Just because an anime was declared mediocre or downright terrible by the general consensus doesn’t mean it didn’t do anything right. In the cases of these shows, their respective protagonists were much better than expected.
Some of these protagonists were conceptually good or even great, but unfortunately overshadowed by everything around them. Either way, these main and supporting heroes deserved better anime than they actually got.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
dix Stars Align – Shiratori Middle School Soft Tennis Team Was Easy To Cheer On
Due to circumstances beyond Eight Bit studio’s control, Star alignment was suddenly canceled midway through its initial 24-episode run. As a result, this sweet tennis/slice-of-life drama that had an otherwise strong start ended on a disappointing note. That being said, he had one of the friendliest teams around.
Everyone from troubled prodigy Maki Katsuragi to misunderstood and introverted team supporter Kanako Mitsue had a compelling story and characterization just waiting to blossom. Yes Star alignment were allowed to take their time as their creators intended, Shiratori Middle School’s soft tennis team would have been fondly remembered.
9 Farewell, my dear Cramer – The Warabis were lovely outsiders
Ideally, Farewell, my dear Cramer would have been the female response to sports shows like Haikyuu !!. Instead, the history of this football team was a dragging chore that had more wasted potential than redeeming qualities. One of the anime’s biggest missed opportunities came in the form of the Warabis, the focal soccer team with big dreams.
Seeing the Warabis meet and play ball for the first time was fun, but the novelty wore off as the anime didn’t develop the Nozomi, Suou, and Midori as anything other than hopeful underdogs. The Warabis’ journey to recognition (and women’s soccer in general) deserves an anime that is more than forgettable.
8 Hanebado! – Ayano Hanesaki and Nagisa Aragaki were ideal rivals
badminton series Hanebado! focused on the rivalry between petulant teammates Ayano Hanesaki and Nagisa Aragaki: a badminton prodigy and the team’s hardworking captain, respectively. Ideally, this would have resulted in a battle of opposing athletic mindsets that are commonplace in sports anime. The reality, however, borders on edgy self-parody.
Ayano’s athletic genius was portrayed as a psychotic split personality, while Nagisa was something of a bitter and sore loser for most of the anime’s run. As humorless as the anime tried to be, it was hard to take anything seriously. A better sports anime would have mitigated Hanebado’s serious and focused edge on the humanities of Ayano and Nagisa.
sept Future Diary – Yuno Gasai was a killer in love with another reality
For better and for worse, Future Diary is the definitive death game anime that codified many traits of the niche. One such trope was the central relationship between an unremarkable male hero and their yandere girlfriend; a couple best represented by Yuki and Yuno. That being said, there was a lot more to them (especially Yuno) than they let on.
Yuno only became who she is after her reality’s Yuki died, which led her to become murderously obsessed with the other Yuki. In any other story, Yuki and Yuno’s twisted but tragic love would have been a big emotional core. Instead, it appeared as forced thanks to Future Diary youthful pleasures.
6 Tokyo Ghoul – Touka Kirishima was the most compelling main character
In his heart, Goule de Tokyo focused on the ghouls’ struggle and desire to integrate into human society. But the adaptation recklessly prioritized bloody action and simplified characterizations, which pissed most viewers off at protagonist Ken Kaneki. That’s why they turned to Touka and never looked back.
For most of the first season, Touka’s personal tragedy was more interesting than Ken’s constant whining. Ken has more agency in the sequel, Goule de Tokyo:D, but it was too little and too late for some. Touka’s determination and determination stood out so much that she arguably stole the show and deserved a better one.
5 Sword Art Online – Karen Kohiruimaki Realized Kirito’s Untapped Potential
One of the most persistent criticisms against Sword Art Online is that it is a fantasy of transparent power. Kirito made that very clear, as his life inside and outside of the game world lacked any believable challenge, despite the odd roadblock. Karen from the spin-off Alternative SAO: Gun Gale Online, however, was its polar opposite.
Much like Kirito, Karen was a normal person who found confidence and purpose in the games she escaped from. The difference was that AND considered the pros and cons of escapism instead of fulfilling the audience’s wishes through the protagonist. Viewers who preferred Karen over Kirito even went so far as to wish gun gale online was not connected at all SAO.
4 Darling In The FranXX – Goro was the most underrated FranXX pilot
The weather was not kind to Darling in the FranXX, which many anime fans have since dismissed as a blatant Néon Genesis Evangelion clone populated by characters at best forgettable and at worst unsympathetic. The only exception was Goro, who the fan base rallied around mainly because they felt bad for him and wished him all the best.
Goro was the most mature of FranXX’s troubled teen pilots, but he was regularly upstaged by everyone else. Despite having had the most composed responses to history’s biggest conflicts like Ichigo’s controversial kiss, Goro hardly got any credit. In a better (and less derivative) anime, it would have had the chance to leave a bigger impact.
3 Berserk (2016) – Guts was slowly reclaiming his humanity
One of the worst things about the much maligned Berserk the reboot was how he botched Guts’ development. The CGI anime adapted the arcs that happened after Golden Age and Eclipse, which was a big first for the franchise. But instead of taking its time to show Guts losing himself in hate before rekindling his humanity, the anime rushed it all.
Berserk featured authentic moments, like Guts forming a new family and choosing Casca over revenge, but these owed more to the strength of the manga than the anime. Guts still remains one of the most beloved and influential Seinen heroes ever created, and his journey to overcome his past traumas and forge a new path deserves a better adaptation.
2 The Promised Neverland – Emma was the true inspiration of a dark world
Theoretically, Emma was supposed to be the kind of shonen heroine that annoyed viewers. In short, she was a bottomless pit of hope and optimism that inspired everyone around her. Instead, Emma endeared herself so well to viewers in The Promised Neverland beloved first season that fans wanted to see where it would go next.
Unfortunately, the show’s infamous second season not only demolished its own goodwill overnight, but Emma’s as well. Thanks to poor writing, Emma has become a cliché and a parody of her former self. Yes The promised never-never land were adapted correctly, Emma would have easily been one of the most iconic anime heroines of the decade.
1 Wonder Egg Priority – Girls were fun, relatable and friendly
Wonder Egg Priority only became one of the worst anime in recent memory after its infamously botched ending. Before the final two episodes fell flat, the series was considered one of the best new original series to hit mainstream audiences, with viewers quickly latching onto Ai, Neiru, Rika, and Momoe.
Fans connected with each girl’s battle against their literal and emotional inner demons and wished them nothing but the best. Sadly, Wonder Egg Priority’s hasty end deprived them of any proper closure. It goes without saying that Ai and Friends deserve a better story that isn’t hampered by outside production issues.
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