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Can an anime have a Good Story but Bad Characters?

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#1
May 4, 6:03 PM

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If so, what are some examples of this phenomenon? Would the story be able to up for the bad characters or would the bad characters bring it down? Can a story even be good if its characters are bad? Several cases of Good Characters carrying a bad or nonexistent story exist but I have yet to see an obvious example of the opposite.
 
#2
May 4, 6:35 PM

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hmm, this is kind of an interesting perspective. My initial reaction is "sure why couldn't it" since they seem mutually exclusive but in trying to think of an example I'm a bit stumped. Maybe a story where the characters have little dialogue like angels egg but then again lack of dialogue clearly doesn't necessarily mean lack of characterization by the very same example.

Thinking about it now i'm convinced that a good story actually does require good characters (or at least it can't have bad characters). No matter how compelling, intelligent or well constructed the plot if the characters involved in it are flat, uninteresting or do not resonate with its audience the story will have no meaning. Now of course there are forms of art which lack characters entirely (painting for example) and they can have technical perfection and resonate with their audience despite this so I can imagine that an anime could exist which lacks characters entirely and is still great but since narrative works depend on their characters almost by definition I doubt one will ever be made.

 
#3
May 4, 6:43 PM

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We called that in my country: Wasted Potential.
 
#4
May 4, 7:14 PM

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To say it shortly, no. Good characters can save a bad story, but a good story cannot save bad characters




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#5
May 4, 7:28 PM

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Maybe Evangelion?

I like the series but I don't particularly care for any of the characters.
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#6
May 4, 7:33 PM

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I think Fruits of Grisaia counts? Really enjoyed the story, probably liked a couple of characters at best (the harem was the weakest and needless part of the anime from what I recall)
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#7
May 4, 7:37 PM

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Shinsekai Yori and Clannad, I found they entertaining but those characters so simple (not all) really were annoying.
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#8
May 4, 7:43 PM
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No. Characters are much more important over the story.

Though I've never actually seen a show with a good story and bad characters.

Most examples people mention are either:
a) They just don't like the characters, but they are well written overall.
b) the story is also terrible, but it's "2deep4u" or "this is so sad *insert crying emojis*".
 
#9
May 4, 7:52 PM

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Yeah I definitely don't know if a story can ever be good enough to support itself without at least one good character to keep it going.

Like this is my own opinion of the characters, but when I watched Bleach, literally every single guy had the same personality and motivations at the end of the day (maybe it's different in the manga idk)
For a show that's basically entirely fighting after Soul Society Arc, the fact that I did not give a single shit about any of the characters made it so impossible for me to be interested in any of the fights (and believe me, 300 more episodes of fighting is a lot to sit through when you couldn't care less what happens to the characters).

That's just what I think of those characters though, since I know there are some people who have enjoyed Bleach. But if there aren't characters that I can relate to or empathize with, or even that just make me smile, then there's no point in me sticking around for the rest of the show, no matter how cool the premise might be.

 
May 4, 7:54 PM
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Yeah, the story of an anime sometimes is not good at all but the characters can save this with them personalities, characteristics, humor, etc. like some of my friends tell me about they don't like Durarara because the story is not good enough the first part but it's funny to keep watching it 'cause all the characters are funny, have their own personalities and more.

But for me, i have some conflicts with popular animes like Shingeki no Kyojin, Tokyo Ghoul, Accel World and others with similar cases because, even if they have good secondary characters and the story sounds good, well... they had a boring, useless, unfunny main character, who is useless until they had powers to save everyone just by lucky. So for me it's the only reason to left these animes, i watched SnK season 1 complete and a lot of things are good but the main... it's a pain for me hahaha
 
May 4, 8:01 PM

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Aiimee said:
Yeah I definitely don't know if a story can ever be good enough to support itself without at least one good character to keep it going.

Like this is my own opinion of the characters, but when I watched Bleach, literally every single guy had the same personality and motivations at the end of the day (maybe it's different in the manga idk)
For a show that's basically entirely fighting after Soul Society Arc, the fact that I did not give a single shit about any of the characters made it so impossible for me to be interested in any of the fights (and believe me, 300 more episodes of fighting is a lot to sit through when you couldn't care less what happens to the characters).

That's just what I think of those characters though, since I know there are some people who have enjoyed Bleach. But if there aren't characters that I can relate to or empathize with, or even that just make me smile, then there's no point in me sticking around for the rest of the show, no matter how cool the premise might be.

