Sometimes you like animes that aren’t very good, sometimes you fail to appreciate masterpieces. I do both on a regular basis!

Lately, I’ve read a few think pieces on how people’s preconceptions can color our enjoyment of a show. How going into an anime with preconceived notions or expectations based on other people’s experiences, inevitably affects what we end up getting out of our watching experience. But what about the reverse case scenario.

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it’s a reverse harem!

Have you ever stumbled across a title you’d never heard of before and thoroughly enjoyed, only to discover that your hidden gem is widely reviled by the anime community? Do you remain faithful to your new love or do you disavow it? Are you suddenly ashamed to admit you enjoyed the show? Do you go as far as downgrading it in your own mind, admitting to yourself that is was indeed riddled with flaws, or do you feel compelled to defend it against accusations you don’t really believe are true?

What if you thought a title was really so-so but endlessly see it described as a classic, a masterpiece, an undeniable work of art? Do you pretend to like it? Do you add it to your top 10 lists just to fit in? Do you avoid giving any opinion or at least try to soften the blow with excuses like: “I was really young when I saw that”?

I know I do.

It’s stupid of course. I end up getting nonsense recommendations for new shows because it’s based on skewed data. Or I find myself sitting through movies or shows I know I won’t enjoy because somehow it seems like I should at least watch it. On the flip side, I also can’t gush over whatever silly, stupid little show is making me super happy at the moment because I know most people will disagree. Writing ridiculously positive reviews of boy idol shows has made me much more comfortable with that though.  At the end of the day, I know no one cares about my anime tastes, at least not enough to actually have them affect their opinion of me. Right????

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yes, yes tell me more of this awnimou you like so much

But I want to watch shows I like – and I want those types of shows to get made, but people won’t know that unless I tell them. So? Well…As my own feeble attempt at some kind of earnestness, I give you my top 9 animes I’m either slightly ashamed of liking or embarrassed of not getting. Let’s all celebrate our lack of good taste together!

In random order:

😊 The Royal Tutor

I’m not as stupid as I look. I realize this show is just a lighthearted excuse to bring together a flock of beautifully drawn bishies and cash in on the hormonal audience ready to devour it. The animation is minimal, the historic setting is laughable and characters and storyline are all more or less surface level but that’s not what this show was for… It’s paced well, the easy humor may be uninspired but it’s familiar and comforting. What it did do, it did well. The pretty pretty characters are super likable for all their lack of developments and by golly I would watch another season the second it came out. I would leave work early and everything.

 Sakamoto desu ka

When this show came out there was so much hype, even I heard of it. This was recommended to me by just about everybody – the one friend that watches anime, blogs, youtubers even MAL. Everyone told me that this is comedy gold – one of the most hilarious shows to come out in recent years and well, I didn’t get it… My sense of humor is important to me, it’s the one quality I’m actually proud of. I am quick with a laugh and need very little to find the funny in a situation and although Sakamoto wasn’t bad I just didn’t find it that funny and ended up dropping it after 6 episodes or so. I’m very worried that I’m growing dull.

😊 Black Butler II

Black butler, in all its iterations, has long been a guilty pleasure of mine. I am honestly ashamed of liking this show so much. It’s just sooooo emo and gothicky and teenage angsty and I love all of  it. At least it’s fairly popular except I’m a black sheep even among Black Butler fans because my clear favorite is season 2. Most fans will stop talking to me at this point, I understand. But, I adore Alois, I think he’s the perfect embodiment of the cheesy gaudy charm that BB brings to the table and the sarcastic ending was the best. Soo yeah – I’m a lost cause.

 My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

People love this show, I see artwork from it all over the place and I will admit it’s quite pretty. It also has the word SNAFU in the title which is automatic extra points in my book. But everything else never resonated with me. The comedy fell flat, the drama felt fabricated the pace was off and the characters were irrational. I fluctuated between bored and depressed throughout most of it yet still felt the need to watch both seasons, waiting for it to finally pick up. It did not. I did like the orange haired girl’s front cross strap bra thingy….

