Sometimes, don’t you just want to whirl around in a frenzied spasm of destructive fury, spewing forth flames and shrapnel, igniting your surroundings in a conflagration of righteous rage? No? Has 2020 already made you numb? Let the writers of rekindle the fire in your soul as we remember the anime that made us shudder with indignation. When you care about an entertainment medium as much as we do, the act of watching can trigger strong positive and negative emotions.
Last time, we wept about The Anime That Made Us Cry. Having expunged our sadness, join us as we plunge deep into the well of our collective ire, aspiring to keep our feelings alive through the pandemic’s numbing tendrils of ennui. Some anime made… us… so… angry… Defining and exploring emotions in a safe, controlled manner can have profound therapeutic benefits. Though some of us just want to watch the world burn.
NOTE: DUE TO THE NATURE OF THIS ARTICLE, THE FOLLOWING ENTRIES WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THEIR RESPECTIVE SERIES.
Fire Force: by Dark Aether
Spoiler-free Synopsis: After the Great Disaster set much of the world ablaze, a new phenomenon threatens the remaining population. As humans suddenly begin to transform into living flame creatures called “Infernals,” a group of Fire Soldiers are assembled to fight back against this threat and uncover the mystery behind the rise in spontaneous human combustion cases.
Type Of Offense Caused: Misogynistic, Poorly Timed Fanservice, Lifetime Achievement Award for Most “Shonen Done Wrong” In A Single Pair of Episodes
Why It Made Me Angry: I’m not sure if I’ve publicly disclosed this before, but if you’ve been following some of my recent writings, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Fire Force. The first season was a promising show held back by its outdated depictions of shonen tropes, rushed pacing, and not a whole lot of characterization for its major players. Worst still, its distasteful depiction of sexualized violence through its mistreatment of its female cast members left something of a black stain despite the much improved second season. Even if the series overcomes its problems, the first season’s eighth and ninth episodes will forever be etched into my mind as the best and worst of Fire Force in one of the most frustrating moments of the season, if not the series thus far.
After coming to the realization that a traitor is lurking among Company 1, Shinra, Arthur, and Karim deduce that Rekka is the culprit. Elsewhere, Tamaki and Rekka meet at an abandoned building where the latter promises to provide protection for a group of children, though Tamaki is unaware Rekka is experimenting on people and turning them into Infernals for a “greater purpose.” Following the turncoat reveal, Rekka shows his hand and knocks Tamaki out. Still reeling from the betrayal, a helpless Tamaki is physically beaten until Shinra literally crashes onto the scene with a midair kick. Despite regressing to a damsel in distress, the show decided to throw further insult along with injury by stripping Tamaki down and having her repeatedly groped in what should be a serious confrontation. It’s such a baffling contradiction of tone and betrays whatever emotionality it built within the episode for the sake of some crude and unfunny fanservice.
What bothers me most about this scene is how quick its defenders are to separate the show’s fanservice issues and portrayal of its female cast from the story because it might negatively impact their overall perception of the series. While shonen has always had a very tricky history in regards to heroines, and one could argue Fire Force is no different, many of those counterpoints rely heavily on the notion that the title still exists in the same context as 90s/mid 2000s shows. It’s true that previously successful shonen haven’t always treated their extended cast equitably, and some series even sell themselves on fanservice to this day, but the genre has seen such a massive shift in the status quo that the idea of a “traditional shonen” is far gone given the breadth and scope of the stories being told today.
In the case of Fire Force, it’s actively playing with fire through its misogynistic treatment of its female cast. Though I won’t shame anyone for liking the show, it’s leaning dangerously close to the idea that “ women can’t sell “ in pop culture, maintaining a “” mentality to the genre and, quite frankly, shows a lack of confidence if the story can’t work or sell without it. For that, it earns my ire.
