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Ignore for a few moments the great Subbing Versus Dubbing debate among the anime fandom. There are certain shows or works in that medium that fail on their own merits and prove that being So Bad It's Horrible is not exclusive to either side of the Pacific. You know it's bad when even fans looking for a Widget Series exclaim "WTF?!" after viewing. Feel free to curse these titles, anime haters - the fans won't bother defending them anyway.
Important Note: Merely being offensive in its subject matter is not enough to justify a work as So Bad It's Horrible. Hard as it is to imagine at times, there is a market for all types of deviancy (no matter how small a niche it is). It has to fail to appeal even to that niche to qualify as this.
Second Important Note: An anime isn't horrible just because Professor Otaku, Don East or any other Caustic Critic reviewed it. There needs to be independent evidence, such as actual, professional reviews, to list it (though once it is listed, they can provide the detailed review(s)).
- Abunai Sisters Koko & Mika landed a spot on many "worst" lists shortly after release. The animation (all CGI) is about on par with a PS1 CG cutscene, despite the show being released in 2009 (and made by Production I.G of all companies), the voice acting is incredibly annoying (and is in broken English for some reason), and there's basically no plot. It tries to be a comedy, but in a critical flaw for a comedy, it's not even slightly funny (once the shock of "Oh God, this thing exists?!" has worn off). With no jokes and no plotting, the only thing the show has left to rely on is its Fanservice, with an uncanny number of scenes focusing on the central characters' breasts. Unfortunately, the characters are designed like bobbleheads, and their vaunted cleavage looks like they've shoved basketballs down their shirts—which, when coupled with the awful animation, renders any attempt at fanservice utterly unappealing. Only two episodes were ever aired, with the studio locking the remaining eight up and never showing them — and frankly, it's easy to see why. If you have any doubts, allow Demolition D+ to relieve them.
- Art of Fighting received an absolute mess of a 45-minute OVA, with a ridiculous story, depressingly predictable plot twists, and not one interesting or likable character. It has nothing to do with the story of the games beyond the premise of "Yuri gets kidnapped, Ryo and Robert try to save her", they didn't even get the character designs right (Ryo and Robert have their hair colours swapped for no reason). It even falls flat when it comes to spectacular fight sequences, the one thing you'd expect it to be able to deliver - none of the characters use any of their signature moves, and the animation is embarrassingly limited. About its only saving graces are the decent music and turning Butt Monkey Ryuhaku Todoh into a hilarious nutcase police chief. Watch Bennett the Sage tear it apart here.
- Fun Fact: The voice for Yuri Sakazaki in this clunker is uber-famous J-pop singer Ayumi Hamasaki, in her first (and thankfully only) voice-acting role.
- The broken English in the title of Cosprayers (short for The Cosmopolitan Prayers) is the least of the show's problems. The characters are incredibly idiotic, inconsistent, and one-dimensional. The girl who loves the male lead makes out with the main (female) protagonist, and the other girl also likes the guy, and there is no motivation for the Triang Relations. There is random unnecessary Fan Service alongside loads of rape imagery which makes anything potentially titillating just plain creepy. There are no transitions - one minute, everyone's chained up in a cave; the next, they're on a pier fighting with tennis rackets (a power upgrade, by the way). It has a plot that must have been thrown together between rounds and the conflict and characters never give the audience any reason to care. It culminates in an extremely lazy Gainax Ending with singing and rainbows... no, seriously. The whole thing was made by the company M.O.E. (Masters of Entertainment), but they don't show their mastery here.
- Dark Cat, an obscure horror OVA from 1991, suffers from many problems, such as an unfocused narration; lifeless, uninteresting characters; ugly, practically artless animation; and a horrific English dub with some of the worst, flattest voiceovers you will ever hear. One of the many direct-to-video OVAs that flooded the market in the late 80s/early 90s, it is best left forgotten. Bennett the Sage remembers, though, and he really wishes he hadn't. The late Emer Prevost (here) considered it to be the biggest example of what not to do in an anime dub moving forward when it comes to voice acting, sound effects and writing.
