Chargeman Ken! may have the distinction of being the first bad anime. For the uninitiated, this is a tale of a young boy living in the future. His claim to fame is blasting alien invaders at will and without tact. The poor quality of each episode has no peer. Knack Productions would release 64 6-minute episodes over a year. Chargeman Ken! was so bad that it achieved cult status, even greater than Ghost Stories. This anime is an exception rather than the rule.
Bad anime litter our anime tracking programs. On the rare occasion, you have the pleasure of watching the worst of the worst. Jokingly, this subset deserves a warning that watching the anime my induce headaches and bleeding from the eyes. In all seriousness, studios do not set out to create a work of ghastly viewing but sometimes they lose their way from concept to final product. With this in mind, I decided to have some fun by exploring some of anime’s worst.
Worst Sibling Love Story
- Winner: Pupa
- Genres: Fantasy, Horror
- Premiered: Winter 2014
- Studio: Studio Deen
Failing miserably with fans, this is an anime that chose to take the road less traveled. Split into four minute episodes over twelve parts, Pupa is more akin to an art house flick. Brother and sister, Utsutsu and Yume find themselves surrounded by butterflies. These beautiful insects signal the start of a plague that afflicts Yume. Her overly caring brother must balance his love for Yume and protecting the world from her hunger for flesh.
Pupa is a manga series, with art and story by Sayaka Mogi. In spring 2013, Comic Earth Star revealed an anime adaptation was in the works. Studio Deen would helm the project, with Tomomi Mochizuki directing it. Veteran actors would lend their voices to the series’ characters. Studio P.R. materials gave hope that this might be a good horror anime. All dreams would crash in upon itself after a few episodes.
As a manga, Pupa is a fair read but the series failed to capture the story’s spirit. The shortened runtime did not help things. Frustrated viewers dropped the series rather than have it waste their time. The sibling’s feelings for one another was cringy at times, which is why Pupa is anime’s Worst Sibling Love Story.
Worst Committee Created Anime
- Winner: Ex-Arm
- Genres: Action, Sci-Fi
- Premiered: Winter 2021
- Studio: Visual Flight
There is an old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth. When your cooks are random people off the street and nobody is watching the kitchen, you wind up with masterpieces like Ex-Arm.
This is a story of a high school student hit by a truck; Akira Natsume wakes from death to find himself within a machine. Called EX-ARM, this device now houses the teen’s essence. He comes to accept his new reality and swears to aid police to prevent this tech from getting into the wrong hands. Alongside Officer Minami Uezono and her android partner, the trio seek to end the smuggling of weapons of mass destruction.
On paper, Ex-Arm should have been a hit. HiRock and Shinya Komi’s manga would serve as Visual Flight’s source material. From the get-go, Visual Flight struggled with the adaptation. This was due in no small part to the studio and production team’s inexperience. The studio gave the storyboards and computer graphic design to multiple contractors and subcontractors. Seemingly, these folks did not coordinate their efforts. Their work would result in Ex-Arm being a visually offensive, dull story.
In a review of Ex-Arm, ANN stated the series has ‘the bad luck of being assembled by a production committee where every single person was drunk.’ This may or may not be the case. Ex-Arm will probably go down in history as the worst of the worst anime of all time.
Worst Use of PowerPoint
- Winner: Ladyspo
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi
- Premiered: Spring 2018
- Studio: Brio Animation
This anime disaster fails in its presentation and script writing. You know they are in for the time of your life when the first comedy bit is everyone using the toilet. Ladyspo or Lady Sports is the breakout anime hit of 2018, I write sarcastically. The ‘comedy’ series follows antics of three women athletes. They are ‘sports bounty hunters’ who hop around the galaxy accepting matches from others. Each episode had a four minute runtime.
This series seems to be the first and only credit for Brio Animation. Being new to the medium, they sought out a veteran director to run the project. Hiroshi Kimura’s has credits on BLUELOCK, Rising of the Shield Hero, Sword Art Online, and a host of other series. MADBOX handled the animation. Much like the director, MADBOX also had the roots to pull off a successful series. Despite everyone’s record, the series seriously missed the mark. The final product being a series of PowerPoint slides posing as an anime.
Looking back, it is difficult to determine who dropped the ball on this one. If I had to hazard a guess, the problem seems to be related to finances. Whatever the reason, Ladyspo is one of the worst series in anime viewing.
