5 Bad Anime Sequels

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It’s been an extremely generous past few seasons in terms of anime sequels. While some of them (Free!, Sword Art Online, Aldnoah.Zero) were entirely expected, the announcement of others (Mushishi, Durarara!!) came as pleasant surprises. To their credit, many of these sequels have been relatively well-received by the fan community, although there have also been a number of them, both recent and not-so-recent, that haven’t gone down nearly as well. There’s certainly plenty to choose from in this department, but I’ve attempted to restrain myself by going over only the five worst to have darkened my screen to date – counting down from bad to downright awful.

First though, a few dishonourable mentions to get the party started: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, Black Butler II (but hey, at least Book of Circus made up for that one), Magi: The Kingdom of Magic.

5. Eureka Seven AO

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Ooooh dear. I’m having trouble knowing exactly where to start with this one. See, I don’t just like the original Eureka Seven series – I adore it. And I’ll come clean and say that I don’t believe AO is a terrible series as much as it is just terribly mediocre… which in a way is almost worse than the alternative; I’d perhaps have felt less let-down with an outrageously bad sequel than such a blatantly average one. In hindsight, perhaps my expectations were simply too high. What I wanted was everything I got the first time around – a vibrant cast with plenty of character development, an awesome soundtrack, and a slow but steady build-up to a compelling main narrative. What I see here is a serviceable but mostly watered-down group of main characters, a fine but largely unmemorable selection of music, and a story that tries hard but mainly feels convoluted and messy. Many of the ingredients necessary to make a decent enough series are there – including some lovely visuals for one – but very little seems mixed together properly. The biggest problem with AO isn’t that it’s a god-awful show – it’s that it’s an uneven and half-assed sequel to an outstanding original.

 4. Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino

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There’s a very special kind of hell reserved for people who take an initially tasteful, thoughtful, and emotionally impactful show and then proceed to moe-fy the hell out of it. I’m instinctively wary of any anime that goes for a direct sequel and completely changes the art style on a whim, but when I see restrained and understatedly elegant character designs suddenly become cutesy and sparkly-eyed tween versions of themselves, I just know something has gone terribly wrong. Many viewers of the original series criticise the slow pacing and unresolved narrative elements of Gunslinger Girl, and I can certainly see why, but Il Teatrino takes all that’s actually good about the title – the sophisticated characterisation, the subtle atmosphere, the weighty moral themes surrounding the story – and turns it into a badly animated, poorly executed, and embarrassingly schoolgirlish spectacle. It basically becomes what I initially thought the first series would be like based solely on the name and the plot synopsis: lolis with guns, and little else.

3. Psycho-Pass 2

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This is exactly the sort of mess that happens when the staff changes hands for the follow-up season. Ubukata Tow replaced Urobuchi ‘The Urobutcher’ Gen as head writer for the sequel to one of the best original anime works this side of 2010, but made a far bigger hash of it than I believe Urobuchi ever would have. Granted, the first Psycho-Pass isn’t exactly what I’d call subtle – it’s violent, gritty, and some might even say sensationalist in its methods. However, it also establishes a solid dystopian universe and an intriguing cast of characters; I can forgive the occasional unnecessary showiness in exchange for a decent cyberpunk story. Psycho-Pass 2, meanwhile, features truly ridiculous amounts of gore and ‘sexy’ action sequences that seem calculated purely for shock value, and meanwhile all the careful world-building of season one is thrown out the window. Character development is negligible, if it can be said to exist at all, and eventually even the plot itself ceases to make much sense. It’s a shame the series has to be dragged through the gutter like this – such a waste of potential.

2. Dragon Ball GT

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I’ll be blunt: I’ve never been a big fan of Dragon Ball Z. I watched the show back when it was on TV at home in dub format for probably exactly the same reasons that so many others did – it was one of the only anime available at the time (because who here remembers the joys of dialup internet?), and also because it was vastly entertaining to poke fun at. But you know what, I actually have quite a bit of respect for the franchise. It may not be my cup of tea, but I don’t deny either its historical significance or its cultural achievements. That said, Dragon Ball GT really is a bunch of crap that everyone could have done without. A complete lack of originality kills just about any charm that this series may once have had; it’s 64 episodes of pure drudgery that simply rehashes many of the same plot devices and scenarios from both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, only with none of the soul and all of the cringe factor. It’s also painfully obvious that the show was created for the sole purpose of attempting to squeeze more money from an already completed story – and really, is there anything more damning I could say than that?

1. Orphen: Revenge

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I’ll be the first to admit that in a lot of ways, the first Orphen anime series isn’t exactly stellar. The animation quality is unabashedly poor, the artwork is inconsistent, and the background music is of the canned synthesizer variety. Still, I loved the show when I first watched it and still do today despite its obvious flaws – it was one of the very first ‘adult’ anime shows I ever watched, and the heart of story is both genuinely interesting and competently executed. The sequel… well. If anything, the production values in Orphen: Revenge actually take a turn for the worse, but more importantly, so does absolutely everything else. Overrun by pointless filler, bogged down by comic relief characters who are no longer funny (assuming they ever were), and dependent on its shoe-horned villains for any semblance of plot, Revenge does a pretty good job of completely debasing everything that the original Orphen has going for it. Not even for purely nostalgic reasons should you watch this. Or rather, especially for those reasons – because unfortunately, I can say with no exaggeration whatsoever that this is the single most disappointing anime sequel I’ve seen to date.

