**Updated June 2021**
With so many anime getting produced and broadcasted, the anime art form is thriving. And while this brought us mega-hits like My Hero Academia,fallen angel Slayer, and Jujutsu Kaisen, the stiff competition for viewers also means that so many good shows have slipped under the radar.
With that in mind, here are the top 25 best-underrated anime that, for one reason or the other, never really got the attention they deserved.
1. Hell Girl
The horror anime, the nether region Girl, is a story about a girl named Enma Ai. She is a guardian who will not judge whether or not you deserve punishment. She’ll take revenge for any wrongdoings in your life with just one catch- to keep her task going; she needs the user’s soul after their as payment. The young girl swiftly carries out what’s needed of her with the help of straw dolls and red strings.
The mysteries of the human psyche are explored in this anime, which sometimes asks hard questions about and redemption. The stories vary but all explore some facet of what it means to be a good person as well as how we might deal with our pasts or even seek revenge for those who have wronged us.
It’s not all that often you come across people who are capable of doing miracles, but it is possible for some select humans to do them. “Minimum,” or small miracles, only happen in a limited number of human beings, and they’re called the Minimum Holders. The detective agency Hamatora are composed of the “Minimum Holder PI Duo,” Nice and Murasaki. Their office is a lone table at Cafe Nowhere, where they await new clients with their coworkers.
Suddenly, the jobs that they receive seem to have connections to a serialtaker of lives the police is searching for. The sufferers also seem to be all minimum holders. As holders themselves, Nice and Murasaki are drawn to the case.
A mystery anime series sprinkled with superpowers, drama and comedy: Hamatora is a mixed media project where the manga source material was inspired by western comics from Marvel and DC.
3. Ushio and Tora
An action anime filled with folklore and comedy elements, Ushio and Tora, is about Ushio Aotsuki: a middle school student who has always been stubborn and not cared for anything his father said about the world of monsters. One day, while doing chores in the temple, he found something that changed everything; In the basement was an impaled youkai with one strike from what seemed to be some kind of spear known as “The Beast Spear.”
Tora is a beast that has caused much destruction over the years. Tora tries to convince Ushio to release him, to no avail. When a sudden youkai outbreak puts his friends and home in danger, he is left with no choice but to rely on Tora, who has had plenty of experience dealing with beasts like this.
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4. School Rumble
Love is a complicated matter. For Tenma Tsukamoto, high school has been one long struggle with the prospect of confessing her feelings to the boy she likes, but as much as she tries, not everything goes exactly according to plan. With Kenji Harima also on this same quest for love and romance, they both find that it’s no walk in the park- especially when misunderstandings complicate their plight even further.
School Rumble is a high-octane shoujo anime full of relatable situations, as Tenma and Kenji try to win the hearts they desire.
5. Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories
The mysterious, yellow-masked Storyteller is a man whose true name and origin are both unknown. He appears at dusk, where children gather and recite sinister tales based on Japanese urban legends. The Storyteller is no ordinary teller of tales. He incorporates a kamishibai, an ancient paper-scrolling device, to add visuals and sound effects to his already demented narration.
This horror anime aired in 2013 and produced over 90 episodes, each not longer than five minutes. With Japanese urban legends as source material, these stand-alone episodes feature their own characters, story and premise. It incorporates an animation style that is purposefully made to resemble the 20th-century style of street theatre and puppetry: Yamishibai.
6. Welcome to Demons School! Iruma-kun
Welcome tofallen angel School! Iruma-kun tells the story of Iruma Suzuki, a sweet boy with bad parents who sell his soul to afallen angel for profit. And while this is terrifying to both Iruma and the viewers, we soon discover that the oldfallen angel isn’t that bad after all. There is little tension to go around until the oldfallen angel enrols young Iruma in a prestigious school for demons, and he must keep his human nature secret.
The story follows his adventures and struggles as the only human in an institution offallen angel students and teachers. However, the light-hearted presentation takes away much of the fear factor, allowing for a charming twist to the story.
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What do you get when an artist punches a critique? Barakamon. Released back in 2014, Barakamon is about Seishuu Handa, a young and talented upcoming calligrapher who is also a narcissist. When a critique is unimpressed by his award-winning piece, Seishu is so hurt that he punches the guy. To punish him, his father exiles him into a rural setting in the Goto Islands, which is a stark contrast to the comfortable Tokyo lifestyle he is used to.
He attempts to find new inspiration on the island and develop a unique art style while dealing with quirky neighbours who don’t know how to mind their own business. Watching the arrogant artist learn so much more from the Goto community of fujoshi middle schoolers, boisterous children, and energetic older men is a different kind of wholesome.
