In search of a new anime? You might find it here. I present you 50 underrated animes that, in my opinion, deserve more attention. I have written a rough description of each anime. I hope you find one that fits.
Here are my 50 underrated animes:
1. Hyouka – (Hyōka)
© Kyoto Animation Co., Ltd.
At the request of his older sister, the student Hotaro Oreki joins the Classical Literature Club of Kamiyama High School so that it will not be closed down. The plot is set in the fictional town of Kamiyama in Gifu Prefecture, a place based on the author’s actual home town, which also bears the name Takayama and is also in Gifu Prefecture. The fictional Kamiyama High School is based on the real Hida High School.
Hyouka is an anime about the fascination of the mundane. All in all, I can recommend Hyouka to every fan of Slice of Life. If you are in the mood for something nice now and then, this is also the right anime. But if you are looking for romance, Hyouka is clearly not the right choice for you.
2. Usagi drop – (Usagi Doroppu)
© Production I.G, Inc.
The story begins abruptly with the invitation of the thirty-year-old, busy and unmarried warehouse worker Daikichi Kawachi to his grandfather’s funeral. He is one of the first relatives to arrive there and meets a young girl in front of the front door, whom he is not able to assign to his family. During a conversation with his mother, who had already made initial preparations, he is surprised to hear from her that the girl is his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. Her existence has been hushed up until now. While the family arrives, Daikichi meets relatives he hasn’t seen for a long time, and the preparations are in full swing, he repeatedly meets the young girl, who makes a quite grown-up impression on him. Eventually, her name turns out to be Rin Kaga. During the actual funeral ceremony, it becomes evident that Rin has quite some strong feelings for her deceased father and that she knows him better than the rest of the family.
Nevertheless, the relatives argue about who should now take responsibility for Rin. Everybody tries to reject it as well as possible, and the conversation already tends to turn Rin over to an asylum when Daikichi decides to take her into his home, even though the whole family advises him against it. Thus, the actual storyline starts with Daikichi having to change his entire life relatively quickly.
Usagi Drop is an anime to relax or for bad times. A lovely statement for having children. And also, wonderfully animated in soft pastel colours and with a nice ending. The only negative I could say about this anime is the length. A few more episodes would have been even better.
© Madhouse Inc.
The plot of Chihayafuru suddenly begins with a new school year, in which the high school student Chihaya Ayase meets her former school friend Taichi Mashima again. At the end of the school day, both find time for a conversation that reminds them of their time as elementary school students. Within this flashback, it is explained how it came about that Chihaya made it her goal to become the best Karuta player (Japanese card game). During her school days, she met Arata Wataya, a classmate who was usually shunned by the class, and who trained Karuta almost obsessively. At the same time, he impressed Chihaya enormously, as he was by far the strongest player she had ever met. In a test match against him, she lost one card after the other. But she could only take one card from him. This was the so-called Chihaya card. Just as Arata had set herself the goal of becoming the best Karuta player, Chihaya now set herself the goal of becoming the best Karuta player. At the same time, she managed to get Arata recognised in the classroom and Taichi, who had previously used unfair tactics against Arata, was finally reconciled with him, even though he could not stand being inferior to Arata. But with time, the paths of the former friends separated, and Chihaya wants to reunite them by playing Karuta.
Back in the present, inspired by the conversation with Taichi, she wants to found a Karuta club at her school.
Chihayafuru convinces with its sympathetic characters and an interesting and unusual topic with Karuta. It’s the perfect mixture of shoujo and ganbatte anime. I highly recommend it to people who like those genres.
4. Welcome to the N.H.K. – (NHK ni Yōkoso!)
© Gonzo K.K.
Tatsuhiro Sato was thrown out of university four years ago and has been unemployed ever since. He is a so-called Hikikomori who only stays at home all day, does not work, and is afraid of contact with other people. Over time, he also develops a conspiracy theory of how he got into this situation. So there is supposed to be an organization behind it, NHK, which wants to turn people into Hikikomori. The victims would be influenced by the media and agents around them.
The mixture of drama and satire in Welcome to the N.H.K. provides us with an extremely entertaining anime on the one hand, but on the other hand, also provides us with things to think about. Humour that makes you laugh until your stomach hurts and a story that makes you cry and doesn’t disappear from your memory too quickly. Problems that we all know and with which many have dealt with. The story is supported by convincing characters, which make you want to recommend the anime. For me, one of the best and also, sadly, underrated anime.
5. Kids on the Slope – (Sakamichi no Apollon)
© MAPPA Co., Ltd.
Kaoru Nishimi had to move from Yokosuka to Sasebo in Kyushu to his paternal aunt in the summer of 1966 because of his father’s work situation. There he meets, among others, the energetic Sentaro Kawabuchi and his childhood friend Ritsuko Mukae. When Sentaro finds out that Kaoru can play the piano, he urges the rather secluded Kaoru to play jazz with him in the basement of Ritsuko’s father’s record shop. Kaoru can’t get much out of this idea in the beginning, because up to this point in his life, he saw school education as his purpose in life and considered jazz as barbaric. However, over time, Kaoru gets more and more into jazz and makes friends with Sentaro, among others.
Kids on the Slope is by no means as unconventional as one might expect, but rather represents a typical youthful story about love and friendship, which later on becomes more and more of a melodrama. I recommend the series to everyone who is in the mood for a refreshing story about friendship, love and music.
6. Serial Experiments Lain – (Shiriaru Ekusuperimentsu Rein)
© Triangle Staff Co., Ltd.
The shy 13-year-old girl Lain Iwakura lives in a suburb of Tokyo together with her technology and computer-obsessed father, her distant mother, and her expressionless older sister. After the suicide of eighth-grader Chisa Yomoda, several in her class still receive e-mails from her. Most of them think the mail is a hoax, a joke through the internet. Lain also receives such a mail, and Chisa reveals to her in real-time via the “Wired” that she did not die but only laid down her body and found God in the Wired. The “Wired” is an international computer network, which is built like the internet. Lain now wants to get to the bottom of these events. But she too is suspected of having written the mails.
