Name here works of Anime and Manga that don't get enough appreciation despite their greatness.
List works in alphabetical order from A to Z.
+Anima: This is THE prime example of a fantasy done absolutely right. You don't need epic sword fights, world destroying, evil emperors, technology-savvy settings, or brave warriors to make a great fantasy story, and +Anima shows that you can do great things with the fantasy genre with even simple stuff. There's lots of shounen elements in this, but they're all wonderfully subverted, inverted, and deconstructed in the best ways possible. Yes, one character is kinda hyper and childish, but he's not bratty or annoying, and is actually smart. Yes, there's a female character, but she's not a Mary Sue, a stubborn whiny brat, or a love interest. Yes, there's a quiet character, but he's not angsty, nor is he a lone wolf character that all angsty guys are. He actually has emotions and can get along with others, though there are reasons why he's unusually quiet. But what this manga excels at most are the themes and messages it sends out. The main characters are outcasts because they received something they didn't want, and if depicted right, it can really resonate with people, as today there's lots of stories about discrimination and prejudice against the innocent simply because they're different (people with disabilities, anyone?).
Airmaster: While the Gecko Ending left most plot threads hanging, it's still a beautifully animated anime series, with a great cast of original characters and some of the coolest animated fights ever. Pity not many people remember it nowadays.
AKB0048 is an The IdolM@ster-style anime about girls who want to become idols but in this case, it's a form of rebellion against authorities who ban entertainment on all worlds. Yeah yeah, we know, it looks bright and colorful, the girls look cute and moe, and it doesn't look like anything much. But if you really take the time to look at it, you'll see it's very different from other idol shows. For one thing, it balances both the cutesy and bright moments with extremely dark and cynical views on the idol industry, making us believe that being an idol isn't all fun and rainbows and how it forces some dark mindsets on such young children. No, it's not all sugar and saccharine. Definitely not.
Amatsuki is a manga that's beautiful to look at and intriguing to read, weaving together technology and fantasy in a refreshing story that keeps you guessing and often leads to surprises. At heart Amatsuki is about what it means to be human; it can make you laugh, it can make you cry... but despite all its charms, it's often overlooked because the plot is deemed "too complicated", and the short anime adaptation wasn't up to snuff.
Anatolia Story is a 28 volume manga filled with beautiful art, Bishōnen and romance, while still keeping the reader interested with historical information, action, war, gory deaths and the reader notices the character development the main character goes through. And yet this manga has not yet seen any sign of being made into an anime series or an OVA.
Angel's Egg is Mamoru Oshii's first movie and perhaps also his best. It's a mostly silent film, that with its limited dialogue still manages to be as thought provoking as it gets. Accompanied by a beautiful surrealist art style, and a soundtrack that cannot be explained in words, calling it a work of art would be an understatement. Yet neither the public nor the critics picked up on it when it was released in 1985, leaving it as it is today, a forgotten gem. Since appreciating it requires some level of acquired taste, introducing new people to it isn't exactly easy either.
ARAGO — well written supernatural shonen manga with the London Police Department and a main character with the powers of a horrific former Serial Killer. Contains ShoutOuts to folklore, mythology, and William Blake. Not helped by the fact that it has yet to reach United States bookstores.
The Area 88 manga is an intelligent war story with complex characters, brimming with commentary about war, politics, hypocrisy, and spiritual decay. Not helped by the fact that only the first 42 issues were translated into English in the 1980s, or that the original Japanese-language manga is difficult to find.
Despite being award-winning, Basara is a quite obscure manga that definitely Needs More Love. The plot is interesting and above all, the characters are well-written and most of them have their own back story that gets explored throughout the chapters. The story has both romance, action, Tear Jerkers and it tries to deal with big issues, such as if anyone really deserves to be hated and if anyone is truly evil. The drawing style may have been what puts people off, but looking beyond that, the story is one that deserves far more fans than it has.
Blue Comet SPT Layzner is the Real Robot genre at its very best, with a great story, great characters (ALL of which change and develop over time), great acting, great themes, and great animation, with NO superpowers or Newtype equivalents to boot, which is a big plus for anyone who hated those setting elements from square one. It has its problems: having cockpits in the head seems like a terrible idea, the ending does not have proper closure and it's a bit dated, but it's still a quite good Real Robot Genre show.
Bokurano is incredibly obscure for such an amazing series. It is a manga written by Mohiro Kitoh which got adapted into a 24 episode anime, and it never fails to impress. Well written characters and an unbelievably tragic atmosphere make this an absolutely unforgettable Humongous Mecha story. It has a very similar feel to Neon Genesis Evangelion and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, so it blows my mind that this series hasn't gained a large fanbase yet.
