Popular Anime of 2015 I Didn’t Like

yuri kuma arashi
While I never do my annual anime wrap-up around this time (I save that for spring, since there tend to be less ongoing shows and because, at least in my head, it makes way more sense to count anime by season rather than by year), I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the most popular anime of 2015 that I couldn’t bring myself to like.

See, although I don’t think my taste differs all that wildly from what the majority of other anime bloggers tend to label as ‘best’ and/or ‘trash’ (I’m just not alternative enough to be that cool, I guess), there are always at least a few titles released each year that a ton of people end up raving about, but that I just can’t seem to get into. This post is about them.

Oh, and I shouldn’t really need to point this out but just in case: I’m not bashing anyone else’s choices here. If you watched and liked any of these (and I’m guessing most readers did at least one), good for you. Incidentally, none of the below anime are what I’d call bad. In fact, they’re not even anime I hate – just anime I didn’t like. Big difference.

Yuri Kuma Arashi (Winter)

yuri kuma arashi

Okay, so I tried really, really hard to like a show about lesbian bears. Now there’s a sentence I never imagined I’d be saying before 2015. Truly though, I did give this one my best shot – I watched the whole series and strived valiantly to withhold my judgment until I’d finished up. But here’s the thing: I truly believe in my heart of hearts that if almost anyone aside from Ikuhara Kunihiko had been behind this series, a lot of those same people who loved it would have called it a travesty. I have absolutely nothing against perky breasts, copious amounts of nibbling/licking, and whatever other myriad of sexual imagery was involved in Yuri Kuma Arashi, but there were some pretty fundamental questions I was asking myself after the first few episodes minutes of this. Chief among them: at what point does heavy symbolism become pretentious and/or nonsensical, and where do I want to draw the line between what I consider genuine social commentary and metaphors that exist solely for the sake of being seen as trippy or ‘highbrow’ entertainment? In both cases, Yuri Kuma Arashi fell on the wrong side of the argument as far as I was concerned. Did it look good doing so? Sure. Did it make me once or twice? Indeed it did. Did I find that ED sequence utterly adorable? Absolutely. Unfortunately, that’s where most of the positives ended for me.

Hibike! Euphonium (Spring)

hibike euphonium

I’ll admit right here that I watched… I think only two episodes of this one? I know I could have watched more if I’d forced myself to do so, and maybe I even should have, but at some point I’ve got to call it quits and move onto a show that I actually stand a better chance of enjoying. And frankly, Hibike! Euphonium started annoying me right off the bat. I’ll get the major positive out of the way first – this show looks great. Better than great; it looks fantastic, just like almost everything else Kyoto Animation produces. And in general, I don’t dislike KyoAni – Hyouka is still one of my favourite anime of all time, in fact, and I also enjoyed the heck out of Free! and even the first season of K-On! back in the day. No, my main problem is that I wanted a show about music, and what I got was a show about girls in short skirts with gratingly high-pitched voices who are (allegedly) interested in music. Now I have it on good report that Hibike! Euphonium eventually became more a show about music, and that it even had some great character development and compelling interpersonal relationships going on – but I’m going to have to take peoples’ word on that because honestly, what I saw of the characters annoyed the crap out of me. I wanted to look past this, just like I wanted to look past all those close-up thigh shots (good lord the camera just could not keep away from their legs in this show), but in the end I simply couldn’t. If that’s my loss, then so be it.

Rokka no Yuusha (Summer)

rokka no yuusha

I have no idea what happens in this show’s second half because I gave up before I could get there. There were definitely a few things I liked – some very cool character designs, and a wonderfully unique Aztec-inspired setting, for starters – but holy crap was Rokka no Yuusha ever fond of awkwardly shoe-horned exposition. It sometimes seemed like literally half the episode was dedicated to nothing but this, broken up only by the sight of someone’s hefty cleavage as they dutifully explained things to other characters so that they (and the audience) might better understand the intricacies of what was going on… in excruciating detail. And no, the fanservice did not endear me to Rokka either, because a) I have little patience for fanservice of that nature anyway, and b) said cleavage shots were about as awkward as the exposition, so instead of being less distracted by one aspect of the series I was doubly distracted by two. And not in a good way. It struck me as a huge shame that Rokka’s lovely artwork and promising cultural backdrop took a distant second place to bad dialogue and ridiculous body armour, but I guess not every anime based on a light novel series is destined for greatness after all.