Serial Experiments Lain is an anime which, through its narrative style and content, opened up new paths for its time, and is still unique today. It is difficult to say to whom one should recommend this anime. I have noticed that it is better rated on general pages than on some pure anime sites. No mecha, no fantasy, no shounen factor, no exaggerated emotes, no action, all typical anime features are not available here. Nevertheless, I would advise everyone to watch at least the first episodes. The best way is to watch with several friends and afterward you should be able to discuss for hours about sense, nonsense or even senselessness of Lain…
© Artland Inc.
In a world similar to that of Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, beings neither of animal nor plant nature exist. The beings that are said to have a great connection to nature are called Mushi (literally translated “insect”, but in a broader sense also “being”, or ” nature”). The living together of humans and Mushi often proves to be problematic. The Mushi are invisible for most people, few people who can see them often travel the world as Mushishi and try to help people who have problems caused by Mushi. The white-haired Ginko, who lost an eye through a mushi in his childhood, works as a mushi master (mushishi) and meets different people and mushis on his travels. When he meets people who are harmed by mushi, he first carefully determines the cause and the kind of mushi before he tries to drive it away without killing it.
Mushishi is a successful mixture of dark entertainment and melancholic reflection of human existence. If you are looking for an atmospheric and thoughtful anime, which isn’t quite as “bulky” as Serial Experiments Lain or Texhnolyze, Mushishi is the right choice for you.
8. Haibane Renmei
© Radix Ace Entertainment Co., Ltd.
The story is set in a small world surrounded by a big wall. No one is allowed to cross the wall nor to see what lies behind it, except for the toga, with whom no one is allowed to talk. Within this wall there is a town called Glie with its inhabitants. Outside Glie in the Old Home and a factory live the so-called Haibane. Haibanes are not born in the usual way. They hatch out of a cocoon that grows from a seed somewhere in the Old Home or factory and is filled with a breathable liquid. When they wake up, they are of different ages, but mostly still children or not yet grown up. They look and feel just like humans, but have small, grey-white wings on their backs, which they usually grow in pain shortly after waking up. They also get a halo over their head.
The Haibane have to take on tasks and work in the city without pay, but they are allowed to buy used items with a notebook and a signature, for which the humans have no use anymore. The Haibane have many freedoms, although they cannot work everywhere, but also some limits they are not allowed to cross. Since they mostly can only remember the dream in their cocoon, they do not know where they come from. However, many believe that they are rebirths from another life and that they reappeared as Haibane for a particular reason. This dream is also what gives them their names. The story revolves around the everyday life of the Haibane.
With Haibane Renmei, I was lucky to find an anime that completely matches my taste in drama and emotions, which is rather difficult to describe. I know that this isn’t the case with everyone, as the story seems rather unspectacular at first and many things and backgrounds are only implied and left to the viewer’s speculation. Haibane Renmei is full of possibilities of interpretation and thus offers much more than the series might suggest at first glance.
9. Land of the Lustrous – (Houseki no Kuni)
© Orange Co., Ltd.
After six meteorites descended on the world and the humans disappeared, only 28 gems in human form live on it together with their teacher. The individual gems are ageless and have the appearance of young people around 15. For several thousand years, the gems have conflicted with the moon inhabitants, who hunt them to make jewelry and consumer goods out of them. Some of the gems have already fallen prey to them, so those who remain must defend themselves.
You might think the whole series was designed for 3D animation in the first place, but in fact, it’s a manga adaptation. I can recommend this anime to anyone who appreciates character development, who can enjoy an episode without action and who likes to be surprised. And of course for all gemstone lovers!
10. Tsubasa Chronicle – (Tsubasa: Rezaboa Kuronikuru)
© Bee Train Production
Sakura, the princess of the Kingdom of Clow and Shaolan, a young archaeologist with a mysterious past, have been friends since childhood. On a night when Sakura visits Shaolan, all her memories are stolen by a dark force. To recover them, Shaolan is sent by the high priest Yukito to the Dimensional Witch, Yuko Ichihara. He is told that he must collect Sakura’s memories in the form of feathers in the different dimensions to save her life. And so begins the journey to regain Sakura’s memory.
One of CLAMP’s trademarks is their lovable characters, and Tsubasa Chronicle is no exception. The characters are better than in a “normal” Shounen-anime, partly with interesting backgrounds (which aren’t all revealed in the anime, though) and in general with a lot of charisma. Since Tsubasa Chronicle is a cross over with all other CLAMP works, many well-known characters appear in the anime (but often in different roles than in the originals).
11. D.Gray-man – (Dī Gureiman)
© TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd.
In an alternative world of the 19th century, the young Allen Walker becomes an exorcist. Together with other exorcists, members of the Black Order, it is his task to stop The Earl of Millennium, whose goal is to destroy the world. For this goal, the Earl uses the suffering of the people: When a loved one has died, he appears to the relatives, to whom he promises to bring back the deceased if they call the dead person only by name. In this way the souls of the dead awaken again, but no longer as human beings, but as Akuma, artificial creatures comprised of one or more human souls.
Akuma attack people and kill them in order to ascend to a higher level. They usually also kill the one who brought them back and slip into his body, making it difficult to recognize them as Akuma. Only a select few can destroy the Akuma. These chosen ones can synchronize with the so-called “Innocence” and use this power as a powerful weapon in the fight against the Akuma. The exorcists of the Black Order are these chosen ones and have the power to free the souls and thus rob the Earl of his servants. They have to search for the Innocence scattered all over the world and have to fight against the Earl and his helpers again and again.
D.Gray-man is a shounen just like I want it to be. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes surprising, sometimes bloody, and almost always thrilling. I highly recommend it to everyone, and especially to lovers of the shounen genre.
