Ranking the Terribad

The almighty symbol of terribad.

For at least the next two days, I’ll be caught up with everything the SCCSAV terribad watch group has completed. (They’ve seen scattered episodes of Musashi Gundoh and Reign: The Conqueror, but as of this writing, they’re not finished with either.) Now that I’ve completed this utterly useless task, I figured why not put my newfound knowledge of awful anime to good use?

So here I present a (highly biased) guide to terribad — from the ones I enjoy most to the ones I enjoy least, because that is obviously how such a list should progress. Enjoy!

(P.S. There are multiple pages to this for you folks on Google Reader. Haha, you have to come here to finish the post!)

1. Popee the Performer
What is it?: Popee, a clown in a bunny suit, spends his days at a circus with Kedamono, a wolf who wears masks to express emotions. They do lovely things like magic, juggling and slicing into each other with chainsaws. And sticking swords through their bodies. And chucking bombs at each other.
What?!: The fun doesn’t really begin until Papi, the owner of the circus, is introduced. Then they graduate to hypnosis, mirror worlds and bringing darkness upon half the world by cleaving the sun in two.
Your fear: Popee and friends feed on it. It is what keeps them young.

Popee the Performer is twisted in the most wonderful way. If the shorts (each episode is four minutes long) consisted merely of Popee and friends destroying each other in horrible ways, then the show would eventually grow stale. Cartoonishly gruesome violence is fun for only so long. What keeps Popee fresh, however, is the sheer lunatic imagination poured lovingly into every scenario. This series has some of the most inspired Looney Tunes-esque logic I’ve seen in any piece of fiction, much less anime. It’s something I love dearly: creators taking an already bizarre scenario and exploring it to its logical conclusion. Every time I thought I had Popee figured out, it would surprise me with something both terrifying and hilarious.

I am not joking when I say I legitimately love Popee the Performer with all my heart. I want more Popee. I need more Popee. I must have more Popee.

2. Kenya Boy
What is it?: The inspiring journey of a young Japanese boy who teams up with a Masai warrior to battle Nazis, giant animals, and African tribesman who inexplicably become white at one point.
What?!: There are also dinosaurs.
Number of drugs the director took before making it: Just one, but it was really strong.

Kenya Boy is magnificent. I honestly hope that one day someone like Mike Toole will write a massive article detailing how this crazy movie ever got made. Even during the 1980s when anime studios were dropping dollars everywhere, the fact that this movie was actually created and released is inexplicable. But boy am I glad it was made. In the three times I’ve written about this movie here, I’ve never written about the craziest parts, even just now when I casually dropped the fact that there are dinosaurs in this movie. Just drop everything and watch it now.

3. Mad Bull 34
What is it?: Daizaburo “Eddie” Ban (whose name is probably Daizaburo Edi-Ban, or something similar, but the other way is funnier) is a rookie cop in New York’s most dangerous precinct. He is teamed up with John “Sleepy” Estes aka Mad Bull, who is the most infamous cop on the force, a renegade, someone who doesn’t play by the rules. And by “doesn’t play by the rules,” I mean “he blows the brains out of petty thieves.”
What?!: And he never gets punished for it even once.
Number of awkward sex scenes: Three that I remember, but there might be more.

Mad Bull 34, if taken seriously, is utterly reprehensible. It’s an early ’90s OVA, so there’s a ton of violence, rape, and general nastiness toward women, and if they had figured out a way to get some tentacles up in this joint, they probably would have made a token appearance, as well. However, I can’t truly be offended by this OVA because it’s just so god damn goofy. Marriage is used not once, but twice (!!!) to resolve storylines. Daizaburo and Sleepy crossdress frequently. The Manga UK dub adds another layer of hilarity — goofy New York accents, and a gloriously offensive episode involving a Chinese gang, where every member has a racist Chinese accent despite some members clearly being black and white. The whole thing is basically the dumbest, most violent and racist sitcom ever.

4. Garzey’s Wing
What is it?: Chris is your average whiny anime lead who suddenly gets whisked a way by a ghostly duck into a medieval world where an intense war is going on. Also, there are dinosaurs! And his sword is incredibly dull! Somehow only Chris’ soul is whisked away to this world, but it’s solid, and he can communicate with his body back on Earth, and did I mention there are dinosaurs?
What?!: Yoshiyuki Tomino actually wanted this world — which also features in Aura Battler Dunbine — to be his legacy over Gundam.
Yamato Takeru no Mikoto: Damn you!

