MAL Ranking #617, Score 7.94
melodius: When you first hear “Edo” and “samurai”, you think of high octane sword fights fought between feudal lords and their retainers, right? Well, House of Five Leaves is a far cry from that. It’s a more thoughtful, poignant story about a man called Yaichi, leader of a gang known as “Five Leaves”. His story is told from the point of view of a naive rounin known as Akitsu Masanosuke. Lacking a master, Masanosuke becomes a bodyguard to Yaichi and, naturally, becomes curious about Five Leaves’ leader and its members. Twelve episodes may seem short here but they’re all packed with exactly what you need in order to make sense of the narrative.
House of Five Leaves isn’t for those looking for a straightforward plotline or straightforward characters. Not surprising, you might think, knowing my tastes. I consider this series to be underrated due to the lack of impression it seems to have made - drowned out, you could say, by other series that broadcast concurrently in its season (e.g. Angel Beats, K-On!, to name a few). What struck me about House of Five Leaves is the excellent way it misleads the viewer. A hint dropped here, a hint dropped there: all containing some new revelation but nothing which is the whole, unvarnished truth. It paints a world where outward impressions are a layer of lies, not strict divides of black or white.
If you watch this, don’t go into it thinking you’ll get immediate satisfaction. Like many good things, it’s something that’s worth the wait and the patience.
HoyvinGlavin64: Good pick. And if you enjoy this anime, I definitely recommend Natsume Ono’s manga work in general (cries over Not Simple).
Littoface: Samurai anime are generally not my thing, but this sounds like an anime that stands out among the rest. It's too bad gems like this are often overlooked because they're not bright and sunny, and full of cute girls.
Scamp: I did watch this and thought it was all right, but it never stuck with me. Not that I can’t enjoy a thoughtful historical anime every once in a while (Rakugo Shinjuu is my current frontrunner for Anime of the Year 2016). I think I might not like Natsume Ono’s work that much as I have tried Not Simple and that didn’t do it for me either.
Kami_nomi: I’m pretty sure I was supposed to read the manga of this, and yet have not made time to do so. Maybe I can make up for it by watching the anime one day.
Enzo: This was top show of 2010, and for me the pinnacle of Manglobe’s Quixotic catalog. It’s well-regarded by almost everyone who’s seen it so in that sense it may not be “underrated”, but it’s certainly under-appreciated. This is a series that deserves to be much more widely-known than it is, one of the highlights of Mochizuki Tomomi’s great career.
Jankenpopp: You might like Katanagatari if you’re down for a patiently paced samurai show. And like House of Five Leaves, you’ll be disappointed if you go into it with impatience.
MAL Ranking #2888, Score 7.12
melodius: There’s divided opinion over whether this anime is any good. Its confusing storyline spans the course of a thousand years and focuses on the enduring relationship between the main character, Kurou, and a mysterious woman he meets in a forest, Kuromitsu. Despite its low rating, its popularity ranking of #1065 suggests it’s not entirely disliked. This series is based upon a manga adaptation of a light novel, so there’s a chance that a little substance got lost between interpretations but I unfortunately can’t say whether that’s the case or not.
Regardless, unlike House of Five Leaves, I would say Kurozuka is both underrated and underappreciated. It’s no masterpiece of fiction but it tells a story which you don’t see often in anime these days. If you want a taste of unconventional romance twisted with a bit of dark fantasy, I’d recommend giving this a shot.
Littoface: Wow I would not have guessed from the cover image over on MAL that this is a romance. It sounds like an odd mix of a bunch of genres.
Jankenpopp: Well, I’m a sucker for historical fiction and doomed romance, so color me intrigued.
melodius: From what I remember while watching it, the romance wasn’t obvious but it was the reason for why events played out the way they did. I guess you could say it’s odd by most standards.
Scamp: Relatively little known fact: It’s by the director of Death Note and Attack on Titan. Also has an awesome OP by that crazy death metal band that did the second Death Note OP. I did watch Kurozuka back when it came out originally but feck if I can remember anything about my opinions on it beyond that it was very visually striking.
