The idea for a “list of five” came to me as a result of following Irina’s blog about anime…so if you’re looking for someone to blame, blame her!
Nah – just kidding. I accept full responsibility for the content of this post. I know many of you aren’t going to like it, and I know more than a few of you are going to want to argue with me. But save yourself the time and trouble. I’m just putting this out there as an extended thought bubble, precisely because this does occur from time to time: I get bored with an anime series.
Yes, you heard me right. I get bored with an anime series. How is this possible? you wonder. For all the reasons anyone gets bored with anything. Because it goes on too long. Because the story doesn’t fully explore the potential of its foundational concept. Because the writing is dull, or the characterisations are one dimensional. Sometimes, because the whole thing is just a bad idea from go to woe.
So please – spare me your missives explaining why I’m wrong, a deadbeat, an anime Philistine. You’re free to disagree. And, who knows, your disparaging thoughts about my taste and character might just be right, too. But keep it all to yourself, okay? This is just one anime lover’s explanation for why some anime series (most – if not all of them – being pretty iconic, too) just didn’t work for them.
(Of course, if you want to tell me what a genius I am and how right my perceptions are, by all means, write away!) 😀
So, without any further ado, and in no particular order, five anime series with which I got bored.
1. Sword Art Online – Alicization
The original Sword Art Online series was one of the best things anime has ever produced. And its sequel was one of those rare productions in which the follow-up was as good as the original. But things started to go wrong with some of the feature films that subsequently appeared – because, let’s face it, Sword Art Online: Extra Edition was just filler of the most puerile sort (anyone wanna see some anime babes in bikinis do some jiggly-jiggly?).
My morale was restored with Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online, which was a real return to form. And so my hopes for Sword Art Online: Alicization were sky high. And for a while there, I remained intrigued and entranced, the central characters and the side-stories being involved enough and engaging enough to secure my attention. But then the story started to go on…and on…and on….And things weren’t helped by the long break in the middle of the series, either.
It all got too much. I don’t even know or remember what the point was anymore. And some of the entrances of figures from Gun Gale Online felt…well, a little forced and artificial. What could have been a unique and self-contained tale within the SAO universe just became bloated and tedious. It just felt like they were milking the cash cow one time too many. Which was disappointing. Maybe if they’d left it at Gun Gale Online all would have been well…but they just couldn’t prise their fingers off that teat, could they?
2. Attack On Titan – The Final Series
I loved Attack On Titan. I mean, I really loved it. Its blend of dystopia, horror, and military elements was just so good for so long I inhaled this series like the air I breathed. And the complex and multi-dimensional characterisations, combined with the stark visuals, were just riveting for both their atmospherics and their story-telling power. And those Titans – huge, human-devouring monsters who couldn’t even digest the poor souls they swallowed, regurgitating them later as gross phlegm-balls of the dead – what’s not to love? (That scene when the central character is briefly inside a Titan’s stomach, and a nearby dying soldier whispers “Mother” before rolling over and sinking into the stomach fluids – amazing stuff!)
But then, just as we were starting to figure out some things, just when the bigger picture was starting to heave into view – series break. That’s okay. We’re all used to cliff-hanger endings. We’ll just wait out the intervening hiatus and entertain ourselves with some of our other favourite anime in the meantime.
And so we waited. And waited. And waited. And you know what? By the time the final series started, I discovered I just didn’t care anymore. And the fact that the start of the final series appears to occur at a point some years ahead of where the previous series left off, and we have to rely on subsequent episodes to figure out the timeline between then and now – well, that didn’t help, either. Not after I’d become so disconnected from where I was before. I just kept scratching my head and wondering if I’d somehow missed a series, or maybe some intervening features (as happened with Psycho-Pass – hey, when are those damn PP features going to get to Australia, fellas? I want to make more sense of the final season!)
I appreciate that stuff’s been going on in the world. Pandemics, and the like. But I’m afraid that Attack On Titan – The Final Series has made it to this list, and there just ain’t nothin’ nobody can do about it. C’est la vie!
3. Death Note
Urgh, I didn’t even make it through the first third of this series. I mean, the foundational set-up was fascinating as hell, and I liked the core concept flowing from it – but once this basic ground had been established, the subsequent story just didn’t make me care enough about any of the characters to want to keep watching. The fact that the lead character was a total douche didn’t help, either.