Yep, this crazy mess of nonsense is the brainchild of Gundam‘s creator. This is perhaps the most “famous” terribad anime — it was my gateway into this craziness. Part of its terribad appeal is Tomino crunching at least a single cours of storylines into three half-hour long OVAs. Absolutely nothing makes sense because every plotline is sped through before it has a chance to make sense. The other part of its appeal is, of course, the English dub. It is maybe the worst English anime dub ever recorded. Not a single correct inflection is used, nor are any emotions expressed that any human being would understand. The first episode in particular is a whirlwind of hilariously awful acting and writing. Garzey’s Wing is truly an experience.

5. Angel Cop
What is it?: At an undefined point in the future, Japan has become swarmed with terrorism. Angel is a cop who fights for justice through ultraviolence. Her bloodlust sees her squared off first against a communist organization, and then a band of psychics . . . and a conspiracy that goes straight to the top. And there are cyborgs.
What?!: It turns out that The Jews Did It, but not in the English dub.
Number of early ’90s rock icons: One. Slash is totally one of the psychics. Prove me wrong.

Angel Cop has much of the same appeal as Mad Bull 34, except its goofiness is born through stone-faced seriousness. Everything has so much gravity and direness in Angel Cop. It’s so morose that it turns around and becomes pleasing to watch. Once again, part of that is the hilarious English dub, helpfully provided by Manga UK’s wonderful practice of punching dialogue up with as much swearing as humanly possible. There are many infamous lines — “FUCK AND PISS!!!!!!!” is perhaps the funniest use of gratuitous swearing ever — but my favorite bit is when the Other Lady Cop on the Force flips out at Angel and ends her conversation with, “Anyway, see you tomorrow, Ice Bitch.” She’s so mild-mannered before then!

6. Legend of Duo
What is it?: So there’s this stuff called prana, and humans are losing their prana, and are dying as a result. However, a vampire called Duo tells humans the secret of prana so that they may live. But this ain’t cool, so a vampire named Zieg — who was turned into a vampire by Duo — is going to punish Duo because Prana Is Bad. Or something.
What?!: Look, I don’t remember any of this shit.
Number of episodes spent flashbacking by a brick wall: Four.

Legend of Duo was once the cheapest anime I’d ever seen, but it has since been topped by other anime to come. However, take whatever you believe to be the cheapest-animated show this season, and Duo beats it handily. There is no action in Duo; hell, there isn’t even act. It’s more like ac. It has a story that you need to be Landon to understand. And flashbacks . . . mountains of flashbacks. There’s also puppy kicking. And I think the dog turns into a vampire at some point? And the Shiki Owl. Fear the Shiki Owl. This would be ranked higher if it had the awful English dub it deserves.

7. Vampire Wars
What is it?: Kuki Koshaburo is a KGB-trained Japanese badass who is wrangled into a mission by the French: He’s to track an actress who is being watched by the CIA . . . and by vampires. So he does what any KGB-trained secret agent would do, and he totally bones her. And he also blows up vampires.
What?!: The vampires are also from space. They are space vampires.
Cocksucking: It’s now an adjective. Vampire Wars has spoken.

This is basically an ’80s action movie with space vampires. If that doesn’t make you want to watch it, then I don’t know what will. And yet again, we have ourselves a hilarious Manga UK dub. It doesn’t have one line that is funnier than anything you’d hear in Mad Bull 34 or Angel Cop, but the totality and ridiculousness of the swearing makes it a worthy successor to the throne. It really is beautiful.

8. The Prince of Tennis: The Two Samurai, The First Game
What is it?: A group of middle schoolers who look and sound much older than they are go onto a cruise ship for high-stakes tennis matches. And by “high stakes” I mean that people actually gamble on middle schoolers playing tennis.
What?!: They also killed the dinosaurs, as seen in the above video.
Most obvious adult on the team: This guy. There’s no fucking way he’s actually in middle school.

Um, it’s a ridiculous shonen movie about middle schoolers who play tennis with ridiculous shonen moves. There’s not much more to it than that. I remember it fondly because it was the first anime I watched with the terribad group.

9. Mars of Destruction
What is it?: Monsters called “Ancients” are popping up all over Tokyo, and a crack group of teenage fighters must destroy them. Then there’s a shocking twist.
What?!: And when you decapitate people, blood flows out of their necks like steam escaping a pipe.
It turns out it’s man: Yes.

Mars of Destruction is . . . something. Bless the creators for wanting to tell this story with all their heart, but it makes Ed Wood look like Martin Scorsese. There’s so much story woefully crammed into 19 minutes that even early ’90s OVAs are like, “WHOA SHIT, SON, SLOW DOWN.” There’s absolutely no reason to care, and that’s why I care so much. The creators hope beyond hope that the simple existence of this story is enough to get people to buy into it, and doggone it, I can’t shit on such earnestness.