I agree with your opinions of Bleach. I have no problem with long running battle shonen, but Bleach just felt like a chore to keep up with after the soul society arc.

I say this as someone who preferred the manga though as that was what I mostly followed. I dropped the Bleach anime once it became bogged down with filler arcs and I didn't return to finish the anime until once the manga concluded.

Bleach was a decent battle shonen but still really not that great, imo. The vast majority of the fights were anticlimactic and when I don't even care about the characters, following a series of anticlimactic fights just becomes a chore.
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"There's a huge difference between one and infinity.
However, compared to the difference between
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May 4, 8:17 PM

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I quite agree with Clannad.. It has a terribly harem cast , but the story in true route paid it off ...
 
May 4, 8:23 PM

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Minerbit said:
Shinsekai Yori

This is the first show that came to my mind. Brilliant story, but bad characters stop me from loving it as much as I should.
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May 4, 8:50 PM

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I looked through my entire completed list and couldn't find a single example of that happening. Interesting. There were some examples of bad characters/average story and good story/average characters, but never bad characters/good story. I think that's cause the story usually revolves around the characters, and bad characters don't lend themselves to good stories.

Closest examples: Zankyou no Terror (bad characters, promissing story, bad execution) and Kobayashi (half the characters are awful and half are likeable, ok story).
 
May 4, 8:58 PM

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It can, not that I'd like it though (probably)

A Place far Further than the Universe had a great story but god the characters were annoying. Exact same scenario with Shirobako

Kino's Journey also has a good story to it, but none of the characters are really appealing and the MC is very unentertaining

'On-Hold' is another way for a completionist to say 'Dropped'


 
May 4, 9:03 PM

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Shinsekai Yori. Bland protagonists kinda brought it down. If they were more interesting, it could definitely have gotten a 9.

Though I've heard that the novel greatly expands and fleshes out the characters.

 
May 4, 9:20 PM

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Zankyou no Terror. All the characters are bad, yet I still really liked the show.

Other than that, the closest shows I can come up with are ones where 90% of the characters suck but the good ones carry hard (Geass, Death Note), or shows where the characters are uninteresting rather than bad (Yojouhan, Houseki).
 
May 5, 12:46 AM

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Agree with Shinsekai Yori. Interesting concept, but main cast was boring af.

But I guess it depends on what you define as bad. If it's badly written characters, the story probably won't be able to carry it on it's own. But if bad = characters which you hate but still have good writing, then yeah sure.



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May 5, 4:57 AM

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It can, I mean, some good stories have bad characters, although there should be atleast one good character for story to be good.


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May 5, 5:21 AM

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Minerbit said:
Shinsekai Yori and Clannad, I found they entertaining but those characters so simple (not all) really were annoying.


Dude I had exactly the same shows in my mind.
SSY has a very interesting world and story, but the characters are something else... It is even worse in Clannad.
 
May 5, 5:34 AM
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You could probably still have a good story with bad characters but not a good anime with bad characters, if that makes sense
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May 5, 5:45 AM
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I have yet to see an example, but some anime just have a good premise, but the characters bring down the whole thing. It's different from what you mentioned though
 
May 5, 5:55 AM

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I think it will be Code Geass. I really enjoyed it a lot but the characters didnt have an impact on me.

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May 5, 5:59 AM
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I wouldn't call them bad characters, but as others mentioned Shinsekai Yori is the first thing that comes to mind in terms of a show where the characters contributed very little to my enjoyment and appreciation of the show but I still found it absolutely fantastic. These cases are very rare for me since I value characters much more than plot, but it can occasionally happen.
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May 5, 6:15 AM

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your characters can just be vehicles for the story essentially. a character carrying a cure for a hard-hitting disease may never develop whatsoever and be a complete blank state from start to finish, but they might have the biggest impact on the story possible, which could be a good one considering all the other aspects. although, i do prefer great characters and wouldn't like to sacrifice that for an overall good story. i think that's why i like episodic shows, the characters can take precedence over some overarching narrative that they could possibly be bent and misshapen to fit into.
 
May 5, 6:25 AM

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EndlessMaria said:
Maybe Evangelion?

I like the series but I don't particularly care for any of the characters.