MAL Ranking #5247, Score 6.47
Jankenpopp: I’m glad this one’s a short, because the premise isn’t a firm foundation for a full-length show. No pun is. An idol group with literal idols? Even I, with a stupid sense of humor on my good days, thought it was a monumentally stupid idea. But you don’t have to be stoned to enjoy Sekkou Boys. It takes a creative mind to bust out a story around inanimate objects. Whether our stars—St. George, Mars, Hermes, and Medici—are rocking a show or weathering the temper of their statue-hating manager, you’ll be surprised to find that their unchanging expressions always fit the situation. Mythological and historical jokes aren’t for everyone, but the Rockies’ personalities are bolder than one might expect, whether or not you know who they’re based on. And though the show’s format makes it short on plot, it expands hilariously on a setting with talking rocks (full-body living statues, anyone?), teasing a larger world beyond our fab four and wrapping up with an unexpectedly sweet finale that will chisel at your heart.
Littoface: An anime full of references to old cultures!? How did I not know this existed until now!
Scamp: Sekkou Boys is the best idol anime. Also if you like anime shorts with chiseled Roman figures, I highly recommend Thermae Romae.
HoyvinGlain64: Watched a couple of these. Seems like a one-joke show, but with such short episodes I can’t complain about that, and the joke’s pretty creative.
melodius: I do like me some historical/mythological references so maybe I’ll have to consider giving this a watch!
Kami_nomi: You’d think there could be nothing wrong with a show that’s a short and has statues in its episodes, so...it should be worth my time.
MAL Ranking #4623, Score 6.66
Jankenpopp: Look, it doesn’t take a lot to amuse me. You could make me laugh just by reading one of my sentences with the first and last words switched. But some shows thrive on simplicity, and Wakako-zake is one of them. At two minutes an episode, one can blow through it in the time it takes to watch one episode of a regular anime. But Wakako Murasaki is - in that limited time - one of the more compelling protagonists of the Summer 2015 Season. On their own, the glimpses we get of her office job might warrant their own full-length show, but the viewer isn’t here for Wakako the salarywoman. The real meat of the series is in Wakako’s dining habits. A connoisseur of Japan’s cafes, Wakako finds sumptuous meals in the most unassuming of places. Good shows teach as well as entertain, and Wakako’s love for good food breaks down exactly why and how her preferred dishes should be enjoyed. Her restaurant jaunts are a little like the show itself come to think of it: you may not like monkfish liver in ponzu, but one may appreciate its technical perfection despite personal preference. So it is with Wakako-zake: whether or not you’re looking for a food show, you can’t deny that they make you hungry. Whether that hunger is for more Wakako-zake or for yakitori is your decision.
Enzo: This was an excellent short - modestly budgeted but clever and amusing. Izakaya crawls are one of the real pleasure of Japanese daily life, and it was nice to see them celebrated on-screen like this.
Kami_nomi: Yeah, I plan on checking this and the live action out sometime soon. At least, I hope so!
Littoface: Food-themed anime tend to be absurdly over the top. It's nice to see a change of pace. And now my to-watch list is even longer…
**Scamp:*** Pshuu pshuuu
MAL Ranking #48, Score 8.66
Kami_nomi: So based on rankings maybe Rainbow’s more popular than I thought, yet in roaming the internet since 2011, I haven’t seen many people talk about this anime. I ended up watching Rainbow in 2013, since two of my writers on the site I write for recommended it without hesitation. I was blown away -- it does get a bit melodramatic in parts, but the story of 7 prisoners in 1950’s Japan who have to overcome great obstacles just to survive - and then deal with the aftermath - was great to watch. It’s very heartfelt, fairly brutal in moments, and manages to be very compelling despite its subject matter. If you watched Hunter x Hunter, the director of that work did this one. So expect to notice a few similarities if you get a chance to watch this one.
Littoface: I thought I knew most anime rated over 8.0, but this one comes in at an impressive 8.6 and I've never heard of it. It sounds too dramatic for me, but it's pretty hard to get that kind of drama right so kudos to them. Is this like a much more serious Deadland Wonderland, or are they not even comparable?
Kami_nomi: It’s not really comparable since Wonderland’s premise is built for more mainstream audiences (which immediately makes me think of The Hunger Games) and lacks the 'survival game' element. I think Mirai Nikki/Battle Royale work as better comparisons here. Rainbow’s a bit more mature as well.
Jankenpopp: I haven’t heard a lot of good things about present-day Japanese prison. Researching this show should be some interesting reading.