Brigadoon: Marin and Melan. A 26 episode original anime production from studio Sunrise definitely needs more love as I never actually heard it mentioned by anyone else. It has a very interesting and well written storyline with many endearing characters, High quality production values and a lot of tearjerker moments.
Butsu Zone. A short-run manga first by Hiroyuki Takei, featuring power-armored Bodhisattvas, an interesting plotline, as well as detailed and insightful looks into Buddhism.
Cat Soup is a short anime film that is a wonderful Mind Screw. It relies heavily on symbolism and unusual images, but is also quite touching in some scenes. Not for everyone, but it really shows the diversity of styles available for anime.
Children of the Sea is an awesome Slice of Life manga that includes the juicy goodness of mythology and Scenery Porn that Daisuke Igarashi seems to always use in his works. It explores the origins of sea myths, as well as its own protagonists in what is shaping up to be a massive global quest. Unfortunately, it's got a teeny-tiny fanbase, despite being a fairly popular Ikki title and from an acclaimed mangaka. This is probably because of the fairly slow pace that Igarashi takes to get cozy with the story. It has phenomenal art and takes a close look at several cultures and mythologies that seem to span the gap between them. Wrap it up in a coming of age story and it turns out to be an interesting read, especially with Viz's fairly decent translation.
Claudine is a manga by Riyoko Ikeda about a young trans man who tries to find a good life while feeling conflicted over his female body. This manga is awesome, simply for it's respectful portrayal of transsexuality and the sympathetic lead character. It's a bit melodramatic with some love triangles and strange twists that I felt were a BIT unnecessary, but we wholly recommend it for everyone, transsexuals included! You'll be very surprised at this gem of a manga!
Dennou Coil is a science fiction anime from 2007 which gained quite some recognition during its airing, but has since failed to retain its popularity. The show is about a group of children in a small town, who all use a type of computer in the form of glasses as means to play around on the digital interface overlapping the city, often bumping into trouble of some kind. The animation and soundtrack are beautiful, although the character designs and coloring could be seen as somewhat subdued - it gives the series a sense of realism that brings out the childish fantasy and emotions bubbling underneath.
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko: Given that the anime only covered 3 out of 8 volumes with literally no questions answered, there really needs to be a second season in the future.
Desert Punk is very, very, funny, being one of the very few anime by Gonzo to not have superfluous amounts of CG mixed with the dazzling scenery of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Each character's personalities, although suffering from the occasional flanderization, are unique, quirky, a little bizarre (at first), and extremely over-the top, all fitting in the anti-hero categories. That's right. All of them. There is no total overarching plot in the series, yet that does not prevent each episode from having a well-thought-out script, containing off-the-wall and EXTREMELY raunchy humor to well-paced action that will completely take you by surprise once it reaches the halfway point and having a very good dub. Desert Punk is a seinen that has a surprisingly small fanbase.
Eve No Jikan has a very fascinating story. The characters are charming, sympathetic and believable, and the conclusion leaves you clamoring for more. Its plot is rather simple, but very well executed and enjoyable. Also, the animation is quite beautiful. Its relative obscurity is understandable, given that it's only six short episodes, but every minute of it is worthwhile.
Fancy Lala: At first it doesn't look like anything but a sugary and overly saccharine kids' anime, but don't be fooled by this show's looks. It's about a girl who receives a magic sketchbook from two dinosaur-like fairies which not only makes her drawings come to life, but turns her into a grown up version of herself, and she becomes a model/singer in the process. Sure, it's nothing new, but the show is just beautiful in the way it accurately portrays the idol business, the characters are charming and actually act like real people you've seen before, it makes use of it's simple premise (and great things come out of it), and best of all, it has, what I think, the single BEST, most fulfilling, and most COMPLETE ending EVER. No anime I've seen has wrapped itself up so wonderfully as Fancy Lala does. Think you're gonna complain about the ending of this anime like you do with 99% of other anime out there? PREPARE TO BE PROVEN WRONG!!! The only reason this anime isn't more well-known is that it aired around the same time Card Captor Sakura did, and that show trumped every over magical girl show during it's run, so it's no surprise you didn't hear about this.
Figure17 is terribly obscure despite having great and realistic characters, a deep and well developed story, interesting technobabble, and an amazing English dub! Part of the reason people are turned off by it is that the episodes are all 46 minutes long and are slow paced, so people who aren't patient may find it boring.
