Top 30 Most Underrated Anime Series of All Time

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 might sound familiar, others will have gone almost totally undiscovered! There are so many new journeys to go on and so many new adventures to be had!

30. Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation anime - a young man meets a girl who has a passion for examining bone specimens. This is such a cool mystery series where we follow the characters as they work to resolve the many unsolved incidents in the area, a situation which gets more and more suspicious. It is lamented to have a few plot holes but there is still a really fascinating element to this anime as it teaches and investigates how different bones are examined and teaches a lot along the way. If you are a mystery lover you will love this one!

29. Gugure! Kokkuri-san anime - A really good comedy anime with super 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. It's a little in your face and out there but a whole heap of fun, definitely worth watching if you can appreciate the sense of humor here. The tale involves a self-proclaimed doll and a fox ghost, which takes us on one rather interesting ride. 

28. Ushio and Tora anime - With the classic style and feel of original anime, the premise of this series is a young boy finding a powerful spirit in his basement, a menacing youkai impaled by the fabled Beast Spear. There are so many familiar elements here, from the stubborn hero with a stubborn partner, to the super intense action scenes. This anime is a little older and it has plenty of classic shounen vibes is nice. Even though we already have a number of solid shounen pieces, this one stands out by miles, the characters and clichés really work. This one is sure to keep you entertained! 

27. Welcome to NHK - a series that is both a drama and a dark comedy at once! It's kind of a psychological drama comedy and it combines all of those elements via a male protagonist named Tatsuhiro Satou, who is convinced that he is being forced as a NEET due to an evil organization and struggles to leave his flat or get a job. It's a wild ride, and perhaps a little cringe at times but it is both fascinating and relatable in that it explores the struggles of one who wants to change their state of living. This is a really entertaining watch!

26. Flip Flappers anime - Magical girls anime are always a classic, but this one always seems to slip under the radar. Not only are the characters and their names super cute (and make you really want to name your pets after them... maybe that's just me) but it has an adorable story also. Here, average middle schooler Cocona happens to meet a strange girl named Papika, who invites her to an organization called Flip Flap. As the story goes, the two girls, Cocona and Papika, are dragged into another dimension and must battle against evil forces. The series is adorable with a kooky and weird backdrop. It's full of magic, mystery, adventure, it’s got everything. Maybe it seems generic on the surface - but watching through it you’ll notice it’s anything but generic!

25. Hamatora Hamatora anime - inspired by the superhero comics of Marvel and DC, this murder mystery series is one to watch. We meet a pair named Nice and Mursaki who run a private investigative agency and we get a 'fly on the wall' view of their cases as they work to solve each one. The plotlines are so good and the characters are strong, lovers of mystery will adore this as it's so gripping, it keeps you hooked on both the tensions and twists. While Hamatora has more of a “superpowered characters” theme to it, the fact that it takes on a mix of a mystery theme is a refreshing twist and not to be missed!

24. Tamayura anime - At first glance you might assume this is another typical “moe” anime featuring the antics of a group of girls. But looking further, it's a healing tale that follows a girl who adores taking photographs, an in depth masterpiece that not only features photography in a different light, but follows the thoughtful perspective of a young girl on life, with an all female cast too. It completely flips the whole cute girls doing cute things idea on its head! It's a relaxing, comforting and deeply thoughtful way of exploring joy and beauty through photography. It’s rather short with it being an OAV, but it’s a real gem and really worth a watch!

23. Angels of Death anime - a super cool mystery series - we're dropped into a mystery that means the chills set in quick. There’s so much to question in this series that you’ll need to watch the next episode, and the next, and then the next… you get gripped easily. Protagonists Zack and Angel pretty much bring you on a wild ride involving crazy characters and a mystery of missing memories to figure out the secrets within. It's an exciting and brilliant adventure with some dark themes too. If you like a dark mystery, give this one a go!

22. Space Dandy anime - a pretty kooky series, the plot revolving around hunting mysterious and wacky aliens. We meet Dandy, our alien hunter - with a mission to get hold of and register every kind of alien out there. And there is of course the different worlds that Dandy explores and the characters he meets. These are so much fun for creative writers and artists who gather inspiration from anime shows. It's wacky, funky and a real oddity to enjoy. You'll be left with so many memorable parts even when it's finished!    

