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My Way or the Anime – Trainwreck Fantastic

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It hasn’t gone completely off the rails yet, but it will. It’s coming. I feel it!

I’ve always had an affinity for a good trainwreck, which is something I know many people do not share. I think that’s a shame, because trainwrecks can be really entertaining. They may not have a good plot, relatable characters, a realistic setting, or to be honest, make any damn sense at all, but that’s okay because when it comes right down to it, they’re damn fun to watch!

What do I mean by a trainwreck? Even compared to what I normally talk about, this one is vague. The phrase comes from the act of a train crashing, which is morbidly interesting even as it’s horrific. Put another way, a story becomes a trainwreck when it edges on so bad it’s good (trope!) territory, though more in the plot and characters than the production quality (at least for anime). Once again, I realize I have an affection for this type of story that many do not share, so if to you think trainwreck = bad, please mentally substitute in my alternate definition for the remainder of this article. Alas, you have to put up with my funny ways of doing things. That’s one of the perks of being the writer.

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Though I’d prefer more imouto-related perks.

To make this easier, I’ll give some examples; CODE GEASS is one of the most frequently referenced trainwrecks, and this season’s Kakumeiki Valvrave is shaping up to be another excellent example (clearly, Sunrise is filled with masters of the form). I would also put Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko. in the category, and Date A Live is a pretty good example, though it’s a bit of a borderline case in my book – it has a lot of the hallmarks, but doesn’t execute at quite the level others do. Here are a few attributes that I think typify a “good” trainwreck (which is a total oxymoron, but stick with me):

  • The premise is more than a little bonkers. Vampire mecha pilots? A pervert who can get away with anything choosing to give up the ability to bullshit at politician level? These premises are patently ridiculous, which is a large part of what keeps these shows from being classically “good”. It doesn’t stop them from being entertaining, though.
  • There’s an emphasis of style over substance. Logic and diligent plotting and everything that makes Hataraku! Maou-sama so good are in short supply, but everything they do is done with enough style and flair to compensate for its weaknesses elsewhere. Often this is visually, i.e. all the mecha actions in Valvrave.
  • The characters are nuts. The moment I realized that HenNeko qualified was during Tsukushi’s confession, while for Valvrave it was when a minor character picked up a friggin’ machine gun and immediately opened fire on a soldier!! These characters aren’t operating on anything close to logic, but it’s hilarious to watch!
  • The action and/or comedy flies fast and heavy. There’s a definite feeling that if they slow down for too long, it’s going to become clear that they don’t have a clue what they’re doing or where the plot is going, so they never slow down. Don’t give us enough time to think about it and we won’t notice the flaws, that’s the ticket!
  • The focus is on what would be the most entertaining thing that could happen right now. I imagine the writers as engaged in a combination improv session and one-up competition – they’re all throwing out the craziest ideas they can think of and using them immediately, with little thought of what will happen an episode (or even a scene!) later. There’s no build up, it’s just wham wham wham every single episode.
  • There’s a persistent feeling that the story could implode at any time, which is what makes it so fascinating to watch. That’s the whole trainwreck idea again – the end might be a flaming mess, but the journey is a damn sight to behold. This part is crucial – if a story has all the other attributes but doesn’t always feel like it’s about to go off the rails (Ex: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann), then it’s just a speeding train, and those can handle it.
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Style. Miles and miles of style.

All these attributes combine to make trainwrecks a more emotional ride, and one that relies heavily on the willing suspension of disbelief (trope!). If you stop and think for too long, it falls apart, and if you’re not willing to accept just about anything the series throws at you, you’ll never be able to hold on for the whole ride. But if you do? There are better shows airing this season, but Valvrave and HenNeko are the ones that are always constantly making me burst out in laughter or exclaim aloud in excited and jubilant disbelief. I’ll admit that this probably means I have bad taste, but you know what? I’m having a damn lot of fun! And if you’re not having fun when you’re watching anime, what’s the point?

Now I’ll turn it over to you. What’s your opinion on Stilts-style trainwrecks? Are they super enjoyable rides for which the conclusion are a distant and unimportant concern, or something you cannot tolerate? Feel free to mention other series that you think qualify as trainwrecks, though please keep it positive – this isn’t a topic about bashing shows you don’t like, but celebrating the ones that are terribly awesome in all meanings of the phrase.

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A fake imouto is fine too.

May 20, 2013 at 9:11 am
169 comments »
  • May 20, 2013 at 9:36 amZen

    All these attributes combine to make trainwrecks a more emotional ride, and one that relies heavily on the willing suspension of disbelief.

    Comes back to what you were saying about emotion being more powerful than reason. For the vast majority of people, emotion simply matters more than reason; if you can construct a show that is emotionally appealing, it can still be massively popular regardless of the reasonableness/logic of the plot. The minority of more logically-orientated people will vehemently hate on it, (educated minorities always make a lot of noise) but these kinds of shows always end up being vindicated by their sales…

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:16 amActus

      Indeed… Valvrave does have its unconventional scenes though: most notably the ‘Moses’ moment.

      Although I was quite surprised at Date-a-Live though. The later episodes fared better than its fantastically random first episode.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:51 amStilts

        True. That’s another reason it’s a borderline case…once you swallow the massive technobable-laden pill that is the first episode or two, it becomes actually quite understandable. It has all the hallmarks though, and it can certainly teeter on the rails, so I thought it justified at least a mention.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:36 amEmD

    Valvrave is an intentional trainwreck.

    Like, I don’t think Code Geass was written as one, but Valvrave knows exactly what is is.

    But yes, Sunrise makes some seriously entertaining shows.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:55 amCybersteel

      But the way Lelouch died to save the world was spectacular amidst the uncertainties of whether Shneizels’ geass might get undone due to his death or other factions trying to take over the world.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:45 ampokpok

        you can tell that to Zero and don’t worry he isn’t dead yet , remember? this is anime , people die when they are killed and we saw Corps! (not applicable for Date A live new yandere girl)

      • May 20, 2013 at 12:54 pmGermanguy

        we saw CC and him, on a Horse carriage in disguise. So if you remember it, he is not dead. But someone is now cursed to carry the helm of Zero and never took it of

      • May 20, 2013 at 1:56 pmrsquirrel

        Or in the case of Valvrave, you see the corpse and he’s still not dead. Vampires FTW.

      • May 20, 2013 at 8:42 pmsands76

        Honestly, the first season of Code Geass was spectacular, even from a writing standpoint. (The premise of a high school genius boy overthrowing and empire was a little ridiculous, but it was done well.) I’d argue it was only the second season that was a trainwreck, and that only because they moved Code Geass from a Thursday night to a Saturday night, which made them rewrite the super dark stuff they had planned for season 2. They tossed so many plotlines out the window (Kallen’s brother, Cecilia’s relationship with Suzaku, who C2 really was), and completely rewrote the ending. It was rushed and completely over the top, compared to a more subtle first season.

        I’m still hoping they do a reboot of just the second season and make it how it was originally meant to be.

    • May 20, 2013 at 3:52 pmsortedevaras

      I must admit, the reason I watch most anime these days is for the train wrecks. There is nothing quite as compelling as seeing loads of money and talent going to make a cluster**** of a show full of overdramatic acting, nonsensical plot threads appearing from nowhere, dramatic hand gestures and epic asspulls. Anime is at its best when its at its goofiest.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:38 amMieu

    Trainwrecks are one thing, feeling directionless after the first five episodes is only punishing the audience however.

    At this point I feel only the ever rising body count and general stupidity is keeping me interested in Valvrave.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:45 amAnanas

      EVOL. Directionless second half.

      • May 20, 2013 at 8:46 pmHaseo

        To be honest I stopped watching EVOL once i found out who the enemies were. I could tell this thing was gonna end as a flaming pile of bullshit and i was right.

      • May 21, 2013 at 5:34 amTaiyo

        Evol was an absolute failure that couldn’t even measure up to the original. Despite having flashy animations, I felt myself enjoying Aquarion episode 19 more than a lot of Evol. The best parts of Evol were the throwbacks to the original. Nothing else. When the original Aquarion reappeared, I thought I would be amazed, but no. It’s just a gold aquarion.

        Evol’s characters are weak and intentionally stupid to preserve drama. I found Apollo and Silvie a better couple despite my dislike for tsunderes and idiots.

      • May 21, 2013 at 6:42 amAnanas

        Sousei was a pretty average show that abuse the monster of the week formula far too much instead of exploring its full potential, it still managed to wrap things up in a competent manner. It was over the top but in no way a trainwreck. EVOL is just plain aggravating, despite some fun moments it is an absolute reference of what not to do when making a show. There are no characters in EVOL, only plot devices.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:40 amCatsrofl

    Well, I mostly agree with this. When i’m watching a show and find out other people think its retarded and bad yet I can’t help but get a “so bad its good enjoyment”. But I do still believe pulling off a good ending is required or atleast decent one, otherwise I might have a sour taste by the end. But besides that, I would probably still look at the rest of the show as a good trainwreck with a “meh” ending. Can’t really think of any Stilts-style trainwrecks right now, oh well.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:49 amAnanas

      Try Macross 7.

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:20 pmsortedevaras

        Macross 7 was great dude! Basara flew a Valkyrie with his guitar and saved space whales with the power of love ballads. That is not a train wreck, that is just awesome.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:53 amStilts

      A good (or at least satisfying) ending would be preferred, to be sure, it’s just the feeling that it could go off the rails any second that makes it a trainwreck. That a few of them actually pull it into the station alright just makes them pleasant surprises.

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:17 amKaioshin Sama

        This is pretty much prejudging a show and saying that they are “pleasant surprises” is IMO pretty much being unwilling to give credit where it’s due and own up to the fact that you were wrong. This is why I believe more in the benefit of the doubt and taking out individual criticisms as they come rather than forcing a show onto a track where there is no other way but to take the show as a failure that has only yet to prove as such. I find I tend to gain more out of the experience that way.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:47 amAnanas

    This universe needs more School Days.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:48 amWildKaiser

    Wait Stilts when you say Code;Geass is one of the most referenced train-wrecks, is it the general meaning or your definition of a train-wreck?

    It’s hard for me to consider an anime I enjoy a train-wreck, even by substituting your definition but that’s just me. I only consider shows that I find completely horrible to be train-wrecks. I don’t really get how something can be so bad that it becomes good. Too sleepy to read that trope page now.

    Well I guess I don’t really like using that term cause I see it used way too much on a website and it annoyed me AHEM*MAL*AHEM AHCHOO*ValvravePage*AHCHOO

    That and my suspension of belief is at a god-like level (Self-Proclaimed). It would take a LOT to annoy me and thus I don’t really “tolerate” anything since I enjoy pretty almost all the anime I watch.

    To end off, if I had to give a show that many consider to be a mega train-wreck that I enjoyed it would be Guilty Crown. A lot of people say it was completely horrible but hey I enjoyed it. I can’t bring myself to call it a train-wreck (regardless if it’s the general one or a Stilts-wreck) since the only thing I disliked was the story. Yes I like Shu.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:54 amStilts

      My definition. Code Geass was a glorious mess, but it was still glorious.

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:09 amKaioshin Sama

        That’s not your definition, that’s just you paraphrasing a generic comment that is used pretty widely on sites like MAL, 4Chan and other blogs.

      • May 21, 2013 at 8:54 amWildKaiser

        Haha while I agree that it’s glorious, I still can’t get used to calling it a train-wreck! Oh well. I guess I never will never get used to the multiple meanings of a train-wreck

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:54 amRigelin

    Not sure if I completely understand this yet, but according to my understanding that’d make AKB0048, Kore wa Zombie, and 11eyes as trainwreck anime as well? I think the trainwreck works very well in Kore wa, especially in the second season.

