It’s no secret that some anime are more popular, or more critically acclaimed than others. There’s going to be some anime that challenge conventions and revolutionize the genre, just like there’s some that just…aren’t very good.
However, choosing which anime go on each side of the spectrum is often a matter of opinion. Some of the best anime of all time might be thought of to some people as overly complicated and unentertaining, while some terrible, low-budget anime can be lauded as someone’s favorite anime, and that’s fine.
What is strange, and often raises debate, is when a large amount of people disagree on where to place an anime, and when many disagree on whether or not an anime is great, good, or just bad.
I’d like to talk about my personal ideas on what 5 anime are terribly overrated. Simply put, these anime are lauded by many as great, as favorites, as legitimately amazing stories, when I personally believe differently. Again, this will all be opinion, but I do believe my arguments hold some weight, as to the value of these anime.
I won’t talk about simply how bad an anime is; the whole point is that these anime, in my eyes, seem to be perceived as much better than they actually are, even if they do have factors that deserve praise. With all the talk of definitions and specifics out of the way, let’s get started with the list!
Top 5 Most Overrated Anime
5. Death Note
I feel like I’ve talked about Death Note way too much, but I couldn’t NOT put it on an overrated anime list. Death Note, focusing on the conflict between narcissist, “A God Am I” Light Yagami, and the genius detective L, legitimately manages to be one of the most thrilling anime of all time, in the minds of many people, myself included. However, as many people know, the second half of the series falls off quite a bit.
L’s death instantly made Death Note not as fun to watch. Light, in his quest to become a god, didn’t have a rival that was quite as engaging, nor a true plot to speak of beyond just not getting caught. I’d propose that this speaks to the strength of a series as a whole. Its dependence on two characters and their interactions for excitement is honestly a rather weak point of Death Note, which can be seen more and more as the series goes on. The first few episodes are filled with back-to-back mental wars, creative usages of the Death Note, and active decision-making by both sides, and the amount of this excitement only decreases as the show goes on.
Ya know, I guess Near ‘almost’ did well as an antagonist
Artistically, musically, and conceptually, Death Note excels, but as far as its characters and story goes, the execution just doesn’t pan out. It remains to this day an anime that I deeply respect for what it tried to do, but is it the greatest thing ever? Does it deserve that high rating, a 9 or an 8? I’d argue that despite the crazy excitement that Death Note brought to the table, it’s still a bit overrated.
4. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day
The first of several anime that I haven’t discussed on the blog up to this point, watching Anohana was honestly an enjoyable experience. Dealing with the ghost of the girl named Menma, and how her death affected her old group of friends, Anohana touched on the subject of grief, of sadness, and emotionally touched many who watched it. It had some great moments, don’t get me wrong- but it’s just that as far as emotional anime go, Anohana isn’t…the best. It’s great in a pinch, but lacks that higher quality the more you think about it.
Perhaps that’s not the greatest analogy, but it’s an honest thought. Anohana does a pretty good job touching on the sadness and individual thoughts of its characters on a surface level, but, overall, lacks the ability to go that next step, and give those characters the subtle, powerful emotional release they needed to be great. It’s a shame too, because these characters, in most other respects are colorful, and very likable. It’s just that, you know that Menma’s death affected Jinta and his friends, but unlike Orange, which was able to subtly show the impact of Kakeru’s death, Anohana was never able to be subtle about it.
Cute, sad, but… is there more?
The ending only emphasizes this idea. I won’t spoil it, as I’m sure many people enjoyed it, but personally, it felt very blunt, very straightforward, and honestly, rather cluttered. Emotional anime are great, and necessary for the genre, but despite great reviews and positive thoughts, Anohana just didn’t hold up, especially compared to other anime which managed to be far more emotionally complex, in a shorter time. Not to say that it’s bad, because it certainly isn’t. It just isn’t as good as I’ve seen people say it is.
3. Mirai Nikki
An anime that many people name as one of their favorites, Mirai Nikki, or Future Diary, is an anime I’ve expressed general displeasure with in the past. It’s exciting, thrilling, and, as with many of these anime, conceptually intriguing, but the execution just doesn’t work very well.
Mirai Nikki tells the story of Yukiteru and Yuno, in a death game to decide who will become the new God of Time and Space. Each participant is given a Future Diary, with which they are given information about various aspects of the future, in order to best help them kill the other participants, and win the game. Overall, this is a pretty awesome idea for an anime, and one that has a ton of potential. Unfortunately, despite pretty clean visuals and nice music, the series is held back by having no well-developed characters, a needlessly edgy narrative, and a lack of any thematic consistency.
