One of the most disappointing experiences one can have as an anime fan is encountering a show with a good premise but bad execution. The summaries sound great; the first few episodes are fun, but eventually, you realize certain anime programs just don't hold up.
For example, Moyashimon has a cool premise, but the show makes Tadayasu's ability to talk to microbes pretty underwhelming. And while the characters in Sword Art Online get trapped in a virtual reality that's super advanced, the female heroine is reduced to a glorified damsel in distress. Both shows have great potential, but they fall short.
It's not like viewers can't enjoy these anime after realizing the shows don't live up to their potential, but it's hard to think about them without getting at least a little upset. Let's commiserate!
Premise: Thousands of people are trapped in a virtual reality game called Sword Art Online. To escape and get back to their lives, they must clear the game - but the catch is, if they die in-game, they also die in real life.
Why It Tanked: Sword Art Online can't be said to have failed entirely - it's a wildly popular show, and it had some truly great moments. But what could have been a great show turned into one with some serious flaws that are hard to overlook. Kirito's personality is bland and poorly developed. There's a harem setup that isn't capitalized on, frustrating both viewers who don't enjoy harem anime at all, and viewers who like it and want to the trope used effectively. Asuna, who starts off as a strong hero, is reduced to a damsel in distress by the end of the first series. Kirito's sister (technically his cousin, but raised as his sister) turns out to be in love with him, blasting fans with an incestuous sub plot out of nowhere. That's a lot of flaws for 50 episodes.
Premise: When Masamune Makabe asks out his crush, Aki Adagaki, he's turned down in the most humiliating way possible. To get revenge, he loses a ton of weight and changes his image in the hopes of winning her affection - with the intention of dumping her right back.
Why It Tanked: Not only does Masamune never get his revenge, he also never specifically decides to forgo it. Instead, the story peters out into oblivion, ending with a school play in which nothing is actually resolved. The show has some great moments, particularly when Masamune reflects on how his history of being bullied has impacted his self-esteem, but those moments are fleeting. The central conflict is never resolved, new characters crop up at the last minute and add nothing to the overall story, and the whole thing falls flat. Could this be resolved with a second season? Sure - but so far, there's no sign that one is forthcoming.
Premise: God abandons humanity, so no one can be born, and no one can die. Characters who already faced death continue to endure in a zombie-like existence. A group known as Grave Keepers are tasked with putting the dead to rest.
Why It Tanked: Rather than explore the unique premise, Sunday Without God opts for multiple disconnected arcs that have little to do with each other or the show as a whole. The anime focuses on a school instead of the real meat - anime zombies.
Premise: James Bond meets Cowboy Bebop in L/R: Licensed by Royalty as the protagonists defend the royal family from harm and fight against a conspiracy. Everything is set to modern rock music.
Why It Tanked: The second half of the series tries to get dark, serious, and complicated, but it isn't able to do so with any degree of nuance. The first half is a bit better; some jokes land, but the episodes are also pretty random. They don't effectively advance the plot.
Moreover, a lot of the series' soundtrack is full of oddly done covers. It even seems as if the show uses Bryan Adams's "Summer of 69," possibly without permission.