    And I don’t personally see Code Geass as a train wreck. Yeah it got too plot-twist happy and maybe a bit too grand, but I feel it was all in line and made the anime that much more epic. Like seriously, I remember watching episode (I think) 19, where Lelouch was kicked out of the Black Knights, and after that I remember thinking “Lelouch lost everything, what could possibly happen in 5 episodes?”

    Little did I know he would take over Britannia and soon the world. <– that line there nearly sums up the reason why that show's so awesome.

    • May 21, 2013 at 2:36 amTheMoondoggie

      >AKB0048

      Yup, that was a trainwreck: War anime with idols but no dead idols. How is that a war anime? No matter how brilliant the world building is or how good it was written(no “plot holes”), if you fail your intended genre, it’s just bad.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:00 amJason Isenberg

    One trainwreck I remember well was Higurashi, the first one. Kinda went downhill after half way…then again after that first season the rest of the whole anime series itself kinda did the same thing :/

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:08 amExukvera

    You can’t call a trainwreck an anime that is not meant to be serious at all, like Date A Live. Or there can really be some logic on a series about a guy who must assemble (and maintain) a harem to avoid the end of the world?

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:09 amKira526

    As someone who’s watching both Valvrave and HenNeko, I have to say I agree with your analysis on trainwrecks. Of course sometimes there are some shows that turn me off completely, but for the most part I actually need to have a couple trainwrecks in my “watch list” every season. I love anime for so many different reasons which is why I always try out way too many shows every season lol. While I love shows that keep me on my toes or challenge my brain, there’s something really fun about watching a show just for laughs. Taking a 25 minute break from reality to see “just what the hell they’re gonna pull this week” is highly underrated. For me, this is all about balance though so I also need to watch a few “trains” that don’t crash lol.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:56 amStilts

      Yeah, you have to keep them in balance. A good trainwreck or three is fun, but if that’s all your watching it loses its punch. Its in the contrast with other shows that they become such a riot to watch!

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:15 amKaioshin Sama

        Again this just seems like a way of validating and lording your own tastes over others while refusing to own up to doing so. It’s the thinly veiled nature of it all I also don’t really care for. I’d rather people just come out and say that that’s what they are doing instead of trying to backdoor it in on everyone by making up some term to try and make it all seem like a jolly good time all to be taken in good faith when frankly it’s not.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:10 amExukvera

    Do you want an example of a total trainwreck?

    Guilty Crown!

    • May 20, 2013 at 10:33 amStilts

      Naw, that was just bad.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:20 amAnanas

        If the misadventures of chancellor Ouma Shu aren’t a complete trainwreck nothing is.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:48 amStilts

        Using my definition of the phrase, it’s not a good trainwreck because it was aggravating, not entertaining. Of course, that’s a subjective judgment on my (and many other people’s) parts, but it does provide an interesting contrast with CODE GEASS – both are unintentional trainwrecks, but because GEASS had so much style (in both its characters and its animation) and was so ridiculous, it was hard to take it seriously and it became awesome. Guilty Crown satisfies most of the criteria, but it took itself so seriously that you couldn’t pass it off as gloriously ridiculous, and it became bad.

        The line is thin, but it all has to do with attitude and style. A good trainwreck has them, and Guilty Crown did not.

    • May 22, 2013 at 8:10 amhaseo0408

      That was a planecrash, not a trainwreck.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:33 amboingman

    Is that twintail loli also from Valvrave? Guess I’ll need to check out the first episode to see what Stilts is talking about.

    • May 20, 2013 at 10:46 amMagoiichi

      No, that’s Kotori, from Date A Live, a show that I’m disappointed that no one is blogging it and I have no one to talk about it with ;/

      • May 20, 2013 at 10:55 amkatsudon

        I know how you feel man, I’m in the exact same boat. =/ After an incredibly generic pilot episode, it’s turning out to be one of the most entertaining shows of this season- that hot springs episode was probably one of the best ones I have ever seen.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:16 amCybersteel

        Show Spoiler ▼

      • May 20, 2013 at 12:30 pmTassadar

        I was so looking forward to Date a Live being blogged. :( I want someone to talk to about how kawaii Tohka is!

    • May 20, 2013 at 12:00 pmStilts

      Yeah, the first episode of Date A Live just had a TON of technobabble to swallow. Once you get past that, it’s actually quite entertaining!

      • May 20, 2013 at 5:30 pmZhinvu

        I like Date A Live. Its opening song is one of my favorites this season. I’m still a few episodes behind (currently at episode 3), but Show Spoiler ▼

      • May 22, 2013 at 1:47 amTheMoondoggie

        Technobabble? Care to elaborate? I don’t think it was THAT hard to understand.

    • May 22, 2013 at 5:20 pmSeishun

      Haha, if my plate wasn’t already full, I would have so much fun blogging Date A Live. That show is such blast – crazy, ecchi and bizzare, just the way I like it XD

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:43 amJhacks

    Of course, Trainwreck are fantastic. Discussing bad anime is much more fun than discussing good ones. xD
    Stupidity aside, the only difference for me between an enjoyably bad trainwreck anime from the really bad ones, is when it’s boring or not.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:58 amStilts

      That’s not a bad way to put it! And yes, we always keep talking about the really good and the really bad – it’s only the average or mediocre that recede from memory forever. Better to at least be memorable, ne?

      • May 20, 2013 at 12:21 pmMgMaster

        No kidding,lol.I’m always amazed at how many comments the Valvrare posts have.

      • May 20, 2013 at 4:12 pmJhacks

        Lol, It’s kinda sad if you think about it. Welp, nothing brings out discussion like a really bad anime.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:53 amkatsudon

    Valvrave might be a trainwreck, but like I’ve said in one of the earlier posts- you turn your brain off before tuning in, and you’re going to be entertained for the whole twenty minutes: it’s loud, fun, and explosive- you either love it or hate it. (and that’s really all that needs to be said about it, honestly- wished some people on Seishun’s posts understood that)

    A good example of a Stilts-style trainwreck would be FLCL. (one of my personal favorites) The plot makes very little sense, the comedy and action is non-stop and chaotic, and the characters are all crazy- add an awesome soundtrack by the pillows and gorgeous visuals by Gainax and you’ve got yourself an incredibly entertaining (albeit confusing as all hell) show. I remember watching it for the first time in 9th grade and my brain almost melted from the pilot- and even though that manga panel sequence in the first episode is one of my favorite scenes from anime, it still makes no sense when you try to put in a real “context”- is it awesome though? You bet it is.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:17 amAnanas

      FLCL is by no means a trainwreck. And even if the action is nonsensical at moment the plot isn’t.

      • May 22, 2013 at 10:32 pmKaioshin Sama

        Why not? Because it was popular AND people actually gave it a chance to prove itself and because we have the benefit of hindsight in it’s case? That’s all I’ve gotten so far.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:22 amActus

      People can choose to ‘turn off their brains’ when they watch shows, but it does not mean that everyone has to do it. Some like to watch everything with their brains ‘on’.

      Film critics would be out of jobs if everyone has to ‘turn off their brains’ when watching shows.

    • May 20, 2013 at 12:08 pmStilts

      Actually, I agree with Ananas – I don’t think FLCL is a trainwreck. It has a lot of the hallmarks, but it never struck me as threatening to go off the rails. Admittedly, that’s mostly because it existed so far from the tracks that it didn’t even understand what a train was, but still! The idea of a glorious trainwreck is subjective to be sure, but I don’t think FLCL was one. It was just $@^%&! crazy, lol!

      • May 22, 2013 at 10:30 pmKaioshin Sama

        That just makes the trainwreck definition all the more flimsy and totally subjective since everyone’s definition of “going off the rails” is obviously going to be different. I think you just kind of have to face it, this whole trainwreck thing is bogus cause of the non-universal criteria and should be just viewed as what it really is, the thinly veiled method of bashing a show and putting it and it’s fans down that I mentioned before.

    • May 22, 2013 at 10:28 pmKaioshin Sama

      I don’t really agree with this whole turn off your brain push some people have going on. If anything that just makes it more likely that those people will miss important stuff, try to blame it on the show and come across looking like an asshat. To me better advice would be to say retool your expectations as opposed to just stop paying attention to things entirely which is honestly pretty terrible advice in general.

  • May 20, 2013 at 11:48 amflCer

    First of all, I don’t think a train crashing is morbidly amusing, which is probably why I can’t relate to the rest of your views on trainwrecks.

    I feel that for a series to be classified as trainwrecks, it has to be an anime that I really looked forward to seeing, but ended up screwing up it’s storyline in a very convoluted manner that I think everyone thought it failed.

    The most recent one I can remember is Guilty Crown.

    Thus I think my definition for trainwreck is: “A very sturdy and steadfast locomotive travelling briskly and crashing in the end”. It was going well but it ended up destroying itself.

    • May 20, 2013 at 12:11 pmStilts

      Just to be clear, I don’t find an actual trainwreck (where people die and whatnot) to be entertaining. There’s a certain fascination in how the train cars can pile up, but the loss of life destroys any enjoyment there. Just sayin’!

      As for what Guilty Crown was, I go with merely “disappointing”. I don’t think it deserves a fancier term than that.

      • May 20, 2013 at 5:55 pmmac65

        Stilts – I think the etymology for the comical/entertainment disaster
        of train wreck that we use comes from the old silent clips from the 20′s
        when they used to “decommission” old locomotives by filming their crash
        and showing to audiences in early theatres. Have you seen any of those
        (not that I would remember, but I heard about them on some blogging site :))

        Obviously, no one would enjoy a train wreck where people are injured/died.

  • May 20, 2013 at 12:17 pmMgMaster

    I decided to turn off a part of my brain when watching some shows starting with this season.The result was that I apparently had almost twice as many animes to watch than usual.No ideea if that would be considered good or bad but um…it’s pretty fun,lol.

    At worst,if a trainwreck doesn’t end up being enjoyable then it might be enjoyable to poke fun at it(although this is usually the case with the more overhyped ones) which is something that makes watching it still…well,enjoyable.So I suppose the result is that it’ll be popular either way.

    For the record,I’m all okay with poking fun at some series as long as it’s done with style and doesn’t annoy anyone besides overzealous fanboys & fangirls.I didn’t enjoy GC nor SAO nearly as much as I enjoy Valvrare but I did enjoy poking fun at it.Hmmm,I suppose that would make me a hater wouldn’t it? -.-

    • May 20, 2013 at 12:49 pmNierTevra

      man…there are a lot of robots in this thread…

      • May 22, 2013 at 10:33 pmKaioshin Sama

        LOL. To be honest I’ve taken to referring to people that by into this sort of trainwreck nonsense as robots just because of the way they love to parrot that one specific line week after week.

      • May 23, 2013 at 4:56 amDa5id

        And…if they make a legitimate point, what do you call them?

  • May 20, 2013 at 12:47 pmRaw

    Dear Stilts:

    We have completely different definitions of trainwreck.

    Love,
    Raw

    • May 20, 2013 at 1:06 pmStilts

      Dear Raw,

      It happens. How’s your day? I hope it’s going well!

      Love,
      Stilts-oniichan

    • May 20, 2013 at 1:43 pmZen

      That was actually my first thought when I read the article- I understood Stilt’s definition of a trainwreck- which is essentially a show where the story ventures so far over the boundaries of plausibility for the sake of emotional/dramatic effect that a massive dose of suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy it- and is forgiven for its implausibility by most fans because of the strength of its aforementioned dramatic/emotional qualities.

      But most people tend to employ a different, simpler definition of the term which simply means a show that starts out strong with initial episodes of high-to-decent objective quality and gets worse as time goes on, eventually becoming irredeemably awful by its ending- hence the term “trainwreck”- the damage piles up incrementally eventually rising to catastrophic levels soon after the initial crash as the force of it transfers to every individual car of the train over time…

      • May 20, 2013 at 4:44 pmStilts

        I really should have used the phrase “glorious trainwreck” throughout the article, if I were smarter and wanted to make the value judgement I was making about this sort of story clearer, but I’m not. Frack.

