Like when you tell your parents you are going to cooking school instead of accepting your full ride to MIT, there are some anime series out there that waste their potential just like people do. Sometimes it is everybody’s fault. Sometimes it the writers, or the time constraints, or the creative decisions, or the directing. However, every time you run into a series the piques your interest with its plot, it is just heart-breaking when it doesn’t live up.
No anime fan should be able to sit there and think on how they could have done a particular anime so much better.
The Lost Village
The ending of The Lost Village may or may not have (but definitely did) spark the idea for this list. They built a cool concept, one that was able to tempt the viewer into watching in hopes of either a survival-based, possibly village-building anime or a real gore fest. Even when neither of those things happened, you stayed invested to learn about the horrible pasts of all the semi-unique characters. Then you only get half of the back stories, the plot barely wraps up, and the show ends while half the characters leave and half of them stay in the village. It even introduces what you expect is the villain in one of the last episodes, but never goes any further into her motives than “daddy issues”.
Essentially, its twelve episode run was like climbing the first hill of a rollercoaster, then being told the ride is over before cresting. It is a show that definitely feels like it should have been twice as long, but even then, leaves no hope for a second season. For an anime about how people are supposed to deal with their issues, a lot of people sure didn’t.
Sword Art Online
For gamers and MMO fans, Sword Art Online started out with tons of potential. It provided an interesting concept the could be explored in a lot of different ways. Unfortunately they chose to not do that and just focused on the story of Kirito, their very own Gary Stu who was the most special, strongest person ever and beautiful women all swoon at the sight of his short, wimpy frame.
Even then, though, the anime completely shifted directions during the second half of the first season and continued to spiral into the second season. They even made Gary Stu into a woman because boobs.
You know how sometimes an anime series seems like one big advertisement for a manga? That is pretty much what Gantz is, expect for it drifts away from the really brutal plot of the manga for a story that is half as interesting. The animation is beautiful enough, but it would have been better used to watch Izumi tear through Shinjuku or Kaze fist some guy’s face instead of limping through some lame plot arc about a pair of seriel killers with about as much personality as a pair of socks.
In Angel Beats, you are introduced to this wide array of characters, some more interesting than others, and not unlike The Lost Village, looked forward to hearing their heart-breaking backstories. Unfortunately, you get not even half that and suddenly in the last two episodes, the series is in a frantic sprint to a cop-out ending. It tells a story, but it could have done more. It actually did end up doing more, you just have to go buy the manga, visual novel, light novels, ect.
Contrary to the rumors, you should also note that Angel Beats was never meant to be a longer series.
By the end of the anime, you feel a bit like a wounded warrior asking his best friend to just end it already. It is no longer interesting and there is really nothing left to explore, but it just goes on. Then it ends. It ends with a big “fuck you” to everyone that didn’t read a manga because they don’t know what happens. Thanks, Future Diary.
Eden of the East
Eden of the East had the potential to become a real masterpiece. It had interesting and fun characters, a unique premise with just the right amount of mystery to keep things intriguing, and some truly beautiful animation. Then you know what happened? It threw all of that away. By the end, you have barely any idea what is going on and nothing really gets wrapped up. Think the two movies will help clear things up? Nope!
Kokoro Connect is one of those shows that brings something completely new to the genre. However, it doesn’t devolve completely into the perverted situations you would expect from a body switching concept, but instead used it to fuel the drama and romance, both of which start off subtle and great. However, when the reason for the switching comes into play, it never really gets explained. Instead, the series just kind of gets lost in the melodrama that it created.
Deadman Wonderland got caught in the same trap as many shounen anime series often do. It caught up to its source material and was faced with two choices: filler or end it. It ended up picking both. End it with filler. Unfortunately, Deadman Wonderland ended the anime in such a way that it left no room open for a second season now that the manga has ended. You either have to like it as it is, and many do, or hope for a Fullmetal Alchemist-style remake.
This mind as well be called “Wasted Potential: The Animation”. You are introduced to this painfully cute main character that inspires you to get up and go to work each day with her work ethic, you have hints of romance that are explored subtly without being overbearing, realistic love triangles, and then it ends. It ends badly, too. Throwing away all the things that it built up without resolution. I suppose as a slice of life anime, it can do that for the sake of realism (as things don’t always get wrapped up), but it makes for frustrating entertainment.
High School of the Dead
The horror genre of movies may be overcrowded with zombies, but that is certainly not the case in anime. For fans who weren’t familiar with the manga, High School of the Dead looked like it would be great. Then it wasn’t. They forgot to make zombies a major threat about half way through and instead focused on showing as much boob and butt as they could without being switched to the hentai genre. Such a waste. If only the could combine the interesting zombies in High School of the Dead with the fear and survival themes of School Live.
Perhaps we could breed them…
Throughout the series, Guilty Crown is saved by its great animation and lovely OST. Its story, well, that is another matter. You see, it started off really good, but like Sword Art Online, about half way through someone somewhere gave up and let things slip.