DD Fist Of The North Star is a gag series based on the above, with the premise that the end of the world never happened and the three brothers have to deal with everyday life. It's hilarious, even if you only know a little about the source series
Flower Of The Deep Sleep is an incredible two-volume manga that everyone should have in their collection. The story is simple but beautiful, with elements of fantasy and love, and it keeps you holding on until the very end.
From Eroica with Love is a hilarious manga with a very niche fanbase. This lack of popularity probably stems from the fact that one of the two main characters is rather flamboyantly gay — which is a pity, because there is NO homosexual content whatsoever in the story (save for a few... okay, a lot of verbal jokes/gags). But the series really is comedy gold (and the majority of the humor does not stem from the gay jokes - those are just a side-dish), with a sprinkling of espionage action/adventure thrown in for good measure. The mangaka's adamant refusal to allow an anime adaptation probably doesn't help the situation.
From Far Away: This is basically Fushigi Yuugi done absolutely right. Just read this manga to see what I mean!
Gad Guard: It's not very well known despite being a great little anime in virtually all aspects, including animation, characterisation, and storyline.
Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu is a Digimon-esque fantasy adventure about a boy who lost his father, but remembers the vision of an enormous dragon of metal from when his father went missing at sea. Over the course of the show, we get to know the colourful cast of characters, learn who they are and watch them struggle in an epic battle against an army that would have us destroyed... before we see the real, terrifying evil in the works. The animation isn't as wonderful as many other shows - mostly due to it being made on a piss-poor budget - but it's one of the most solid stories going around, with characters who feel real and alive. Definitely worth a look for any Super Robot fan, or for those on the hunt for a fantasy epic, where a group of people fly Down the Rabbit Hole to Save Both Worlds.
Gankutsuou is a 24 episode long, surprisingly faithful, and furutistic adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo. Gankutsuou was never a big hit, but fans who make it through won't be disappointed. Or maybe they will, but they probably won't regret this truly bizarre gem.
Ghost Hound needs lots more love. Sure, it's strange and a bit confusing, but oh boy is is ever interesting.
Glass No Megami looks at first glance like pretty standard hentai love triangle fare with lots of sex. However, you'll find that it has exceptionally good artwork with a striking, clean style, the story holds a lot more emotion than you might expect and the characters are engaging and fleshed-out (no pun intended) enough that the ending can be a real Tear Jerker. If you like your hentai to be more than just explicit, this is definitely worth reading.
Hayate X Blade, A hilarious action Manga about girls having sword fights with Yuri undertones, that should really speak for itself. Sad thing is, is that it had an English that currently isn't able to finish to issues with rights.
Honey and Clover: A ten volume Manga series dealing with the trials and tribulations of young adulthood and love among a group of 20 something Art School students it has, simply put, one of the most touching endings anyone have read. All ten volumes were released in English (and the first few were serialized in Viz's Shojo Beat magazine, the now-defunct Distaff Counterpart to the U.S. Shonen Jump) but this series never seemed to get much of an audience, which is a shame considering the funny and nuanced writing and character development which goes from broad comedy to heart achingly beautiful thoughts on love lost, love won, and love unrequited.
Hoshi no Umi no Amuri: Many people think this three episode OVA is nothing but a hentai moe yuri ecchi fest. I've watched and rewatched this more than once, and it is definitely NOT what people claim it is. Just watch it and see for yourself! Admittedly, there are some small raunchy moments, but they're really small and forgettable.
Hotarubi No Mori E is a one-shot 45-minute OVA based off an equally short manga ... but don't let that put you off. It's a truly moving story with interesting if minimalist cast and a great style.
''IO' Is a supernatural mystery romance harem drama psychological manga featuring SCUBA Diving, fanservice, mystery, and a lot else. Quiet obscure but readily available on scanlation sites.
Fair warning-the story starts out kind of slow, but it picks up quickly, so stick around for a bit and you just might enjoy yourself.
I"s - A very special 15 volume manga/6 part anime about a young man's struggle to capture the heart of his high school crush during the tumultuous and frustrating rite of adolescence. The story is a romantic comedy full of engaging characters. It is easily one of the most beautifully drawn manga ever. If that isn't enough to hook you, then the unceasing parade of Zettai Ryouiki, Panty Shots, and gratuitous Fanserviceprobablywill.
The incredible character development is an even bigger reason to read than the Fanservice. I'm being perfectly serious. Not to mention the fact that the romance between the two leads is well-developed without ever becoming too cliched.
Jewelpet. Immensely popular in Japan, virtually unknown in America. Despite its cutesy-poo looks and premise, the anime should not be underestimated, as it can show some surprisingly thoughtful writing and realistic characters.
