18 Most Overrated Anime Of All TimeThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
I’ve discussed hundreds and hundreds of anime, and yet we haven’t gone over some of the ones I personally don’t feel deserve the merit they have.
Not bad, just maybe a bit overhyped.
And I’m guessing this is gonna piss off some people so fair warning: it’s just entertainment!
But for this list I’ll be ranking anime that either don’t live up to the hype, have somehow defied all logical odds to live on in the annals of anime history, or those that fail to ever find their footing.
Let’s dive in & please don’t hate me!
Gangsta has some good production design at various points (soundtrack, some key animation, voice acting).
But it’s all overshadowed by a rapid plot progression, lack of any conclusion, and its occasional lapse in logic.
For a seinen, it’s remarkably more shounen in execution.
While it touches on some mature topics, it relies far more on combat fight sequences and generic escalation. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with Gangsta, and feel it was a massive missed opportunity that was later fulfilled by better gang related anime.
So, the original manga for Yu-Gi-Oh! was more like Kaiji, featuring supernatural gambling antics revolving around the Shadow Realm.
It was violent, adult, and obviously doesn’t reflect the later release of the trading card game.
Same goes for the original anime vs. the first “real” Yu-Gi-Oh! anime.
So to move away from the darker overtones, they switched gears and adapted the Yu-Gi-Oh! that we know today.
It’s entertaining as hell – especially the original series, GX, and 5Ds – but still makes no sense narratively or mechanically. Basically changing the rules on the fly and running with it for… reasons.
It’s a weird show, a very weird show.
16. Blue Exorcist
The problem with Blue Exorcist is firmly rooted in its purpose.
It’s a 2000s shounen riding on the wave of Hunter x Hunter, Fullmetal Alchemist, Fairy Tale, and more, with a killer aesthetic and art style but distinct lack of direction.
The firmly established protagonist and world are particularly effective at reeling you in, alongside the killer jazz OST.
But it quickly loses its momentum and derails somewhat to pay attention to the generic school-setting and shallow romantic subplots.
15. Vampire Knight
Vampire Knight, and its sequel Vampire Knight: Guilty, is a bit of a mess.
It’s a pandering shoujo with shounen action aspects all set in a school with a slightly gothic aesthetic. In concept, it’s fairly evocative – but unfortunately the ridiculous levels of melodrama, disappointing protagonist, and bizarrely weird ending all let it down.
The characters are mostly insufferable, jumping emotional hoops on an episodic basis and never having any firm characterization. And it romanticizes abusive relationships quite a bit.
There are better vampire anime, better shoujo anime, and dare I say even better incest anime if that’s what you really need to watch.
14. Akame ga Kill!
Akame ga Kill! was a fairly popular manga by Takahiro that received an anime adaptation in 2014.
It was hyped up beyond belief, advertised as some new killer seinen-quality anime which will shock and surprise. However, no, that’s not what we really received.
It deviated massively from the manga, apparently, disappointing even the original fans in its edgy portrayal of assassins and warfare with an overly violent aesthetic that never really matches the first few episodes.
There are plenty of better anime out there. And this one seems to either be loved ridiculously, or hated immensely.
Maybe check it out and make your own opinion. But Akame ga Kill! really didn’t do it for me.
Charlotte blends a Lelouch-esque protagonist, a chunnibyou plot, a Jun Maeda narrative and score, and a Kokoro Connect attention towards supernatural slice of life.
Somehow it drops the ball in the heaviest of fashions, attempting to be deep or dark without merit in one of the most painfully forgettable shows I’ve ever seen.
The protagonist, Yuu, is an insufferable character even past his ‘redemption arc’. And the inclusion of time travel and deus-ex-machina only makes his sacrifices a moot point.
It’s a clusterf*** of a story, and I’d actually recommend you watch it because of this.
Somehow, despite all this, it’s loved and revered by many. And holds a surprisingly high score and ranking on most sites.
I don’t know. But I feel like the fact it’s got Maeda’s name attached might have something to do with it.
12. Darker than Black
I feel like if Darker than Black (and its respective sequel) were to come out in 2020, it would not receive the amount of unanimous love it got when it was released in 2007.
Back then, there wasn’t a huge amount of variety in the ‘city-antics’ genre seen in Kekkai Sensen, Dorohedoro, or Durarara!! and Hei’s character design went a long way towards endearing fans to him.
However, it’s lacking quite a bit in narrative, dialogue, or even episodic stories. And it rarely lives up to whatever potential is promised by its fans and promotional material.
What we got was a fairly B-tier action drama with a shoehorned romance aspect, which was a step above a lot of action anime coming out at the time. And it’s why it was flooded with so much adoration.
I don’t want to belittle it too much, as I feel the sakuga, art and even OST are all pretty damn good for a 2007 anime. But something about Darker than Black disappointed me.
Pokémon is a frustrating series in many respects.
The mainline series, at least, as Origins, Generations, and Twilight Wings, were all delights. We follow the same protagonist through a linear continuity of events designed in an episodic fashion so you don’t necessarily have to watch every episode.
But because of this, we’re stuck with a fairly unmoving plot that repeats with every generation with minor alterations each time – fairly reflective of the mainline game series, actually.
We’re shown more Pokémon, more people, different regions, and yet have the same constant variable floating through that world, totally stopping the plot from going in new or exciting directions.
There are over a thousand episodes now, too. Meaning if you want to truly experience Ash’s journey, you’re in for a long ride that’s hardly worth it.
10. Tokyo Ghoul
What did they do to you, Tokyo Ghoul? And, why?
The original manga by Sui Ishida is beloved by many due to its portrayal of a boy thrown into a world that tests his morality and axiological functions, pushing him to the brink of humanity and survival.