Maybe the adaption from the original manga wasn’t that great. I don’t know. But it did occur to me that, to make an idea like this work, the central protagonist has to be something other than a self-righteous creep through and through. I mean, the whole series is predicated on the notion of the road to hell being paved with good intentions – there ought to have been Macbeth-like angst and Hamletesque wrangling with philosophical and ethical notions of right and wrong. And even if the dude did turn out in the end to be nothing more than a bloody-handed vigilante – well, there ought to have been some trace of his humanity left, informing him of the inevitable consequences of his actions.
But, no. He just seemed to topple straight over into power-trip omniscient god-complex mode, rationalising and justifying not only his initial actions, but his subsequent efforts to evade detection. And as for the super-intuitive, unorthodox detective dude whose uncanny powers of deduction represent the greatest threat to his power – seriously, could they have gotten any more stereotypical? Hello, this is Sherlock Holmes – I demand that you put an immediate halt to this ridiculous charade of me and Moriarty!
And I’ll admit: having already seen a series like Future Diary probably spoiled me for Death Note. I mean, I was across the core concept and all, despite the differences between the two series. Which meant the story-telling had to be really good. And it just wasn’t.
4. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
This was another series in which I threw in the towel early in the piece. And, like Death Note, a lot of that had to do with the fact that the main character was an egotistical jerk. I mean, I understand, with his back story and all, that he went through a hell of a lot – stuff no-one should have to go through, right? Well, buddy, join the queue: it’s called life. Lotsa people go through lotsa stuff and don’t turn into manipulative turds with messiah complexes. So what’s your excuse?
It annoyed me that I got bored with Code Geass so soon, because I loved the conceptual background and framework for the story. Speculative/alt-history fiction really does it for me, you know? And, no, people don’t have to be nice characters or heroic saviours for me to get into them. But let’s have some dimensionality okay? Let’s have characters who might be bad but are also a bit complex. Characters with vulnerabilities. With an ability to not be completely self-absorbed. Even psychopaths feel bad about some of the things they do, even if they don’t pay any attention to the meaning behind those negative feelings.
Having watched Guilty Crown, which was an okay series with a similar theme and conceptual setup, I was expecting so much more of Code Geass. And maybe that’s where I went wrong. Maybe I should have gone in with no expectations at all. Maybe then I would have been able to respond to Code Geass on its own merits – such as they are. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten bored – or as bored – as I did.
Maybe. But, in the end, I did. And that’s why this series is on this list.
5. Michiko and Hatchin
Frankly, I never thought I’d get bored with any series with which Shinichiro Watanabe was even tangentially associated, because he is a master story-teller whose use of music as part of his narrative apparatus has become (rightfully) legendary. And since Watanabe was responsible, not for the writing or directing, but the musical management, of this series, I thought: hell yeah! Time for another classic!
And for a long time, I really was into this series. A strong female lead who isn’t a dim-witted bimbo with an over-filled brassiere, but who is also human enough to be gullible and get into all sorts of scrapes, possessed a high level of appeal. But there reached a point, quite a ways down the road with this series, when I realised: every episode is the same. Michiko and Hatchin have a fight, they go their separate ways, they get into trouble, they find their way back to one another again. And all the while, they’re being chased by the cops and assorted ne’er-do-wells.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not blaming Watanabe for this. Like I said, he was only in charge of the music – and did his usual sterling job. But even his talents as music wrangler couldn’t prevent this buddy/cons on the run/chase series from running out of steam. Not even the exotic South American setting could do that. And when it ran out of steam, I left it smoking on the roadside like some broken down pile of junk.
Hasta la vista, baby, and all that. Michiko and Hatchin should have reached its denouement much sooner than it was scheduled to do – maybe then I would have hung around long enough to find out if they rode off into the sunset, or, like, Thelma and Louise, rode off a cliff instead. Certainly, this series did.
So there you have it – my list of five anime series with which I got bored. They’re not the only series to fall into the void of ennui so far as I’m concerned; but they’re the most egregious examples. Egregious because I wanted to enjoy them so much. So I hope you note the tone of regret that rings through this entire piece. Because it rings through me still.
Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2021. All rights reserved.