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The Worst Anime of 2016

Worst Anime - Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation.
I don't watch a whole lot of bad anime anymore - ANN's preview guide really helps me weed out the duds these days. But my ardent Phantasy Star Online fandom drove me to watch Phantasy Star Online 2, and what I discovered was a flat, limp commercial for the video game, an exceptionally weak “me too” to recent MMO favorites like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon. If you like PSO, you know that there's real storytelling potential buried in the game, but here it's ignored in favor of pushing characters you won't like monkeying with a game you'd rather be playing.

Worst Anime: Three Leaves, Three Colors

Out of all the shows that I followed for more than one episode this year, none seemed more devoid of purpose than Three Leaves, Three Colors. While it may not have been gut-wrenchingly bad, it receives this dubious honor because it failed to leave any impression at all. This is what happens when a slice of life series (or any other kind of series, for that matter) simply plods forward on autopilot without any distinguishing traits to justify its existence.

Worst Anime: Big Order

Yeah, I know that this is an easy one to pick on, but this was the only series in 2016 that I dropped after watching multiple episodes because it was awful rather than because I simply lost interest or didn't have the time to keep up with it. I actually wanted to like this one, too – in fact, I gave the first episode a positive review in the Preview Guide that season – but it just fell apart so completely as it went on that it wasn't even entertaining in a “train wreck” sense anymore.

Worst Anime: Twin Star Exorcists
Since I enjoyed the anime adaptation of Yoshiaki Sukeno's previous work, Binbogami ga!, checking out Twin Star Exorcists seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, after an okay premiere, the shown quickly went downhill in both the visual and storytelling departments. The animation is inconsistent, the characters are one-note, and aside from their too-cute-to-seem-threatening designs, most of the villains are practically indistinguishable from one another. I could forgive some of the poor narrative choices if the show looked a little better, and I could forgive the lackluster visuals if the story was a little more inspired. However, as it stands, Twin Star Exorcists represents the worst of both worlds. 

Worst Anime: SUPER LOVERS/Long Riders!
Having contributed to ANN's preview guide for all four seasons, I've got a wide variety of terrible shows to choose from, but I'll cut it down to just two. For “show whose premiere most grossed me out,” it's definitely SUPER LOVERS, which attempted to sell me on a romance between an adolescent boy and an adult man. For “show whose premiere was a technical disaster,” it's Long Riders!, which tried to convey the magic of cycling through awful CG bikes and hideous “scenic” backgrounds.

Worst Anime: Trickster
I'm not a completionist. I can and will drop a show I stop looking forward to at any time, be it one episode in or eleven out of twelve. This habit leads to my list of completed show staying fairly short, as well as to problems deciding on a worst anime of the year. Chances are a series got better after I walked away, and what I deemed a bad show turned out sorta alright after the next plot point. One rather bad show I haven't yet walked away from due to being assigned its weekly reviews is this season's Trickster. It probably doesn't deserve the title of 2016's worst anime, it's simply suffering from its writer's inexperience and the consequent lack of focus and emotional follow-through. It's silly, unimmersive, and it has been incapable of connecting its parts to a meaningful narrative throughout the entirety of its first cour. Thus, due to my lack of a fair choice, Trickster gets my vote.

Worst Anime: Divine Gate

I watch a lot of garbage for my own self-flagellating amusement, so picking just one most terrible anime I watched this year was pretty tough. However, since we started doing these seasonal roundups (with their own worst-of picks) in Spring of this year, I decided to select something from Winter 2016 that sums up the worst kind of garbage we got throughout the rest of the year, and nothing fits the bill quite like Divine Gate. While there are plenty of unwanted passion projects like Pandora in the Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn and failed attempts at franchise relaunches like Nurse Witch Komugi R in any given year, 2016 in particular saw the rise of the Mobile Phone Game advertisement adaptation as a new breed of animated offal produced to waste everyone's time. Of these already dubious productions, Divine Gate stood out for its ridiculously melodramatic plotline, painfully busy art design, and incomprehensible worldbuilding. It's the perfect blend of lazy or hopeless source material and just enough ambition or effort to make the "what" factor of trying to watch it go up without making the actual story any better. We can hope for fewer smartphone game anime in 2017, but given the success of Touken Ranbu in Japan, we probably shouldn't hold our breath.

Worst of the Year: Endride

I always have trouble with these, because I want to have seen more than one episode before I make a call. Well, I got through six of Endride before I ran away screaming. Its dragging, cliché plot, lackluster characters, and weird attention to everyone's epic eyebrows did not make for a great viewing combination. It wasn't so much bad as boring, and in entertainment, that's actually much worse.

Worst Anime – Big Order

The term “garbage fire” has become  popular in recent years as a way to describe horrible, awful failures. To compare Big Order to a garbage fire would be a disservice to burning trash containers; those, at least, can stave off the cold in times of destitution. Big Order, on the other hand, is completely and totally useless, both as art and entertainment, offering absolutely nothing of value to anyone, anywhere. Some might argue that the series falls into “So Bad It's Good” territory, but I can't get behind that notion. Everything about this series, from its writing to its direction to its characters and action scenes, is just the worst. Do yourselves a favor: Avoid this heap at all costs. I promise you, it isn't worth it.


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