Scamp: I remember this. Surprised at how quickly it was forgotten because people seemed to really like it when it came out. I think this might be because the entire second half of the show was completely forgettable and really shouldn’t have been there in the first place. The finale happens halfway into the show and then it sorta potters around for the next half. That first half though is pretty great.
Kami_nomi: I’m very much a sucker for aftermath stuff, just to see how they’re rebuilding their lives, but I guess it’s understandable if the latter half isn’t seen as memorable.
melodius: It’s strange how more people don’t know about something apparently so popular and highly ranked… Maybe I was just in the wrong circles. I’ll need to give this a look as well.
MAL Ranking #1865, Score 7.41
Kami_nomi: I didn’t have any idea of what to expect when checking this out, only that; a blog duo recommended the first episode, that Area no Kishi - a soccer series - was OK, and I was on the lookout for sports anime since there’s not that many that air on TV. After finding out it was a kids show, i was surprised to find that the first few episodes weren't too bad. But then the more it continued, the more the actual aspects of the game, which Area no Kishi portrayed poorly, became interesting. The matches became more intense, and the characters, as annoying as some of them could be, became more memorable. Hell, they even had a special episode with actual national players! In the end, it’s hard to hate on an anime that had some random homeless person become the coach of a kids soccer team, and it’s hard to hate on an anime that manages to teach soccer’s nuances and provide compelling stories without being boring. This is a great anime, and if you give this a chance, you won’t regret it.
Scamp: I remember Ginga E Kickoff! The first episode had a guest appearance from a woman on the Japanese national women’s soccer team if I remember correctly. That was pretty cool.
Enzo: To paraphrase myself paraphrasing Roger Ebert, I love, love, love Ginga e Kickoff. It’s both one of the best anime about elementary-aged kids and one of the best sports anime ever. I don’t have children, but the level of emotional attachment one develops to these characters over 39 episodes feels almost paternal in nature. You laugh with them, cry with them, live and die with their successes and setbacks on the field and off. The soccer is quite realistic as well - no Shounen Jump power moves here. This series is just plain awesome - but a sports anime about sixth-graders just doesn't tick enough of the right boxes for Western audiences. That’s a shame, but those of us who love Ginga e Kickoff know just how special the experience of watching it is.
Jankenpopp: It seems like half the time I enjoy a show, it’s because of some goofy, larger-than-life moment that’s more meme-worthy than memorable. Memeorable, if you will. But a realistic soccer show—that I can get into. Ought to tide me over until the World Cup.
Littoface: I was about to write this one off as "just another sports anime" (which honestly, I don't quite get), but maybe I should give it a chance. Still not quite sold on the soccer theme though..
MAL Ranking: #2507, Score: 7.22
HoyvinGlavin64: There’s two different things people mean when they talk about something as “underrated”: it’s either something not enough people have seen, or something people don’t appreciate as much as they should. It’s easy to think of anime that fit the first definition like my other two picks. But almost everyone who’s actually seen those seem to like them. Flowers of Evil, on the other hand, is a show many people HATE. It was one of the lowest rated shows on MAL when it first aired (time has been kinder to it). Most of the complaints seemed to fall into one of two categories: either complaints about pacing or complaints about the animation. The complaints about pacing? Yeah, those are totally justified. I liked the show but sometimes it just crawled like a snail. The animation, however, is where I think the show’s kind of brilliant. Yes, it looks different than your typical anime. Yes, it’s kind of creepy. No, that doesn’t make it bad animation. For the effect they were going for, unnerving psychological horror, it’s extremely successful. The climactic scene where they trash the classroom is some of the most beautiful animation I’ve seen in a TV show. All those slow moments might have bored me to tears in a normal anime or a live-action show, but the ever-so-off animation combined with amazing music and sound work kept me intrigued throughout the slow stretches to make my way to the juicy drama.
Scamp: Put me in the category of people for whom the snail pacing became too much for. I really love the director, who has done Mushishi and Detroit Metal City. But I don’t know what inspired him to make an anime where only 1 thing was allowed to happen in each episode.
Kami_nomi: One of the greatest moments in anime was when they definitely trash the classroom, and I would tell everyone to go watch that entire episode no matter how much they dislike rotoscoping. The problem is, aside from that, the great music, and the unique rotoscoping effect, there’s little else to remember from this anime. To be fair, I wasn’t really feeling the manga adaption of it, so that might also be it. I’d only recommend this if you’re looking for something really different.
