The Philosophy of 1

One of the more loathsome things I’ve ever seen . . .

I was watching California Crisis with some fine folks who enjoy anime of the terribad variety (by the way, California Crisis is an awesome terribad show; highly recommended by me!). Afterward, we started talking a bit about our general experiences watching the various terribad anime we/they have watched during these weekly meetings, and it was brought up that even though I’ve watched everything they have watched (whether in the group or on my own), I have not given a single anime I’ve seen a score of “1″ despite viewing some truly awful, putrid shit. It got me thinking a bit about how I approach anime.

I like to be negative in a joking way on occasion, but I think I’m generally positive when viewing anything. I go into things expecting them to be good, unless I’m given reason to not make that assumption (either by other people or by the show itself). And extending that further, I will search high and low for a positive experience, even in the worst shit through which I suffer. In basically every anime I’ve seen, there’s been some sort of positive experience (intentional or not) somewhere in there. Maybe really deep down, but it’s been there. And that’s why I haven’t given a 1 to anything I’ve seen.

Even though scores are generally silly things that matter only to the people giving them (unless you have a bug up your ass or something), 10s and 1s are pretty special to me. The former should signify something that could not possibly entertain you more; the latter, something that could not possibly entertain you less. A 1, to me, is a black hole of entertainment, an empty void into which, if I believed in the existence of the human soul, that spirit would surely be sucked, never to be seen again. If I get some sort of entertainment from something, no matter how rare and precious that nugget of entertainment is, then that show could not possibly be a 1 to me. (It’s the same reason why I could never think of Plan 9 from Outer Space or Manos: The Hands of Fate as the worst movie ever: How could something that entertaining be the worst movie ever??)

If I ever give a 1, it would probably be a gut call (and I might quit anime forever afterward), but perhaps the requirements would be like this: Obscenely boring (the biggest sin of entertainment); utter shit in both writing and animation; unbelievably irritating and/or fucking disgusting as fuck; and, really, I can feel it taking years off my life, leaving me a hollow shell of a human being, bitter toward all positive experience for the rest of time. I don’t take entertainment that seriously, so this is a truly rare event for me. If it gets me to ignore all common sense and dive headlong into vomit-inducing rage . . . well, that’s a pretty god damn terrible show.

But just to show how quickly a show can slide on the continuum: Of everything I have seen, Shuffle! has been the closest to 1 territory. (I’m 14 episodes into it, for the record, and stalling as much as possible.) Everything about it pushes every button within me, and I find the whole show just loathsome. It makes me feel genuinely horrible afterward. That said, after a certain point, the show becomes fucking hilarious because it launches into absurd melodrama rather than focusing on soulless harem shit with a braindead cast of utter pissfucks. And boom! Right there, graduated from 1 territory to 2. Shit, man, all the drama with Primula? I was laughing my ass off the whole time.

But that’s just how I view it. I certainly can’t begrudge folks who give out plenty of ones, or those who have vastly different reasons for their low scores than me. I find it kind of interesting, in fact; I like hearing about what people look for in their entertainment, and what makes them tick (in good and bad ways).

Just for a fun, a quickie view of the terribad stuff we’ve watched . . .

Garzey’s Wing: Gave it a 2. Poorly made and truly terrible, but fuck, that English dub is fucking hysterical. The first episode is a classic of awfulness. So awesome.

Prince of Tennis: The Two Samurai — The First Game: Gave it a 5. Not good at all, but hilariously over the top enough to make it a fun time. Tennis killed the dinosaurs, etc.

Roots Search: Gave it a 3. I could actually make a 1 case for this, because it’s so horrifically boring, but there’s just enough goofy stuff in there to keep it afloat. (Vagina-mouthed aliens, sudden nakedness, etc.)

MD Geist: Gave the first a 3, and the second a 2. The first is hilarious because it’s so dumb and macho in the tradition of the ’80s. The second is another that comes close to 1 territory by virtue of being dull as fucking fuck, but it doesn’t really rise above its dullness to become a special sort of awful, and thus does not deserve to be highlighted.

Hanappe Bazooka: I gave it a 4. This might get me flogged, but while I think it’s bad, I don’t believe it’s that bad. It’s just Go Nagai being dumb, goofy and gross; at least it’s not dull.

Legend of Duo: Gave it a 2. The score is for the sheer ineptitude of its creation, but seriously, this shit is great. The only thing it’s missing is a properly terrible English dub. That would put it over the top for me. I think Legend of Duo deserves it, too. If I ever win the lottery, I am licensing this shitpile, hiring awful actors and dubbing this garbage.

Apocalypse Zero: Gave it a 2. Disgusting, horrible, and made my eyes bleed, and I would surely never see it again, but I’ll give it this: Not boring.

