We here at Recommend Me Anime can, on occasion, be animation snobs with the series we watch. It is understandable when looking at older series that the animation is less than stellar. They didn’t have the technology and special effects that we have today, and in many cases didn’t have the budget to do a real bang-up job. However, regardless of the reason for poor animation, many of those series actually have good stories to tell. With many fans passing up anime because they just can’t get past the way it is animated, the medium may have failed those series, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever give them a chance.
Unlike other shows on this list that suffer from bad art AND animation, the art in Haibane Renmei is actually quite lovely. It nourishes the gentle and thoughtful nature of the show while often being quite breath-taking when it wants to be. However, you can tell that Haibane Renmei didn’t have much money to work with in order to animate it. When it is not wowing with the stills, it is cutting costs with bad camera angle decisions and many shots of just people with their lips moving.
The real kicker here is the anime starts off slow as sludge, its first few episodes are almost mind-numbing with how boring they are because the relationships that carry the show to greatness later on have not yet been formed. The old animation and slow start make this a real challenge to get into, but if you stick with it, you are rewarded with such a wondrous and meaningful story.
The original Berserk series back in the 90’s suffered from an extreme lack of budget, which had a large part in how it ended the way it did. However, it seems that Berserk is fated to have terrible animation for any of its animated series. As the remake movies of the Golden Age arc and the 2016 new series have shown, you can still make anime in this modern age that looks like complete crap. Most fans have a problem with the dreadful CGI from a relatively obscure studio that should, by all rights, be ashamed of itself. (And I don’t say that lightly, I have enormous respect for how hard animators work.) However, there are so many things wrong with the new Berserk anime compared to the old one, I could fill an article just with that. If only the whole series looked as good as the OP and ED sequences for the 2016 series, but instead you get terrible CGI throughout, occasionally good still visuals, and very, very clunky animation.
Berserk is near-legendary for its compelling, heart-breaking tale of ambition and revenge that it is nothing short of a travesty that it can’t get a well animated series from anyone, though OLM did try its best.
The art style of CLAMP has always been cloying to many anime and manga fans, driving away people only save the most hardened shoujo fiends (who often have to suffer through the worst of the worst when it comes to art). However, while every character in xxxHolic may be all long legs, torsos as long as said legs, and tiny little heads to top it off, they tell a damn fun story.
The story is more loosely connected than bound together by a stiff plot. Each episode focuses on a different piece of Japanese folklore and all come together through the story. Think of it similar to Mononoke, but not as deep and with more cheesy humor typical of older anime.
Its plot, or lack thereof, isn’t perfect, but it is a fun series to watch if you can get past the art. It’d be more interesting if fluid animation was combined with that unique art style, like in CLAMP’s other anime adaptations. However, it is just made worse by how clunky everything feels in almost every scene.
Fruits Basket is a shoujo romance legend, but sometimes…Man, sometimes those gigantic eyes on tiny heads can just push you away. You have to work really hard to look past the art in Fruits Basket, and the animation helps it very little. The problem with it is that there is often very little animation, just switching to faces and making the lips move.
However, it does tell a fairly intriguing tale of a family possessed with the members of the Chinese Zodiac and the unique and often dark family politics there in. The plot, while often typical in terms of romantic comedies, does have a few surprising twists that make it more than just romance drama.
Rokka no Yuusha
Rokka no Yuusha landed a spot on here not because it has bad animation throughout, but it yo-yo’s back and forth so much that it is kind of ridiculous. Sometimes it is quite nice and makes the CGI work with the rest of it, and other times it is quite terrible. This happens more often in the fight scenes than anything else, which, as an anime mostly about fighting, that is not so great.
This series is also one of the more modern examples of just because animation is new, doesn’t mean it is great as well. However, despite many people dropping it for a slow start and the dipping animation, it has gathered quite a little cult of people who enjoy it for its somewhat unique story.
Ping Pong the Animation
Ask any anime critic and they will have likely loved Ping Pong. It is kind of like the hipster weeb show to love because absolutely no one thought you could craft a good story around ping pong. They did it, though.
There is some debate on whether the animation adds to the whole story, but in some parts there is no denying that it takes away. At times, the series looks quite ridiculous, but isn’t a series about ping pong ridiculous anyway? Maybe. It seems like often it is one of those experimentally animated shows like Tatami Galaxy, but were they genius or just sloppy?
His and Her Circumstances
If you are into shoujo romantic comedies, His and Her Circumstances is one of those must-watch series or else you will never quite feel whole. It not only tells a romance tale that actually does pretty well to distinguish itself from other drama-laden series through its characters, but it is one of the few that transcend the relationship beyond high school puppy love. That being said, Gainax didn’t have a whole lot of funds to work with and it’s not their best effort.
Gainax has had some animation issues before, but they are a studio that has some big stories in their repertoire, and this is one of them. While the animation is basic, and the walking scenes look like two paper dolls bobbing up and down, it doesn’t always draw you away from the story. That only says how much this story draws you in if you are a romance junkie.
The issue with Beck is it tried to be alternative. It’s a show about rockers, so why not an alternative animation style, right? Well, it didn’t work out for them. Still to this day there are Beck fans out there that are holding out for a remake that they’ll probably never get.
Surprisingly, the CGI used for the guitars actually kind of works, but you can tell that poor artistic choices and probably low budget shine through at others. Luckily, most of these areas of bad animation actually aren’t at crucially important scenes. You know the deal, blow the budget on the big stuff like the performances which, in all honesty, is where you should blow the budget in a music anime.
As music anime series go, the plot isn’t original, but the realism of it all is what sets this apart from the pack. While many characters are very noticeable plot devices, it provides a great music anime with a great soundtrack that always maintains itself like a true rocker: always about the music.
You know how Yuri on Ice is sometimes about figure skating, but the figure skating animation is kind of awful most of the time? Princess Tutu is like that. It is a show about dancing, but the animation for the dancing (and the rest of it) is so bad that it is sometimes physically difficult to not look away. The dances that are supposed to be fluid and emotion-evoking are definitely not. However, it makes up for it with a wonderful soundtrack and interesting characters. The plot, though a little silly, can also be a big plus at times with its thought-provoking nature. However, the old art and the absolutely dreadful animation have scared most potential watchers away.
Trigun is one of those series that you can often blame its age for the bad animation. However, compare it to its soul brother Cowboy Bebop. That series is comparably old and still has beautiful fluid animation. Trigun, however, is often blocky, the gun fighting is clunky, and you can visibly spot the already nonsensical smoke effects looping back around to save money.
Yet, for all its animated flaws, Trigun maintains itself as an anime classic for its story. It is fun at times then in almost the blink of an eye turns to dark and heart-breaking. Add to that having a rare Western setting on the new frontier (of a new planet) and you have something wholly lovable.
Do you have any more anime series that you like, but have terrible animation? Head on down to the comments section below to tell the world. However, before you do that, remember there is a distinction between bad art and bad animation. If I had my way, Kaiji would be on here, but I concede that it has fine animation and I just hate those razor-sharp pointed chins.