Agree, all the characters are despicable and annoying, that's why the anime works so well. Search all you can and you won't find a good person, even Hikari and PenPen have mental problems.
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May 5, 6:29 AM

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I feel like this exact question, worded exactly the same, was asked not so long ago. And as I said in that thread, the answer is that it largely depends on the story being told.

In general though, weak (and by that I mean poorly written) characters are a negative and tend to decrease the quality of the overall story. No one wants to read about cardboard cut outs just moving around.
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May 5, 6:35 AM

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I think that's quite possible. I usually don't like such shows as much, as characters are important to me, but there are exceptions to it. Another question is what we consider a bad character though. Is it a show with good story and unlikable characters, or characters that are objectively bad/mediocre, but not necessarily unlikable.

First kind would be for example Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. I liked the story, it was interesting, but I found all characters either boring or plain annoying, even though they weren't necessarily plain or undeveloped. It took me long to finish the show due to that. I generally find this worse kind of bad characters than latter type.

Second example would be already often mentioned Shinsekai Yori, story of which I really loved, yet what kept me from giving it 10/10 were the characters. But I did have some characters I liked, I just felt that they were missing some depth to them.
To bring something new to the table, I would say another prime example of that is Madoka Magica, I really love that show, and I also love some of the characters. Yet I also think that they really aren't very interesting on their own, and they certainly aren't the strong point of the show. Some of them also do some annoying decisions. Especially Miki, even if I can empathize with her, she did annoy me quite a bit. But in spite of being plain, and sometimes annoying, it did not hurt the show, and it ended up among my most favorite shows ever.
More often than not it does hurt a show, however. I prefer character-driven stories to story-driven ones generally speaking. Still, there some shows of this type that I love, while I can't think of any shows of the former type that I love.
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May 5, 6:40 AM

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MrZawa said:
First kind would be for example Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. I liked the story, it was interesting, but I found all characters either boring or plain annoying, even though they weren't necessarily plain or undeveloped. It took me long to finish the show due to that. I generally find this worse kind of bad characters than latter type.


To each his own, but I really enjoyed the cast of Higurashi :) I mean if I was only watching to see the mystery unravelled I probably wouldn't have got through it.

I'm glad you gave your preference but acknowledged that they weren't poorly written characters. Important difference.

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May 5, 6:46 AM

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It depends really.
Shows that have great stories but medicore to bad characters in my experience.
From the New World
Your Lie in April the story was generally but the chararters let it down
A Certain Magical Index
Gatchaman Crowds the only character that I cared for is Ruri.
Naruto Shippuden especially after the Pain arc.
 
May 5, 6:48 AM

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If they work out fine for the story purpose, then yes. It might be a good anime, but it won't settle in my mind.
For example, I found the characters in Shinsekai Yori just okay, tho likeable enough. Just not great and I only liked Maria. It's awesome and the characters are still likeable enough, although I don't remember the series for their sake.
Funny, how all of you thought about Shinsekai Yori.

I prefer the opposite. A story could have a few plot holes, as long as they aren't too dumb, but if I can really into the characters, I care much less about them. In most cases, they are the reason why I watch / read and continue.
Also, the setting is important too.
 
May 5, 12:42 PM
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Shingeki no Kyojin
don't hate me please
 
May 6, 5:02 AM
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reminds of plot driven story vs character driven story

action movies for example usually have less character development and that you may label the characters as either simplistic or bad
 
May 6, 5:15 AM

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The characters and story are heavily linked ofc but I don't see any reason why you couldn't have a good story and bad characters.

Marconce said:
Shingeki no Kyojin
don't hate me please

I wouldn't say the characters of Attack on Titan are bad but they certainly aren't particularly good, especially in the first season. AoT is definitely the best example I can think of where there's such a significant difference between character quality and plot quality.
 
May 6, 5:20 AM

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EndlessMaria said:
Maybe Evangelion?

I like the series but I don't particularly care for any of the characters.


It was same for me at first but I started liking them after rewatching it
 
May 6, 5:42 AM

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Marconce said:
Shingeki no Kyojin
don't hate me please


Nah that garbage has neither good story or characarters
 
May 6, 6:07 AM

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No. A good story has characters that are as developed as needed and therefore if the characters are bad the story will suffer. This also means that when the cast is not very developed it means that there was possibly no room to do so and other parts would suffer because of it. This is the case with Shinsekai Yori. The characters are merely plot devices but if they were More developed the series would drag terribly, which already is something people say about it. Another example is Mushishi. Every story can fit rather nicely in one episode because the characters, even if they aren't anything but their problem, are about as developed as needed. Anything more complex would again mean major pacing problems. On the other hand if the cast is interesting it can be the saving grace of the series. Nichijou's comedy would fall completely flat if the characters weren't well written and the only reason I gave Back Street Girls: Gokudolls a 5 is because the characters were pretty interesting.
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May 6, 6:24 AM

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HungryForQuality said:
Shinsekai Yori. Bland protagonists kinda brought it down. If they were more interesting, it could definitely have gotten a 9.