Darling in the Franxx: by Doctorkev
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In the distant future, mankind’s post-apocalyptic survivors subsist in massive mobile domed cities that roam a ruined Earth. Under constant attack from enormous “Klaxosaurs”, only the “Parasites” — child pilots who pilot massive anthropomorphic robots called “Franxx” — stand between humanity and extinction.
Type Of Offence Caused: wasted potential, incoherent ideology, lazy storytelling
Why It Made Me Angry: For the entire Winter 2018 season, the A1 Pictures/Studio Trigger collaboration Darling in the Franxx was my first-to-watch anime of each week. It looked great, with fantastic use of vibrant colour, eye-popping giant robot/kaiju action scenes that channeled Neon Genesis Evangelion, and with an unusual dystopian setting that set up what seemed to be an interesting take on sexual politics and reproductive ethics. On-the-nose references like the use of “pistils and stamens” to refer to the exclusively male-female pilot couples who rode in their cockpits “doggy style” were part of the ridiculous fun. Darling posited a future where humanity had progressed past the natural desire to procreate and children functioned only as disposable soldiers, kept ignorant of their biological urges and development.
All the best dystopian and science fiction has something profound to say about the society from the period in which it was written. I especially like works that explore exotic ideas about sex and gender. Think of groundbreaking classics like The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, Houston, Houston, Do You Read? by James Tiptree Jr. or Lillith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler. Darling in the Franxx so badly wants to emulate these narratives but crashes and burns in its second half. Having spent so long establishing characters and drip-feeding its world-building, it comes to a stunning emotional climax at the end of episode fifteen… and then keeps going for another nine episodes that drive narrative and ideological coherence into the dirt.
Picture the famous meme of the crazy-haired History Channel dude: “I’m not saying it was aliens… but it was aliens” and you’ll understand my frustration. Despite an entire episode-length flashback that shamelessly rips off Neon Genesis Evangelion ‘s equivalent episode, the admittedly fascinating explanation for the state of the world ultimately does nothing but muddle the thematic consistency of the show. For an anime full of references to gender theory, it utterly disregards them in service of a dumb “fight the heretofore unmentioned alien enemies”. Yes, I know their existence was previously teased, but foreshadowing does NOT equal good, thematically consistent storytelling.
When the reviews on Anime News Network (and the subsequent comments from users) become more entertaining than the show itself, there is a problem with the show. The reviewers tended to get very upset at the notion that here was a show that dared to upset widely-adopted (in the West) left-wing liberal sexual/gender politics by apparently suggesting that young men and women should get busy and get breeding, rather than embracing all manner of other potential sexualies and gender mash-ups. They gave this show too much credit. This was not the work of then-Japanese-premier Shinzo Abe and his drive to get his people to breed, dammit! Hell, if they’d fully committed and gone “Full Abe” with the right-wing conservative ideology, I’d be there with the popcorn, watching the world burn itself down over a ridiculous cartoon. But as it was, the ideology was empty, Darling in the Franxx had nothing new (or old) or even controversial to say. I wanted it to be something I could scream at in ways other than in frustration. What a waste of time. It wasn’t even offensive enough for me to be angry about, and that’s why I’m angry.
Bleach: by Hip Hip Jorge — Jorge Sam
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Bleach follows the adventures of a hotheaded red-haired boy, Ichigo Kurosaki, who obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper — a personification akin to Death or the Grim Reaper — from another Soul Reaper, Rukia Kuchiki. There are also vampires, talking cats, gummy-ball souls-filled living dolls, and bankai!
Type Of Offense Caused: Filler.. seasons!
Why It Made Me Angry: There are a myriad of takes on why Bleach deserves a spot on this list: a terrible and lackluster ending, not living up to its promise, fan-service (Tite loves titties, go figure), etc., etc. These are all accurate and acceptable answers to what Bleach did wrong, but there is one reason above all others that causes my blood to boil. Allow me first, however, to state what Bleach did right, which is important for understanding my anger, which is brought on by my passion.