    • May 21, 2013 at 2:21 amAnanas

      Random.
      Fabulous.
      Extravagant.
      Over the top.

      Trainwreck.

  • May 20, 2013 at 2:07 pmewok40k

    As much as the show was great, I’d like to submit Girls und Panzer:
    -The premise is more than a little bonkers. “Girls fighting mock battles in real WW2 tanks”
    -There’s an emphasis of style over substance. “Tracked vehicles drifting”"Pink M-3″
    -The characters are nuts. “Firing a tank canon to wake up tardy schoolmate”"Bursting into rant about love failures during combat”
    -The action and/or comedy flies fast and heavy. “vs Pravda episode(s) – Stalingrad battle compressed to 2 episodes, only with happy ending for the besieged”
    -The focus is on what would be the most entertaining thing that could happen right now. “What shall we throw at them? a friggin MAUS. Hetzer infiltrating enemy tank line. Anglerfish dance!”
    -There’s a persistent feeling that the story could implode at any time, which is what makes it so fascinating to watch. “All the battles are won with minimal margin of victory, and slightest twist of luck would have ended series floundering with the storyline of games up to the final broken”
    Verdict? For me, it was Armoured Trainwreck!

  • May 20, 2013 at 2:44 pmCaptain Sunshine

    Wow, even the writers here are calling Valvrave a trainwreck.

    And…yeah, they’re right. I’d argue we’re closer to going off the rails than you think, Stilts. All we need is maybe one pilot death.

    • May 20, 2013 at 4:07 pmActus

      And the mysterious disappearance of the female who declared independence.

  • May 20, 2013 at 3:20 pmJust A Random Guy

    Hold on a minute. I’m surprised so many people are calling Code Geass a trainwreck with little to no idea what went wrong behind the scenes.

    You people do realize creator/writer/series composition, Ichirō Ōkouchi planned the show to target older audience from the beginning. R1 was broadcast during mid-nights at around 12 AM. Due to R1′s popularity, the broadcasting stations forcefully moved R2′s broadcasting time to 6 PM prime time. This decision was made with the belief that it would attract more viewers from all different age range. Ichirō Ōkouchi himself and the rest of his co-writers were extremely upset with this decision, especially Ōkouchi himself, because a wider range of audience meant that they couldn’t put as many tragedies and violence into the story. This also explains the brightening of color use in R2. As a result, many of the co-writers who would help with the overall character and story writing left, leaving Ichirō Ōkouchi to write on his own. Ichirō Ōkouchi himself also created the character of Rolo as a sign of frustration and rebellion to this decision.

    With only Ichirō Ōkouchi writing for the script, it’s pretty obvious that the story of R2 would not be as tight and reasonable as the first season. For some of the major events that happened, such as the ending, I’m sure it was already planned out from the beginning, but the means of getting there was another story.

    Certainly you can’t blame the writers and the team completely, but at the same time, you can’t blame the upper staffs would makes the decision. Remember, R1 came out before the financial crisis, while R2 was broadcasting in the midst of it. I’m sure that’s one of the major reasons why the staffs decided to move the time slot of the show.

    • May 20, 2013 at 3:36 pmCaptain Sunshine

      I think it was more that people are saying that the production was a trainwreck, not that they’re blaming the writers for that.

      • May 20, 2013 at 3:47 pmJust A Random Guy

        Here’s the thing, what was the production problem? Think about it; animation, soundtrack, visual effects, voice casts, everything was top notch for the anime industry at its time. How could we blame the production if the only problem was the story and how the characters played out.

    • May 20, 2013 at 4:48 pmStilts

      Remember, I’m not making a negative value judgement about CODE GEASS in saying that it’s a trainwreck, I’m just saying it was one, and it was memorable and had style and looked like a damn lot of fun. Reasons like that are why it’s an unintentional one, whereas Valvrave is intentional 100%.

      • May 20, 2013 at 10:20 pmJust A Random Guy

        Sorry for being off topic by posting about purely on Code Geass, kinda got a bit emotional there I must admit.

        Now back on topic. I believe the reason why so many of us feel this show is such a trainwreck is because of the misleading promotions and the giant production team that is behind this show. It’s been a while since Sunrise gave its fans a taste of some mecha actions. The promotions surrounding the story and the mechs created such a serious atmosphere, that I think people expected something that would “wow” them. I, for one, certainly got quite excited when I saw the first pv, even though the mechs are CGI most of the time.

        I think the real problem, which I find is a HUGE problem in the industry right now, is that the writers don’t have a sense of what the story should talk about and write out exactly what the story will be. They creates the primary setting and the major characters thought out and they go straight into production with it, rushing everything.

        This leads the the quality of the future episodes depending on the early ratings of the anime. Some animes that took this route, for example, Guilty Crown and Gundam Age, have all ended up with a significant production budget cut, as well as decrease in team morale. As a result, by the end of the series, the audience question what was the message and purpose of the show.

        It’s quite noticeable in the last couple of episodes, even though the mechs are CGI, the animation quality in these episodes have been quite mediocre.

        Now here is something that I am quite frustrated with, and this falls on the team not just on the writer himself. I must first admit, I am not much of a fan service person, I am more the quality and story type. What was the team thinking to promote the anime in such a mysterious and serious manner if the characters and concepts of this anime is clearly for a young teen. This brings me to my second point of the use in fan service. If it’s clear that there are younger audience, why the hell would you incorporate so much fan service in the past episode. All I feel is that this anime is adding salt to an already cut wound. This bring back to the point that the production team doesn’t have in mind what the story is about, and only creating the primary setting and character and just write the story according to the popularity. Making this anime with a promising production team at the beginning, but no sense of direction right when you watch it.

        Like what Tomino has criticized the writers these days; have some god damn pride in yourselves! Finish the product before presenting it to the people.

  • May 20, 2013 at 3:53 pmTarage

    Rails? This thing was never on rails to begin with.

  • May 20, 2013 at 4:13 pmJiCi

    IMO, a trainwreck is when the anime basically screws up your expectations, or changed the situation so much that it’s not the same anymore.

    “Jumping the shark” in other words…

  • May 20, 2013 at 4:35 pmleeboo121

    In total agreement about Code Geass. I generally don’t like the super shounen art style, but the twists were so….fascinating I just had to watch on to see what happened next, screw all logic. This is the same approach I am taking this season in watching Valvrave, and I’m getting similar vibes although it seems to be moving a bit slower than Code Geass which was bam bam bam non-stop. But still no less ridiculous. Who cares? It’s entertaining, swapping bodies and all that nonsense.

    Somehow I keep on thinking that the prototype, to a certain extent, is Evangelion with its mindf*ck writing style. Sure, it was much more deliberate and coated/layered/obfuscated with religo-babble, but the same sense of let’s just see what sh*t they pull off this week is vaguely familiar. Dunno maybe that’s just me.

    • May 20, 2013 at 4:50 pmStilts

      There’s some truth to that, though Evangelion (up until the Gainax Ending) always felt like it had a strong plot and a plan, so it was more of an example of a good ‘ol fashion mind fuck (ala FLCL, which was discussed above) that happened to go off the rails with some surprise at the end.

      Though I say this having first watched it long after its premiere and in a fairly disjointed order, so I don’t know if I would say the same thing if I saw it weekly all in a row. How you watch a series matters.

      • May 20, 2013 at 5:43 pmsonicsenryaku

        That’s a very good point. I’ve always tried to express to others that it’s a different experience watching a show weekly vs watching an entire series within a couple of days or in one sitting. Sometimes watching a series in one sitting doesn’t give you time to think about its flaws (or perhaps watching the show in one continuous flow can allow you to pick up on certain points you might have missed when watching it weekly); you can either immediately enjoy it or really be bored with it. Sometimes watching a series in one go can make “filler eps” have more meaning to a viewer than they would have if they were viewed weekly. Watching a series on a weekly basis can make one forget about certain plot points that can for the most part hamper a person’s enjoyment of a series, or it can allow certain themes to really sink in throughout the wait and increase a viewers appreciation of the series over time, or it. For those who arent enjoying valvare right now, perhaps they will if they watch it all in one sitting and dont have time to think about its silliness hahaha…..or perhaps the other side of the argument can be seen and maybe they’ll notice even more flaws and not appreciate it for the potential fun train-wreck it is….man no one wins.

  • May 20, 2013 at 5:07 pmVoyager

    THANKS Stilts, I finally know how to answer when they ask me why I enjoy HenNeko, I will proudly say: because it’s a gooood traiwreck and I TOTALLY don’t watch it for the overmoe lolis ;)

    (good article as always btw, keep them coming, on your other blog too)

    • May 20, 2013 at 6:47 pmStilts

      Danke, danke! Will do on both counts : )

      Ohandalso, don’t lie – you know you totally watch it 80% for the overmoe lolis, only 20% for the glorious trainwreck ; )

  • May 20, 2013 at 6:46 pmRaine

    I’d like to nominate the current season of Oreimo as a emotional trainwreck. Maybe because Kyousuke doesn’t operate on normal logic and the vibes of an emotional disaster that it gives off. Thank goodness that it has ended on the last ep (or the first half of the next ep. I CAN DREAM RIGHT?).

    Show Spoiler ▼

  • May 20, 2013 at 6:47 pmBananarchy

    my thing with geass is that it had a legitimately good 1st season. the problem is they decided to end in a cliff hanger that they couldn’t possibly come out of gracefully and that set the tone for the rest of the series.

    but seriously that first season… sure it required quite the willful suspension of disbelief (MODEST MOUSE!) however it managed to play by the rules it established. in fact, it almost felt as if the season 2 finale was written before anything else…

  • May 20, 2013 at 8:59 pmKaioshin Sama

    Terrible article that obviously looks made to stir the pot and guide opinion toward an extremely tired and IMO biased outlook on specific types of shows I happen to fine just plain fun and interesting to watch would sooner leave at that.

    I wish the internet would stop deciding on these shows as “trainwrecks” and forcing the issue and just let them play out and then decide what they actually think of the shows without having to resort to parring the whole thing down to buzzwords. It’s kind of a cheap and tacky way to go about evaluating a show and not to mention more than a little pre-judgemental.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:41 pmKaioshin Sama

      And before anyone replies I’m sorry but no matter how people try to spin it they know exactly what they are doing in this case and what the labeling really means. It’s also insulting not only to the people that enjoy the shows at face value and can relate to and enjoy them without having to feel they need to save face by claiming it’s in an ironic way to the whole damn world and can point to specific strengths and weaknesses, but also to those that have taken the time to given genuinely fair, basically detailed, and well thought out criticism of the show. It’s like saying no, conventional reactions and methods of evaluation aren’t good enough, an example needs to be made of these popular shows and it has to have this generic memetic and frankly ambiguous label attached to it and exist in some Schrodinger’s Critique of a situation where it’s neither evaluated as good or bad in the typical sense. It also looks like people are being insecure and trying to make their issues of taste everyone else’s by forcing the matter with a buzzword.

