Top 20 Anime That Are So Bad, They’re Actually Good

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There’s some anime I’ve seen that are so bad, that they made me sad.

They made me disappointed in the medium, like I wasted a huge chunk of my time.

But sometimes an anime comes along that’s mediocre, awful even, yet somehow managed to keep me enthralled throughout.

Here I’ll be paying attention to those series, OVAs, and movies that fail in most departments… yet still manage to stand out based on various merits.

Whether they’re beautifully animated, have an incredible score, possess great source material, or simply failing at everything it tried and it’s still just plain entertaining – we’ve got you covered for all your guilty pleasure animes.


20. God Eater

God Eater anime screenshot

In the year 2071, humanity has been pushed to the brink by the devastating monstrous Aragami. In response, the Fenrir were established – warriors mutated to wield the God Arc capable of killing their oppressors.

Adapted from the Monster Hunter-like game with the same name, God Eater has a unique art style and gorgeous animation.

However its plot structure, thin characterization, and narrative pointlessness causes it to fall flat on its face.

Despite this, it’s got the production value required to provide an entertaining ride.


19. Danganronpa

Danganronpa anime screenshot

Makoto Naegi is expecting to start a new school live in the elite Hope’s Peak Academy.

Instead, he’s knocked out and locked up with his fellow students and forced to survive in a battle to the death.

If you kill without being discovered, you escape and everyone else dies.

If you get caught, you die.

Adapting a 50+ hour visual novel with intense puzzle sequences into a 4-hour anime with a somewhat bland production was a questionable move.

Then, five years later, they decided to make a sequel (Danganronpa 3, also dreadful) to the second game (that never received an adaptation) intending to finish up the core series.


Nonetheless, it maintains the incredible soundtrack Danganronpa is known for, and still has all the wonderful characters and plot twists.


18. Darling in the FranXX

Darling in the FranXX anime screenshot

The distant future of humanity is decided by teenagers fighting in mecha, battling sexual metaphors and alien entities.

Spearheaded by Studio Trigger and A1-Pictures, scored by Hiroyuki Sawano, and taking inspiration from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

What could go wrong, right?

Well, while the anime has consistent style, animation, and music – the later narrative is disastrous.

It really didn’t know where it was going, and you can tell.

Even then, it’s honestly worth a watch!

It may be propaganda designed to counter decreasing Japanese birth rates, but it’s a beautifully told piece of propaganda with some brilliant characters.


17. Deadman Wonderland

Deadman Wonderland anime screenshot

Ginta Igarashi’s life is thrown into disarray when a mysterious hooded figure murders all his classmates, leaving him the sole survivor.

He’s declared guilty of the crime and sent to Deadman Wonderland, an amusement park where prisoners reside.

The strong introductory arc and bountiful gore don’t do enough to support the rest of the show.

The animation doesn’t hold up, and the characters can sometimes border on unbearable.

It rambles around, stumbles in the dark, and then fails to even finish.

They literally just finish the anime with no conclusion. However.

It’s entertaining as hell, consistently surprising, and sometimes endearing. So if you like your violence, you will like Deadman Wonderland.


16. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children screenshot

Set two years after the events of the original game, Cloud Strife and his allies are living with the consequences when a new threat emerges.

Set in a destroyed Midgar, with a mysterious illness called Geostigma infecting the populace, they need to stop a trio of unusual men who all remind them off someone else – someone deadly.

It’s a shamble of narrative held together by beautifully animated CGI set-pieces, all building to an obvious showdown we can see on the box art.

This movie still holds up now, and the recent FFVII: Remake makes numerous unexpected references to it.

Just make sure you watch the Complete version with an additional 30-minutes of footage that attempts to remedy any confusion (to mixed results).


15. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online anime screenshot

Kazuto Kirigiya, and thousands of others, are left stranded in a virtual reality multiplayer game.

If they die, or try to quit, they will die in real life.

He’s tasked with making a party, struggling the odds, and fighting to escape. Right? I mean, kinda – you would think that.

The glorious production values – brilliant animation, soundtrack, and atmosphere – are completely tarnished by its characters (particularly the bland lead) and awfully underused narrative.

I feel the series never reaches the heights set in its initial arc (Aincrad) and got progressively worse (Fairy Dance and Gun Gale Online). Apparently it improves later, but I’m not putting myself through that anymore.