21. Zombie Loan anime - maybe an acquired taste, we meet a girl who could see her time before death, and two undead males who are trapped by a contract. It's a totally different take on zombies with tons of solid action and fun characters to enjoy, even though it is short. It's short but sweet and a mega fun series that gives a different approach on the zombie genre we usually see in the media, super clever and modern, and makes for a really unique addition to your watch list. 

20. Tsuritama anime - a fishing anime is one of the most unusual themes I have come across in anime. But it really works! Can you save the world by fishing? Shy student Yuki is immediately paired with eccentric Haru and along with fishing expert Natsuki Usami, the boys must tackle a mysterious alien threat that is emerging in the ocean. With its bright colors and art style, it is such an enjoyable and heartwarming adventure. It’s one of those anime that few know about, but it has a wonderful story and characters if you get into it. It offers so much in development, even though it is a short series, spanning 12 episodes, but you won't be able to stop pressing play on the next one!

19. Silver Spoon anime - another quirky theme is an agricultural school anime! Just like with any underrated anime, a kooky premise can lead to something incredibly interesting. This is the story of Yuugo Hachiken in the unfamiliar world of an agricultural school. It's a brilliant coming of age story and the characters are so good, we follow Yuugo as he struggles to keep up with his talented class mates and he is so relatable and funny. Plus it even has some interesting cooking moments if you’re a foodie too. Go check out a few episodes, you'll love it. 

18. Princess Principal anime - a spy story done really nicely! This series has way more layers to it than you might have expected. The storytelling is all in a different order, which 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, it’s incredibly well written and very in depth. It’s like on big jigsaw puzzle and each episode leaves you with a little more - but still guessing in some way. 

17. Rozen Maiden anime - a darker anime where you will find dolls coming to life and battling one another! This premise may seem strange, but it really is a pleasure to watch. The animation is fantastic, especially the battles. Rozen Maiden is great at fusing emotional and dark moments together, but somehow finds a way to be pretty lighthearted by its humor throughout. This has a rather classic anime feel with an original plot and not too many clichés - but at the same time it's different with its story and setting.

16. Tiger and Bunny anime - perhaps a little similar to the anime Boku no Hero Academia but with a different focus. While Tiger and Bunny has some popularity, it did not become anywhere near a hit when you compare it to other shounen anime, which is why I think it's underrated. This series is so cool in that it examines and considers how heroes would work in a modern world. The characters are so good and the different perspective of a hero - and the realistic perspective of being one in the modern world - makes it such an epic anime to watch. 

15. Hell Girl anime - this has slowly become more popular over the years, but there was a time when this anime was overlooked, perhaps overshadowed by larger animes that were released at the time. As a horror series, it takes on the premise of people wanting revenge. As the story goes, Hell Girl is someone who can be summoned at midnight for those who wish to send someone to hell. As like anything, there is a price - which is what makes the series so interesting. Different stories are discussed in each episode and it explores various exciting ideas, psyches, and endings. It's a real thought provoking anime! 

14. Mononoke anime - this series completely flips the concept of youkai and spirits, well just about! For one thing, the “rules” and spirits introduced and what they are contrast to how spirits “work”. The art style is so beautiful, a style similar of traditional Japanese art, but with a twist. It really hooks you in and keeps you engaged with a unique art style and some brilliant animation wrapped up over some neat mystery storylines. 

13. Flying Witch anime - this is a healing laid back anime that combines fantasy and the supernatural without anything too confused or bizarre. It's easy to follow, which makes it the perfect easy and fun watch for when you want to unwind. That's often unusual when it comes to this genre, which makes this a real one of a kind watch, the way it explores magic in a care-free way adds to the charm.

12. Shounen Maid anime - a super heartwarming comedy story about a young boy being turned into the maid of his rich uncle. It’s so underrated and so much better on the inside. It makes for such a great family story, with incredibly good character depth, character dynamics and relationship development. There is good comedy throughout but what really stands out and makes it super enjoyable is the family relationship between protagonist Chihiro and his uncle. Definitely a must watch!