      Also where does this memetic labeling even begin or end? Who decides this nonsense anyway and the rules of a so-called trainwreck? What’s to stop me from labeling a show in progress like Attack on Titan as a trainwreck or a show like last seasons Shin Sekai Yori which took it’s time revealing it’s story and indulged in a lot of sexual tension and violence in it’s early going before starting to reveal the full scope and nature of it’s universe? By the apparently non-standard criteria of a “trainwreck” those shows seems to fit the bill just as well as any. They’re over the top in their portrayal of many events, lots of crazy stuff happens to the characters and their foes in the heat of the moment without any real clear explanation given much of the time, they combine a lot of talent and high production values into one show and yet I enjoy them and find it interesting and guess why? It’s cause I realize that as I’m watching them they are stories in progress and not all these things are going to be explained clearly right away and aren’t going to make perfect sense for the sake of suspense and entertainment in media res. All this doesn’t make a show automatically bad in terms of writing, scripting and overall production what have you, it’s all just a natural form of storytelling albeit one that a lot of people nowadays seem to be endlessly frustrated by depending on certain elements (mecha seems to be one of them). So why the labeling and the insults and beating around the bush? It’s really one of the dumbest and most insulting things I’ve honestly seen from any fandom let alone anime. Just be direct about your feelings people. Say you think somethings shit or not and explain why and do so in a manner people can relate to and you can expect results and respect to be attached to your name, but keep forcing the issue and telling people how you think these shows they enjoy or not are supposed to be watched and attaching nonsensical labels to them and I doubt your going to find much concensus or that your opinion is going to stand out from a crowd that already has way to many posts that read EXACTLY like, “This show does not make any sense to me anymore, it’s like a glorious trainwreck in action and I simply cannot look away”.

      I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in anything I’ve said here.

      • May 21, 2013 at 5:54 amAnanas

        “Attack on Titan.”
        “Shin Sekai Yori.”

        On a side note, shows perceived as trainwrecks are mostly anime originals or ongoing adaptations getting the Gonzo treatment. Sometimes the soure material is just doing the job by itself (Mirai Nikki).

    • May 20, 2013 at 10:04 pmStilts

      You’re telling humans to not label things? Then you truly are being unreasonable. Humans do nothing but label, we have the audacity to name the flowers and the trees that were fine before we came along, and we create stories to explain and teach and help us understand how the world works. We categorize constantly, because that’s the only way our brains can organize and deal with all the information we’re inundated with. Defining that which we see and seeking out patterns are some of the most fundamental things about being a human being.

      Also, I like shows like the ones I talked about in this article, so I don’t know why you think I was insulting them. I even asked people not to start flaming shows in my last paragraph.

      Ohandalso, one other thing – I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with me, but I’d rather you say that than start a comment by saying “Terrible article”. I have thick enough skin, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask you to be a little polite.

      • May 20, 2013 at 10:35 pmKaioshin Sama

        I agree that humans tend to label things and that it’s in our very nature to do so because language and communication require context and meaning in order to function and we need language and communication in order to survive and thrive as a species. There is however a difference between a good defined label and a bad ill-defined one. Good labels tend to feature simple proper nouns that are unique (or if otherwise spelled differently or pronounced differently in order to differentiate) and/or have defined meanings that are as close to being universally agreed upon and understood as possible. Usually no explanation or specificity required, the label is heard and immediately understood. Bad labels tend to be ambiguous and include adjectives and even verbs and have dictionary terms that are already in use but have been converted to slang for the purposes of labeling. They tend to require lengthy explanations to be attached to them in order to define specific contexts of use and even at this rate still tend not to be agreed upon. Thus they cease to serve their purpose as labels to accelerate the process of understanding and comprehension.

        The term trainwreck is a definition already in use and with negative connotations at that in general parlance. People obviously seek redefinition in this specific case but it is impossible to do so and frankly a lot to ask for one to accept when it would just be easier to be more direct about what is being implied and save people the trouble of having to ask each and every time what they actually mean and if it’s a positive or negative, both or neither. That’s honestly why I think this whole trainwreck thing is not only a bad label, but pretty much dumb. This is also why I find this article ultimately in poor taste and that despite the claim of having best of intentions in being written that it is the perfect set up for mindless bashing and trashing of a studio, it’s works and it’s image because of those pre-defined negative connotations attached to the label and that all it serves to do in the long run is to plant ideas of a legacy of failure in peoples heads and oversimplify matters. This is pretty much trollbait intentional or not, sorry dude. If your intention was to cast the matter in a positive light I’m afraid to tell you but you’re doomed to only feed the fires of those that wish the opposite.

      • May 20, 2013 at 10:44 pmKaioshin Sama

        I should mention that I have had an axe to grind on this matter for a longer time than you can possibly imagine and I assure you it’s nothing personal. This just happened to be the perfect touching off point and venue and because you invited people to share your opinions here we are.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:38 pmStilts

        I’m afraid to tell you but you’re doomed to only feed the fires of those that wish the opposite.

        Read the other comments. There has been very little little flaming going on, and what has happened has been more of a throw away comment than anything else – jokes, not actual angry ranting.

        I will admit that as I read the comments, I should have made the post about “glorious trainwrecks” to both link but separate it from the common use of the phrase. And yes, perhaps it isn’t the most artful phrase even then, but while I am a marketer, I’m not getting paid to coin new phrases here. That’s just the one I’ve always used for those shows (with all due affection), so I went with it.

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:50 pmzeroomask

    ….

  • May 20, 2013 at 9:59 pmhaseo0408

    Thank you so much Stilts, you just made my week with your awsome post. It´s always a pleasure to read anything you write.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:09 pmDarthtabby

    “All these attributes combine to make trainwrecks a more emotional ride…”

    I have an issue with that statement. My favorite emotionally driven anime series is Mai-HiME, which was written primarily by one of the two lead writers for Geass (the one who took the lead when the pair did Guilty Crown, shockingly enough). Some people consider that series the original Sunrise trainwreck, but while it had a lot of big twists it was actually very carefully constructed -even the ending that so many people complain about was being set up well in advance of when it actually happened. In fact one of the notable things about the series is how many little things from early on take on new significance with rewatching. The writing is far less scattershot than the writing in some of the newer series that writer has been involved in, and that doesn’t prevent if from packing a lot of emotional punch. In fact it’s probably part of the reason the series has the emotional punch that it does.

    Now granted, I’d rather have a fun trainwreck like Code Geass than a really logical show that’s deathly boring, but I have issues with the idea that scattershot writing is necessarily more emotionally powerful than more carefully plotted/constructed material.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:33 pmStilts

      You’re not wrong. Being a glorious trainwreck doesn’t make something more emotionally powerful, it makes it less intellectually satisfying. That means they have to depend upon the emotional because they can’t lean upon the intellectual. A show with both can let you enjoy it either way…though there is something to be said for the show where intellectual enjoyment is pretty much impossible, so you can’t help but just sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s a different idea than being absolutely more emotionally powerful, though.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:12 pmkornpone

    And then there was Basquash!

    Ah, the glorious train wreck it could’ve been. . . -_-||

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pmcruiser2710

    Valvrave and CG trainwreck? I’m surprised with the proclamation.

    Funny how Guilty Crown wasn’t mentioned

    • May 21, 2013 at 8:24 amTheMoondoggie

      It’s just the vocal minority saying “this is a trainwreck”, “that is a trainwreck”, etc., etc…

      Most people just want to enjoy anime for all it’s worth.

  • May 20, 2013 at 10:50 pmDiabloCthulhu

    Stilts, trainwrecks and over-the-topness is NOT the same thing. I mean, what you’re talking about in this article is not trainwrecks, you’re talking about over-the-top shows. Trainwreck means that the show is an utter mess due to total incompetence of the writer and/or director. Great examples of trainwrecks would be Guilty Crown and Aquarion Evol (it’s second half, more specifically). Over-the-top, on the other hand, means… well, those few attributes that you think typify a “”good” trainwreck” is actually what basically defines over-the-topness. So no, Valvrave is NOT a trainwreck (because Ichiro and Sunrise know what they’re doing, at least so far), it’s over-the-top (and intentionally so). Neither is HenNeko, though I wouldn’t really call it over-the-top either.

    Also, “good trainwreck” is stupid and pointless term. Why not just call these types of shows “over-the-top” instead of making up some term that’s not only oxymoron (trainwrecks can’t be “good” by definition, unless by “good” you mean “you can get a great deal of enjoyment out of it”, but then again, you can just say that it’s “entertaining”), but also it’s definition just doesn’t fit with the definition of the word “trainwreck” no matter how you try to spin it?

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:15 pmKaioshin Sama

      I agree there needs to be a much better distinction made here and that’s essentially what I’m getting at with my posts in the long run. One of these labels has negative connotations at it’s heart, the other has neutral connotations at it’s heart and is thus more workable in the way Stilts seems to desire and not to mention more easy to comprehend, agree upon, and/or debate and mull over in a way that can be readily understood by all parties involved because it has more common usage in day to day parlance as a descriptive term.

      Valvrave, Titan, these shows are over the top by my standards and I enjoy both of them every week. I can say this and I assume people know what I mean. They might not agree, but at least I can bet on being understood in implying as such about them. I think it’s so much easier for one to just come out and say directly what they mean and how they feel about something in no uncertain terms and be done with it (though of course there is always room for a certain level of politeness and civil discourse which I can agree upon with Stilts). I’m not really one for beating around the bush if it can be at all avoided though in all fairness to others.

      Anyway I really like the way you put things in this comment. I wasn’t expecting to see one like this that I could take something away and use to better understand my own convictions, it’s really quite a pleasant surprise.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:31 pmStilts

      Actually, they’re not the same thing. Take TTGL, which I referenced in my post – it’s most certainly over the top, but it’s NOT a glorious trainwreck (I really should have used that phrase to avoid misunderstanding). Over-the-topness seems to be required to make a glorious trainwreck work, but it also implies a lot of “so bad its good” and the constant teetering on the edge of crashing. If it were just the former, you could say it’s just a so-bad-its-good over the top show, but aside from being a mouthful, that doesn’t capture the essential enjoyment of seeing a show that you’re sure is going to implode at any time and both enjoying the ride and anticipating the entertaining self-destruction.

      This is one of my most vague points, and being that so many people had issue with it clearly it either wasn’t explained well or isn’t as fully formed of an idea. You’re welcome to ignore my use of the phrase, but I’m still going to call out glorious trainwrecks when I see em, because they’re damn fun to watch.

      • May 20, 2013 at 11:50 pmKaioshin Sama

        So basically what you’re saying is you derive pleasure out of pre-judging a show as a failure at an early stage and thus forgoing any chance of viewing it with an open mind and forcing it onto this track where you use some measure of “it’s so bad it’s good” to justify your enjoyment of this whole process? I’m sorry but I can’t relate to this method of watching a show. It seems unfair to the creator and presumptive of the context in which they intended it to be watched. It’s one thing to look back on a show and reflectively point out the issues it had with it’s plot, but it’s something else entirely to deny oneself the chance of ever being able to do so in the first place.

        I’m sorry but I find that to be a very flawed and honestly unreasonable perspective.

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:28 amStilts

        My opinions are not set in stone, nor have I ever said they are. If I see a duck, I will call it a duck until such time as someone alerts me to the fact that it is a loon, in which case I will admit my mistake and move on. If I start off thinking something is a glorious trainwreck and it stops acting like one – Date A Live has been doing that this season, which is why it moved from an excellent example to a borderline case, if even that – then I will stop calling it one.

        And once again, a glorious trainwreck is not a failure in my eyes. They’re bonkers and nonsensical and a mess, but they’re entertaining, and I enjoy that. And if they ever stop being bonkers and nonsensical and a mess…well, see above.

        Just because someone judges something doesn’t mean they can’t judge it again. We all leap to conclusions all the time even you – you appear to have done it to me multiple times. The strength of a human being’s character is in realizing when they’re wrong and changing their opinion.

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:35 amKaioshin Sama

        That does make the case a little different indeed. I agree there’s a lot to be said for someone who is willing to admit when they’ve been wrong about something and do so publicly. That said I still find the whole train wreck perspective to be a flawed one to a approach a show they’ve never seen before.