12. Parasyte – (Kiseijū)
© Madhouse Inc.
Strange spores of unknown origin fly to Earth. These parasites invade both humans and animals and take over their brains and nervous system. They can then reshape and control the bodies of their hosts at will. The 17-year-old Shinichi Izumi is also threatened by such a parasite taking possession of him at night. But he notices the snake-like creature in time, and when it enters his right arm, he ties his arm off. The next morning he first thinks that it was only a dream. But his right arm behaves more and more strangely, and Shinichi realizes that the dream was real after all. He calls his parasite, which can also talk and read and is very curious, Migi. To survive, both are forced to coexist and hide the parasite from others. Migi, like all other parasites, can sense the presence of others of its kind within a radius of about 300 meters. The parasites that have successfully taken over another human being feed by killing humans.
Parasyte convinces through emotional highlights, as well as through the always lasting oppressive and suspenseful atmosphere, which results from an extremely successful presentation. Especially the story is fantastic because the anime focuses more on its characters than on the action and effects. However, there is also no lack of the latter two. Thus, it manages to entertain the viewer, even though the anime also asks profound philosophical questions.
13. House of Five Leaves – (Saraiya Goyō)
© Manglobe Inc.
The Ronin Masanosuke Akitsu is a good swordsman, but his gentle nature often gets in his way. Once again, he was dismissed by his employer and is looking for a new job. He also has to send a part of the money to his family. But he does not want to accept the work of day labourers. There he meets the mysterious Yaichi, who immediately seems suspicious to him. He works and lives in a brothel as a bodyguard for the women, often hangs around in the pub and seems to enjoy life. However, Masanosuke soon finds out that Yaichi earns his living and that of his friends by kidnapping the children of wealthy citizens of Edo. At the same time, Masanosuke, at first without meaning to, becomes his accomplice. Driven by his misery and attracted by Yaichi’s mysterious character, he gets more and more involved in the group of kidnappers.
A well-written story meets well-written characters. House of Five Leaves is despite the samurai set up not really something for action fans; there is no fighting, the series is through and through a first-class drama. You should be aware that there is no theatricality and no kitsch in House of Five Leaves. Instead, you get a well constructed and authentic story that deals with the criminals and their gangs of old Japan.
14. Metropolis (Movie) – (Metoroporisu)
© Madhouse Inc.
The scientist Charles Laughton researches the possibility of artificially producing living cells. When he is commissioned by the industrial magnate Duke Red, he succeeds in creating an artificial human. But he fears that Michi, as he calls him, will be abused, destroys his laboratory and fakes his and Michi’s death. Duke Red is also the leader of a secret organization, the Red Party, with which he wants to seize power in the city of Metropolis and the world. Also, he manipulates the sun with his technology, so it comes in the whole world to the growth of gigantic plants and animals.
Futuristic buildings, old-fashioned figure designs, different graphic styles and a serious story with interesting aspects. This constant play with contrasts and the lively visuals make Metropolis one of the best science fiction anime movies I have seen.
© Madhouse Inc.
In the future, it will be possible to store the memories on media and thus escape death at least partially. The body dies, but the memories are not lost, they can be transferred to new bodies. However, this soon leads to the trade of memories and also the theft of data. So the rich live in a world above the clouds, where they live forever by transferring memories, while on the ground, a chaotic and miserable world exists. The bodies of the people have become a commodity. A man named Kaiba wakes up one day in a room unknown to him, with no memories. He only has a pendant with a photo of a woman inside. After Kaiba was attacked, he flees into space and goes on a journey to recover his memories. On this journey, he meets different people and their problems.
Kaiba is a great anime, which can only work in its abstractness in sound and image. The anime literally cries out to be seen again, in order to let all its splendour and artistic variety work on you once again. Unfortunately, this work is by no means suitable for the masses and therefore only appeals to a certain audience. It’s a pity that Kaiba doesn’t really interest anyone. Don’t be afraid of the art style and just watch it – you won’t regret it!
16. Texhnolyze – (Tekunoraizu)
© Madhouse Inc.
Texhnolyze plays in the underground city of Lux. It has artificial sunlight, water and a day and night cycle. The landscape, however, consists mainly of desert. The city is ruled by rival gangs. Primarily they are interested in a special type of prosthesis called “Texhnolyze”. Most of the population is very poor, owners of Texhnolyze are privileged. These Texhnolyze are supplied with energy by a huge obelisk in the center of the city. In Lux the groups of the Organo, the Union and the Racan fight each other. The Organo is a mafia-like organization that deals with the development and sale of the Texhnolyze. The Union is an association that opposes the spread of the Texhnolyze. The Racan is a group of texhnized youth who want to commit acts of violence and provoke a war of the Union against any Texhnolyze. A fourth group, the “Class”, are hardly involved in the fighting but are more closely connected to the outside world.
This anime is a tough one, which surely won’t please everyone. If you are looking for light entertainment, don’t know what to do with explicit depictions of violence or consider yourself emotionally unstable, then I think you should skip this one. Texhnolyze is over long distances a psychic tour de force, and as such it’s also purposefully designed. If you like to look away during difficult scenes, you can save your time for the anime, as the 22 episodes demand the viewer’s full attention and at some points even rewind a bit in order to keep up with the action. In the end, there remains a strange mixture of entertaining sci-fi and action story with small touches of romance and horror, and an atmosphere of helplessness and pure desperation.
I recommend Texhnolyze to those who like dark mystery anime, who are willing to use their “brain” in every episode and who don’t get sick when they see body parts flying and splashing blood.
17. Zetman – (Zettoman)
© TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd.
