Underrated anime? While I don’t subscribe to the idea of overrated or underrated works, since how the reception of what I enjoy doesn’t impact my ability to continually engage with, take pleasure from, and appreciate it… I will entertain the thought in the sense that there are some works I would recommend to others that maybe not a lot of people old / new to anime might have seen.
I’m fairly mainstream myself, and don’t have a lot of shows under my belt that would qualify as anything both obscure and good enough to warrant a recommendation, but I will scroll through myanimelist in search of some shows that just might fit a close enough definition to what I’m looking for. Will be absolutely breaking the (assumed) “rules” of this challenge here.
Here are some shorts / OVAs that you might enjoy:
30th Gundam Perfect Mission
This two minute short is so awesome, that even someone like me who hasn’t seen virtually any gundam, can really enjoy and appreciate the sleek designs of the mechas and the epic action that culminates in explosions of equally epic proportions. Not that I’m one to speak on behalf of Gundam, but I felt watching this that it really spoke to the heart of the awesomeness the genre/franchise has to offer. Hard to believe how much production value (or should I say talent?) was put into something so fast-paced, but considering it’s an anniversary special I’d be even more surprised if they didn’t.
Ame to Shoujo to Watashi no Tegami
Here is a delightfully short comedic sketch. I was actually surprised with how funny this was, but I imagine pointing that out to anyone who hasn’t seen it, which I suspect is everyone reading this, might detract from that. However, I still think it’s script is strong enough to warrant at least one viewing. Nothing particularly eventful happens in this short. After all, it’s only under seven minutes, but I don’t want to give too much away. Maybe I’m alone in my opinion here, yet I still remain firm in my recommendation, if even mostly for its length saving me the worry of wasting everyone’s time.
If you’ve never felt hyped about anime, this short animated commercial will do it for you. And if you have, it could very well resonate with you. Don’t wait for me to explain why. Just watch and see the visual representation of (otaku) hype.
Ashita e Mukau Hito
Here we have a rather pleasant and heartwarming animated music video with an unexpected level of tension. I won’t give anything away, but this is definitely up there as one of the more effective anime music shorts I’ve watched. I believe the music fits the tone and visuals really well, perhaps even more than I give it credit for. Go see for yourself.
Dai Mahou Touge
Admittedly, it’s been quite a few years since the last time I watched this. Though I did re-watch it quite a few times back then, and thoroughly enjoyed myself each time. It’s a four episode OVA of a magical girl at a normal school, but with a little dark humour meshed into its tone and comedy, and the awesome (spoiler) reveal of the protagonist being a proficient in wrestling. And in my book, magical girl show + wrestling = epic win. Basically, it’s the greatest thing ever. Heck, I’d even recommend it dubbed, especially since there’s a chance it might add to the humour of it all. It did for me when I first watched it.
Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
I won’t lie. I was jealous watching this. But also wonderfully enchanted seeing this sweet and charming love story play out. And they begin as a married couple! What a refreshing change of pace. I adore this series of short romance-comedy adventures about as much as I adore the characters themselves.
Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume
The atmosphere in this one is palpable. You can feel the emptiness of life, but also the beauty of the characters that are present. There is a sweetness, and even a surprisingly touching feel to it all. Not to spoil anything, but I did find myself tearing up a little at the end.
This, I feel, is one of the most overlooked ones on the list, and probably the one I wish more people would watch and love like I do. But I understand the fast-paced and seemingly random style humour is not for everyone. However, I want to highlight the character designs as a big attraction of the show for me. And because the show likes to change its art and animation frequently, you get to see these characters in all different types of aesthetics and I think it’s really cool. Plus, I really like the subversive, meta humour it’s going for. It’s like Gintama at 200x speed or something (ok, maybe that’s too much of a hyperbole). For me, the change in art blends nicely with the humour. You probably won’t like it as much as I do, but I found it hilarious.
Uchuu Patrol Luluco
Do I even need to make a case for this one? You’ve probably already seen it by now anyway. Well for those who haven’t, it’s a fun and lighthearted series bursting with creative energy and captivating silliness, enhanced by its pleasant and frenetic soundtrack, and chock-full of self-referential humour to Studio Trigger’s past works. If you’re a fan of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kill la Kill, Inferno Cop, and so on, then this is worth checking out.
Again, I have no idea if any of the anime I listed are what you would consider “underrated” or unpopular works, except probably Luluco. I’m sure almost everyone knows about that and most seem to love it, especially fans of Trigger and their other works.