Anime remains a versatile storytelling medium because it’s not afraid to push itself to new places and indulge in different trends over time. The 2000s were an important period of transition for television, with anime being no exception, and certain tropes of the decade have become easy to identify in retrospect.
Anime from the ’00s are certainly a mixed bag, but so many of the best series that have followed in the decade’s wake wouldn’t be possible without their contributions to the medium. There are some excellent anime that made their debuts in the ’00s. However, audiences must work through some clunky problems to appreciate ’00s anime.
10 Abundance Of Melancholy & Depressing Series
It’s a lot easier to chart the certain trends that dominate particular decades of anime when there’s the luxury of hindsight to look at a larger sample of series. Dark and depressing anime are hardly a recent invention, but the ’00s were especially indulgent in dreary, nihilistic dramas.
On some level, the decade feels like a response to the existential dread of Neon Genesis Evangelion, yet this darkness doesn’t work for every series. Death Note, Elfen Lied, Clannad, and a slew of Evangelion clones were omnipresent during the ’00s. The decade’s default feels sad rather than optimistic.
9 Many Anime Adaptations Don’t Fully Adapt Source Material
There’s a leap of faith involved to some extent whenever audiences check out a new anime adaptation of a popular manga series. Some anime seem destined to run for as long as what’s necessary for the story, but plenty of series don’t meet the required benchmarks and are forced to end early without resolution or a rushed conclusion that jumps to the end of the narrative.
There are a handful of successful series, particularly shonen shows, that don’t fully adapt their source material. It’s frustrating to invest time in hundreds of episodes of an anime like Bleach only for it to lack finality.
8 Certain Animation Studios Dominate The Industry
The specific animation studio that decides to take on particular series is one of the most important elements of adaptation. The anime industry is blessed with dozens of eclectic studios that deliver stunning animation, many of which have a specific energy and style to their work.
The ’00s is a decade that showcases and debuts many strong animation studios, but A-1 Pictures, Studio BONES, and Studio Orange all receive major representation. The prominence of these studios creates a bit of a homogenized look and feel. These studios are still in operation, but there are now just a lot more voices out there.
7 Over-Reliance On Obtrusive CG Animation
There’s a healthy debate over whether CG animation has a place in the anime industry and if it’s ever a superior alternative to traditional, hand-drawn visuals. CG technology became much more accessible during the ’00s, which led to a wealth of anime that experimented with its use.
Some anime are entirely CG constructions, while other series will use the art form to augment or add to existing visuals. CG was rampant during the ’00s, and while it’s not all a lost cause, many series don’t make the best use of the technology or properly justify its inclusion.
6 Unnecessary & Cumbersome Mecha Series
Mecha series where giant robots battle against each other or foreboding alien and monster threats remain one of anime’s most popular genres. Mecha anime are present in each decade, but an endless number of forgettable contributions came forward during the ’00s.
Some of these mecha series, like Gurren Lagann, RahXephon, or Mobile Suit Gundam 00, aren’t bad, but so many lackluster shows look lazy and don’t bring anything new to the table. It’s as if giant robots are enough to excuse a lack of story.
5 Art Style Gravitates Between Grim & Moe
There are some ’00s anime that look absolutely gorgeous and display unique and ambitious art styles. That being said, there’s definitely a look and color palette that dominates the decade that, in retrospect, isn’t exactly the most engaging.
A lot of muted colors and grayscale are present in ’00s anime, which contributes to the grim dystopia of many series. Alternatively, many series feature cute and exaggerated character designs that embrace the “moe” aesthetic. In ’00s anime, it often feels like it’s only these two extreme styles that exist.
4 Too Many Harem Series
Another popular anime genre that leans into romantic hijinks and misunderstandings are “harem” series, where an unassuming male character suddenly learns that they’re the desire of multiple female suitors. Harem and reverse harem anime are unavoidable during the ’00s, and, unfortunately, many of these series feel derivative of each other.
School Days, Rosario + Vampire, and Love Hina are just a handful of examples, but harem sensibilities also find their way into other genres, like with Hayate the Combat Butler. Most of these shows are harmless enough, but they collectively build a complacency toward harem series and indicate that it’s a genre of diminishing returns.
3 Derivative Isekai Series
The isekai fantasy genre transports ordinary individuals away to magical worlds; it’s a type of storytelling that’s only become more popular after the groundwork that was laid for it during the ’00s. The ’00s are an important time when isekai anime really start to take off, but it also means that there are disappointing applications of the premise.
There are compelling anime that quickly run out of ideas for their central premise. The 2010s get it together with some formative isekai series, but ’00s contributions like The Twelve Kingdoms or Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi are less totemic.
2 Too Many Series Set In Outer Space
Anime is an excellent form of escapism that benefits from how it frequently features irregular and exaggerated settings that might be impossible in other mediums of storytelling. Unfortunately, these special environments can come across as pedestrian when they’re present in the majority of series.
Outer space is a limitless environment that can be approached in a realistic and grounded fashion, as well as become the basis for something more supernatural in nature. Oddly enough, ’00s anime spend a lot of time in space, and it’s as if the majority of sci-fi and mecha programs from the decade involve space travel. It begins to feel like a hollow destination for conflict.
1 Battle Shonen Series Get Lost In Filler
Anime fans often understand that extraneous “filler” episodes are a necessary evil when it comes to long-running manga adaptations. It’s not unusual for an anime to get ahead of its source material’s narrative, which usually results in anime-only filler that gives the manga the opportunity to advance the story. Filler isn’t always a problem, and some series, like One Piece, figure out how to make it work to their advantage.
However, there are some really frustrating filler sagas during the ’00s in acclaimed battle shonen anime, like Bleach and Naruto. Looking back, it sometimes feels like the decade is particularly dense in the worst and most insulting examples of filler.
NEXT: 10 Best Anime Opening Themes From The 2000s
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