Itsudatte My Santa!: Gave it a 2. Probably the closest to a 1 from the terribad viewing sessions. Perhaps the most irritating thing I have ever viewed in my 25 years of existence. A small child could punch me repeatedly in the nutsack and scream in my ear for whatever new god damn toy kids are into these days, and I would be less irritated than I was watching this shameful chapter in anime history. Truly loathsome . . . and, yet, I couldn’t give it a 1. Lord knows why. Perhaps the pain just did not consume me properly, even though I wanted to hang myself by the conclusion. A gut call.

Project ICE: Gave it a 2. Truly awful, but I was occasionally entertained by how seriously it takes itself despite having a ridiculously stupid story. Also, I damn near died with laughter every time that one girl spoke. Holy shit, it sounds like it’s allergy season and someone replaced her lungs with helium canisters.

The Rebirth of Buddha: Gave it a 5. This actually is quite boring in many places (the pacing is truly horrid), but my god there is so much goofy shit in this, and for that I love it.

Blue Flames: Gave it a 3. I thought it was really boring, but it’s not terribly made on a level that requires more recognition than this.

California Crisis: Gave it a 6, mostly for sheer, dumb entertainment. A stupid OVA, but the entertaining kind of stupid. Also, I am a sucker for America as seen through the eyes of outsiders. (Just one of many reasons why I love Mad Bull 34.)

31 Responses to “The Philosophy of 1”

  1. You might find this hard to believe but… um… Shuffle gets better. At least for the Kaede arc. But that ends disappointingly and after that it turns into a pile of shit again.

    Worst anime I’ve seen would have to be Shuffle! Memories, which is obviously related to Shuffle. So, yeah, not only does it get better, it also gets much, much worse.

  2. lol I love your description of what a 1 anime would be for you. XD I pretty much feel the same way but animation rarely comes into the equation for me. hilarious i know since anime are cartoons and should be judged in someway for animation quality but i just don’t care enough i guess. i notice when something is really pretty and really ugly but that’s about it.

    and i swear you just rated California Crisis a 6 to spite me. totally agree that your Roots Search should move down to a 1 though

    • I take visuals into account a lot of the time, mostly because it makes no sense to me for animation to not use its medium of origin in some way not possible for other mediums to achieve.

      Also, I gave California Crisis a 6 because I enjoyed it like a 6!

  3. ottocycle Says:

    I swear that Shuffle logo was made 9001x more sinister. Gleaming Red, black BG, the works.

    By the way, I probably have a few pages of your grading book in mine. After all, Yotsuba’s sacred word tells us to enjoy everything, which I try my very best to follow. :D

    • It’s pure evil, I tells ya.

      And, yeah, I try to find enjoyment in everything; otherwise, why would I watch stuff? I’m not partaking in entertainment to make my life worse, after all.

  4. fathomlessblue Says:

    Man, half the series I watched from the late 80′s/early 90′s would score pretty poorly. Still, even recent shows that I’ve continuously bitched about like Fractale or HSofD weren’t quite that bad (although I still hate the latter with an overwhelming bias).

    I guess unlike you, if I’m really not enjoying a show I just won’t finish it. There are just limits in wanting to be a completionist, it’s just not worth the pain.

    I think the worst show I’ve tried to make it through was The Soultaker. On paper it wasn’t even that bad, certainly compared to some stuff I’ve watched, but just sitting through it almost made me physically unwell. I can’t really explain why, I just felt more and more depressed the further I went through it. I needed a double-dose of Patlabor movies to pep me up again.

    • Haha, don’t get me wrong — I’m not adverse to dropping a show if the quality isn’t there. A lot of these low-scoring titles are OVAs and movies where you don’t have to put much time into them. Shuffle! is a special case; I’m watching it with a friend.

  5. I had a short conversation with Zzeroparticle about grading. I’m one of those people that can’t make the sort of fine distinctions you are talking about. If it’s good its good if it’s bad its bad, else I’m just indifferent. Thus I would prefer a 3 point scale and be done with it. Distinguishing between vile, awful, bad, poor, and weak isn’t my thing.

    • I can respect that. Again, I think grading entertainment really should matter only to the grader except maybe as a curiosity to other people. The numbers themselves aren’t what we’re going to be interested in if we talk about a show, anyway. :p

      • Except that the grader is making a commitment to the reader that they can distinguish between, say, a 6,7,8,9, and 10. In a three point scale, those all end up in the same bin.

        In the context of your essay, you can only talk about the difference between a 1 and 2 as you put it on a ten point scale. The question is how fine a distinction can you commit to.

        Note: I’m not saying everyone should switch to a three point scale. I’m probably lazier than most.

        • The difference should be evident in the writing of a review. Numbers by themselves have no real context. If you read a review of something I gave a 5 (like Generator Gawl), a 6 (like Welcome to the Space Show), a 7 (like Neo Tokyo) or an 8 (like Tentai Senshi Sunred), there are clear differences among the feelings behind the scores that are laid out in the writing. But the scores themselves are just a rubber stamp at the end; it’s the thought process behind them that matters, and not the number itself.

