Least Interesting Anime of 2014:
December 31, 2014 1 Comment
Now that my favourite anime of 2014 are out of the way, its time for a post on the anime I found least interesting this year.
Sidonia no Kishi:
Sidonia no Kishi is a curious series, one adapted from a manga that I both like and dislike. I certainly didn’t hate the series, instead it was a disappointment, largely because the setting, characters, and general aesthetic are all things that I rather enjoy, but I simply couldn’t get into Sidonia no Kishi. In particular I found the CGI animation rather jarring, and the rubber characters distracting, often detracting from the ambience of the setting, and the drama unfolding in front of my eyes. Furthermore, I was constantly distracted by the CGI, which meant that the story wasn’t doing enough to engage me. Overall I feel that the story could easily be interesting, but the series did very little to engage me with the characters, setting, or narrative.
Mekaku City Actors:
Ahh, Shaft, possibly my least favourite anime studio at the moment, not because they are bad, but because they are boring, constantly recycling the same tired visuals, and effectively releasing the same anime every few months, or at least that’s what it feels like. I am also not a particularly big fan of Akiyuki Shinbou, and consider him to be a particularly lazy director who has directed some interesting anime in the past, but like Shaft, the series he is involved with constantly recycle the same tired animation, and directing. I am writing about Shaft and Shinbou because I cant really remember anything about Mekaku City Actors, apart from a vague memory of slideshows and blocks of colour. His is a style that grabs the viewers attention with visual tricks and quirks, or at least it should. But, once you see a couple of his series you soon realise that the animation and directing are empty, with tricks, superficial quirks, quick cuts to vast, unending steams of on-screen text, and pointless architecture.
The visuals or his and Shaft’s anime add little, often nothing to the actual story, often doing the exact opposite and detracting, even distracting the viewer from what is meant to be happening on screen. I love different kinds of animation; the variety of series and kinds of animation is one of the main draws to animation in general, and anime specifically. So I should enjoy the particularly unique visual style of Shaft anime, and yet, I find all the series in recent years almost indistinguishable from each other. It is as if they have a vast database of various scenes, architecture, and backgrounds (one can believe that this does indeed exist) to be thrown together for whatever series they have been employed to create next.
M3 – Sono Kuroki Hanage:
M3 – Sono Kuroki Hanage could have been something special – it was all there, a potentially interesting concept, and staff and studio that have all been involved with some of my favourite anime. But it was rubbish – in fact, it was worse than rubbish. M3 – Sono Kuroki Hanage is what you get when a series is created from all the abandoned ideas taken from the countless planning committees involved with anime over the years. Not that I remember much about the series, only a vague memory of how utterly terrible and pointless it was, and how quickly I dropped it (lasted about 15 minutes I think).
Monogatari Series – Second Season:
Ahh the Monogatari franchise, one of my least favourite franchises in anime, and its continued success remains baffling to me. Essentially everything I have said about about Mekaku City Actors applies here – boring studio and director that regurgitate the same tired animation and directors tricks ad-nauseam. Only this time we add into the mix the writing of Nisioisin, a writer whose work I dislike as much as Urobuchi’s. Furthermore, the series truly hates visual storytelling, and the audience is instead told every detail of the characters thoughts and actions in a patronising manner as if we are too stupid to discern that from the animation on screen. And in many respects we cant tell what is happening through the animation because Shinbou and Shaft continually add their standard mix of pointless architecture, questionable use of random text, silly looking cut screens that add nothing to the story, and about anything and everything you can think of to ruin any visual storytelling that may have once existed. There are some interesting stories within the franchise, especially when you get past the pointlessly complicated, elaborate, and entirely unnecessary language, stories that tie in with an older tradition of exploring the link between the human and spirit worlds. But at no point are they ever allowed to be told, and we have to put up with the boring visuals of Shinbou, and the annoying tendency of many light novel adaptations to explain absolutely everything in the worst case of show, but don’t tell you can find.
Tokyo Ghoul has all the trappings of a b-movie, and a particularly bad one at that. The characters are dull, the story is uninspiring, and I just got bored watching it.
Sword Art Online II:
I have never had the same reacting as many to SAO; I certainly didn’t think it was the worst anime ever produced. However, despite enjoying certain parts of the first series, Reki Kawahara’s inability to write convincingly strong female characters that do not collapse into the damsel in distress role somewhat annoyed me. Taking Asuna – who was initially a very interesting, strong, and independent character – and relegating her to the aforesaid damsel in distress role irked me. The Second Season pulled the same tricks, and while it wasn’t especially bad, it also wasn’t particularly good, or even that interesting.
Akame ga Kill:
I think Akame ga Kill must be what happens when the only idea a writer has is killing off their entire cast, one character at a time. It just gets boring, and pointless – a series with no artistic or narrative merit – it was just a waste of my time.
There were times when I really enjoyed Aldnoah Zero, mostly when the music and action were working in perfect harmony. But I feel that the writing was too blunt, and the characters didn’t work well together – as a concept it is an interesting, and potentially very good story, but in practice it simply was not good enough. The arrogant ‘aliens’ are comically evil, with a total disregard for life in general, and their utter technological superiority makes the conflict seem somewhat hopeless, whilst also making it almost inevitable that they will lose in the end. The world also feels very empty, with a brief introduction that leaves more unanswered questions than anything else. I would however defend Inaho’s character – as a concept his is a character that works very well, he is competent, level headed, and thoughtful – however, this sort of character only works when the rest of the cast complement them, and in the case of Aldnoah Zero, this was not the case. It’s certainly a memorable series, partly because of the fandom’s fixation on crying Slaine, but ultimately it was not a particularly interesting, or well written one, and I suspect the second half wont be any different, although I am willing to be proven wrong.
Zankyou no Terror:
I have already made my opinions on Zakyou no Terror clear here, but it is worth reiterating why this was such a disappointing series. As a series it had all the tools to create a fascinating story that explored many of the uncertainties, fears, and complicated elements of Japanese society. It could have pushed beneath the veneer or harmony and good will to look at Japan’s darker side, and the constant issues and problems that happen on a daily basis. But it didn’t, and instead presented us with a fairly standard, and actually rather dull thriller that simply did not live up to expectations. It isn’t misunderstood, its just not a very good series, which is a great shame, because it could, and should have been so much more.
Psycho Pass 2:
Time to finish this brief list with a particularly fascinating, and terrible series, one that even fans of the first series condemned as terrible. Now I didn’t particularly like the first series of Psycho Pass, describing it as a fascinating world, but one created by someone who has read the many brilliant works of Phillip K. Dick, without actually understanding the underlying messages within them. My general dislike for Urobuchi’s writing is something I have mentioned before – he creates fascinating worlds, that are ultimately ruined with one-dimensional characters, an inability to write proper female figures, and ham-fisted dialogue that thinks quoting other writers is a good substitute for actual character development and interaction. There were moments in Psycho Pass Season 1 when I rather enjoyed the series and felt it was going somewhere, before it completely jumped the shark and went full Hyper Oats. I don’t think Psycho Pass 2 was even on the shark, or even knew what one looked like – it was a terrible series from start to finish, one created by people who cant even understand the basic tenets of a good dystopian story, and think that killing, torture, and crazy characters make for compelling story telling.