Gravitation DVD cover art

Oh, the artistic heights anime can achieve! The artistry and visuals of CLAMP! The philosophical questions behind such luminaries as Akira or Grave of the Fireflies! The sweet purity of Cardcaptor Sakura!

And then there's the other side of the yen…. Anime so horrible that even that most die-hard otaku or the lowest IQ child has to struggle to complete a single episode or OAV, much less an entire series. Anime that doesn't make you appreciate the good ones all the more, but instead make you dead inside and incapable of ever trusting, much less loving, again.

So why am I playing fast and loose with your sanity and with the good name of anime by subjecting you to the memory of these titles? Because it's good for you. And because if we protest the really bad ones, maybe, just maybe, they'll keep bringing us the good ones and write new good ones. Refuse to put up with schlock!

Keep in mind, de gustibus non est disputandum. For example, I enjoyed the Gasaraki series and found it thoughtful and deep, instead of boring and lame. I can, however, see why others might find it so flawed as to be shattered.

How did we choose? There are so many gawd-awful (or criminally mediocre) anime series and OAVs out there: Pilot Candidate, Hammerboy, Reign, Devilman, Pokemon (if I hear "Team Rocket, blasting off again" one more time, I will not be responsible for the Godzilla-like destruction I cause--even the kawaii factor can't make up for that bloody Team Rocket intrusion in every episode), Ultimate Muscle, Dragonball GT, FLCL (I'm sorry, fanboys, but nonsensical does not = art), Puni Puni Poemy … but in the end, there can be only five, and these are the ones that broke our heart the most, leaving only a dark, frigid cold too empty to ever be filled with love again.

5. Gravitation. Sometimes cliché isn't, in itself, a bad thing. But when the paradigm turns on you and swallows you up with its great throat of suck, and you just want to crawl under the covers with a book where there are no big-eyed idiot boys, it is a very bad thing indeed. The manga version of this series is a good, if at times mediocre, tale of shonen ai and rock music, with plenty of angst, comedy, and teen drama to soothe even the most savage teenager's breast. But the anime, ah the anime, is a horse of an entirely different color--actually, more of an unrepentant oni than a horse: there's no love in their romance, no funny in their comedy, and no harmony in their music. There's only a howling void where plot, characterization, and drama should be, and you can't even blame the art and voice acting here. It's still hackneyed, dull, poorly voiced, and simply stuffed to the gills with annoying boy-toys who couldn't form a successful military unit to save their lives, much less something challenging like a boy band. I've seen hentai with more depth of plot, and I hate hentai with a passion. All of the series on this list are so bad as to resist the MST3K treatment, with the exception of this one, which is why it eases us into the list, but don't let it's spot as a mild #5 fool you: this anime still comes with a Needcoffee Warning for Extreme Apathy, meaning that you will not only be incapable of caring about any of the main characters, the world, or the plot, but you will actually become numb to all emotion in your own life, causing friends and family to desert you, leaving you alone and a shell of your former self. You have been warned.

Legend of Crystania

4. .Legend of Crystania. What do you get when you combine a stupid, suicidal horse with attempted comedy and top it off with incompetent heroes and bad character design? You get crap, that's right! And what crap is this… oh, a veritable king in the crap world! Villains that frighten perhaps only sheltered two-year-olds, and heroes that can't seem to actually protect anything are just the beginning. Oh, yes. There's more. We can't hate or love any of the characters, because they seem to lack souls, personalities, and expressions—the suicidal horse actually has the most emotion of anyone here. Of course it suffers from comparison to its "prequel," Record of the Lodoss War, an extraordinarily good series, but it also suffers from comparison to K-Mart commercials, so make of it what you will. Do not watch this, or you might start believing that anime is of the devil, for what else can make you feel so bad? I suggest you make compost of it. Wait, no--that might cause diseased eggplants.

Crying Freeman

3. Crying Freeman. I know there are fans for this out there, but there are also women who sent marriage proposals to Jeffrey Dahmer. Doesn't make it right, ok? Some complain about the radically shameful use of women in the series, and there is that to bitch about, but I was more offended by the boredom I was forced to endure in the name of "art" and "action." It wasn't action--it was shyte. It wasn't erotic--it was painfully, deathlessly, soul-killingly dull: boring, repetitive, a pale shadow of assassin tales we all know and love. The tortured hero is a perennial favorite, even if he's overly emo like this one is—but come on, you cry after every killing? Turn state's evidence then, or better yet, go back for your MBA, you wussy moron--you're in the wrong line of work. And you've drug your wife Emo--um, I mean Emu--into it. What a dick.


2. Beyblade. Now, really. Tops?!? Tops are your secret weapon and the focus for your tense, dramatic moments? Gentile dreidels? No. I'm sorry--no. Forget the bad acting, the worse art, and the asinine plot. We know you want to rip-off the success of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but you could have at least tried to think. Paid a kid to tell you if it sucked first, before you made a zillion episodes and shipped it everywhere to sucker naïve, but good-hearted parents who just want to give their kid a nice present. You should be ashamed. If you viewers absolutely must inspire yourself with the wish to poke out your own eyes, choose Digimon instead. It's abysmally bad enough to make you do the necessary self-damage, but you might survive to love anime again.

Strange Dawn

1. Strange Dawn. Oh my god, kill it with a hammer. Kill ME with a hammer. Just kill something, please. This anime has to be a terrorist plot to take over America, it really does. Nothing else would justify the violence that this… thing… does to the viewer's psyche. Just the thought of this anime makes me want to weep myself to death. It has it all: poor art and design, an insipid story that manages to combine saccharine stupidity with boring, wildly irritating characters, and danger that frightens no one but the viewer's therapist (she has to pick up the pieces after all). Deserves a special award for "worst voice acting EVAR," too.