the episodes being aired out of order. It was a bullshit gimmick if I've ever seen one, unless whoever made the call foresaw blind praise from millions of hype-indoctrinated fans, in which case it was a brilliant move. Unfortunately, I was totally isolated from the hype machine. Hell, I didn't even know that episode 14 was the last episode until I noticed that it didn't have an intro sequence. For just about any other show, that degree of unfamiliarity would be a blessing. For Haruhi it totally sucked.

I feel like a tool for saying this, but Haruhi is more than just an anime. Being immersed in its subculture is an integral part of the Haruhi viewing experience. Whether your info comes from the internet, word of mouth, advertisements, or even the light novel, exogenous knowledge of the show plugs the gaps between episodes and keeps you interested. In fact, I imagine if you've read the light novel, seeing Haruhi animated would be the greatest thing ever. However, if you weren't exposed to any of the hype surrounding Haruhi, watching the show out of order can get painfully tedious, especially during the filler episodes. For example, when I saw the SOS Brigade playing baseball, I didn't think "LOL that's some good shit!". Instead I thought "Why should I care?" and "Is this going anywhere?". Can you really blame me? Filler by the fourth episode isn't stylish; it's just plain dumb.

Two more quick complaints:

1. Snow White was the worst hint ever.

2. Why was Haruhi's hair the same in every episode? Wasn't she supposed to change it every day?

Maybe they'll address that during the next season. For now I can at least take solace in the fact that the episodes on the DVDs are in chronological order.

Note: This critique is based on my first viewing of the series. I recently rewatched the whole thing (except episode "1", seeing that once was enough), and I was really impressed. However, rewatching the show also cemented my complaint that background knowledge is a prerequisite for fully enjoying the series. Only because I knew what to expect could I sit back and enjoy the ride. I can't give a show like that full credit.

Anime News Network Mean Rating: 8.9 (++)

Anime News Network Median Rating: 9 (++)

Anime News Network Mode Rating: 10 (+++)

My Original Rating: 7.3 (+)

My Second Opinion: 8.5 (++)

One Piece

Move over Watanuki, you're no longer the most annoying protagonist in the history of anime. That title now belongs to Monkey D. Luffy, the one-dimensional perpetually smiling dumbass from One Piece. Some of my fondest dreams involve busting his teeth in with a sledgehammer. BAM! Where's your smile now, Monkey D. Shitface?

One Piece was so boring that I quit watching after only 8 episodes. I would've stopped even earlier if Zoro hadn't been so deceptively badass. I never thought that a guy with more swords than arms could be useless until I saw Zoro getting beaten down by some pansy clown.


Spoiler: They beat the clown by kicking him in the nuts.

All the fights are exactly like that: boring, brainless, and anticlimactic. A "good guy" gets his ass kicked until he delivers a bitchy monologue about his beliefs/promises/dreams/something to protect/etc... which allows to him to conjure up an unprecedented power and pull off an otherwise impossible victory.

Ghetto, offended by my review of One Piece, convinced me to watch a bunch of episodes in the 200's. It was more of the same: boring fights, one-dimensional characters, shitty dialogue, and Luffy being an all-around jackass.

Spoiler: Luffy got stuck between two walls for about week. He eventually willed himself to freedom.

Is that shit supposed to be entertaining?

The only enjoyable part in the entire series was a minor role voiced by Naomi Shindo:

Not even Shizuru Calipha kicking Luffy's ass at the
beginning of every episode could save One Piece.

If there's anything praiseworthy about One Piece, it's that there are often simultaneous subplots. They may not be clever or interesting, but at least they distract you from the show's other shortcomings. I also like that dubbed rap intro. I'll admit that it's crappy, but hey, that's exactly why it suits the show.

I wanted to like this show. With over 300 episodes, it could've been a wild ride if it didn't bore me to death. I'm not the kind of guy who necessarily equates "mainstream" with "crap", but with One Piece, I can sympathize with those who do.

Anime News Network Mean Rating: 7.73 (+)

Anime News Network Median Rating: 8 (+)

Anime News Network Mode Rating: 10 (+++)

My Rating: 4.7 (~~)

Cowboy Bebop

You know how cramming incoherent metaphors into everyday conversation makes you sound intellectual? Then you must love Cowboy Bebop. Half of the dialogue is legitimately intellectual; the rest is pseudo-intellectual crap.

Stuck-up otakus carry this illusion of intellectualism into their lavish praise of the soundtrack. They watch the show, buy the soundtrack, and all of a sudden, they start bragging about their newfound eclectic taste in music. No, you don't know shit about blues, bebop, or honkey tonk just because you watched an anime series.

As far as the plot is concerned, half of it consists of lame filler about robots with feelings or shit that's left in the fridge. For now, let's just consider the half of the series that's somewhat relevant to the overall plot. Get rid of all the character introduction and character development episodes, and you might be left with only 6 episodes of plot progression.

Of course, I've always said that episodic plots and filler can be acceptable if the characters don't suck, which brings to my next point: Cowboy Bebop has cool individual characters but unimpressive group interaction. Don't agree with me? Then please tell me, what's the most dynamic pair on the show? Jet and Spike? Spike and Faye? Faye and Ed? Face it, they're no Sanzo party. Throwing any two characters together has little more value than having them run off on their own. I know that the characters were designed to act individualistically, but that doesn't mean that they can't have group chemistry. By the way, Ed sucks.

Despite its flaws, I like Cowboy Bebop. Although it's given too much credit for being intellectual, it's still more thought-provoking than most shows out there. The soundtrack is great when you're not sitting around a self-proclaimed authority on jazz. The show gets tons of style points, especially considering it's debut in 1998. I just refuse to glorify the past to the point where I'd say it's one of the best shows of all time. One of the most valuable, perhaps, but definitely not the one of the best.

Anime News Network Mean Rating: 8.98 (++)

Anime News Network Median Rating: 9 (++)

Anime News Network Mode Rating: 10 (+++)

My Rating: 8.1 (+)

30105 otakus think that only mainstream anime can be overrated