Top 10 Most Underappreciated Anime Of All Time



Top 10 Most Underappreciated Anime Of All Time

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Mark Sammut
Just because they're not mainstream superstars doesn't mean they aren't worthy of recognition! Join Ashley as we count down the anime that, while pushed to the wayside, are still a great time, including series such as "Reborn!", "D.Gray-man", "Azumanga Daioh", and more!
Script written by Mark Sammut

Top 10 Underappreciated Anime

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Underappreciated Anime.

For this list, we’ll be looking at anime that were popular during their time but have since then faded.

Which forgotten anime deserves more respect? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “Full Metal Panic” (2002-18)

This one was a pretty big deal during the early 2000s, but it did not have the longevity of other mecha franchises like "Gurren Lagann" or "Evangelion". In 2018, "Full Metal Panic!" released its first new season in roughly 12 years, but "Invisible Victory" barely attracted any attention despite being a solid sequel. Even if it's not genre-pushing, it's still a fantastic military mecha series, helmed by a pair of fun, charismatic leads . Along with the intense action found across the canon, the "Fumoffu" gag spin-off series is also worthy of a binge watch.

#9: “Zatch Bell!” (2003-06)

So many battle shonen anime live in the shadows of the former big three and institutions like "Dragon Ball." Lasting for three years and 150 episodes, "Zatch Bell!" had a good run, particularly in Japan; however, once the anime ended, it quickly fell by the wayside. "Zatch Bell!" has everything someone could want from this type of series: over-the-top action, consistent humor, and a premise tailor-made for the battle shonen formula. Unfortunately, the anime is very hard to find through legal means, dooming it to be one of those shows that a handful of people have fond memories of watching on Toonami.

#8: “Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki” (1992-2021)

"Tenchi Muyo" has a storied legacy in anime, producing movies, TV shows, spin-offs, and all sorts of merchandise. Although its TV shows and the fantastic "War on Geminar" spin-off might be better known, "Tenchi Muyo" started as an entertaining early-'90s OVA series, and it debuted new episodes as recently as 2021. A genre-defining fantasy, harem anime, "Tenchi Muyo's" influence on the industry is evident, with many shows imitating its colorful visual style and blend of action, romance, and comedy. Whether someone grew up with Toonami's edited versions or not, "Tenchi Muyo" is worth diving into as there is just so much quality content out there.

#7: “Azumanga Daioh” (2002)

Slice of life comedies about cute girls doing cute things are not underrepresented in anime, with each season including a few shows that fall into that category. Plenty of the genre's most popular tropes can be traced back to "Azumanga Daioh," and the anime did them better than most of its successors. The series’ greatest strength is its realism, as every student and teacher feels like a person who could genuinely exist. With so many similar shows out there, "Azumanga Daioh" can initially feel a bit too samey, but the anime's witty writing starts to shine through after a few sketches.

#6: “Beelzebub” (2011-12)

Tatsumi Oga is a delinquent who becomes the caregiver of a baby who happens to be the demon king's son, and hilarity ensues. "Beelzebub" is a comedy with occasional bursts of action, and the anime maintains this routine for nearly all of its 60 episodes. While perhaps not as epic as the manga, Studio Pierrot's adaptation is a laugh riot with a strong roster of characters. The anime does end on a whimper, but that does little to change how fun the ride to the finish line is. Fans of shows like "Gintama" should give "Beelzebub" a try as they share a similar sense of humor.

#5: “The Law of Ueki” (2005-06)

A competition to determine the next celestial king is underway, with each candidate empowering a student as their representative. Unknowingly drafted into this contest, Ueki must use his ability to turn trash into trees to survive against powerful and even sadistic foes. "The Law of Ueki" is arguably the most shonen anime to ever shonen, but the battle-heavy series gets by on imaginative powers, strategic fights, tangible consequences, and decent humor. Although it probably won't convert non-battle shonen fans, "The Law of Ueki" is a fun mid-2000s anime that strips away most of the fat and focuses on the action.

#4: “Eyeshield 21” (2005-08)

Like most sports anime, someone doesn't need a passing interest in American football to appreciate "Eyeshield 21." Based on Riichiro Inagaki's fantastic manga, this shonen anime takes realism and punts it into the stratosphere as it introduces gloriously over-the-top super moves, matches that span hours, and all the passion in the world. Following a straightforward plot about The Devilbats seeking to participate in the Christmas Bowl, "Eyeshield 21" has the one thing every great sports anime needs: lovable characters with an infectious drive to succeed. If you like sports anime, this is a must-watch.

#3: “Reborn!” (2006-10)

Producing more than 200 episodes, "Reborn!" was a success, but this shonen tends to be harder to recommend than some of its better-known contemporaries. This perception mostly comes down to the show's awful initial 20 episodes that play out like a bad comedy and are by no means representative of the rest of the series. Once the anime gets over its growing pains, "Reborn!" reveals itself to be a thoroughly engaging action anime, one that blends mafiosos and superpowers, all with decent battles, charming characters, and even ambitious storytelling courtesy of its final arc.

#2: “Hikaru no Go” (2001-03)

A traditional Chinese board game, Go is not particularly newbie-friendly, which might discourage someone from trying out a series based entirely around it. While Studio Pierrot's anime will not make someone an expert on the strategy game, "Hikaru no Go" covers the basics well enough so that a lack of familiarity does not get in the way of the show's stellar characters. An intense rivalry, an initially unlikeable protagonist who gradually matures as he gains an appreciation for Go, and a ghost; "Hikaru no Go" has all the hallmarks of a classic board game or sports anime. Don’t be turned off by the subject matter, it gets all the more engrossing the longer you watch.

#1: “D.Gray-man” (2006-16)

Katsura Hoshino's "D.Gray-man" manga is highly rated, but it's anime does not have the presence of other long-running shonen. Boasting a stylish Gothic aesthetic and an exciting storyline centering around the war between the Black Order and the Noah family, "D.Gray-man" is unique, atmospheric and thematically dense. Along with a fair amount of filler and a slow start, the original anime ended abruptly, diminishing its reputation since it took nearly a decade for a sequel to come out. While not flawless, "D.Gray-man" is a must-watch for those who want an anime with a darker tone.