14. Highschool of the Dead

Highschool of the Dead anime screenshot

Without warning, zombies appeared across the world.

They destroyed the economy, and society, splintering the species into survival groups.

Takashi Kimuro is a high-school boy infatuated with his childhood friend, Rin.

When the apocalypse happens, the two of them join up with a few other students and seek salvation elsewhere.

The gratuitous fanservice is both its greatest flaw and strength.

Consistently ridiculous and demeaning scenes permeating throughout a supposedly serious story hamper ay tragedy to come out of this anime.

This is classic C-horror schlock animated, and therefore mandatory watching.


13. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress anime screenshot

In a feudal-industrialized Japan, the Kabane attacked.

Quite like zombies, they transform those they bite – however they can only be killed by destroying a stone in their chest.

Aboard the large train “Kabaneri”, we follow Ikomak, and Mumei as they strive to find salvage in a broken world.

Wit Studio tried their hardest to tell a compelling story, with wonderful swooping animation and a brilliant Sawano score.

But it never reaches the potential of its first episode, dragged down by a lack of direction that constantly takes the story off track and eventually off the rails. An absolute train wreck; check it out for sure.


12. Berserk (2016 & 2017)

Berserk anime screenshot

The 2016 TV show is a sequel to either the movie trilogy, or the original 90s series.

Watch them first, because they are slightly-flawed masterpieces compared to this.

Either way, it fails to encapsulate on what makes Berserk great.

Just look what they did to my boy.

One of the greatest manga ever received a shoddy, broken, perplexing adaptation that disappointed absolutely everybody.

The stellar storytelling, world-building, and characters don’t survive the torture the production quality ran it through. Absolutely embarrassing… Yet, it is still Berserk!

Season two is a marked improvement over the first, but it’s still not that good.


11. The Old Crocodile

The Old Crocodile anime screenshot

The ancient Old Crocodile has alienated himself from his family due to his ravenous hunger.

He will eat anything that moves. This comes back to bite him when he eats his great grandson and is exiled from the island.

On his travels, he meets an octopus who can’t count – so, the crocodile decides to befriend him, and eat each tentacle one by one.

Try as I might, any moral behind The Old Crocodile is lost on me.

That didn’t stop me enjoying it immensely, eyes glued to the screen in anticipation.

The English dub adds an enthusiastic energy to the short film, keeping it consistently engaging.

I love the animation style, but it doesn’t excuse it for the uncomfortable way it made me feel by the end.


10. Yami Shibai

Yami Shibai anime screenshot

Every day, the creepy Kamishibai Storyteller pulls up in front of children to tell them dark disturbing tales straight out of Japanese folklore and urban legend.

Each episode clocks in at under four minutes, and there are hundreds of them now.

Mostly misses than hits – but when it hits it hits hard.

Its simple animation is a hindrance and a blessing to the horror aura it’s going for. One of the best-worst out there.


9. Godzilla

Godzilla anime screenshot

20,000-years have passed since Earth was taken over by massive kaiju that decimated most of the species. In space, the remainder float without purpose.

Until deciding to return to their home planet and retake it.

Little do they know that evolution has escalated the issue way past their imagination.

I’m one of ~18 people on the planet who seems to enjoy anime made by Polygon Pictures (Sidonia, Ajin) yet even I can’t excuse this disaster.

It has so much potential, especially when the kaiju are on the move. But they felt the compulsion to embed as many anime stereotypes as possible into it.

Just average all around – but definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of large monster movies (we need more anime like this, but good).


8. Ninja Batman

Ninja Batman anime screenshot

Batman is sent through time by Gorilla Grodd’s machine and ends up in feudal Japan alongside his allies and enemies.

He quickly discovers his usual gear is redundant and goes on to become a samurai. Yep.

Just look at the title.

Do I really need to say more?

Batman and Joker battle in mechas straight out of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann… My brain fried when I watched this.

But the animation, style, and the direct appeal of seeing our favorite DC Gotham characters thrown into a Japanese style makes this movie worth a gander if you’re interested.


7. The Junji Ito Collection

The Junji Ito Collection anime screenshot

Junji Ito is my favorite mangaka.

His horrific, unsettling works deserve to be animated. But not like this – dear God, not like this.