Many people fault Guilty Crown for using tired cliches, but what isn’t a cliche these days? It ultimately wastes the unique aspects that it had with the “paint-by-numbers” plot and a stupid lack of character development. Essentially only the main character was developed, and only when Plot-sama demanded it. Everyone else was… Well, fuck everyone else, I guess.
Fractale seemed deeply confused about plot points that it wanted to explore, ultimately settling on the same old moe harem shit no one wanted to see. The Fractale system is essentially people never having to have actual human interaction and just creating people they want to interact with. The whole point of the anime should have been to explore what it was like when characters met real live humans, but it quickly abandons that. I think fans also would have settled for exploring a characters’ psyche through their use of the system, but any interesting character gets left in the dust quickly.
If you look at it the right way, School Days is the ultimate parody of the romance genre. Unfortunately, most people don’t. However, that is not the real problem with School Days. The real problem is that you know nothing about the characters other than “Man, he’s a slut” and “Bitches be crazy”. They aren’t developed, they aren’t explained, and at no point does anyone even try. Then at the end, they turn one of the main female protagonists into a yandere even though she displayed no tendencies for it previously.
Oh, Pupa. Where do I even start? The premise of Pupa, and even the story told in its manga, was perfect for a horror anime. It about two kids that got abandoned after long-lasting domestic abuse. They both become infected with a cannibalistic virus in which turns the girl into a man-eating monster, but gives the boy regenerative abilities. While some scenes from Pupa may suggest it follows the weird, vaguely incestuous brother-sister relationship that is popular in anime these days, it is about a brother that would sacrifice everything in order to protect his sister (and protect the world from her).
Where did it all go wrong? Pupa is told in the 5-minute episode format. This is fine for slice of life or comedy anime series, but in no way is it enough time to establish the crucial atmosphere for a horror anime.
Akuma no Riddle
Akuma no Riddle actually has a plot that seems so straight forward, but it ends up being so crazy that no one knows what is going on at the end. It ends up that way in part because they never explain anything in the show. I guess they didn’t feel the need to as us silly fucking anime fans just want to watch girls fight each other.
Even then, the fights are terrible. The other assassins, trained assassins, always go full derp in the last minute before killing this defenseless little girl for the sake of plot.
Chaos;Head starts off strong with good potential as a horror series, but throughout it takes several rather unnecessary detours to get where it is going. Essentially, this can all be blamed on Takumi’s delusions. Yes, delusions and paranoia are supposed to be confusing, but not for the viewer when you are trying to tell a story. You have to leave breadcrumbs, man. It also doesn’t help that Takumi is literally the only interesting character with any development in the anime either. To be fair, it ended pretty well, but it could have been an infinitely better show to watch throughout.
You know how most romance anime series start with boy meeting girl and then someone introduces the other to their friends? That’s how Glasslip starts too, it just doesn’t move after that. It tries to move and makes effort toward emotion or drama, and then completely undoes all of it after each episode. It is so bad that in the first season, effectively nothing is different at the end. Even at the end of Kimi Ni Todoke they got to do hand holdies, man.
Dammit, Glasslip, even if you had been a typical school setting romance anime full of cliches I could have enjoyed you.
You know, anime about gangs are a relatively untapped plot fountain, so when Gangsta came out, I thought it was going to be awesome like the first half of Gungrave. I mean, it even had a deaf main character. You just don’t see that, and it was great. Then it just didn’t go anywhere. There really wasn’t much plot to begin with, but it tried to make one up at the end there.
It seems like the creators of Aldnoah wanted two things from the audience. To say their show was pretty, and they did that, and to say they told a cool invasion story, which they fucked all to hell. They told the story of both sides of this war, so you think they would at least cover the basics, like just the motivations of the nations, but nope! They skipped World Building 101 and put all their effort into Main Character Gets a Robot for No Reason and Looks Cool 201.
While it was weirdly satisfying to watch medieval armor just get shredded by modern weaponry, Gate ultimately wasted its interesting concept with pro-military propaganda, making everyone else seem evil, incompetent, or irrelevant. Except for the members of the harem, of course, they were useful. Unfortunately, it left the most interesting character of the harem (Leilei) undeveloped and her magic under utilized.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Gargantia had such good animation and such a fantastic world that most fans are often blinded by how little it actual did with it. A universe of near infinite warfare? A planet completely flooded? People living on fleets of boats, in spaceships, and in what seems like a Utopia paradise in space that is mentioned about twice? They ended up explaining why they were fighting and what the aliens were, but there is so much more that could have been seen in the world. Still, for twelve episodes, it gave it a good try.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
The vaguely RPG, medieval world genre is becoming a crowded one. However, instead of just being another Sword Art Online clone, Grimgar actually did some unique things, like dealing with death and actually having characters start weak and get stronger. For that, it actually turned out pretty well, but that was about the only interesting thing it did. It introduced Class Guilds, it barely did anything with them. It introduced all these party members, and then only developed the main character. It introduced this wide world, and then only showed three places. While the potential for a second season is there, and the light novels may explain some things, if the first season ends up being a standalone, Grimgar ends up being pretty bland.
Disagree with something on this list? Got your very own series like The Lost Village that makes you rant about its waste potential for a full-on 20 minutes? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.