Concrete Revolutio (Fall)

concrete revolutio

I think I can probably be forgiven for double-checking that my cereal had not in fact been liberally spiked with LSD after watching the premiere of Concrete Revolutio. That opening episode was a total clusterfuck, and it took me a while just to figure out if the show was going to be something I’d actually be able to enjoy or not. And to be fair, I didn’t not like it so much as just decide the series wasn’t really my thing. General wackiness doesn’t bother me, and certainly nobody could accuse Concrete Revolutio of lacking in energy or spoon-feeding its audience, but man this thing was erratic. There were masked superheroes and transforming aliens, magical-girls and mecha knight things, all interacting with each other amongst a barrage of loud colours and disordered time skips, and I don’t mind admitting it got to be too much even after I’d (sortof maybe possibly) gotten the hang of what was going on. To its credit, the show did start to feel more cohesive after a while, and by that point the art style was really growing on me as well. I think I might have stuck it out if the delivery had been better, or if there was someone I already trusted with this kind of crazy in the director’s seat like Imaishi Hiroyuki (Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill) or Matsumoto Rie (Kyousougiga, Kekkai Sensen), but in the end I had neither the time nor the patience to keep going with it.

And finally, an honourable (?) mention to One Punch Man. I didn’t end up including it on the main list because I watched a grand total of only one episode, and because I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it at all – well, aside from finding it only mildly amusing at best.

Question of the post: Are there any shows released during 2015 that you didn’t like despite their general popularity? If not, how about shows you did like that very few others seemed to enjoy?

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37 thoughts on “Popular Anime of 2015 I Didn’t Like

  1. I certainly agree with you on each of them, but the more with Rokka no Yuusha. After reading good comments on it, I recently started watching but dropped after 4th episode. It’s understandable to put some fan service here and there, however, I really cannot understand putting only a handful of fabric as ‘armor’ on women who goes on a effin’ journey where she gets to fight or fall of a cliff, sleeps on the ground etc. Leaving every issue concerning feminism and portrayal of a character as a woman aside, it’s not logical. Frequency of exposed cleavage gets certainly disturbing and it cannot be called ‘artistic design of the anime’ because design of the male characters are nothing alike as female ones in the series, not an overall pattern.

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    • Armour in anime tends to annoy me in general since, fanservicey or not, it just never seems to make any sense in terms of logic or practicality. But yes, the fanservice parts especially bugged me – I suspect I’m starting to sound like a broken record with the issue, but it’s not something I can so easily ignore.

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  2. I also dropped Sound! Euphonium around episode 3 for pretty much the same reasons and picked it up after I heard all the buzz around episode 8, which turned out to be probably the best episode of the year. Looking big picture after finishing it I understand why they structured it the way they did, but I do wish they gave more hints early on where they were headed. Being kind of aimless up to episode 5 or 6 makes it a tough sell, which is sad because it turns out to be really good overall.

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    • Yeah, I can think of a few anime that people swear black and blue get far better after the first X amount of episodes. Which is fine, and I’m not saying that’s not true, but I shouldn’t have to wade through however much content first before I finally find something I like.

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  3. Yes, it’s good to be choosy. ^^ Actually I’m pretty fussy and I don’t watch particular anime just because it’s popular. I didn’t like the new Arslan Senki for example. Maybe I pay attention to the graphics too much or I’m old-fashioned. ^^;

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    • I didn’t really mind the visuals in Arslan Senki, but then CG doesn’t bother me overmuch and I lquite iked the art style overall. I’m not sure how popular that series was in the end, but if it didn’t appeal to you then fair enough.

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  4. To love One Punch Man, I feel like you had to have read the Jump manga first. It’s just such an impressive piece of art that seeing Madhouse actually pull off bringing it to life was a spectacle to behold. It helps it has a cheesy but really easy to love hero story as well, but the dynamism of those fights was the real star of the show.