😊 Alien 9

OK – I can’t explain this one. It’s a mess of a show but I lurve it so much. One of the few series I’ve both watched and read and reread. I could defend it to you guys. The intriguing parasitic/symbiotic alien aspect with a sort of magical girl deconstruction feel. The jarring violence and real suspense but in all honestly even those high points aren’t fully realized. I can’t tell you why it’s better than people think it is but it is. I’m going to go watch it right now.

 Azumanga Daioh

I like the Slice of Life and Comedy genres quite a lot (although looking at this list, maybe I don’t?) and Azumanga Daioh is considered by many, a classic. The intro should be! It has its moments to be sure but I just didn’t find it that funny. That aside, what really put me off was the use of a teacher’s predatory and continual sexual harassment of students as a running gag. The show treats it as cute and funny that an adult teacher is clearly trying to grope or see his students naked all the time. I’m afraid that I’m being a stick in the mud or that I somehow missed the distinction between ridiculing bad behavior rather than humanizing it, but it always skeeved me out and I just couldn’t shake the feeling. Apparently, I’m the only one who has a problem with this. This scene always made me laugh though: 

😊 Cheer Boys!!

I’ve written a post about this unsubtle cash grab of a show and how I can’t seem to hate it. It’s indefensible so I won’t even try to but sometimes we just want empty calories. This show won’t bring anything new. There are so many better sports animes out there and you should watch them all before this one. But once you’re done….

 Spirited Away

Yes, yes, I know – Ghibli, yes genius, yes Myazaki, yes I think he’s really hot, yes brimming with wonder and charm… I can see the quality but, I mean, so what? Do I remember anything about Chihiro as a person? About any character at all? I don’t. I can clearly see the images of what people and things looked like but they have no personalities beyond that for me. I would show this to a small child or an animation student who wants to admire the technical know-how but I personally would not rewatch it. 

😊 Cute High Earth Defense Club Love!

Let’s end it on a happy note. Eminareviews recently named this as the anime she was embarrassed of liking and it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I should be embarrassed too. Sure, the jokes are super easy and the premise is paper thin but what can I tell you guys, this show had me smiling from start to finish. I realize that given the fact that Shinji Takamatsu (of Daily Lives of High School Boys and Gintama fame) was behind this, expectations may have been sky high for some and disappointment was inevitable. I also see that the writers went for some low hanging fruit here, and that they would have been capable of much subtler and more cutting humor but just because it’s a little lazy doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Season 2, now that was not funny….

This is one of the disadvantages of wine: it makes a man mistake words for thought

Suggested drink: Confidence Builder, alternatively you can throw it in the other person’s face but that would be such a waste…

  • Every time someone tells you your favorite anime is derivative – drink
  • Every time some says “I use to like that show before I knew more about anime” – drink
  • Every time someone gets real nitpicky about an unimportant aspect of your favourite show, like the color palette for example – drink
  • Every time someone says you should what X instead – it’s so much better – drink
  • Every time someone tells you, you’ll get it when you learn a bit about… – drink
  • Every time someone tells you the manga was better – drink
  • Every time someone says, well I’m more into story driven narratives – drink
  • Every time someone tells you it’s a poor man’s version of… – drink
  • Every time someone accuses your show of being cliché – drink
  • Every time someone accuses your show of being pretentious – drink
  • Every time someone says aren’t cartoons for children? – go home

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27 thoughts

  1. I wonder if you would have liked Oregairu (SNAFU) and Azumanga more if you read the source material. I’ve only read the light novels for Oregairu and I think it’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen. Hikigaya always has some entertaining cynical commentary on what was happening around him. I haven’t seen the anime, but I kinda doubt they were able to capture the feeling of being in Hikigaya’s head, which was the most entertaining part for me.