      • May 23, 2013 at 4:27 pmDiabloCthulhu

        Take TTGL, which I referenced in my post – it’s most certainly over the top, but it’s NOT a glorious trainwreck

        Correct. But then why you’re calling Valvrave (and HenNeko of all things) a trainwreck? Valvrave is also just over-the-top show, it’s NOT badly written and directed, quite the opposite, and as I’ve said before, really awful writing and direction is essential requirement for calling a show a trainwreck; and HenNeko is not even over-the-top (though comedy in that series is certainly exaggerated) so it cannot be called a “glorious trainwreck” even if we use your definition of the term (not to mention that it cannot be called that also because HenNeko is above average, i.e it’s not bad, let alone “so bad it’s good”). Because when watching them you have a constant feeling that “the story could implode at any time” and “it’s about to go off the rails”? Calling the show a trainwreck because of some feeling is wrong and stupid, that sort of claims should be backed up with something objective. And what does “it’s about to go off the rails” and “the story could implode at any time” even mean? That you feel that the writing and direction in the show gonna become “so bad it’s good”? If so, then right now there are no good reasons for that feeling to exist, Valvrave so far has been great and HenNeko is quite good.

        Over-the-topness seems to be required to make a glorious trainwreck work

        Again, calling over-the-top show a “glorious trainwreck” because you for some reason think that glorious trainwreck = when most or all aspects of the show are over-the-top is wrong and just doesn’t make any sense, that’s not what trainwreck means at all. Over-the-topness is NOT equals trainwreck. Yes, entertaining trainwreck could be over-the-top, but that’s not a requirement.

        but it also implies a lot of “so bad its good” and the constant teetering on the edge of crashing.

        If by “it” you were referring to “over-the-topness” then no, it doesn’t. The only thing term “over-the-top” is implying is that the show is very extravagant and threw all (or almost all) common sense out of the window for the purpose of maximizing “wow” and “wtf is happening” effects and thus entertainment factor.

        but aside from being a mouthful, that doesn’t capture the essential enjoyment of seeing a show that you’re sure is going to implode at any time and both enjoying the ride and anticipating the entertaining self-destruction.

        If you want to “capture the essential enjoyment” of watching over-the-top show and think that “this show is so good because it so over-the-top” just doesn’t cut it then there are much better ways to do that rather than by calling it “whatever-the-balls trainwreck” when it’s not close to even vaguely resembling a trainwreck. For example, you can say something along the lines “it’s so over-the-top that it’s basically Anime – The Anime”.

        but I’m still going to call out glorious trainwrecks when I see em, because they’re damn fun to watch.

        Just call out actual trainwrecks, not over-the-top shows that you think are trainwrecks because they’re happened to fit in with the made up definition of the term that contradicts what a trainwrecks are actually all about.

  • May 20, 2013 at 11:19 pmzeroomask

    You wanna know what had so much style (in both its characters and its animation) and was so ridiculous, it was hard to take it seriously and it became awesome?
    Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann…..oh wait,I still manage to take it seriously because it had context in its own universe.

    IMO just because a show has a shitload of flair and style that still doesn’t make it a trainwreck. As long as it works in the context of the kind of universe it’s in,then it’s fine for having that amount of dramatic flair. Example,code geass had alot of ridiculousness going on but it works in it’s over-the-top setting,the same can be said for ttgl
    What really makes a trainwreck is when the plot starts to fall apart, thats when the ridiculousness of the show becomes that much more glaring. Now I don’t consider code geass season 1 a trainwreck cuz it had a well-written plot to where it’s over-the-top nature did not bother me however, I do consider R2 a trainwreck because it’s plot starts derailing in its middle act and I tend to notice the silly stuff and characters making bizarre faces a lot more than usual.

    • May 20, 2013 at 11:37 pmKaioshin Sama

      Wholeheartedly agree about the matter of a series making sense within it’s own context versus breaking it’s own rules, conventions and established character development making a big difference. If a series is by normal standards of every day life ridiculous (I think this describes most anime so here’s where I also have a problem with this whole sort of labeling thing, it’s too broad on top of asking people to buy into it as some sort of fan-defined genre of anime) but still manages to make sense within it’s own context I don’t see why that should be considered a detriment or cause to go calling it something like a “trainwreck”. In that sense it ultimately becomes a matter of defining what is or isn’t too absurd or ridiculous and ceases to become a matter of writing consistency. At this point it just looks to me like a person is making a thinly veiled attempt to back door in their own biases against whatever genre tropes, character types and writing styles they don’t happen to like. This whole train wreck thing is such a flawed way of looking at our entertainment on so many levels, that’s another reason why I take issue with it.

      • May 21, 2013 at 1:58 amzeroomask

        Overall,this wasn’t a very well thought out article by Stilts that tries to create a criteria to label shows as trainwrecks based solely on the amount of ridiculousness it has,regardless if the over-the-topness works in the context of the show’s setting.

    • May 21, 2013 at 5:16 pmKaioshin Sama

      No bloody kidding. I wish people would think before they go trying to attach generic labels to things and in the processing insulting an entire fandom. I don’t know what it is about mecha shows lately (it only seems to happen to mecha shows, no other genre seems to get this short of crap attached to it seemingly all the time), but it seems like people are trying to insist they are the only kind of shows that are too over the top to be taken seriously and enjoyed at face value. I think some people are in need of a huge wake up call and need to learn when to just leave well enough alone.

  • May 20, 2013 at 11:47 pmZein

    I don’t know if I’ve completely understood the meaning of the word, but I think that’s the reason why I’m still watching this vampire- mecha- pilots anime. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you like it or hate it, valvere was created or designed to be watched, even if it is senseless… It really annoys me all those ridiculous twists, but I still watch it every week…

  • May 21, 2013 at 12:22 amKaioshin Sama

    As another general comment while I’m still thinking of it I have to wonder how much of this whole trainwreck thing is a self-fulfilling prophecy of interpretation versus an actual states of being for a shows creative process and execution. It seems to me by taking a show as a “trainwreck” early into it’s run it’s only that much more likely one is going to reach that conclusion in the end a means of self-justification and cherry picking examples from the show in question to validate the label.

  • May 21, 2013 at 12:29 amKleenexGhost

    Personally, I don’t feel like all of Code Grass was a trainwreck. I thought the first season was well done. But I will say that I thought R2 went off the rails. I’m surprised Aquarion Evol’s seconds half wasn’t brought up. It was like a bombastic crash that I couldn’t stop watching.

    • May 21, 2013 at 12:40 amStilts

      It just didn’t occur to me. EVOL definitely had that same feeling…I just thought it was over-the-top and ridiculous for a while, but then it started teetering and entered trainwreck territory. And, in some ways, crashed in the end, thereby justifying that feeling!

      • May 21, 2013 at 12:50 amKleenexGhost

        Exactly! It was fun during the first half, but thenthe that second half happened. Also, what would you consider good and bad trainwrecks? Like you said, a trainwreck can be entertaining and fun but what would consider to just be a show that went off the rails and just turned into crap? Recent examples I can think of is Guilty Crown and Aquarion Evol.

      • May 21, 2013 at 2:11 amStilts

        Using those examples, Aquarion EVOL was a good one (mostly…though it endangered that designation a few times), while Guilty Crown was a bad one. The difference between the two was because the latter took itself seriously, while the former (usually) did not. Style and attitude counts a lot when your plot goes all to shit!

  • May 21, 2013 at 1:59 amTheMoondoggie

    While I can understand that Stilts has a different definition for “trainwreck”, he should remember too that it’s used in a negative sense by majority of the community. I think Stilts is trying to tell us that what others find terribad, he finds it good.

    Which is what blogging is all about: opinions and differences. Isn’t that why we fight/argue all the damn time here?

    Also Stilts:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    See you around tonight!

    • May 21, 2013 at 2:47 amKaioshin Sama

      Really cause it kind of looks like the opposite to me and that he’s just cherry picking shows he wants to ridicule out of the pot of some on average pretty far-fetched stuff that we know as anime.

      • May 21, 2013 at 3:07 amTheMoondoggie

        Don’t give it much thought man. Bloggers can sometimes post trainwrecks themselves.

      • May 21, 2013 at 10:13 amStilts

        It seems fitting that my post most fitting the criteria was on trainwrecks itself, haha

        But moondoggie is right – not every post is going to be a winner, especially when you write as much as I do (both here and elsewhere). You should really just relax.

      • May 21, 2013 at 10:30 amCaptain Sunshine

        I’m just surprised he hasn’t gone into a rant about how good he thought Guilty Crown was. Kudos, chum.

      • May 21, 2013 at 4:52 pmTheMoondoggie

        Yes, yes Captain, Guilty Crown is a non-spoonfeeding trainwreck and people who hated it are cool and edgy…

        F.Y.

  • May 21, 2013 at 8:49 amSherylfan

    Is valvare a train wreck though? it stared ridiculous and over the top, it’s intentional “train wreck” which just makes it a over the top show. Just like AKB0048 it’s the shows style, it followed it to a tee and in context with it’s universe, no derailment. I also can’t see date A live being train wreck.

    When I think train wreck I think guilty crown, code geasse, EVOL, Seed Destiny, last exhile fam where the direction is turned 180 in second half or second season usually due to internal/creative conflicts and why most train wrecks are usually original shows. Still can be entirely entertaining to watch it crash and burn though.

    I guess I don’t entirely agree on Stilts-style trainwrecks labeling in terms of so good it’s bad. But it does seem to be a term or atleast a trend in anime,fans who think like stilts to label a certain style of anime as fabulous and trainwrcks like star driver etc. I do agree that sunrise does have a habbit of “train wreck” style writing or just really good old fashion emotional drama more so, I think Mai-hime is perfect example of the most entertaining nonsense emotional drama ever but even still it was intentional (instead of direct trainwreck it’s often considered gainax’d/gonzo’d ending). Well last exhile fam is just mostly considered gonzo’d. Maybe trainwreck is gonna be associated with sunrise as a form of styled show.

    Either way I do see it as a negative term though.

    • May 21, 2013 at 8:53 amAnanas

      Valvrave is too meta too be considered a trainwreck so far. It’s like saying Ixion DT is a trainwreck.

      • May 21, 2013 at 10:08 amDa5id

        So it’s a parody, then? Because usually, intentional, meta trainwrecks are parodies, like Ixion DX was.

    • May 21, 2013 at 10:20 amKaioshin Sama

      Going to be? People have been forcing the issue for years. I’m honestly hard pressed to think of a Sunrise mecha show (not something like Love Live or Daily Lives of High School Boys that attracts a totally different kind of audience) recently that people haven’t tried to call a trainwreck really early on into it’s run. That’s a big part of the reason why I think people are forcing the issue, they don’t even really give the shows a chance to play all their cards before the label making begins.

  • May 21, 2013 at 5:15 pmTheMoondoggie

    Let’s be clear on one thing: Trainwreck is a label one puts on an anime that he doesn’t understand or can’t enjoy. That just what it is and not really something to listen to when wondering if you are going to watch a show or not.

    Consider the FF:

    People who hated E7:AO calls it a trainwreck because it didn’t follow the old E7′s feel. The same thought process goes for people who didn’t like sequels for similar reasons(Nanoha Vivid, Nanoha Force, LE: Fam the Silverwing, Hyakka Ryouran)

    Then there are people who hated weak endings so bad they call it trainwrecks(Asura Cryin, Robotic Notes).

    People hated Code Geass because of plot twists.
    People hated Gundam Seed/ Destiny because of beta heroes and spot-light stealing.
    People hated Guilty Crown because of beta main character, unexpected twists and non-spoonfeeding
    People hated Black Rock Shooter Series/OVA because of non-spoonfeeding and short timeframe
    People hated Star Driver because non-spoonfeeding and seemingly gay males(no, they’re not gay).
    People hated Valvrave because of over-the-topness and plot twist decisions
    People hated(or soon will) Ore no Imouto because of emotional trainwreck and incest themes
    People hated Little Busters, Persona 4 Animation and Devil Survivor 2 because they’re purists.
    People hated, people hated and people hated.

    So then what constitutes a good anime? NOTHING!

