Popularity doesn’t always translate into critical praise. It’s a harsh fact of life with any form of popular entertainment, including anime. In fact, some of the greatest anime may also be the most criticized. Fans might have loved the show despite all the flaws, while critics ruthlessly reduced apprehensions about the show.
The reasons for this dissonance vary. In some cases, critics refuse to rate popular and controversial cartoons in a vacuum, or they just don’t feel the excitement. Some reviewers are so harsh that they won’t let any transgression escape them, even if an anime has some redeeming qualities. Either way, harsh reviews usually only embolden fans’ love for their favorite anime.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead.
ten Pokemon nostalgia perfectly justifies its length
Say that Pokemon is an enduring pop culture juggernaut would be a huge understatement. Originally an anime designed to simply tie into the already popular video games, Pokemon took on a life of its own and has been on the air since 1997. As of this writing, the original anime has countless movies plus 1,181 episodes and counting.
While those who grew up with Pokemon since the original 150 has nothing but adoration and love for the long-running anime, critics think it should have ended years ago. As for them, Pokemon is not just an overlong and glorified advertisement, but a slave to a formula that actively refuses to change or improve.
9 Sailor Moon is an irreplaceable cornerstone of the 90s
Even though its first impression with Western audiences was by notoriously bad localization, it’s fine, Sailor Moon remains an important part of his fans’ childhood. For them, the eternal friendship of the Sailor Scouts and their defense of love and peace was an inspiration. Most important, Sailor Moon was the ultimate magical girl anime.
Conversely, critics saw Sailor Moon as a corny, stereotypical product of its time. In the decades since Usagi Tsukino’s first Punishment of Evil in the Name of the Moon, other magical girl anime have improved on her anime’s flaws, including Sailor Moon himself, who got a more faithful and critically approved reboot in Sailor Moon crystal.
8 Black Clover is a well done Shonen anime
When it started, black clover was almost immediately fired for being another generic shonen anime about a loudmouthed underdog who’s proven himself through determination and friendship. As Asta’s journey continued, however, fans gradually grew to support him, and they saw his story as a perfectly well-made formula anime.
On the other hand, critics did not change their minds, although they agreed that the series had improved after a difficult start. While reviewers acknowledged the anime’s technical strengths, such as its animations, they still saw black clover as a spin-off, non-original fantasy they would have loved had it been created in the early 2000s, not 2017.
seven Sword Art Online Isekai’s Ultimate Fantasy Power
Sword Art Online is practically the epitome of the worst indulgences of the isekai genre. Not only are critics accusing him of being a superficial power fantasy designed to satisfy his audience’s desires through the unbeatable Kirito, but he’s also being accused of popularizing most, if not all, of the clichés and tropes. unbearable of the modern gamified isekai genre.
On the other hand, casual viewers think anime is perfectly harmless escapist entertainment. For them, Kirito’s time in Aincrad Castle is the epitome of all that is great about isekai adventures. More importantly, fans think Sword Art Online is far from the worst example of what indulgent isekai anime has to offer.
6 Goblin Slayer is basically “DOOM: The Anime”
When it was created, Goblin Slayer quickly became one of the most controversial anime of all time. Even beyond the controversial pilot episode, reviewers found the titular Goblin Slayer’s warpath to be over the top and not beneficial for an otherwise generic fantasy anime. Simply put, Goblin Slayer’s Bloody Adventures didn’t live up to expectations.
In contrast, Goblin Slayer fans loved the bloody violence and the story that unfolded. Those who enjoyed watching the Goblin Slayer inflict brutal bodily harm on goblins compared him favorably to The Doom Slayer (aka Doomguy) from the ultraviolent hit. LOSS games, whose selling point was also its cathartic brutality.
5 Tanya’s Saga Evil is the Ultimate War Anime
Despite being in such an oversaturated genre as isekai, The Saga of Tanya the Evil stood out not only by taking place in a war-torn world, but by featuring an unapologetically villainous protagonist. Even jaded fans adored Tanya von Degurechaff’s ruthless Machiavellian war service, which they compared to Light Yagami’s reign as Kira.
Dissenting critics, however, saw no entertainment value in what they saw as a blatantly fascist power fantasy. Besides the obvious Nazi Germany analogs from the anime portrayed as heroic outsiders, Tanya’s backstory as an adult wage earner living in the body of a 13-year-old girl was deemed unnecessary at best and at worst deeply disturbing.
4 The Rising Of The Shield Hero is the edgy deconstruction Isekai needed
Most modern isekai anime are dismissed as transparent male power fantasies and The Rise of the Shield Hero is considered by critics to be one of the clearest examples of this. In fact, its premise of shield hero Naofumi Iwatani being falsely accused of sexual assault was more than enough to have some reviewers consider it one of the worst anime of its year.
Casual audiences and isekai devotees, however, loved The Rise of the Shield Hero because they saw it as the breath of fresh air the genre desperately needed. For them, Naofumi’s fierce struggle for redemption was a fight worth fighting for. Despite the harsh reviews, the anime got high ratings and scores on fan sites.
3 Redo Of Healer can be considered a sordid guilty pleasure
It goes without saying that Redo Healer is one of the most controversial anime in recent memory, as it featured a villainous protagonist on a mission for revenge. Keyaruga’s revenge involved violence and sexual assault, which critics found offensive and repugnant. Worse still, he was a power fantasy, meaning he indulged his target audience’s worst desires.
During this time, Redo Healerit is fans adored him precisely because of his pettiness. Fans have compared Keyaruga’s revenge pursuit to similarly revenge-themed sexploitation films of the ’70s, which were controversial then and now for the same reasons. That being said, even Keyaruga fans have acknowledged that the anime is an acquired taste.
2 Domestic Girlfriend is an entertaining and trashy melodrama
Family melodramas aren’t something new in anime, but Domestic Girlfriend pushed the niche to its breaking point. The anime focused on Natsu Fujii’s love triangle with Rui and Hina, his classmate and teacher who were his stepsister and stepmother respectively. If critics saw a contrived romance, fans saw a fun but trashy love story.
Domestic Girlfriendit is fans lovingly compared it to an overly dramatic telenovela that still managed to show surprising moments of genuine conflict and heartfelt emotion. In contrast, critics saw Natsu’s story as just another lowbrow love story that glossed over or even romanticized the more troubling realities of a student-teacher romance.
1 Oreimo is the ancestor of the Imoto niche
Oreimo is credited with popularizing the so-called imoto niche, or romantic anime featuring a brother-sister couple. What did Oreimo standing out was his lack of pretension regarding his incest, as Kyosuke and his sister Kirino were blood siblings who harbored feelings for each other. Unsurprisingly, the anime received intense critical backlash.
Although it spawned the controversial imoto trend that dominated most of the 2010s, Oreimo still has a dedicated base of fans and advocates. Viewers who had no problem with the Kosaka sibling romance actually enjoyed how much Oreimo did not hold back, which cannot be said of his many imitators.
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