10. The Laws of Eternity
What is it?: A bland goof, his bland love interest and two other bland goofs invent a spirit phone based on work by Thomas Edison (that he probably stole from Nikola Tesla). Somehow this works, and they are whisked away on a three-day, two-night stay in the luxurious world of Heaven, where they receive a wonderful tour courtesy of a flying Native American spirit. Unfortunately, this is just not good enough for the less important bland goofs, and they are sent to Hell, from where they must be rescued.
What?!: Guess whom they fight in Hell? If you said the Devil, you’re wrong. It’s Nietzsche and Hitler!
The greatest battle in history: Angelic mecha vs. Hellephant commanded by Hitler.

The Laws of Eternity is the most Happy Sciencey of the Happy Science movies I have seen (the others are to come shortly). It has the requisite beyond strange set-up, loads of dull talking, and then out of nowhere it smacks the viewer with some insane scenario that likely came about because the creators were bored. Nobody could ever be drawn to the loving embrace of Happy Science via the ham-handed, clumsily moralistic writing their movies consistently employ. On the other hand, seeing Hitler stomp around angrily because an angel mecha beat the shit out of his Hellephant has made me want to join a cult more than ever before. Maybe these cultists are on to something.

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45 Responses to “Ranking the Terribad”

  1. Holy cow! Five pages of this! Will have to finish reading when I get back from work.

  2. I don’t have the chance to do Terribad much myself either but I do wish you were there more when I do! It is truly the highlight of all anime watching, much as Cosprayers was the highlight of all anime production.

    Re: Vampire Wars:

    It doesn’t have one line that is funnier than anything you’d hear in Mad Bull 34 or Angel Cop

    There was one line, when the guy wakes up and swears totally inappropriately but I can’t remember what it was — “WHAT THE ASS??” or something like that that had us rolling. But nothing on par with any of Sleepy’s lines.

    • Haha, now that you mention it, I remember something similar to that in the movie. Manga UK was really at the top of its game for that dub.

  3. Garzey’s Wing is my favorite anime.

    But I can see why you’d put Kenya Boy at #1.

    I might just fandub Legend of Duo for you.

    • and then I noticed five pages. Where’s the Sisters?

      • Or Shuffle for that matter?

      • I should have explained it better in the intro, but I included only anime that has been watched in the SCCSAV wing that watches such things. I doubt you’ll see Shuffle! or Sister Princess on here, because they’d never touch them, but I assure you they would be at the bottom. Both lower than Odin, I might add.

  4. Kenya Boy was my first terribad group experience. That somehow makes me very happy; it could have been Apocalypse Zero *shudders*. Still, Garzey’s Wing will always be my champion on this list, if only for the line, “I’m not lying, 12th and 13th century foreigners surround me!”

    Also, no Urotsukidoji? Granted, it’s by no means the worst thing here, but it should have some recognition, if only for scaring the shit out of me when I was 15 years old.

  5. The only one I watched was Itsudatte My Santa!, which only got a ~ out of me. Maybe you’d like it more if you watched it dubbed.

  6. Thanks for a fantastically entertaining read. The dialogue in Angel Cop, your scorn towards the nested plot flashbacks in Legend of Duo, your moeficiation of Dracula – every step of the way is paved with gold.

  7. Oh wow. That Prince of Tennis clip. The universe has nothing on Tezuka. I’m glad a newer anime has made it to the top 10. I swear the show is just shamlessly cheesy. It embraces shounen exaggeration like nothing else.

    I haven’t seen most of this but I definitely enjoyed Garzey’s Wing, Mars of Destruction and of course, Kenya Boy. I’m not sure what to make of those last minutes of the film. But let me assure you that it was mindblowing. I might have to check out Mad Bull 34 now.

    • It was a blast watching that because before then I knew only cursory things about Prince of Tennis. I didn’t expect anything that ridiculous!

  8. Project ICE though, was mindnumbing boring and bad. I guess it’s licensed due to ties with a certain 48 member idol group…

    • I hadn’t really thought of that. Not really sure how popular they are over here, since I don’t follow that scene at all, but I could see that marketing angle being pursued.

  9. Landon Says:

    If it wasn’t for shit like this, I wouldn’t give a damn about anime. I’ll take Vampire Wars or California Crisis over Madoka or some Ghibli movie or whatever else any day.