Jankenpopp: Sounds like a hentai, looks like Satoshi Kon, and the trailer reminds me of Marble Hornets. I’ve been thinking a lot about the annoying trend toward longer, more illustrative trailers in the American film industry, so it’s refreshing to see a show that sells itself on atmosphere. Sign me up.
Littoface: Oh I remember seeing this a few times and being curious because of the style but put off because of the story concept. From everyone's reactions though.. a Satoshi Kon styled hentai from the maker of Mushishi sounds absolutely amazing. Added.
melodius: I was eyeing it at the time it came out but decided not to watch it in the end (probably had too many on my plate; don’t we all). Also added.
MAL Ranking #109, Score 8.48
HoyvinGlavin64: Now this would be the other definition of “underrated.” While it doesn't have a large following, as you can see from the ranking and score, pretty much everyone who has seen Kino’s Journey loves it, and for good reason. It’s some of the best literary sci-fi in all of anime, its sense of beauty as calming as its parables of the darkness in human civilization. Its popularity ranking on MAL (#515 as of this writing) isn’t too bad but I wouldn’t be shocked if its MAL rankings account for everyone in the world who’s seen it (for context, the anime right next to it is something called “Magical Warfare”, which I barely heard a peep about when it aired and didn’t even remember existed until just now). It been consistently available on DVD (ADV and now Sentai have done their job of trying to push it, being on the original production committee), but it’s never caught on big. Some might reason that it was too arty for the typical anime fan, but that explanation doesn't quite fly considering that Ryutaro Nakamura’s previous series, Serial Experiments Lain, was at least as arty, much weirder, and less narratively accessible yet somehow was a much bigger hit. I love both shows, but Kino would be the one coming with me if I got stuck on a desert island.
Kami_nomi: I will watch this one day. No seriously, I will. So many people recommended this anime to me -- heck, I still remember a few people in my anime club claiming they’d defend this work to the death. It’s well heralded, well loved...I have to check it out.
melodius: Same here. I had it recommended to me back when I was researching for another article and it’s sitting in my backlog waiting for me to watch it.
Scamp: I’m one of those people who owns a DVD copy! Yup, Kino’s Journey is truly fantastic. It certainly got a lot of love in its day and for a fair few years afterwards. It was frequently compared to Mushishi. But post-2010 I don’t see too many new anime fans returning to it.
Jankenpopp: You know, Final Fantasy XV is right around the corner. I wonder if the devs were influenced by Kino’s Journey when putting together the road-trip story?
Littoface: Not to hate on Squeenix, Jankenpopp, but the idea of a road trip as a method of soul-searching is not exactly new! That's some recommendation there, though. Lain's been on my list for ages, and while I've seen this one around, I haven't been as tempted by it. Looks like that has to be amended.
MAL Ranking #1163, Score 7.64
HoyvinGlavin64: Here’s a show that got overlooked due to bad timing. 2008 was a low-point for anime stateside: licensors were closing, Toonami was canceled, and legal streaming hadn’t taken off yet. Shigofumi got lost in the shuffle, licensed by Bandai Visual right before they closed up shop, eventually finding itself released on DVD to little fanfare by a still struggling Sentai two years later. A shame, because it’s a very good philosophical supernatural thriller series. Director Tatsuo Sato is best known for comedies like Nadesico, so Shigofumi, with its serious depiction of rape, sucide, and mental illness, might seem uncharacteristic of him, but there’s a connection to be made in his credits: he was credited for “planning” on Kino’s Journey, and those who like that show will probably appreciate this one. Both feature young stoic female protagonists with quirky inanimate sidekicks, and both deal with various serious issues through episodic storylines, though Shigofumi develops more of an ongoing plot and character development.
Littoface: This one sounds too heavy for my tastes, but it's good to see anime tackling tough issues in a mature way.
Scamp: I have my issues with this show, but that one episode where the dude committed suicide just because he wondered what it would be like to die freaked me the hell out.
melodius: Sounds like my kind of thing. I don’t know the director but I can only hope those sensitive themes the anime deals with are treated respectfully…
Jankenpopp: I find that comedy and tragedy can come from the same part of an artist. Knowing how to make someone laugh is just as intimate as knowing what makes them cry. I’ll get on this one right after I finish Death Parade.
