An anime can have everything going for it. The trailers look good, the characters interesting, the staff superb...and the show is a disaster. A bad show is easy to make, but some shows seem to take everything that could easily make them amazing and completely squander the opportunity, gradually sinking into mediocrity and then straight on down to terrible. These six anime, from Charlotte to Psycho Pass, were complete disappointments that could have been so much more but instead ended up even worse for how hard they let audiences down.
It looked like Studio Trigger had done it again. The character designs make every frame a treat to look at, the opening song is a jam and there seemed to be just the right amount of Trigger absurdity that makes the studio so special. So how did Kiznaiver end up being so boring? It doesn't help that the main character is the least interesting of the entire cast nor that two separate love triangles waste a lot of time.
But perhaps the problem was that, for a show meant to be about connection, Kiznaiver completely fails to connect with the audience. Although the characters are meant to feel each other's pain, the fact that pain belongs to the group makes it easy to disregard the individual. What should have been a highly emotional sequence of events is easy to detach from since the characters involved never give any real reason to care, most of them incredibly bland despite their flashy appearance. Perhaps by the end there were some interesting revelations but at that point it was too late to get invested.
Tales of Zestiria
The Tales of video game franchise had worked with studio Ufotable before for cut-scenes in the Tales of Zestiria game and even for an OVA. The Tales of Zestiria game has a solid plot and an enjoyable cast--the recipe for a successful adventure anime. Ufotable had successfully pulled off Unlimited Blade Works in 2014, so the decision to make another game-based anime for 2016 seemed solid, especially since they'd already made the Zestiria OVA.
However, the Zestiria anime is a complete mess. The pacing is terrible, even including a full two-episode advertisement for an upcoming game, and the most intriguing characters spend the majority of their time invisible, as if the game mechanic of "one player on the field at a time" still has effect in the show. Tales of Zestiria was two seasons of forced character interaction and a nonsense plot that didn't even pull through on the game's biggest twists, cheapening the game's emotional ending. There's a good reason that Tales of Berseria hasn't had an anime announcement.
Charlotte has a cool premise on top of being funny and entertaining and just squeaking in ahead of the rush of the superpower craze. However, the tonal shifts happen much too quickly for an anime of only 13 episodes. The main character starting off by joining the student council and ending by traveling the world for years slowly losing his mind in order to steal every other superpower in existence is a lot to take in.
Throw in a couple of deaths that may or may not be fixed by time travel and it's complete whiplash. Perhaps it would have worked over a 24 episode show, but Charlotte messed up by trying to be too many things at once -- cutesy high school hijinks, superpowers, secret organizations, terrorists, a time travel conundrum, a romance and a psychological slow slide into madness.
Psycho-Pass Season 2
There were a lot of factors that led to the disaster that was Season 2 of Psycho-Pass. First, it had so much to live up to with the success of Season 1. Then there was the fact it only had 11 episodes to try to cram the same caliber of story into. Then there's the fact that half of a cast that became beloved during Season 1 is no longer there.
With Kagari and Masaoka dead and Kogami gone, only Yayoi, Shion, Ginoza and Akane remain of the original crew. The fact that newbie Mika ends up taking up a lot of screen time and is generally irritating and dismissive towards the Enforcers doesn't make it any easier to watch Akane try to practically solo the 'WC?' murders. The plot moves too quickly with too little time to dwell on the antagonist or on any of the questions of morality Season 1 had posed. In the end, the movie ended up being a lot more satisfying.
Aldnoah.Zero caught attention with a bold series premiere and deuteragonists Slaine and Inaho caught up on opposite sides of a war between Mars and Earth, one that begins with an attempt on the life of a Martian princess. The show starts to fall apart quickly though, mostly due to sloppy character execution that makes Inaho seem emotionless and the princess a hypocrite. Slaine, meanwhile, is subjected to a horrendous series of events and, by the end of Season 1, has been transformed through torture and manipulation into the villain for Season 2.
The entire situation is incredibly contrived and only gets worse through Season 2 until Slaine is put in prison for life and used as a scapegoat for the whole war by the princess he adores. It's a shame since Slaine and Inaho would have made for a vastly better show working together -- if only they'd stopped shooting at each other with their mecha for five seconds to talk and realize they actually both want to keep the princess alive.
Darling in the Franxx
Darling in the Franxx feels like one of those shows that thinks it's a lot better than it actually is, and it squandered every opportunity to actually be that really great show. With a distinct Evangelion feel at the start, Darling in the Franxx seemed poised to take on questions about love and sexuality in a deeper way via mecha, especially with the way the male and female pilots are positioned, with the girls kneeling in front of the boys in a distinctly sexual pose.
The inability of one of the women to pilot due to her sexual orientation, as well as the arrival of pilots who don't follow the traditional gender pairings or positions seemed to shout that Darling in the Franxx was actually going to get serious about tearing down gender roles in mainstream anime, but of course that didn't actually happen. Instead, love triangles and flashbacks to prove just what complete soulmates Zero Two and Hiro are take over the show, culminating in a confusing ending that involves space travel and the power of love. What a waste.
Squandered opportunities might be more frustrating than anything else, simply because it is so easy to imagine how an anime could have been amazing. Sometimes circumstances like a time crunch give disaster shows a bit of an excuse, but with others, there's just no explaining how they went so wrong. With studios like Trigger and Ufotable and the minds behinds shows like Angel Beats! and Fate/Zero, these anime had no reason to turn out as badly as they did. While some could redeem themselves with movies or a possible reboot sometime in the future, other anime on this list will simply go down as massive disappointments.