  10. Watch the first episode of Charger Girl Juuden-chan. Thank me (read: hunt me down with a spork) later.

    • I’ll see what I can do! (Though I really need to get back to putting a dent into my not-terribad anime pile, haha. Too many good shows I’ve been putting off for too long!)


  12. I remember that back in high school, the anime club had a tradition (which they dropped pretty quickly after the seniors left, unfortunately) of watching this OVA called Tattoon Master. I dunno if it’s bad enough to occupy a place on this list, but I remember it being pretty terrible and having a hilariously bad dub as well.

    Now at college my friends and I randomly blurt out “I must make sense of my convoluted situation!” I think we’ve got it bad.

    (Also, note: randomly came across Vampire Wars in the DVD cabinet of a pretty great hotel on the south side of Jamaica. I was pretty surprised, but unfortunately was unable to watch it because a) didn’t have time and b)I was there with the rest of my family. Still though–space vampires. Envious.)

    • I will certainly keep that in mind!

      And, wow, that’s kind of awesome, haha. I remember seeing a while back that Vampire Wars was on Netflix Instant — don’t know if it’s still on there, but that might be a way to see it.

  13. Quick Top 5 Terribad experiences:

    5) Mad Bull 34
    Spanning two weeks, it was quintessential Terribad. The accents, the misogyny, the bloodspray, the hilarity. That I actually forgot most of the first 3 episodes the first time I saw this is just a testament of how much Mad Bull keeps on topping itself. I’m sure the NYPD has never been more proud.

    4) Prince of Tennis
    When I first saw this, I knew it was something I wanted to show to other people. When I finally got the chance to show this, I knew Terribad was here to stay.

    3) Garzey’s Wing
    I’ll never forget the first Terribad. After the first episode, I remember Amelia declared, “Okay, there are no more bad anime.” Dream on, Amelia. Dream on.

    2) Kenya Boy
    As the keeper of the Terribad Vault, I already had seen roughly half of the shows we’ve watched up to this point, so things rarely surprise me. Kenya Boy blew my fucking mind. The exhilaration of discovery, the sheer joy of sharing the experience with friends; Anime never seemed so vast and full of potential as it did that night.

    1) Apocalypse Zero
    Simply put, a vivid reminder that, yes, some anime is too bad even for Terribad.

    Btw, did you see Shinesman? It was accidentally the sole “good” thing we ever saw.

    • Wish I could have been there for the top three, particularly Kenya Boy. I was crushed when my vacation day for that day wasn’t approved. 😦

      Haven’t watched Shinesman yet — so you all didn’t skip it? Who knows when I’ll see it … it would certainly be out of place in this group, from the sound of it, haha.

  14. You’ve seen some shit.

  15. You my friend have outdone yourself. Most epic post you’ve ever done, I will enjoy this post for a long time.

    It really make me sad though that I never get to join you guys for this sh*t. It sounds like a lot of fun.

  16. Brilliant post! I salute you for watching so much of this on your own!

    Seeing it all listed out like this makes me truly appreciate how much crap we’ve watched in that group – and I wouldn’t change it for the world, some things just require group support to sit through (and without Terribad I’d have never watched some of my awesome Manga Ent. DVDs!)

    Memorable events for me have to be Legend of Duo (first Terribad session I ever joined), Kenya Boy (blew me away with how utterly inexplicable it was), Mad Bull 34 (just wow – that dub!), Love, Love? (half the group ragequit midway – new rule, no more paedobait) and the 2nd Garzy’s Wing watch (I was actually crying with laughter during that 1st episode – could not breathe, god love the group’s ears from my cackling).

    • Yeah, the thing that really struck me while writing this is the sheer amount of garbage we’ve seen. I counted everything out beforehand, and there still ended up being more than I expected. It’s kind of ridiculous.

  17. Awesome to see Kenya Boy is #1. I am so glad I decided to type Africa Anime into a search, just to see what would come up.

    • Indeed! I am very glad that you reviewed Kenya Boy, and that Kylaran pushed me to see Kenya Boy after reading your review and watching it. Whenever people ask where I found it, I make sure to credit you! 🙂

  18. I think you’re missing Idol Fight Suchie-Pai 2 (there is no 1).

  19. Hanappe Bazooka is a Nagai/Koike joint. Koike as in Lone Wolf and Cub and Mad Bull, Kazuo Koike. It’s something that Go Nagai actually hated when it was finished because it depicted rape in anything but a bad light.

    Just letting you know.

    • I actually learned that a bit after first publishing this post but have been too lazy to correct it. But thank you all the same!

  20. About to watch Violence Jack, I hope it lives up to your explanation.

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