Worst Marvel to Anime Adaption
- Winner: Yami no Teio: Kyuuketsuki Dracula
- Genres: Horror
- Premiered: Summer 1980
- Studio: Toei Animation
Yami no Teio: Kyuuketsuki Dracula, also known as Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, was Marvel’s first foray into the world of anime. The story takes place in Boston. A cult seeks to sacrifice a young lady so she could become Lucifer’s bride. Dracula swoops in to save the damsel from her fate. His efforts set in motion a series of conflicts with vampires, vampire-hunters and cult members. Over time, Dracula would take the woman to be his wife.
Created by Marvel Comics with influence from Hammer Films, the Tomb of Dracula expanded the lore of the Prince of Darkness. Toei Animation would acquire the rights to adapt the story for anime. The film’s direction came under Minoru Okazaki. This story would retain its Boston roots, however; the artwork focused on a European aesthetic.
Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned is visually akin to anime of its day. However, the film falls flat in its dialog and storytelling. Conversations are choppy and unnatural. The characters over use the term ‘Dracula’ to the point of it becoming a drinking game. Viewers may find character exchanges cause the same level of discomfort as ripping off a fresh band aid.
Given the time void between then and now, finding a reason for where things went horribly wrong seems to be lost to the ages. This anime had all the hallmarks of being a great story. In spite of the studio’s hope, Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned will go down in fandom as the worst Marvel anime adaptation.
Worst Game to Anime Adaptation
- Winner: Wonder Momo
- Genres: Action
- Premiered: Winter 2014
- Studio: Graphinica
Game companies always look for ways to expand their markets. Anime has proven itself to be one useful tool for them to reach the intended demographic. However, not every foray into anime can reach the heights of a Pokémon or Steins; Gate. There are some series that go off the rails. You need look no further than Wonder Momo to realize that the opposite is true.
Momoko is a high school student, which Wonder Momo centers its narrative. Her only goal is to become an idol one day, however; the universe has different plans for her. Aliens seek to invade Earth but not before she receives superhuman abilities. The only thing standing in the way of the alien overlords is Momoko and her high school friends.
The source of the Wonder Momo anime was a late-80s video game from Bandai Namco Games. In the mid-2010s, Graphinica picked up the brand for the adaptation. They would create an original net animation, with five episodes. Upon its release, the backlash was abrupt. A fuming fanbase took issue with the series’ story, overpowered lead and broken sound effects.
On the face of it, the series has all the hallmarks of being a cash grab. With no redeeming value, Wonder Momo has to be our least favorite game to anime adaptation.
Worst Use of a Public Domain Property
- Winner: Vampire Holmes
- Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Supernatural
- Premiered: Spring 2015
- Studio: Studio! Cucuri
On paper, Vampire Holmes would seem like a fun concept. The premise sees Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Hudson, hunting vampires. Sounds good so far. Forget tracking the undead, the duo spends most of their time arguing. Their constant bickering back and forth means that not much happens around the Holmes’ estate. Along with the dynamic duo, the story includes their demon cat and landlady.
This is another instance of trying to adapt a game series to anime. A mobile game, Cucuri’s studio would create the Vampire Holmes series. There is little information about the series development and this may be for a good reason. The story and visuals have very little going for it. Characters are flat, both visually and in their dialogue, and the short runtime does not do it any favors. You can see that they wanted to make a unique, fun story but failed miserably in its execution.
Over the years, a rich lore has risen around Sherlock Holmes and vampires. This includes several times when the two properties shared the same narrative. However, Studio! Cucuri failed to make it work. Therefore, we feel it might be best to skip Vampire Holmes and watch The Case Study of Vanitas instead.
Worst Adobe Product Anime
- Winner: Hanoka
- Genres: Sci-fi
- Premiered: Summer 2006
- Studio: RAMS
More often than not, adapting new software comes with a steep learning curve. We need look no further than the Hanoka to grasp this principle. A summer 2006 anime, this is a tale of one’s desire to live free. On a distant planet, alien invaders want to destroy all life. The planet has one hope to save humanity. An alien-human hybrid, Majin no. 7 is their secret weapon but she wants to live free.
Hanoka and Hanoka Recap are the two titles coming out of RAMS studio. Aruji Morino would direct the 12 5-minute episodes. Animators would use Adobe Flash to render the art. This was a fairly new software package at the time. Looking back, it is difficult to pinpoint where things went wrong. Was this a product of the software or inexperienced users? Regardless, the final product turned out to be a mess.