    You just can’t expect one to like what you like, or hate what you hate. That is why trolling and label throwing is so abundant in the community right now.

    Stilts I can’t dictate what you like, but I think it’s a blogger’s job to be impartial in this kind of things.

    • May 21, 2013 at 5:28 pmKaioshin Sama

      As far as I can tell as long as a show doesn’t contain mecha, isn’t made by Sunrise and doesn’t work as a slow burn it doesn’t get the trainwreck label. I’ve seen plenty of equally ridiculous shows as Valvrave get praised for their audacity instead and avoid this whole trainwreck label (Attack on Titan comes to mind), but it seems like if it’s a Sunrise mecha show and/or doesn’t immediately play all it’s trump cards right away it’s like people just can’t accept it and allow it to be enjoyed by anyone and have to constantly ridicule the entire fanbase for daring to have some appreciation for it. It’s incredibly biased and frankly looks like people are all but declaring war on an entire sub-fandom of anime.

      I do agree that sometimes it feels like there’s no way to win for anime in general, but the whole trainwreck thing definitely seems particularly limited to the situations mentioned above. I wonder how people would like it if I took their favorite shows or types of genre they like that I don’t happen to care for as much and just shit all over them and their tastes and told them their way of watching the show is wrong and the only way to properly enjoy the shows they like is ironically and whether they think so or not those shows are bad and people are laughing at them for disagreeing and on top of that have made up this specific memetic label just for the apparent purpose of trying to keep them and the things they like down. It’s kind of the pinnacle of douchebaggery if you ask me. It’s one thing not to like a show give reasons and be done with it, it’s another entirely to try your absolute hardest to make up a trope and counter culture to make sure as few other people as possible will give it a fair chance as well.

    • May 21, 2013 at 11:51 pmCaptain Sunshine

      Replace “spoon-feeding” with “lack of necessary information needed for the narrative to work” and you’re right. At least in terms of GC and BRS. The VN adaptations listed I remember being complained about due to blandness.

      I’m pretty sure if you can’t dictate other people’s opinions, then you DEFINITELY can’t be dictating why EVERYONE didn’t like a certain thing. For a lot of these shows, there were a lot of reasons people didn’t like them, but some just stuck out more than most. Most of them came from just lack of properly planning for their own story and trying to cram it into a smaller space than was necessary to properly flesh it out. But then again, that’s just MY opinion about why these shows didn’t work. There could be tons of other flaws I’m not seeing that could be pointed out later on.

      • May 22, 2013 at 1:03 amTheMoondoggie

        Information needed for the narrative to work? Excuse me, but people who ask unnecessary information just for the narrative to work on them will always be disappointed.

      • May 22, 2013 at 2:32 amCaptain Sunshine

        Then it’s a good thing I wasn’t asking for anything unnecessary. Anyway, try not to fixate so much on the hate shows get for whatever reason and just enjoy the ride. All that ultimately matters is what you saw in it, whether it was good or bad.

      • May 22, 2013 at 2:43 amTheMoondoggie

        If what you asked for has a huge importance with the plot and the overall story, then ok. But if it’s for:

        1. facts you can figure out for yourself
        2. has no relevance to the advancement of the plot

        then, sir, you were asking to be spoonfed.

      • May 22, 2013 at 3:31 amTheMoondoggie

        To give you an example:
        Star Driver’s mechs are made by aliens. The story told them about it in a play in the show. That should be enough.

        But trolls went to ask for what purpose did they made them. I mean, come on! They’re obviously for war and interstellar travel. And is the purpose why they are made even important? It’s like asking why God made people. They can’t into the answer “just because” because for them, it’s like all anime should have plots that has some higher purpose ala Evangelion.

        Or in BARS where they ask where did the otherworld came from(which isn’t relevant).

        Or why is Shu in love with Inori(they can’t into the explanation that Shu is an Inori-fag and has a huge crush presumably even before the start of the show).

        “Trainwrecks” aren’t what haters call them to be. The haters just can’t get into it.

      • May 22, 2013 at 5:09 amCaptain Sunshine

        Well, it’s been awhile since I saw the show, but what I remember being my biggest questions would be how

        1. Gai put together Funeral Parlor (since that’s completely glossed over)
        2. how Inori was made since she’s apparently a clone of Mana (by the way, would that make the main couple incestuous?)
        and 3. what the hell is up with that Yuu kid and Da’at (why they wanna cover the world in crystal, why Yuu has powers beyond having a void hand, where does he go at the end of the series, etc).

        No matter how many times I watched it, the only answer I could come up for each of these things was “for teh lulz”, and considering all of those are all integral things to the story and characters at large, I don’t think those are sufficient answers. I mean, how Gai made FP is a huge part of his development as a character and we never see how any of it happens, including how me met Inori? And all we get out of Da’at besides a cloned Gai (they never explain how the cloning worked either) is just one superpowered kid who is just there to be mysterious and we never find out what or who the hell he is? Aren’t Da’at supposed to be the main antagonists?

        Anyway, those are just pet peeves of mine. And just because people can find plot holes does not automatically make them haters or trolls. They’re not trying to offend you personally when they say this stuff, just that they find faults in the show, and that’s okay because every show has faults.

        And I really hope I’m not offending you by saying any of this. If so, that was not my intention.

      • May 22, 2013 at 6:05 amThe Moondoggie

        And like I asked and said, how is knowing about those will ever help the plot? Its not like Shu will become more adapt at using his void if it was told. Also void tech is owned by the enemy as what seems is a top secret weapon so I dont find extra boss Yuu having void is surprising

      • May 22, 2013 at 4:49 pmCaptain Sunshine

        how is knowing about those will ever help the plot? Its not like Shu will become more adapt at using his void if it was told. Also void tech is owned by the enemy as what seems is a top secret weapon so I dont find extra boss Yuu having void is surprising

        Because these things, like seeing Gai’s journey of being a scared kid to becoming a revolutionary leader, are important to make a personal connection with the character, but we never see that, so we it makes it hard to connect with him. Same with Inori, who has literally no backstory, hence why people see her as a flat character. It’s not all about making Shu more powerful, it’s about making the world of the story less superficial and easier to connect with. The antagonists have no personality because there’s nothing that sticks out about them, so we need reasoning as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. Character motivations are not something that can be filled in by the audience. They need to come from the character or organization itself through their words or through their actions. And honestly, the reason Da’at (and by extension, Yuu) were such a forgettable villain group for me is because they simply would not set themselves apart from any other illuminati-ish type of villain.

        Again, not meant to offend you personally, just my opinion of the show.

      • May 22, 2013 at 4:51 pmCaptain Sunshine

        …that first paragraph was supposed be a quote so I wouldn’t have to keep scrolling up and down to see what I was replying to. Could a mod please delete it and this comment?

      • May 22, 2013 at 6:15 pmTheMoondoggie

        How much information is needed to make a connection varies from person to person so using that as a reason is clearly a personal problem and not the show’s. Why being illuminati-ish makes a group of villains forgettable is clearly personal taste.

        Having the show tell FP’s background story, then, really isn’t important if they deem that FP role in the show, is more or less, Gai’s personal disposable entourage. Which, seeing how Gai treats them, is. As for Da’at, they just sent Yuu in and didn’t even get to meet Shu. The fact that they’re “just some rich corporate organization fueling research on void tech” is enough for everyone to understand that Yuu has someone big backing him. The fact “if they’re evil or not” isn’t even important. It’s just a case of “conspiring rich people doing what they do best.”

        Now if people were just gonna say “this is the problem I see, but that’s just me” I won’t have any problems with it. But if they act like “LOL IT WAS A PLOT HOLE, SO FUCKING TRAINWRECK!” everyweek like it was the universal truth(to which, IT IS NOT), of course I’d react. If you have a hard time connecting with the characters, then that is a personal problem and I’d suggest either you reorganize your thoughts and feeling for the show or look for something else to watch.

        Thinking about it now, people calling shows trainwrecks clearly are just personal opinions afterall too.

      • May 23, 2013 at 9:47 pmCaptain Sunshine

        How much information is needed to make a connection varies from person to person so using that as a reason is clearly a personal problem and not the show’s. Why being illuminati-ish makes a group of villains forgettable is clearly personal taste.

        Having the show tell FP’s background story, then, really isn’t important if they deem that FP role in the show, is more or less, Gai’s personal disposable entourage. Which, seeing how Gai treats them, is. As for Da’at, they just sent Yuu in and didn’t even get to meet Shu. The fact that they’re “just some rich corporate organization fueling research on void tech” is enough for everyone to understand that Yuu has someone big backing him. The fact “if they’re evil or not” isn’t even important. It’s just a case of “conspiring rich people doing what they do best.”

        Now if people were just gonna say “this is the problem I see, but that’s just me” I won’t have any problems with it. But if they act like “LOL IT WAS A PLOT HOLE, SO FUCKING TRAINWRECK!” everyweek like it was the universal truth(to which, IT IS NOT), of course I’d react. If you have a hard time connecting with the characters, then that is a personal problem and I’d suggest either you reorganize your thoughts and feeling for the show or look for something else to watch.

        Thinking about it now, people calling shows trainwrecks clearly are just personal opinions afterall too.

        I think you’re misunderstanding. An origin story needs to be complete to properly show how a character got to A and B, and Gai’s and Inori’s were barely covered (Inori’s not at all). I want to know how GAI progressed, and we never saw that until he was already past all of that.

        And my complaint wasn’t that Da’at was Illuminati-ish, it was that they were bland and nothing about them stuck out. We didn’t even know they existed until the last few episodes of the show and we still don’t even know that much about it by the time the series ends. Without any personal identity to them, they’re just generic bad guys, which are the lowest common denominator. Likewise with Yuu, who clearly knows more about the voids and virus-related stuff than anyone else, yet we never learn anything about him or why he does what he does. It’s clearly not money, since ending the world means no use of currency. And then he just leaves. There’s no resolution with either Yuu or Da’at as a whole and that just leaves so much unresolved. Again, just my opinion, just like your point is just your opinion.

        Anyway, yes you’re right that pretty much any opinion is down to personal taste, but that doesn’t mean that a differing opinion is a personal attack. I keep saying that I don’t mean to offend, and I don’t, but I shouldn’t have to keep saying it for you to understand that. I haven’t been to MAL or 4chan or wherever else this sort of stuff is discussed, but I don’t really see that many people here attacking others personally just because others like a show that they don’t. They might criticize, bash, or attack the show, but that’s it. However, responding to that by saying people criticizing it need to be “spoonfed” or are “just trolls” isn’t contradicting their arguments, it’s just an insult against them. Basically it’s an Ad Hominem, which kind of invalidates your argument. Responding to a critique with “you’re just too dumb to understand it” doesn’t help your side of the argument. I mean no disrespect by saying any of this, but basically, what I’m saying is don’t take this stuff so personally, and you’re going to have a way better time. As the MST3K mantra goes: “It’s just a show, you should really just relax.”

      • May 23, 2013 at 9:47 pmCaptain Sunshine

        …god dammit. We really need an edit button.

      • May 24, 2013 at 12:03 amTheMoondoggie

        > An origin story needs to be complete to properly show how a character got to A and B.

        Not exactly. There are plenty of examples of significant characters who were never given an episode/flashback for themselves in other anime and was just mentioned in passing. How you feel about them is never the fault of the show, since they already answered that question. And why should they if it won’t do any good for the plot? I don’t think directors would leave a very important topic of the show unexplained(the story of the void, Shu’s connection with Gai and Mana, Shu’s dad). You might want to reconsider that idea that all characters be given a complete history, especially in a medium with a time limit.

        Also like I said, if you can simply figure out for yourself, yet you still ask for the answer, then that is “asking to be spoonfed”. It’s not trolling or ad hominem, it fact. Because if it was really that impossible to get, then why are there people who gets it? Please don’t tell me those people who gets the idea are smarter.

