Sliding Scale of Anime Obscurity
This is an approximate categorization of how well-known or obscure anime series are among English-speaking anime fans on the Internet. This list is to be used as a guideline. It may be handy as an informed guess as to whether your audience might know what series you're talking about.
This list is divided into seven categories. They are:
- Level 0: Series is so well-known that many people outside of the anime fandom generally know about this. The series is to some extent part of worldwide pop culture (and usually dominates in Japan). Almost all anime in this category was released in America as a kid-oriented English dub on network television during The Nineties, with a couple released earlier.
- Level 1: Some people outside the anime fandom may have heard of this. Pretty much everyone in the fandom knows about the series. They may not know it in great detail, but they should know enough to talk about the series and likely have an opinion on it. You may find limited traces of it in pop culture.
- Level 2: Detailed knowledge is mainly restricted to a specialized fandom, but most people in the fandom know about it enough to have some idea what it's about.
- Level 3: General awareness is not guaranteed, but fandoms are sizable enough to be notable.
- Level 4: Fandoms are small, but sizable enough that the series still shows up on some radars. For example, you may be able to find a number of fan-videos focused on these series, and chances are that in any bunch of 10-20 tropers you might have one or two who know the series in question other than you. The internet has really helped bring these fandoms together, due to how small and scattered they tend to be.
- Level 5: Even more obscure. Fandoms very small, mainly because word hasn't really even got out about the existence of this series. You'd probably be lucky to find 1 out of those 20; you should be casting your net wider. If the series isn't current, you might be one of only a handful in a convention who knows of it.
- Level 6: For things that, while they exist, seem to be impossible to find, even on the internet with modern proliferation of filesharing.
Rules about this list:
- The general anime fandom, as relevant to this list, is defined as being English-speaking anime fans on the Internet.
- Substantially different adaptations that have led to split fandoms, such as between Go Lion and Voltron, can be listed separately in this list.
- This list pertains only to anime series. Do not include manga-only series. Only judge popularity of the anime itself; if the manga is very famous but few fans know about the existence of the anime version, it still counts as obscure.
Things to remember when reading, editing, and using this list:
- When editing this list, please give an edit reason, especially if you are moving a series from one category to another. Try to avoid edit wars if at all possible; if a dispute can't be resolved, take it to the fora.
- This list is not a measure of the quality of a show. Very obscure series can be very good, pretty good, meh, pretty bad, and very bad. Try to think as objectively as possible about how many people within the groups stated in the criteria above would know the series.
- If this article should be translated to another language, please make it pertain to the internet anime fandom in that language, not English. Rankings may obviously be different.
- Please list series in alphabetical order, and please type out alternate names (such as "Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha" and "Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha"), so it's easier for other people to read the list and find series.
- Recent series may be difficult to categorize. It can take some time for the hype to subside.
The list is formatted in folders. The top folder is not part of the list, but a separate list of works that people have requested rankings for, but which they themselves have not been able to place. You, the reader, are requested to help out.
open/close all folders
Series requesting placement
Level 0 series
- Astro Boy
- Dragon Ball Z
- Gundam, at least the eponymous mechs; the individual series in the franchise vary in recognition from Level 0-1 (i.e. Wing, G, 00) to 4 (i.e. Victory, X, Turn A). Precisely which series rank where differs markedly for Japan, where the main UC series (especially the original and Zeta) rank higher than most of the spinoffs.
- Hello Kitty
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Pokémon - The anime helped advertise the rest of the franchise outside of Japan, but even after the initial hype settled, it still has a strong enough fanbase to remain in the mainstream, at least for the early seasons. Anything released after 2001 is Level 1 - after all, you won't find many mainstream adults who know about Lucario or the "new Mewtwo" controversy.
- Sailor Moon
- Speed Racer
- Spirited Away
- Voltron (The original version, Golion is a Level 5 in Japan due to just being one of many Super Robot series made during the 1980s.)
- Yu-Gi-Oh! (The 2003 series; the Toei series hovers around Levels 3-5, and the spin-offs are all around Level 1-2)
Level 1 series
- Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
- Cardcaptor Sakura
- Code Geass
- Cowboy Bebop
- Death Note
- Dragon Ball (Level 0 in Japan, alongside Z)
- Dragon Ball GT (bordering on Level 0 in Japan, but markedly less popular than the other series due to its reputation)
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (non-anime fans in English-speaking countries are more likely to know the former, but most anime fans are fairly familiar with both)
- Ghost in the Shell
- Haruhi Suzumiya
- K-On! (the poster child for moeblobs, gaining fame/infamy partly through No Such Thing as Bad Publicity)
- Naruto - Actually halfway between Level 0 and Level 1, since its presence in America wasn't as a kid-oriented television dub during The Nineties, and is therefore far less well-known with older adults.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (Level 0 in Japan) - Deconstructed the common tropes of mecha series aimed at young boys, popularized intense psychological exploration, and gave the anime industry a much-needed boost to save it from its death throes.
- One Piece (easily Level 0 in Japan)
- Pokémon Origins - in contrast to the main Pokémon anime, this miniseries is a Pragmatic Adaptation of the Pokémon games, but is slightly more obscure than the games themselves due to its very specific target audience.
- Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
- Princess Mononoke
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), the Post Modern, Darker and Edgier counterpart to Cardcaptor Sakura. Surprisingly, has become a Level 0 in Japan despite its brutal subversion of Kawaisa.
- Ranma ˝
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
- Vampire Knight
- YuYu Hakusho
Level 2 series
Level 3 series
- Accel World
- Air Gear
- Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts (Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu)
- Black Cat
- Black Jack
- Black Lagoon
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan
- Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
- A Certain Magical Index (To Aru Majutsu no Index)
- A Certain Scientific Railgun (To Aru Kagaku no Railgun)
- Chrono Crusade
- Da Capo
- Dirty Pair
- Dr Slump (Was a Level 0 in Japan, now perhaps Level 1 due to age and displacement by Dragon Ball)
- Awareness of the series in English-speaking countries is generally restricted to knowledgeable anime fans and the more devoted fans of Dragon Ball and Akira Toriyama, but mostly on an academic level and fewer have actually read or seen it. The manga has been released in English, and the first five movies are available subtitled on DVD, but neither the TV series (including the '90s reboot) nor the sequel manga has made it to the Anglosphere. It is probably closer to a Level 1 or 2 in Europe and South America, where it has existed for longer and its popularity more sustained.
- Eden of the East (Higashi no Eden)
- El Cazador de la Bruja
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World
- Fist of the North Star
- Full Metal Panic!
- Fushigi Yuugi
- Galaxy Angel
- Getter Robo
- Genesis of Aquarion
- Girls und Panzer (Has become a major Sleeper Hit in Japan, and has produced a fair bit of steam amongst not only otaku, but also the World of Tanks fandom.)
- Guilty Crown
- Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita)
- Gunsmith Cats
- Gunslinger Girl
- Haibane Renmei
- Hayate the Combat Butler
- Hell Girl
- High School Of The Dead
- Hikaru no Go
- Honey and Clover
- House of Five Leaves
- Hunter × Hunter
- Ikki Tousen
- Is This a Zombie? (Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?)
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (Parts 1-3; Parts 4-8 hover between this and Level 5 due to lacking an anime adaptation)
- Maid-Sama! (Kaichou wa Maid-sama!)
- Kara no Kyoukai
- Kimi ni Todoke
- This series would be placed on a somewhat higher level in Japan, where it recently became a fad.
- Kinnikuman Nisei
- Kotoura-san (It's infamous Downer Beginning gave it near-instant Sleeper Hit status on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, but the premise is alienating which may have slowed the spread of its awareness among fandoms.)
- Kyo Kara Maoh
- Legend of Galactic Heroes
- Magic Knight Rayearth
- MaiHiME and Mai-Otome
- Maria-sama Ga Miteru
- Martian Successor Nadesico
- Mega Man NT Warrior
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch
- Millennium Actress
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
- Natsume's Book Of Friends
- Ojamajo Doremi
- Outlaw Star
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
- Paranoia Agent
- Perfect Blue
- Ping Pong
- Queen's Blade
- Record of Lodoss War
- Saint Seiya (As Knights of the Zodiac in America, it at this level, In Europe, Latin and South America, it's at Level 0-1)
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunsou)
- Shinryaku! Ika Musume
- Slam Dunk
- Sonic The Hedgehog The Movie
- Space Runaway Ideon
- Strawberry Panic!
- Strike Witches
- The World God Only Knows (Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai)
- Tokyo Godfathers
- Trinity Blood
- Umineko: When They Cry
- Space Battleship Yamato (aka Star Blazers) (although in Japan, this would be arguably a 1 or 2 depending on the age of the fan and considering spike of popularity with Space Battleship Yamato 2199.)
- Yakitate!! Japan
Level 4 series
Level 5 series
Level 6 series
- Ai City (Other than an early 90s VHS release by Right Stuff International, this title is obscure, even in Japan.)
- Ashita no Nadja (Latin America being a possible exception)
- Aku Daisakusen Srungle
- California Crisis
- Eagle Riders
- Garzey's Wing (possibly a level 5, but even then, only because of a single video which was linked to from This Wiki. As a testament to how obscure the series is, the video failed to spawn Memetic Mutation)
- Go Shogun (Including the sequel Time Stranger): Of the few who have seen this, no one seems to notice the connection between this series and the Macekre known as Macron I.
- Grey: Digital Target
- Anime Idol Densetsu Eriko
- Macron I (a Macekre of the anime series Go Shogun of which the previous entry is a followup)
- Muka Muka Paradise: The only easily accessible videos online are of the songs, though the Chinese dub of the first episode can be seen on Veoh.
- Pokonyan (Rocky Rackat!)
- Princess Rouge is between this and a 5, though that's more leaning on a 6 than anything else. Fans do exist, but they are abysmally small in number, and you have more chance of winning the lottery than finding any Princess Rouge fans at an anime convention. This would be a firm 6 if it weren't for the fact that the original US preview was put on Media Blasters' Magic Knight Rayearth tapes, and it was also aired once on IFC way back in 2003.
- Sazae-san: The Level 0 series in Japan, as the highest-rated and longest-running anime in existence. Basically unknown outside the country.
- Windaria: The original Japanese non-Macekered version is impossible to find anywhere in the West, although those who can find a copy online universally declare its superiority.
- Pretty much anything made before 1960 (although Japanese animation shorts from the '20s have been well preserved and are easily available on YouTube for viewing)