To start, there is great humor throughout the series (on a scale of 1 to Gintama, Bleach is about a 7 ½). The character design is top-notch, unsurprisingly since Tite Kubo is a master at that. Then there is the music. Bleach has one of the most iconic musical scores in anime history. For me, it’s nostalgia-suffused perfection, composed by the wonderful award-winning Shirō Sagisu, who also worked on Neon Genesis Evangelion. While it is very much of its early-2000’s era, the heavy rock music matches the series perfectly. Also, some of my favorite openings and endings derive from Bleach (I still listen to “Rolling Star”). Later in the series, some wonderful spanish guitar music is displayed as well during the Arrancar (“to tear” in Spanish) and Hueco Mundo (“earth hole”) storylines.
Early on, Bleach also offers a well-written and competent non-cliche Hispanic character along with its Spanish-infused story arcs. As a Cuban-American, we Hispanics rarely if ever have properly portrayed characters that are not over-the-top, white-written stereotypes- so we’ll take what we can get. Yasutora Sado, or Chad as he likes to be called, is a half-Japanese, half-Mexican character, and Ichigo’s best friend. Sure he becomes fairly useless later on, but at least he loves his abuelo!
What started out as a very promising shonen, Bleach never lived up to what the first two seasons gave us — but what an impact those first two seasons had. I will argue that up to the end of the Soul Society: The Rescue Arc, Bleach was building up to something truly special, and if it just ended after this, it could have been regarded differently. But alas, this is where Bleach begins to overstay its welcome, bestowing upon us not only filler episodes, but the start of filler seasons and the root of my anger.
The Bount Arc has little to nothing to do with the main premise, throwing a convoluted story with vampires ( vampires?) at you after two amazing initial seasons. What is more egregious and anger-inducing is the Zanpakuto filler arc thrown in during the climax of the Arrancar arc (to “tear” my hair out, if I still had any). Watching this before I had a trusty “how to watch Bleach without fillers” article, I (seethed) sat through the majority of this arc confused as to why in the hell verse are we here now and not in Hueco Mundo! It was so bad I dropped the series, never getting to Ichigo’s climactic fight with the real villain *spoiler-alert* Sōsuke Aizen. I would have much preferred a Hunter x Hunter-length hiatus compared to what Bleach fans were force-fed.
So, just re-watch the first two seasons of Bleach (like I have countless times) and forget the other stuff (like convoluted family trees, Ichigo’s limitless supply of new powers, or anything Quincy related). I am, however, absolutely looking forward to Burn the Witch, and maybe now that Thousand Year Blood War is green-lit for animation I’ll get around to finishing the series.. or maybe not.
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers by TGRIP
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In order to defeat the looming threat of The Demon God, six warriors are chosen by The Goddess of Fate to become Braves of the Six Flowers. When they meet up however, there are seven people with the holy mark present, meaning that there’s an imposter among them…
Type Of Offense Caused: Rage inducing ending that’s on par with the series finale to Game of Thrones
Why It Made Me Angry: Rokka starts out on a pretty good foot, with a unique setting inspired by Inca and Aztec cultures, a protagonist who embodies dumb fun, and a premise that promises a fun adventure series that could have plenty of well-animated action . The episodes after the first keep this hope going by introducing the other members of the core cast and world-building by showing a village that’s been decimated by the forces of the Demon God. [sighs] And then everything comes to a screeching halt when the show decides that it wants to be a detective story instead.
It took me a while to realize that this was what the show wanted to do, due to being such a tonal shift and a pace-killer. While I did come to accept that this is the show’s desired direction, it didn’t fix the problems that came up in its wake, which were its characters being unlikable goddamn idiots, and the writing bending over backwards to justify its twists. After twelve episodes, though, the imposter is finally sussed out, the “heroes” can finally move on… and then a whole new “Brave” shows up out of nowhere, and asks why there are seven people there. After they’d already found out who the imposter was.
