Storytelling is an art that seems simple but can be a daunting task. Creative fiction isn’t something that just happens naturally, after all, and a lot of work goes behind the scenes when planning a new show. Plot, characters, background, setting, and themes are crucial aspects to any story, and if just one of them is weak, it will surely show in the finished product.
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That’s not usually a problem if the other categories hold up well enough, but sometimes, stories are told so poorly that it’s hard not to be disappointed. Some anime series start out really good and then fail to meet expectations.
10 Guilty Crown Lacks Focus
Guilty Crown is a 2011 original story anime series by Production I.G. that features amazing animation and music, but a jumbled story that tries to do too much. Protagonist Shu Ouma obtains the Power of Kings from mysterious pop idol Inori Yuzuriha, which allows him to draw out manifestations of others’ personalities called “Voids.” He must use this mysterious power to battle GHQ and win Japan’s independence.
Like many original anime stories, Guilty Crown lacks focus and tries to cram too many details into too little time. The story may have been fleshed out better if it’d received more time and avoided several common cliches that ultimately weakened its complex story.
9 Zombie-Loan Needs To Do More With Its Story
Michiru Kita possesses a power called the Shinigami Eyes, which allows her to see someone’s remaining life span via a ring around their neck that gradually darkens until they die. She’s puzzled when she encounters Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, who both have dark rings but aren’t dead. It turns out there’s a secret organization called Zombie-Loan that allows the recently deceased to come back to life… for a price.
The story revolves around Chika and Shito paying off their debt to Zombie-Loan, but the anime ends before they fulfill that goal. In fact, it ends on quite the cliffhanger. Reading the manga is a better option for this series.
8 Digimon Adventure Tri. Suffers From Pacing Problems & Loose Ends
Fans of the original Digimon Adventure series were excited when Toei Animation announced Digimon Adventure tri. and the series was highly anticipated. The finished project, however, is somewhat of a mess. The point of the movies isn’t clearly stated, and they were released in episodic form, resulting in pacing problems that slowed down the action too much.
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Most notably, the Digidestined from Digimon Adventure 02 had brief cameos, but their role in the narrative was never really explained, and viewers aren’t entirely sure what happened to them after the series ended. Overall, Digimon Adventure tri. lacked the focus that would have made it more enjoyable.
7 Darling In The Franxx Didn’t Flesh Out Any Of Its Unique Concepts
Studio Trigger is famous for its inventive and crisp animation, but it’s also known for having a few lackluster series under its belt, and Darling in the Franxx might take the cake. What started as something resembling a new-age Evangelion mixed with Kill la Kill’s style ended without exploring some of its more interesting concepts.
Instead, Trigger takes time building up interesting questions revolving around the dystopian social realities of its setting, only to rush the series to a hasty conclusion without addressing any of its previous worldbuilding in a satisfying manner.
6 Erased Fails To Set Up A Satisfying Mystery
Twenty-nine-year-old Satoru Fujinuma has the mysterious and inexplicable ability to travel back in time several minutes before an accident to prevent it from happening, a power he refers to as “Revival.” When his mother is suddenly murdered by a mysterious culprit, Satoru relies on Revival to save her life.
But Satoru goes much further in the past than several minutes before his mother’s murder, finding himself in the year 1988 as his 11-year-old self. Furthermore, he doesn’t spend this time trying to figure out his mother’s murder and instead protects his abused classmate, Kayo Hinazuki, from a very obvious culprit who murdered her in Satoru’s past. Erased got a lot of hype, but its interesting premise was poorly executed.
5 Sword Art Online Wasted Its Premise On Fanservice
Sword Art Online could have been an amazing series if it had actually bothered to take its premise seriously. In the near future, super-advanced technology called Nervegear allowed for an immersive and detailed virtual reality gaming experience where people can play the MMORPG Sword Art Online. Kazuto Kirigaya, registered as “Kirito” in the game, is one of the lucky people to receive the Nervegear technology that allows him to dive into the titular MMO.
Soon, however, people can no longer log out of the game, and it turns out that the game’s creator is keeping everyone hostage until they complete it. But there are no political, psychological, or moral dilemmas to be found in Sword Art Online because it devotes itself to filler and wish-fulfilling fanservice instead.
4 Ga-Rei: Zero Is A Prequel With No Sequel
Based on the manga Ga-Rei, Ga-Rei: Zero was initially announced as an original anime that would have nothing to do with the manga. After the first episode, however, it became obvious that this series was somehow connected, which was later confirmed by cast members during a radio interview.
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Ga-Rei: Zero is a supernatural-based story about the relationship between Ga-Rei’s Kagura Tsuchimiya and Yomi Isayama, two swordswomen hailing from a long line of Japanese exorcist families. Kagura and Yomi have a close bond and the anime examines their relationship in depth without concluding anything. Ga-Rei never got an animated release, and without it, Ga-Rei: Zero doesn’t have a satisfying ending.
3 Kiznaiver’s Message Is Too Ambitious
Another Studio Trigger tragedy, Kiznaiver tries to portray the difficulties that human beings face when emotionally connecting with each other. The Kizuna Project aimed to increase human empathy by literally linking humans’ sensory outputs to each other so that the closer they become, the more they would experience one another’s mental and physical pain.
Kiznaiver uses a cast of teenagers as its plot devices, and this show is likely meant to be a character study since it wants the teenagers (and, by proxy, viewers) to experience several perspectives. But Kiznaiver’s characters are too flat to accomplish this feat, and a lot of the drama in the show feels contrived. Honoka Maki is the only character that gets satisfying development, but it’s short-lived.
2 Venus Versus Virus Suffers From A Lackluster Ending
This anime was only 12 episodes long, so it didn’t have a lot of space to work with its interesting plot: Lucia Nahashi and Sumire Takahana are members of the Venus Vanguard, and they’re tasked with protecting people from demons called Viruses, but they somehow come to be enemies.
The dynamic between the two main characters is mostly explored via flashback, but it’s presented well enough to make them interesting. But that’s the entire problem with Venus Versus Virus: it’s plagued by flashbacks. The original conflict between Lucia and Sumire introduced in the first episode is never concluded, making for a lukewarm ending to a potentially great story.
1 BNA: Brand New Animal Bites Off More Than It Can Chew
Trigger’s knack for action scenes and inventive animation shine in BNA, but that’s about all it can be praised for. Like a few other Trigger anime, they tried to cram too many themes into too little time, and the series suffers for it.
BNA attempts to tackle themes of poverty, prejudice, and political corruption (just to name a few of the lighter topics), but the series is too short to flesh out these ideas. Why do humans hate beastmen? Why does Michiru decide to stay in Anima City when her original plan was to return home? These are only a couple of many questions viewers were left with by the end of BNA.
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About The Author
(60 Articles Published)
Brittanie Maldonado is a Staff Writer for CBR, and a long-time gamer/cartoon-lover based in the US. She studied English and Comparative Literature at the School of General Studies at Columbia University in the City of New York, so she loves evaluating and analyzing different types of media. She’s worked in fast food, retail, and corporate roles, but she is happiest when expressing herself through writing. Brittanie has a deep love and appreciation for the Japanese language and culture, and she brings this cultural perspective to the forefront when assessing various Japanese media. If she’s not researching or writing, she’s probably gaming or catching up on her backlogged anime watchlist.
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