The Hit-or-Miss Nature of Anime and Personal Taste (A Random Rant)

-Introduction-

Hello and welcome to all! Today I want to talk about some different anime series that did or did not hit the right spot for me, as well as why that’s the case. Sometimes, a show is excellently animated or creatively written, but something throws you off from liking it completely. It could be something minor or something that’s very obviously problematic for you. On the flipside, maybe an anime received a lot of criticism over some perceived flaw, but you personally found it a great fit for you and were unbothered by the widely criticized aspects. Basically, anime is generally hit-or-miss. Whether it will be a hit or a miss depends entirely on you, your values, feelings, what you want to see, and other considerations– it all comes down to personal taste.

A case where this happens frequently is in comedy anime. Maybe you thought one show was comedy gold but it got a rating of 6/10 from the broader fanbase. Another example would be anime genres as whole. Some people dislike slice-of-life anime, but maybe there was an exception that really spoke to them. Or there are people are like me who dislike most shounen anime series, but treasure the few exceptions. Conversely, there could be a viewer who loves sports anime, but for some reason could not get into a certain very popular anime of that genre.

By now you should get the idea: everyone has a different experience of anime, and their personal tastes will dictate whether an anime “hits home” or “misses” the ballpark entirely. So far I have only given vague, unspecific examples, but don’t worry. Now I’ll show you a bunch of examples of specific anime series I watched and whether they were hits or misses for me. Some of my choices are popular or follow a similar theme, while others are just random.

(Random)

Examples of Hits and Misses: General

Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba) is a relatively new and extremely popular darkish shounen anime. Main character Tanjiro becomes a trained demon slayer after most of his family is slaughtered by demons. His only remaining relative is his sister Nezuko, who was turned into a demon, but can control herself enough to avoid attacking humans. Demon Slayer has been praised for its high-action content, engaging characters, and creative visuals. It probably sounds pretty great, right? But for me, Demon Slayer was a swing and a miss. The storyline is old and worn out– standard shounen stuff that you can find anywhere. While the characters were neat or amusing for me, I couldn’t connect to any of them on an emotional level. Finally, Demon Slayer isn’t for me because of the unusual visuals.

(Senku from Dr. Stone)

You might be surprised to hear that I disliked the visual style, since it’s something Demon Slayer is widely applauded for. This is the perfect example of art and anime taste being completely subjective and personal. I wouldn’t try to argue that the animation is poorly or cheaply made. It’s simply not for me. To me, it looks weird and off-putting. For comparison, consider Dr. Stone, which was airing within a season or two of Demon Slayer. While it’s a fairly popular show, Dr. Stone is widely considered to have unusual visuals in a negative way. For whatever reason, the style in which the characters are drawn appears humorous or very distracting for some people. Well, that’s exactly how Demon Slayer is to me. Personally, I enjoyed the unique style of Dr. Stone. It did not have the same effect on me as it did for a large portion of vocal viewers. This once again proves that it’s all about personal taste.

Ok, next we’ll look at two anime series that are quite different and yet share many themes and story motifs: Tokyo Ghoul and Parasyte The Maxim. I do enjoy some aspects of Tokyo Ghoul on occasion, but by and large, it was a “miss” for me. On the other hand, Parasyte was such a “hit” that it immediately became one of my top 5 favorite shows in existence. Both of these series explore the idea of humans, monsters, and where they overlap; as well as handling themes like respect for life and the horrors of violence and death in our world. In addition, main characters Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul) and Shinichi (Parasyte) have similar personalities, at least early on. So why was one a hit and the other a miss?

(Good point)

Tokyo Ghoul was recommended to me as a “psychological anime,” and while it does indeed have psychological elements, they are not particularly profound nor original. Tokyo Ghoul feels like it was written by someone younger with less life experience. In contrast, Parasyte was recommended to me as a bloody horror anime, and while it does indeed qualify as such, it’s also rich in psychological and philosophical themes and discussion. The ideas and story direction in Parasyte spoke to me on a deep level and continue to influence my life to this day. Tokyo Ghoul, meanwhile, failed to show me anything new or different.