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    • I definitely agree with you! When you read the manga, it just spells “awesome” from the battle scenes (courtesy of Murata Yuusuke–too cool for words) to the very likeable characters. Those are usually something to get me to even take a second look at an action series.

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    • That’s a fair comment. I didn’t read the manga first (I don’t read manga at all) so maybe I just wasn’t able to appreciate OPM as it should have been appreciated. Having said that, I’m not sure the manga would have been my thing either – cheesy hero stories just aren’t my shtick.

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  5. …Concrete Revolutio was popular? It’s as niche as anime come; it’s for those of us who wanted something challenging that wasn’t just an another Ikuhara fanboygasm. In fact I thought everyone loathed it except for the target audience.

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    • I’ve seen quite a bit of praise for it around the blogosphere recently. It also made the top five on APR several times, at least at one point, so presumably there’s enough people out there it appeals to beyond just the apparent elite who wanted ‘something challenging’.

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  6. Oh wow, didn’t know about that first title. (Never even heard of it. Probably skimmed through the season list targeting those I would likely watch and forgetting those I wouldn’t, lol.) I’ve also seen Concrete Revolutio being talking about a lot in some of the blogs here. When I didn’t include it in my to-watch list, I thought I was missing something great but the good reviews out there just wasn’t enough to pull me in.

    Greatly disliked Rokka no Yuusha. I personally disliked the outfits. I didn’t find the characters likeable/relatable personality-wise. Dull plot-line for a “mystery” show. Even the animation was terrible.

    With Hibike! Euphonium, we both had the exact thoughts on it first impression. But I willed myself to watch every week, and it grew on me. I felt that it had all the components I personally look for in terms of pacing and character development. The characters weren’t all that likable for me (I know I keep reiterating it, but that’s how I critique), but the script was pretty good. I guess with the “hs girls in short skirts giving audience some thigh shots” issue, it’s short of new. With KyoAni’s late works (maybe post K-On!), they are pretty damn good at those subtle fanservice. It’s like it’s meant to be one, but not at the same time. (I sound confusing, sorry.) I guess what I’m trying to say is that camera direction is great combined with the effects (I couldn’t deny the series esp with their blurred/bokeh fx going on, lol). I sound like I give it too much credit–kind of? I mean, if I were following my own rubric, it’d be a 9/10 but it still won’t go to my fav anime list.

    I apologize for that lengthy comment, it made me seem like I’m convincing you to give the latter another try, but no since of course, we just have that something we can’t verbally explain why we just don’t like show.

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    • Long comments are totally fine! 🙂

      I guess for me, I’d almost rather have a show that was blatantly fanservicey than a show that pretended not to be fanservicey but actually kinda was – which is how Hibike! Euphonium really struck me at first glance. I’m not saying there’s not more to the show, and from what I hear the later episodes especially get a lot more in-depth, but I just don’t have the patience to sit around waiting for it. Having said that, the reason I didn’t rate this anime at all, even over on MAL or wherever, is because I only watched a small portion of the show and I know that’s not necessarily any kind of representation of the show as a whole. So while my first impressions of Hibike! Euphonium were overwhelmingly negative, I don’t claim to be making any judgement whatsoever as far as the overall series goes.

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    • Neat. Judging by MAL and the like, I didn’t think anyone bothered with it aside from the anibloggers that usually give this sort of off-beat and unpopular show a chance. Nice to know that I might be wrong.

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      • Flawfinder from Standing On My Neck and Bless from Mage In A Barrel were both very into it, I believe. And yeah, if you trawl through some of the recent(ish) entries on the Anime Power Rankings over at Behind The Nihon Review, I’m sure you’ll find a number of votes for and generally positive comments about the show.