In the near future, an elite circle of bloody wrestling matches between mutant creatures called players takes place. One day, however, an incident occurs during this wrestling spectacle that ends in a disaster. The players get out of control, kill all the spectators present and finally escape. The only survivors are 13 players and two scientists. One of them holds a mutated baby, Jin Kanzaki, in his arms, which he tries to protect. The mutation can be recognized by a ring that is stuck under the skin on the back of his hand.
After a time skip, Jin is shown as a teenager who is growing up in a homeless shelter. Despite his good-natured character, he lacks essential aspects of human interaction. For example, he can’t really distinguish good and evil and also has no idea of death or emotions like compassion or grief. Nonetheless, he manages to build up a friendship with Koga Amagi and his sister Konoha, who are both the same age. Together they roam the city and try to thwart crimes.
Zetman manages to renew an overused plot and make it its own. The topic around superheroes and the responsibility that comes with being one is presented pretty well: There are bloody fights, the heroes can’t save everyone, this leads to psychological strain etc. Zetman can be called one of the best anime of 2012, which should not be missed. Even for those who are not big fans of bionic. Discover it with Zetman for yourself!!
18. Noir – (Nowāru)
© Bee Train Production
Mireille Bouquet was born in Corsica and is a professional hitman from Paris. One day she receives a mysterious e-mail from the Japanese student Kirika Yumura. She asks Mireille to go on a journey into the past with her. At first, Mireille believes it is a joke, but then a melody rings out that awakens a fragmentary childhood memory in her…
Noir is an unusual and unique action series, which besides a beautiful soundtrack, also tells a lovely story. However, if you expect a “normal” action series, you’ll most likely be disappointed by the Noir. For me personally, Noir is still one of my favourite series and probably the most beautiful action series I’ve seen so far. For fans of dark action series, it’s an absolute must-see.
19. RahXephon – (Rāzefon)
© Bones Inc.
The story begins in Tokyo at the beginning of the 21st century. The student Ayato Kamina discovers his ability to control the godlike Mecha RahXephon. Until now, the 17-year-old had believed that he would live in 2015 and that the world outside Tokyo would be destroyed. But people are living outside Tokyo, too. The city itself is ruled by the alien Mu, who seals it off from the rest of the world. Thus Ayato gets into the fight between the Mu and the UN-organization TERRA, which is carried out with combat robots.
Sometimes dark and mysterious like Serial Experiments Lain, sometimes epic and meaningful like Neon Genesis Evangelion, sometimes action-packed like a well-done mecha action series. But RahXephon does not have to hide behind any role models. The series tells its own story with enough unique characteristics to make it stand out.
20. The Mystic Archives of Dantalian – (Dantalian no Shoka)
© GAINAX Co., Ltd.
The story is set in the period between the two world wars and takes place in England. Hugh Anthony Disward inherits the estate of his grandfather. In the large manor house, he finds the entrance to a room where books are everywhere. In this room, he meets a girl named Dalian. She is the so-called “Black Biblioprincess” and represents a portal between the real world and “Bibliotheca Mystica de Dantalian”. Huey becomes Dalian’s “key-keeper” and thus her protector. In this library, the so-called “Phantom Books” of the demon Dantalian are kept. These books give the reader a superhuman power, e.g., the power to bring the dead to life or the ability to absorb all the knowledge of the world within oneself. Dalian and Huey are trying to find and seal these books in the world and bring them back to the library. During their search, they always get into trouble because they never know which book they will encounter.
The Mystic Archives of Dantalian is somewhat dark but also humorous, fantastic storyline and great characters. It’s also pretty bloody. Therefore, anyone who is a fan of mystery animes with blood, and a touch of humor, should not miss this anime!
21. Drifters – (Dorifutāzu)
© Hoods Entertainment Inc.
Shimazu Toyohisa is fighting on the battlefield of Sekigahara when he is seriously wounded. Almost at the end of his strength he suddenly finds himself in a corridor full of doors, in front of him a desk, behind it a man reading a newspaper. A short time later he is sucked in by a door and is thrown out in a field. At the end of his strength he collapses. He is found by two elves who want to take care of him. However, they are stopped by Oda Nobunaga and Nasu no Yoichi. Thereupon Toyohisa learns that he is in another place than his known Japan and also in another time. This other world is visited by the so-called “Drifters”, outstanding personalities of history, who lead a new fight there.
Fighting, killing and slaughter. Those who can bear it will be offered an anime with many famous personalities of our world history, who fight a war of unimaginable dimensions in another world. Drifters is a great anime that I can recommend to fans of action and gore.
22. Ajin: Demi-Human – (Ajin)
© Polygon Pictures, Inc.
For 17 years now, immortals have repeatedly appeared in the world, called Ajin, persecuted by humanity and imprisoned for experiments. The high school student Kei Nagai is run over in an accident, but does not die, but discovers that he too is an Ajin. From then on, he is hunted by many people – especially by the government, which conducts experiments on Ajin.
Ajin: Demi-Human is a thrilling anime with a surprisingly “different” protagonist, good secondary characters and a profound story. Give it a try if you haven’t already.
23. Fractale – (Furakutaru)
© A-1 Pictures Inc.
The plot is set in a far-off future, but one that has already blossomed. In this future, the boy Clain grows up under the care of so-called doppels, who take care of him instead of his parents. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that almost everyone has a “robot” as a replacement, taking over any uncomfortable work in his place. Their existence can be traced back to the Fractale system, which is responsible for creating the holograms. Clain, however, is more attracted to what he sees as nostalgic things that existed before Fractale was developed. On a trip, Clain meets Phryne, a girl who seems to be mysterious to him, a somewhat older-looking girl who is on the run from a group of pursuers. He can follow her, and soon both become friends. This causes her to seek shelter with Clain. Despite all the joy of their first encounter, Phryne disappears in the night, leaving behind an object that Clain doesn’t really know how to assess…
It’s definitely not an anime for the masses, and thus Yamakan’s plan to produce something that doesn’t only appeal to anime fans and otakus has failed, which was confirmed by the shockingly low ratings. Yet, something makes this anime special. It’s not what is shown to the viewer, but rather that what makes the viewer think, which in my opinion makes this anime one of the best in recent years.
