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 it. The series is to some extent part of worldwide pop culture (and usually dominates in Japan). In the English-speaking fandom almost all anime in this category were those released in America as a kid-oriented English dub on network television during The '90s, although this isn't a rule, as there are a couple of animes released before or after that decade that also qualify.
  • Level 1: Some people outside the anime fandom may have heard of this series, and pretty much everyone in the fandom knows about it. 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, Sliding Scale of Film Obscurity, and Sliding Scale Of Live Action TV Obscurity.

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    Series requesting placement 

The List

    Level 0 series 
  • Astro Boy (The 1963 series)
  • 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 - Was in level 0 at the peak of its popularity in the late '00s, before regressing halfway between Level 0 and Level 1 as its mainstream presence declined (since its presence in America wasn't as a kid-oriented television dub during The '90s and was therefore somewhat less well-known with older adults) but after more than 10 years of mainstream public being exposed to the series it is back to being a solid level 0, just like it already was elsewhere in the world (Japan, East Asia, Western Europe and Latin America).
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Pokémon: One of the most internationally recognized anime shows, the series serves as an unofficial figurehead for the Cash Cow Franchise as a whole due to Adaptation Displacement and Pop-Cultural Osmosis.
  • Sailor Moon - Widely-known around the world, but popular knowledge mostly limited to it's first season for the most part in the English speaking world. Material starting with R generally falls under Level 1.
  • Speed Racer - in the Americas at least, in Europe it was much more obscure until the 2008 film adaptation .
  • 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 
  • AKIRA — this film shockingly showed the West that animation could be a respectable medium on its own merits, not just entertainment for kids, and spearheaded an anime invasion that would change the Western concept of animation forever.
  • Assassination Classroom
  • Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)
  • Bakugan
  • Beyblade — level 0 in Latin America, on par with Yu-Gi-Oh!.
  • Bleach — level 0 in Latin America, on par with Naruto.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura — level 0 in Latin America and Quebec.
  • Code Geass — The spinoffs hover around Levels 2 and 3.
  • Cowboy Bebop — Can be argued as a borderline case level 0 in North America especially back in the early 2000s where it introduced the concept of mature grittier anime aimed at adults to American audience and was even having journalist and pop media exposure outside of anime/manga magazines and websites and it was certainly the most popular series while it was airing towards non-anime adult American fans.
  • Death Note: An Adaptation Overdosed example (possibly verging on Level 0 in Japan), with an American drama adaptation in the works.
  • Dragon Ball: The newer movies are arguably Level 1 since the franchise is mostly known for the original Dragon Ball Z.
  • Dragon Ball GT — an outsider will instantly recognize the main characters due to the popularity of the other installments, however, Dragon Ball GT is somewhat less popular in the United States than the other installments due to the particular reputation it gained on American audiences. However, it is solidly level 0 (just like the other installments in the series) in: Japan, South East Asia, Latin America, Europe (both Western and Eastern) and the Middle East.
  • Dragon Ball Super — borderline level 0 in Japan, however still popular enough in the West among long time Dragon Ball fans to crash Crunchyroll upon its simulcast debut.
  • 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, and the latter has eclipsed the former in popularity in large anime circles.
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • InuYasha — level 0 in Latin America. Might also be a borderline level 0 case in Canada, serving as their equivalent of Cowboy Bebop as their introduction to teen- and adult-oriented anime (complete with a Canadian dub cast).
  • Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Kill la Kill - The Breakthrough Hit of Studio Trigger, gaining fame due to its creator's previous works, the sheer amount of Fanservice it provided, and for being the Spiritual Antithesis to Madoka Magica, as well as the Reconstruction of the Magical Girl Warrior genre.
  • K-On! (the poster child for moeblobs, gaining fame/infamy partly through No Such Thing as Bad Publicity)
  • Naruto: Strictly applies to the movies, since they didn't achieve the same level of recognition as their companion manga/anime or the Dragon Ball or Pokémon movies:
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (Level 0 in Japan, Latin America and Western Europe) - Deconstructed the common tropes of mecha series aimed at young boys. Much like Cowboy Bebop, it can be argued to have been a borderline Level 0 in North America during its heyday, as it introduced the concept of mature, grittier anime to Western audiences along with that series and also has a number of Big Name Fans (such as the late Robin Williams) and occasional references in pop culture.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion: A Continuity Reboot of the series in film format; like the show, it's Level 0 in Japan, with massive amounts of mainstream merchandise and promotion, and manages to sustain a Level 1 elsewhere due to limited theatrical releases and the ubiquity of the original show.
  • One Piece — easily the Level 0 in Japan by 320 million miles and its honor as the best selling manga of all time. However, a combination of factors played against its popularity on the West, like a horrible localization by 4Kids with censorship and bad dubbing (you know you're doing a really horrible job when even the very One Piece's author declares that he is embarrased by the localization and gives the Western fansubbers the green light to fansub). In the West it was below Naruto and Bleach in the mid-2000s hierarchy of the "Big 3 of anime". While its popularity has picked up again thanks to a much better handling of the franchise and English dub by Funimation, it's hard to tell whether One Piece has ascended to Level 0 or stagnated at Level 1 (its popularity is about equal to Naruto after the latter's heyday).
  • One-Punch Man -Notable for being one of the fastest examples of it going into this level in recent memory. Was previously a level 3 in its Webcomic form and level 2 in Manga form.
  • 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 subversion of Kawaisa.
  • Ranma ˝ — level 0 in Latin America, for the same reasons that InuYasha also is.
  • Rurouni Kenshin — level 0 in Latin America and especially Spain. In particular it is significant in the latter country because the TV anime's popularity led to a snowball effect of not only attracting the manga being translated there but the manga is easily the finest example of Gateway Series as it led to Glenat to dominate the industry. Glenat would be responsible for publishing so many other mainstream mangas into the country exposing Spain to a whole lot of a seres.
  • Sword Art Online (extremely polarizing to say the least, but popular enough to attract several people involved in its production to U.S. conventions)
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gurren Lagann) — The show is highly quotable, to say the least, but the first part of the series is what the general public tends to know about the show. The show's run on Toonami helped solidify its position as a Level 1.
  • YuYu Hakusho — level 0 in Brazil and Argentina due to its airing on the TV channel Rede Manchete in the mid '90s, though it is level 2 in the rest of Latin America. Also a level 0 in the Philippines and one of the main gateway anime series for that country to the point of both surpassing Dragon Ball in popularity and gathering higher ratings than local popular TV dramas during its original airing there.