11. Kids on the Slope anime - a musical series about jazz, follows three unique individuals brought together by their mutual appreciation for jazz, with a really cool retro feel that only adds to the charm. It also has 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. Definitely one of the best underrated anime series out there, I have no idea how this one managed to sneak under the radar somehow!

10. Big Windup anime - with expected comedy and sports cliches, comes this funny tongue in cheek, uber relatable sports anime, that fleshes out characters and situations really well, it has such good characters and is so well thought out. Like many underrated anime series, the original premise being cliche may have been why it ended up on the backburner of the sports anime genre - but it's genius once you get in to it! What makes the series so good is the way it fleshes out characters and situations. The depth of the main characters really stands out and owns the show. 

9. Mushishi anime - a deep, thought provoking underrated anime series that explores man's relationship to nature and the natural world. Mushishi explores a different sort of spirit called “mushi” and brings a really thoughtful side to the supernatural genre. It offers a different take on the idea of spirits, although could be described as a rather soft series because you get different stories with each episode, which is good because you can pick it up from anywhere. It delivers a lot of feels and is definitely thought provoking. You'll probably find yourself thinking about it every time you take a shower.

8. Dennou Coil anime - one of the first anime to tackle augmented reality (fans of Ghost in the Shell might love) plus is a full brilliant mystery series that also somehow reminds me of Stranger Things. It shows how virtual reality could affect the real world and follows a group of kids investigating a case of disappearing people. It might have a slow first half, but it draws you steadily deeper and builds as it goes. It also takes time to create a clever atmosphere as it builds up the characters and the shroud of mystery. A really epic and gripping story that is a bit like sinking sand - it draws you in more and more the further you go!  

7. Death Parade anime - this darker anime explores the idea of purgatory and life after death, set in a world where there is no heaven or hell, but rather a bar to decide your fate in the afterlife. It's a really thought provoking premise, although isn't perhaps well known because I think it caters to a smaller audience. Even if you're not really in to dark storylines, once you start watching you can’t help but be drawn in with the sense of mystery building. If you can't resist a mystery and a thought provoking storyline, this is for you. 

6. Samurai Flamenco anime - a young man aims to become a superhero - but this is difficult when you have no special abilities and you more often than not end up in trouble. What seemed to be a pretty standard shounen idea turns in to something totally different! Masayoshi Hazama is our ambitous protagonist and there are so many twists and turns, some kooky comedy too, but the series shows solid development as it progresses.

5. Kaiba anime - stars a world where one can live forever by storing their memories in chips. But there is more - this underrated anime series introduces a whole new perspective in that we’re seeing this story through the eyes of someone who has no memories. Very cool! But also a bit bizarre, but also genius, the unique art style, build up of mystery and super expansive world are all incredibly clever. It introduces a completely different world unlike any other. Each episode brings different stories that all have something thought provoking to them. Perhaps it's a little too obscure to attract a large audience, but there's so much to enjoy here. It's worth watching twice, so you can take everything in and understand everything a little more the second time around.

4. Ergo Proxy anime - 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 anime - one you might have missed that you just need to watch. Its premise is 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. We are thrown 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's riveting, it will leave 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 go from there!

2. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - this underrated anime is something different entirely. 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. The plot is super engaging, let's talk warriors, ancient myths and water demons, to name a few, plus Balsa is an incredible and strong female protagonist. It's a cool reverse on the “rescue the princess” scenario, which is a super refreshing change. This series is the perfect piece of escapism and you'll find you can escape wholly within it.

1. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 anime - a common theme found in many anime, this series is all about a kid that’s forced to grow up fast through trauma - but there's a whole other level to it. 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 and is incredibly striking, not to mention especially as this show was made just two years prior to the 2011 earthquake that measured at a 9.0. It's an emotional ride that conveys so much in just eleven episodes, covering the reality of such a large earthquake like this, and it offers a distinct somber remembrance of how rough mother nature can be. This piece is one of a kind and connects to reality in a way that is unseen until now.

There are so many anime recommendations for almost every genre. There is so much anime out there, it’s easy to overlook some awesome anime series that just don’t get the attention they deserve. There are so many amazing underrated anime series that fly under-the-radar that most fans would adore if they knew about them. The most entertaining anime shows you'll be obsessed with may be just out of reach. I hope you'll be able to find a new favourite here!

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