remote pointed at a television screen

Bad Anime Review: ‘Aki no Puzzle’

Everyone reaches a stage of “what next?” Maybe it occurs after Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ripped out your heart, Fairy Tail finally is not cutting it anymore, or the second season of One Punch Man finally disappointed you enough.

“What Next?” Symptoms

When it happens, “what next?” symptoms include:

  • Aimlessly scrolling through a variety of streaming services
  • Wishing you could experience that one anime that blew you away for the first time all over again
  • Disregarding any good recommendations given to you because it feels like nothing will ever be as good as what you just watched

The purpose of bad reviews

That is where I come in. I have seen the good and the mediocre. But most importantly, I have seen some of the very bad. In this bad anime reviews I aspire to help the people in the fog of “what next” know what not the next greatest anime is but instead what to never even consider. Therefore, narrowing down the giant list of what to watch next.

What is a good anime?

I would like to clarify what I consider an objectively good anime. A good anime has unforgettable animation and a riveting plot. Bonus points are awarded to anime with an unforgettable soundtrack, proper utilization of said soundtrack in scenes, and with an opening and closing that you cannot help but sing along.

Let’s start with Aki no Puzzle

The first anime I would like to discuss is a strange one. In my own personal plight of dealing with the malady of “what next,” I found myself perusing a website known to many anime fans: My Anime List. I mindlessly clicked through the recommendations tab of the anime section. And then I found it –Aki no Puzzle.

The Discovery of Aki no Puzzle

The first aspect of the 2003 release Aki no Puzzle also known as Puzzle of Autumn that drew me in was the lack of colors in the promotional image. The simple, black background and white font intrigued me. Most anime I had seen had at least a color scheme and more of a photo design-wise.

Screenshot of "Aki no Puzzle" anime page on My Anime List website
Screenshot taken by Emily Olkkola

As I clicked on the description of Aki no Puzzle, I was left with more questions.

Screenshot of "Aki no Puzzle" anime page with a red box outline on the synopsis, background, and charcters on My Anime List website
Screenshot taken by Emily Olkkola

In my ignorance, I remembered getting excited. A six minute movie anime seemed so doable. It reminded me of the quick yet fun episodes of Hetalia Axis Powers and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. I recognized none of the anime by director Keiichi Tanaami. Even though there was a less than specific synopsis, no background, listed no characters or voice actors, and was only able to be found on sketchy anime watching, I was ready to take a leap of faith and give it a whirl after I installed a couple of extra ad blockers add-ons on my Google Chrome browser.

The Plot and Visuals of Aki no Puzzle

The beginning of the obscure Aki no Puzzle starts off with the credits. I found out Keiichi Tanaami was also listed as the lone person in “drawing” along with directing with Yasunori Ikunishi and Yasunori Kakegawa. Kuknacke did sound design. At the first time watching it, I grew even more excited. This anime was so out there that not even My Anime List had all of the information about it. But soon, that excitement left.

Aki no Puzzle presents a series of images in a constant flashing sequences with seemingly abstract images such as blooming flowers, eyeballs on hands, and creatures with human breasts touching each others nipples.

Screenshot from the anime "Aki no Puzzle"
Screenshot taken by Emily Olkkola

As Aki no Puzzle continues, bright colors of the strange drawings flash, gunshot-like noises spontaneously appear, and cymbals crash. The plot seems up to the viewer to interpret with my guess being that Aki no Puzzle attempts to tell a story about sexual confusion based on the visuals.

Screenshot from the anime "Aki no Puzzle"
Screenshot taken by Emily Olkkola

The constant flashing of images seems to take place every other frame, giving the animation a choppy and confusing presentation and perspective to the viewer. Aki no Puzzle is similar to the Porygon episode in Pokemon which was responsible for putting 685 children in the hospital with a small number being diagnosed with epilepsy, but instead of flashing lights, the visuals and animation itself flash quickly for the entire duration of the six minute movie.

Part of me hopes this was made with some sort of plot or reason in mind. Perhaps it is an obscure art piece I simply do not understand. Or perhaps I lack the cultural understanding to get it. Perhaps I need to educate myself more before I critique it again. But even with my curiosity and my theories, I was unable to stop myself from getting a headache. If I can pull one good experience out of Aki no Puzzle, it is that I can now understand how some people feel when I show them an anime and they do not get the appeal of it.

Final Thoughts on Aki no Puzzle

Taking a risk and watching a relatively unknown anime like Aki no Puzzle can be rewarding. I have found many new favorite anime by watching ones that I knew little about. But Aki no Puzzle is one to stay away from especially if you have a sensitivity to flashing lights. With these reasons set in stone, I give Aki no Puzzle a two out of 10. Not giving it a one out of 10, because I am hoping there is some artistic value to it.

Do you have a really horrible anime that you want to warn people about? Let me know about it on Twitter @EmilyOlkkola.

Check out more of Emily’s articles and photo galleries.

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Featured image credit: Erik McLean/Unsplash

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