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7 Questionable Anime-Original Endings

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Anime-original ending can be known to cause viewers to uncontrollably gnash their teeth or scratch their heads. For some of the most incongruent cliffhangers, the reasoning is often that an anime adaptation is an "expensive commercial for the source material." This doesn't make the medicine go down any more smoothly when viewers have emotionally invested in a show's characters and plot every week only to end up with a dozen plot threads dangling, a horribly anticlimactic battle, or a giant question mark where a conclusion should be. Here are seven examples of times when, after spending hours of my life caring about characters, an ending stomped all over my good intentions.

As its title indicates, this column is full of spoilers. Also, I've skipped over most anime harem/romcom examples because cliffhanger romances are par for the course to avoid "best girl" fights.

Bokurano Bokurano is my kind of super robot show. It stars young adults coming from unfortunate circumstances, dealing with adult problems, or suffering from a case of jerkish personalities. Mohiro Kitoh didn't pull any punches in his award-winning manga. Unfortunately, director Hiroyuki Morita wasn't on board for some of the manga's storytelling elements and even outright admitted that he didn't like the source material after manga fans hounded him after story changes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Morita hasn't directed an anime series since Bokurano. Besides toning down and outright changing a lot of the story's character arcs, Morita wrote in an ending that would allow him to save some of the child robot pilots from their fatal manga fate. These changes had Kitoh's approval, but it can't help but appear like Morita was chickening out of the story's consequences.

Tokko GTO creator Tohru Fujisawa decided to switch from a delinquent comedy to an all-out supernatural horror work in 2004. The violence, sex, and gore were very much in vogue at the time for action series. Tokko fit in nicely with stuff like Gantz, and its anime adaptation even got a run on The Sci-Fi Channel. What it didn't get was anything resembling an ending. The story is set-up for a much a longer adaptation, as part of the plot is collecting 108 pieces of a cube. Unfortunately for the anime, Fujisawa seems like he got bored with the commitment he set up for himself. The manga ended in three volumes, so the anime had to explain away demonic monsters coming out of pits and killing people, along with the whole cube business. The writing simply wasn't there, leaving audiences with a giant cliffhanger and the big baddie laughing into the credits. The manga would get a sequel about a decade later with a different artist.

Gantz Before there was "nice boat," there was "nice train" or so the ending of Gantz would lead you to believe. Word is that this ending was planned rather early on, and there's an interesting discussion in our forums from the time that attempts to parse together whether the anime-original ending was anything more than staff scrambling to make something deep out of nothing or actually a nuanced conclusion. What I can tell you is that my reaction didn't fall into the positive camp. Here we have a gory survival game against aliens controlled by a mysterious orb for 20-odd episodes followed by our lead protagonist having some kind of near-redeath experience in a (symbolic?) subway. And no, we don't find out the deal with the orb, aliens, or any of the major plot points.

Claymore This fantasy-action series was its own mini-hit about 10 years ago, but it failed to leave a lasting impression after its short heyday, primarily due to its failure to deliver on promises. The story follows Clare, a cold half-monster warrior who is tasked with defeating the humanoid youma that plague the land. The story gradually builds towards what should be a large-scale showdown between Clare and the youma Priscilla. This hadn't taken place in the manga, so the anime decided to write the fight as a horribly anticlimactic non-battle with loose threads about other looming enemies.

Flame of Recca Not many people got through this entire show, which was sometimes dubbed a Yu Yu Hakushō knock off. Comparison and lack of popularity aside, I still watched all 42 episodes of this battle shōnen series only for the final confrontation to opt out in favor of having one of the major antagonists get redeemed and then hit by a car in the final episode. I was actually watching this series in my college anime club, and I can't explain to you the reaction when that episode was shown, after we all sat through the entire series together.

Flowers of Evil The anime adaptation was already fighting an uphill battle against skeptical viewers when the staff chose a faux-realistic rotoscoped animation style despite the manga's otherwise traditional manga art. Its second hurdle is that the series' content is mostly cerebral, starring three not-so-great teens feeding off one another's angst in an isolated mountain town. There was no way the 13-episode adaptation, which I presume was expensive for having live-action filming on top of animating, was going to cover the character's full emotional arcs. This leaves the anime with a pretty stilted ending, wrapping with a teasing flash of future scenes that would be intriguing if a second season existed.

Akagi Expert mahjong player Akagi has been embroiled in a game wagering his life against a yakuza for the last 25 years. Creator Nobuyuki Fukumoto has finally put an end date of February 2018 on the story. Will we get an animated adaptation? Who knows, but the 26-episode anime adaptation covered the first 13 volumes and then just stopped in the middle of a mahjong match with Akagi's life on the line. Viewers can presume that he wins since Akagi always wins, but talk about a letdown in such a psychologically intense series.

The new poll: Which anime suffers the most from 'same face syndrome?'

The old poll: Which anime hot springs episode is your favorite?

  1. Yuri!!! on Ice! episode 1 12.9%
  2. Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu episode 9 9.9%
  3. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (all, really) 7.6%
  4. Gurren Lagann episode 6 7.2%
  5. Outlaw Star episode 23 7.1%
  6. KonoSuba – God's blessing on this wonderful world!! episode 9 5.0%
  7. Gintama' 3rd Season episode 131 4.5%
  8. They're all terrible 3.5%
  9. Persona 4 episode 20 3.2%
  10. No Game, No Life episodes 2, 7, 10, and 12 3.2%


When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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