- The Yaoi manga Dog Catalogue, with its ridiculously flat characters who receive absolutely no attempts at development, a frightfully generic storyline, and arguably some of the worst art put to paper. Every page is an artist's nightmare - the characters look like someone partially deflated their heads and used the air to inflate their hands. A perfect example of Uncanny Valley.
- The Eien no Aselia: Spirit of Eternity Sword OVA adaptation. The game's great; the OVA... not so much. The plot is nothing like that of the game. The pacing is horrible, the animation below average, and the background music is copypasted from the game. The characters have almost no resemblance to their video game counterparts. It's as if the staff made this anime on a lunch break. Thankfully, it's only two episodes long.
- Garzey's Wing, a 1996 OVA set in the world of Byston Well. It's got wooden dialog, almost no localization, and even less effort actually put into dubbing it. It also has an utterly generic story that, despite featuring such weirdness as people's souls being kidnapped by giant geese and soldiers riding freakin' velociraptors, utterly fails to entertain. Sage and Spoony are willing to share their review with you. The former refers to it as "the Battlefield Earth of anime". Another review on ANN can be read here, also referring it as the Battlefield Earth of anime and also comparing the dub to an Ed Wood production. The review from the Gundamn! podcast agreed that it was the worst thing Yoshiyuki Tomino ever directed.
- GenmaWars, the 2002 anime adaptation of Creator/ShotaroIshinomori 's 1979 manga Genma Taisen: Shinwa Zenya no Shou, a spin-off/prequel of the Genma Taisen seriesnotewhile in the West it's only known through the 1983 movie adaptation Harmageddon and this anime, in Japan it's a long running cult series that has been going on since 1967 and counts twenty novels, two spin-off novel series and four manga adaptations, the most recent of which still ongoing as of 2019/note, created by science fiction author Kazumasa Hirai with his illustrations. Judging by the stealthy and more overt Template:Take Thats that he threw at it in some of his later works, Ishinomori seemed to consider it a bit of an OldShame, but despite this the manga has fans to these days, so it wasn't surprising that an adaptation would be produced eventually. However, this series from 2002 made all the possible mistakes it could have in handling a source material like this: first of all, it tried to be a self standing adaptation, a questionable choice in and of itself, considering how the original manga was created to bridge the LighterAndSofter parts of the series from the '60s with the decidedly DarkerAndEdgier entries from the late '70s, and did so by keeping and eliminating things from the manga very arbitrarily, taking away elements of lore that tie the manga back to the rest of the franchise and give it its identity and depth most notably, tacking on an EsotericHappyEnding when one of the recurring elements of the series are the pessimistic downer endings while not exploring others, making the story confusing for people not familiar with the series, and changing the tone from FridgeHorror by adding gratuitous amounts of violence and nudity (which were censored, pretty clumsily, in the English localization), alienating even more old time fans. Despite that, not enough changes were made to account for the fact that the source material was more than 20 years old and very much a product of its time, so contemporary viewers found themselves thrown off by a relentlessly grim and gritty series that deals with sexual violence much differently than modern sensibilities would allow, the whole series is predicated on the demonic bad guy kidnapping and raping human women to conceive an half-breed heir, and most infamously a plot point has one of the "good" main characters rape another character to awaken her dormant powers - which was present in the source material as well, and is an infamous and controversial recurring element in later parts of the franchise. But even people who might enjoy the series for the sexplotation and gore would find themselves unable to get into it due to the awful, cheap as chips animation, the first episode alone shows some awful CGI that would have barely been acceptable in a tv show from the early 90's, let alone the early 00's. The most noticeable and widely mocked example is the wolf that follows one of the characters, which in the original communicated telepathically while in the anime has his jaw lazily and awkwardly flap open when he starts speaking and close when he's done, without any kind explanation as to why given in-universeand incredibly lazy art direction - in stark contrast with the manga, one of Ishinomori's most ambitious works in the visual department. Overall, the final product fails under all possible aspects, and is more a case study in what to avoid when making an adaptation. - bear in mind, the source was visually one of Ishinomori's most ambitious works.
- Ijime ("Bullying"), a short anime OVA released for free in an issue of Ciao (which should tell you a lot). It has amateurish voice acting, flat animation, a hideous art style so deep in the Uncanny Valley it hurts, and incompetent handling of a serious subject matter (childhood bullying). There's also a scene that plays out like a gang rape. It's very telling that it's the only Ciao Ciao TV short so far that never became a mini-series. Watch The Cartoon Hero review it here.
