So…what shows and movies deserve a place in the hall of shame rather than the hall of fame? Since I tend to give up on shows I dislike very quickly, it’s shorter than the winners’ list. But we’ve still got plenty to populate this, the first annual Diet Demerits!
Wasted Potential Demerit: Hayate no Gotoku
Runner-up: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Here are two comedies that had so much going for them at the start. Hayate was trumpeted by none other than yours truly when it was new, and seemed on track to become a highly amusing, inventive comedy. And so it was, for about thirteen episodes. But somehow, perhaps because they ran out of material from the manga to adapt or simply decided to go with anime-original filler, the steam ran out. A few high points stuck out here and there, but it had lost its mojo overall, especially once I discovered that it was going to be one of those really long running shows (it’s in its late 30s now for episode count). It may recover itself, as the manga’s fans assure me, once they return to the manga’s storylines. But despite my faithful watching of it every week for nearly two seasons, it simply wasn’t all that funny anymore.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei also started with a real bang, full of zany and daring directing courtesy of Shinbo and SHAFT and edgy comedy. Here it had the opposite problem as Hayate, where the originality got out of hand. After a while, it simply became too random, with the “jump the shark moment” being episode 8. I’m still looking forward to the second season coming up, but it too has lost its golden luster. I even declared it back then to be the true successor of Hayate. Perhaps I was more right than I thought.
Boring as Hell Demerit: Nagasarete Airantou
Runner-up: El Cazador de la Bruja
I still can’t believe, in retrospect, that I actually watched half of Nagasarete Airantou—but still I eventually gave up because it simply was never, at all, interesting. The characters don’t change. The reset button is used copiously at the end of each episode. The gags are always the same, and even the cute round animals stop being funny. Though it started as my first example of an “easy to watch” show, it fell off the precipice because of its sheer mindlessness.
El Cazador is a case of a lack of truth in advertising. Any show billed as “girls with guns” and has the OP it has, and has Yuki Kajiura music, needs to be much, much more exciting and action-packed than this. It took way too much time to develop its characters and its plot and seemed aimless from the start.
Sheer Incompetence Demerit: Myself; Yourself
Runner-up: Zero no Tsukaima 2
The most frustrating thing about Myself; Yourself was how good it could have been, had there been, oh, three less subplots, half the number of episodes, better plotting, and much better writing and pacing. I’ve discussed this in detail in my series review.
The most frustrating thing about Zero no Tsukaima Futatsuki no Kishi was that it demoted what was best about the show—wacky, S&M laced slapstick humor—in favor of poorly reasoned, half-baked attempts to be “serious.” The show completely fell flat when that happened and lost its ability to pace the drama and the comedy to boot. I have also discussed this in good detail in my series review.
Unintentionally Funny Demerit: Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora
Runners-up: Gundam 00, Dragonaut
This is for a show that asks us to take it seriously, but is so bad we can’t help but laugh. The first choice was so much like this, we did a MST3K commentary track on episode 1. The cheeseball exploitation mixed with portentous statements was far, far too much. Especially as it started to go all yuri. Now that may have its charms to certain…segments of our author pool as well as our readership. But as far as storytelling goes it was hilariously bad.Gundam 00 deserves mention purely for the ridiculous names of its characters (Allelujah Haptism, Lockon Stratos, etc). You do not name characters in an ostensibly serious drama about War and Politics like that. Ever.
And as for Dragonaut, it too had some potential but the screaming, the overcomplicated plot, the hilariously overdesigned characters with the weirdest hairstyles, and the enormous boobs that have led some to dub it “Boobnaut”….well, it was tailor made for this category too.
Worst Ending Demerit: Code-E
Runner-up: School Days
OK, I admit, this category is just a little..sensational. After all, Code-E is continuing in the coming year. But it deserves mention because that wasn’t how it was planned; had things gone the way they were “supposed” to go, the final episode was it, and it was literally as if the story was cut in half with nothing resolved. It was a good show, too, very relaxing to watch, which is why it was so disappointing for it to just end like that. It was so unworthy of it.
As for School Days…I have explained twice in detail why I find the ending to be overly sadistic and exploitive. Notice, of course, that it wins both a merit and demerit, because no show was as instantly memorable, talked about, and quite possibly as influential as this one. It is more than a lurid soap opera; it is a dividing line.
And that does it for the 2007 Diet Awards and Diet Demerits! Happy New Year, everyone!