Anime is an odd medium watched by odd people. Millions of people enjoy watching anime. Just as many are willing to say “This show is trash!” To a normal person, this statement would create the impression that they dislike the show and elect not to watch it. But in all actuality, the anime fan making this statement is more likely watching the series as soon as they become available.
In fact, it’s just as likely that they really enjoy it.
Why is this? What makes a show ‘trash’? And what makes them so enjoyable to watch? What is good, what is bad, and what is trash?
Now, I feel that it is obvious that this is all subjective. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and all that. If you disagree with my assessment, then I apologize for any potential feelings hurt. Don’t take it personally; in the end, all anime is trash.
Unless we’re talking Studio Ghibli. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Good: The Clean Ones
Good anime is often the most obvious and prominent. Shows that anime fans would describe as good are the ones that focus on what should be focused on: the story, the characters, the art, and the animation, with a flavorful sprinkling of good music and sound design. These are often the shows that become exceptionally popular, exceptionally quickly.
More often than not, the shows that fall into this category are long running Shounen series or short and powerful dramas. For recent examples, just look at ‘My Hero Academia‘, ‘Attack on Titan‘, ‘Mob Psycho 100‘, ‘Devilman Crybaby‘, or even last year’s ‘Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai‘ and ‘Megalobox‘. This also extends to the classics, such as ‘Dragon Ball Z‘, ‘Cowboy Bebop‘, ‘Neon Genisis: Evangelion‘, ‘Legends of the Galactic Heroes‘, and so on.
Simply put: the ones that are good, and likely will be good for years to come. These are not, by popular opinion, the ‘trash’ shows. This category is the simplest.
Bad: The Boring Ones
The title of this section says it all.
Bad anime is what a normal, non-anime watching person would consider ‘trash’. But this is not the case. Trash can be entertaining in it’s own way. A bad show cannot, in any way, be fun to watch.
TLDR: these are the boring ones. Shows that are poorly written and boring to watch. That, or the art and animation is so painfully atrocious that you have to wonder what they animators were smoking. Often times, it’s both. These are the ones that people are eager to forget. The ones you’d hive to dive deep into Crunchyroll’s (not sponsored) catalog to find.
These include: ‘Rokka -Braves of the Six Flowers-‘, ‘Alderamin on the Sky‘, ‘Taboo Tattoo‘, and most video game adaptations. There are people who enjoy these, of course, and that’s perfectly fine. But these shows are never going to be exceptionally popular, and chances of a continuation are about as high as Konami making another Castlevania game.
Trash: The Shows in the Gray
Finally, we get to the trash. We now answer the question of ‘what is trash?’ And the answer is really quite simple. They are the shows that are so bad, so unapologetically awful, that they become entertaining. Shows that make you feel bad while watching them, but just can’t bring yourself to stop watching.
More often than not, these shows are borderline pornography. However, unlike pornography, they don’t give the viewers what they came for. And they often drag incredibly small underage children into the shenanigans. Who are also the character’s little sister. Or teacher, according to the more recent trends.
If they aren’t this, then they are the incredibly generic ones that you just can’t help but love. Additions to an already over-crowded genre that bask in the cliches of said genre rather than trying to do something new. Most modern Isekai shows fall into this category, though a lot of Shounen falls into the same group.
These are the shows that live in infamy. Shows that will never die. Shows like ‘Eromanga Sensei‘, ‘Sword Art Online‘ (yes, this one just barely fits into the trash category), ‘Why the hell are you here, Teacher?!‘, ‘The Master of Ragnarok and Blesser of Einherjar‘, ‘Girly Air Force‘, ‘In Another World With My Smartphone‘, ‘Citrus‘, ‘Monster Musume‘, and so on.
Often times, a trash show is also a bad show. However, unlike a bad show, there is a certain level of entertainment value to be found in a trash show. Think of them as a guilty pleasure kind of thing. While you’re watching it, you know that you aren’t watching anything good. But it is still exceptionally entertaining.
Sort of like watching a dumpster fire from a safe distance.
This has been my answer to the deepest question known to anime. What is good? What is bad? And what is trash?
Now, the answer to these questions is, of course, completely subjective. The definitions of those categories is entirely up to the unique viewer. All I’ve really accomplished today is giving you guys an insight into my personal tastes, which align heavily with the popular opinions.
I’m basic, I know.
To end on a positive note: no matter what category a show may fall into, be it good, bad or simply trash, they can be enjoyed. If not by you, then surely by someone else. We don’t need to fight or debate; just accept. In the end, anime is trash. And we are trash for watching so much of it. And that is perfectly acceptable.
But if you enlist in this season’s Waifu War, then beware! Because no amount of common sense can save you on that battlefield.