Question of the post: What’s the worst anime sequel you’ve seen to date? Are there any anime sequels you’ve flat-out refused to watch for fear of crushing disappointment?

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32 thoughts on “5 Bad Anime Sequels

  1. – Gunslinger II was still great–granted the animation took a jarring turn for the worse, but IMO it was still as heart wrenching (in a good storytelling way). That’s the first anime that ever made me look up the manga to see what happened (oh, dear, it doesn’t get any happier does it?). If it’s the moe–sure, but I still thought it was a good anime.

    – A pity about psycho-pass 2 as it’s on my too watch list. I liked the world building too, and it was the best depiction of the society of a futuristic world since the Ghost in Shell Series (which I love, and which have aged really well–just rewatched them). I hear Urobuchi is writing the movie?

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    • Chalk it down to me having far less patience for moe than a lot of other people if you’d like, but I just don’t think Gunslinger II was either great or heart-wrenching. It’s far from the worst anime I’ve ever seen, but in comparison to the first anime series, I maintain that the sequel is pretty awful.

      Yup, I believe Urobuchi is in charge of the movie. I’ll probably watch it at some point just to satisfy my curiosity, but it’s supposed to be a direct sequel to the second season, so I’m not sure how much I can get behind it, even if it doesn’t turn out to be as bad.

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  2. Man, AO holds a special place in my heart of the first time I felt someone had taken something dear to me and completely soiled it. It’s an outrage I rarely feel for fiction, but the writing was so terrible I just couldn’t stand it.

    As for my #2, the second season of Nodame Cantabile was absolutely insulting to anyone who watched the first show. All the character and relationship development that happened seemed to get reset for no reason, and thus the show just felt like it was spinning its wheel the whole way through. Only good part was that ending.

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    • I’ve certainly seen worse, but yeah, AO is a serious blight on the original.

      I watched the first season of Nodame Cantabile but not the second. I can’t remember why – maybe I just forgot – but I’m even less likely to go back and watch it now. I’ll stick with the fond memories I have rather than risk feeling that let down.

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  3. Going way back, the worst sequel on my list is Steel Angel Kurumi II. And even though it may be more of a reboot than a sequel, Shin Tenchi Muyo (Tenchi in Tokyo) is equally atrocious. A dishonorable mention goes to Comic Party Revolutoin.

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    • I haven’t seen Steel Angel Kurumi II or Comic Party Revolution, but I’ll certainly agree that Tenchi in Tokyo was terrible. I actually quite enjoyed watching it regardless, but it it’s entertaining in all the worst ways. (And it’s not really a sequel so I didn’t put it here, but I feel like I should also mention the new Ai! Tenchi Muyo, which makes Tenchi in Tokyo look like a work of art by comparison.)

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  4. Eh P-P2 was OK as some episodes were much weaker than they kept in theme w/the focus on Akane’s story. I say the worst sequel was to Darker than Black lol.

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    • I was waiting for someone to say DtB :). I disagree and actually rate it very well–the sense of confusion and the dark change in tone from the original series was great. It’s especially nice if you haven’t seen the OVAs–I don’t get why people recommend seeing the OVAs before the sequel, part of the fun of watching the OVAs is seeing why things in DtB are the way they are. Needed a conclusive ending though.

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      • I still haven’t watched the second season of Darker Than Black, although I enjoyed the original well enough. Not one of my favourite anime titles, but it was a fun ride. If I may ask, what makes the sequel so bad?

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      • I did the sequel then OVAs and I still say it’s bad. It completely ruined an otherwise Good character development but the OST is nice though. I mean, the fight scenes are cool but the story was horrid.

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  5. “All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again. This is not the first time we have destroyed good anime, and we have become exceedingly efficient at it.” – The Anime Architect

    More seriously, are there common patterns that emerge when a sequel turns to carp? Are there ways you can tell “Yep, this is going to be shit.” even in the early stages?

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    • A compelling statement.

      I try not to judge too much before watching anything, and I’ve certainly been surprised before, but yes, there are certain things that’d make me wary of any anime sequel before watching a single episode. A big change of staff (particularly the director and/or chief writer) is one of them, as is a dramatic shift in terms of art style, specifically where the character designs are concerned. The other major factor I can think of off the top of my head is whether or not the sequel is directly continuing an already-existing story. No doubt there are some exceptions to this rule somewhere out there, but in my experience, if the first series was based on a manga/book/whatever but the sequel is more or less making up it’s own, new story, things tend to go steeply downhill.