        To give you an example: say a scene where this guy, in a sunny day, holds an ice cream. Next scene, he was taking to someone. Then the guy with him answers back. Next scene we see him talking with ice cream on his lips. After that the cup containing the ice cream was sitting on a wastebin as he walks away. Would you really call what happen to the ice cream a plothole? Since we never get to see it, would it be so far fetched to assume that he ate it all and left? We didn’t see him put ice cream into his mouth, but we did saw ice cream on his lips. We never saw Gai gather FP either, yet there they are.

        Anyway…

        I had been meaning to ask this but, is it really true that people would sometimes “turn off their brains” watching these shows when they were only asked to “set aside their notion of reality, their prejudice and paradigms. Not your whole intellect?” I think this is why they miss such obvious facts about the show.

    • May 21, 2013 at 11:54 pmCaptain Sunshine

      And since when are bloggers supposed to be impartial? You’re here to read THEIR opinions, no way any of them are going to completely impartial.

  • May 21, 2013 at 5:56 pmFiveOVER

    I’d never thought I would be this disappointed ever. Thanks a lot, Stilts.

  • May 21, 2013 at 6:06 pmAnanas

    Such a long post for so little sense.

    “Trainwreck is a label one puts on an anime that he doesn’t understand or can’t enjoy”

    Suspension of disbelief isn’t working right now.

    “So then what constitutes a good anime? NOTHING!”

    Standards, please.

    “People hated, people hated and people hated”

    That’s a lot of hate here. The audience isn’t making the shows trainwreck.

    • May 21, 2013 at 6:22 pmKaioshin Sama

      Yes they are, at least the ones who are attaching the label of trainwreck and just making up definitions nobody really seems to agree upon. Go ask the creators of the shows themselves if they think they’ve made a trainwreck and they’ll probably reply with something like, “What do you mean by trainwreck sir?”

      Also yes I agree people should have standards, standards of decency when it comes to how they treat the rest of the fandom. Again it’s one thing to not like or appreciate a show by ones own standards, it’s another to try to create a bogus counterculture that singles out specific styles of shows and genres while rallying around a memetic term to try to disguise the fact that they’re basically insulting and ridiculing an entire wing of the fanbase. It’s more than a little disingenuous and obnoxious and I wish it would stop already and people would learn to grow up, most past their seemingly single-minded hatred of these shows and leave well enough alone.

    • May 21, 2013 at 6:22 pmTheMoondoggie

      You claim that suspension of disbelief isn’t working? You’re just not putting much into it and still cling onto realism when, unless the anime is a SoL, realism doesn’t work much on anime.

      As for standards, if an object so dynamic has standards, it won’t be dynamic at all. Standards are for things that should remain static. If anime is like that, it won’t be able to encompass a lot of interest.

      Or maybe you think anime should only be something that satisfies you and you alone?

      Yes, people don’t create what they hate, but they decide what they hate. The problem ever lies not on the show… but always, forever, with the audience.

      • May 21, 2013 at 6:34 pmKaioshin Sama

        I want to clarify that my beef here isn’t that people have their own standards for what they consider good or not as people are entitled to their own tastes same as you and me, it’s this whole forcing the issue with the “trainwreck” label and trying to get people to buy into it when not everybody is clear on the definition and whether it’s a negative, positive both or neither that I’m frankly sick to death of. People need to stop hiding behind false pretense of it being all fun and games and just own up to the fact that they want people to join in with them bashing a show.

        I do wonder why this author Stilts felt it was really necessary to single out specific shows for ridicule as an entry in his editorial. I’ve been reading this blog for 5-6 years now and never before has this sort of thing happened here where the author basically invites others to join in on ridiculing specific kinds of shows. I’ve seen other blogs try to pull the whole trainwreck thing while writing about a show in it’s own article, but never a concerted attempt to try to get people to buy in en masse to the whole thing as a general piece. I frankly expected a LOT better out of this blog and will just say I’m glad for the fans sake that it’s not Stilts doing the weekly blog entries for Valvrave the Liberator this summer. Not everybody might like the show, but I have to hope anyone can agree that regardless of what one thinks about the show the people that come here to read about the episodes deserve the same style of coverage for the show everything else gets and not this trainwreck nonsense and that they will hopefully continue to get it from Seishun.

      • May 21, 2013 at 8:51 pmWildKaiser

        That audience is the reason why most anime discussions (Not on RC thankfully) becomes a discussion on how bad (or good but that’s kinda rare) it is. It’s become a trend to say “This show is so damn bad that it’s funny. Train-wreck!” Go to any Valvrave forum (again, not here haha) and you’ll see people coming up 1001 different ways to say “This is a train-wreck”.

        But again, this comes from a guy who is incapable of calling a show he enjoys a train-wreck. The image I get is so negative, I just cannot put that label on any show I enjoy.

  • May 21, 2013 at 9:24 pmTadaima

    @Stilts

    None of your criteria for what constitutes a trainwreck is all that convincing. Take the first one for instance.

    [The premise is more than a little bonkers. Vampire mecha pilots?]

    How does that compare with Tengen Toppa, which you have insistently precluded from trainwreckdom? Can you not think of anything about the premise of Tengen Toppa that is not bonkers? In fact, several of your criteria would fit Tengen Toppa well–like 1, 3, 4, and 5. But more important, these criteria are not well considered. Your list is unusably vague, but #6 is especially so. Plus, your list would also net some of the best and intentionally funny B-movies out there, like Evil Dead 2.

    And the example here for Valvrave sort of misses a special point about the show. Okouchi’s Code Geass and Valvrave share a number of similar elements. One of these is that both are mecha genre works that are actually set in sci-fi+FANTASY universes. Valvrave has vampirism. Code Geass has immortal witches who can grant a powerful curse/gift. Think about that. Why is it ok for Bakemonogatari or Mondaiji to have vampires but not Valvrave. This distinction you see is not one based on the merits of Valvrave, but on your preconceived notion of what a mecha genre may or may not be. If you can rave about an epic galaxy disk throwing fight in one show, then you do have the ability to accept that a vampire might become a mecha pilot.

    If you are having trouble accepting that sci-fi+fantasy can mix very well, then consider the work that is quite easily the world’s most popular sci-fi work ever–Star Wars–and then try to convince yourself that sci-fi and fantasy ought not mix.

    But more to the point, in reality, all mecha genre works I have seen could also be considered magical genre works. Mecha are powered by magical sources which can generate impossible amounts of energy for a very long time. But so long as you can hold a book of blueprints in your hands, it is easier to accept these as less fantastical. Some mecha shows are just more open about their links to the fantastical, like Lagrange I believe.

    So, what you need to do is create a new criteria for what may be considered a trainwreck to you. And I think the best way to conceptualize the list is by using a Venn Diagram. This is because a trainwreck is something that has many but possibly not all of the elements that make a show bad + a few special elements that create an unexpected and unintended fun factor for the audience which the unenjoyably bad shows lack. Thus, one set of the diagram would represent a list of qualities that make a show bad. The other set would be a list of qualities that make a show a trainwreck.

    In the intersection would be the qualities that are necessary but not sufficient for a show to be a trainwreck. And whatever is not listed in the bad set would be the extra special sauce that makes the bad show good.

    When setting up your criteria, you should use at least three examples to test your criteria against: 1 good show, 1 bad show, 1 trainwreck. This way, you won’t find yourself unintentionally incriminating Tengen Toppa again. And you also won’t unintentionally limit your list to qualities that happens to include non-trainwreck bad shows.

    Here’s a partial description of qualities that I think must be in the trainwreck set. I came up with these as I was typing this comment up so if you disagree, know I have not vetted anything below. :)

    The show ought to have been given generous production and marketing budgets. I am not fully convinced of this one. After all, awful sci-fi B-movies have been delighting American film viewers for several generations now. Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed just how fun they could be if seen in a certain light.

    Still, I think it is important to consider it anyway. This is because I think bombast is a crucial element of a trainwreck. And it can’t be just any kind of bombast though. It has to be a bombast which illustrates convictions about the storyteller’s view of the world which normal people would consider to be full of sh!t. Further, the more oblivious and the more sincere the storyteller is to his own bs, the more compelling the trainwreck becomes.

    One feeling a trainwreck must elicit in the audience is disbelief at the level of this kind of bombast. And I think the greater the money spent on the project. the greater the feeling of disbelief becomes in the viewer. So a triple A show that conveys stupid ideas with conviction is more laughable than a low budget one I think. The low budget one is also more easily dismissed.

    But again, I am not totally convinced by this point. Moving on.

    It is better that the bs convictions and world views be conveyed through multiple layers of a story. The conviction can be expressed through:
    *aesthetic certitudes but especially
    *moral certitudes, which may be embodied by
    *one (or more) character who comes to embrace the idiocy as if it were some profound universal truth.

    The bs is more insulting to the audience when the art direction is particularly strong. The audience would see this dissonance in the diverging qualities of visuals and script as unbearable pretentiousness leaking over to laughably absurd. If the aesthetics and execution were weak, then the show would be more easily dismissed as just annoying and not fun to watch, unless the art direction was exceptionally bad, as in Springtime for Hitler. But Springtime for Hitler is not quite a trainwreck for me. I think a trainwreck ought to compel in the audience a desire to rebel against the story and the storyteller. It cannot be just Springtime ridiculous because that is just fun without bitter aftertaste. The story ought to unintentionally compel the audience to enjoy hating it. You know it’s a trainwreck when you start mocking the show.

    One crucial way to compel this hate is through moral certitude. Nothing insults more easily than passing moral judgment where it is unwelcome. And the greater the gulf in moral beliefs between the artists and society the greater the story rings false to the audience. Now, it may be the vase that history proves the artists right. Obviously, this is a judgment call. But even if history sides with the artists, a trainwreck is necessarily a subjective realization.

    But sometimes truth is obvious. If the artist’s world view systematically misreads or misrepresents the intentions and motivations of a society, or an institution, or certain people, this unrealistic view may show up through character motivations that seem confused or ungenerous. Let’s say that a successful artist who is a conspiracy nut is a likely candidate to create a trainwreck.

    The difference in moral views are especially galling if an important character comes to embrace it after having spurned it prior–as if he has learned a great moral lesson. If the artists’ moral values are completely opposed by the audience, the learning of the lesson would create maximal disbelief.

    Perhaps one way to tell whether you are in the moral right or the artist is is through whether the story falls into place comfortably. By that I mean, there ought to be plot manipulation, emotional manipulation, characters and institutions that act unreasonably, and so on if the learned lesson is false or foolish. If there are not any of these things, then it may be that the other side may have a point.

    I’d just add one more: the Jar Jar Binks factor. Any story that has a major character that makes you feel the way you feel for Jar Jar Binks is probably a trainwreck.

    • May 22, 2013 at 12:23 pmKaioshin Sama

      You raise a good point. I’ve never understood why it’s okay for shows like Bakemonogatari to be consistently patently absurd and have the most ridiculous and over the top character interactions, dialogue, fanservice and style of depicting scenes and yet it gets praised for it and put on a pedestal by almost everyone as some apparent masterpiece but Valvrave has 6 episodes with some silly scenes and dialogue (and frankly more focus) and it just gets trashed and called a trainwreck. It looks like a pretty huge double standard to me. Literally the only thing I can come up with is it’s because it has mecha in it and has Ichiro Okouchi as a writer.

      I swear some of these things are predetermined by fans ahead of time. Sunrise+Okouchi means it’s automatically a shitty nonsensical trainwreck of an anime, Shaft+Nisioisin means it’s genius even though both are arguably doing pretty much similar things and the latter makes for even more zany and over the top stuff if you ask me. People just need to get over their petty genre, studio and personal biases already I think or just learn to accept what they like and what then don’t and when to leave well enough alone. I used to really dislike Kyoani anime and wonder why everybody kept watching and praising their shows day and night but after about 4 attempts at watching various shows of there’s I’ve kind of just decided their style is not for me and moved on, barely having a word to say during that whole embarrassing swimming anime debacle where it seemed like everybody had to have an opinion on what it represented for the future of anime as if it were life and death.