There are endings that can make entire shows feel terrible when you think back on themt, but Rokka is legendary in that one scene, one line, at the literal last minute, can make the past twelve episodes feel like a complete waste of time. Its placement almost feels intentional, as if the show was teasing you all the way through, and then punches you in the throat as it made its way out the door. I know saying “I raged-quit right when the credits started rolling” sounds hollow, but it’s no less hollow than this show’s resolution, and I honest-to-god cannot think of any other anime that made me spontaneously recreate this scene from the Simpsons. I’m pretty sure it’s not the worst anime I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the few that gives me a hate boner at the mere mention of it. The only good thing about Rokka is that the ending is so bad that I sleep better at night knowing that a second season will never happen, which remains the best decision Studio Passione’s ever made.
Bokurano: Ours: by DilKokoro
Spoiler-free Synopsis: It is difficult to give a spoiler-free synopsis of this show since it relies so heavily on a spoiler-heavy element. Bokurano: Ours is a mecha show that follows a group of children as they defend Earth. These children face the hardships of their own respective lives amidst their conflict with unknown entities. Soul crushing twists happen.
Type Of Offense Caused: Lowbrow dread, heinous harm to children, distasteful writing, cheap premise that feigns depth despite hiding behind a surface-level plot
Why It Made Me Angry: This has been the most difficult thing for me to write in a long time (maybe even ever). There is the normal “ha ha funny anime writer get big mad at anime” kind of “mad”, but then there is something that leaves a knot in your stomach. Something so disgusting that its existence angers you. While this will not affect everyone the same way, I find Bokurano: Ours to be the single most offensive anime I have ever seen.
Getting into spoilers, this anime revolves around the premise that children have to sacrifice themselves to pilot a giant robot. This alone is already a really difficult thing to watch and try to extract any bit of “entertainment” from, but then it gets far worse. Between these sacrificial fights, the show offers a look into the next pilot’s life. Some are blessed and fortunate (which is supposed to make them dying feel sadder), or they might live incredibly troubled lives and are looking for answers to their situations. No matter which way you dice it, they still die.
Unquestionably, there is one particular story that left me appalled. I struggle to even write about it, it makes me that frustrated. One of the girls, as we find out, is seduced by her own teacher and… well yeah. After this, she finds out that her sister had been sleeping with the teacher the whole time. Let’s not escape from how incredibly messed up the relationship with a teacher is here, since this is still very much a young child. This was in an anime, and when I asked around about this scene, the only response I really got was “oh yeah that was fucked up…but the show was good!”
That’s not okay. Not at all. It was here I walked away from the anime for quite some time. One of my friends convinced me to try to watch it (he told me, “trust me it is worth it in the end”), but after watching a boy who is the head of his busy household of siblings and a cheery girl expecting the birth of her little brother die, I was well past my limit. This isn’t entertaining, it isn’t some profound cynical commentary on humanity, and it isn’t a good anime. It is just cheap exploitation for the shock value and to win people over by how hard they go “oh man that was so screwed up wasn’t it?!” There are thousands of other entertainment options out there, please indulge a goodone instead of this offensive garbage.
Carole & Tuesday: by Arcane
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: The young daughter of a rising and wealthy politician runs away to live in the city on her own, and meets the struggling musician Carole. Together, can they make it in the most cutthroat industry out there?
Type Of Offense Caused: Embarrassing mishandling of an explicit political message.
Why It Made Me Angry: For a show created, written and directed by one of the most legendary figures in the anime industry, Carole & Tuesday’s first half is… fine. It’s a pretty standard American Idol ripoff with a couple catchy tunes and memes thrown in. If it had just ended with the first part, I probably would have given it a 7/10 for a few memorable characters and incredibly strong visuals.
Then, in the second half, the show jumps into a political rabbit hole that it cannot navigate and splatters on the ground like a pancake at the bottom.
