IKnights article about his love of Karin got me thinking about if there was some forgotten or maligned anime I’ve seen that, despite my own high standards, I loved anyways. So I go to check out my MAL anime list and it turns out there’s not just one show that fits the bill, there’s a slew of shows that make me wonder how I ever finished them AND enjoyed them.
For instance, there’s Dragonaut, the most maligned series in recent memory (ie. from two seasons ago) and for good reason. It is a sloppy mess of a story filled with big boobs and bad CG. Admittedly it was probably the boobs that got me to watch the show, standards mean nothing before hormones, but I did finish it because I liked the characters and the story, however awful it was. There’s Grenadier, a show whose main selling point was that the heroine reloaded her gun just be swishing her breasts around. A pattern may be developing here actually.
Continuing on, there’s Elemental Gelade, which I doubt many remember. If there was ever a definition of generic fantasy anime then Gelade is it. Still, I watched all of it, no doubt helped along by how insatiably moe Rin is. Also had a great OP. Then there’s Gift ~eternal rainbow~, yet another eroge adaption that was probably forgotten because Kanon was airing at the same time. I can’t remember how I even started watching it or what drove me to complete it. It’s pretty average - there’s probably worse eroge shows - and to its own merit it has a few good Kaede moments towards the end. Keep in mind I also couldn’t finish ef, the eroge darling before Clannad started, which really says something about my slippery standards. Then there’s Mai-Otome…well, we all got duped into watching that so I can’t say much there.
Apart from the genuinely bad shows I enjoyed, there’s also the many goods ones that were for whatever reason tragically ignored. I will sing the praises of Bartender to the hills and back as one of the most brilliant adult pieces of anime ever made, but people easily dismissed it for not owning up to its epic hype, which admittedly I also fed. Betterman is the only anime I’ve ever seen that actually has horror that makes me huddle down in my seat, but because it’s old and mecha and had a somewhat whiny protagonist it’s forgotten.
Ufotable’s Futakoi Alternative is probably the best dramatic-romantic-comedy I’ve seen but many people just tuned it out, mainly for refusing to settle down into one category. Even when a show that defies genre conventions comes around people still ignore it for not following the same conventions they were already railing against. That’s more a fault with people in general, actually. Finally there’s Skull Man, which was a perfectly plotted dark and mature show. It was also based on a one-shot tokusatsu story written in 1970 from the guy who made Kamen Rider, so there wasn’t much hope for it to begin with. And then there’s all the old shows I’ve seen, but they’re old so nobody cares.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned after so much blogging and so much watching, of both good and bad, it’s that anime really is the most subjective form of art. Objectively people will point to some work - invariably Hayao Miyazaki comes up a lot - and say “look! That’s the best of anime right there,” but that doesn’t work out. Anime is made of so many diverse elements - design, animation, characters, story, voice, merchandising - that even the worse show can have one element that some person out there will love it for. So, really, none of us should feel guilty for liking one show or entitled to like another one just because it’s critically acclaimed. In my head I call it the Aesthetics of Likeability, but if I really understood aesthetics could I actually have watched and enjoyed Dragonaut? Now that’s a question that requires some deep soul searching, which I don’t have time for cause I’m going to go watch some Kamen no Maid Guy.