    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
  • Captain Harlock and the Queen of 1000 Years: A Macekre formed from the Level 4 Captain Harlock and Level 5 Queen Millenia, and even less remembered than it's sources, but those who do remember it remember it fondly.
  • Chikyuu Ga Ugoita Hi
  • Daisuki! BuBu ChaCha (Level 5 in Japan and Asia, technically Level 6 everywhere else).
  • 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
  • Kanashimi no Belladonna
  • 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. Yeah you read right. Such a more Audience-Alienating Premise than this could only be found in a more 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.
  • Ojarumaru (aka Prince Mackaroo) - Level 1-2 in Japan.
  • Oyayubi Hime Monogatari: The more familiar English dub is a Compilation Movie that shows only a fraction of the series. Everything exclusive to the original Japanese cut is virtually nowhere to be found.
  • Pecola
  • 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. Sazae-San, along with Doraemon, Astroboy and Totoro, is considered by the Japanese as one of the unnofficial cultural ambassadors of Japan. Its schedule block of Sunday evenings recurrently has the highest TV ratings not only among anime, but also among all shows aired. Strikingly, once you cross the waters separating the Japanese islands with the rest of the world, Sazae-san is completely unknown. And, seeing that Sazae-san is a really Long Runner (the manga started in 1946 and was released for 30 years, while the anime started being aired in 1969 and hasn't ever stopped) it will be difficult to achieve a localization, like the one Doraemon is getting, and be introduced to the mainstream public of the United States. Compounding things further is that the creator of the anime had a no home video releases policy, which was continued to be enforced when she passed away, which makes it extremely difficult to test the popularity that the anime could get in international waters- and as a result, no company has ever thought of trying to license it for an international audience.
  • 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 1961, being 1961 the year that Americans first made contact with anime because in that year the first animes began to be released in American cinemas with the anime films Magic Boy (少年猿飛佐助 Shōnen Sarutobi Sasuke), The Tale of the White Serpent (白蛇伝 Hakujaden), and Alakazam the Great (西遊記 Saiyu-ki). It is worth noting that Japanese animation shorts from the '20s and '30s have been well preserved and are easily available on YouTube for viewing. The thing with these pre-1961 films is that maybe if you are a film scholar or a historian of Japanese films or animes you will have heard of some of these titles, but chances are if you go to an anime convention will be hard pressed to find someone who watched Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke (the aforementioned Magic Boy), just like it is mostly likely that if you ask a random person in the street they will tell you that they didn't watch Film/Nosferatu.
    • Momotaro's Sea Eagles (1943) and its sequel Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (1945). Maybe you've heard of these if you're a World War Two enthusiast or a black and white cartoons aficionado.
    • Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke (1959) if you are interested in the chronology of Toei Animation or in the history of importing anime to the United States, then maybe you've read about this somewhere.
    • Nonetheless, the release of anthology box sets like the "Japanese Anime Classic Collection" 4 DVD box sets somewhat helped to boost the profile of these pre-1961 animes and gain a little bit more popularity by the mainstream public in the West.