The Worst Anime of Winter 2024


Yesterday, we gave you are list of the best anime Winter 2024 had to offer. Now it’s time for the opposite. From shows that are “just not for me” to pure animated shlock, here are our editorial team’s picks for the worst anime of the season.

Note: The commentaries below might contain spoilers


Rebecca Silverman

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The Demon Prince of Momochi House

I wouldn’t call this bad, per se. It’s just not as good as the source material. Granted, that’s a tall order, because Aya Shouoto‘s original is my favorite of her series—combining folklore with romance and a dash of mystery. All of those elements are still present in the anime, but they’re rushed, and we don’t have the time to get to know the characters as deeply as we need to for the emotional beats to hit the way they should. The manga art also hasn’t translated particularly well into a necessarily simplified anime form—with the most glaring issue being the truly baffling way eyelashes are colored. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t think tiny blades between lashes look dewy or ephemeral—both of which are words you could use to describe the manga art.) But at least we’re getting more shoujo adaptations. If Honey Lemon Soda turns out good, I’ll overlook issues like this one.


Steve Jones

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Metallic Rouge

Is Metallic Rouge the worst anime of the season? No, but I think that’s the wrong question to ask. What is Metallic Rouge? That’s more pertinent and more impossible to answer. After its debut, I had assumed it to be a sci-fi action series about robot emancipation, with retro stylings appropriate for a 25th-anniversary work from Bones. It had likable leads with strong chemistry, and it exhibited a well-trodden yet evocative cyberpunk aesthetic with lovely hand-drawn tokusatsu battle armor for the main characters. While the premiere did inundate the audience with bushels of esoteric terminology, those were set dressing for genre basics that were pretty easy to grasp.

Metallic Rouge has since mutated into a bloated and convoluted mélange smashing dozens of figures and tropes of varying importance into a story progressing with all the breathless speed and intermittent intelligibility of a blender on its highest setting. In short, it’s a mess. There are story detours that work against its best facets. Its themes are buried under several layers of equivocating mud—in which potentially meaningful points are undermined by its desire to be nuanced without taking the time to earnestly grapple with that nuance. And its pacing is all over the place. Some episodes are so cramped that the mechanics of the plot progression push out all of the space allowed for introspection. And some episodes are just vehicles for its characters to fart around in.

The series is, however, a compelling mess. Metallic Rouge has never bored me. It has always been fun to watch and write about. The head-scratching and overly complicated nature of its construction endears me to it more than anything else. I don’t excuse its flaws but I also think it’s more than the sum of those flaws. Metallic Rouge has delivered scenes and entire episodes that I’ve loved. At its best, when the writing focuses on the core chemistry between Rouge and Naomi, the anime lights up and becomes funny, intriguing, and maybe even a little poignant. I believe its biggest sin is trying to condense 2+ cours‘ worth of ideas into a single one. Some series can get away with that—and some series know how to edit their material appropriately. Metallic Rouge, however, never finds its footing before it leaps into outer space and flails among the stars—but I’ve enjoyed tracking it with my telescope all the same.


James Beckett

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Solo Leveling

I might be using the word “potential” a bit loosely, here, since I never had the highest expectations for the latest “Overpowered Main Character With a Godforsaken RPG Stats Menu in a World That Has Been Awkwardly Forced to Operate Like a Literal, Generic Dungeon Crawling Video Game for No Reason Other Than to Cash in on a Trend That Needs to Just Die, Already, Please.” Still, the first few episodes of Solo Leveling filled me with a vague and almost unrecognizable emotion that the less bitter and cynical James of Ten Years Ago might have recognized as a sliver of “hope.” For all of its generic tropes and clichéd elements, Solo Leveling managed to impress me in its first few weeks with its considered storytelling choices. It’s one of the only ones of these kinds of shows that ever managed to make something interesting out of watching the main character finagle with an RPG menu—and the monster battles that Jinwoo gets up to in the episodes proceeding his rebirth are genuinely quite cool. However, once our guy fully evolves into his Giga Chad persona, Solo Leveling immediately loses whatever charm and inventiveness it had and falls back into being yet another bland power fantasy where the occasionally interesting tidbits of lore cannot possibly make up for the complete lack of likable characters or compelling story beats. It’s far from a terrible show, but it had the potential to be good. I’m just so tired of anime that settle for mediocrity simply for an easy paycheck.


MrAJCosplay

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Shangri-La Frontier

Shangri-La Frontier is not a bad show. However, it is disappointing—which feels weird to say since the second half of the season had more to offer than the first half. However, the heights that it reached might’ve ended up being a double-edged sword. Shangri-La Frontier looks and sounds gorgeous. It is probably one of the most consistently good-looking action shows I’ve watched in a while. The world-building feels engaging, the skill system seems interesting and the choreography is top-notch. The characters are also fun and I think embody different aspects of gaming culture from professional gamers, and tech split of gamers to trolls.