24. Time of Eve – (Eve no Jikan)
© Studio Rikka
In a not very distant future, androids are in ubiquitous use. They are taken for granted by humans and treated like ordinary tools. Nevertheless, some people are attracted to these androids. They have a human appearance and only differ from each other by a ring projected over their head, which also symbolizes their activity in color. This was seen as a social problem. In public campaigns, the androids are discriminated against again and again, although they contribute to social prosperity and increase production capacities at the same time.
Rikuo was born in this world and considers the robots to be perfectly normal. One day he analyses the locations of Sammy, a female looking android who takes care of the household. In the process, he discovers an unusual entry in the logbook: “Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?” Together with his school friend Masaki, he follows Sammy’s tracks and discovers the hidden café “The Time of Eve”. Nagi, the waitress, welcomes the two and explains the rules of the café to them. The most important basic rule is that there is no discrimination between robots and humans. All androids present do not wear their ring, so they are not distinguishable from humans. Furthermore, the door only lets one or two guests out of the café at a time, before it remains closed for two minutes, so that there is no possibility of guests being followed. An exciting story about the discrimination and independence of robots begins.
If you want to take a small glimpse into the future, where humans and machines will live side by side and have to be considerate of each other, this is the right anime. Time of Eve looks great, with a very interesting story, and still offers a nice platform and likable characters to bring the topic “man & machine” across in a convincing way. I recommend it to everyone.
25. Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet – (Suisei no Gargantia)
© Production I.G, Inc.
In a distant future, humanity lives in space with about 500 million people and is engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle against aliens called Hideauze. The 16-year-old Ledo is a mecha pilot and has been in the service of the military all his life and is about to receive civil rights for his services. With a new weapon, the armed forces try again to defeat the Hideauze but fail. During the retreat, Ledo does not make it in time to the ship, which flies through a wormhole. Instead, he is taken through the wormhole to an unknown location. After six months of cold sleep, he is awakened by his Pilot Support Enlightenment Interface System chamber. He finds himself in his mecha on board of an unknown ship, which is populated by humans at about the technical level of the 20th century, whose language he does not know. When he leaves his mecha for exploration, he is caught and takes the 15-year-old Amy hostage. To his amazement, he notices that the ship has no protection from radiation, nor the vacuum. He finally realizes in horror that the ship is a water ship and that he is on a habitable planet that his computer identifies as Earth – the birthplace of humanity, which according to his records should be an uninhabitable ice planet.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet could still be considered an action anime after the first episode. Still, the first impression is deceptive. The series is more a mixture of adventure and coming of age genres. It has great characters, where some of them were quite well-elaborated even for the short number of episodes, great fights, and a beautiful story.
26. Birdy the Mighty – (Tetsuwan Bādī)
© A-1 Pictures Inc.
In a world plagued by interplanetary crime, Birdy Chiffon Altera is in the process of tracking some criminals back to earth. In pursuit of the criminals, she accidentally kills a high school student, Tsutomu Senkawa. Touched by this, she saves his life by merging her mind with his and taking it over into her body. But in the meantime, she has to let the criminals escape. Until Tsutomu’s body is restored and he can transfer his spirit back, he has to stay in Birdy’s body. Since Birdy has the possibility to take on the shape of Tsutomu, he tries to keep up the life with his friends and family, while Birdy uses the free time to go on her chase for criminals. In the process, both get increasingly involved in the machinations of aliens, who carry out experiments on humans on earth.
If you are looking for a good and fresh sci-fi story with great animation, lots of action and great humor, you simply can’t pass Birdy the Mighty. In the end, this is one of the jewels of anime that gets far too little attention.
27. Space Brothers – (Uchū Kyōdai)
© A-1 Pictures Inc.
The focus of the story is the life of the two brothers Mutta and Hibito Nanba. In 2006, the two brothers observed a UFO flying towards the moon and decide to become astronauts, hoping to find the traces for their observation. Meanwhile, Hibito has already managed to become an astronaut in 2025 and is allowed to fly to the moon. Mutta, whose life, unlike that of his brother, is haunted by misfortune, still fights for his dream to be able to fly to Mars.
Space Brothers is an anime that brings the topic of space but mainly that of the astronaut closer to you in an amusing as well as real and dramatic way and thereby puts the earthly problems of our two brothers very skillfully in the center. Everyone interested in real space should definitely watch this anime. But even if you aren’t interested, I would still recommend it to you.
28. Monster – (Monsutā)
© Madhouse Inc.
The story begins in 1986 in Düsseldorf. The Japanese neurosurgeon Kenzo Tenma works in a clinic and is popular with both his colleagues and patients. His girlfriend, Eva Heinemann, is the daughter of the clinic director. He is preparing the operation on the boy Johann, who was fatally injured by a shot in the head during a crime in his parents’ home. His parents, the former GDR Minister of Trade Liebert and his wife, have been shot, his twin sister Anna has a severe shock. Shortly before the operation, Tenma receives the order to operate the sick mayor. Tenma ignores the order in favor of the injured boy, and the mayor dies. Tenma’s life changes abruptly, Eva breaks off the engagement, and his professional career seems hopeless. As Tenma is convinced that he has made the morally right decision, he believes he can live on with a clear conscience despite the loss of his social status.
Monster is a terrific anime, which after a slow start, finally grabs you and keeps you hooked until the end. However, you have to get involved with monsters and be willing to sacrifice some time for it, because otherwise you soon get lost in the complex and twisted story and can’t follow it anymore. That’s why I recommend to watch this anime in one go to be able to see all the coherences. Of course, with a number of 74 episodes this is easier said than done. But if you have a weakness for realistic stories and authentic characters, you should give it a try. Because at least one thing is for sure: Monster has clearly set new standards in the thriller genre.