Sometimes, you will have an anime that completely failed to impress you the first time, but which became a hit for you later on. This happens to me from time to time if I watch an anime when I am in a bad mood or feeling unfocused. The best example is Shigatsu Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April). The first time I watched this, I didn’t like it at all. The art style was weird to me, the story felt unoriginal, and the romance triangle was predictable. After some time, I watched this anime a second time, and was able to genuinely appreciate it. Your Lie in April isn’t supposed to be original or anything like that. It’s just about one boy’s experience dealing with trauma, love, and grief. It doesn’t need to have a ground-breaking plot or brilliantly written characters. The anime is quite good enough assuming you can get into the head of the main boy.


Examples of Hits and Misses: Comedy

In the opening, I mentioned that comedy anime is a great example of an entire genre being hit-or-miss. So let me run through a few titles of comedy anime series that did or didn’t “hit home” for me. Let’s start with Nichijou (My Ordinary Life). This is one of my two favorite anime comedies, with a style emphasizing randomness, non sequitur, and absurd humor. Although I love Nichijou, I can see that it might not be a favorite for those with a different preferred type of humor. Another good one, but with an entirely different kind of comedy, is Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei (Goodbye, Mr. Despair). This anime is characterized by irony, pessimistic social commentary, and dark humor toward subjects like suicide, death, and mental illness. It’s very easy to see why this could be hit-or-miss, and I’m still surprised to this day how much I enjoy it, since dark or insensitive humor generally isn’t my thing.

(Dog bites in Nichijou)

Continuing with the comedy, you may have heard of the classic funny anime Gintama. This has many different styles of humor in it as well as the occasional arc with a serious plot. Everybody I’ve talked to who watched some of Gintama said they thoroughly enjoyed it, but unfortunately, this anime is still a “miss” for many. Why? Well, it has over 400 episodes. Although you definitely don’t need to watch them all to understand the series, that number of episodes is daunting for a lot of people, who shy away to find shorter series. Other humorous anime shows that are often hit-or-miss include Sakamoto Desu ga, Saiki Kusuo, and Asobi Asobase. Since each one has a distinct humor flavor profile, they simply won’t work for everyone.

There is also a plethora of popular anime series which include a lot of humor but are not strictly comedy. Genres like shounen, ecchi, school romance, and harem are apt examples. Most of this kind of comedy fails to entertain me on any level, since it’s often tropey and repetitive, casually sexist, and overly sexual. That being said, there are also a couple of series I enjoy that have abundant sexual comedy. The best example of that is Shimoneta, which I highly recommend. Many shounen series also include situational humor, randomness, and slapstick. Assassination Classroom, My Hero Academia, Toradora, Noragami, and Gurren Lagann are examples of series that included humor that failed to entertain. Most of them, fortunately, had other story strengths to make up for the cringe humor. Some highly popular shows only did marginally better in my book; examples include Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, Naruto, and Soul Eater.

(Ironic humor in Gintama)

That’s enough about comedy, I think. Before ending my rambles, I wanted to include a couple of widely unknown fringe anime series that were “hits” for me. It’s sort of a little shout-out to the oddballs. The three shows I picked are below in a list, along with a few notes for each.


-Examples of Weird Personal Hits-

1) Casshern Sins

Synopsis. Casshern Sins is an incredibly obscure anime that reuses the character from a much older anime (Shinzou-Ningen Casshern from 1973). It is a standalone series, however, not requiring prior knowledge. The story follows a mysterious robot-human hybrid named Casshern as he travels the wasteland left after the worldwide apocalypse. Humans and robots are both dying out because of a phenomenon called “The ruin,” which was rumored to have started because of the Angel of Ruin, Casshern. But as for Casshern, he’s just a childlike existence with no memories. Is this his fault?

(Casshern)

Reasons why Casshern Sins might be a miss for some people. The overarching plot in Casshern Sins moves quite slowly, and lacks any solid sense of structure. The art and animation are unusual, with a style more like what you would find in pre-90s anime. The atmosphere of this anime may be perceived as depressing, not only in terms of visuals (gray wastelands), but also with story themes (the end of the world). Lastly, some points in Casshern Sins are either symbolic, not fully explained, or left up to interpretation. For those seeking an anime with a strong central narrative and clear explanations, this will be a swing and a miss.

Reasons why Casshern Sins was a hit for me. Actually, I like several of the elements I mentioned as potential negatives above. The slow plot gave me time to think about everything, and I didn’t get bored. The atmosphere of this anime is soothing to me. It’s like my mental landscape. I enjoy having some things to interpret, as well as analyzing the metaphors and symbols. The art and animation are wonderful to me– especially the beautiful, chaotic action scenes. Additionally, there are many characters, all of whom I find fascinating– even the ones who only appear in a single episode. Last but not least, there are interesting story themes that include philosophical ideas of sin, redemption, death, and personal fulfillment. That stuff is like good soup for me.

