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 '90s, 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 GoLion 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 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.

See also Sliding Scale Of Western Animation Obscurity and Sliding Scale of Film Obscurity.

    open/close all folders 

    Series requesting placement 

The List

    Level 0 series 
  • Astro Boy
  • Digimon (the first season, it slides more to Level 1 with further seasons)
  • Dragon Ball
  • 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
  • Naruto - Actually halfway between Level 0 and Level 1, since its presence in America wasn't as a kid-oriented television dub during The '90s, and is therefore far less well-known with older adults.
  • 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 most likely Level 1.
  • Sailor Moon - Widely-known around the world, but popular knowledge mostly limited to it's first season. Material starting with R generally falls under Level 1.
  • 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 

    Level 2 series 

    Level 3 series 

    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
  • Azusa Will Help (it doesn't help the fact that Animax didn't release this special on home video)
  • California Crisis
  • Chikyuu Ga Ugoita Hi
  • Daisuki Dai Chan (Extremely obscure, even in Japan. No home-video version is known to exist)
  • 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.
  • Gotou Ni Naritai
  • Grey: Digital Target
  • Anime Idol Densetsu Eriko
  • Inochi No Chikyuu Dioxin No Natsu
  • Macron I (a Macekre of the anime series Go Shogun of which the previous entry is a followup)
  • Midori: Tsubaki Shoujo: Originally banned in Japan, but there were re-releases, albeit probably intended for the small demographic of circus fans, as the original animator refuses to screen it unless the avenue is presented as a carnival highway. A US release is also known to exist, but is so obscure that it is only detailed on the French version of The Other Wiki. The French release is the easiest one to find. Its safe to say that most of the fans of the series are French.
  • Midori No Makibao: An anime about horse racing, for kids, Definitely a Widget Series. Unsurprisingly, due to it's strange combination of topic and age range, it's technically unheard of outside of Japan and Taiwan.
  • 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.
  • Shima Shima Tora No Shimajiro: While not unknown in Japan and Taiwan, isn't popular outside of it's target demographic, preschool teachers and parents for several reasons note . However, in other Asian countries it's practically unheard of, and it's only exposure in the west was due to a particular potty-training video that went viralnote , and was quickly forgotten soon after.
  • Tama And Friends: Search for It! The Magic Puni-Puni Stone: while the original Tama & Friends is at level 4, this sequel series is definitely level 6 (this show qualifies as a separate series due to a major Genre Shift and Art Evolution- so much that it's practically Tama And Friends In Name Only). Even in Asia and Japan the show is at level 5.
  • 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)