Buggy maybe best describes this anime. The character designs seem out of focus and their movements are choppy. Mouths move regardless of whether or not the individual are talking. This is a case where reading the story’s description is better than actually watching it.
Over the years, digital rendering software has become a staple of anime development. Over the journey, animators have had to learn to best use these new tools. Those successes come on the backs of hundreds of trials and errors. Hanoka was a failure in design but RAMS should receive praise for trying something new.
Worst Promotional Anime
- Winner: Generation of Chaos
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
- Premiered: Summer 2001
- Studio: Idea Factory
Generally, adventure and fantasy stories tend to require some time to develop. When this does not happen, the tale becomes rushed. This is the case with our next anime.
An OVA, this tale explores a world where people and monsters live. Generation of Chaos achieves this through two rushed and disconnected stories. ‘Departure of Chiffon’ is the first tale that tells of a young boy who is a talented monster tamer. About eleven minutes in, we get the second plot of the anime. ‘Roze’s Decision’ tells of a half-demon who dreams of a world where demons and humans get along. A 30-minute runtime, scriptwriters hoped to spark interest in its source material.
In the same year as the OVA’s release, Idea Factory was ready to hit the shelves with its turn-based strategy game for the PlayStation Portable. The company felt they had the chops to create an anime. How difficult could that be? The game developers would hire Yoshiteru Satou to direct and write the anime’s script. Despite being a veteran to the anime scene, there was no saving this OVA. Surprisingly, this title did not hurt game sales.
This is a rare instance when a promotional product does not kill a franchise. Idea Factory would go on developing games and creating OVAs for their brand. In spite of their success, Generation of Chaos is Idea Factory’s worst anime title and we have to agree.
Worst Superhero Doctor Anime
- Winner: Psychic Wars
- Genres: Mythology, Superpowers, Time Travel
- Premiered: Winter 1992
- Studio: Toei Animation
This anime takes place in Osaka, Japan. Ukyo Rettsu, a surgeon, treats an old lady for cancer. Her tumor is a messenger from the demon realm. The growth informs the doctor that he is the one prophesized to rid the world of this scourge. He travels to a temple and receives superhuman powers to aid in this undertaking. Dr. Rettsu races through time and space to prevent the world’s downfall.
The anime’s story came from a novel by Yusuaki Kodota. Toei Animation picked up the rights to adapt the work for an OVA. They would pick someone from their staff to helm the project. The honors would fall to veteran Toei director and writer, Tetsuo Imazawa. On the surface, Psychic Wars had all the hallmarks of becoming a fairly good series.
The reality is that this is one visually, choppy story. It is as if the director had made a full length episode but the studio required them to cut it down to 10-minutes. For example, one scene jumps between reading a journal to fighting an alien. Also, characters rarely move their lips when talking.
Like so many on our list, the studio and internet are silent about problems with production. This makes it difficult for us to know why a fairly good premise turned out so badly. We must scratch our heads and proclaim that Psychic Wars is one of anime’s worst moments.
Worst of the Worst OVA
- Winner: Tenkuu Danzai Skelter+Heaven
- Genres: Sci-fi
- Premiered: Winter 2008
- Studio: Minami Machi Bugyousho
More often than not, OVAs make for pretty bad viewing. Tenkuu Daznai Skelter+Heaven is the clear winner of being the rottenest. This story begins in Tokyo, where the planet is under attack. The Alta Mira Agency assigns an all-female unit to fight against an alien threat. Called ‘Battle Sole,’ Otsuya Funagai leads the unit. The team must overcome personal strife and focus on the mission or face the end of life on Earth.
Prior to the release of Skelter+Heaven, Minami Machi Bugyousho had a short but successful dive into the world of anime. Terra e… and Gallery Fake were their highest rated series. The studio’s chief weakness is being a workshop for larger studios. In spite of this fact, the studio would hire Yoshiteru Satou to direct this project. A veteran in his own right, the story fell flat among the fandom. Viewers had issues with the story and inferior CGI animation.
A bit rushed, the series needed more episodes to build the characters and plot. It is hard to say whether or not extra time and resources could have made a difference but it might have helped. In place of these elements, history would log Skelter+Heaven as the worst anime of all time.