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Mainstream anime series such as My Hero Academia, One Piece, Attack on Titan, Naruto, and Dragon Ball are beloved by most people. That is the reason why they became mainstream in the first place. Yes, some are not too keen on them due to many reasons.
These reasons include the art style, the plot, or the longevity of the series. However, the majority love these stories. They can be a good start for anyone wishing to get into the anime industry.
Yet these shows are not the only ones with good qualities. You can find a pleasant surprise from unfamiliar shows too.
If you think about it, anime series do not get into the spotlight by their first chapter. It takes years of development for others to take notice.
Some take decades for others to see their true value. You can take Parasyte, for example. Its manga was made in 1989. However, it only skyrocketed in popularity by 2015 because of the anime adaptation.
If you want to break free from the usual mainstream anime series, or you just want to experience something unfamiliar, here is a compilation of anime shows and movies that I think are underrated.
Criteria for Underrated Anime
By definition, something is underrated when something is not appreciated well enough. It is something that does not get the attention it deserves.
It can also be a popular show with low ratings. By this definition, the term “underrated” is very subjective. However, we can get a general overview of a show’s popularity and score through third-party websites.
In this compilation, I will be basing these two fundamental elements through MyAnimeList. They have their scoring and popularity ranking.
These two are based on feedback from the public. Many of the shows have good scores. Due to this, a 7 or a 6 could be classified as low. Also, a show with a low popularity ranking could be attributed to its members or followers.
Many shows have both low scores and a low popularity ranking. So, the ones listed here are a mix of personal choices, suggestions from friends who are anime enthusiasts, and the general public. Note that not everything in the list may be to your liking due to having vastly different genres.
You can read the overview summary of the story in this list. Then, see for yourself if you would like it. Without further adieu, let us start with the first entry.
Tiger & Bunny
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Mystery
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Sunrise
- Score: 7.90 (Score Ranking: 705th)
- Popularity Ranking: 910th
If you are an avid fan of superhero shows like My Hero Academia, this one might be just for you. This show also has the same vibes as the Amazon Prime show The Boys.
So, if you are a fan of that, you might be a fan of this too. It is ranked 910th in terms of popularity, yet it has a good premise. It has 25 episodes and aired from April 3, 2011, to September 18, 2011. It also has a side story and a sequel movie, so there is a lot of material to consume.
The story’s setting takes place in Stern Bild City. Here, there are a few people with special abilities called “NEXT.” These people can use their powers for bad or good, and some resort to becoming heroes. However, this world of heroes is not rooted in morality but by corporations.
In this world, the heroes, most often than not, follow their company’s directions. They do heroic actions to boost their company’s image and their sponsors.
This idea conflicts with the veteran hero Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, “Wild Tiger.” In his mind, he wants to do heroic deeds to help the people first and foremost. Because of this and his inability to work with other heroes, his performance has dwindled.
To save his career, he has to partner up with a brand new hero named Barnaby Brooks Jr., or “Bunny.” Together, they must learn to deal with their differences to face the city’s threats.
- Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Shounen
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Studio Pierrot, David Production
- Score: 7.43 (Score Ranking: 1877th)
- Popularity Ranking: 1806th
Yoshihiro Togashi is one of the most prominent mangakas in the industry. He is the creator of beloved hits such as Yuu Yuu Hakusho and Hunter x Hunter. Yet, he has one other creation that is virtually unknown to most people. That creation is Level E.
The show only has one season containing 13 episodes. It aired from January 11, 2011, to April 5, 2011. It is based on the manga of the exact name. So far, there has been no announcement of a sequel or a side story.
Tokyo-born schoolboy Yukitaka Tsutsui will attend high school in Yamagata Prefecture. Because of his skills, he is on a baseball scholarship. The neighbors are thrilled about his coming because he attended Japan’s best middle school for baseball. Finally, he gets to his flat.
However, he notices a strange, blond man inside. This strange man is casually reading a book and is wearing his clothes. To his surprise, the stranger claims to be an extraterrestrial. He also claims that he has crashed-landed on Earth.
This stranger is Baka Ki El Dogra, the crown prince of the planet Dogra. He is supposedly stranded. Furthermore, he has revealed himself to be one of the hundreds of aliens that have already made Earth their home.
Despite his regal roots, the prince is a notorious cosmic idiot who delights in causing people pain for his fun. Nobody is safe from him, whether he is administering ludicrous experiments, bestowing odd powers on random youngsters, or simply being a nuisance.
- Genres: Avant-Garde, Horror, Supernatural
- Other Titles: Theater of Darkness
- Studio: ILCA
- Score: 7.02 (Score Ranking: 3753rd)
- Popularity Ranking: 1756th
Are you up to get spooked and scared? Are you looking for a horror movie to make your hair stand up? Horror is something that is not quite explored in anime, compared to other genres like shounen, action, and romance. Still, Yamishibai delivers what it promises to deliver.
