When it comes to anime, there are classics like “Naruto,” “One Piece,” and “Dragon Ball” that have garnered immense popularity and are recognized by fans worldwide. But the world of anime is vast and varied, and countless hidden gems often don’t receive the recognition they truly deserve. These underrated anime series offer unique stories, compelling characters, and extraordinary experiences that remain unnoticed by many.
In this blog, we will delve into the world of underrated anime and explore the top 15 series that should be on every anime enthusiast’s watchlist. These anime, though often overlooked, are brimming with creativity, artistry, and storytelling that rival some of the more popular titles.
1. Cowboy Bebop
We start our journey with “Cowboy Bebop,” a space western that masterfully blends various genres. The story follows a group of bounty hunters as they travel through the galaxy, each with their unique past and motivations. The series is known for its jazz-infused soundtrack, stylish animation, and captivating story that seamlessly weaves together individual character arcs with an overarching narrative.
Despite its critical acclaim and cult following, “Cowboy Bebop” remains underrated in the broader anime community. One reason for this might be its initial low viewership during its original run. However, over time, it has gained the recognition it deserves as one of the greatest anime series of all time. The show’s ability to tackle deep themes like loneliness, loss, and existentialism makes it a must-watch for any anime fan.
“Trigun” is another underrated gem that deserves more recognition. It’s a space western, much like “Cowboy Bebop,” but it has its unique charm. The story follows Vash the Stampede, a wandering gunslinger with a mysterious past, and explores themes of pacifism, morality, and redemption.
Despite its intriguing character development and moral dilemmas, “Trigun” often flies under the radar compared to more popular anime series. The show’s ability to balance action, humor, and profound storytelling makes it a hidden treasure for those who discover it.
“Mushishi” is a serene and contemplative anime that stands out due to its unique storytelling and ethereal atmosphere. The series follows Ginko, a “Mushi Master,” as he travels through a world inhabited by mystical creatures known as “Mushi.” Each episode presents a new story, and the show’s episodic and atmospheric style allows viewers to immerse themselves in a world filled with wonder and mystery.
The series doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, possibly because it doesn’t fit into traditional anime genres. Its slow-paced, introspective storytelling may not appeal to everyone, but for those who appreciate it, “Mushishi” is a true work of art. Its exploration of complex themes, such as the relationship between nature and human existence, is both thought-provoking and visually stunning.
“Planetes” is a hidden gem in the world of science fiction anime. Set in a future where space exploration is a reality, the series follows a group of debris collectors who clean up the space junk in Earth’s orbit. What sets “Planetes” apart is its focus on realistic space exploration and the challenges faced by its characters. It delves into topics like environmentalism, space politics, and the personal dreams and aspirations of its cast.
Despite its unique premise and thoughtful exploration of these themes, “Planetes” often goes unnoticed in comparison to more popular space-themed anime. The character development and emotional depth of the series make it a compelling watch for anyone interested in a blend of hard sci-fi and human drama.
5. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
“Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad” combines two seemingly unrelated elements: rock music and the struggles of adolescence. This anime revolves around a group of young musicians who form a rock band and embark on a journey to success. What makes “Beck” unique is its genuine portrayal of the hardships and joys of pursuing one’s dreams in the music industry.
While “Beck” has a devoted fanbase, it remains relatively overshadowed by other music-themed anime like “Nana” or “K-On!” The series’ character growth and its realistic depiction of the music scene are standout features that make it worth exploring. The journey of this aspiring rock band, as they navigate the challenges of the industry, is a hidden treasure in the world of anime.
These are just the first five of our top 15 underrated anime series. Each of these series offers something special and unique, and they deserve a place on your watchlist. In the upcoming sections, we will continue our journey through the world of underrated anime and explore ten more hidden gems that you should not miss.
“Baccano!” is a series that takes place in the 1930s and features an ensemble cast of characters. What makes it unique is its non-linear narrative, with multiple interconnected storylines that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The series is known for its fast-paced storytelling, witty dialogues, and a touch of the supernatural.
Despite its thrilling narrative and memorable characters, “Baccano!” often doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. The complexity of its storytelling and the multitude of characters might be daunting for some, but those who dive in are in for an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
7. Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi)
“Kino’s Journey” is a philosophical and episodic anime that follows the adventures of Kino and their talking motorcycle, Hermes, as they travel to different countries, each with its own unique culture and customs. The series explores thought-provoking themes about the human condition, society, and morality.
While “Kino’s Journey” has its dedicated fanbase, it often remains overshadowed by more action-packed or visually stunning anime. However, its ability to provoke deep contemplation on the intricacies of human nature and societal systems is a testament to its quality.