- The 2007 movie adaptation of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood is perhaps the most legendary disaster in the history of shonen manga. While it was understandable that not everything in an 800+ page manga could fit into a 90-minute running time, the story ends up so compressed that basic information explaining just what the hell is going on is absent, leading to nothing in the story making sense. The Compressed Adaptation nature of the work also leads to about half the characters being excised completely (most infamously Robert E.O. Speedwagon), while the ones who are there are reduced to the barest of traits, with Dio Brando being reduced to a Generic Doomsday Villain and Jonathan having the personality of cardboard. Adding to this, the animation is cheaper than most contemporary TV productions despite being released in theaters, the fight scenes are stripped of all nuance and interest and become short punchfests, the audio is mediocre at best and the poster tries to pass a render of Joseph off as Jonathan. Even the awesome end credits theme, "VOODOO KINGDOM" by Japanese hip-hop group SOUL'd OUT, isn't enough to save this trainwreck of a movie.
- In fact, Hirohiko Araki was reportedly so angered by the movie's sheer disrespect towards its source material that he banned the film's producers from ever releasing it on home video. To this day, the only concrete proof that the film even existed are a couple of trailers and a rough cut of the first 16 minutes.
- The OVA Mars of Destruction is clearly a pathetic attempt at being dark and edgy by way of Neon Genesis Evangelion, only the plot is totally non-existent, and the characters don't ever get any development and end up completely forgettable. The animation and fight scenes aren't any better, either. It's as if the animators weren't even trying to make an anime. And the title has nothing to do with planetary explosions, which would've been far more interesting. Watch DXFan619 utterly eviscerate it here, or you can watch it in its entirety here - if you really want to.
- Master of Martial Hearts clearly tries to be a shocking deconstruction of the Panty Fighter genre, not unlike what School Days was to harem anime or Funny Games was to slasher films. In practice, it's four episodes of fanservice with only a vague hint of You Bastard (so it's less thematically clear than Funny Games), then one episode of awful things happening to characters who, while bland, weren't really that objectionable (so no catharsis like when the selfish and shortsighted protagonists of School Days came to ruin).
- In the mid-1970s, many Humongous Mecha anime were produced in the wake of Mazinger Z, and there were a lot of clones of variable quality to cash in on the Super Robot boom of the time, but the most poorly written and conceived is Mechander Robo. Made by the then-dying toy giant Bullmark to try in vain to save itself by boosting toy sales, the show contains a cliché plot even for its time, bland, one-dimensional characters (the only real notable one being the token black character), and animation so bad that it looks like paper cutouts most of the time and, by the end of the show, is nothing but stock footage. After midway through the series, after it should have mercifully ended, another plot is drudged up to pad out this scrapheap of a show even further. Even an admittedly cool mecha design wasn't enough to save the series: after this development, much of the anime became one huge clip show, both intentionally and unintentionally due to the aforementioned abuse of stock footage. Unsurprisingly, this was the downfall of Bullmark as a toy company, and while the Bullmark Mechander Robo toy is now a cherished part of Japanese otaku culture, the show created to promote it is most definitely not.
- Ninja Resurrection, marketed in the US as a sequel to Ninja Scroll, has horrible no-name voice acting that makes the words "Tokugawa Shogunate" a Brown Note, extremely gross and misogynistic fanservice, and a nonsensical plot about Amakusa with a Devil in Plain Sight Evil Chancellor leading to the pointlessly squicky resurrection of Amakusa into Satan where his new evil cronies begin slaughtering townspeople...and on top of all that, the series finally ends there due to people wisely avoiding any further trick-marketing.
- Some could argue that the series ended just as it was about to get good (it actually ends as the antagonist groups leap off-screen, implying a big showdown and/or massacre to come). It also features Mataemon Araki, the only likable character by virtue of being a gigantic badass who kills ninjas with Combat Tentacles entrails. He has barely three lines, but is somehow one of the most fleshed-out and interesting characters.