MAL Ranking #2711, Score: 7.17
Scamp: I will scream about Legend of Black Heaven from the rooftops until people finally start to go back and check out this fantastic forgotten anime. The story is about a bloke going through a midlife crisis. A sexy new co-worker of his invites him into anabandoned house only to reveal that he has to play the guitar to power an interplanetary super weapon to defend the Earth from evil aliens. It all acts as a metaphor for his midlife crisis and desire to recapture the passion he had in his youth. But it doesn’t act as wish-fulfillment escapism either as in his newfound position he fails whenever he tries to escape reality by imagining he’s back to being a rocking young adult again. It has some really fantastic directorial chops behind it with fantastic use of color and framing. It has one of the best anime openings of all time and a generally fantastic OST. It has a hilariously literal subtitle with Hard Rock Save The Space. It’s not perfect but goddamn is it one of my favourite anime of all time.
Littoface: This sounds like an adult version of FLCL. But.. more disturbing from the looks of the opening.
HoyvinGlavin64: That opening is pretty badass. Oh, and I just realized I’ve actually seen a minute of this. It was… this:
melodius: Wow that’s...some effort there with the dubbing, pffft. I’m not sure it’s something I’d like to watch but wow.
Kami_nomi: I’m trying to process the OP and wondering whether or not it’s the weirdest OP I’ve ever seen or if it's the best. Maybe that’s a sign I should...try an episode?
Jankenpopp: Looks rough, but I’m spoiled by the generally smoother animation of post-90s anime. This one sounds like everything I wanted One Punch Man to be.
MAL Ranking #2759, Score: 7.16
Scamp: My taste tends to be pretty mainstream and there’s very little from the past few years I really loved that wasn’t appreciated on some level by anime fandom. This is why I’ve found myself digging back into older anime to find underappreciated gems that fans really should not have forgotten. You would think an anime written by Katsuhiro Otomo, the creator of Akira, and was one of the first anime that anime legend Satoshi Kon worked on wouldn’t be forgotten, but that’s what’s happened to Roujin Z. The story is about a future where Japan finds itself burdened by an overload of elderly people so they try to come up with new technology to ease the problem. A company invents a robot bed that takes care of a senior citizen’s every need, freeing up time for nurses across the country. The whole anime is very darkly humorous; a perfect example of this is the dehumanizing way the main character’s grandfather is treated in front of a room full of impressed scientists, politicians and journalists - the machine he’s in washes him, feeds him, and helps him relieve himself before putting him to sleep for the night. However the machine goes out of control and eventually leads to a dramatic, cross-country chase involving the police, military, hospital workers, and a whole host of elderly hackers attempting to derail the whole operation. It’s genuinely funny while offering cutting satire of society’s attitude towards accommodating the elderly that only becomes more relevant as Japan’s demographic becomes more ancient.
HoyvinGlavin64: Haven’t had the chance to see this but it sounds amazing.
Littoface: Having watched Tokyo Godfathers, which is my favorite Satoshi Kon work, this sounds like something right up my alley. This seems like a must-watch just to see the beginnings of Kon's themes meshing with the mind behind Akira. I'm definitely surprised it's so unknown!
melodius: This...sounds like they took a scene out of Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack (the chapter with the robotically-manned hospital) and made a series out of it. Sounds intriguing though!
Kami_nomi: “...was one of the first anime that anime legend Satoshi Kon worked on”. You had me with Satoshi Kon, and everything else you mentioned sounds like it’s up my alley. I’m in.
Jankenpopp: I’ve been in the mood for social satire ever since Shimoneta ended. Roujin Z sounds darker, which I like—and maybe it will have a finale worth watching.
MAL Ranking #202, Score: 8.32
Littoface: I know what you're thinking, how can something ranked and rated so high be considered "underrated?" Well, by show of hands, how many of you have watched or even heard of Trigun? Now, what about Cowboy Bebop? Trigun didn't get the recognition it deserved until years down the road. And it's still overshadowed by the other greats from the era. The first few episodes of Trigun are deceptively chipper, but anyone who gives it a chance beyond that will find a complex story, excellent character development, and all-around fantastic anime.