It’s well written, beautifully illustrated, and somehow takes the simple premise to respectable heights.
The first season adaptation by Studio Pierrot was pretty good. It rushed through events, but possessed a beautiful artistic direction and gorgeous score.
Then, for reasons unknown, they released a sequel with worsened production that deviated from the main plot.
Then, they had the audacity to pretend that didn’t happen and continue the main continuity based on a chimera of the original plot and their bastardization. It gets progressively uglier in every way.
Pierrot had a cash cow on their hands, and they mutilated it.
9. Sword Art Online
What is there to say about Sword Art Online that hasn’t been extensively covered in four-hour YouTube videos?
It features tentacle stuff in every arc. It’s got a Gary Stu protagonist who constantly enraptures the heart of every woman around him, despite his major lacking of personality.
Kirito is rewarded fanatically for being obsessed with nothing but gaming. And it features a side cast of consistently annoying characters.
The animation and sound direction is good, of course. But outside of that you won’t find much that encapsulates on the promised concept outside of the first couple of episodes. A good beginning that never lives up to its hype.
The first few arcs of Bleach are some of the best anime shounen has to offer.
The soul society arc in particular features stellar character build up and worldbuilding. That isn’t to mention the incredible soundtrack maintained throughout its 366-episode run.
However, Tite Kubo’s shounen hit suffers from poor planning and repetition of ideas and concepts that’s harmed even more by the filler content unique to the anime.
Even with all this, it’s still got a lot of heart. And is trashed on far too much.
But it’s also one of the highest grossing anime out there, and it lived rent-free in the heads of anime fans for nearly a decade despite all those flaws.
So, this is specifically about Clannad the first season, and not After Story – though its sequel does share some of its predecessor’s flaws.
From rather contrived supernatural elements to a snail’s pace, the first Clannad feels like it’s always trying to avoid tackling a lot of the issues it brings up in favor of tear-jerking melodrama.
This is improved substantially in After Story, but it can’t be ignored in Clannad.
Pair this with the seen-before school setting and rather disgusting art style (at times) conjures up a particular tediousness when watching, but maybe that’s just me.
I appreciate it and its sequel. I just wish they had been done a bit differently, and I don’t feel the universal praise thrown upon it feels fair without some needed critique.
6. Black Butler
Black Butler season one and two are awful. They dilute the Victorian gothic mystery thriller elements of the manga down into a Yaoi-baiting morally questionable anime with mistimed and awkward comedic elements.
This is substantially fixed in Book of Circus, Murder, and Atlanta, but we cannot ignore the awfulness of the first two seasons that launched it into the public consciousness.
It has some incredibly awkward shots and animated moments, and outside of the openings boasts a pretty poor initial OST.
It’s good they went back and attempted to fix up the premise with the Book series. But those first two seasons definitely leave a sour taste.
5. Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?
With a name like that, what were you really expecting?
DanMachi came out at the beginning of the Isekai hype, when people were increasingly growing bored with the stale formula of the genre.
DanMachi offered – and succeeded in bringing – a slightly altered take, that ultimately disappointed me in every conceivable way. From the character design, world design, and combat, all through to the plot progression and cringeworthy dialogue, DanMachi is a series with little potential that keeps giving.
I would genuinely recommend Sword Art Online over this.
4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Hear me out. When I was first getting into anime over a decade ago, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was among the first to be recommended to me.
I held of watching it for a few years, sure it’d be a hit in my head that I’d absolutely love.
No, that isn’t what happened. Ignoring the second season (where 8 of the 14 episodes are near enough identical), the first season still exemplifies the done-before tropes of the Light Novel industry without massively innovating.
It’s got needless fan service, whining characters, and irritating plot progressions that are only saved by its leading man and main protagonist, Kyon.
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya was good. But ot relies on you having seen the previous 28 episodes of mostly mundane nonsense to appreciate. There are some themes I enjoy, but it’s really not enough.
3. Kantai Collection: KanColle
So, KanColle is a perfect reflection of contemporary anime.
It’s an extension of gacha gaming, taking literal battleships and personifying them as cute moe anime girls for you to collect and read doujinshi of.
Outside of this, it’s a vapid and systematically anime that blew up in 2015 and has somehow maintained a fanbase half-a-decade later.
From the generic opening song evocative of every-other-anime to the headache-inducing contrivance of the plot that’s only there to showcase waifus, KanColle was a bad experience for me.
The Fate franchise is out of control.
Only a decade ago, you basically had Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero to contend to (alongside Prisma Illya, if you want that).
Now you’ve got a remake of Unlimited Blade Works, Apocrypha, Heaven’s Feel, Grand Order, EXTRA Last Encore, Lord El-Mellio, and more on the way.
This isn’t including the other anime in the Type Moon franchise, like Kara no Kyoukai, for instance, nor all the countless games (mostly smartphone) that aims to suck your wallet of every dime.
It’s already hard to keep up with and is only getting bigger. Even then, the seen-before battle royal narrative isn’t outstanding, and it only achieved true critical acclaim with the Ufotable adaptations.
1. Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied is a nihilistically edgy, senselessly stupid, and comedically unfunny anime that somehow convinced millions into believing it was saying something deep.
Every time the protagonist Lucy said ‘meow/nya’ I wanted to commit seppuku.
It’s got standard and bland animation, even for 2004, and a boring soundtrack outside of the opening ‘Lithium’, which is the best part of the entire experience to be fair.
Were it not for the bloody and shocking first ten minutes, and later moments of relentless edge, it would not have gone down as well as it has.
It’s not philosophically complex, it’s not wholly original or unique; it’s an amalgam of tropes and conventions from the medium condensed into a 13-episode unfinished experience that only gets worse in the manga.