    I’ve also only read the source material for Azumanga, and I don’t remember the teacher groping or seeing any of the students naked. I think they may have played that up in the anime, or my memory might just be bad. It still bothered me a bit in the manga, but not in a way that ruined it for me. I am thankful that Azuma decided not to put any of that in Yotsuba which is an infinitely better manga.

    1. Although, I will say that I’ve pretty much decided to ignore “classic” anime now because I don’t want to feel obligated to like it. I have so many “universally acclaimed” anime and manga in my backlog that I just don’t feel like getting partly because I’m kinda afraid that I won’t like it, or because they’re so hyped that I feel like I have to find the perfect mood for me to enjoy it fully. Some of my best experiences with media were just stuff that I randomly found and consumed without knowledge of what people thought about it. Especially when it’s stuff that’s under the radar. Sometimes it’s a lot more fulfilling to find a hidden gem that to watch something that you already know is universally loved.

      1. I see where you’re coming from. Although I hope you end up genuinly enjoying some of those classics!

    2. I did read some of the 4 koma of Azumanga Daioh but not all of them. I found te pacing a little odd whch can be the case wit 4 koma. I might give them another try.

      I didn’t read any Oregairu at all. Maybe it’s completely different. I would give it a try if I run across it.

  2. Yeah this definitely happens to me quite a bit with a show I like being really not well received as a whole. It’s kind of fun though because I like to see why people didn’t like it. It won’t change my opinion in the end but I can at least get to understand. For example my favorite show of all time is RWBY (Not technically an anime but it’s got that similar vibe) but it has one of the largest anti fanbases I’ve ever seen. There are whole sites and communities created just to trash on the series at every turn.

    No matter how many rants I read, I still love RWBY and rewatch the episodes from time to time. It has its flaws (Plot holes and things like that) but it’s just so much fun and each season tends to get better and better for me. Other titles I like that aren’t popular is Dragon Ball GT and Yugioh GX. (Although public opinion is finally starting to rise on GX). At the end of the day I figure that I agree with the masses on most titles so when we don’t agree if anything it makes for more fun discussions.

  3. Firstly, Irina, I suspect you are way too down on yourself about the regard in which you are held by the rest of the anime blogosphere. And even if you are being tongue-in-cheek, that’s no way to talk about yourself. You’re good at what you do – and we (and you!) know it!

    Secondly, I probably have stumbled across little known anime that I thought were great but everyone else hated – it just hasn’t come to my attention (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention). I have, however, studiously avoided watching anime that were uber-popular (Naruto) or dropped out of similalry over-hyped anime hat I thought had become dull (Death Note, Attack on Titan, Code Geass).

    At the end of the day, I watch what I like, drop or avoid what I don’t, and write about a goo chunk of both in my blog. And if other people don’t like it – well, that’s cool, too. ‘Cause the feeling is probably mutual! 🤣

    1. Ooops. that should have read “good chunk” not “goo chunk” which sounds…ick! 😖

  4. Agree with you and others that the pervy teacher is the worst part of the show. If only there were a way to surgically remove him but keep the rest.

  5. Yay! Boueibu! I’m a bit weird in that I can talk about magical boys with no shame whatsoever. (Even for Hypnosis Mic, I needed to wrestle with myself with how I can’t like the doctor who looks kind of old just because he has long hair…and now here I am and he’s my favourite. 😅)

    To be fair with you on Sakamoto, I don’t really recall anyone talking about it in real time aside from myself, but back then, 1) I was a lot more detached from the wider anime community (including WordPress), 2) in order to watch it the first time, I needed a VPN, so it makes sense the people in my region would have only known about this series through its DVD release and 3) there wasn’t a lot to comment on in the first place – comedy is something you have to experience yourself, not talk about (insert comment about how explaining the joke kills the comedy).

    Also, I feel like it’s been a while since I saw an Irina drinking game. It feels sort of nostalgic.

