Writing Prompt: Would you rather an anime with bad characters but an amazing plot, or an anime with a bad plot but amazing characters?

Time to steal another prompt from MAL.

This one seemed interesting, and even as I write this intro blurb, I’m not sure what my choice will be yet!

Option 1: Bad characters and amazing plot.
Option 2: Bad plot and amazing characters.

It’s hard to think of examples of this, all though I’ll be there are anime out there that actually do fit these two situations.

For option 1, I imagine a super bland and boring cast. Like a one-dimensional harem protagonist type, caricature antagonist, et cetera. I also imagine terrible voice acting, just because, even though I’ve definitely seen terrible characters with good voice acting, like from Ousama Game. But then even though the cast is super boring, obvious, cliche, et cetera, somehow they are tossed into an amazing world like the one from Made in Abyss, Akame ga Kill!, or Kill la Kill.

For option 2, I imagine, well, the opposite. Characters like from the Monogatari Series, the Bunny Girl anime, or Clannad. Those type of characters. But then, there’s no story…

nodoka mai park

Well that just made my decision.
I’d go with option 2.

Isn’t option 2 basically just slice of life anime? Plot and comedy are two different things, right? And slice of life anime typically don’t rely on a plot, they rely on comedy and fun interactions between the characters. So if the characters are amazing, the anime will end up being pretty good I’d have to imagine.

Like there’s not much of a plot to Seitokai no Ichizon, aside from the looming breakup of the student council due to the girls all graduating or moving away after the school year. But it’s still one of my favourite anime, because it’s a lot of fun watching that lazy group just mess around. And Sugisaki Ken is one of the best harem protagonists of all time, and an amazing character in his own right.

At first glance, this question seems difficult, but when you think about it, it’s a pretty obvious choice I think.

seitokai no ichizon anime references

I feel like no matter how amazing a plot can be, bad characters will just drag it down. I’m picturing characters that are just reacting to their situation in terrible ways, not making sense, saying stupid things, not showing proper emotions, and so on. That kind of thing sounds kind of entertaining, in a “it’s so bad maybe it’s good” way, but honestly, it doesn’t sound that good.

But we have clear examples of anime with good characters and next to no plot at all, it’s essentially an entire genre of anime! And the characters don’t even have to be “amazing”, although that obviously helps.

If you were to assume that “no plot” and “bad plot” are not the same thing, which is technically true, than I guess that changes things a little. But even then, I feel like with amazing characters, even a stupid plot can end up working out. For example, Ore, Twintail ni Narimasu, has a very nonsensical plot, and the characters are pretty basic too. It’s not an amazing anime, but it’s an example that comes to mind of a dumb plot that still sort of works in the end. The comedy is still there to make it entertaining.

I guess that’s why “bad plot” doesn’t seem as bad to me. Because in the end, you can always use comedy to cover for a bad plot, and in some cases, the two can work together. I feel like bad characters, while they can produce a different sort of comedy (so bad it’s good) can’t be relied upon to produce good comedy. Good comedy tends to have good characters.

Sometimes a nonsensical plot helps with that too, though.

Maybe I’m wrong on this, or there’s something I’m missing here, but that’s my thoughts on the question at the moment. I might be making the answer seem simpler than it should be.

But that’s my answer anyways, I’d choose amazing characters and a bad plot, because amazing characters can still produce entertaining content via comedy and their interactions with one another, as evidenced by slice of life anime that tend to lack much of a plot to begin with.

Which would you choose?

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

20 thoughts on “Writing Prompt: Would you rather an anime with bad characters but an amazing plot, or an anime with a bad plot but amazing characters?

  1. I am happy woth either depending on genre. Action and horror stories tend to function even with barely functional characters (admittedly they are better with bwtter characters) but romance and drama I find more or less unwatchable without solid characters in the lead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good way of putting it. I guess the importance of plot and characters varies depending on the genre, hadn’t thought about it in that sense.

      I would argue that many horror stories have both terrible characters and a terrible plot and still somehow work, at least for me haha.

      Like

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  4. I agree completely, looks like we all pretty much thought the same thing. Characters can carry a story, plot can’t make up for how much I hate bad characters.
    I’d say there are times when the characters don’t stand out, but they don’t actively hinder my enjoyment in plot driven stuff, but if the characters real bad, it ruins the whole thing for me.
    I don’t even know if a good plot exists around bad characters since their decision tend to ruin any plot there is, but if it does, it’s rare.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good characters can make an anime great no matter what the plot is. On the other hand bad characters bring down even the most enjoyable anime. I couldn’t imagine watching any anime where the whole cast was horribly written, no matter what the plot was.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cody Senpai

    As I’ve reviewed many anime series I feel like if a series has terrible characters but a good plot, then I think “why did I not enjoy these characters” but if it’s a bad plot it’s merely why did this get made?

    You can have a good story with bad characters, but you can’t always have a bad story with good characters because the story is usually what gets the personalities out of the characters. Anyway I love this article and you’ve gained a new follower!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting take on the question. A bad plot can definitely ruin an anime in its own right, or deny characters from showing their potential.

      I think someone else said it best when they mentioned that this issue likely depends on the genre itself, because some genres rely more on plot, some rely more on characters, and so on.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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