How romantic, I guess?
The beginning of Mirai Nikki is alright, introducing the watcher to a crazy situation which had a lot of potential! However, by shoving the romance between Yuki and Yuno down our throat, as well as never adequately providing any real character growth for Yuki- the character who NEEDED it in the first place- Mirai Nikki ended up stagnating, the more you watched it. Mix this with plot twists that come out of nowhere, and an ending that emphasizes Yuki’s lack of character even more, and you have a series that, despite being flashy and crazy for the uninitiated anime viewer, is certainly overrated to many, many others.
2. Angel Beats
The first legitimately story-driven anime I’ve ever watched, Angel Beats to me, despite not being the most popular anime in the world, is still rather overrated. Many people I’ve talked to rank it among the best, most emotional journeys they’ve ever experienced, and looking online reveals an average 8.0 rating, which in my eyes, is a bit too generous. Focusing on an emotional, complicated story about Otanashi, and his existence with others in a strange high school-esque purgatory, the short series, in my eyes, tried to do too much in a short time.
Conceptually speaking, Angel Beats is one of those shows that was just strange enough to work. It featured a colorful, fun cast of characters, each with their own intriguing backstory, in a setting that was in and of itself, unique and interesting. The adventures of Otanashi, Yuri, Kanade, Yui, Hideki, and the rest, in a mysterious after life, had huge potential to be powerful, fun, and exciting all in one. However, packing too much into 12 episodes, you can see just how…rushed, some segments seem to be.
So many characters, such little time D:
The afterlife isn’t explained very well, and is not wrapped up in a really satisfying manner. It FEELS alright, the ending FEELS sweet, but there’s not much there in the way of logical explanation. This would be more tolerable, if only we got some concrete character development that felt a bit more real than “sad story A,” or “convenient romance B.” The individual stories that comprise the backstory of each character are told in only one or two episodes at the most, making it really feel like we’re “told” the tragic stories behind each character, rather than “shown.”
Overall, it works alright for a good feels trip when you need it: but honestly, as far as emotional anime go, there’s a lot better. However, unlike the number one spot on this list, Angel Beats as a story is honestly pretty good, and I can understand why, considering its conceptual, artistic, and emotional strength, it’s so important to other people. The number one spot, on the otherhand…well…
1. Sword Art Online
Sorry, this anime (and the manga, of course), it’s just…I’ve heard so many people talk about how it’s one of the best anime of all time, it’s received numerous perfect ratings, even managing to have an average of around 7.9 with a quick google search, and I UNDERSTAND why it has that, but at the same time…
Sword Art Online just doesn’t deserve that praise.
I’ll mention the positives first: its animation is AMAZING. Sound effects, style, choreography, I’ve gotta hand it to Sword Art Online, it was amazing in these aspects. However, in everything else, it falls flat.
It certainly has style, I’ll give it that
FIRST, the series suffers from the same thing that Death Note suffers from: a terrible second half. The first portion of SAO displayed the best it has to offer, introducing an honestly interesting setting, with pretty great action scenes, but then the second half…man. What happened? It becomes a stereotypical “rescue the princess” quest, with less action, even LESS character development, and overall, it was just…not good. If you’re going to have a 25 episode anime, at least tell the story in a more consistent manner. But honestly, this isn’t even a big deal, especially considering the rest of the story.
SECOND, Kirito is simply not a good character. He’s overpowered in a way reminiscent to Goku, if Goku were stripped of his fun personality, depth of character, and defining characteristics. He rids the anime of any significant sense of tension, which would be fine, if SAO were clearly focusing on just action and style, but the problem here is that it really doesn’t. The anime tries to emphasize that Kirito needs to become more social, then Kirito sidesteps that by being overpowered. What’s more, he finds himself the subject of the affections of EVERY girl he meets, without really doing anything to earn it.
Harem Art Online?
THIRD, and most importantly, the series tries too hard to do different things, and doesn’t commit to what it wants to excel at. It has a vague focus on psychological trials of virtual reality, yet also wants to focus on character development, and still tries to find time for the romantic exploits of Kirito. In trying to do all these things well, SAO ends up only committing halfway with its thematic statements, ends up becoming a poorly done harem anime, and, honestly a pretty decent action anime. Mix it all together, and, well, SAO just doesn’t deserve to be called one of the greats.
That’s it for this list. Do you guys think any anime you’ve watched is hugely overrated? Dragonball Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Attack on Titan? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!