Lately I’ve noticed sort of a trend when writing my posts. Quite a few of them can be summed up as: I know this is a bad show but I kinda liked it… And you have to figure that after watching anime for so many years, I should’ve started to pick up on a thing or two. I can tell when a show isn’t likely to be that great from a few episodes, sometimes form a pic and a summary, yet I still watch them. Why do I do this to myself? Is there a drug out there that could help me? Is it prescription only? In an attempt to answer at least one of these questions, I rolled my sleeves up and really meditated on why I (and possibly some other people too) seem to enjoy bad anime.

Kobayashi meditation
I hope you appreciate it, waterfalls are super cold up here

First a note on “bad”. This is a subjective term and I can fully appreciate that you might genuinely think a show is great when others find it awful. Moreover, we anime fans (at least the non-Japanese speaking ones) tend to be very protective of our beloved entertainment and will almost never admit anything anime related is downright bad for fear of having availability to the medium reduced. As such any sort of general consensus of quality is tough to find. What I would like to concentrate on here, is the entirely personal experience of watching a show, realizing for yourself that it’s lacking in many ways and then watching the next episode…and the next. Or even, impatiently looking forward to going home and catching up on the latest episodes of a show you would never recommend to anybody.

anime tsundere
It’s not that I like you or anything

After some difficult soul searching and demon facing I’ve come up with a few reasons that apply to me:

Earnestness

There are shows that fail to live up to expectations, there are generally good shows that have some tragically flawed elements that ruin the whole, there are shows that think so highly of themselves and devolve into unwatchable pretentious torture, then there are those shows that gawd bless ‘em are just trying so hard… You know those shows. The ones that were obviously made with some middle school kid’s allowance. They lack resources, and maturity and possibly any talent on the part of the creative and technical teams but they got pluck. You can feel the love for the craft, taste the effort, smell the dedication, see the absolutely horrible mess left behind on the screen. Those shows that are a bit like a 3-year-old eagerly offering you a cookie they made themselves (obviously with mud and what might be one of the cat’s hairballs?) and looking at you with expectation and love, waiting for you to eat it. I just want to pat those shows on the head. No, they aren’t good and no you shouldn’t watch them but man if they aren’t lovable.

anime pat on the head
A for effort

Accidentally hilarious

The magic of camp is well known across many mediums. There are people who build their entire careers trying to capture it. But real honest camp can only come about spontaneously. I love when a show take itself so obviously seriously while having a script that is such utter nonsense that you doubt the translation. It’s those shows that I spent talking back at my tv and discussing with my dog. Those shows you enjoy on a completely different basis but you still do enjoy. We’ve probably all had a Mystery Anime Theater 3000 party. It’s the best. In fact, I would argue that it’s a great way to introduce new people to anime. Not only will they laugh their little behinds off making fun of some poor, albeit deserving, little shows, but they’re likely to be super impressed by whatever they watch next!

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I’ll be honest, I have no clue what this show is but I bet it falls into this cathegory

Easy

Who doesn’t love easy? Bad shows are undemanding. You won’t need to use your brain much. It’s ok if you wander away from the tv, you won’t miss a thing. They won’t make your eyes hurt because you forgot to blink for 10 minutes. They’re just kinda there. You can put them on and go on with your life. These shows will keep you company without ever asking anything of you in exchange. You got a bit of a headache? No problem, you can close your eyes for a few minutes. You’re tired? It’s all good, you can sleep through half an episode. Heck everyone just seems to be behaving at random anyways. You can watch 13 episodes in a single setting and never feel overwhelmed. Although it might explain the headache.

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less filling

No responsibilities

Maybe it’s just me but I have honest attachments to series and characters. Fictional events happening to imaginary people have a very real emotional impact on me. As great as this is, and certainly one of the big reasons for my continuing love of anime, it can be draining and in the worst-case scenario, depressing. Not when it’s bad though! If the narrative suddenly goes dark, I’m not going to feel bad about it. If the character I liked is mistreated by the writers and ends up a shell of their former selves or a no longer likable, incoherent homunculus, it’s all good I’ll just pick another one. Heck it might even be funny.

yup – I went there

On a related note. Because I’m a fragile flower and all, I really feel the need to defend my favorite titles. I get hurt or a little insulted when someone thinks my favorite show isn’t the best thing in the universe. It can be exhausting. There’s something very liberating about having someone tell you: that show sucks and being able to sweetly and honestly response: I know! There’s even a confused little defiant rebel in me somewhere that takes twisted pride in wearing my poor taste like a badge of honor.

Image result for anime proud
Now I will explain why DRAMATical murder is underrated

Morbid curiosity

I’ll admit that sometimes bad shows are just plain bad. They’re not enjoyable at all no matter how high your endurance for trash may be. But tell me: when you keep hearing that something is THE WORST SHOW EVER, doesn’t some part of you want to see it. Maybe you want to really appreciate what that means so you can calibrate the scale in your mind. Maybe you’re a contrarian and you just want to find something, anything to latch onto so you can say it’s not that bad. Maybe it’s the same dark impulse that makes us desperate to see car accidents. Whatever the case, there is an undeniable appeal to the exceptional. And the fact that it’s bad means it probably won’t go over your head so…

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This was a mistake

Appreciation

To create a work of art that can be considered good on any level, is a feat. Anime is a layering of dozens of different art forms that somehow have to work together as a cohesive whole. This is nothing short of magic. A bad anime once in awhile is a good way to jolt us out of our complacency and remind us that creating animes is really really hard. Watch a couple of dubs from the 80s, you will never be able to ignore a good voice actor again. I get a real honest thrill from watching great anime. I can even get a lot of pleasure out of watching ok anime with some masterful elements. But I only recognize those elements because I’ve seen the alternative.  It’s a “you don’t really miss it till it’s gone” sort of thing.