The problem with Shangri-La Frontier is the unclear direction that the story took. Shangri-La Frontier can best be summed up as a bunch of fun characters playing a video game. While that definitely can be fun and even relatable, it also means that sometimes you could just be watching the characters talking about how the game works or grinding for experience by a pond. Shangri-La Frontier embodies some of the highs and lows similar to watching a Twitch streamer play an extremely good-looking and confident video game. Things are cool when we finally get to the boss fights or crazy cutscenes, but it becomes background noise between those moments.

If Shangri-La Frontier wanted to be just a goofy episodic story about characters playing a video game, why is there this massive emphasis on scale or these illusions of grandeur? If it wanted to be a more epic and engaging action series, then why are there so many instances where the characters feel like they’re just sitting around doing nothing? I have not read the original material so I don’t know if this is a case where everything eventually comes into play in the end. If that was the case, I feel like I just watched over twenty episodes of pure setup and that’s not good. If anything, it makes me feel like I just wasted my time.


Christopher Farris

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Solo Leveling

It’s a good thing I was so nicely surprised by series like Bang Brave Bravern! and Delicious in Dungeon since the supposedly destined Chosen One of Winter 2024 was probably never going to work for me. Just in the lead-up to Solo Leveling I found myself perplexed at how this story of stats and stabbing stood out especially from its power-fantasy peers that so many fans were chomping at the bit for its anime adaptation. But it’s not just that Solo Leveling is generic, it’s so bad at it—despite having that typical template to work with. I’ll admit it looks nice and you know I can’t say no to a Hiroyuki Sawano soundtrack but the writing on this series made me so genuinely angry that it made it difficult to continue slogging through what I told myself was a worthwhile hate-watch.

It’s not enough that the story harps on the fact that Jinwoo’s rank can’t ever be raised by any means, before mentioning that there is a way for ranks to be raised (and then handing him another different way to raise his rank). On top of that, his entire self-pitying grievance is based on a perception that doesn’t even appear to be true at first. In the opening episode, Jinwoo is shown to be treated pleasantly and sociably by fellow adventurers despite his low level. It’s only in later episodes that he flashes us back to how he was supposedly mocked and mistreated—but by that point, I presumed he was just gaslighting the audience to justify himself to them. And given the edge lord spiral happening there, I had half a mind to give the dork a swirly myself. I’ll just have to settle for calling his stupid show the worst thing I watched in the season.


Nicholas Dupree

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Tales of Wedding Rings

There’s something to be said about how expectations can define what we call the “worst” each season. Sometimes a show might not be all that bad in the grand scheme, but it feels like a bigger failure because it had potential. For me, there’s something especially depressing about going into a show expecting something dumb and trashy, only to find it too inept to manage either.

That isn’t to say this harem/isekai mashup is smart or classy, but rather that it lacks the energy and artistry necessary to be the fun kind of trash it wants to be. On the fantasy side, its world of magic is incredibly dull, filled with stock tropes from every kind of RPG setting you’ve ever encountered, lacking even a single interesting idea. Despite being a globe-trotting adventure with our cast collecting new allies across multiple kingdoms, it always feels like a bunch of bored teenagers wandering around a couple of square miles, encountering dull characters with little personality outside of exposition and inert fanservice. This is supposed to be a tale of our hero journeying across a strange new world, developing new skills to combat a legendary villain, yet Satou never even changes out of his school uniform.

The production is also a total wreck, papering over bad compositing with puke-colored filters and digital effects that make both the characters and the world they inhabit look slimy and unappealing. This also massively kneecaps the show’s attempts at being sexy. While there’s an occasional still or panning shot that manages to look appealing, 95% of the time the fanservice in this show is just embarrassing. No matter how many times the various girls smoosh their bodies against Satou, dress up in revealing clothing, or clamor for him to massage their mommy milkers, it looks stiff and uncomfortable for all parties. One episode features what has to be the worst-looking butt I’ve ever seen in an anime.

The real kicker is that, even outside the wonky visuals, Tales of Wedding Rings won’t even let itself have fun with its premise. Even the trashiest of harem series can manage to create interesting—or at least amusing—dynamics with its ever-expanding cast of sexy ladies thirsting for our protagonist’s protag-nut. Yet, despite a premise about our hero collecting wives to power up, Satou himself is uninterested in anyone besides Hime, his life-long crush, and barely attempts to connect with anyone else. Hime is equally infatuated with him, so by episode two their relationship has nowhere to go, while precluding Satou from actually developing any kind of rapport with the other girls he’s contractually obligated to smooch. So the entire dynamic of the cast is that the other girls clamor for his attention with unearned enthusiasm, our hero constantly rebuffs them, and his first wife gets jealous and petty regardless. It’s a miserable experience on all fronts—without even the decency to be a guilty pleasure.