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  6. I can’t think of a bad sequel, but a bad first installment was “Fate Stay Night.” It was silly, but the follow-up anime, “Fate Zero,” ironically a prequel, did everything so darn right that “Stay Night” was unwatchable the second time I tried it. And I don’t think “Avatar” is technically anime, but I felt the same thing about its sequel, “The Legend of Korra” as you did about “Eureka Seven OA.” A terribly mediocre (at best) sequel to a great show.

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    • I’m not a fan of the Fate Stay franchise in general, so personally I don’t like any of the anime. I’m inclined to agree with you that the first installment is easily the worst of them though.

      I also agree that The Last Airbender is overall the better series, although I definitely don’t dislike the sequel. In fact, I’d say that the final season of Korra even approaches the awesomeness of the original show – though to be clear, I don’t think anything could ever replace its place in my heart, no matter how good.

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  7. I think there’s a special place in anime sequel history for both Macross II and Bubblegum Crash.

    The former was OFFICIALLY declared to be a Highlander 2 by the studio that owned the franchise: it never happened, nothing to see here, move along.

    As for the latter, its traditional to review THAT by observing through gritted teeth “And it DID, didn’t it?”

    🙂

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  8. From that list, I definitely agree with Psycho-Pass and Dragon Ball GT, though I’m not too sure about Gunslinger Girl, the sequel definitely felt inferior to me but I don’t remember it being THAT bad xD Didn’t watch the others.

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    • I’ll admit to perhaps getting a little over-zealous there with my disdain for the Gunslinger Girl sequel. I guess I just feel that the anime deserved a much better sequel than it got, and also that moe more or less ruined for me what I think was a very thoughtful and in some ways quite artistic show.

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  9. Il Teatrino, which I haven’t watched, is an interesting case, because I know not everyone feels as you do about it. Or rather, everyone feels as you do about what you mentioned, which are the visuals, but I know that in terms of plot and themes, not everyone feels as if it betrayed the first season (which I’ve watched and liked quite a bit).

    Hm, worst sequel? I’m going to vote for Chuunibyou Ren. Why is it so terrible? Not because the show was bad, it actually wasn’t. It’s just that the finale of the first season basically promised us something, which the second season did its all to not give us, only to end on the same spot the first ended, and promise it all over again… that’s not bad, that’s rude.

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    • Yes, that’s true – I know a few people on my own blog feed alone who feel pretty much the opposite about what I’ve said regarding Gunslinger Girl and its sequel, and I don’t doubt there are plenty of others out there. Still, this post is mostly about what I feel, so I didn’t want to go easy on it simply because readers might not agree with me. I’m satisfied in that I’ve made my points without having to dedicate a whole in-depth debate post to the topic, although who knows, I may be inspired do just that some other time.

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  10. Dragon Ball GT was meh. I liked it for the Super Saiyan 4 transformations. I felt that it was Dragon Ball again, because throughout the series Goku was a kid again and collecting the Dragon Balls. I also found out that Akira Toriyama was not involved with GT while back.

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  11. Personally, I felt that Dragon Ball GT didn’t feel like Z probably because the characters that were involved was Goku, Pan, and Trunks. Both Z and the original had people involved.

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  12. I haven’t seen any of the sequels you’ve mentioned in this post, though I did get through half of AO before dropping it… and, I do plan to watch Psycho-Pass 2 one of these days… I also had no idea there was a sequel to Gunslinger Girls! Though, your review of it hardly makes me want to check it out!

    When I think of terrible sequels, one that come to mind is Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam… I loved the original Last Exile with it’s wonderful world building, gradually building plot, and interesting characters, so it was really too bad that Ginyoku no Fam turned out to be a total mess with a bad story, boring characters, and a general waste of potential.

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    • Yeah, I’m not a fan of Ginyoku no Fam either. I don’t think it’s absolutely terrible (I mean, it can’t have been that bad if I managed to make it through the whole thing), but it certainly doesn’t live up to the original show. You’re right – most of the characters are pretty bland, and the story, at least by the end, becomes quite messy. I doubt I’ll ever watch the sequel again, but the first Last Exile is a total classic.

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  13. Though Gundam Seed is my favorite anime of all time, the follow-up Destiny left much to be desired for my tastes, and yet as much as I was disappointed, I can’t exactly pinpoint any one specific thing I didn’t like about it. Thanks so much for liking my Persepolis review! =) I just KNEW this would be something you would enjoy!

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    • It’s been so long since I’ve watched Seed that I don’t really recall what I thought of it or its sequel. Now that you mention Gundam though, I do recall quite enjoying the first season of 00 but getting mostly bored by the second one.

      You’re very welcome!

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  14. You might as well add Dragon Ball Super to that list now as well.

    Especially with that Tasteless Trunks(12 year old boy), and Mai(40 something year old woman) pairing they’re pushing as a major plot element against all logic, and audience disgust.

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    • I never watched any of Dragon Ball Super and I never intend to – everything I’ve seen or heard to do with it is pretty awful. Definitely not surprised that it’d make the top worst anime list for other viewers.

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