TangleCast 24: Is Anime Getting Worse?

In an attempt to answer the million dollar question (in the title of the episode!), JP (Japesland),  Jack (R86), and Kaze discuss their views on the questionable quality of anime in recent seasons, and the apparent lack of new classics springing up in recent years. Is anime actually getting worse, or is it just an product of watching too much? Maybe all three of our podcast hosts this week are just crazy! Listen in to find out!

We always include a bit in every episode description letting people know that we want to cover many different topics in The TangleCast, and we always mean it! If you have anything you’d like us to talk about, whether it’s about religion, about otaku culture, Japan, or even something totally off the wall, please contact us! Worst case scenario: we don’t use your question for an episode and just email you back with an answer instead.

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21 thoughts on “TangleCast 24: Is Anime Getting Worse?”

  1. I agree with Kaze about both anime being worse and seeing a lot of it. Limitations of 2 cours for a show sometimes hurts an show; 1 cour really hurts if the writer isn’t economical. I do miss the days when shows had at least 40 episodes. Sure, there were some bad ones and bad filler episodes for even good series, but things like Zeta Gundam, Kenshin, and Clannad were some of the greats for me, all of which were more than 40 episodes. Granted, the art sometimes also was bad and there were reused frames, but it was less distracting than a lot of the CGI we get nowadays, which bugged Rewrite (which I do like :p, but it is at the bottom of the Key shows, worse than Charlotte). It looks like nowadays there is a rush to just make anything, good or bad.


      1. Still, there were quite a few exceptions even among the newer anime. I loved Your Lie in April, Star Blazers 2199 and Steins;Gate, among others. But for every few gems, there are lot more fit for the dumpster.


        1. Yamato 2199 might actually be the best anime of this decade so far, but it also has the advantage of being a remake of one of anime’s oldest and best classics.


          1. That is true, though it also got rid of the campiness and Yuki fanservice with the robot, as I heard. I wouldn’t like seeing that.


          2. If you say it’s that good, then I have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. Never heard of that anime…..


  2. Personally, I find that the opposite has happened to me: the more I watch anime, the more I find myself enjoying recent anime. I think this comes from my approach to anime in general, in which, rather than getting too bogged down with how a given anime show reuses tropes or how some other similar show I’ve seen in the past is better, I instead focus on the way that show uses old tropes in its own ways to give it a unique identity. This doesn’t save bad shows from being bad shows, but for me, it does elevate otherwise “unobjectionable” shows into something quite good, and shows that are already quite good, like New Game, into something truly special for me.

    On a related note, this is why I personally dislike one criticism that I often hear thrown at recent shows: “[some other show] did it better.” I understand why that criticism is given; the average anime fan browsing through reviews is looking out for the standout shows of a given genre or sub-genre, and then if they like what they see, then they can explore similar shows that explore that genre in different ways. However, that criticism all too often downplays the unique qualities of the show in question, instead putting it on some linear scale to be judged one-dimensionally against similar shows. And when that thought process escapes the realm of reviews designed to help others make decisions on what to watch and seep into our own perception of shows, I think it only hurts our ability to enjoy anime.

    So maybe, if watching a lot of shows is starting to make you not like watching anime anymore, you should take your focus off how everything is the same and focus on and appreciating the little ways things are different. That, or I guess I could contact my eyewear store and see if I can get some more of these nice rose-tinted glasses…


    1. id also add that a higher volume of “new shows” (which would happen if there are fewer continuations) means that we’ll inevitably have more bad shows and confirmation bias on the bad shows could be a factor. or maybe i just have too much trouble watching old shows and like to grumble. take your pick.


      1. I think you’re more or less correct, and I think that’s the conclusion we ultimately came to in the episode. No, anime’s not really getting worse, we’ve just seen too much of it.

        I should also note that I could barely stand to watch any anime pre-2000 for a significant portion of my anime watching experience. I thought Ghibli movies were a drag, 80s anime was ugly, cheesy, and slow, and newer anime to generally just be more funny. I’ll hold that I tend to like newer comedies still (but I think that tends to be true with most mediums, anime excluded), and Nichijou, GochiUsa, and New Game are three example of recent anime that I thoroughly laughed at and enjoyed. But, after watching several hundred series and many movies on top of that, I started reaching back into the 80s and 90s (and 70s a bit) and began to much more greatly appreciate what was done uniquely in the medium then that brought us the tropes that are so often used now.

        As someone who used to objectively say new anime is better than old, I can now confidently say that I believe some old anime is subjectively better than new.


        1. I’m more of an half-half old school-new school anime fan. I still believe the first two Gundam series, V Gundam, and Char’s Counterattack are the best so far, even after all the spinoffs and sequels, though there are many newer ones I like. I liked Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away the first time I saw it in around 2001; since then, I haven’t found to hate a single Ghibli film, although one dragged a little for me. I loved all the Patlabor series and movies. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed stuff like Aldnoah.Zero and Buddy Complex.

          I still hold out hope for new anime, but for me, I found, at the least for the genres I like, that quality of the anime is deteriorating in general, barring one or two good series.


        2. I started out watching old anime because that’s what was available at the time and I didn’t know any better. The 90s anime was excellent in my opinion but that could be of the nostalgic attachment I have to it. It could be a terrible anime, but to me I may think it’s amazing (like Slayers, I really enjoyed the whole Slayers series for example even though the animation and plot isn’t that good).


    2. I think I speak for all of us when I say that if we didn’t enjoy watching anime, we wouldn’t still be watching it 😛

      This season, at least half of what I watched I enjoyed. Will I ever re-watch more than one or maybe two of those anime? Nope! Did any of them do anything I’ve never seen before? Maybe Mob Psycho 100. Do I think any of them will be considered standout classics? Not at all. Did I still enjoy them enough to finish them? Of course!