29. When They Cry – (Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
© Studio Deen Co. Ltd.
In the vicinity of the rural village of Hinamizawa, an incurable disease breaks out several centuries before the actual story begins. During the plot, the disease turns out to be a parasitic life form that puts the affected persons into a psychologically unstable state, accompanied by paranoia and hallucinations, which can lead to aggressive behavior and rage. Thus the afflicted attacked their fellow-men until they killed themselves in the last stage. Based on the recurring atrocities, numerous legends about Oni and the “Curse of Oyashiro-sama” were created. A female member of the Furude family succeeded in overcoming the disease and releasing a messenger substance into the environment, which brings the sick to a nearly stable state. To deter the population, which was still threatened by raging, particularly harsh torture methods were associated with the curse.
When They Cry is a very complex mystery story that is not always easy to follow. It’s a thrillingly scary and beautiful atmosphere, which often causes goosebumps, excellent background music, and very brilliant characters. I highly recommend it to horror fans and anyone who wants to see something different.
The plot focuses on high school student Koyomi Araragi, who was attacked and bitten by a vampire during Golden Week a month before the story begins. Since this incident, he becomes aware of several supernatural apparitions, called Kaii, that have affected his classmates in his immediate surroundings.
To be honest, you could add the whole Monogatari Series into this list… Look it up if you didn’t hear about it – you won’t regret it.
Bakemonogatari impresses above all with its characters and its comprehensive backstories. The complex elaboration of the plot naturally expresses itself in one thing: Lots of dialogues. Some people have already labeled Bakemonogatari as a “jabbering” anime, but Bakemonogatari is, of course, anything but a usual Japanese animated series. The action is kept to a minimum but is present, as well as horror elements, which can be very gory in their explicit portrayal. In the end, the plot is a strange drama-comedy mix with a mystery premise. I also think that a lot of attention is paid to the quality of the series until the very end – it all fits together far too well.
31. Yona of the Dawn – (Akatsuki no Yona)
© Pierrot Co., Ltd.
Yona is the princess of the land of Koka, a small empire ruled by her father. On her 16th birthday, after a long time, she sees Prince Soo-Won (Suwon) again, her cousin with whom she has been in love since childhood. But at night, he kills the king to take revenge on him for the murder of his father and to become king himself. Yona, who until then has only lived in the palace, flees with General Son Hak from the guards because they also want to kill her…
Yona of the Dawn is a well-done anime throughout, even if it has some flaws, it still can be entertaining in the long run. Anyway, the series is well worth watching, especially for fans of Shoujo Fantasy.
32. Legend of Galactic Heroes – (Ginga Eiyū Densetsu)
© Production I.G, Inc.
The story takes place in the 35th century in our galaxy. Humanity developed interstellar spaceflight and made a large part of the planets in the galaxy habitable by terraforming. For 150 years there has been a war in the galaxy between the monarchical, Prussian-style Galactic Empire and the democratic Free Planet Alliance. Within the Galactic Empire the rise of the young Reinhard von Lohengramm, an aristocrat from an impoverished noble family, begins. He has the desire to free his sister Annerose, who must serve the ruling emperor as a concubine. As the series progresses, his desire to overthrow the corrupt ruling Goldenbaum Dynasty and unite the galaxy under his rule and that of the Galactic Empire.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is quite unique in the world of anime. Who has a minimum interest in politics, wants to have written dialogues, where really everything has to be discussed to the max, paired with large-scale battles and a touch of epicness, should give it a try.
33. Afro Samurai – (Afuro Samurai)
© Gonzo K.K.
As a child, Afro had to watch his father, Rokutaro, being killed by Justice (antagonist of the story). The fight was about the headband of Afro’s father, the headband number one, which is said to give godlike powers to its owner. However, the owner of this headband can only be challenged by the owner of headband number two, while the owner of headband number two can be challenged by any opponent. Now that Justice has become the owner of headband number one, Afro is leaving home. Afro takes his father’s sword and the number two headband, which he soon loses. He finds a new home in the Dojo of a one-eyed swordmaster. Afro cannot forget his desire for revenge and continues to search for the owner of headband number two.
Afro Samurai is a completely wacky anime that doesn’t care much about dramaturgy or story twists. All it wants to do is to entertain, and that is exactly what it does. So if you like brutal slaughter and are not afraid of a high level of violence, you will love it.
34. Guardian of the Spirit – (Seirei no Moribito)
© Production I.G, Inc.
The setting of the plot is the fictional, Asian-influenced Yogo empire. A woman named Balsa is chosen by the mother of the young prince Chagum as his bodyguard. The emperor seeks to kill his son, as he is said to be the bearer of the egg of a water demon, which will bring drought to the land. Officially an honourable funeral is staged for the boy, but secretly the emperor has him pursued by assassins. The bodyguard succeeds in protecting the child and feigns her and Chagum’s death for the pursuers…
If you enjoy an intelligent and original fantasy world, a story that immediately captivates you and pictures that make you dream, you will surely fall in love with Moribito. If you don’t know the series yet, you should invest at least 15 minutes. Trust me, it’s worth it!
© Brain’s Base Co., Ltd.
Yurie Hitotsubashi, a reticent and inconspicuous high school student, lives in the town of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. One morning in the spring of 1983, she discovers that she has become a goddess, but she does not know what to do with her new powers. Her friends give her the nickname Kamichu.
Kamichu! is a beautiful anime with loveable characters, good humor, and a handsome presentation. A series to relax, which you shouldn’t rush through, but instead get involved with the slow pacing in order to enjoy it.
36. Tekkonkinkreet (Movie) – (Tekkonkinkurīto)
© Studio 4°C Co., Ltd.
