Even though my tastes in anime tend to gravitate to the popular and mostly well received titles, there are still quite a few I like that the majority of the fandom thinks are bad, in other words, their flaws far outweigh anything good about them. Froggykun on Fantastic Memes wrote a great post on this issue that inspired me to offer my opinion – why flawed anime are worthwhile and why we shouldn’t feel ashamed to like them…
I think everyone can agree that nothing is perfect, especially when it comes to fictional stories. So naturally anime, being the vast medium that it is, is full of flaws, even among its most acclaimed titles. Therefore, if every anime is flawed, we all like flawed anime to some extent…but it’s when the flaws outweigh the good points in our eyes that we consider an anime “bad.”
Since anime is such a subjective thing, and we can only rationalize why we like or don’t like something to an extent, it’s no wonder that there can be such a variety of views on any one particular anime, and even though you think a certain anime is a masterpiece, another fan not too unlike you might think it’s utter crap. Fans also have many different ways they react to flawed anime; they may hate it for its flaws and put it on their “bad” list, they may recognize its flaws but still like enough about it to put it on their “good” list, they may always insist it’s good and can’t understand other fans’ criticism, or, if they keep to themselves and don’t interact with the general fandom, they might not even know that so many other fans think it’s bad. Some people are of the opinion that you should just like what you like and have no obligation to rationalize why you like it to others. This may be true, but I feel that being critical enhances not only your general reasoning skills, but allows you to understand yourself and your relationship with your hobby much better than if you always just kicked back and never thought about why you did or didn’t like something. Like Froggykun said in his post, “I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be critical of flaws…It’s good to know, at the very least for curiosity’s sake, just why you have a particular emotional response to something. But being critical does not always necessarily mean being negative.”
A personal example I can use to further expand on the topic is my love for Angel Beats!. I’ve watched it three times and still consider it one of my favorite anime, yet at the same time, I know that it’s full of flaws. The pacing is messy, the story, setting, and big cast of characters are on too large a scale to be crammed into just 13 episodes, the comedic moments rarely work well…the show has a lot of problems. So why do I like it so much? Because the things it did do well in my eyes made up for it. The emotion and drama in many particular scenes really hit their mark with me. Which brings me to one point Froggykun made in his post that was very interesting – the fact that if an anime, despite having many flaws, also has many truly great scenes, it’s potentially more appealing to us than one that is just consistently good. As he put it, “Maybe my standards get lowered during the course of my viewing experience, but I’m more likely to feel wowed by particularly well-written scenes than by something that is simply good the whole way through.” But even so, it’s hard for us to explain to a more critical fan why certain things in a flawed anime are good enough to us to make us like the series, because often the things we like about it outside the flaws are things we can’t rationalize, and they boil down to nothing but personal taste. Which isn’t a bad thing because anime is, ultimately, meant to appeal to many different kinds of subjective tastes.
Like Angel Beats!, I like a number of other anime that the general fandom considers “flawed enough to be bad.” Two others would be Sword Art Online and Guilty Crown, which I don’t like as much as Angel Beats!, but I did like them more than not. Again, I recognize the fact that they have flaws, but I got more enjoyment from them than frustration, and that’s enough for me to at least consider an anime decent. I really liked the romance between Asuna and Kirito in SAO, and I didn’t find the characters and plot of Guilty Crown nearly as terrible as other people did. Froggykun pointed out that the reason anime like these tend to be a lot more hated is because they’re both flawed and hyped, and thus get the natural backlash that popular things get. Then you have series like K-ON, which some fans love because it carries through with its story of “cute high school girls doing cute things” exceptionally well amongst so many others like it, while others hate it because they don’t find that type of anime and its character archetypes the least bit entertaining. Honestly, who can say who’s right and who’s wrong?
At the end of the day, do we really need to rationalize why we like certain Japanese cartoons? Like I said, I think it’s healthily self-enhancing to be critical and try to understand why we do and don’t like a certain anime, but there’s no need to carry it too far. Despite us all being anime fans, because it’s such a diverse medium, we’ll find tons of other fans who hate series we love and love series we hate. But, unless there’s evidence that a person is somehow immoral for liking a certain anime, we should never use a person’s liking of an anime we see as flawed to make grand assumptions about them personally. After all, we would think it’s wrong for them to do the same about us. So to wrap up, Froggykun tied up the topic well at the end of his post:
“Despite the social aspect of blogging and discussing anime with others, actually sitting down and watching the show in question is an intensely private experience. No one else can see it quite like you can. If there’s one message you can take away from this post it’s this: have faith in your tastes. No matter how obscure or despised your favorite anime is by consensus, it has to be something special if it has the power to touch someone out there incredibly deeply. That’s the magic of stories, flaws or not.”