      Basically people can stand to be less dramatic and spiteful in this fandom, that’s about all really.

      • May 22, 2013 at 8:33 pmTadaima

        @Kaioshin Sama

        [Basically people can stand to be less dramatic and spiteful in this fandom, that’s about all really.]

        This is a good point. But maybe different circumstances elicit different reactions. You were not interested in debating the merits of Free! because you had no passion for it or the studio behind it. But for some passionate Kyoani fans, it is easy to see why it could engender resentment, even if you disagree with the merits of that resentment.

        Kyoani happens to be my favorite studio, even though they have not made any of my favorite animes. I adore them for their extraordinary eye for movement and their ability to depict delicate and subtle moments. I guess I am a fan of the art of animation. It feels like a magical thing to me. So, I always want to know what the best are doing. So I always check out what Kyoani is up to. Even if you do not enjoy their projects, you cannot deny that they are exceptional technicians. And I love how you can see them improving their animation techniques over time. That’s why I’ll still check Free! out. But it is clear from her interview that the director is a total fujoshi who wants to appeal to that audience. And I do not belong to that group. Which means that I’ll be spending time with an anime which likely will not appeal to me much. It does not make me rage, but it does disappoint.

        Well, different circumstance, different people, different reactions.

        :)

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pmTadaima

      @stilts

      Over lunch, I skimmed through Henneko and can confidently say that I am not of the intended audience, though I do admire the screencaps just as much as all the anime bloggers posting them. And, oh boy, Stilts, Henneko is no trainwreck if the term, “trainwreck,” is to have any purpose or meaning.

      A trainwreck ought to be a story that aims high and constantly and obliviously be tripping over itself and falling on its face. That’s not Henneko. Henneko is clearly a farcical type of story. It’s intended to be a ridiculous story about incomprehensible characters making bizarre choices. It’s very purpose is to be ridiculous. So it’s purposeless to then point at it and to laugh and to be surprised and say, “Mi-te, mi-te! How can this show be so stupid! How can these characters be that ridiculous?”

    • May 22, 2013 at 3:32 pmTadaima

      In other words, if you are enjoying the ridiculousness of the show, then that means that the show has succeeded with you in doing what it intended to do, not despite itself.

    • May 22, 2013 at 5:40 pmTadaima

      Now that I’ve had a day to think about it, I’d say that a trainwreck for me is a work of art that is certain of its own artistic merit and moral argument, but in actuality is a thoroughly embarrassing piece of cr@p disaster. I think these are the ones I couldn’t help enjoy mocking most.

  • May 21, 2013 at 10:37 pmTopboy

    I don’t consider Code Geass and Henneko as trainwreck but Guilty Crown is best example.

    Code Geass is one of the best anime ever;good animation,cool character design,good plot and twist,nice Mechas and great soundtracks.
    While Henneko is ok anime.

    • May 21, 2013 at 10:56 pmFiveOVER

      Code geass is one of my favorite anime and I can never understand the criticisms or hate it gets. It deserves much better than this. I think its a strength instead of a flaw that it has many story elements and it manages to keep a good balance.

  • May 21, 2013 at 11:10 pmIzaak

    I don’t consider Code Geass to be a trainwreck. The first season was fantastic; it had a very route it was following. The second season floundered; this is attributed to executive meddling. You want a real trainwreck? Look no further than Gundam SEED Destiny. Protagonists switched at the halfway point, character development dropped like a rock, & a complete 180 turn from ZAFT to something else.

    Now that’s a trainwreck.

    Trainwreck shouldn’t simply mean “something I do not like therefore I’m using the most insulting description for it”. People have been using this term for the first episode, despite not having the abbility to see the future. Symphogear had a fantastic 1st episode, but because it was nothing like what everybody had pigeonholed it to be, it was called a “trainwreck”. Trainwreck should mean what it originally means: “something that starts out straight but due to an accident ends in a disaster”.

    Valvrave reminds me more of Sora o Kakeru Shoujo than anything else. I wonder how many people watched that show?

    • May 22, 2013 at 1:31 amTheMoondoggie

      But like I said, people aren’t just the same. Some anime works for them, some don’t. And if it didn’t they say it’s a trainwreck, simply because they hated it.

      And Valvrave feels different from Sora Kake Girls. Can you elaborate how it feels the same?

  • May 22, 2013 at 12:02 amTheOrangeOne

    By my definition of “train-wreck”, anime by default is one as a style-genre produced by a culture. Its a miss-mash of stuff thrown together to produce hilarity and ridiculousness in over-the-top style, predominantly with sex appeal, perversion, big eyes, small to no noses, fault faces, squeaky girl voices etc…. ITS THE GOAL TO DO SO. Those that fail to do any of these things are ill-remembered or forgotten, or are special cases where realism and “A is A” is very consistently done with characters we can imagine going about real life without going to jail or being taken to a doctor to be treated for insanity, violence or bipolar disorders.

    That said, this is much like any other cartoon in western culture, minus the teen/adult appeals. For that matter, many tv series are like this too when looked at closely. Try Stargate SG-1 for example. Just imagine saying there are four guys somehow making all these great discoveries and defeating galactic empires by the skin of their teeth, week by week, in real life with a serious face. Or that Law and Order, two people solves crazy cases regularly in less than a month.

    However, anime takes these of these to a higher level, plus of course, sex appeal. There are good mixes, but most of the time, anime is basically the same thing regurgitated over and over, since “Follow the Leader” is so dominant in their mindsets and clones are not shat on for their lack of originality. Once Love Hina hit a node, the anime industry punched and mutilated the harem concept repeatedly and so thoroughly until the poor guy (the genre itself) couldn’t stand up anymore. To the point we have all these: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HaremGenre

    Rare is it when something is newly conceived that it cannot be repeatedly easily (Death Note, Cowboy Bebob, One Piece). For the rest, its basically the same as merchandise shows, like Transformers, where they target very specific tropes and character types to relieve that urge of so many young men and boys, among other demographics. This by itself is not a bad thing; after all, it is what pays the bills, and if done right it can be truly awesome (*cough* MLP:FiM *cough*), with very interesting characters and worlds that stretch to inspire us in some ways.

    As for my own tastes, they are not popular in the least, and if I actually spoke my mind on at least half of these shows, I’d be downvoted to the point of the comments being perpetually removed from view, so it kinda suppresses any urge I have to write something down when I know the horde dictate its value.

    For myself, I actually upvote posts I disagree with, simply because I love when people have something to say that is opinionated, unless it is truly stupid (like not knowing a core part of a show they are supposed to be watching or being very provocative) but yeah, upvotes seem to just mean “you’re right and I agree with this”, and downvoting has become something that means “You are wrong and I disagree with this”.

    Can’t blame people for that mindset, simply because that’s the way people naturally incline on any thought, but it breeds a mentality of consensus and conformity on this site that I believe hides how many trainwrecks we see in popular shows but are afraid to call them out. And when they are called out, it usually starts fierce debates that are emotionally charged, which I hate to engage in after a long day of work…

    In other words, I feel there are trainwrecks all over the place, we just cover it all up in a way to preserve anything we invest in, even if only in time. Code Geass is a good example when you peel back its reasoning, its value soon loses hold, but in a way I think that is laughable to think about, considering just how many other anime throw logic out the window on the first episode without one positive upvote post stating how the “trainwreck” has already happened(*cough*Guilty Crown*cough*).

    Anime is anime basically. Series like RAINBOW and Usagi Drop are very uncommon, so I believe anime can be stereotyped and predicted fairly easily when you get the tropes down. I think that is why my passion for it has waned over the years. To me its just the same sports car in a different color. Its a cool sports car, yes, but its the damn same one over half a decade. Its not really the trainwrecks themselves that cut it, but the repetition. But that is with any medium I guess. The best allegory I can think of is to go to B&N and read every single romance novel on the shelf. Thats what anime is like to me now. It definitely has its moments still though, so its not THAT boring thankfully.

    • May 22, 2013 at 12:44 amFiveOVER

      This is just a suggestion and in no way I’m saying you’re right or wrong. Instead of looking at the things that are similar in anime, why not look for things that they do differently? I always do that and thus I never had any problems with cliches or clones.

      I don’t know about you, but I find that although there are tropes all over the place, at the same time there are many new and interesting concepts and set them apart. (This is purely based on my experience so it might not necessarily apply to others) Some examples including making a comedy and school life out of the after life (angel beats), Pilots that give up their humanity to pilot the Valvrave (Valvrave), depicting a horrible post-apocalypse world where everything seems to go wrong (shinsekai yori), a bunch of kids happily frolicking around suddenly end up killing each other (Higurashi when they cry), reviving dead heroes to fight in a war (Fate/ stay night), conquer girl’s heart to get rid of runaway spirits (the world god only knows), depicting countries as bishonene / bishojo (Hetalia), dealing with politics and economy in a fantasy world (Maou maoyuu yuusha), test system in school being replaced with summoning beasts(baka to test to shoukanjuu), dealing with character interactions through body switching and many other shininegans(kokoro connect), dealing with conspiracies and such (eden of the east), carbon economy(shangri-la), or even to aru majutsu no index where its interesting ideas and concepts incarnate (not the anime, the book) and many more that I can’t think of at the moment.

      So yeah, my point is we can maximize the enjoyment by looking for something new in a show rather than pinpointing what you’ve already seen in a show.

      • May 22, 2013 at 2:04 amTheMoondoggie

        I like your suggestion of looking for something “we haven’t seen yet.” Too bad, like Sei and I points out before in one of his Valvrave posts, that anime is loosing that side of it since people start tagging tropes and ideas running out.

        The only way to be original(well, partly original) now is to change how they come together, those cataloged tropes I mean.

        Offtopic:
        It’s disturbing me for a while, but did you get your username from To Aru Majutsu no Index’s FiveOver project?

  • May 22, 2013 at 6:28 amFiveOVER

    Maybe its just me, but despite the many tropes in anime, there would be at least two series per season that I find having new ideas and interesting concepts that really stood out. This season being Valvrave and Railgun S. (Take note that this is my personal opinion) And there are characters that despite looking generic and clones at first glance, may actually only be so superficially. Examples in Valvrave: Show Spoiler ▼

    (Again this is my personal opinion but frankly I have yet to see character traits like those in female leads)

    All this might change as I watch more anime but for the time being I still find quite a steady stream of fresh ideas.

    P.S. Yes, I got my username from there. I wanted to use either accelerator or railgun at first but since its not available I use FiveOVER to represent that. After that, It kinda stucked since it sounds cool to me.

    • May 22, 2013 at 6:31 amFiveOVER

      ^reply to TheMoondoggie

  • May 22, 2013 at 10:16 amAki-Chan

    Train-wreck….what i understand from that term is the feeling of “I-can’t-look-away-yet-I-can’t-bear-to-look”
    And this is somewhat offtopic but the alternate captions on the pics are not working for me :(

  • May 24, 2013 at 10:35 amDuelistdusk

    I love trainwrecks, they just don’t rely their entire weight on the just one point (story, characters, etc.) but are able to take all the good stuff from every point and make it into something which doesn’t take too much to think about every single detail but also doesn’t treat us as if we’re braindead.

  • May 24, 2013 at 11:33 amExukvera

    It´s easy to wreck all logic in Valvrave with one question.

    Instead of conquering Dyson Spheres, why not build other ones?

    • May 24, 2013 at 12:16 pmFiveOVER

      ….

      Have you actually watched the show?

  • May 25, 2013 at 3:49 amd-LaN

    Trainwreck or not, as long as I’m interested and entertained then I’m cool.