The parentless brothers Black and White, two opposing characters, live in the dilapidated town of Treasure Town. The town is currently being transformed into an entertainment world by greedy businessmen. The two brothers, however, take up the fight to save themselves and the town from change.
What absolutely fascinates me about this anime is the unique character design, which I found in no other anime.
Tekkonkinkreet is an absolute mainly visual masterpiece, but also offers great characters and a thrilling story. I recommend it to those who also liked Neon Genesis Evangelion, but also to everyone who wants to see an anime with a unique art style.
37. Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin
© Madhouse Inc.
The plot takes place in the 1950s in the Japanese post-war period. It focuses on six juvenile prisoners and their supervisor at the Shonan Special Disciplinary School near Tokyo and their lives after leaving school. Ten years after the Second World War, in July 1955, the six imprisoned youths with the nicknames Mario, Cabbage, Soldier, Turtle, Scam, and Jou are transferred to a reformatory. Here begins an exciting story about the six friends and their “fight” against the sadistic warden Ishihara.
Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin offers characters with whom one feels sorry or happy with every second, a historically fascinating setting, and a captivating and realistic story. Moreover, this anime is incredibly hard and brutal. Nothing is embellished or censored here. You rarely see something as honest and mature as this series in animes. If you are looking for something serious, historical, and at the same time dramatic, you will a great time watching Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin!
38. Riddle Story of Devil – (Akuma no Ridoru)
© Diomedéa, Inc.
At the private Myojo girls’ high school, a “black class” of 13 students is formed. Of these, 12 are prospective assassins and the thirteenth, Haru Ichinose, is their target. She is to be killed by the end of the school year. Anyone who fails by the assassins or exposes this plan to outsiders will be expelled from the school. However, Haru Ichinose soon turns out to be not as easy a victim as it first seems…
Riddle Story of Devil offers you in 12 episodes an anime with exciting mystery elements, touching destinies and interpretable love between girls.
39. Infinite Ryvius – (Mugen no Ryvius)
© Sunrise Inc.
In 2225, the solar system was struck by a phenomenon called Gedult. The solar system was flooded by a lake of plasma and humans colonized other planets. On a space station called Love Delta future space pilots are trained. In the event of an attack on the station, all adults are killed in the destruction of the station. However, the young pilot candidates can escape to the ship Ryvius, which is hidden on the space station. The return to Earth is made more difficult in the following by the budding power struggles within the ship.
Infinite Ryvius is one of my all-time favourite animes. The content is incredibly complex and not only interesting for science fiction fans. The grandiose staging and especially the authentic and credible characters ensure an intense and incredibly thrilling anime experience that you shouldn’t miss. Unfortunately, this series doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
40. Ping Pong The Animation – (Pin Pon)
© Tatsunoko Production Company
The high school students Makoto “Smile” and Yutaka “Peco” visit together with the table tennis club of the Katase High School. But Peco often skips training, even though he is one of the best players of his age group. He prefers to go to the small table tennis hall in his neighbourhood, which is run by an older woman. Since both are close friends, Smile often accompanies him there, and they play against each other. Smile is also much better than other players but always holds himself back. He only wants to play for fun and not to win. When the former Chinese youth national player Kong “China” comes to Japan, it happens to be during a training session at another school that he plays against Peco…
Ping Pong The Animation offers a breathtaking art style, with fantastically written characters. I can absolutely recommend Ping Pong to every fan of sports anime because there is hardly anything better. But the anime offers much more than just sport, which is why I recommend it to everyone, even to those who have no interest in sports. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!
41. Casshern Sins – (SINS)
© Madhouse Inc.
In the fictional world of anime, the robots long used by humans gained consciousness and took over under the leadership of their leader known as Braiking Boss. When one day, a mysterious girl named Luna is born, the Braiking Boss is so afraid that he sends out his three strongest cyborgs Casshern, Dio, and Leda to kill Luna. After Luna’s death through the hand of Casshern, he becomes immortal, while the world is exposed to extreme decay. The materials of the robots and the machines rust and decay so fast that the entire ecosystem of the planet collapses. After many years of this unstoppable process, most of the robots have decayed and used the parts of the rotten ones to extend their own lives, often ending in cannibalistic battles. The until then, suppressed humanity also suffers from the consequences. They are rarely able to reproduce because of the huge changes in the world and are close to extinction.
I count Casshern SINS among the most impressive works, and for a long time after I have first watched it, no other anime has absorbed, fascinated, and depressed me so much. It’s a cyberpunk anime in a post-apocalyptic setting with a slightly different style. In my eyes, this anime is an absolute masterpiece. Give it a try, you wont regret it.
42. Soul Eater – (Sōru Ītā)
© Bones Inc.
In the world of Soul Eater people live together with various supernatural creatures. There are shinigami as well as witches and demons, which can change their shape between a human shape and the shape of a weapon. In the middle of Nevada is Death City, in the middle of which the Death Weapon Master Academy (Shibusen) is located. In this academy, the Death God and his subordinate teachers train the students to become “weapon meister”. The students aim to transform their weapon partners into “Death Scythes”, for which you have to collect the soul of a witch and 99 impure souls (Kishin eggs). If these impure souls would exist too long and consume too many innocent souls, they could become a Kishin – a demon god who wants to and can plunge the world into chaos. A well-kept secret of the Shibusen is that the city itself was built on the prison of the first Kishin, which is now sealed there.
Soul Eater offers a lot of humour, good characters, a very well designed world and a great story. If you’re a fan of Shounen and think you’ve seen everything that has come out of that direction so far, you should definitely check out Soul Eater.
43. Gunbuster – (Toppu o Nerae!)
© GAINAX Co., Ltd.
