Friday’s Feature – On Watching Trash and Finding Gems


If you’ve been reading my blog you probably already know that I watch a lot of anime. Watching anime and reading novels are my two main forms of entertainment when I’m not working and I consume a lot of stories. I previously did a top 5 list on reasons why I drop a series that I’ve started watching but in today’s feature I want to look at why I continue watching some anime even after it is quite clear they are going to be complete and utter garbage.

Just warning you that this one is definitely more of a ramble than a focussed post.


Storytelling isn’t a science. Two stories with a nearly identical plot structure and character archetypes can be told in two entirely different ways and feel completely different. One might be amazing whereas the other might be ordinary or dreadful. Good storytelling involves the careful manipulation of a range of elements in order to convey a decent story. Even then, just because overall a story isn’t well handled doesn’t mean that everything in it is bad. There could be one idea, one character, one scenario that just nail whatever impact the author was hoping for.

Because of this, while I might drop an anime in the initial few episodes if it fails to grab my interest, once I’ve decided I’m interested in something (whether it be the premise, a character, a setting or whatever else it might be) I rarely let something go. The result is watching and reading a lot of things that I probably should have let drop.


Here’s the thing though, if you don’t finish it, you’ll never know. You’ll never know if they somehow brought those elements together. You’ll never know where those characters ended up. You’ll never know if you missed that one moment with a character that could have changed your entire outlook on them. And maybe you’re fine with not knowing. If something is bad enough you may be perfectly happy to cut ties and to never speak of it again. But… that nagging voice always gets to me.

When episode 10 of Taboo Tattoo came out I actually didn’t watch it on my usual day. I found other things to do. It wasn’t a conscious decision but I just wasn’t in the mood. The show was dreadful. I hated most of the characters. The action had never looked as interesting as the first episode and the plot had seriously thrown itself off a bridge more than once. The next day I saw it still sitting there in my Crunchyroll queue and I sighed. I wanted to drop the show.


So, I continued. Did it get better? Nope. Was it still pretty much trash? Yep. Do I regret that I didn’t just let it go at episode 10? Surprisingly, no (although while I don’t regret dropping it I do wonder if maybe another show could have entertained me more for the season).

At least now I know that the show didn’t ever rise above it’s first episode (which was completely generic but watchable with a half-interesting set-up). Every episode after seemed to find a way to cripple the plot or the characters and visually it deteriorated as well. I’m not having to rely on others telling me it wasn’t good. I know it wasn’t and I judged that for myself.

More importantly, if it had become a hidden gem, I’d have had the chance to see it.

And even when something is bad it provides opportunities. You can think about why it isn’t working and compare it to other stories and why they are better. You can discuss it with others and either share a dislike for something or have a fun back and forth about the redeeming qualities or lack thereof. You can imagine ways it could have been better and share your views with others.


The other reason I feel watching shows that just aren’t good can be helpful is because it definitely puts things in perspective. I remember after the summer season ended reading the views of the reviewers on Anime News Network as they selected the best and worst shows of the season. While they are entitled to their opinion, the number of them that selected Cheer Boys as the worse show kind of stunned me. Sure, Cheer Boys has a lot of issues, but it is hardly a walking disaster of a show.

Which made me wonder how many of them had waded through some of the truly worst shows of the season? I also wonder this when someone spends a long amount of time trying to convince me that SAO is garbage. Is SAO perfect? No. Is it garbage? Not even close.

All and all, sometimes it’s watching the not so great anime that make the great anime shine.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

19 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature – On Watching Trash and Finding Gems

  1. Very well said. Sometimes, it’s just about enjoying a thing, never mind if it’s good or bad. If there’s something about it you enjoy, that’s enough.

    Rokka no Yuusha was a show like that, for me.

    1. I still haven’t watched Rokka no Yuusha after being told it was inconclusive. I had intended to catch up on that series but I just wasn’t willing to invest the time if it didn’t really finish.

      1. It is very inconclusive, and ends with more mysteries than it begins with, which kinda sucked.

        That said, it had a ton of potential, and a solid story, so I’m hopeful it’ll still get a second season at some point to continue things.

  2. Great post and I share your mentality when it comes to watching things. There is a joy that can come out from watching the unknown and finding a show you find worth the time spent and some even greater than you imagine. While I was in the camp of dropping Taboo Tattoo when it was airing, I still also want to go back to it even if its horrible. Leaving a story, any story even one as bad as Taboo Tattoo, just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    We desire to drink from the imagination of creators. To get drunk on the passions of their labour and ride the buzz of emotional bliss, no matter what emotion it may be. To deny that glass containing one’s pure stream of consciousness is sad in my opinion and why I am truly glad there are other people who have a hard time dropping shows. My friends call me crazy for watching the bad shows I do, but among those bad shows are shards of hope for a better story. Building a basis to decide for oneself what you believe is good and what is bad, rather than merely than spoiling oneself on the Chateau Lafite. I prefer to have a little Classico mixed in with perhaps a bit of Mike’s Hard.