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but once it’s gone…

 The hidden gems

No, I’m not talking about discovering an actually good show, that would go against the central thesis of this…essay(that sounds way too fancy). What I mean is that once in a blue moon, some absolutely dreadful schlock will put forward an interesting idea, usually underdeveloped and realized in the worst way possible but somewhere under all the trash, there may be a jewel. And since people don’t usually bother stealing from the worse and these shows will never get a second season, it can be your one and only chance to get exposed to some of those concepts. It’s a bit like winning the lottery but without getting any money. It’s nothing like winning the lottery.

Image result for anime winning the lottery
so close…

 

So did I convince you to go watch some rubbish? If so, you might want a drink first:

Suggested drink: Smoker’s cough – It’s Jagermeister and warm mayonnaise…

  • Every time the art is so inconsistent you don’t recognize a character – take a shot 
  • Every time a fight must be discussed in detail before the fighting can begin – take a shot
  • Every time a storyline is dropped without warning – take a shot
  • Every time you can only describe a character as “nice” – take a shot
  • Every time a plot resolves through deus ex machina – take a shot
  • Every time the animation defies physics – take a shot
  • Every time your description of a show includes the expression “it’s stupid but…” – take a shot 
  • Every time horrible behaviour is given a freudian excuse – take a shot
  • Every time you took a shot of Smoker’s Cough – brush your teeth

Image result for anime losers

23 thoughts on “Why I Keep Watching Bad Anime – A Defensive Diatribe”

    1. That’s impressive. Even I had to drop a couple. I refuse to admit it thouh – I pretend I’ve just taken a break from watching them, for years…

  1. Kemono Friends. One of the biggest hits of winter 2017. Does a great job at developing its setting but is bad about just everything else. I’d say your earnestness point describes the breakout success of that show to a t.

    I’d say that this season’s Clione no Akari, for example, combines the earnestness point with the hidden-gem point.

    Yeah, I recognise a lot of the points. It’s just that usually don’t much care whether a show is good or bad. To riff off the pictures, is Nisekoi bad? I thought the first episode at least wasn’t. The show had no staying power, though. Did I enjoy it? On and off. I even finished the second season. I wish I hadn’t ever started the second season, but I finished it. I don’t regret seeing the first season, though.

    And that show you haven’t seen? Sankarea? Is it good? Bad? I’d say the first episode is actually very good, and it continues to be good for a few episodes (3 episodes, maybe? my memory is spotty), and then it sort of becomes mediocre with spots of brilliance. And people could agree or disagree with my assessment. But the gist of it: do I really care? I enjoyed most of the show, and the stuff I didn’t enjoy was easy enough to ignore. I’ve also seen one OVA which I didn’t like: gratuitious nudity and little else.

    Generally, if you enjoy a show watch it, if not, don’t. If only it was so easy. I watched the entire second season of Nisekoi after all. Why? Why did I never drop it? I only have myself to blame, and blaming myself is certainly easier than explaining myself. On the other hand, I dropped last season’s Royal Tutor a couple episodes in, and I actually enjoyed that one. I don’t make sense even to myself, but that’s the way it is.

    [Aside: The Royal Tutor gets bonus points from me for being set in a fictional Vienna. I’m Austrian and you have no idea how odd it is to see this silly cartoon enacted in a near 1:1 replica of a city you know fairly well. You’ve been there, and there, and there, too, and that roof-top view looks familiar… Maybe I’ll come back for the rest of the show one day.]

    1. I loved the Royal Tutor… a lot…. Thanks for the comment, I love learning about new shows. I have a bit of an ocd/completionist thing going on where, I feel compelled to finish shows once I start them so that’s part of my issue I know, but I think we all get to watching shows and ask ourselves at some point, why am I even watching this? fail to find an answer and then go right to the next episode.

  2. The philosophy behind bad is actually the same as good; both have equally compelling reasons as to why they are just that. People go into ‘good’ shows to look for bad things to talk about and the exact opposite is also true.
    Simple herd mentality yo!

    Speaking of bad. If you’ve been interested in masterpieces, do try the worst. Start with the lowest rated show on MAL. 🙂

  3. I tend to research things diligently to avoid watching something bad. However, this really only applies to shows that I want to purchase prior to watching *gasp* who would do such a thing??? Otherwise anything is fair game. I mean I like Hand Shakers and almost nobody liked that.

    Great article, was a fun read 🙂

      1. Hand Shakers, I mean by generally held conventions yes. However, having done a stupid amount of research regarding the production of Hand Shakers I actually think it’s rather impressively done. The story managed to be decent by the end which really helped too.

        I guess then my answer would be no, I don’t think it is really bad. Same goes with most of the “bad” anime I’ve watched. It’s complicated haha. Not sure I could clearly explain in just a comment.

  4. I love bad movies, particularly horror. As you said they are undemanding and fun which is exactly what I want from entertainment. However, because anime is more of a time committment than a single movie (usually), while there’s the occasional terrible anime that I like, I’m a little more picky about what I will and won’t put up with from a series than I am from a movie.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I actually dove into this topic in June. I loved how you made trash anime into a drinking game XD Genius! Kudos to you my fellow aniblogger. I took a couple of bad anime and dove into the aspects of them. Trying to find some redeeming qualities about them. If you want to see my thoughts then feel free to check it out here: https://kawaiipaperpandas.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/does-wtf-anime-actually-have-some-sort-of-alluring-appeal-to-fans/

  6. “Every time you took a shot of Smoker’s Cough – brush your teeth”
    Sounds like just the kind of drink to have during a date night!

    This was a very insightful ESSAY about what can make a bad anime enjoyable and about the worst drink ever.
    Thanks for sharing!

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