The Worst Anime of 2019 - And Our Mega Poll Results
The Worst Anime of 2019
If I'm calling an anime the worst of the year, it's not sufficient that it merely be a “bad” show. It needs to be something actively, politically awful. It needs to be rallying point for the worst impulses of some of the worst people. Admittedly, these are factors that are often outside of the control of creators, and there are countless examples of genuinely good and kind media being subsumed into a pile of internet swamp scum. The Rising of The Shield Hero, however, is not one of these shows. With a premise predicated on a glorification of misogyny and slavery, it earns all the ire directed towards it. That it was animated by Kinema Citrus, who have made recent and wonderful standouts like Made in Abyss and Revue Starlight, and produced by Crunchyroll, which is the premier anime streaming service in North American, just twists the knife. This is the worst kind of nerd power fantasy to put on any pedestal besides the specific one I'm featuring here.
Fairy gone is easily the most gorgeous show I've ever thought of as my worst for the year. It certainly doesn't completely fail when it comes to animation and mood-setting visuals in general, which makes me reluctant to name it the hands-down worst show of the past twelve months. (Though the action does sometimes drag and rely too heavily on overdone tropes.) Nonetheless, it was easily the show I looked forward to least for the full two cours it was on—in fact, I was glad it took a full season off in between simply to get a break from it. The story is simple, yet dull and somehow not always easy to follow despite its lack of originality. Far more emphasis is placed on the conflict as a whole than individual characters, so all but a handful of primary characters wind up being relatively forgettable. It doesn't help that no one's design really stands out because most of the characters are all in the same uniform for the vast majority of screen time. On the whole, Fairy gone was middling rather than awful, but it gets docked down to worst I've seen this year for simply not living up to its potential.
I won't lie: When the world learned that Studio GoHands' 2019 anime would be a project focusing on a DJ scene that promoted popular electronica artists, I was fooled. Despite W'z's unpronouncable title and questionable aesthetic choices, I did not think for a second that GoHands would be brazen and unrepentant enough to make a sequel to HandShakers, the 2017 catastrophe that still inspires anime fans from all walks of life to huddle around campfires and whisper the horror stories of where they were when they first laid eyes upon it.
How foolish I was. Even though it feels like hundreds of years have passed since January of 2019, I remember the W'z premiere like it was yesterday. The noxious art, the terrible looping music, and the dialog that spike3of shaking hands with God, or whatever the hell this franchise is about. Is it true that W'z is technically not as terrible as its predecessor? Sure, but that only means that W'z is merely an almost unwatchable slog, and not literally the ugliest and worst thing I've ever had to look at. Granted, I haven't seen Tom Hooper's new Cats movie yet, but then again, there isn't a hairball's chance in hell of that movie getting a sequel any time soon. That W'z exists at all should be cause enough to send even the most stalwart of anime fans into a spiraling existential crisis.
Holy crap, was The Price of Smiles this year? 2019 has been a decade long, yo. While it'd be easy for me to bestow this annual dishonor on any of the shambling isekai homunculi I've had to sift through this year, those have all kinda capped out at average at worst. No, it's gotta go to The Price of Smiles for that special brand of disappointment. This series started out as a promising one that I, naive fool that I was, talked up as a potential sleeper hit of the year. For misleading you, dear readers, I must apologize. Instead, this dollar-store Gundam wannabe flopped all over the floor for a cour, teaching a princess repetitive lessons about how War is Bad, or heaping ham-handed tragedy on a girl from an opposing espionage team, who could do nought about it but stare at her holographic fishbowl for comfort. It didn't even have anything meaningful to say about armed conflict in the end, wrapping infamously as it did with Princess Who-cares and Sad-Spy stopping the war by just pushing a big button that turned it off. This series was supposed to be an anniversary production for legendary studio Tatsunoko, but instead it seemed like it was completely ignored and forgotten before it even finished airing. Perhaps that's for the best.
This category came down to a tie between this show and Kemono Michi: Rise Up for me, but what made Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka the winner (or loser) is how drastically it failed its characters and subject matter. Yes, Kemono Michi: Rise Up had lots of cruel jokes of questionable taste, but it was at least attempting to be a comedy, however misguided it was. Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka, on the other hand, at first purported to be an edgy dark magical girl show looking at what happens to the girls after the battles are over, and how they might cope with having to go back into the fray. The problems began when the show completely disregarded the mental health issues it set up for Asuka, and things only got worse when it began to use sexualized torture as titillation. It devolved into a fetish-filled mess that trampled all over its initial premise, failing to treat subjects like child soldiers, combat veterans with PTSD, and the manipulation of vulnerable people's psyches with the gravity they both deserve and need. Schlocky sexualized violence may have a place in the entertainment landscape, but this most assuredly is not it.
Kemono Friends Season 2
If any anime of 2019 sums up the phrase "you hate to see it," it's Kemono Friends season 2. Here's a sequel that was meant to be the triumphant return of 2017's breakout hit-- but then production house Kadokawa fired the show's director, TATSUKI. The talented director had cultivated a large and eager online audience, who showered Kadokawa with complaints, prompting the publisher to stage an ill-advised "apology" involving the show's seiyuu. At the same time, Kadokawa were in a tough spot-- TATSUKI's faux pas was creating and posting KemoFure artwork and a short episode without any oversight or input from Kadokawa, which is kind of unheard of. Acrimony flared-- on one side, TATSUKI and his colleagues complained about payment issues; on the other, Kadokawa insisted that TATSUKI's studio, yaoyorozu, would not agree to simply stop creating new Kemono Friends media without collaborating with the publisher. In the end, the charismatic team that had made the tiny, humble Kemono Friends an unexpected success left the production entirely, so Kadokawa assembled a new team, who put together a show that was both obviously different from the original and a magnet for criticism and complaints. There's really nothing wrong with the series, but thanks to its production history, it sits under a dark cloud indeed.
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