Weed Culture

19 Underrated Anime to Binge Watch

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Anime as a genre is hardly underrated. Yet, within its vast seas of content spanning every genre including ones you’ve never heard of, there are gems that deserve far more appreciation than they get. Grab your trust anime bong and dive into this list of some of the best, underrated anime.

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Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) (2013)

Despite being released a decade ago, Gin no Saji beautifully encapsulates feelings of being overburdened by expectations and demands.

Many of us can attest to feeling so burned out, we want to run away to the countryside and spend our lives farming. This is more or less what our protagonist Yuugo Hachiken does. Except it isn’t quite the idyllic life he was envisioning.

It has its comedic moments. But what this anime does beautifully is address feelings of loneliness and offers comfort to all who feel lost.

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (2002)

Not all escapism is quite so whimsical. And this series is sure to have you crafting an unhinged recap video that lasts several hours to keep track. It is, nonetheless, a gem.

The show spans multiple eras and tells a tale of love, heartache, betrayal, and murder. All of it neatly wrapped in a time-traveling bow. One that happens to lead to the story of Sasshi, whose struggles to cope with reality threaten the very fabric of the time-space continuum.

Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi’s animation was produced by Gainax and Madhouse. The latter is known for producing underrated gems like Claymore, Trigun, Black Lagoon, and many more. So you can be sure you’re going to experience some gorgeous visuals with this one.

Michiko to Hatchin (2008)

Underrated anime also comes with sorely underrated anime characters. And while most anime lovers would instantly recognize the characters in this anime, not all would be able to name the show itself.

Michiko is an escaped convict with a deep disdain for the law. Hatchin is an orphan on the run from her sadistic foster sibling. The duo soon cross paths and embark on a journey as partners in crime with a dream.

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While anime often features racially ambiguous characters and stereotypes, this is one of the few that has a diverse cast with black characters who are quite well-written. Not to mention, it features some of the best animations of the era.

Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit) (2007)

Balsa is a wandering warrior who wields her spear to protect others as she atones for a past sin. Along the way, she becomes intertwined with a young prince whose existence poses a threat to the lands. As he flees his own father The Emperor, the duo finds themselves uncovering deeper meanings around life, friendship, and salvation.

This series is a wonderful testament to the older style of animation that popularized Japanese anime, to begin with. It is reminiscent of Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke or Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in terms of animation. And it certainly holds up as far as storytelling, character development, and philosophical musings go.

Durarara!! (2010)

As far as convoluted storylines go, Durarara!! takes the cake. With no central character, the show can often feel like it has no beginning or end. Yet, that is precisely what gives it its unique charm.

Set in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, the show follows multiple characters including a doctor, a stalker, the Dollar gang, and a headless motorcyclist who seems to know more than they let on. As the lives of the youth of the district intertwine, things get out of hand.

Durarara!! is fun to watch just to see its mystery unfold and the dots connect. But it also offers some really gripping action sequences and equally-mesmerizing animation to go with them.

Another (2012)

For mystery lovers or anyone looking for a gateway into Japanese horror, Another is an excellent choice and a severely underrated anime.

The series follows two students as they try to uncover the mystery behind several gruesome deaths at their school. It takes you on several twists and turns, all accompanied by stunning visuals and music.

On-Gaku: Our Sound (2019)

On-Gaku is a musical comedy that is remarkably zany and unique. It offers a style of animation you’re sure to be unfamiliar with, with frames that look like an intriguing blend of Western and Eastern art styles. Paired with its unconventional storytelling and hilarious pop-culture references, this anime is a treat like no other.

The film follows three high school delinquents who form a rock band to impress a friend.

With over 40,000 hand-drawn frames, this anime took 7 years to make. And while it may seem a little too odd for some viewers, the dedication to craft that birthed this stunning film makes it worth a watch for any anime lover.

Cromartie High School (2003)

If eccentric is what you’re looking for, it doesn’t get weirder than Cromartie.

Owing to its episodic style, Cromartie has no plot, character arcs, or resolution to the conflicts it creates. Instead, a crew of delinquents including a robot, a gorilla, and a popular rock icon on a horse simply exist in suspended time and space.

And this makes for one of the most hilarious shows you’ll ever watch. Sure, you might feel like you’re tripping the entire way through. But it’s precisely that quality that makes Cromartie the perfect stoner anime.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. (2016)

This one might seem like an odd addition to this list for anyone who is an ardent fan of the show. Yet, despite rave reviews from critics and fans alike, this show is still not nearly as well-known as its contemporaries.

Like On-Gaku and Cromartie, this series has plenty of zany things going on. It is, however, far more level-headed in comparison while still managing to leave you in splits.

Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on a Slope) (2012)

The blend of delinquents and music might seem odd. Yet, it remains a popular storytelling choice in anime. And usually, it is a way for these shows to offer a character the chance to go on a magical and sometimes healing journey.

The show follows the bond between an introverted boy and a delinquent over their shared love for jazz.

The animation for this series was led by MAPPA, itself founded by Masao Maruyama following his departure from Madhouse. So expect a visual treat.

K-On (2009)

Of the musical anime out there, K-On definitely remains underrated. The show follows five school girls who embark on a journey to form a band through their music club.

It has its comedic moments, but it’s the slice-of-life elements that really make K-On special.

Princess Jellyfish (2010)

Anime might get a bad rep for its female characters, but that’s usually because the ones that do well on that front go unnoticed. Princess Jellyfish is one such underrated anime.

The series is set in an all-female apartment complex where the female characters are mostly nerds with unique quirks. Our titular princess is an extremely shy person with a love for jellyfish. Hence, the title.

But the story progresses far beyond that. It showcases the beauty of friendships, unique bonds, and rather interestingly, the relationships between mothers and their children. It also features a diverse group of characters, including Indians and Singaporeans.

Pair this with some pretty cool character designs and animation and you have yourself a rather unique watch.

Do It Yourself (2022)

While relatively new and thus not yet adequately rated, Do It Yourself already deserves more recognition than it has gotten.

The show follows a group of school girls who find themselves drawn to the traditional art of DIY in an age where it is no longer a vital skill. Yet, through this shared passion, they learn more about the world and themselves.

Tsuritama (Fishing Ball) (2012)

There are plenty of excellent and underrated animes in the sports genre. But Tsuritama manages to set itself apart for many reasons. The most obvious reason is its choice to focus on fishing as its sport.

The show follows a boy whose personal struggles manifest in severe anxiety. He soon befriends an alien, a fishing prince, and an Indian man with a duck named Tapioca. Their shared connection to fishing soon creates an intriguing bond, but the show takes these characters and their arcs far beyond the aquatic.

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (2021)

A shy poet and an outgoing influencer cross paths in this heartwarming anime that feels like a fresh soda pop on a hot summer day.

This film is gorgeously nostalgic. It’s sure to take you back to an era long since passed, where one could enjoy their carefree childhood and lay in the grass all summer. And the stunning use of color in this film adds an artistic edge that sets it apart from most films of its kind.

Saint Oniisan (Saint Young Men) (2013)

Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha take a vacation in modern-day Japan. If that premise alone does not get you to watch this anime immediately, then we don’t know what will.

That said, don’t let the premise fool you into thinking you’re going to get a deeply philosophical show. And don’t expect an overpowered action adventure comedy either. This is a beautiful slice of life that has the two deities observing and participating in daily life. It’s simple, heartwarming, and cozy. And it has a beautiful art style to go with it.

Ergo Proxy (2006)

If philosophy is your calling, though, dive head first into the rabbit hole that is anime sci-fi.

Ergo Proxy has always been critically acclaimed. And for fans of the genre, it remains a gold standard. But it hasn’t earned the same fame as others like it.

The cyberpunk post-apocalyptic series probes some deep, often uncomfortable questions about human existence. And it pairs this with choppy, jarring animation designed to get your pulse racing.

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (2011)

Anime can be exhilarating. It can be joyful. It can be hilarious. But it can also be heartbreaking. While many of us might be averse to watching anime when it tackles topics like grief and mental health, we’d definitely be missing out on some beautiful work by not giving it a shot.

Anohana follows five young friends as they revisit the spot of a friend’s death five years later. While there, they find themselves haunted by more than just their grief.

Mushi-Shi (2005)

Though not widely known, Mushi-Shi is regarded by those who know of it as one of the most comforting anime out there.

The story follows Ginko, a traveling expert on all things relating to the supernatural lifeform “Mushi.”

Despite its seemingly simple premise and delivery, Mushi-Shi is deeply profound. It excels at the classic notion of “show, don’t tell.” Without ever needing to spoonfeed its audience, this anime manages to stir up a wide range of thoughts and emotions, all while delivering exquisite art alongside a magical soundtrack.

The Beauty of a Hidden Gem

It can often feel disheartening to know that quality content is frequently overshadowed by big-budget, flashy endeavors. But there is a unique beauty in chancing upon a diamond in the rough.

Underrated anime are rare gems. With a combination of skill, artistry, and wild imagination, they craft experiences quite unlike anything else. And they’re worth every minute you choose to give them.