Scamp: Eh, I think Trigun got plenty of recognition in its time. It was so popular in America that over 10 years later they made a Trigun movie that was basically made entirely for Western fans. I think it’s not talked about today as much as something like Bebop because...well, it simply didn’t age as well.
Kami_nomi: Yeah, I grew up with Trigun, and I know that was one of the big titles back in my day. I’m mostly gonna assume that Trigun just didn't age as well as Cowboy Bebop. It happens. I’d say people should still watch it though.
HoyvinGlavin64: Trigun was one of those shows I’d catch on Adult Swim occasionally and enjoy it but I didn’t become obsessed with it like I did Bebop. I think most of what I’ve seen is from the more comedic first half; I’ll give the full series a watch someday.
Littoface: Am I really the only one who hadn't heard of Trigun until my husband dug it up from somewhere? I know it became popular in America but not until some time has passed! I guess my definition of "underrated" is a bit skewed.
HoyvinGlavin64: When was this? Maybe it was during the time the show was out of print. It was popular when it aired on Adult Swim in 2003 but was one of the casualties of Geneon’s closure so it was out of print for a few years before FUNimation picked it up.
Littoface: That sounds about right.. Guess our perceptions of anime are affected by when we watch them. It's like growing up in the 90s and being surprised that no one knows Hanson.
Kami_nomi: Now that Hoyvin mentioned it, I wonder if Geneon closing down also affected how the series was seen since it’s popularity waned around 2005-2006 - helps to have a company around to support it I guess.
Jankenpopp: Considering that the only thing resembling a space Western I’ve seen is Space Dandy, I’d certainly like to see what it riffs on. That and Cowboy Bebop.
MAL Ranking #2724, Score: 7.17
Littoface: I came across Occult Academy while browsing around Crunchyroll one lazy day, and watched the first episode on a whim. I finished the final episode less than a day later, baffled at why no one knows about this little gem. Sure, it has its flaws: at least one character is completely transparent, some later events come completely out of left field, and male protagonist Fumiaki makes it really difficult to like him sometimes. But the show provides a solid 13 episodes that set up a catastrophic prophecy, an academy inundated by strange magical forces, and some pretty powerful moments. It's a surprisingly thrilling ride.
HoyvinGlavin64: I vaguely remember seeing the first episode in my high school anime club years ago but being kind of bored by it.
melodius: This sounds familiar… I may have heard of it some time back. Looks like it came out in 2010, not too long after I started my foray into the anime world. I think it’d be worth checking out simply because it’s part of that Anime no Chikara project mentioned. Heavens knows we need more original series these days.
Littoface: Ah I didn’t realize that. Maybe that’s why it stood out to me...
Jankenpopp: I’m taking a break from anime set in schools. The magical camera phone thing makes it sound like a slightly narrower version of Mirai Nikki.
MAL Ranking #4291, Score 6.74
Enzo: There are some mighty fine anime on this list, but I’m not sure how many of them truly rise to the standard of “underrated” - though I suppose it depends on whether you define that term by review scores or by how widely it’s viewed. My very first article for MAL was a piece called “Underrated Gems”, and R-15 led the list. This much-maligned series is a far cry from the brainless fanservice romp most potential viewers wrote it off as. It’s actually a very clever take on the difference between love and lust (hint: they aren’t mutually exclusive) and genuinely sweet to boot. It’s also one of the few non-BL anime comedies that deals with a male character's crush on a male MC in a fairly sensitive and forgiving manner.
Littoface: The cover and MAL description of this make it look like an incredibly typical harem anime. Then again, so does Madoka..
Scamp: Well...you definitely didn’t pick one that is generally highly regarded, I’ll give you that! =P
Kami_nomi: I gave R-15 3 episodes back when I was very new into blogging. I dropped it because it was just 'OK' -- in the sense that the anime was average, but the censor bars were a nightmare. I then just forgot to give it another chance, and didn’t feel compelled to check it out again. But it’s probably not too bad though.
melodius: I’m kind of with Littoface on this. Appearances can be deceiving though, I suppose.
Jankenpopp: I checked out your article—you’ve got a healthy respect for a good setting. Gingitsune and Zettai Shounen sound like the sort of explorative anime you’d enjoy if you liked to play in the forest down the road as a child. Very Calvin and Hobbes.
