Top 30 Most Underrated Anime Series Of All TimeThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
It’s easy to find popular anime recommendations for almost every genre.
Yet with so much anime out there, it’s easy to overlook some real gems that don’t get the attention they deserve.
I’d argue there’s actually a lot of anime shows that fly under-the-radar, yet most fans would love them if they knew about them.
Or at the very least, quite a few shows that deserve a fair shot for the hardcore anime fans out there.
Overall we just want to be entertained. And any anime that has something great to enjoy, well I say it just needs more recognition.
If you’re looking to explore some underrated anime across many genres then here’s a list of my recommendations to check out. Some titles you may know, some you might not. Either way, enjoy the journey!
30. Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru
A young man meets a girl who has a hobby of examining bone specimens.
A pretty creepy premise, but somehow the series finds a way to makes this not so creepy.
Actually it’s presented more as an interesting mystery series.
The problem is that the series has some missing points so this entire show has never really grabbed people’s attention.
Still, it does have interesting points in how different bones are “investigated” and teaches a little something along the way.
Now it’s a rather low key anime but it’s a rather decent watch for the mystery. It’s a series that you could watch if you feel up for a different sort of mystery work.
Note: In English this goes by the name “Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation”.
29. Gugure! Kokkuri-san
You know those anime that seem “in your face” but never really go anywhere?
It’s more common with comedies and I think this is one of them.
What makes Gugure! Kokkuri-san an underrated work is that it has good characters and a solid amount of jokes and gags.
Though it’s mostly a comedy, the series does have a good amount of emotional moments as well. Worth a watch if you can enjoy the sense of humor here.
Not to mention a tale involving a self-proclaimed doll and a fox ghost makes for a rather interesting ride.
28. Ushio and Tora
Missing the classic style and feel of original anime? Get your fill with this series.
There’s plenty of the classic features to go around, from the stubborn hero with a stubborn partner to some rather intense action scenes.
Granted since this anime is a bit old it may not leave as much impact as you would think.
The fact that it has plenty of classic shounen vibes is nice, but we already have a number of solid shounen pieces. What makes this one different is how it takes characters and clichés and makes them really work. This will keep you entertained at the very least.
A young boy finding a powerful spirit isn’t new, but the series makes it unique in its own way.
27. Welcome to NHK
The tale of a hikikomori character can either be made into a drama or a dark sort of comedy.
This is a series that combines both of those ideas via a male protagonist named Tatsuhiro Satou, who holds a theory that he is being forced as a NEET due to an evil organization.
It’s a bit of a wild ride all things considered. And there’s a bit of a cringe factor to it.
At the same time though, it explores the struggles of one who wants to change their state of living. Moreso in a comedic way, but still also leaves you thinking. For sure this is a rather entertaining watch.
26. Flip Flappers
Magical girls anime are always a classic, but this one managed to slip under the radar.
Flip Flappers features two girls who are dragged into another dimension and must battle against evil forces. The series is rather cute with a weird backdrop.
It’s a somewhat confusing series too, with a unique world and an overall well known scenario.
The thing that stands out is that it utilizes the world that it introduces in many different ways. Magic, mystery, adventure, it’s got everything.
This is a colorful show that could have gotten more attention if it wasn’t for the rather generic idea it presents on the surface. But watching through it you’ll notice it’s anything but generic.
A mystery series involving people with special powers doesn’t seem that new, but this series gives a bit of a twist to that theme.
Essentially it tells of a pair named Nice and Mursaki who run a private investigative agency. Each episode features their cases.
Most of this can be boiled down to superpowered characters facing different private eye cases.
And it does this well while managing to keep it’s mystery strong, along with keeping you hooked on both the tensions and twists.
While Hamatora has more of a “superpowered characters” theme to it, the fact that it takes a mix of a mystery theme is a nice mix from the usual.
At first glance you would think that this is another typical “moe” anime featuring the antics of a group of girls.
But that’s not what this is. This is a series that not only features photography in a different light, but has a female cast following the thoughtful perspective of a young girl on life.
It completely flips the whole cute girls doing cute things idea.
Rather it’s a calming anime that follows how a young girl named Sawatari Fuu finds joy and beauty through photography.