In the near future, humanity will encounter giant insect-like space monsters as they travel through the galaxy. These creatures want to exterminate humanity and as a result, are coming closer and closer to Earth. In response to this threat, humans have developed warships and combat robots. The story begins in 2023 shortly after the first battle with the space monsters and revolves around the young Noriko Takaya. Although Noriko’s father was a famous admiral who has been missing since one of the first battles, her skills as a pilot of a combat robot are not the best. Nevertheless, together with her idol, the outstanding pilot Kazumi Amano, she is selected for combat duty in the combat robots Buster Machine (Gunbuster) I and II, which is not least due to the fact that Koichiro “Coach” Ohta was a member of Admiral Takaya’s crew.
Great science fiction, psychological drama, and gigantic mecha-action are mixed up in just six episodes to a real roller coaster of emotions, which also looks pretty good considering the production year (1988). So, you love Mechas, Space Operas, or are you just nostalgic? Watch Gunbuster! Hold on until the end, no matter what you may think before, watch it, and you won’t be disappointed!
44. Paranoia Agent – (Mōsō Dairinin)
© Madhouse Inc.
The designer Tsukiko Sagi created the drawn figure Maromi, which became a bestseller and has since become a cult object. Now she has to design another such character, which is just as well received by the customers. However, Tsukiko has no idea and delivers nothing more than useless sketches. One evening, on her way back home, she is knocked down by a boy with golden rollerblades and baseball bats. Tsukiko only regains consciousness in the hospital.
Profound, confusing, exciting, and fun. Paranoia Agent definitely falls under the category “must-see”. I recommend this anime to everyone, especially to fans of mystery and psychological series.
45. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
© Ajia-do Animation Works Inc.
Alpha Hatsuseno lives in Japan in a relatively near future, which no longer has any real industry. Because of a natural disaster, there seem to be fewer people. In general, humanity seems to be disappearing. The sea level has risen sharply in a short time, which is why the coasts of some cities such as Yokohama are flooded. Street lamps protrude from the water and shape the landscape. Also, all kinds of strange, but not threatening, things are happening: building-like structures grow out of the earth, and glowing plants take the place of street lamps, mushrooms take on the appearance of people and experience divine worship. Robots are something quite commonplace. Alpha, who has to drive to the next larger city, Yokohama, to go shopping, belongs to robot class Alpha 7. She runs Café Alpha, a small establishment on land where people rarely pass by – mostly travelers who are delighted by Alpha’s hospitality.
After a typhoon destroys her café, Alpha also goes on a journey through Japan.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is one of the calmest animes I have seen so far. Wonderful characters and a great story. The art style is quite simple, but it captures the mood of the story very well.
46. Nodame Cantabile – (Nodame Kantābire)
© J.C.Staff Co., Ltd.
In his childhood, Shinichi Chiaki travelled through Europe with his father, a world-famous pianist, and his mother and thus became acquainted with and loved classical music. The conductor Sebastiano Viera often took care of him and became his role model. At the age of twenty-one, he studied at the Momogaoka Music Academy. His fear of planes and the sea kept him from studying overseas. Although he has dedicated himself to playing the piano at the college and is considered one of the best students, his real dream is to become a conductor and composer. Shinichi is arrogant and regards most other students as incompetents.
The likable, quirky characters make Nodame Cantabile one of the funniest anime I have seen so far. Successful humor is combined with a lot of classical music, which is why the series can be recommended to everyone who is not averse to it.
47. Project ARMS – (Āmuzu)
© TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd.
The student Ryo Takatsuki lives alone with his mother, as his father left them long ago. However, he used to teach him melee techniques so that he is physically superior to his classmates. However, he used to teach him combat techniques so that he is physically superior to his classmates. One day, the boy Hayato Shingu is transferred to the school. He immediately starts a fight with Ryou, is physically equal to him and threatens to kill him. When he also kidnaps Katsumi (a girl Ryo likes), Ryo also wants to fight against Hayato. During the fight, it turns out that Hayato has a weapon instead of his arm, a so-called ARMS.
As it turns out, Ryou also possesses such a weapon. Until now, he always thought that his arm was injured in an accident. It now turns out that these ARMS are experimental weapons consisting of thousands of nanochips. They were implanted in four people, including Ryo and Hayato, when they were younger and replaced certain limbs. However, neither of them knew their fate for a long time. The organization Egrigori, which created the ARMS, is now looking for the four subjects with their members, also equipped with ARMS, the so-called Keith series. Such an agent of Egrigori now appears at the school…
48. Sorcerous Stabber Orphen – (Majutsushi Ōfen)
© J.C.Staff Co., Ltd.
The 20-year-old magician Orphen lives together with his apprentice Majik in an inn in the city of Totokanta. Although he is talented, he is continuously broke and owes money to almost everyone in town. The magician experiences various adventures with his companions.
49. Gegege no Kitaro – (Kitarō of the Graveyard; Hakaba Kitarō)
© Toei Animation Co., Ltd.
The young ghost Kitaro was born as the son of a mummy and a human being. His mother died in childbirth, his father, now without a body of his own, accompanies him in the form of his second, wandering eye. As a child of both the human world and the world of monsters, he acts as a mediator who helps both sides. Besides his father, the Rat Man, Nezumi-Otoko, is a frequent companion on his adventures. They play in modern times, but Kitaro is mostly surrounded by “monsters” in his home in the cemetery. When he leaves them, he enters the normal world of humans.
50. Nobunaga Concerto – (Nobunaga Kontseruto)
© Fuji TV
The lazy high school student Saburo reaches Owari through a fall from today’s Japan into the Sengoku period. There he meets the young Oda Nobunaga, who has escaped from the palace. Since Nobunaga is weak and tired of life and demands in the palace, Saburo, who looks like him, is supposed to take his place. Before he knows what happened to him, Nobunaga’s servants found him and Nobunaga fled. Now Saburo takes his place as the lord and has to find his way into his new surroundings first, whereas he causes a lot of confusion. He makes unusual decisions and is considered crazy by many at first. But he soon decides to fill Oda Nobunaga’s place and unite Japan so as not to change the course of history.