The color palette is boring, the characters move stiffly, the scares are muted and dull, and they draw his wonderful monstrosities as lazily as possible.

However, if you have never experienced him, love horror, and refuse to read manga, then absolutely watch this for the pure display of imagination.


6. School Days

School Days anime screenshot

Makoto Itou is a high school kid stuck between infatuations.

One day he takes a picture of his crush – Kotonoha – and a classmate – Sekai – notices. She promises to help him get with her, but along the way things get very messy.

This is an exemplary piece of doo-doo. From start to finish, the characters are insufferable.

They continuously walk into the worst, most awkward situations due to their flaws and selfishness.

There’s nothing good about this anime, it’s the worst romance anime. And that is precisely why you should watch it.

Never has awful love been depicted so perfectly. It’s toxic trash and I live for it. Maybe a masterpiece, ask me tomorrow.


5. Big Order

Big Order anime screenshot

One day a fairy asked a boy for one wish, which was granted.

Years after the calamity referred to as the Great Destruction, Eiji Hoshimiya is studying in high school unaware of his true purpose and… I can’t go on. There’s no point. Wow.

How do you make such irredeemable rubbish?

Every aspect of this anime tries, and every aspect fails. The main character impregnates a girl by patting her on the forehead. I think I’ve blocked a lot of this out due to the trauma. Sometimes art goes too far, to the point we need to question what art even is.

Absolutely horrific in its execution, and worth watching with friends for the tears of laughter.


4. Mars of Destruction

Mars of Destruction anime screenshot

Unusual aliens called Ancients are appearing around Tokyo.

To counter the threat, mankind constructed the MARS suit, a full body get up that allows the noble Takeru Hinata to battle them. That’s basically it – a 20-minute epic you cannot miss.

Now and then, a moment ripples across the planet.

When Germany surrendered, the end of the cold war, or the Berlin wall being torn down;.

But we would be remiss were we to neglect the moment that signified a generation, a new epoch, a new age for us to live in, raise families in, work in, and pass from.

That moment was the release of Mars of Destruction.


3. Skelter Heaven

Skelter Heaven anime screenshot

An enigmatic gargantuan object appears in the middle of Japan, and our heroes are tasked with saving the day.

Otsuya Funagai and his all-female squad need to stop the monolith before devastation incurs.

If you told me this one-episode OVA came free with cereal, I would not believe you because no company would inflict this upon its customers.

Nothing about Skelter Heaven works. It’s a mismatch of styles, concepts, genres, and direction.

It’s the equivalent of forgetting you needed to perform a stand-up routine, but you give it a shot anyway. Only to trip, fall off the stage, pants around your ankles, before banging your head. No matter how much I beg, Skelter Heaven laughs remorselessly at me.


2. Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories anime screenshot

Ghost Stories follows a group of friends trying to solve simple mysteries in low-threat situations. It’s rubbish. Well, the original anyway… the dub is a whole other story.

This anime is comparable to Scooby-Doo! in its complexity.

Aimed at kids, it failed to deliver and was panned across Japan.

In response, the English dub-team were given complete artistic freedom when bringing it to the West.

What resulted is a legendary ad-libbed collection of politically incorrect scenarios strung together by the original plot.

Seriously legendary, I can’t stress enough how insane the difference is.

It’s constantly jabbing at itself and twisting the G rating into an 18+ with its crude pre-abridged freeform style.

This is an original sub anime, yet one of the funniest dubs of all time.


1. Vampire Holmes

Vampire Holmes anime screenshot

Oh, no. Look at that name. Well, the anime can’t be worse can it?

The legendary detective is set to tackle mysteries alongside Watson (sorry, Hudson) in the center of London. And… he’s a vampire?

Or he’s hunting vampires?

Something inside me died the day I watched Vampire Holmes.

I felt so disparaged by the medium that I couldn’t watch any other anime for a while.

It’s so ridiculously awful that it stops being bad and rubber bands back into postmodern masterpiece territory. Nothing is right here. He is not a detective. He is hardly a vampire.

They don’t solve cases.

Nothing is right here, and now I am sad.

Please, watch this – it is… truly extraordinary. You will never see an officially licensed product at this standard again, I ensure you.

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Kafka Champin

Kafka was playing games in utero, and writing lists even longer. He has published numerous books and video essays, and is currently a student at university.