Studio MAPPA has recently become known as one of the best studios currently working in anime, having produced critical darlings such as Yuri!! On Ice, Banana Fish, and Kids on the Slope, as well as mega-hits like Jujutsu Kaisen. This reputation is only set to get better, thanks to their upcoming adaption of the incredibly successful and critically acclaimed series Chainsaw Man.
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However, despite their gorgeous animation and good eye for projects, not everything they turn out can be quite that amazing. From tokusatsu heroes to idols running for government, here are 10 series that MAPPA mega-fans would probably rather forget.
10 Garo: Vanishing Line Is An Unexpected Tokusatsu Adaptation (7.15)
Tokusatsu is a much-loved genre of Japanese action shows, but it’s also an acquired taste. This meant that MAPPA’s animated adaptation of the tokusatsu series Garo was fighting an uphill battle to be loved by fans.
MAPPA adapted the basic storyline of Garo — a knight in a golden suit of armor defends the world from Horrors — into three separate anime series, each set in a different time period. Garo: Vanishing Line takes place in the modern-day, but while its slick cityscapes intrigued viewers, it wasn’t enough to convince fans who already had doubts about such an adaptation.
9 The God Of High School’s Plot Can’t Match Its Animation (7.05)
The God of High School had an awful lot of hype behind it. Not only was it based on an incredibly popular online manhwa and was one of Crunchyroll’s first self-produced anime, but it promised to be a series-long version of every shonen fan’s favorite thing: a tournament arc.
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After the first episode aired, things looked good. Reviewers praised the gorgeous art and animation, with the series having some of the best-looking fight scenes in anime. However, it quickly became clear that The God of High School was all style and no substance, with the lack of compelling character arcs leaving fans disappointed.
8 Punch Line Doesn’t Always Land (6.97)
Punch Line is the story of Yuuta, who finds his spirit separated from his body and wandering a house filled with bizarre characters. Plus, he gets involved with the mysterious, masked magical girl Strange Juice, who fights with a giant straw, and a talking cat spirit tells him that if he ever sees a girl’s panties, the world will be destroyed.
If that sounds like a lot, well…it is. Punch Line is clearly inspired by off-the-wall series such as the classic FLCL. But, without the magic that FLCL managed to capture, Punch Line is just a lot of color and noise.
7 Uchitama Is Cute, And Not Much Else (6.93)
The long-running Japanese franchise Tama and Friends offers an adorable peek into the life of Third Street’s many pets, and has delighted audiences since the 80s. It remained relatively unknown outside of Japan, though, until MAPPA unexpectedly produced an anime adaptation. Uchitama: Have You Seen My Tama? also makes the decision to depict all the pets as anthropomorphic humans, presumably to appeal more to viewers.
Unfortunately, a franchise designed to sell cute merchandise just didn’t offer enough substance for a full-length anime. Tama and Friends is still going strong in Japan, but Uchitama didn’t manage to be a breakthrough hit.
6 Teekyuu Is Short, Weird, And Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea (6.59)
The ‘cute girls doing cute things’ subgenre was at the peak of its popularity in 2012 when MAPPA released Teekyuu — a show whose 2-minute episodes are devoted to being as silly as possible. Suffice to say, not much tennis gets played in this tennis club.
Its short runtime, garish art, and in-your-face gags put a lot of viewers off right away, and while it did tickle some fans’ funny bones, there just wasn’t the cleverness and creativity that made similar shows, such as Nichijou and Pop Team Epic, such firm fan favorites.
5 Most Viewers Abandoned To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts (6.40)
Jujutsu Kaisen proved that dark fantasy is definitely one of MAPPA’s strong points, and that looks like it’ll be demonstrated again with Chainsaw Man’s release. Not all of their work in this style has been a success, however, as the reception of To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts proves.
The series tells a tragic story of war and a soldier who must now kill his allies who have (literally) lost their humanity, and it’s unrelentingly grim with few moments of lightness to hold onto. Plus, the repetitive, episodic nature of the show makes its depressing tone even more unrelenting.
4 Mr Love: Queen’s Choice Is MAPPA’s Attempt At An Otome Game Adaptation (6.15)
There are a lot of otome game adaptations out there, but few go as far as not even giving the self-insert main character a name. That decision highlights the problem with Mr Love: Queen’s Choice, which is that it doesn’t make enough interesting creative decisions to stand out from the crowd of bishounen shows.
The corporate setting at a production company, while fairly unique, also just isn’t as exciting as the fantastical or historical settings seen in other anime in the genre, making it hard to pitch Mr Love even to its intended audience.
3 Garo: Crimson Moon Had Viewers Seeing Red (5.89)
Adapting a live-action tokusatsu franchise was a risky move for MAPPA, but things were looking good when Garo: The Animation was well-received by anime fans. Unfortunately, that success wouldn’t last, and their second version of the story killed any hype the franchise had as an anime.
Garo: Crimson Moon is set in Heian Japan, which would have been interesting — if it was at all historically accurate. Plus, unlikeable characters and an overly episodic plot meant that it was hard to get invested in the story at all.
2 Idol Incidents Was A Weird Mash-Up Of Idols And Politics (5.67)
Idol shows are everywhere these days, and it can be hard to come up with new ideas to keep the genre fresh and interesting. Perhaps no series underlines this more clearly than Idol Incidents, an ill-conceived show from 2017 that asks a vital question: what if idols were also politicians?
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Idol Incidents was a failure, but maybe it was an important learning experience for MAPPA; their next show about an idol group with a twist, Zombie Land Saga, would prove to be a massive hit that got the tone and balance between parody and storytelling just right.
1 Listeners Didn’t Keep Viewers Tuning In (5.36)
Listeners is a mecha anime set in a world where music has been almost entirely forgotten — except as a weapon to fight the dreaded Earless. It’s a celebration of classic rock and roll and is chock full of references to artists from Eric Clapton to Nirvana. Things were promising on the production side of things, too, with the show being a joint project from the minds of Eureka Seven and Mekukacity Actors.
However, while audiences were initially excited for a series that paid tribute to classic rock, it quickly became apparent that Listeners just didn’t have any of its own original ideas to go with its references. Suffice to say, it didn’t hit the right note.
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About The Author
(22 Articles Published)
Polly Scott is a writer, hobbyist game dev, and long-term anime fan. She lives in Scotland, where she received a first class degree in English Literature from the University of St Andrews. She’s currently studying for a master’s degree. If something’s weird, she’ll probably love it.
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