Being an OAV it’s rather short, but it’s totally worth a watch. As a sit back and chill piece if nothing else.
23. Angels of Death
Angels of Death is a series based off of a rather obscure game, and not much else.
So it isn’t surprising that the series ended up going fairly unknown outside of folks who know the game.
But it’s a surprisingly striking series from the get go.
You’re dropped into a mystery that brings the chills quick. There’s so much to question in this series that you’ll need to watch the next episode, and the next, and the next…
There’s no real hero or antagonist since the stories vary a lot. Protagonists Zack and Angel pretty much bring you on a wild ride involving crazy characters and a mystery of missing memories.
It could have been better in some parts, but overall it’s a different sort of series to check out with a lot of craziness.
22. Space Dandy
It’s safe to say that this is a pretty wacky series.
With some oddities and randomness I find it easy to believe that this slipped through the cracks of anime pop culture.
Still, there is a lot to find interesting things to check out in the series.
And there is of course the different worlds that Dandy explores and the characters he meets. These are a lot of fun for creative writers or artists who gather inspiration from anime shows.
As random and wacky as the series is, I think it’s got some good character moments and thoughtful scenes too.
This is the sort of series that you watch for fun or to explore some new creative ideas. It may not stand out to you even after you’re done but at least a few parts will be memorable.
21. Zombie Loan
Every heard of an old show about wacky zombies?
Well this series covers the topic by using a girl who could see her time before death, and two undead males who are trapped by a contract.
Actually, it’s debatable whether this series is underrated.
On one hand, it gives a different take to zombies. On the other hand, it had quite the amount of fanservice to it.
It does have some solid action and fun characters to enjoy. You could say that Zombie Loan is more of an acquired taste, especially with how short it is.
Still, it’s a fun series that gives a different approach on zombies in media and makes for a unique addition to your watch list.
There are all kinds of anime that take on unique themes.
But a fishing anime is not something you would think could work well. Just writing it feels weird.
Now to be fair, it might not be for everyone. But Tsuritama does catch your eye with its bright colors and art style.
It’s one of those anime that few know about, but it has a good story and characters if you can get into it.
Being a short series you wouldn’t think it would offer much in development. But it has a heartwarming side to it for sure.
19. Silver Spoon
An agriculture anime. Not the most exciting idea, but like with any underrated anime, a weird premise can actually lead to something interesting.
The story features the journey of one Yuugo Hachiken in the unfamiliar world of an agricultural school.
This is a rather fun series that explores what it means to work with agriculture. Yes I know that doesn’t sound fun but you have to trust me on this one.
Plus it even has some interesting cooking moments if you’re into that as well.
I’d summarize Silver Spoon as a fun little fish out of water type of story.
What makes the series stand out though is how it presents the ways different people develop and grow. It’s a somewhat insightful watch even if you only check out a few episodes.
18. Princess Principal
When you think about it, there’s not a whole lot of anime shows that fully feature a spy story.
And with many “edgy” series featuring a full female cast popping up nowadays, it’s easy to see how Princess Principal got a bit passed over.
However the series has a lot more layers to it than you would expect.
With the storytelling out of order it only adds to the mystery as you go along.
And it also helps that the action scenes are brilliant. There’s a lot of ingenuity to be found with the story so I think it’s really well written.
It’s like on big jigsaw puzzle and each episode leaves you guessing in some way.
17. Rozen Maiden
A premise involving dolls coming to life and battling one another. It may seem rather strange, but I guess not in the anime world.
The overall gothic style of the dolls and their battles really is a pleasure to watch. Just great animation.
Plus Rozen Maiden mixes a solid amount of emotional and dark moments together.
At the same time, though, it somehow finds a way to be mostly lighthearted by having more humor throughout.
This has a rather classic anime feel with an original plot and not too many clichés. There aren’t a lot of anime that take on a gotham theme either, so this is a different kind of story and setting.
16. Tiger and Bunny
One could say that this series is another version of Boku no Hero Academia but with a different focus.
While Tiger and Bunny has a solid amount of fans, it did not become as big of a hit when you compare it to other shounen anime.
What makes the series so cool is that it takes a look at how heroes would work in a modern world.