It spans over nine seasons as of the time of writing. Each season has an average of 13 episodes with a duration of four minutes each episode. Its first season aired in 2013, and its ninth season aired in 2021.
The Storyteller, who wears a yellow mask, is a mysterious person whose actual identity and origins are unknown. He emerges at twilight in a place where children meet. He then tells spooky stories based on Japanese urban legends, which his little audience listens to with bated breath.
The Storyteller, on the other hand, is not your typical storyteller. To add graphics to his already insane narrative, he uses a kamishibai, a Japanese paper-scrolling gadget.
Yami Shibai is a collection of short horror stories. It opens with a bachelor who is moving into a new flat. He feels an evil stare crushing into him. A solitary talisman hangs from his ceiling, but he has no idea it’s one of the only barriers between him and a terrible abyss of misery.
As the Storyteller’s audience is drawn into the nasty world of his words, each narrative becomes more scary, horrible, and disgusting than the last.
- Genres: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural (inadvertently, Comedy)
- Other Titles: Gakkou no Kaidan
- Studio: Studio Pierrot
- Score: 7.71 (Score Ranking: 1046th)
- Popularity Ranking: 1179th
Ghost Stories is not well-known by its fans because of its story or its art. Its actual saving grace is its English dub. Back when Ghost Stories first aired in Japan, it received negative feedback.
Yet, a Texas dub studio was handed the reins for the show’s English dub. Seeing that it did not do well in Japan, they did not take the dubbing seriously. So, what was the result? Comedy gold.
For diehard fans of the series, the English dub was a massacre to its original material. Many of the character dialogues were vastly different. Because of this, the characters’ personalities were different yet hilarious.
If you plan to watch a comedic masterpiece, watch the Ghost Stories but only the English dub. The show has only one season, airing from October 22, 2000, to March 25, 2001.
Siblings Satsuki and Keiichirou Miyanoshita are in the process of recovering from their mother’s death. The family decides to move to their mother’s hometown.
However, they discover that the school in this new residence is haunted. They discover that ghosts are real, and they roam the land. With the help of their newfound friends and their mysterious pet cat, they aim to survive the perils of the ghosts.
Again, I recommend watching the English dub. When you do so, the story becomes the least of your concerns.
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: Wit Studio
- Score: 7.44 (Score Ranking: 1828th)
- Popularity Ranking: 1367th
HAL is not like many of the recommendations in this list. This is because HAL is a movie, not a series. Still, it is anime content that one can watch. It is a romance-focused anime movie released on June 8, 2013.
It was made by Wit Studio, the same studio that delivered Attack on Titan. The movie has a duration of one hour, so be sure to ready your popcorn and sodas.
Kurumi is a lovely young lady whose cherished lover, Hal, was killed in a plane crash. She spirals into a deep depression. As a result, she confines herself in a small house, unhappy and despondent.
This soon changes when her grandfather seeks the assistance of Q01, a humanoid robot. Posing as Hal, he is programmed to take care and comfort Kurumi.
He is dispatched to Kurumi’s residence to rescue her from her sorrow. Despite her initial reluctance, Kurumi gradually opens up to Hal and breaks free from her despair as Hal comes day after day and intensifies his efforts.
But there’s more to Hal than meets the eye, and these two will soon discover an unexpected reality about this human-android partnership.
Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW
- Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Space
- Other Titles: Uchuu Show e Youkoso
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
- Score: 7.33 (Score Ranking: 2263rd)
- Popularity Ranking: 3773rd
If you love the aesthetics of Hayao Miyazaki’s works like Spirited Away and Ponyo, then you might love Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW. Again, much like the previous recommendation, this is a feature anime film that lasts for two hours and 16 minutes.
It is visually pleasing as the setting looks like a fantasy wonderland. The studio that delivered this movie is A-1 Pictures, the same studio that delivered Sword Art Online, Your Lie in April, Blue Exorcist, and more.
In a certain remote mountain village, five elementary school children are camping as a way to spend their summer break.
While looking for their rabbit, they encounter an injured dog in a field with mysterious crop circles. The dog recovers back to good health after the children take care of him. He then reveals that he can talk. He is Pochi Rickman. He is an alien researcher collecting data about Earth’s plant life.
Thankful for the children’s efforts, he offers to take them to the moon. When the children arrive, they discover that the moon has a hidden alien city. All of them start to explore this new and exciting land. Yet the government of the moon learns that Pochi Rickmanwas injured during his stay on Earth. They restrict the travel between the moon and Earth. This leaves the children with a problem; they cannot go home.