There are many anime shows based on the concept of youkai and spirits, but none is as unique as Mononoke. The story is a spin-off of Ayakashi and follows the adventures of the “Medicine Seller.” This mysterious and deadly master of the oc travels across feudal Japan, searching and taking the life of malevolent spirits called Mononoke.
While the complexities involved in taking the life of a Mononoke can build enough tension to keep you glued to your screen, it’s the art style that steals the show. Mononoke uses a style largely similar to traditional Japanese art and employs brilliant animations.
However, the plots are sometimes predictable, which is probably why the series didn’t attract much hype.
9. Somali & the Forest Spirit
How about a heart-warming post-apocalyptic adventure for a change? This anime adaptation to a popular web manga is set in a world inhabited by cyclopes, demons, golems, and other creatures. In this world, the human civilization is all but wiped out by a war they started, and the few that remain are scattered around and hunted for food by the other creatures of the earth.
In the story, a dying golem who happened to the protector of a forest encounters a lone human child. Inspired by her childish enthusiasm, he decides to spend his last moments on earth guiding Somali on a journey to find her family.
10. Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
According to an ancient legend, six heroes known (Braves of the Six Flowers) chosen by the Goddess of Fate will rise to protect the world after the revival of thefallen angel God. Adlet Mayer thinks himself the strongest man in the world and is ultimately chosen as one of the Brave and links up with a fellow hero, Nashetania Loei Piena Augustra.
The anime follows the two Braves as they embark on their journey to meet up with their fellow heroes and fight thefallen angel God. Things take a twist when the whole group finally unites and finds out that they are seven, not six. What was supposed to be an epic adventure of slayingfallen angel fiends is now a mystery-packed hunt for the imposter.
Unfortunately, the group suspects Adlet as the imposter, and he now has to fight for his life while identifying the true imposter before they run out of time.
11. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
The Shin Yogo Empire is facing a cataclysmic drought, and going by ancient myths, the only thing that can save it is the slaying of a water fallen angel. It sounds like a solid plan until thefallen angel manifests itself in the body of Prince Chagum, the emperor’s son.
But being a ruler with his empire in mind, the emperor believes that the prince must be sacrificed. However, a mysterious girl and spear-wielding mercenary called Belsa happens to be in Shin Yogo during an attempt on Chagum’s life. She saves him and is tasked by the prince’s mother to protect him from those wishing to sacrifice him, which she accepts.
Moribito is a refreshing change from the usual “rescue the princess” scenario.
12. Wave! Listen to Me
Following a tough breakup, restaurant worker Minare Koda calls her local radio station and goes on a rant about her heartbreak. On the following day, Minare hears the recording of herself from the previous day and rushes to the radio station to confront Kanetsugu Matou (the station’s director). In a dramatic twist, she ends up explaining her call live on air, and Matou is impressed by her smooth dialogue.
The director recognizes her raw talent, and soon, Minare is a late-night show host covering amusing narratives in their local area. The story follows her gig as a radio presenter as she balances it with her day job and personal life.
The underrated anime series appeals to adults more, and thus, wasn’t picked up by the wider anime community.
13. Terror in Resonance
Following the events of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility in Japan, Terror in Resonance tells a tale of two vengeful boys, Nine and Twelve. These are faces behind the masked figures of Sphinx- the terrorist organization behind the attack and on a mission to take down the Settlement, an organization experimenting on children under the Japanese Government’s command.
While the anime’s well-written characters give a fascinating insight into insurgent groups and their motivation, it occasionally veers off the main theme. This may explain why Terror in Resonance wasn’t a mega-hit.
14. Astra Lost in Space
Astra Lost in Space is a science fiction anime set in 2063, where space travel is part of everyday life. Aries and eight other teenagers are on an excursion to another planet when a strange sphere appears and sucks them into space.
Stranded and hopeless, they find an abandoned ship. And while this discovery gives them the belief that they can return home, they soon discover that they are thousands of light-years away from home. Astra Lost in Space follows their treacherous voyage through space as the nine members try to manage their resources and stay united in the vast unknown.
15. Chio’s School Road
This anime comedy is about Chio Miyamo, a first-year school girl whose late-night gaming sessions always result in her running late the following day. As she takes new routes to make it to school on time, she is faced with many challenges like motorcycle gangs and street-blocking detours. With every episode bringing a new adventure, Chio’s School Road is packed with laughs every step of the way.
However, this comedy gem got lost in the hype that accompanies a new anime season and didn’t get the recognition it deserved.
16. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues
This spin-off of the popular original series, Kaiji, is a humorous story that deserves more praise than it gets. It follows Tonegawa, Kazutaka Hyoudou’s right-hand man, as he organizes and manages the ‘game of ‘ to keep the president in a good mood.