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  7. Will you be doing a list of Popular 2015 Anime you did like? It would be a perfect complement to the above list. 🙂

    One thing I did like about Rokka was the Aztec/Mayan inspired backdrop, buildings, and non-main character designs. It helps the anime to stand out among other works which go for a more typical Euro-fantasy setting. It helps that the anime director was a big fan of ancient Central American culture, and the novels had a vague description of the world setting (opposed to others that clearly describe something European). Here’s an interview if you’re interested.
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/advertorial/2015-11-08/rokka-braves-of-the-six-flowers-interview-with-director-takahashi/.94992

    Plot-wise, the remaining volumes contain plenty of shocking twists and manipulations, especially the power struggle between the different Fiend leaders, and the real 7th Brave (readers describe it as a screwed-up conspiracy cooked up by one of the Fiend leaders). The post isn’t intended to change you mind about the show, but just to share wih you of some interesting info about Rokka.

    PS. How was the Free! prequel movie? Any good?

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    • That’s an interesting interview, thanks for the link! 🙂

      I will be talking about anime I did like (popular or otherwise) a bit later, but that’ll be in my annual roundup after the spring anime season is done. I’ll also be talking about specific OPs, EDs, characters, etc. I liked in the same post. It’ll be in roughly the same format as this one from last year: https://otakulounge.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/aaa2014-the-artemis-anime-awards/

      I haven’t seen the Free! prequel yet. My nearest movie theatre being a 3-hour bus ride away, I don’t get to the cinema all that often. I’ll be watching it in due course though, and am sure it will prove entertaining enough.

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          • Is there anything of note to see in Shikoku or Ehime? I’ve only been to Tokyo. Lovely place, but very busy and crowded. Plus I’m not sure if there’s any classic onsens in that area too.

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            • I’m sure there are some classics onsens no matter what prefecture you are in Japan, but yes, Ehime is certainly a great deal quieter than Tokyo! Speaking of, probably the most famous thing about Ehime is Dogo Onsen. It’s Japan’s oldest indoor onsen, and was used as the model for the one in Ghibli’s Spirited Away.

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  8. I enjoyed Hibike! Euphonium, but could see where it would annoy someone. Admittedly, I kind of pushed myself past the first several episodes to keep watching. I also diddn’t care for Rokka. I watched 3 (I think) episodes and found it uninteresting and the characters kind of annoying. I did finish Yuri Kuma Arashi, but found it more “okay” than anything. I was already a fan of Mawaru Penguindrum and was really hoping for the best with this show, but I just couldn’t get into it that much.

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    • Yeah, I’m perfectly willing to believe people when they say Hibike! Euphonium got far better down the line. If someone said the same of Rokka now, I probably wouldn’t quite be able to imagine it. Like you, I probably found Yuri Kuma Arashi more okay than bad – I watched the whole thing, which I’d never do if I actively disliked something. Compared to Mawaru Penguindrum though I think it had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer though, hence I couldn’t appreciate Yuri Kuma Arashi anywhere near as much.

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  9. Finally someone saying Rokka isn’t all that it’s cracked to be!
    I watched about 4 or so episodes of this anime and I dropped it when the flow of the story became absolutely ridiculous, as I will explain.
    So I’m totally okay with the premise of the story and how it turned out until they meet the Gun saint (Flemy or something) and then it immediately becomes a battle to the death and Flemy is like (this is how it will be…no it’s only like that because you keep shooting at everybody!).
    Pretty much felt that the story wasn’t worth watching if it was just going to force fake drama and tension just because. I got that Flemy prefers to be alone but I felt it was just wrong for her character to be ok with fighting the other braves because she is supposed to be against the demons. She should have put her gun down and shown that she wasn’t an enemy but instead thinks the best course of action is to fight to the death. I know I’m being hung up on one episode but you can’t have an unreasonable character like Flemy just to make us suspicious of her being the fake Brave.

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    • I don’t think I even made it that far into the show, to be honest. I didn’t mind the story in and of itself, but I just didn’t have the patience to deal with either the shoehorned exposition or the fanservice.

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      • The fanservice wasn’t a big deal for me but yeah the dialogue wasn’t interesting and kind of lame. Again Flemy has just two strips of clothe to cover herself and a weird cape thingy, and that didn’t gel with me either. The characters feel a bit narrow or just characterised by a few traits (like being weird, or energetic, or annoying).

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  10. Pingback: Popular Anime of 2016 I Didn’t Like | OTAKU LOUNGE

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