- Pilot Candidate/Candidate For Goddess: Horribly-integrated CGI even for its era, plot holes practically from the start ("Only men can be Goddess pilots...except for her"), and Zero Enna is possibly the most aggressively unlikable Shonen or Seinen protagonist ever. He's like Ash Ketchum crossed with Amuro Ray, only without the redeeming qualities of either and with a failed attempt at being Hot-Blooded. The greatest failing, however, is that every piece of the story is incomplete. Several characters and concepts are introduced but never explored, each battle is an unfollowable mess with key points missing, and while the focus on cadets should make for an interesting angle, the main characters are barely involved with the plot. And to top it all off, even though the story is too thin and weak to support twelve episodes, it still has a Gecko Ending.
- Interestingly, the series was based on a longer (and much better) manga by the author of D.N.Angel, but the company who animated the series declared itself bankrupt after releasing the last episode as an OVA. It also made the author very hesitant to allow D.N.Angel to get an anime adaptation. Eventually, Xebec (producer of this series and of Martian Successor Nadesico) made a competent adaptation.
- Adult Swim aired the anime once, when the block was still finding its legs... and we do mean once – this is one of very few shows that has never showed again after its initial airing. A commercial bumper over five years later said, to paraphrase, "Pilot Candidate: Never Again."
- What's worse is that it was originally going to be on Toonami (back when Toonami was a daytime action cartoon lineup) and was edited down to Toonami standards, making it even more incoherent. When Adult Swim decided to air it, it was the Toonami-edited version.
- Root Search, a 1980s OVA with stiff animation, unlikable, poorly-developed characters, and a pretentious and incoherent plot ripped off from Alien. Here's a review.
- The Thunder Prince. A Cliché Storm that makes Inheritance Cycle look original, it contains inconsistent character designs that make Jack Chick's shittier illustrations look like Dave Gibbons', and a spectacularly gory scene of the sidekick monkey playing around with the constituent humors of a snake's eyeballs, which the creators felt the need to Flash Back to for no apparent reason. The Big Bad undergoes instantaneous Badass Decay, and the back of the tape gives away the ending.
- The anime adaptation of Togainu no Chi has been panned by fans of the original game for good reason. Admittedly, given the nature of the game and its multi-route system, some elements had to be removed for the censors, but it still doesn't excuse the fact that so many things were removed from the story, people being introduced to the series for the first time didn't know what the hell was going on. Terrible animation (to the point that Episode 12 nearly completely consisted of animation recycling), constant deviation from character styling, and a mediocre script combined to make a fairly celebrated BL game into an animated train wreck.
- When Transformers Kiss Players was announced, most American fans generally chuckled at the concept of girls kissing Transformers to bond with them and power them up... but the manga scans depicted vore, blatantly suggestive scenes (such as the Legions' infamous "penis-tongues" and the endless stream of implied-rape imagery), the misogynistic antics of Atari Hitotonari, and late teenagers appearing to be eight years old. American fans were left disgusted and the Japanese fans feared this would've set a very poor example for the perception of anime in the West. As a result, most fans tuned out.
- It's sad because They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot. The EDC, led by Marissa Faireborne, alongside the Autobots in an Evangelion-ish battle against mutated cyborg beasts and what turns out to be a Gambit Roulette by the creator of the technology? If they'd made a serious effort instead of just going for shock value (which the creator admits to), then this could have been a worthy addition to the Transformers saga.
- While it isn't surprising that certain parts of Tsukihime were changed for its animated adaptation, given the original visual novel's content and structure, what was changed is completely awful. The writing is littered with plot holes, outright bringing up important details from the visual novel and then ignoring the actual cause or context; the animation is cheap enough that a character falling is shown as a moving still frame, the music is dull and repetitive (the only good song is the opening, an awesome instrumental that makes the rest of the soundtrack even more boring in comparison), and despite only being 12 episodes long the plot often slows down to a dull crawl, the worst example being a filler episode based on a throwaway bit from the VN that adds literally nothing to the story. Worst of all, they changed Ciel's Trademark Favorite Food from curry to spaghetti. Predictably, it was savaged by critics and did terribly, and to this day Type-Moon fans pretend it never happened. By contrast, the manga adaption is pretty faithful to the source material and avoids a lot of the anime's failings.