Strap yourselves in, Vice-troop - - this week’s TOP 5 is gonna be an especially rough one.
I happen to be a big fan of movies that are so terrible that they somehow manage to wrap around the scale from awful to awesome. That certain balance of idiotic incompetency and enthusiasm that makes movies like THE ROOM, TROLL 2, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, and Nic Cage’s THE WICKER MAN.
As such, this week we’re counting down the best of the worst - - anime so bad that they’re actually great.
HONORABLE MENTION == SCHOOL DAYS
This 12 episode TV series is kind of a one trick pony. You slog through 11 torturous episodes for an absolutely insane and unexpectedly violent conclusion. This one is better viewed through clips on YouTube than watched in its entirety. If SCHOOL DAYS was one 40 minute OVA, its length would still be pushing it, so 12 half-hour episodes is really just asking way too much. Plus, its ugly. Just awful to look at.
That said, the conclusion is so nuts, so batshit insane, so out-of-the-blue surprising and so utterly stupid that it’s totally worth looking into. This series has been described as a “subversive satire of the harem genre” by some more generous/naive critics. Don’t be fooled. SCHOOL DAYS is garbage. Hilarious garbage.
NUMBER FIVE == MUSASHI GUNDOH
There are a few ways that a show can worm into this “so bad, it’s good” category. MUSASHI GUNDOH does a few things badly, but there is no question that the hilariously incompetent animation is what propels it into amazingly watchable territory.
I’ve watched a lot of bad anime in my day, and I’ve seen a lot of ugly animation. A lot of lazy, corner-cutting bullshit, sloppy movements, dull fight scenes, and poor drawings. Still, nothing can touch the absolute idiotic incompetence of MUSASHI GUNDOH. Every drawing is ugly and every “fight” amounts to some awkward stumbling and wooshing lines in the background. And that’s best-case scenario.
Worst case looks something like this:
Every fight is hilarious and the higher the stakes the funnier it gets. Its moment after shocking-moment of things that will make you say, “Wait, what? Seriously!?” Unfortunately, it can also be pretty dull between these scenes. Luckily, the payoff is totally worth it.
NUMBER FOUR == BLACK LION
Ah, good ol' Go Nagai. This guy has brought a smile to this bitter old face on more occasions than I can count. He’s certainly not known for subtlety or self-control, or even good taste, but he has actually made some important contributions to the world of Japanese cartoons and comics. This is the man behind classics like DEVILMAN and MAZINGER Z, but BLACK LION will make you forget all about every good decision he ever made. This is an uproarious disaster of an OVA in classic Nagai fashion.
So, the short synopsis: there’s an evil samurai named Ginnai Doma who, according to legend, cannot be killed. A plucky young team of ninjas lead by a determined little guy named Shishimaru decides to take him on, motivated by revenge or justice... or who cares.
This is a fairly standard anime setup so far, right?
Well... SPOILER ALERT! Shit gets real weird.
It becomes clear pretty quickly that Ginnai Doma is at least part machine, and his robot (I guess?) minions use absurdly anachronistic weapons like machine guns and laser canons. Then, a bit later, it becomes absolutely clear that he is entirely machine when HIS DAMN ROBOT- TERMINATOR-SKULL HEAD LAUNCHES OFF OF HIS BODY while laughing and yelling “YOU CAN'T RUN AWAY!"
Believe it or not, things actually get even more ridiculous from here.
It’s one of the most hilarious and jaw-dropping 10 minutes of anime I’ve ever seen. Everyone should see this shit. Just be ready for a lot of blood and eyeballs, and some of the most insultingly stupid twists you could ever imagine.
Oh, and an atomic blast that solves every conflict in the show.
NUMBER THREE == MADBULL 34
Hooooly shit. This is one of those mind-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime, unbelievably-offensive, “How did this get made?” anime that you’ll have a hard time believing is real even while you’re watching it. MADBULL 34 is a nightmare from which you just can’t seem to wake up. And is if that weren’t enough, the dub is also completely batshit insane, over the top and somehow even more offensive than the original. Thank you, Manga Video.
MADBULL 34 is set on the exotic, hard boiled, rough and tumble streets of New York City. So obviously, it goes without saying that our hero is a mustachioed macho scumbag named Sleepy with a bloodlust matched only by his buttlust. Faces are blown off, heads are severed, crotches are assaulted, boobs abound, racial stereotypes are plentiful, and naked dudes flex through chains.
And believe it or not, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
Since every moment of MADBULL 34 is absurd and obscene for one reason or another, I wont attempt to describe every single maddening detail. Suffice it to say, whoever you are, you will likely be offended by this series. Let’s be honest, this is pretty deplorable stuff, but there’s just nothing else like it. It absolutely blows my mind that this was painstakingly animated (some episodes don’t look half bad!) and then licensed and brought to America.
