5 anime sequels that eclipsed the original series (and 5 times the original proved superior)

Two sequels (DBZ, Bleach) that are well regarded, and two originals (Death Note, Naruto) preferred over the sequel (Image via Sportskeeda)
Two sequels (DBZ, Bleach) that are well regarded, and two originals (Death Note, Naruto) preferred over the sequel (Image via Sportskeeda)

While some anime sequels such as Dragon Ball Z receive high praise among the fan community and critics alike as an iconic part of pop culture, there are also times were the original vastly outclasses the sequel. An example of the latter happening is Boruto being eclipsed by the original Naruto.

There are plenty of examples of both to be found across the years, from Dragon Ball Z to Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam that rocketed the sequel lightyears ahead of the original to originals like Death Note being seen as better over their second parts. This article will likewise indulge in that particular idea, showcasing five times the anime sequel was preferred over the original and five times the original beat the sequel.

Disclaimer: Owing to the nature of this list, spoilers are heavily included for all the various anime featured. The opinions likewise are subjective to fans and the author.


5 anime sequels that vastly eclipsed the original

1) Dragon Ball Z

The original Dragon Ball made waves big enough to earn a sequel but is mainly remembered as a comedic affair to many fans. Dragon Ball Z upped the ante on the action, the angst, and plenty of fun and serious moments that fans remember throughout the years.

For a time, at least owing to a large lack of an overseas presence, Dragon Ball Z was considered the original over Dragon Ball. While sequel series have been attempted post-Z, they've either proven divisive in the case of Super, completely not canon and a little ridiculous like Super Dragon Ball Heroes, or were just trashed like Dragon Ball GT.


2) Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam

Original Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam promotional poster (Image via Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.)
Original Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam promotional poster (Image via Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.)

The second major part of the Universal Century Saga in Mobile Suit Gundam has been praised highly by Gundam fans and critics alike. While the original Mobile Suit Gundam is considered an iconic part of Japanese and overseas pop culture, especially where mecha fans are concerned, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam is considered where Gundam officially hit its stride.

The sequel series is considered superior for several different reasons, one of the primary ones being how much darker it got compared to the original. There's plenty more death here, and likewise the start of the "capitalism is horrible" theme present in almost every Gundam series thereafter. Fans likewise trace Char and Amuro's eventual final clash in Char's Counterattack to the events of this series.


3) Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Next gen meet old (Image via Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.)
Next gen meet old (Image via Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc.)

Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha was a really effective shonen anime chronicling the romantic exploits of Kagome and Inuyasha combined with the fantasy elements of fighting devious villains like Naraku and others. The anime sequel, Yashahime, might've hit a few bumps on the road when it came to its start but many considered it better upon reflection.

It helps that binge-watching can make the typical Monster of the Week format of season 1 go by faster, and the series received rave reviews in Japan despite the negativity. Some aspects of the series are controversial, such as the Sesshōmaru/Rin pairing owing to the major age gap, but many still consider the series worth it come season 2. It at least got a better shake than Boruto did.


4) Bleach - Thousand Year Blood War

Even Renji and Ichigo are shocked at the quality (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Even Renji and Ichigo are shocked at the quality (Image via Studio Pierrot)

While not typically a sequel in the traditional sense, Bleach's final arc adaptation has been well received by everyone viewing it thus far. Given that the original anime was off the air for well over a decade, plus that the original ended off on an unsatisfying filler arc, the announcement of the Thousand Year Blood War adaptation came as a huge relief to many Bleach fans.

The execution of the anime was likewise a major cause for celebration. Some fans even said that, with the newer and cleaner animation, Studio Pierrot could potentially compete with the likes of Studio MAPPA or Ufotable. The story is darker and a final war for the sake of all of existence, plus seeing a ton of fan favorites return after a decade, was a breath of fresh air for older Bleach fans.


5) JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - everything post-Battle Tendency

The casts of each Jojo post part 2 (Image via Sportskeeda)
The casts of each Jojo post part 2 (Image via Sportskeeda)

It was genuinely hard to choose between the sequels to the original Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood as to which one proved itself truly superior. For every fan that loved The Stardust Crusaders' adventures, there's more that loved Team Buchiarrati's adventures, or Josuke and Jolyne's adventures. Therefore, this entry will combine all four parts past the originals of Battle Tendency and Phantom Blood.

