Do you ever get the feeling that you’ve seen an anime somewhere before, but you don’t recall ever watching it? Don’t worry, it happens — and it isn’t your fault. Some anime receive a lot of hype before they premiere. But, once they finally do, the hype fizzles out. Whether it’s due to a flat storyline, boring characters, or just another series dominating the headlines, some shows simply don’t leave an impact on us — even when they’re good. So, here are five anime that are good but forgettable.
The Sky Crawlers
In an alternate world, there’s a war going on. But against whom and why isn’t known — even to those that put their lives on the line (known as “Kildren”). One such soldier is Yuuichi Kannami, a fighter pilot who gets assigned to a new battalion out in the country. While he’s never met this brigade or its commander, he gets a familiar feeling from them. It feels like he’s already met and built meaningful relationships with them.
Premiering in 2008, The Sky Crawlers dominated the Japanese box office and received critical acclaim for its soundtrack and storyline. However, the tale of genetically engineered fighter pilots didn’t seem to grab the attention of Western audiences — despite its artsy animation and eccentric screenplay about social criticism. Even big names like Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and Tomohiko Ishii (Eden of the East), who directed and produced the film respectively, couldn’t raise the popularity of this forgettable anime.
The Big O
Forty years ago, something mysterious happened in Paradigm City that erased everyone’s memories. In the present day, we follow Roger Smith, a negotiator who owns a giant robot (called Megadeus) and tries to solve disputes between parties. Helping him are his butler, Norman Burg, and his human-like android assistant, R. Dorothy Wayneright. Together, they work to solve the 40-year-old mystery plaguing Paradigm City.
While a lot of anime stick to a traditional Japanese animation style, the creators of the series took a different approach. Studio Sunrise styled the anime after the American cartoon show Batman: The Animated Series. Its characters, landscape, and storyline even resemble those typically found in Gotham City. Although it’s a unique take on the mecha genre, Japanese audiences didn’t seem to love or even remember the series, which led to its cancellation and made it possible for shows like Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Cowboy Bebop to dominate the headlines. Thanks to a small group of fans, the series came back to wrap up the story. Too bad no one will remember it.
UN-GO takes place in post-war Japan where crime has grown rampant and many gruesome cases go unsolved. But despite the high crime rate, there are a few detectives that do their best to solve these cases. One of them is detective Shinjūrō Yūki, also known as the “The Defeated Detective,” who is always bested by his rival Rinroku Kaishō. Yūki along with his weird assistant Inga, investigate each crime but never get anywhere. Well, that’s the official line according to Kaishō. The truth is, Yūki and Inga always catch the criminal — thanks, in part, to Inga’s powers. Will these two ever get the recognition they deserve or will the title of Defeated Detective stay with Yūki forever?
The goal of many mystery anime is to grab and hold onto the audiences’ attention until the final episode. Unfortunately, UN-GO‘s storyline doesn’t possess that kind of captivating power. Its supernatural elements, enjoyable cast, and detective rivalry just weren’t enough to stand out in the small puddle that is the mystery genre.
Kado: The Right Answer
One day, a mysterious giant cube materializes out of thin air and engulfs an airplane. The Japanese authorities try to identify the cube but to no avail. Luckily, one of their own, Koujirou Shindou, a government official and master negotiator is on board the plane. He meets the being behind the cube, Yaha-kui zaShunina, who materializes in the form of a human man. The being has a message for Earth: he wants to “advance” humanity, starting with Japan. Has this otherworldly entity come here to help or imprison us?
Using anime as a source of social commentary isn’t new. Series like Planetes and Perfect Blue have done it before — and successfully. Unfortunately, by the end of the series, Kado: The Right Answer went from an intelligent and mature take on negations to a space horror. Consequently, the anime dismissed its target audience of older viewers for a younger fan base, who also wasn’t interested in the series. This, sadly, left the now-unpopular anime with a small niche audience.
D-Frag! follows Kenji Kazama, Fujou High’s resident bad boy, who causes a lot of trouble along with his friends. But one day, it’s Kenji turn to be on the receiving end. When he spots a fire in the Game Creation Club, Kazama extinguishes it. However, instead of thanking Kazama for putting the fire out, the club’s members attack him and try to erase his memory to hide the incident. Luckily, the club’s president, Roka Shibasaki rescues him — but also coerces Kazama into joining the club.
Follow Kazama as he attempts to leave this crazy club and its members. Will he successfully escape, or will he have the time of his life?
Its colorful animation, lovable characters, and funny jokes make this series a great one to watch. Unfortunately, the sudden surge in popularity of the game genre resulted in anime titles, such as Recovery of an MMO Junkie and New Game!, that overshadowed the series, and it was quickly forgotten.