    Well that was truly an overload of alcohol analogies…maybe that is too telling of my habits. Naw probably nothing of the sort. I guess you brought me out of hiatus for this one reply, but the post was so tantalizing I couldn’t resist leaving a comment. Enjoyable post as always.

    1. Thanks for your comment and the wonderful imagery.
      While I agree that wanting to know how something ends is usually enough of a draw I wouldn’t inflict Taboo Tattoo on anyone and if it makes you feel better, it doesn’t end as they have clearly set up for a sequel I sincerely hope never arrives.

  3. I definitely understand your feelings here. Back in the day I was watching like 20+ shows at a time, some anime some live action, and there could be 3 shows so damn similar that unless you watched them you’d think they were the same. Yet, each had their own highlights and things they needed to work on.

    Thing is, at what point do you drop something due to lack of interest? Much less, if you’re coming to outright hate something, do you express why and keep posting or figure that trashing a show isn’t the best thing for your blog? Especially if it is for multiple episodes/ posts.

    Yet there is this feeling, as you mentioned, that maybe it will turn around right? Maybe that one thing you thought the show needed would happen. Which sometimes it does, but more than half the time it doesn’t. I felt that way about, Grisaia no Kajitsu I believe. When it seemed like it would just be another silly harem type of anime. But damn did it get good.

  4. This was an interesting read. I can definitely see where you’re coming from as well. I’ve read many a crappy books just because my interest in one element overwhelmed my dislike of other elements. A recent example would be me enduring the whole of Samurai Deeper Kyo just because I couldn’t rest without finding out the resolution to the central mystery.

    1. Mysteries get away with a lot of narrative transgressions once they’ve hooked you into their mystery. As long as you have to know you’ll put up with a lot to get to an answer.

  5. If you give me about ten minutes of spare time, I could argue why SAO is garbage. : ]

    In all seriousness though, an intriguing post. Usually when considering a drop, I just weigh whether or not the negatives outweigh the positives. “I like this character, but everything else encourages me to consider suicide, so farewell, my sweet prince. May we pray for a spin-off for thee.~”

  6. I really am experiencing it by watching Vivid strike, this season.. Still waiting for a over-the-top moment.. Is anyone a fan of that anime? , I wonder every time I watch it. But still watching it >.>

  7. As always a great post indeed and gives some interesting perspective on things. I rarely drop a series, nearly always finishing it till the end. Pericisely for one of the reasons you stated: it might be a hidden gem. A good example of this for me recently was Coppelion. The show started of slow and fairly mediocre, but at the halfway point it really became very good, and kind of made me forget the earlier episodes.
    Another thing that (sometimes) happens, is that a show (or movie) is so bad that it becomes good (and it actually is funny that it is sooo incredibly bad). But unfortunately there are also cases where when you reach the end you kick yourself for not having dropped it episode 1 (lol). Anyway, really enjoyed this post! 😀

    1. I’ve gotten better at dropping some things because there’s too many shows to watch but sometimes I do end up quite enjoying things I know are actually kind of bad which keeps me watching some shows well after the obvious drop point has been hit.
      Coppelion was one I dropped early but I guess at some point I’ll give it another shot.

  8. 100 percent agree with you about storytelling b ecause honestly everything has been done before, and teh execution is what matters. I don’t mind a bad show too much, if it has at least one redeeming quality. I give a show four episodes to grab me, and if it’s at least somewhat intriguing in some way I’ll give it a full watch (if it’s 12 episodes I just watch the whole thing, I can do taht in a day).

    I’m a bit of an oddball, I suppose because I use trashy campy movies and fanfiction to de-stress and get a laugh out of. Bad fanfiction I adore, especially when you can see the hidden potential but it’s just so poorly executed you get a huge chuckle out of it.

    Great post!

  9. yeah, i agree. ill happily take a few bad eggs to find the cool shows. i do feel like it may make my opinions feel a bit more jaded, though. the commitment level to a series while blogging can be pretty dangerous, i suppose…

  10. Interesting piece and a perspective I definitely agree with.

    I pretty much feel the same way.

    And people who think SAO is complete garbage and the “worst anime ever made” baffle me as well. It’s got flaws, but it ain’t Taboo Tattoo, The Asterisk War or Mars of Destruction.

    Enjoyed reading this one!

    1. Ouch to The Asterisk War though I do see your point. While I found that series kind of entertaining it is also kind of hard to recommend because mostly it is walking cliche and mediocre delivery.

      1. I have a real unhealthy dislike for the Asterisk War.

        Just the fact it combines so many of the most overused and lazy tropes in Anime without having thing that resembles an idea made it really unwatchable for me.

        I understand the appeal though. It’s definitely got some elements to it that people would no doubt love.

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