MAL Ranking #2154, Score 7.06
Enzo: Mochizuki Tomomi is himself very underrated, so it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that he’s already shown up on this list. One of anime’s greatest directors when it comes to mood and world-building, he helmed this little-known gem from 2006 about a boy from Tokyo who spends an unforgettable summer with his estranged father in the countryside, and the mysterious events which follow. On some level Zettai Shounen exemplifies anime for me, or at least a certain kind - mystical, whimsical, sometimes creepy, always thoughtful. It’s the sort of science fiction anime used to do very well, and which almost never shows up in any other medium anywhere in the world. Give this show a chance - there hasn’t been a series remotely like it for many years.
Littoface: I'm with you on this one. It's the only anime on this list that was already on my to-watch list, because it seems different from the typical anime. I'm a sucker for thoughtful shows.
Scamp: Must admit, haven’t even heard of this one. I hang my head in shame.
melodius: I first mistook the title for Zettai Karen Children but I see by the description it’s rather different. I’m intrigued - might try and watch this!
Jankenpopp: If rural anime is your thing, you might like Non Non Biyori. Slice of life set in the middle of nowhere, in the sort of place where everyone knows everyone.
melodius: My to-watch list has grown again. I haven’t heard of a lot of the series that others have put up here. Then again if I had then they probably wouldn’t be that underrated or under appreciated! It’s a mystery as to why these series fall by the wayside and get passed over for more popular shows but at least maybe some of them can now claw out of obscurity.
Jankenpopp: I haven’t seen quite a lot of the heavy hitters (Fullmetal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Hellsing), and this list just ensured that it’ll be a while before I do.
HoyvinGlavin64: So this was a much longer article than these usually are. We just had so many different shows to recommend! Hopefully our readers stuck with us and learned a thing or two about some shows they should check out.
Littoface: Oh boy, look at my ever-growing list. A vast majority of the anime listed here are ones that I've seen and heard about, and have been tempted to add but decided against it. Sometimes the description of the story was off-putting, other times the ratings made me think it's not as good as it seems. Hearing about them all from people who have actually watched it made me rethink a handful and add them to my "plan to watch." I better stock up on some popcorn...
Enzo: This is a great topic, even if half the battle is just defining “Underrated”. In my experience the ratio between notoriety and quality in anime, while perhaps not inverse, is certainly a loose one. The only way to find good anime is to decide for yourself, and the only way to come to an informed decision is to watch. A cover doesn’t always reveal what’s inside the book.
5camp: As always there’s going to be a title or two that slips under your radar, and I managed to miss out on not hearing about 4 titles. I’m definitely intrigued to check a few of these out that’s for sure. “Underrated” is a complicated term at the best of times and people usually just use it for “this is a thing I liked but nobody else seemed to”. Which is generally what we did here, which at the very least is more interesting than getting bogged down in definitions. Hope people found some interesting new anime to watch at the very least.
About the Writers
melodius: A media enthusiast based in Australia. I’ve been an anime fan since late high school and that love hasn’t abated over the years. My favourite genres of anime are the psychological thriller and slapstick comedy, but I enjoy anything with a good plot or characterisation.
Jankenpopp: Texas-born, Atlanta-based writer and actor. I write and edit for a couple of websites, mostly about film and anime. My proudest achievement is directing The Spanish Tragedy in my senior year of college.
Kami_nomi: I began life as an anti-social genius, but somehow this extended to starting an anime and manga blog. After literally relying on TV to watch most anime, once I got my own laptop and started a blog, I took the media that I liked more seriously, and do what I can to support it.
HoyvinGlavin64: I’ve been a fan of anime since Spirited Away blew my mind 14 years ago. I’ve written film and anime criticism for various websites and graduated from the Bard College film program last year, where I somehow convinced Neil Gaiman to act in my senior project, “The Making of a Superhero Musical.” I’m currently in pre-production on an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann.”
Littoface: I'm a freelance writer, a gamer, and a lover of all things obscure. I'd have to distort time and space to get through my entire anime to-watch list within this lifetime.
Guardian Enzo: That guy with the blog who likes the anime nobody else watches. Also cats, Leicester City F.C. and single malt scotch.
5camp: Likes to pretend he’s an expert on anime as he’s written about it for 8 years, but then someone reminds him of just how long it took him to realise Noitamina was Animation spelled backwards.