We always talk about anime that deserve a second season (No Game No Life when?) but what about the opposite side of the spectrum? There are plenty of anime that should have ended sooner. More isn’t always better when it comes to shows that overstay their welcome. Sometimes more episodes stretch the original concept too far. And sometimes they ignore a potentially poignant and fulfilling ending in the quest for more money.
Just a heads up that we’ll be discussing spoilers for these anime that should have ended sooner, so read on at your own peril.
I’ve talked before about this one but that’s because the first half of Death Note is such a well thought out cat-and-mouse game, with Light and L continually trying to overcome each other’s plans. When L is finally killed by the convoluted but still engaging machinations of Light, it is an unexpected twist. Viewers normally expect to see the good guys win and catch the bad guy, even if the bad guy is the main character of the story. The moment also serves as a warning that it is difficult to take power from someone once they have obtained it.
Part two of the anime is, unfortunately, a slight change up of the original formula, with L being replaced by two similarly weird young detective prodigies, neither of which are able to capture the tension between the original two adversaries. Death Note is an anime that should have ended sooner because it forgoes what could have been a shocking and poignant ending for stretching the runtime on for more than ten episodes beyond when it was interesting.
Sword Art Online
One of the biggest anime properties in the last ten years, Sword Art Online was a great example of a show that was fun while also having its own flaws and pacing issues. Between everyone being in love with the deeply unlikeable hero and the occasional ecchi fan-service that felt out of place in the rest of the show, it doesn’t feel like Sword Art Online should have worked. But the relationship between Kirito and Asuna is what carries the show through part one of the first season.
If the show had ended with Kirito, having escaped from the game and freed everyone trapped inside the world of Aincrad, waking up in the hospital and limping out of his room to find where Asuna was also waking up, this wouldn’t be an anime that should have ended sooner. It was a poignant ending that summed up everything we needed from the show. Instead, Sword Art Online reduced Asuna, who up to that point had been a driven and strong female lead for the show, to being a damsel in distress while Kirito tried to avoid the weird advances of his cousin. (But she’s h– never mind – Ed.)
This one is tough for me because I really love the character designs and the concept behind Bleach, but the show and manga peaked after Ichigo rescues Rukia in the Soul Society. It was a fun, intense run of episodes, even if the pacing and reveals of certain concepts felt a little uneven. Unfortunately, the anime quickly caught up to the manga and was forced to stretch itself out with excessive filler to keep from having to make something up on their own.
Of all the anime that should have ended sooner, Bleach is the most disappointing because it continues for more than a dozen more seasons, each one filled with cool ideas and concepts, but never reaching the same heights as the moment Rukia is rescued in season three. The mangaka, while great at building the world and designing characters, couldn’t manage to pull off a plot as good as his ideas.
What do you think of our picks? And what anime do you think should have cut things a bit shorter? Let us know in the comments and via the usual social channels!
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