It’s been an extremely generous past few seasons in terms of anime sequels. While some of them (Free!, Sword Art Online, Aldnoah.Zero) were entirely expected, the announcement of others (Mushishi, Durarara!!) came as pleasant surprises. To their credit, many of these sequels have been relatively well-received by the fan community, although there have also been a number of them, both recent and not-so-recent, that haven’t gone down nearly as well. There’s certainly plenty to choose from in this department, but I’ve attempted to restrain myself by going over only the five worst to have darkened my screen to date – counting down from bad to downright awful.
First though, a few dishonourable mentions to get the party started: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing, Black Butler II (but hey, at least Book of Circus made up for that one), Magi: The Kingdom of Magic.
5. Eureka Seven AO
Ooooh dear. I’m having trouble knowing exactly where to start with this one. See, I don’t just like the original Eureka Seven series – I adore it. And I’ll come clean and say that I don’t believe AO is a terrible series as much as it is just terribly mediocre… which in a way is almost worse than the alternative; I’d perhaps have felt less let-down with an outrageously bad sequel than such a blatantly average one. In hindsight, perhaps my expectations were simply too high. What I wanted was everything I got the first time around – a vibrant cast with plenty of character development, an awesome soundtrack, and a slow but steady build-up to a compelling main narrative. What I see here is a serviceable but mostly watered-down group of main characters, a fine but largely unmemorable selection of music, and a story that tries hard but mainly feels convoluted and messy. Many of the ingredients necessary to make a decent enough series are there – including some lovely visuals for one – but very little seems mixed together properly. The biggest problem with AO isn’t that it’s a god-awful show – it’s that it’s an uneven and half-assed sequel to an outstanding original.
4. Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino
There’s a very special kind of hell reserved for people who take an initially tasteful, thoughtful, and emotionally impactful show and then proceed to moe-fy the hell out of it. I’m instinctively wary of any anime that goes for a direct sequel and completely changes the art style on a whim, but when I see restrained and understatedly elegant character designs suddenly become cutesy and sparkly-eyed tween versions of themselves, I just know something has gone terribly wrong. Many viewers of the original series criticise the slow pacing and unresolved narrative elements of Gunslinger Girl, and I can certainly see why, but Il Teatrino takes all that’s actually good about the title – the sophisticated characterisation, the subtle atmosphere, the weighty moral themes surrounding the story – and turns it into a badly animated, poorly executed, and embarrassingly schoolgirlish spectacle. It basically becomes what I initially thought the first series would be like based solely on the name and the plot synopsis: lolis with guns, and little else.
3. Psycho-Pass 2
This is exactly the sort of mess that happens when the staff changes hands for the follow-up season. Ubukata Tow replaced Urobuchi ‘The Urobutcher’ Gen as head writer for the sequel to one of the best original anime works this side of 2010, but made a far bigger hash of it than I believe Urobuchi ever would have. Granted, the first Psycho-Pass isn’t exactly what I’d call subtle – it’s violent, gritty, and some might even say sensationalist in its methods. However, it also establishes a solid dystopian universe and an intriguing cast of characters; I can forgive the occasional unnecessary showiness in exchange for a decent cyberpunk story. Psycho-Pass 2, meanwhile, features truly ridiculous amounts of gore and ‘sexy’ action sequences that seem calculated purely for shock value, and meanwhile all the careful world-building of season one is thrown out the window. Character development is negligible, if it can be said to exist at all, and eventually even the plot itself ceases to make much sense. It’s a shame the series has to be dragged through the gutter like this – such a waste of potential.
2. Dragon Ball GT
I’ll be blunt: I’ve never been a big fan of Dragon Ball Z. I watched the show back when it was on TV at home in dub format for probably exactly the same reasons that so many others did – it was one of the only anime available at the time (because who here remembers the joys of dialup internet?), and also because it was vastly entertaining to poke fun at. But you know what, I actually have quite a bit of respect for the franchise. It may not be my cup of tea, but I don’t deny either its historical significance or its cultural achievements. That said, Dragon Ball GT really is a bunch of crap that everyone could have done without. A complete lack of originality kills just about any charm that this series may once have had; it’s 64 episodes of pure drudgery that simply rehashes many of the same plot devices and scenarios from both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, only with none of the soul and all of the cringe factor. It’s also painfully obvious that the show was created for the sole purpose of attempting to squeeze more money from an already completed story – and really, is there anything more damning I could say than that?
1. Orphen: Revenge
I’ll be the first to admit that in a lot of ways, the first Orphen anime series isn’t exactly stellar. The animation quality is unabashedly poor, the artwork is inconsistent, and the background music is of the canned synthesizer variety. Still, I loved the show when I first watched it and still do today despite its obvious flaws – it was one of the very first ‘adult’ anime shows I ever watched, and the heart of story is both genuinely interesting and competently executed. The sequel… well. If anything, the production values in Orphen: Revenge actually take a turn for the worse, but more importantly, so does absolutely everything else. Overrun by pointless filler, bogged down by comic relief characters who are no longer funny (assuming they ever were), and dependent on its shoe-horned villains for any semblance of plot, Revenge does a pretty good job of completely debasing everything that the original Orphen has going for it. Not even for purely nostalgic reasons should you watch this. Or rather, especially for those reasons – because unfortunately, I can say with no exaggeration whatsoever that this is the single most disappointing anime sequel I’ve seen to date.
Question of the post: What’s the worst anime sequel you’ve seen to date? Are there any anime sequels you’ve flat-out refused to watch for fear of crushing disappointment?