    1. I wasn’t in the blogging community at the time Sakamoto came out but YouTube was hyping it up big time. I remember watching multiple YouTubers that were saying it was the show not to miss… Maybe I would like it now. I got lazy and limited my drinking games to reviews. Maybe I should start doing general ones again

  6. It’s as you said. Well I think you said it… For time constraints you said it. Anyway someone’s masterpiece anime is someone else’s nightmare anime. Or vice versa. And No I do not allow the angry mob to dictate my likes. The angry mob keeps telling me Star Trek is dead, despite evidence to the contrary. So… Buck the angry mob.

    Most of the series I have no experience with, the ones you spoke of. So let’s focus on the one I think I remember. Alien 9… Hmm… I vaguely remember reviewing an Alien 9. The manga, not the Anime. So my memories are kinda vague. It’s been years since I last reviewed this…

    Anyway you don’t like Azumanga Daioh and Spirited Away? That’s fine. It’s not like your being forced to review it… To rebuke criticism that it’s better than, say, Turning Red. This movie… Pretend I’m holding up the DVD case… Whose first 13 minutes alone made me regret my life choices. This…

    OH NATURE I REMEMBER NOW!! WHY!! WHY DO YOU LIKE ALIEN 9!!… I mock yell pretending I actually want the answer you’ll no doubt give me… ITS SAD AND HORRIBLE AND DISTURBING!! NOOOOOO!!

    Well, to badly paraphrase the bootleg knock off movie Lion And The King… “MY GOD!! DIAMONDS!!”…. No wait… “No, I think we should be enemies.”

    Not really but movie quote. Kinda. Bye.

  7. Wow, I didn’t realize that I should be embarrassed about my taste in anime until you mention a lot of series that I adore! The Royal Tutor, I loved that! It’s not popular?! Cheer boys?! That anime was awesome! What Black Butler, I thought that was totally cool. Cute High Earth Defense Club Love was great! These anime aren’t trendy and cool? I think I need to re-evaluate my entire world view.

    1. To clarify Black Butler one is beloved by all, I have yet to meet anyone that shares my enthusiam for the second season.

      And no one should be embarassed by their anime tastes! Well one person, they know who they are!

  8. Ooh, this is a fun topic.

    @Royal Tutor: I dropped this, but I can’t remember why. I liked what I saw well enough. Fun thing: the town was a carbon copy of Vienna. I’ve walked there, and there, and there, and there… I even knew the castle (though only from outside). Heh. I think back on it somewhat fondly, and I’m not ruling out finishing it one day, though it’s got stiff competition among my watch list…

    @Sakamoto: Yeah, I didn’t get it either. There were some spots I liked; hornet fencing, sparrow in the rain… usually, the less people were talking, the better the show was. Overall, though I think back on it with a mild sense of boredom.

    @Black Butler II: Haven’t seen it. Haven’t seen Black Butler I, for that matter. The only Black Butler I’ve seen was Book of Circus, which I quite liked. I hear BB2 is an original story by Mari Okada, which… tells me nothing. I’ve loved her original stories, I’ve liked her original stories, and I’ve disliked her original stories. Anything’s possible.

    @Oregairu: First season: While I was watching it, I liked about every other episode, until near the end I sort of got into it. It’s the second season that really hit home, and hard. They prettied up the character designs, though. I’ve always wished I could have the second season with the character designs of the first. Third season… shrug. I really like the second season; I like parts of the first season; if I’d never seen the third season, I don’t feel like I’d have missed much. Overall, I’m pretty positive on it.

    @Alien9: Ooh, I had no idea what I was getting into when watching this, but I had great fun with this. It’s really weird, but it does make sense. I don’t really remember the plot anymore, but I do remember liking it lots and I wished there had been more than just 4 episodes.

    @Azumanga Daioh: I love it. It’s got my humour down, mostly. Not all of it hits home, and I do think the creepy teacher should be surgically removed, but other than that I’m on board.