The second half introduces the very Trump-esque Valerie Simmons, Tuesday’s mother, and her run in the Martian presidential election. She is running on an obviously racist pro-deportation, anti-refugee platform, and the entire plotline is clearly a take on the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The drama escalates, Valerie becomes more and more of a strawman for her beliefs, and, in the end, the story very heavily implies that she loses the election and racism is now over forever… because all of the Mars Brightest contestants got together for a vaguely inspirational charity single. Only famous people can save the world.
This entire political plot is so half-baked that, in the entire arc, Carole and Tuesday never once have a conversation about how Tuesday’s mom is trying to deport refugees from Earth — and Carole herself is a refugee. I contemplated dropping the show multiple times, but I had to know if it was going to continue spiraling headfirst into the dumbest and most dangerous political ideology that it could have mustered. Carole and Tuesday tell us that people are stupid, artists are smart, and racism can be pinned entirely on one bad person rather than being one of the founding concepts of modern society. What bullshit.
Diabolik Lovers: by Aoi Yamamoto
Spoiler-free synopsis: A young woman is sent by her father to live in a mysterious mansion that’s owned and ran by six brothers. What she doesn’t know is that the brothers are a family of vampires, and she was chosen to be their “sacrificial bride.”
Type Of Offense Caused: Misogyny. Lots of misogyny.
Why It Made Me Angry: First, a little confession: I like otome games sometimes. It’s a good distraction from reality when you just want to get into some Bachelor- type fun. I also like vampire shows and books. So when I first saw that this was airing a few years back, the art and the story appealed to me. I decided to check it out.
Boy, was I in for a ride.
To begin, our heroine is assaulted and bitten by at least three vampires per episode, yet she remains fine. She also is as smart as a box of rocks and doesn’t realize that those handsome boys that she keeps running into at this mansion intend to kill and torment her. Each brother is a flavor of Misogyny; Are you into sadists? We got that. Rape? Plenty of that, too. Get turned on by psychopaths? Why- look at the cute younger brother stabbing his teddy bear that he lugs around! Of course the main love interest is the most problematic one, nearly drowning our heroine at one point. Only one of the brothers tries to help her and give her a way out, but Yui is unaware to realize it. She spends most episodes playing helpless and screaming.
I made halfway through the series before I quit. The episode that finally tested my patience was hearing the fedora wearing brother (the sadist. Yes, someone took their inspo from MRA sites) calling our MC “Bitch-chan” one too many times. Maybe Yui runs away and kills all of the brothers in the end, though they did make a second season of this crap so I’m guessing not. There’s also some incest in this as well!
So for those who miss Fifty Shades of Grey and want something similar to watch…. just go rent or buy some hentai. Or find some porn. I’m not one to get offended easily, especially when it comes to anime, but man… this show made me want to bleach my eyes. It’s a shame really, because the animation and colors are fine and colorful.
There. Don’t you feel so much better after being washed in the flow of fresh, unfiltered bile? Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below. What anime drove you to distraction? Which show made you grind your teeth into dust? Share your pain and the anger with us. You know you want to.
Thanks to all of our esteemed contributors (in alphabetical order): AoiYamamoto, Arcane, Dark Aether, DilKokoro, Doctorkev, Hip Hip Jorge and TGRIP.
Thanks also to Stanlick for his impressively symmetrical header image skills. Finally, a big thanks to vicious and uncompromising editor extraordinaire TheMamaLuigi without whose rending, tearing and gnashing of teeth this whole enterprise would have been so much less… readable.
Join us at some unspecified point in the near future when we convene again to wail about More Anime That Made Us Cry…
You’re reading AniTAY, a non-professional blog whose writers love everything anime related. To join in on the fun, check out our website, visit our official subreddit, follow us on Twitter, or give us a like on our Facebook page.
Originally published at https://anitay.kinja.com on October 2, 2020.