The Eccentric Family
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Supernatural
- Other Titles: Uchouten Kazoku
- Studio: P.A. Works
- Score: 7.89 (Score Ranking: 761st)
- Popularity Ranking: 1203rd
The Eccentric Family, also known as Uchouten Kazoku, is an anime series praised for having one of the most interesting world-building and backstories.
According to those who have witnessed this underrated show, it has fascinating characters and interactions between them. So far, it only has two seasons. The first season contains 13 episodes, while the second one has 12. The first season aired from July 7, 2013, to September 29, 2013.
Years have passed, and now Kyoto is populated by mythical creatures such as tanukis and tengus. They have learned how to live among humans. Plus, the people are not aware of their existence at all. Yasaburou Shimogamo is a member of a powerful tanuki family.
He has been observing humanity for a while with his shapeshifting abilities. He is also taking care of an old tengu and dealing with Benten, a peculiar woman.
Yet this family has a tragic past. Years back, Yasaburou’s father was killed by a gang of humans called the Friday Fellows. Their father was also the head of the tanuki community.
Now wary to avoid dealing with the same fate, he and his brothers are very careful with their moves. Meanwhile, the family is slightly getting closer to knowing the truth of the loss of their father.
The Twelve Kingdoms
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Supernatural
- Other Titles: Juuni Kokuki
- Studio: Studio Pierrot
- Score: 8.04 (Score Ranking: 502nd)
- Popularity Ranking: 1375th
Historical fantasy stories are a pleasant sight to see, like Inuyasha. However, some of these stories are not as famous as the one mentioned. Yet, these unfamiliar shows still deserve a spot in the limelight.
One such show is The Twelve Kingdoms, also known as Juuni Kokuki. It is an anime adaptation of a manga of the same name. It only has one season, but it contains 45 episodes. It aired from April 9, 2002, to August 30, 2003.
Youko Nakajima has always wished to be ordinary. But for many reasons, she is not. She is the class president, does what her superiors require her to do, and gets high marks. She even helps her classmates when she can. Yet, she has never fit in because of her red hair.
Youko’s pushover demeanor allows peers to exploit her, and as a result, she has no one she can truly call a friend. One day, a mysterious blond-haired man arrives in their classroom. He suddenly bows before her.
His name is Keiki, and he tells Youko that she is his master. He also tells her that she is the rightful heir to their kingdom’s crown. Their initial encounter, however, is interrupted.
Otherworldly creatures known as youma are pursuing Keiki. Both of them manage to escape to Keiki’s realm. Surprisingly, their escape entangles two other classmates along. On top of that, their escape separates Keiki from these three. Now, they must learn to defend themselves.
- Genres: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Slice of Life, Sports
- Other Titles: Fishing Ball
- Studio: A-1 Pictures
- Score: 7.68 (Score Ranking: 1129th)
- Popularity Ranking: 1174th
For many who have watched this show, Tsuritama will exceed your expectations. Are you up for a show featuring fun adventures among friends? This series might just lure you in.
Tsuritama is an anime adaptation of a manga with the same name. It only has one season so far with 12 episodes. The show aired from April 13, 2012, to June 29, 2012. Be prepared to fall in love with the characters, the visuals, and the story.
Yuki Sanada has always felt like an outsider in his skin. He struggles to fit in with his environment. He is a boy who is socially uncomfortable and insecure. He goes from town to town with his grandmother. Yuki aspires for a new beginning when he and his grandmother relocate into the picturesque beach town of Enoshima.
Suddenly, something jeopardizes his reputation at school. It is the presence of fellow transfer student Haru.
Haru makes an initial impression, proclaiming himself to be an extraterrestrial and professing Yuki to be his buddy.
He assigns the ludicrous duty of protecting the planet from a strange peril in the water to the hesitant Yuki and their classmate and fishing prodigy, Natsuki Usami. As these three go on a colorful voyage packed with jokes, heart, and self-discovery, mischief and hilarity ensue!
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
- Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Sports
- Other Titles: N/A
- Studio: P.A. Works
- Score: 7.30 (Score Ranking: 2428th)
- Popularity Ranking: 1574th
People have fallen in love with anime catgirls. People have fallen in love with dog girls. However, have you heard of horse girls? Uma Musume: Pretty Derby is a weird premise for a show with cute girls. Still, it delivers light-hearted fun and thrilling sports.
So far, it has two seasons. Its first season has 13 episodes and aired from April 2, 2018, to June 18, 2018. Meanwhile, its second season also has 13 episodes and aired from January 5, 2021, to March 30, 2021.