It’s not often you see a middle aged male protagonist working as a hero.
There’s a solid balance between the action and drama, and even exploration of different character stories. Just the different perspective of a hero and the struggles of being one in the modern world: really worth a watch if you can get into it.
15. Hell Girl
I’ll admit that Hell Girl has gotten more notice over the years, but there was a time when this anime was for sure underrated and unknown.
Mainly because there were larger animes that were released at the time that overshadowed this one.
As a horror series, it takes an interesting look at people wanting revenge. Essentially, Hell Girl is someone who can be summoned at midnight for those who wish to send someone to hell.
Like anything, there is a price.
That’s what makes the series so interesting. Different stories are featured in each episode but it explores many various ideas, psyches, and endings.
Plus it ties together the mystery of Hell Girl/Enma Ai as well. A thought-provoking anime to say the least.
If you’re looking for a series the completely flips the concept of youkai and spirits, check out Mononoke.
Well, not completely, but it’s very different from what we have today.
For one thing, the “rules” and spirits introduced and what they are contrast to how spirits “work”.
Another thing to admire is the art style.
This show takes from a style similar of traditional Japanese art, but with a twist.
One could say that the series ended up being lesser-known because it didn’t have the biggest of plots(they are somewhat predictable at times).
Still, it has a lot of hooks to keep you engaged with a unique art style and some brilliant animation wrapped up over some neat mystery storylines.
13. Flying Witch
At first glance, this is a rather low key slice of life fantasy.
Like all underrated anime though, there’s a lot more to it than it seems.
There’s no doubt that this is a rather laid back series so it’s an easy watch. However it’s also a healing anime that features supernatural/fantasy themes without making things too complicated.
There’s no heavy drama or plots regarding the fantasy side. And that makes the series stand out from others in the genre.
Just the way it explores magic in a care-free way adds to the charm.
Quite a relaxing fantasy series that’ll be fun to watch once in a while.
12. Shounen Maid
A young boy is turned into the maid of his rich uncle.
It’s not actually as bad as it sounds.
Yes, the general premise of the series may come off as rather questionable but it’s surprisingly more of a solid family story.
I do admit that I can see why it’s underrated, but the story is more heartwarming than you’d think.
There’s not as much randomness or weird anime moments as you would expect. Sure, there is some good comedy throughout… as you can imagine with this type of storyline.
But what makes Shounen Maid so enjoyable is how it depicts the family relationship between protagonist Chihiro and his uncle.
If you want to watch this series for anything, watch it for the character dynamics and relationship development.
11. Kids on the Slope
For anyone who’s into jazz, this is a series to watch.
It’s a bit low on the radar considering how it was released during what could be called an “off season” for new anime.
Yet the series does a lot in featuring great jazz music and fantastic character development.
It’s got some classic drama to it as well, but it’s presented in a way that isn’t cliché.
It tells the story of two males of opposite personalities befriending one another through jazz. There’s also a rather retro feel to the series that adds to the charm.
But I think the one thing that’ll keep you hooked & watching more, even beyond the great music, is the characters’ relationship development.
10. Big Windup
Ever seen with a sports anime that deals with a highly anxious protagonist?
Well this one does, and it’s a rather well-done series too.
Since it doesn’t dish out many exciting sporting moments, Big Windup ended up on the backburner of the sports anime genre.
Yet what makes the series so good is the way it fleshes out characters and situations.
Sure it has expected comedy and sports clichés but the depth of the main characters are what stands out to me.
Deep but low-key would be the best way to describe this series.
Mushishi explores a different sort of spirit called “mushi” and brings a thoughtful side to the supernatural genre.
Essentially it uses this as an exploration of man’s relationship to nature.
Being a rather slow anime, it doesn’t stand out all that much to be honest. But it does offer a different take to the idea of spirits which I find really cool.
You could say that this is a rather soft series because gives different stories with each episode. But I like it because you can pick it up almost anywhere.
In short, this is a different sort of supernatural series that features nature and delivers a good amount of feels to boot.
8. Dennou Coil
Not many may know this series. But it’s one of the first anime that tackled augmented reality (outside of maybe Ghost in the Shell).
Basically it shows how virtual reality could affect the real world.
