Sometimes when I want to write something I’ll pop over to MyAnimeList to take a look at my list and look for ideas. Lucky for me, someone came up with a nice idea for me thanks to the “recent comments'” section on the frontpage.
What are some anime that had great potential but squandered it?
Relevant post theme:
An interesting question. My post on “Overreliance of Future Possibility in Anime” was probably my very poor way of describing this very issue, and I feel like I didn’t convey my thoughts properly in that post. But it still has gotten a few comments long after it was originally posted, so I guess the idea gets people thinking.
The thing is, there are times where I just get too engrossed in the potential of an anime, as opposed to what I’m actually given. Instead of rating what I’m watching at face value, I can’t help but think about the amazing possibilities and opportunities available to the story / chracters / setting. And that is a large factor behind my disappointment in anime that fail to deliver, that “rely on future possibility”, so to speak. That’s basically what I was trying to get at at the time, but I guess I didn’t have the right mindset to write it out.
Anyways, instead of just rambling about this again, I’m going to go through my anime list and see if I can find some striking examples of anime that squandered their potential. In reality, what this means is I’ll look for anime that disappointed me and then explain what I think should have happened, because I’m an anime expert blogger who has the authority to determine these things.
Also, there are countless anime that haven’t unlocked their potential because they never finished the story, are awaiting a sequel, et cetera. Naturally there’s not much of a point in bringing those up here. We in the anime community bring these up enough as it is, in hopes that the anime industry will finally grace us with that sequel!
In alphabetical order…
#1. Black Bullet
Black Bullet is an interesting anime to me, because it has so many elements that I love. An interesting world, magical and technological elements, an interesting overarching threat, an edgy antagonist, and a pretty cool protagonist. But then the anime went along and decided that all of this wasn’t enough – and of all things, the answer was.. a loli harem!
I’m not inherently against loli harems, although it’s not particularly something I’m a fan of. My issue was just that it didn’t fit with the style of the anime. The premise was that the young girls possessed superhuman powers that allowed them to fight the monstrous enemies, and so they were paired with human officers. Problem was, the officers themselves were way more badass than the little girls. Protagonist included, who ends up doing more heavy lifting than his partner, even though she’s supposed to be the stronger one.
It just didn’t make sense to me, still doesn’t. You could remove the young girls from the anime completely and it’d be a more consistent, coherent story. And that’s where I think the anime squandered it’s potential – adding loli harem to a story that seemed to have great potential on its own.
I wrote about this quite some time ago, back before my blog got much in terms of views, but I argue this same point there. It’s funny for me to re-read it now. I was pretty fired up about this anime, that’s for sure.
#2. Grancrest Senki
I also reviewed Grancrest Senki, and I’ll basically be re-hashing my thoughts on it here. Bottom line, there was potential, and it was not utilised.
Unlike Black Bullet though, I don’t think Grancrest Senki had as much inherent potential. It’s a fantasy world, which to me exudes potential on its own, but much of the anime was quite generic. Still, I think there were things that could have been done to rescue this anime from mediocrity!
There are many geopolitical events that take place in this anime. Kingdoms battling it out, territories changing hands, battles taking place… the problem is, we don’t get consistent maps of what is going on! Hearing people talk about locations doesn’t help the viewer know what the hell is going on. “X location” doesn’t evoke much compared to a map showing where the allies and enemies are located.
Believe it or not, some consistent maps, Lord Marksman and Vanadis style, would have helped out Grancrest Senki so much. It’s an anime that is illustrating a large-scale war between factions across a fantasy world, without showing us what the overview of that world looks like and how it’s changing over the course of the anime.
A big mistake that would have been easily solved with some more maps, and I guarantee the anime would be more enjoyable if that had happened.
#3. HenSuki: Are you willing to fall in love with a pervert, as long as she’s a cutie?
An anime I covered on EcchiHunter, HenSuki was an ecchi harem anime with the potential to be very fun and different from traditional ecchi harem anime. While the protagonist himself was standard, the premise was interesting in that the various girls all had a secret – they were all perverts, focusing on different fetishes.
The only problem was, the anime was so soft in regards to the fetishes that the whole endeavor felt pointless. A sadist that never actually acts like one, a masochist that is only involved in dog jokes, a fujoshi who never ends up doing anything once her secret is revealed…
While the show was still decent, the potential for something very unique was squandered because it was too conservative with its own formula.
#4. This Art Club Has A Problem! (Konobi)
There were other comedy anime on my list that I could have brought up here, but I decided to pass over them thinking that I’d just avoid comedy because of how subjective it is. That is, until I got to Konobi.
