Ok so both “good” and “bad” are obviously arbitrary here. I went with my gut! However, as far as I’m concerned, these characters deserved better than the shows they got saddled with. Characters with deep compelling personalities or at least for the potential for it, stuck in lousy narrative where they will languish unappreciated forevermore…

Man, that got a little darker than it had any reason to… Maybe I should have tacked it on to my tragic character studies. Oh well. Here are 5 characters I really liked that were in 5 shows I didn’t like so much…

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5 – Sora – Love is like a cocktail

Love is Like a Cocktail is by no means a horrible show but I thought it was rather boring and paled in comparison to the similar I don’t Understand What My Husband is Saying. I did however really enjoy the character of Sora… I think…

Ok I’m starting off this list cheating. Sora isn’t by any means a great character, he’s hardly a character at all. However, he’s a cute, kind young man who’s only desire in life seems to be creating delicious cocktails for his wife based on her moods after a long day at work. He’s gentle, patient and perfect. Because he’s drastically underdeveloped and one note.

Can you blame me for wanting to see more of this character. Or at least for wanting to have more handsome male characters who always want to kindly serve cocktails to their beloved . It seems like this is exactly the type of archetype we need to bleed into real life!

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4 – Sekkou Boys (Cast)

Another short, this show’s completely insane premise held a lot of promise but unfortunately never quite came together. The cast of weirdo classical Greek busts however, was a fantastic oddity that held true all the way to the end. Even their long-suffering manager Miki, in the usually thankless straight man role, was absolutely fantastic. A patient and very efficient young woman with a bit of a sarcastic bite and an occasionally surprisingly pervy side.

This is the type of balanced and fleshed out character I would have loved to have seen in a show where she had some more room to grow. In fact, of the many shortcomings of Sekkou Boys, characters were definitely not one of them.

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3 – Yuri Otani – Alien 9

Alien 9 was a glorious mess of a show. I’ve shared my views on it before. In short it’s a disorganized, underdeveloped miss that had so many great things going for it. I love it a lot. But even a lost cause like me, knows that it’s not a very good show.

Main character Yuri though, definitely has a lot going for her. On the surface, she’s a bit of a Madoka clone (it should be noted that the Alien 9 manga came out a few years earlier). She’s a very shy but sweet girl who’s prone to emotional breakdowns. She even looks a little like Madoka. But Yuri is very central to the story and such a lot of time is spent developing this character.

We get to know a surprisingly realistic feeling young girl, trying to do her best in a odd world that seems to have gone out of control. For my money, I would love for the series as a whole to get a second chance. But if that’s not feasible, then Yuri at least deserves a second look.

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2 – Inga – Un-Go

Un-Go is one of the most frustrating series I have watched. It had so much going for it, it almost seems like there must have been an active effort put in to sabotage the series. A noire type detective series, set in a cyber punk future, with actual compelling mysteries and complex political machinations in the background. Great, now even I want to rewatch it.

This said, Un-Go didn’t have the most compelling cast. I have found this to be a common weakness in procedural type shows. Most of them are rather forgettable. Except that is, for the devilish Inga. Inga is a fantastic puzzle of a character. Showing her/his dual nature in both personality and appearance, Inga keeps the audience guessing until the very last second.

I remember feeling a tinge of excitement whenever Inga got on screen. The series never got a chance to do much with the character which is a shame. Inga would make for a wonderful destabilizing elements in any supernatural show.

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1- Kenjirō Tateyama – Mekaku City Actors

I got to give it to Mekaku City, it certainly did try. It tried all the thing. It really could have been a classic but it over reached. I stand by my statement that i will give this creative team another chance any time. You could see that the foundations here were solid, it just got lost in the details.

For instance, it manage to create a captivating and truly menacing tragic villain in the character of Kenjirō. At once a loving husband and father, present for his kids and emotionally available. An inspiring teacher to his students. And a grief mangled monster willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to reach his own ends. The character balanced all aspects so well that I was still scared of him as I was openly pitying him.

I’ve written so much lately on great stories with antagonists that fall flat. Kenjirō is a spectacular one in a story that doesn’t quite make it.

As a character lover, I tend to elevate stories if I like the people that inhabit them. So I don’t often come across shows I consider bad (or not great – most of these anime did have some redeeming qualities) but still like the characters.

I’m sure you guys have some much better examples to share! Let me know in the comments.

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16 thoughts on “Top 5 Good Characters in Bad Animes”

  1. I liked Alien 9. I can’t remember it very well, but as far as I can recall, the only flaw I could spot was that there’s too little of it (typical incomplete OVA).

    My picks?

    Hm, there’s Dear S, a rather typical magical-girlfriend story (this time bio-engineered alien sex-slaves – it’s not quite as bad as it could have been, and it even has its sweet moments). It ranges from good to average to bad, with an emphasis on average. However, there’s Izumi Neneko, eternally sleepy-looking childhood friend. She’s level-headed and pragmatic, accepting the sudden magical girlfriend fairly quickly and often helping our protagonist understand her. Awesome character who, saddled with standard harem tropes, treats everyone like people.

    Then there’s Owari no Seraph, which is a cheesy, mildly entertaining, vampire shounen fighter full of sound and fury and tragedy (not bad, not good, sort of just there), but then there’s Shinoa Hiiragi, who acts as if she knows what sort of show she’s in and makes the best of it. IIRC (which I might not) season 2 manages to drag down even her, but she’s a force of nature in the first season and one of the major reasons to watch the show.

    1. As much as I hate to say it, Alien 9 does lack narrative focus, the exposition is messy and a lot of the characters are underdeveloped. I still love it.
      I haven’t seen either of these anime although Mel (of Mel in Anime Land) regularly tempts me to give Seraph a go…

  2. Well…I had to think about this for a bit, but I guess I am adding Zack from Angels of Death. I mean the series was just not much fun, but Zack (at least later on) managed to make it a reason to tune in every week again. (And as usual this list makes me aware that I still have way to much anime to watch, as….I haven’t seen any of these 😅).

  3. Major props for mentioning Alien 9. Yes, I know it has its flaws, but it did have a unique concept. If this anime came out just a few years ago, everyone would say it’s a Madoka ripoff or trying to copy Last Girl’s Tour’s art style. I wish there was more potential and episodes out into that anime. I heard the creators wanted to make a sequel, but they could never get the funding to do so. That’s a bummer.

  4. Can’t think of many good characters in bad shows off the top of my head, but someone like Ayanokouji Kiyotaka from Classroom of the elite I think would be an incredible character in a more complex and longer series.
    (I love CotE and Ayano btw)

  5. OH MAN, I love Alien Nine, I wish it had actually, you know…went somewhere. I read the manga which was Better but still messy. I’m glad someone else feels the same way…I try to recommend it all the time but then I’m like, “well okay maybe it’s not like…great or finished or anything but…” which really makes the recommendation fall apart lmao

    1. Alien Nine is so likeable and I can’t really explain why… I bought a box set of the manga and dvd on a whim years ago and I still think about it regularly…

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