It’s also notable that Sleepy is one of the manliest men to grace an animation cell (just shy of our TOP 5 list). He’s a wall of meat with a cookie duster mustache the size of your forearm, and a crotch full of grenades. That’s right, in one particularly stirring scene, Sleepy removes his pants to reveal a bushel of grenades pinned to his pubic hair. If that’s not a real man, I don’t know what is.
NUMBER TWO == BATTLE ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL
Where to begin with this one… BATTLE ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL is about 8 movies at once. It almost feels like the stream of consciousness ramblings of a syphilitic nerd, trying to fit every genre he’s ever enjoyed into 60 mind-bending minutes. It seems an impossible task, but they’ve done it. They’ve finally done it with this one.
This movie has: a karate guy in a tiger mask (with a king from another universe trapped inside him), a swarm of evil mutant creatures, heroic space knights in the tradition of the POWER RANGERS, a loner with a magical sword, a sweet girl with a crush whose face eventually explodes into monsters, and everything else that’s ever been a glimmer of an idea in the back of a 12 \-year-old's mind. It’s almost a crash course on the tropes of the ‘80s OVA.
It’s a bit like PROJECT A-KO but, unlike A-KO, I’m not sure if this is a joke…
The nice surprise about BATTLE ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL is that it’s pretty damn well animated!
It’s an older style and looks like it, but there’s a ton of detail, nice character design, great movement, well done over-the-top gory shit, and impressive effects animation throughout. This movie is perfect “gif fodder”, if you will. It’s a bit like stumbling onto the best anime tumblr ever.
It looks nice, the characters are actually pretty charming, and there are some effective surprises and laughs. It’s a shame it isn’t just a bit better!
Unlike some of the earlier entries on this list, it’s actually enjoyable to sit through all of BATTLE ROYAL HIGH SCHOOL. There’s always another gag or absurd twist around the corner so it’s never dull, and the high quality of the animation makes the short 60 minutes quite easy on the eyes, as well. This movie is like a nice summer fling - - lots of fun while it lasts, but not much substance.
NUMBER ONE == BAOH
I could watch BAOH every day for a year and not get sick of it. I’m so fond of this stupid little OVA that I almost hesitate to call it bad… and then I remember everything that actually happens in its 48 minutes.
Yeah, BAOH is bad... but in a really good way!
It is worth mentioning that this is based on a manga by the one and only Hirohiko Araki, the brilliant mind behind JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, and you can kind-of tell at times. The poses he puts his main character Ikaru in have that distinct JOJO flare, and there are, in fact, some cool moments in BAOH. It’s just clear that he hadn’t quite found his voice yet and, as a result, BAOH comes off as a second-rate GUYVER in many ways.
Luckily for us, Araki seems to be compensating for all of BAOH’s shortcomings with copious amounts of insanity and cartoon violence that only a disturbed mind destined for greatness could cook up. And the whole thing actually looks pretty damn good! It’s a nice bit of 80's cheese with plenty of classic anime stank all over it.
Brace yourself for melting faces, bisected dudes, and mind numbing lapses in judgment from every character. And of course, faceless badguy minions that seem to be more gelatinous bloodbags than human beings.
Summarizing the “plot” of BAOH really feels like a joke, but the short version is there’s a parasite implanted into poor innocent Ikaru’s brain and it gives him powers and occasionally transforms him into a blue guy. Also, he has a psychic girlfriend who’s about 10 years too young for him, and she has some sort of cutesy animal mascot that I try to pretend doesn’t exist. Evil scientists and assassins come after them and a lot of people die in hilarious ways.
The real joy in BAOH is all the “WTF?” moments.
For instance, when the first of several assassins finds Ikaru and his underage girlfriend sitting on a park bench, he stabs him in the stomach and then stands quietly and watches as Ikaru slowly stumbles across the street, then asks to borrow a motorcycle then finally drives away. Presumably, this assassin has been told this kid has super powers, but that isn’t even an issue. Ikaru uses the super power of walking and stealing to evade his attacker, after which, the assassin turns towards the camera and says, “Damn!” as if he was completely outsmarted.
There are countless completely bonkers sequences and memorably out-of-control situations. BAOH is a blast from start to finish, with a few genuinely entertaining, well-animated fights (complete with pauses to announce the name of the moves BAOH is using) and a bunch of unintentionally hilarious garbage in between.
If you’re able to loosen up and appreciate anime from a somewhat ironic standpoint, then BAOH will make your day.
Now, there you have it - - five of the finest in hot wet steaming anime garbage.
I love these stupid shows and, with the right group of friends and the right attitude, I think you guys could too. If you’ve got other awesomely bad suggestions, go on and leave 'em in the comment section below.
Alex Eckman-Lawn is an illustrator and comic artists from Philadelphia. Check out his site - -alexeckmanlawn.com - - rumble with his Tumblr - -dudenukem.tumblr.com - - and hit up his Twitter: @alexeckmanlawn