Every single sequel part to the original two has had its moments: from Jotaro vs. Dio and the various ridiculous things the Stardust Crusaders went through, to Giorno's rise to a mafia don, to the hunt for the serial killer in the sleepy town of Morioh. Even Jolyne's prison stint and the entire reality-bending climax of Stone Ocean were a lot more than fans starting the series could've ever hoped for.


5 times the original anime proved superior

1) Naruto

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Shonen fans worldwide are more than aware of Naruto's status as one of the old Big Three of anime. This popular ninja fantasy anime received a sequel spin-off series in the form of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations. While Naruto proved wildly successful in terms of fan and critical reaction, Boruto hasn't quite had the same luck.

The original Naruto is considered superior for many reasons: Naruto's story doesn't drag quite as much as Boruto's does despite the sheer amount of filler, the main characters are arguably better written in Naruto, and the sheer amount of horrifying moments and iconic fight scenes could fill several books. While Boruto has gotten better in the manga, most fans gave up on the anime.


2) Death Note

Death note part I and II side by side (Image via Sportskeeda)
Death note part I and II side by side (Image via Sportskeeda)

Point blank, many Death Note fans think that Death Note should've ended at its first part with Light Yagami finally triumphing over L Lawliet. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find many fans who believe that part II is anything except a letdown.

The reasons why could fill an entire book. In summary, the characters of Near and Mello were considered much less compelling than L was, Light's death was deserved but lacked in its execution and came off as extremely lackluster and convoluted, and the quality of the mind games didn't reach the first parts highs.


3) Psycho-Pass

Key visual for Psycho-Pass season 2 (Image via Tatsunoko Production Co.)
Key visual for Psycho-Pass season 2 (Image via Tatsunoko Production Co.)

How does one make fans wish that the first season of a series never got a second, especially with a series dealing in the heavily cyber neo-noir themes like Psycho-Pass? A good start would be to have much of the impact of the season be nullified, thanks to the Psycho-Pass movie, and in interviews, the head writer, Tow Ubukata, did say he was severely limited by what he could do.

This resulted in many things that upset most fans like the second season feeling like a worse retread of the first with Mika Shimotsuki being a worse version of Akane Tsunemori. The Sybil System itself breaks its own rules and gunning down civilians via a collective scan, as another example. Basically, many fans are happy to skip the second season and just enjoy the original and the movie.


4) The Promised Neverland

Key visual for season 2 (Image via CloverWorks)
Key visual for season 2 (Image via CloverWorks)

The Promised Neverland is absolutely considered one of the worst second parts to an otherwise promising anime that fans were absolutely hyped up for. While this one has been covered extensively, it's worth pointing out once more how much the second season derailed a very hyped horror anime into the ground.

The original is preferred for the slow-paced, character-driven, and highly atmospheric horror vibes with the Grace Field orphans trying to survive the watchful eye of Isabella and other "nurses" that prime them to be demon food. The second season skips at least 150 manga chapters and several key story arcs like the Goldy Pond arc to get to a vastly different conclusion.


5) gen:LOCK

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A change of studios for the second part of an anime usually brings up some dread in fan communities. For a perfect example of that dread being justified, look no further than Rooster Teeth's mecha series gen:LOCK upon moving to HBO MAX. The second season is considered so bad that fans abandoned the series in droves, seeing it as a massive waste of investment.

The complaints included killing off beloved main characters pointlessly, killing off LGBT characters in shock deaths, that the mecha fights lack the impact of the first season and are lesser in quantity, and the character ruination of beloved characters. Likewise, the unnecessary bloodier and gorier battles and random explicit s** scenes out of nowhere turned many fans off the series.


This concludes the list of 5 times anime sequels were considered superior to the originals and 5 times when the original anime reigned supreme. Sequels being considered superior to the originals usually have better animation, better character development, and in some cases better fight scenes.

The same is usually true for the originals, sometimes things like the animation or completely omitting several plot lines can lead to a bad sequel. If any readers have any examples of either that were missed, they are encouraged to put them in the comments.