With each passing year, anime becomes more and more popular with international audiences, and along with this growth comes a slew of fantastic titles, many of which are rightfully considered artistic masterpieces. However, for every revolutionary work like The attack of the Titans Where demon slayerthere are countless series that barely scratch the surface of the genre’s potential.
While most these badly received titles are best left untouched, a few not-so-great ongoing anime are entertaining enough to warrant checking out. Whether they suffer from low-quality narratives, boring characters, low production value, or other shortcomings, fans can still find plenty of enjoyment in these below-average series.
10/10 Sword Art Online restart could be a sign of improvement
Sword Art Online took the world by storm when it was released in 2012. The adventures of its protagonist, Kirito, introduced many anime fans to the isekai genre. Despite the show’s significant decline in originality/quality after the first season, it has remained one of the most popular franchises of the past decade.
As is the case with many other popular anime lately, ODS attempted to cash in on its theatrical box office success. Sword Art Online Progressive: Scherzo of Dark Twilightis set to release later this year and will provide a story-by-story reboot of the series’ first arc.
9/10 Magic High School’s Irregular and Its Spinoffs Are Lighthearted Fun
Even the strongest supporters of The Irregular at Magic High School will readily recognize that the series is defined by its polarizing themes and tropes. The show suffers from a ridiculously overpowered protagonist, whose talents effectively make all of the series’ challenges a moot point, in addition to several other recurring issues.
However, despite its poor handling of female characters and long, boring dialogue, there’s undeniably something fun about the show. The Irregular at Magic High School seems destined for at least one more season, so hopefully 8bit Studios can focus on making it a hit going forward.
8/10 The relatively dark tone of The Rising Of The Shield Hero saves the series
If an anime genre overuses tropes more than shonen, it almost certainly must be isekai. The Rise of the Shield Hero certainly accredits this conviction, following in the footsteps of Sword Art Online and many others by thrusting its sweet protagonist into a video game world where they suddenly transform into an unbeatable warrior surrounded by adoring fans.
The Rise of the Shield Hero offers one thing that makes up for its otherwise unremarkable presentation: a darker tone and subject. Most isekai don’t engage in more mature themes, but this show at least attempts to address them, even if with varying degrees of success.
7/10 Fairy Tail gets better as it continues
While many of the most criticized anime series suffer from specific issues, Fairy tale has instead become infamous for a distinct problem: average mediocrity. The wizard-filled shonen did little to distinguish itself from the pack during its original run, but with the announcement of an anime adaptation of the 100 year quest arc, fans of the series have plenty to be excited about.
Fairy tale was never one of the crown jewels of the shonen genre. However, given its fanbase, which was on par with more critically acclaimed series, it seemed to be judged by an unfair set of standards. Perhaps the revival of the series can reinvent its reputation in the anime community.
6/10 Tomodachi game borrows from other works of fiction for varying success
Tomodachi Game has many similarities with Seen franchise and the hit of 2021, squid game. However, where these works succeed in their nuance and ability to generate emotion, this shonen series is very short. Its five main characters, trapped in a game designed to test their friendships, are held back by their one-dimensional nature as much as the series’ lackluster pacing.
Although Tomodachi Game doesn’t execute the formula win this game or face the consequences very well, at least it draws on a narrative structure that lends itself to being entertaining. Since the show’s manga contains a lot of content that has yet to be adapted, it might be worth picking up as a future investment.
5/10 Boruto Could Rebound By Incorporating More Canon Manga
The naruto The franchise completely changed the anime landscape. So there were understandably high expectations for its sequel series, Boruto: Naruto Next Generationswhen it was released in 2017. However, so far, the next generation of Hidden Leaf shinobi has been largely disappointing…at least in terms of visibility.
Boruto‘s 250+ episodes almost entirely consisting of anime cannon and filler, providing at least one clear reason why the public perceived this product as inferior to the original. Given narutoof the immense legacy, shonen fans can’t help but root for the series to finally course-correct.
4/10 Orient shares many similarities with another franchise
Shinobu Ohtaka was the creator of the Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic franchise, and in many ways its 2022 series, East, tries to capitalize on the success of his most famous work. The characters in the series are reminiscent of Alibaba and the Magi crew, and even though they are slightly inferior creations, the cast is fun to watch.
Despite some clear problems with Eastanimation quality and narrative structure, the samurai-centric series has a lot of potential. Ohtaka’s world-building chops are evident throughout every episode, and as it airs, there should be more and more incentives to attract potential viewers.
3/10 In The Land Of Leadale is predictable, yet refreshing
Yet another in the long line of harmless, rinsed and recycled stories who dominate the isekai genre, In the Land of Leadale begins with the rebirth of protagonist Keina Kagami as “Cayna”, her playable character from the series’ titular video game. Using her skills, Keina navigates the game’s setting, meets her NPCs, and learns the story of Leadale.
If that description sounds familiar, viewers won’t be surprised by the show’s overall progression. However, for all of its stereotypical elements, there’s something endearing about watching kind-hearted Cayna journey through the game she inhabits. Not all shows need to push boundaries, and In the Land of Leadale demonstrates why it’s okay to enjoy a little comfort food.
2/10 Tokyo Mew Mew New Falls just before the original
Tokyo Mew Mew New is actually a reboot of an older title, Tokyo Mew Mew, yet despite drawing on an established formula, the series was actually less well received than its predecessor. Various changes and cuts were made to the reboot, and as a result of those creative decisions, Tokyo Mew Mew New falls a bit flat compared to the original.
While the mixed reviews for Tokyo Mew Mew New are noteworthy, it is not completely devoid of Tokyo Mew Mewthe charm and kindness of the brand. Modern animation and new character designs allow the 2022 title to shine, making it a fun watch for returning fans and new viewers alike.
1/10 Berserk’s Legacy Deserves a Better Anime Adaptation
No manga series has a more tenuous relationship to anime adaptations than Kentaro Miura’s dark fantasy, Berserk. First released in 1997, Berserk was sidelined due to its slow manga, put on hiatus due to production issues, and most importantly, criticized for the horrible quality of its 3D animation reboots.
There’s no doubt that Miura’s iconic manga has more than enough substance to produce a worthy adaptation, but it remains to be seen if the task will ever be accomplished by any studio, let alone one with the ability to create a decent product. The Golden Age Arc movie trilogy is getting a recut for Japanese TV, which means there’s still a silver lining for longtime fans of Guts and his Dragon Slayer blade.