In a parallel world, horse races are also still relevant. Yet weirdly enough, famous racehorses have reincarnated as cute horse girls! Starting a new life in their new form, they continue on their passion for racing. They hope to experience once again the success they have been through.
One certain horse girl, Special Week, aims to become the best horse girl in Japan. She moved to Tokyo to enroll in Tracen Academy.
Tracen Academy is an institution that trains horse girls like Special Week. They make sure that these horse girls become better at racing. While in the academy, Special Week witnesses a horse girl named Silence Suzuka. Upon seeing her, she admires her fancy running style.
She becomes inspired to be like her. Luck catches up to her as she finds herself recruited into Silence Suzuka’s team, Spica. So, her journey to become the best starts one lap at a time.
Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?
- Genres: Slice of Life
- Other Titles: Uchitama?! Have you seen my Tama?
- Studio: MAPPA, Lapin Track
- Score: 6.94 (Score Ranking: 4051st)
- Popularity Ranking: 4076th
If you want a cute and simple anime series with mindless fun, Uchi Tama is the anime for you. The show features cute dog/catgirls and boys, as well as dog girls and boys. The story is pretty straightforward and not convoluted at all.
This is a very child-friendly show. It simply features pets as anime characters doing cute things. Uchi Tama only has one season, having 11 episodes. The show aired from January 10, 2020, to March 20, 2020.
In a certain city in Japan, cats and dogs roam Third Street. A flyer passes by. Printed on it is a cat with a twisted tail with the words, “have you seen Tama?” A cat whizzes past the poster, except it is not a cat.
It is a young boy with fluffy ears! It turns out, the cats and dogs in Third Street are human in form. The show introduces several characters with vastly different personalities.
The show’s main appeal is not the story, but the interactions with each character. They often switch from human form to animal form. This depends on the situation. The art style is cute and aesthetically pleasing. If you are aiming for an anime show without a complicated storyline, watch Uchi Tama now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: People consider a show underrated if it has a low score yet is subjectively good. People also consider a show underrated if it is not famous among the public even though it should be. However, if you are asking if the entire medium of anime is underrated, then no. There are a lot of shows that garner a lot of viewers.
Answer: It depends on what your preferences are. This list is pretty subjective, but they can be considered underrated.
The anime series listed here are compiled from my personal opinions, opinions from friends, and opinions from the internet. Honestly, there is a lot of underrated anime to watch, so give the shows on this list a try.
Answer: Anime shows, in general, are not underrated. Shows like One Piece, Naruto, My Hero Academia, Dragon Ball, and many others garner millions of viewers.
However, there are a lot of them that only a few people have seen. This small number of anime shows that not many have watched can be considered underrated shows
To recap, here are the 11 underrated anime mentioned here that you should give a try:
- Tiger & Bunny
- Level E
- Ghost Stories
- Welcome to the SPACE SHOW
- The Eccentric Family
- The Twelve Kingdoms
- Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
- Uchi Tama?! Uchi no Tama Shirimasen ka?
Are you low on time? If you are, I recommend you should watch the short shows first. It can be anime shows that have the least amount of episodes. There are also shows with the least amount of seasons. There are even shows with the shortest duration.
Level E only has one season with 13 episodes. Tsuritama also has only one season with 12 episodes. The anime movies (i.e., HAL and Welcome to the SPACE SHOW) are good contenders.
HAL has a duration of at least an hour, roughly four to five episodes of your average anime shows. Meanwhile, Welcome to the SPACE SHOW has a duration of two hours. Yamishibai has very short episodes, being only four minutes per episode.
However, keep in mind that it has nine seasons. Still, you can watch this since the stories are not connected. Uchi Tama is another good one. It only has 11 episodes and is just light-hearted fun.
But if you want a long experience, you can watch Tiger & Bunny, The Eccentric Family, Uma Musume, or The Twelve Kingdoms. Tiger & Bunny’s first season has 25 episodes. It has a sequel movie, a side story movie, and more. So, the series has a lot of content that you can spend your time on.
The Eccentric Family and Uma Musume have two seasons each. The Twelve Kingdoms only has one season, but it has 45 episodes.
If you are looking for a comedic tone, Level E, The Eccentric Family, Tsuritama, and Uma Musume are good picks. The English dub of Ghost Stories is also very hilarious. However, its type of humor is not your typical humor in anime shows.
So, you can give it a try and watch it for yourself. Uchi Tama is also fun with comedic scenes. If you are looking for a horror show, though, then you should watch Yamishibai.
If you are thirsting for some action, you should watch Tiger & Bunny and The Twelve Kingdoms. Both of these shows feature action-packed scenes. If you are looking for a unique experience, Yamishibai has a unique art style, while Welcome to the SPACE SHOW gives off a Hayao Miyazaki film vibes.
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