    • I’ve found that using a school grading scale is way more efficient. It rids of the problem where the whole lower half of the scale is meaningless but still leaves breathing room for the differences in feeling. Here’s what I use:

      A+ = One of my favorites
      A = I loved it
      B = I liked it
      C = I’m indifferent about it
      D = I disliked it
      F+ = Awesomely Bad
      F = I hated it

      • That is a pretty good system, too.

      • Yeah, that’s a decent system. I like the fact that you can be neutral (indifferent). I have to survey people sometimes for work purposes, and I typically use a slightly simpler system based on 5 points, which is similar to what you describe.

        5 – Love it
        4 – Like it
        3 – Neutral
        2 – Dislike it
        1 – Hate it

        Again, to me the issue is, if I am asking someone to rate something, do I really believe they can make very fine distinctions in their reactions? I’m a pessimist, so, no I don’t.

  6. Kai Doh Maru and Ninja Resurrection remain the two absolute worst anime that I’ve ever seen. Give both of those a shot before you settle on that “no ones” statement. I love awesomely bad stuff (I want to play Duo in your dub btw), but those two movies are just flat-out shit. Bungaku Shoujo seems to be missing from your list btw.

    With Kai Doh Maru it’s possible that it’s not *quite* as awfulbad subbed, because the dub was probably the worst I’ve ever heard.

    • At least Bungaku Shoujo has looks going for it. But we haven’t watched it during the terribad sessions, which is why I didn’t put it down here. I wouldn’t want to watch Bungaku Shoujo again, anyway.

  7. I can feel it taking years off my life, leaving me a hollow shell of a human being, bitter toward all positive experience for the rest of time

    Yup, that sounds like Hidamari Sketch all right :P

  8. Grading entertainment is one of those highly subjective things that varies wildly from person to person. I’m like you in that I rarely dish out the lowest rating since even the shittiest show sometimes has a shred of entertainment value to it. The vast majority of my ratings then to be in the midrange of “entertained, but had nothing overly offensive or memorably brilliant”.

    Also Shuffle……I believe I kind of enjoyed the Asa & Kaede arcs (or at least that’s all I actually remember of the series – its been a while), but yeah, that is an awful show.

    • So far I can see liking an arc only for how hilariously awful it is, considering the first half made me despise every character in the show.

  9. LOL man, this actually interests me. I guess the lowest-tier rating should be something rare, but I think selectivity comes into play (we “naturally” watch what we are inclined to… but terribad is different). For myself, ICE and Duo would both be 1′s, I mean good lord.

    • Oh yeah, definitely. Most often I don’t even get close enough to rate a series below even a 5 or something, because I’d rather not finish it than get to the point where I’d give a show a 1. Even a 13-episode series, that’s a lot of time to put into something you hate.

      As I said, Duo is too goofy and (unintentionally) hilarious for me to give a 1, but I can’t begrudge anyone who would do so. ICE is definitely on the precipice for me. Just really terrible all around.

  10. I’m not a huge fan of numbers, I give them on MAL but don’t think too hard. 6 is pretty much my baseline of “just entertaining enough” and 5 is the “ultimate meh,” neither of special worth nor actually bad. Most things are entertaining enough for me to warrant a 6, and anything remotely good-looking will probably get a 7 unless it’s unconscionably stupid. In other words, you have to go pretty bad to get a 4 or less, and I can barely even imagine a 1.

    MD Geist (though holy cow it’s no on my MAL!) probably fits the bill or a 2 or 3 because it’s hilariously bad, but is such a chore to actually make it through more than two minutes at a time without looking away. That’s a pretty good measure for me.

    • I can also understand not being huge on numbers; really, I think about them mostly because I have the time to dedicate to silly exercises such as that. I’ve always enjoyed dumb statistical exercises like this.

      Like you, I can barely imagine a 1, and frankly, I’d rather not come across one in my lifetime. The horror would be too much to bear.

  11. Heh, it also depends on what you’re watching.

    For example, it seems to me most people put ’5′ as neutral – which for some works (esp. those who watch tons of terribad shows) but for others (who don’t have that much time), all they ever give would be 8s-10s.

    I don’t know if others have done this, but for me, a neutral rating would be a ’3′ – ’2′ is just bad, ’1′ is horrible, and perhaps ’0′ wouldn’t even be at the level you outlined above.

    (My regards out to the poor producers who would make a show equivalent to your 1)

    • My regards are also out to those producers for having gone through the torture of working on such a product!

      And, yeah, I think a lot of people work on the 7-10 scale — 7 being the equivalent of my 5, 8 being good, 9 being really good and 10 being liked it a lot. And, hey, it’s their scoring system, so I’m not going to bash it.

  12. A Day Without Me Says:

    Cluster Edge is a total one. I could feel my soul being sucked out while watching it. So mind-numbingly boring I almost died when I was following it. I cannot express enough how absolutely dull this stupid thing was.

  13. [...] I never would have guessed that it would take but a month to find something worthy of a 1. [...]

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