Konobi will always hold a place in my heart for the Aniblogger Collaboration that I hosted early this year where we looked at each episode of Konobi with a different “theme” in mind. It was a lot of fun, and definitely made the anime more palatable.
As for Konobi itself and its potential, well, the biggest issue Konobi faced was simply that they reused the same joke too much. Subaru’s 2d waifu fetish was funny for the first few episodes, but when he’s still blowing off Usami 10 episodes later for the exact same jokes, it gets very stale. It got so bad that we were fairly actively bashing Subaru in our collab posts.
I won’t suggest new jokes for the show, but I will say that maybe it could have focused more on art and tried to freshen things up instead of relying on the same formula from episodes 1-12.
#5. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Lynn, I know you haven’t seen this one so just keep on scrolling. You’ll have to see the issues with Kabaneri for yourself because I’ll want to read your personal thoughts as an author on what went wrong here.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is an interesting case. I don’t entirely remember everything, but what I do remember is that the first half of the anime was amazing. I remember being completely hooked with the dark world and how everything was playing out. The idea of just surviving in this world, aboard an armoured train, is awesome. Add in to that our protagonist and that girl who are both semi-infected, and you’ve got an interesting situation at play.
That is, until the anime took a completely new direction in the second half and decided to create a villain to direct its energy towards. I don’t remember the details well, but what I do remember is just how the anime fizzled out into something generic. This dark world and all it had to offer felt squandered in the second half.
My only suggestion that I can make is that they should have kept on with the same tone and direction of the first half, focusing on survival. Not every story needs a personified villain. I wish I remembered more so I could be more specific, but I don’t remember much other than how I felt about the first and second half of this anime.
Also known as Kujiun, Kujibiki♥Unbalance is an anime based off of an OVA that is inspired by an anime that exists within the world of the anime Genshiken. As a result, it’s a bit obscure, but it has a place in my heart for being such an interesting idea of an anime originally from within another anime.
Simply put, the issue with the anime version of Kujiun is that whoever adapted it decided to deviate from the story and style of the original OVAs that were present in Genshiken. It’s very apparent, through what we see in Genshiken as well as the OVAs that Kujiun in its original form was a very competent, fun, and interesting concept.
But instead of going with a sure thing, the studio that adapted this into an anime made major changes, moving characters around to different roles and changing the art style completely. It’s still not a bad anime, but I can say for sure that the potential for something more enjoyable was squandered in this one.
#7. Mekakucity Actors
Mekakucity Actors is a brilliant anime adapted by Studio Shaft, the one studio I know of, that creates some very abstract and memorable anime. Mekakucity Actors is no exception – this anime is excellent. The setting, the story, the characters, the art, the colours… it’s all amazing. I loved this anime, still do.
Everything about this anime was going right. A 10/10 anime in the making. The only issue – they rushed the ending. And I mean they really rushed the ending. The last three or so episodes of this anime jump ahead so fast in the story that there’s no satisfaction, only disappointment and mild confusion. It was so apparent when I was watching this that the ending was being rushed, and it ruined the ending for me. A botched ending only serves to leave a sour taste in the viewers mouth when they are done with the anime!
I’ve suggested this before, and will suggest it again. They should have simply kept on with the pace they were going, and aired the final episodes online. It might not sound like a risky decision, but it can pay off. The reason I suggest it is because Bakemonogatari actually originally aired its final two episodes online – for a total of 15 episodes in the season – and that ended up leading to many sequels and movies created based on the series.
A series done right will lead to more of that series. And from what I’ve heard, the world of Mekakucity Actors is quite expansive. I’m sure that if the anime had been handled right, there would have been potential for more content. Unfortunately they mishandled it, and we’ll probably never get anything on this ever again.
I’ll end this post there, although there are plenty more anime that I could pick apart for all sorts of reasons. While a lot of this is subjective, I think it comes from a place of love for anime and storytelling in general when we take series and try to figure out how they could have been better than they already are, or where they went wrong. Plus it can be fun to do.
Sometimes it’s small things, sometimes it’s much more obvious. At the end of the day we can never know the exact circumstances behind the production of the anime we criticize. All we can do is keep on mentioning that we are still waiting on a No Game No Life sequel in hopes that it happens. At the end of the day, that’s all we can do!
This was a fun way to spend some time on a Saturday night.
Naturally I’d love to hear all of your thoughts on the above listed anime or some of your own examples of squandered potential.
Feel free to write your own post on the subject too, I’d love to read that as well!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.