      I think once you hit the 500 anime mark or so, it become extraordinarily difficult to pull off the perspective you describe (at least for me), so I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to find those minute difference and use them to completely transform my opinion for the better. Of course, those who can will inevitable have a more enjoyable time watching the medium they love than those who become hopelessly cynical!


      1. Honestly, it took me until around the 700 mark before I was really getting noticeably cynical about anime. By 1000, I had become the anime hater I am today.


      2. Well, to be fair, it’s not like I’m never cynical towards anime; I almost never get hyped for whatever big anime everyone else gets hyped about, and it’s hard for me to care about Harem Fantasy/Sci-Fi Light Novel-Based Anime #XXXX unless I hear particular reasons why it’s better than average. I guess this feeds into my current strategy of only following the shows I know I have a very good chance of liking (usually slice-of-life or sequels) and backlogging anything else that I hear from others (especially the more cynical folks) is actually pretty good, or that I think I might like so long as I keep my expectations low.


    3. At least for my criticisms, I think there’s a big disconnect between what I mean and what people hear because I try to divide the subjective element of entertainment and the objective element of quality of writing, animation, etc. which admittedly can never truly be divided. So even though I give a lot of anime a 6/10, that generally means “I enjoyed it, but it was (objectively) bad.” It’s great that you can find ways to enjoy anime that have some really overused tropes and characters, but that’s not a defense for its poor quality of writing (and I don’t think you are arguing that). Thus, I will continue to call anime bad if the writers fail so much in so many areas, even if they might succeed in other small, appreciable areas.

      As for “x show did it better,” I’ve always inferred that as a counterpoint to “this show is amazing because it does y.” It’s less about the show itself and more about criticizing the reasons fans praise it. I think a lot of people who use that criticism (myself included) say that with the praise of fans in mind without really clarifying that’s how they mean it. So, I can see how it comes off as trying to trivialize the show, but that is possibly a result of fans themselves focusing too much on a single aspect. I’m sure this isn’t always the case, but that’s my defense for that kind of criticism.

      Also let us remember I’m the guy who highly praises OreTsuba which is borderline hentai because despite all the aspects that I could never put a Christian through, it has some of the most brilliant direction and screenwriting I’ve ever seen in anime. This is kind of the opposite situation where I can’t enjoy it as a Christian because it’s so immoral but it’s objectively one of the best VN adaptations in anime.


      1. Yeah, I’m not saying you can’t criticize anime for its bad elements if it had some good elements you like. In my case, because I usually treat anime as a way to unwind after work, I generally don’t really have the time or energy to really analyze an anime critically for whether its writing (or other semi-objective elements) are bad or not. I would rather just enjoy a show for what it has to offer as a relaxing pastime. It’s probably why I’m overall more lenient on anime–though it also means that if a show’s writing is so bad that I notice even when I’m just casually watching, it must be *really* bad.

        It does make things interesting when I have to decide on my review scores for a show–though even those are more subjective for me than how others treat their review scores, since my review scores are measures of how much I’m willing to recommend an anime, which I’d say is different from how “objectively” good an anime is.

        And I think I can understand the whole thing with fans focusing too much on a single aspect of a show. Especially when fans latch on to an element of a show that is “different from the usual”, without really considering how well said element is actually used. I think my annoyance with the “x did it better” criticism comes when it is used to blanket-dismiss an entire show without much further explanation or giving the show some credit. Might be something that annoys me more when it comes up in forum posts and comment sections than in official reviews, really.


  3. To me, I think in some ways anime is getting worse just like music is getting worse. It’s just more perverse and running out of ideas. The same can be said for anime, there is always at least one to two anime that is just perversion every season. Or it’s about vampires, aliens, cute girls or demons. That’s basically 70% of all anime every season. Then of course, there’s the one or two that are actually decent and not vulgar. That’s just my opinion, though I haven’t watched the amount of anime that Kaze/JP have.

    I am at around the 150 mark in anime, I think….maybe a little more or less, but not 200 yet. Though it can be hard to remember all that one has watched especially when I was younger and I didn’t have a MAL account.


    1. I think if you want to find out if anime is getting worse is to find lapsed anime fans and ask them why they stopped watching it. At least all the ones I have talked to the same reasons kept coming up. The simple reason they stopped watching is that they stopped being catered to. Anime now is not being made for a mass audience like it was in the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s, but for hardcore otaku specifically. To argue that anime is less focused on pornography and titillation than ever before is an argument that just isn’t true. It’s limited audiences quite a bit.

      But it doesn’t mean they won’t watch anything new. Point them to Blood Blockade Battlefront, Ushio & Tora, or My Hero Academia, and they do get interested. But those shows are a rarity now. These people didn’t become lapsed fans because they grew bored of anime. They became lapsed because they weren’t being offered what they wanted.


      1. Well that is true, though to me I see anime as any other medium (video games, TV, movies, music, etc). Every season/show/movie/album/game is never any amazing piece of art. Some are terrible, some are OK, and some are “I have to watch/play this again!”. Anime is the same. For every My Hero Academia, there’s 5 bad shows that are for certain audiences and not the masses like you mentioned. I say just stick to the shows you enjoy and ignore the others. That’s what I do, if an anime is bad (to me) I drop it like a bad habit.


  4. Yes, anime is getting worse. I hypothesized that anime started to get worse around 2007, and decided to check my Watched Anime list on Anime Planet–sorting by date. Turns our that I was wrong: anime has gotten worse since 2009. After 2009, there are far less shows which I would describe as memorable. And, I certainly was not picky during my college years (2005 – 2009) and watched tons of things on Crunchyroll. At least, that’s when I see a major downturn in quality.


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