2) Kaiba

(Warp)

Synopsis. A boy named Warp awakens with no memories, within a system of stars and planets connected by civilizations with space travel. In this world, memories can be stored in a chip and loaded into a different body for those who don’t like theirs and can afford it. Someone without a memory chip is basically someone without a soul, so it’s fitting that this boy also has a hole in his chest. The show is called Kaiba because that’s the name of the giant space organism that eats memories. Will the soulless boy Warp be able to discover his true identity and find people he can truly connect to?

Reasons Why Kaiba might be a miss for some. If you’ve never heard of Masaki Yuasa, he is an anime creator and director famous for his weird and dark creations. Most recently, he directed Devilman Crybaby. Anyway, like all Yuasa works, Kaiba is also weird and surprisingly dark in some ways. There will be character death, as well as the presence of sexual elements in the plot. This can make some people uncomfortable or unhappy. Additionally, the art style is strange, looking more like a Cartoon Network show than an anime. The overall atmosphere of this anime is bizarre, and there is often confusion among viewers (including myself sometimes) about the details and timeline of the plot. Kaiba is pretty chaotic.

Reasons Why Kaiba was a hit for me. Again, some of the thing mentioned above are actually positives for me. At least that’s the case with the bizarreness of the atmosphere and the inclusion of adult themes. I do agree the plot is a little bit confusing, but it’s also exciting and interesting as all hell. Once you figure it out, it’s worth it. The main reasons I love Kaiba are the fascinating discussions surrounding body and memories. Detailing the discussions here would be too lengthy, but for example, the body stuff makes immortality possible and sex literally irrelevant. It also makes it possible to find the most sexually pleasing body for yourself if you are rich. The memory stuff is interesting as well. It makes dystopias possible wherein the ruling class steals, alters, and exploits the memory chips of the lower class. Memory issues also bring up topics in my mind related to psychology and mental illness. There’s so much here to explore. You can see why Kaiba is such a hit for me.

3) Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Synopsis. A young Japanese tourist is caught in some kind of crime in the US and wakes up without his memories. He is then forcibly made to join an assassination organization called Inferno. The very best assassin of Inferno has is a girl named Ein, known as The Phantom for her killings. Inferno names the new recruit Zwei and begins training him to be the second Phantom, working together with Ein on assassination. So begin Zwei’s journey into the very dark world of underground assassinations and crime.

(Zwei training with Ein)

Reasons why Phantom might be a miss for some people. There are three main issues I can think of for why Phantom might be unappealing to some audiences. First of all, there’s the general atmosphere, which is dark. Although the show isn’t gratuitous with showing violence, people are constantly dying, and that gets pretty heavy. The dark tone is made more intense by character deaths, particularly toward the end of the series. Secondly, there are time skips in the plot. this can be jarring for some. Last of all, there’s the ending. I can’t say why since I don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say many people are frustrated because of the end of the anime. If you like a show with a pretty typical conclusion, this one won’t satisfy.

Reasons why Phantom was a hit for me. Most of why I like Phantom has to do with the story themes related to philosophy and psychology, as usual. There are themes of karma, the value of life, freedom, and the violent nature of humans. I also enjoy the high action content and I think the characters are all pretty solid. (Some of them have hot character designs too.) Finally, I just wanted to note that I consider Kal an anime character with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Consequently, her psychology is extremely interesting to me. She was one of my favorite characters.

-Closing-

With that, we’ve come to the close of today’s post. I hope you found this topic interesting, and I’d love to hear from readers about what some of your “hits” and “misses” in anime. I’m also hoping someone might decide to check out one of these three odd anime series I talked about. The more fans the merrier! Now then, take care of yourself and I’ll see you next time at Anime Rants!

(Random cuteness)

5 thoughts on “The Hit-or-Miss Nature of Anime and Personal Taste (A Random Rant)

  1. I have found that when I explain why I like or dislike something, it really all just boils down whether it punches the right or wrong buttons. Having realized this, I can also realize that my buttons and another person’s buttons can be very different. Thus, rather than go the toxic way of “you MUST like or dislike this or something is wrong with you,” I can simply say, “like and let like.”

    Liked by 1 person

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