The humour accompanying Tonegawa’s interactions with his subordinates and other characters are the highlight of the anime series.
Kakushi Gotou is a popular manga artist; only he specializes in inappropriate content. When his daughter is born, he does his best to keep his profession hidden from her, and a single father often goes to to the limit ends to achieve this. The result is hilarious and entertaining situations between the Mangaka and his daughter, and these are always full of wholesome laughs.
Despite its abundance of heartwarming scenes, the show’s premise initially sounds sketchy, which is probably why the slice of life anime wasn’t an instant hit.
18. March Comes in Like A Lion
This is the story of Rei Kiriyama, a lonely orphan who struggles to socialize and feels guilty about succeeding, courtesy of his rough childhood. Centred on a Shogi tournament, it isn’t really about winning but focuses on the protagonist’s psychology. The story’s painful moments help the show’s nuanced character development and incredible art, enabling them to understand Rei.
Despite being a competition-based anime, its lack of hot-blooded suspense probably turned off a lot of people. But overall, it’s an excellent watch.
19. The Eccentric Family
The Eccentric Family is a story about the Shimagamo brothers from an influential tanuki family in Kyoto. The tanuki and tengu have secretly lived alongside humans for years in the city, but a painful memory haunts the Shimagamo family; the head of the tanuki community, their father, was took the life of and eaten by the Friday Fellows (a group of humans).
The Eccentric Family follows the trials and tribulations of the brothers in their struggle for survival and quest for the truth behind their father’s demise.
20. The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
C. The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is set in an alternate realm of a country with a collapsed economy. Kimimaro Yoga is a struggling second-year Economics student surrounded by peers living luxurious lives. So, when a stranger arrives and tells Yoga of a land where he can make lots of money if he offers his future as collateral, Yoga’s greed is quick to accept.
However, this place of wealth is an alternate realm where people like him must engage in weekly duels with their collateral (future) at stake. In his fight to protect his fortune and destiny, Yoga must adapt to this new world.
21. Flowers of Evil
Kasuga Takao is a lover of books and a distant admirer of Saeki Nanako, a girl at his school. One day, he forgets a copy of his favorite book (Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal) in the classroom. As he runs back to pick it up, he finds the book and Saeki’s gym uniform, which he ends up stealing. Now, the whole class believes that a weirdo stole Saeki’s uniform. Only one person, Nakamura, saw Kasuga do it. Rather than call him out, she decides to take control of his life.
Will Kauga manage to get closer to Saeki while dealing with a dark secret and Nakamura’s meddling? The anime’s characters aren’t easily likable, which explains the mixed critical reception of the show. Based on a manga series: Aku no Hana presents a deep take on the teenage emotional roller coaster that features a unique art style and action sequences.
22. Eden of the East
Events in Eden of the East follow the wake of a mysterious terrorist act known as ‘Careless Monday.’ Takizawa is one of the Selecao; twelve individuals with access to 10 billion yen to be used to save Japan from a missile strike. If they spend the money selfishly, the ‘Supporter’ will eliminate them, but they can also take the life of each other.
Tarkizawa’s battles with other Selecao and his amnesia are presented in a slick and unusual plot, making Eden of the East a worthy watch full of Psychological suspense.
Set in 16th century Florence, Arte tells the story of Arte, a young aristocratic lady with dreams of being an artist. However, the world believes that there is no place for women in art, and Arte is expected to marry a nobleman and become a housewife, a fate she doesn’t want to accept. Her determination to find a mentor leads her to Leo, who agrees to become her mentor mainly because he has no students under his wing.
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24. Angels of
Rachel Gardener is a girl with a wish. She mysteriously wakes up in the basement of a building, where she meets a taker of lives named Zack. He promises to take the life of her as soon as they escape, and they set out to climb the building floor by floor until they exit. They soon meet more twisted people, who all seem familiar with Rachel, suggesting she has a connection with the building. As they ascend, Rachel and Zack face a new boss on each floor.
Will Zach get to escape, and will Rachel get her wish?
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25. Clean Freak! Aoyama-Kun
This is a sports anime about Aoyama, a soccer genius pathologically obsessed with cleanliness. He spends hours scrubbing soccer balls clean and cannot touch other people without gloves or eat the food he didn’t prepare. Despite his flaws, the main character receives love from those around him.
The show’s presentation might be silly, but it approaches weighty issues with the seriousness they deserve. Despite its refreshing storyline, many people found it diffi to look past its wacky nature.
It’s hard to keep up with everything coming out, and not all anime make it in the regular anime news. We tried our best to find the best for this list. Leave a comment below if there’s an anime show we missed that you think deserves more attention from viewers. Enjoy!