I’m writing this in late December so we’re just starting to get all those BEST and WORST anime of the year posts, videos and threads going around. Just the other days on Twitter, I saw that only WORST anime was trending which sort of shows you how negative 2021 has been for some people.
And you see, I don’t like these types of threads. I guess I can see the fun in picking a favourite. That’s fine. And there are all these awards shows that draw in an audience. I can’t deny that people like assigning value to entertainment no matter how arbitrary it may be. But why do we have to have a “worst” anime of the year?
I admit it, I’m part of the problem. I clicked on that and I rarely click on anything in Twitter. For the record, the only specific 2021 anime I can remember being singled out right now is Horimiya. This is baffling to me. What is there not to love about Horimiya? Clearly, the person or people who thought it was the worst did not watch it with Moya because that made my experience thoroughly delightful!
But the actual choice in anime doesn’t matter. These types of posts or threads are always going to attract the edgy contrarian types who will name whatever anime happens to be most popular on principle. At the end of the day, the results are just as meaningless as with the BEST anime threads, if not more so.
What caught my interest more, was the tone of the conversation. Like everything that went on around people throwing out titles. For one, I remember a person giving 4 titles of pretty well-liked anime from recent seasons and adding, just to name a few, I could have really added them all, nothing but cr*p comes out. I cleaned it up a bit and cut out the follow-up rant. And this is a sentiment that was echoed here and there.
A few years ago I may have argued the point. I might have discussed how both animation techniques and narratives are getting more sophisticated and that of course masterpieces remain few and far in between but I don’t see any evidence of an objective lowering in quality. I realize now that such a response is useless. These types of rants have always existed and always will. They aren’t necessarily related to the anime either so there’s no merit in trying to argue on that basis.
However, unlike the heated and sometimes slightly scary arguments I have seen online over… well mostly over fanservice. We’re a bit of a one-track mind community. I guess occasionally over BL but most people have gotten over that it seems. Unlike those, this conversation was cold and clinical, and really dour.
People were just out there shouting out anime they didn’t like, often without any additional comment. Just something like so and so was the worst. Worst anime ever. Stuff like that. And for the most part, people weren’t interacting at all. They simply ignored everyone else, shouted out their hate for a show and went on with their day. No passionate protection of a series, no productive or even unproductive debates, nothing. Just plain, sad, dissatisfaction.
And well, what’s the point? Why do we do that?
I’ve seen it in post form as well. A lot of bloggers give out their best and worst of the year. Now some of them do a great job. They detail exactly why a certain series let them down. They give constructive criticism or write out an actually funny paragraph so that the disappointing exercise of watching an anime one doesn’t like has some type of positive outcome. I get that. I fully stand behind that type of post if it’s what the blogger wants to do.
But sometimes, those posts just end up being either very short. Like the Twitter thread, the blogger just names a show or a bunch of shows they didn’t like without much commentary at all. Or they are an excuse to simply dump on a series (occasionally one that is perceived to be popular by the author). And to me, those posts read as depressing.
By that, I mean that they don’t seem fun to write. Unless they aren’t genuine they seem like the author is just making themselves angry or disappointed all over again and not much else. And I’m not sure they’re very fun to read either.
It’s possible that something is going over my head and I’m just not the audience for these types of posts. I do remember that YouTube had an entire very popular genre a little while back of “angry critics” and the schtick was for them to get unnecessarily and disproportionately angry at whatever medium they were reviewing. But those were skits, right? Like they didn’t actually dislike the stuff, I’m not even sure they actually played or watched it. It was just comedy. As far as I understand. I never watched those. Like I said, I’m not the proper audience for it.
I guess maybe that’s what WORST anime of the year content is trying to reproduce. But it’s often so dry and dispassionate so I’m not sure.
In theory, I can see a lot of reasons to write a WORST anime of the year post. Not just the cynical ones. And I do have to begrudgingly admit that people seem to click on these posts, myself included. Like I mentioned before these could be a good faith exercise in constructive criticism. They could be a way for a blogger to get some closure when a show they really thought they would love disappoints them. They can be a satirical or comical essay that is honestly only meant to make the audience laugh. They could also be an honest exploration by the author, trying to figure out why others enjoyed something they did not.
In practice though, the posts don’t always turn out that way. And when they end up just being a listing of shows someone didn’t like, I wonder why we still read them. Especially since a lot of anime fans get hurt when their personal favourite is called bad, let alone the WORST!
Part of why I started really thinking about this though, is because I read them. I did mention that at the beginning. I want to make it clear that I don’t blame anyone for either reading these lists or writing them. I read them all the time. Then I get a bit bummed out. Either because someone hated a show I loved or because there is a sort of implicit dislike of anime in general. And on a human level, it sort of sucks that someone spent so much time watching shows they weren’t enjoying. It’s not the end of the world but man, I know how frustrating it can be to get through a show you’re stubbornly refusing to drop but aren’t having fun with. It’s a real slog. I would hate to have to do that for basically half the shows I watch.
So honest question, if you write or read WORST anime posts, what are you hoping to get out of them? Do you enjoy a particular format more?