Kevin Cormack

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The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic

The (still good) show that disappointed me the most was The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic, mainly because it took such a long time to get to the point, dragging its heels narratively until the last few episodes when something finally happened.

As a twist on the perennial isekai genre, The Wrong Way to Use Healing Magic is a fun one. Protagonist Ken Usato is accidentally summoned to a fantasy world along with his two super-confident, over-achieving school colleagues Suzune and Kazuki. Although they both fit the “summoned hero” mold, Usato’s just a normal, average guy with no apparent skills. Thankfully this isn’t one of those Shield Hero stories where Usato is rejected/despised/abused and resorts to buying slaves. No, it turns out Usato has natural healing magic ability, and this draws the attention of feared Rescue Team leader Rose, who scoops him up, drags him home, and subjects him to a comically brutal training regime.

The first few episodes are a blast, with the way it subverts typical power fantasy tropes. Usato isn’t training to become the most buff, powerful heroic swordsman or whatever—he’s forced to do hundreds of press-ups, enormous rocks piled on his back so that he can continually destroy and rebuild his muscles using his innate healing ability. This is completely ridiculous, and it’s hilarious how super-chuuni Suzune drools at his newly chiseled physique.

Unfortunately, during the show’s middle section, the plot slows to an absolute crawl, and there’s a late-game super-clumsy extended flashback that lasts almost two whole episodes, destroying the already languid plot momentum. A show with such a novel premise—with such fun characters as Rose and Suzune—shouldn’t have been boring.


Richard Eisenbeis

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Delicious in Dungeon

Honestly, I feel bad about putting Delicious in Dungeon in this slot. While it’s the “worst” anime I watched this season, it’s not objectively bad in story or visual presentation. Moreover, I knew after seeing the first three episodes in a special theatrical screening that it almost certainly wasn’t going to be for me. However, even now, when I take a step back and look at it from a more meta viewpoint, it feels like I should have liked this one much more than I do.

I normally love fantasy anime that delves deep into their world-building—especially those deconstructing why typical fantasy tropes are the way they are. With all its talk of monster anatomy and the dungeon ecosystem, this is the bread and butter of what Delicious in Dungeon tries to do. The problem is that it almost always does this to the exclusion of everything else.

This results in a pair of clashing tones. On one hand, our heroes are racing against time to save their party member who was eaten by a dragon. On the other, they get sidetracked by nearly every monster or other potential food item they come across. This is compounded by the fact that any intriguing larger plot-related elements are often teased, then put on the back burner indefinitely.

Now, all that said, there has been a marked improvement as the series has gone along with more focus on the characters—their pasts and their relationships—and the eventual fight with the dragon. However, the fact remains that as a person who finds no appeal in “food porn” anime—much less “food porn” of fictional food—I find this anime boring more often than interesting. Frankly, I’m surprised I’ve watched as much of this anime as I have—and I can’t see myself continuing to watch its back half next season.


Lucas DeRuyter

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Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! is, by no conceivable measure, an offensive series. As far as rom-com harem anime go, I think this one is better than most! At the very least, all of the love interests have distinct personalities and the leading man is developed enough—and has enough unique interests—to make me believe multiple people could be attracted to him. The reason this anime is my pick for the worst of the season is because it more or less functions as an advertisement for the prefecture of Hokkaido.

I’ve never been to Hokkaido, though I’m sure it’s as pleasant a place to live as anywhere else in the world. However, Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! paints this real space as a fun and quirky wonderland where beautiful women will throw themselves at the first city slicker they come across. The show also never casts much focus on the downsides of living in this kind of rural community. We only see the idyllic parts of this community—and that makes it feel closer to propaganda than anything else to me.

This is a strange way to evaluate a show, but it’s inspired by my background. I grew up in a rural community in the years following 9/11 and was constantly told that there was an intrinsic value and purity to that space and lifestyle. This, of course, completely whitewashed the conservative rhetoric, failing infrastructure, and oppressive religious influence that I endured as a minor and couldn’t wait to escape from as an adult. Of course, I’m not accusing the real-world Hokkaido of having these same issues, I’m just deeply skeptical of any piece of media that tells me how rural and insulated communities are practically perfect.

Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable! is a fine anime and, on some level, I’m glad we’re seeing more slice-of-life anime take place in locals that aren’t nondescript and vaguely urban. Sadly, its unwaveringly positive depiction of its small-town setting gives me the ick and makes me wish we could have a more holistic exploration of this location. Though these aren’t one-to-one comparisons, I much prefer how media like the Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo games aren’t afraid to add regionally appropriate melancholic or dark elements to their real-world settings. So, while I can’t fault Hokkaido Gals’ on a narrative or production level, its attitude toward its setting makes it a rough watch for me.



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