In a way, it was pretty ahead of its time. A reason that the series is rather underrated is for its admittedly slow first half.
Though slow, there is a draw into the series with its mystery and characters if you keep watching.
There’s a solid build-up to more high-stakes moments but you’ll need to sit through a few episodes to get there.
In summary: it’s a group of kids investigating a case of disappearing people. Nut there is a depth to the mystery and the characters so if you have time give this a try.
7. Death Parade
Fascinated by the idea of purgatory and life after death? Then you’re gonna love Death Parade.
Set in a world where there is no heaven or hell, but rather a bar to decide your fate in the afterlife, this is a completely different take on death. And a really thought provoking idea too.
The series isn’t well known as much because I think it caters to a smaller audience. But once you start watching you can’t help but be drawn in with its mystery vibe and general dark style.
It’s a very character-driven show that plays on human nature and features a mystery with its protagonists.
There’s no doubt that the series is dark, but if you ask me that’s one of the main draws.
6. Samurai Flamenco
A young man aims to become a superhero.
A pretty standard shounen idea, but what makes this one stand out is that Masayoshi Hazama has no special abilities and more often than not gets into trouble.
It may seem like a whacky comedy involving an unlucky protagonist, but the series shows solid development as it progresses.
This is a show where you honestly don’t know what to expect. And that’s what makes it both confusing and great. Just depends what you’re looking for in an anime series.
Be prepared to basically be dropped into this show because that’s how this story works, and I know that not everyone likes that.
In this world, one can live forever by storing their memories in chips.
Except we’re seeing this story through the eyes of someone who has no memories. Cool right?
There’s no denying that the series is weird, but it also introduces a completely different world unlike any other.
Each episode brings different stories that all have something thought provoking to them.
I’m not sure why this didn’t get as much attention as it should have, but again I think maybe it’s too obscure to attract a large audience.
There’s a lot to enjoy here though: the unique art style, the expansive world, and the general mystery of the story that sucks you in from episode one.
4. Ergo Proxy
A cyberpunk theme that doesn’t feel overdone, how refreshing.
Ergo Proxy is a rather complex piece so I can see why it is a lesser known anime. But it has some great artwork and a relatively unique story.
Actually you could call the series rather experimental with the mix of genres it has, along with a setting in a post-apocalyptic world with elaborate “domes”/cities and humanoid robot beings.
The show is quite a journey where you either fall or settle into its depth.
It’s a tale of self-discovery with different characters and some romance mixed in.
3. Eden of the East
There has to be an endless number of anime that feature a survival theme.
This one is rather different. It’s not just a survival theme, but a survival game.
Featuring a young man named Takizawa Akira; he along 12 other contestants are tasked to make use of 10 billion yen to save Japan.
The series gives an interesting mix of survival, politics, and psychological suspense as it shows how different characters are affected in this “free for all game”.
There is so much depth to the series and it leaves you at the edge of your seat. I wish I had found out about it sooner than I did. Definitely give the pilot a watch and see what you think.
2. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
This overshadowed series gives us a strong female lead with a really engaging plot.
It’s a tale of impending destruction involving a call for a savior, a demon possessed prince, and a female mercenary tasked to protect him.
Just these factors alone pique my interest.
Now it’s not often that you see a truly unique female protagonist like Balsa. Maybe a little much on the praise but this essentially gives a reverse to the “rescue the princess” scenario, and it makes for a refreshing change.
The series was not given much attention before but I think it deserves a little spotlight here.
1. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
This anime is all about a kid that’s forced to grow up fast through trauma. Pretty common theme but this takes the point to a whole other level.
In this story, a young girl named Mirai finds herself learning how to survive alongside her younger brother in the face of a magnitude 8 earthquake.
This is a completely different anime from the rest of the entries in how striking it is. Especially considering this show was created in 2009, just two years prior to the 2011 earthquake that measured at a 9.0.
For sure this is an emotional ride that conveys so much in just eleven episodes. You get to imagine how people deal with the aftermath of a large earthquake like this, and in its own right this series offers a somber remembrance of how rough mother nature can be.
This won’t be for everyone but if you give it a try I think you’ll at least appreciate the concept.