8. Natsume’s Book of Friends (Natsume Yuujinchou)
“Natsume’s Book of Friends” is a heartwarming and supernatural anime that tells the story of Takashi Natsume, a young man who can see spirits and inherits a book containing the names of spirits bound in servitude. He decides to return these names and help the spirits find peace.
The series is often overlooked due to its episodic and slow-paced nature, but it excels in creating a sense of warmth and empathy. The themes of loneliness, acceptance, and the relationships between humans and spirits are beautifully depicted, making “Natsume’s Book of Friends” a hidden gem in the world of anime.
9. Ping Pong: The Animation
“Ping Pong: The Animation” is not your typical sports anime. It uses a unique art style and storytelling approach to explore the lives and aspirations of competitive table tennis players. The series is a character-driven narrative that delves into the personal growth of its athletes.
While it might not have the same widespread recognition as other sports anime like “Haikyuu!!” or “Kuroko no Basket,” “Ping Pong” stands out for its deep character development, complex relationships, and an unconventional visual style that complements the narrative. It’s a testament to how anime can transcend traditional genre boundaries.
10. Serial Experiments Lain
“Serial Experiments Lain” is a psychological thriller and cyberpunk anime that takes viewers on a mind-bending journey through the virtual and real worlds. The series explores themes of identity, reality, and the impact of technology on society. It’s a complex and thought-provoking narrative that challenges viewers to question the nature of existence.
“Serial Experiments Lain” is often overlooked due to its dense and abstract storytelling. Still, it has a dedicated following among those who appreciate its deep philosophical themes and avant-garde presentation. If you’re looking for an anime that pushes the boundaries of traditional narratives, this one shouldn’t be missed.
With these ten anime series, we’ve only scratched the surface of the world of underrated anime. Each of these series has its unique qualities and appeals to a diverse range of tastes. In the next section, we’ll continue our exploration and uncover five more hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered.
“Monster” is a psychological thriller that explores the darkest aspects of the human psyche. The story follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant surgeon who becomes embroiled in a complex web of mystery and intrigue when he decides to save the life of a young boy who later becomes a ruthless serial killer.
Despite its intense storytelling and compelling characters, “Monster” remains relatively underrated compared to other psychological thrillers. The series delves into themes of morality, the consequences of one’s choices, and the blurred lines between good and evil. It’s a gripping and intellectually challenging experience that deserves more recognition.
12. Haibane Renmei
“Haibane Renmei” is a beautifully atmospheric and introspective anime that tells the story of the Haibane, a group of angel-like beings living in a walled city. The series explores themes of redemption, identity, and the meaning of existence.
“Haibane Renmei” often goes unnoticed due to its slow pacing and subtle storytelling. However, its ability to create a unique and immersive world, as well as its profound exploration of the human condition, makes it a hidden gem for those who appreciate contemplative and emotionally resonant anime.
“Texhnolyze” is a dystopian cyberpunk anime that takes place in the underground city of Lux. The series is known for its bleak and uncompromising portrayal of a society in decline, and it follows characters who navigate a world marked by violence, despair, and technological augmentation.
The series’ dark and unrelenting tone, as well as its minimalistic storytelling, might not be for everyone. However, “Texhnolyze” is a thought-provoking exploration of human nature, technology, and societal collapse. It challenges viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about the human condition.
14. Aria the Animation
“Aria the Animation” is a tranquil and heartwarming slice-of-life anime set on the water-covered planet of Aqua (formerly Mars). It follows the adventures of Akari Mizunashi as she trains to become a gondolier in the city of Neo-Venezia. The series is celebrated for its soothing and optimistic atmosphere.
“Aria” may not receive as much attention as other slice-of-life anime, but it offers a different kind of charm. Its focus on the beauty of everyday life, the importance of friendship, and the magic of simple pleasures make it a delightful and underrated experience.
15. Shinsekai Yori (From the New World)
We conclude our list with “Shinsekai Yori,” a dystopian and supernatural anime that explores a world where psychic abilities are both a gift and a curse. The series follows a group of friends as they uncover the dark secrets of their society.
“Shinsekai Yori” is often overshadowed by more popular dystopian anime, but its deep and thought-provoking narrative sets it apart. The series delves into themes of ethics, power, and the consequences of societal control. It challenges viewers with complex moral dilemmas and a richly developed world.
These fifteen underrated anime series represent just a fraction of the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered in the world of anime. Each series has its unique qualities and caters to different tastes, whether you’re a fan of science fiction, psychological thrillers, or slice-of-life stories. If you’re looking to expand your anime horizons and discover something new and extraordinary, these series are an excellent place to start.
So, the next time you’re in search of a captivating anime experience, consider exploring these underrated gems. You might find a new favorite series that resonates with you on a profound level. The world of anime is rich and diverse, and hidden treasures are waiting to be unearthed by those who are willing to venture beyond the mainstream. Happy watching!