    @Cheer Boys: I really liked the first half. Unfortunately it fell apart for me in the second half, and that feeling of being let down is what I remember most. I did really like the first half, though.

    @Spirited Away: I liked it well enough, but not as much as everyone else seemed to. I think my favourite parts had to do with No-Face? I remember saying back then that I liked the show best before Chihiro got spirited away; which wasn’t all that long. On the whole, I’m thinking back on the show as something I’ve seen and enjoyed and moved on from pretty much immediately. Now, Howl’s Moving Castle? That’s the Miyazaki film I didn’t get into at all. I’m still surprised when people say good things about the film or call it one of their favourites, even though I can’t remember anyone ever saying anything bad about it (except that the book is better).

    @Boeibu: Ooh, I had such fun with this. I’m a little surprised to see it here, since I remember it being quite well received at the time? I only saw one episode of the second season; so it seems I didn’t miss that much after all? In any case the first season was great. It came out during the height of drak-magical-girl-show popularity, and so – oddly – this was one of the most traditional magical girl shows out there at the time (except for the perennial Precures). Had lots of fun with it.

    *****

    I personally don’t feel embarrassed about liking unpopular stuff, or disliking popular stuff. I haven’t, for example, been exactly shy about voicing my quibbles with My Hero Academia (though I wouldn’t go as far as to say I dislike it). And I keep bringing up Rolling Girls, which everyone loved for the first two episodes, and then while people got progressively more disappointed with it, I ended up loving it more and more. That was 2015, the year where everyone praised Death Parade instead (which I thought was silly and made no sense, but at was at least very pretty to look at). 2015 was the year since I’ve been online I was the most out-of-tough with fandom. (Dare I mention Gacchaman Crowds Insight?)

    Just this season, I actually quite enjoyed the premier of Demonlord reborn as Villager (don’t remember the exact name), and not many people seem to have shared my response. It is what it is.

    1. I know MHA is popular on paper and I think it gets good ratings, but I personally haven’t seen anyone other than Crow say anything nice about it in years. I didn’t have Demonlord on my watchlist but I might give it a try. I like the title

      1. I’d wait a little with the Demon Lord show. The first episode is something of a prologue (childhood), before they get to magic academy. I’m not convinced the show has staying power. That said, I really did have fun with the premier. Basically, the Demon Lord’s got no friends, and his wife/lover’s dead (and there’s hints that he blames himself), and he thinks it’s because he’s too powerful, so he reincarnates, and people don’t know how powerful he is, but he still behaves like a demon lord and creeps everyone out. The show’s layered; there’s more to the character than meets the eye. But that’s only an advantage if the show knows what it’s doing; if it doesn’t I’m in for a string of micro disappointments.

        I’ve seen plenty of people saying good things about MHA; less frequently after the second season, and even less frequently after the third, so excitement levels have definitely dropped. Even I watched 3 seasons, and I started to sour on it during season 1. It definitely has its good points.

  9. Oh man, this happened to me with My Hero Academia. People call it the Naruto of the next generation, and given what I have observed on the internet, they are not wrong.

    But I just don’t get it. Sure, I kind of identified with the main character at first, but it didn’t remained like that for too long. I like only one character from that entire series, and he doesn’t even appear that often either.

    One-Punch Man though? I think it pulled off the super hero plot much better.

    1. You know, I think you’re in the majority on this one. Everyone I know aside from me isn’t a big fan of MHA and everyone would recommend One-Punch man above it. Myself included. So a lot of people must have seen the same things you did in it.
      Although I would argue that MHA is a lot more like Naruto than One Punch Man is. Even Mob Pysho 100 seems more like Naruto to me but that’s a personal view. I have weird comparaisons sometimes.

      1. Plot wise, certainly MHA is like Naruto. I often felt that I’m watching a fanfic of Naruto. But I was referring to the popularity, because people say this is the next big franchise like Naruto.

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