Though I've heard that the novel greatly expands and fleshes out the characters.


I liked Shun & Maria, but I didn’t see the point of Satoru’s character. Saki is acceptable; a literary technique is to often make the main character have less eccentric characteristics in order to make them a lens for the reader. That’s why the amnesiac technique is used with main characters so often.
 
May 6, 6:31 AM
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by bad characters do you mean annoying characters by your personal standards?

if so then one anime i remember recently is Revisions https://myanimelist.net/anime/37436/Revisions its got a good science fiction story but i find the characters personally annoying
 
May 6, 6:47 AM

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"Bad characters" is a bit vague.

I usually use these two words for shallow, bland characters. Then JoJo's kinda fits : characters are too unidimensionnal yet they have incredible visual design, and the story is crazy good, like "makes no sense" good.

But I don't think that is your definition of "bad characters".
In a more general sense, characters have to be enticing in some way for the story to work. It can be great visual design and voice acting, or deep and plausible psychology.


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May 6, 6:49 AM

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I'd say not. The nearest example I can think of is Violet Evergarden: the premise sounded really good on paper, and with the absolutely outstanding animation and soundtrack it was going to be a blast and perfect candidate for AOTY 2018. However, the lack of a proper development to Violet and a cast filled of boring characters made the whole show nothing but wasted potential.
 
May 6, 6:55 AM

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Saikano:
Good story for scifi war drama material like in the manga, yet some of the worst characters I've seen for such a popular series
Same for Now and Then, Here and There
 
May 6, 2:37 PM

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LunaPrecure said:
HungryForQuality said:
Shinsekai Yori. Bland protagonists kinda brought it down. If they were more interesting, it could definitely have gotten a 9.

Though I've heard that the novel greatly expands and fleshes out the characters.


I liked Shun & Maria, but I didn’t see the point of Satoru’s character. Saki is acceptable; a literary technique is to often make the main character have less eccentric characteristics in order to make them a lens for the reader. That’s why the amnesiac technique is used with main characters so often.


I think Satoru's point,at least in the anime, was to be the foil for Saki in the last episode where they talk to Squealer. Saki is more understanding while Satoru is in the opposite direction. Other than that though, he could have been edited out of the show. The romance was underdeveloped so I wouldn't mind if it was removed altogether.

Ultimately, Shun was a much more interesting character. I would have preferred if Satoru died early on and Shun survived. I think it would have made for stronger character interactions and relationships. Or they could have at least given Satoru an internal conflict. We know nothing about the guy really.

And there are a handful of other issues I have with the show. If the story and themes weren't as stellar as they were, I would have given the anime a 7.

 
May 6, 2:47 PM

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Definitely Shinsekai Yori. The world-building and background story were really interesting, but the whole love dodecahedron dumpster-fire that was going on with the characters got in the way.
 
May 6, 3:45 PM

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Yes but it's a LOT easier for good characters to carry a bad story than it is for a good story to carry bad characters.
 
May 6, 3:50 PM

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I really wanna say yes... but my mind is a bit blank right now when I try to find an example

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May 6, 5:47 PM

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Kimi no Na wa.

Meh characters. Good story.
 
May 6, 5:56 PM
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Definitely. I've seen several plain characters in nearly half the anime I've watched. As long as the story is entertaining or the characters are developed enough to allow the story to flow, it's all good.
For example, YLIA and Cross Game and My Hero Academia
 
May 6, 6:32 PM

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Depends on what you mean by bad. Bad as in static or not developed much, sure see most comedy or action shows. Bad as in unlikable, no, I usually drop stuff where I don't care about the characters unless there's some other facet of the show not related to the story or characters that is interesting.
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May 12, 5:52 PM

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Tahmmeow said:
To say it shortly, no. Good characters can save a bad story, but a good story cannot save bad characters


I see that we think alike here :)
Also, nice forum profile pic :D
 
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