BAN In Photos - 023Here at Herald Headquarters, I’ve made Bad Anime Night into a monthly tradition. Month after month, friends, colleagues, and even the occasional looky-loo gather for an evening of good times with terrible anime. I’ve talked about the occasion at length, devoting several articles to the topic, and even starting a regular column devoted to selecting those titles that will make any Bad Anime Night sing.

Despite all of this, I’ve never actually described just what can make a good Bad Anime Night into something that people will talk about for months on end. Frankly, it’s about time I changed that.

So, here’s your ultimate “how to” for organizing a Bad Anime Night that delights your guests and keeps them begging for more.

1. Plan Early, Plan Often

Before you send your first invite, you want to make sure that you have a clear plan of attack for the evening. Take a few days to prepare a rough agenda for the night. By this, I mean that you want to figure your basics: your start time, end time, who you want to invite, and whether you’ll be breaking for dinner.

If you choose to break for dinner, determine whether you’ll order out, or go out (personally, I prefer the former). If going out, look through sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon to gather a list of two or three restaurant candidates (more on this in the next segment).

Most important, though, you want to plan for a good two weeks of lead-up to your Bad Anime Night. This gives people enough time to plan around the event, and it will give you enough time to prepare.

2. Get Your Guests Involved in Bad Anime Night

As you send your invites, you want to do something to get people involved in the process. The easiest, most effective way of doing this is to send the list of restaurants you compiled, and allow them to vote and discuss the choices. Getting your guests invested in this way sets the tone for the night, and will lead to a more energetic atmosphere when the night arrives.

3. Pick up Bad (But Not Too Bad!) Shows

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Finally! The signature part of your evening! No Bad Anime Night can exist without the bad anime! You, as the host, will be the one expected to provide it.

The ideal shows are the rare gems that are terrible, but still manage to be hilarious. These are the ultra-cheesy, horrendously dubbed, downright awful experiences that are so inept that the only thing they inspire is roaring laughter. Shows like Garzey’s Wing and Magnos The Robot fill this mold nicely, and often make strong openers to the evening.

When looking for bad anime, your best friends will be second-hand stores and Amazon. Stores like Moviestop, Newbury Comics, and FYE
tend to have a fairly large selection of used anime, most of it terrible. Singles can be had for as low as a buck at these locations, which is ideal when seeking that last title to fill your schedule. The only downside is that, like most second-hand shops, inventory is never consistent. What is there one day may be gone the next. Amazon tends to be a bit more regular, though there is a matter of a delivery charge and shipping times.

Typically, choosing bad shows takes a bit of research, or the recommendation of somebody who’s been exposed to a lot of anime in general. When lacking these, though, I recommend that you check our Your Bad Anime Night Needs columns, as well as Justin Sevakis’s Buried Garbage articles at Anime News Network. The titles selected are among the worst of the worst!

4. Stock up on Snacks!

BAN In Photos - 002What movie night would be complete without snacks? Chips, dips, sodas, and sweets… it’s enough to make most people salivate at the thought! They’ll also somewhat of an expectation for your guests when they arrive.

For this, I recommend checking the weekly circular for local food stores. At least once per month, chain grocery stores will host deals on snack foods. Bottles of brand-name soda will normally drop below $1.00 one week per month, and items like chips often end up as part of “Buy X Get X Free” deals. These sales will allow you to pick up a decent number of snacks for a low price. If you these sales don’t pop up in your lead-up, store brands will allow you similar savings.

Extra snacks, like pizza rolls, take & bake pizzas, and the like are great additions to the night, that take little effort to prepare and work well as later-evening offerings.

5. Lead the Discussion

As you start your evening, remember that people will look to you to set much of the initial mood. If you clam up early on, it’s going to turn into a very quiet night. If you want that, then by all means encourage it! If you want an evening of jokes and snarking, you’ll have to take charge early on.

Set the tone for each show. Give some background information on the show, and some idea of what to expect from it. As the show runs, don’t be afraid to crack a few one-liners. Give characters your own hilarious names, and poke fun at the dub! On that note, make sure to show the dub! Many of the dubs in bad shows are pure comedy gold! Artistic merit be damned, this is crap, and you’re here to make fun of it!

For example, with Garzey’s Wing, highlight that the show was created by Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, and that the show ran into various production problems. Point out the more unusual lines, like “You are SO easygoing!” or “Oh my god, I felt like I was having a dream!” Make cracks about the friends at the pool party, and get everyone to take a drink when somebody says “Gabujuju!” Get them laughing, and get them joking with you.

And yes, Garzey’s Wing is that bad:

7. Give Them Just A Taste

No matter how great a show is, you never want to show more than an episode at a time. While this sounds like a silly policy, it allows you to continue to keep new content flowing, and keeps people invested in the evening. Shows that people do want to see more of, you can plan as parts of future Bad Anime Nights.

Likewise, keep an eye on your crowd. If they’re losing interest halfway through an episode, know to kill it, and jump to the next episode as soon as possible. Losing fifteen minutes of a planned schedule is a small price to pay, if it means saving the atmosphere of the evening.

For cases like this, though, you may want to have a couple of back-up titles ready to go.

8. Palette Cleansers, Palette Cleansers!

Palette cleansers are a fancy way of saying “good shows.” I know this seems out of place in a Bad Anime Night, but there is a reason for keeping them on-hand.

Basically, palette cleansers are used to deliver a break in the badness, so to speak. These can be anything, so long as they’re fun to watch. Some use these to show groups long-lost classics. Others expose their guests to long-time favorites. There is no real logic to how to select these, outside of “palette cleansers cannot suck!”

Typically, you want to show a palette cleanser after a run of three or four bad shows.

9. Be ready for ANYTHING

Face it: Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. Technology fails, power goes out, and people get sick. It’s a fact of life that, at some point in time, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

While you can’t keep all problems from occurring, you can be ready to deal with the fallout. Take all reasonable precautions, to ensure that your night goes smoothly and your guests stay happy.

10. Close With Something Awesome

Gundam Unicorn 001At the end of the night, you want to show something big. Something splashy, fun, and exciting will serve as a strong closer to the evening, and leave a positive impression in the minds of your guests. Titles like Hellsing Ultimate, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, or Tiger & Bunny are fantastic candidates in this, as they’re big, attractive titles that have incredibly broad appeal. It doesn’t matter what you show, though, so long as the title itself is awesome.

Closing with a strong title will help seal the mood for the night, and encourage a positive impression of the evening as a whole.


To recap, the formula for a strong Bad Anime Night is as follows:

  • Plan Early, Plan Often
  • Get Your Guests Involved in Bad Anime Night
  • Pick up Bad (But Not Too Bad!) Shows
  • Stock up on Snacks!
  • Lead the Discussion
  • Invite Everyone To Join In
  • Give Them Just A Taste
  • Palette Cleansers, Palette Cleansers!
  • Be Ready For ANYTHING
  • Close With Something Awesome

While this is a good baseline to use when planning your own Bad Anime Night, remember that it’s not an exact science. You’ll need to make tweaks and adjustments to fit your crowd and your location. It’ll take some feeling out at first, as no two situations are like. Once you find that special blend, though, your Bad Anime Nights will be an event that keeps people coming back without fail.