Kagerou-Nostalgia is an obscure manga, which thanks to Executive Meddling, and sheer stupidity on the part of the publishing company (only licensing the second half, what's up with that?) has never been fully released here. This is too bad, as it's a genuinely interesting story, dealing with a group of reincarnated heroes trying to save an AU medieval Japan from their predecessors' mistakes. The series' is quite dark — the basic premise seems to have been "take a your classic shonen group and drop them in a Crapsack World" — and is unflinching in its portrayal of war and demonic attacks, with characters that are flawed and far from cliche. For anyone interested in reading it, here's a link to the first few volumes: http://www.mangareader.net/1477/kagerou-nostalgia.html
Kagetora Funny? Check. Great characters? Check. Running gags? Double Check. Great art style? Triple Check.
Kaiba is a short Twelve Episode Anime with a quirky cartoonish style. And if you go into it thinking that it's childish you're in for a very sharp surprise. Despite it's cartoony style it dives deep into the question of memories and connections between the soul and body. Whether love is something that resides in the memory, body, or both and if there is anything in the world that truly lasts forever. It's also one of those anime where everyone walks away with a different interpretation, due to some slight Mind Screw and Gainax Ending. Despite this, it is still an amazingly thought provoking series if you let yourself be immersed. That and it has an absolutely, hauntingly amazing soundtrack.
Kanamemo is a very funny show, with great, colorful animation, fun and likeable characters, an actual romantic relationship between two girls, probably one of the best scripts ever written with many quotable moments, is somehow able to do a good job handling the the drama involving the main character, and is no doubt closest to rival (in my opinion) My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Yet, its still very underrated and never really got much popularity in Japan (airing on TV Tokyo, nonetheless) to even warrant a second season. Even with Crunchyroll, it still hasn't garnered much attention that it at least deserves after two years. Watching the anime lately has become nostalgic and even made me sad for bit. If you ask me, the series at least deserves 26 episodes, not half.
Kaze to Ki no Uta: Despite being an award winning manga that helped revolutionize shoujo and was made into an OVA special, the series itself has had little attention outside of Japan and (to a lesser extent) Italy. Even scanlations have only covered less than half of the manga so far.
Kekkaishi is one of the greatest anime I've ever watched and yet I've never seen anyone besides me talk about it. This could change now that [adult swim] is airing it. Maybe.
Same goes for the manga. I personally find it a really well drawn and interesting manga, though no one I know has read or even heard of it. I really hope that it can gain more popularity in the West!
I second this - both the recommendation, and the "none of my friends know or care about it" bit. But - as I write in my review - I suspect this is because it's not very flashy. Or maybe everyone's tired of shounen action series by now.
This seems to be the case. With the over-saturation of "Naruto-clone" series it seems that people are refusing to give any shounen series a chance, even one that has great character development, interesting relationships, and a nice storyline.
Kemono no Souja Erin - despite the fact it at first seems like a kid's show and the official subs for it aren't the best quality it has a rather impressive story and seeing the main character grow and handle to the problems she faces in the face of adversity can be moving. it's a series that manages to make the viewer cry sometimes, laugh others, bite their nails in anticipation, and has the occasional moment of D'AWWWW~ HOW SWEET~ and some nice Crowning Moment Of Awesome scenes.
Kieli is terribly obscure. It started as a light novel and was adapted into a wonderful manga. Definitely worth reading.
Seconded. It has a very thought-provoking underlying commentary on religious (in-universe, but could just as easily apply to IRL), and the relationship between I See Dead People heroine Kieli and Undying ex-soldier Harvey is built slowly, organically, and with a superb sense of friendship and love (whatever type of love you view it to be).
King of Thorn is an action survival story set Five Minutes Into The Future where a plague threatens to turn all of humanity to stone. The author, Yuji Iwahara (of Darker Than Black fame) uses zero screen tones and a fair amount of heavy blacked shading, which give the series a dramatic look. The Reveal at the very end may be noticeable for long-time sci-fi or mystery novel fans, but it's still kickass.
While Kindaichi Case Files has a huge following in Japan, it didn't fare too well in America due to poor marketing on Tokyopop's part. Nevertheless, this series is a very well written mystery series that actively challenges the readers using nothing but pure logic. Magic? Hi-Tech Gadgets? A Wizard Did It? Not in this series.
Kowarekake no Orgel (or "Half-Broken Music Box") has only one half hour OVA, but still manages to run the emotional gauntlet. Similar to Chobits, it deals with a discarded little robot girl, the emotionally crippled teen who takes her in, and their summer together. Orgel is wonderfully drawn, poignant where it counts, and very worth your time.
Considering that Kurohime has marvelous character design, an interesting concept of magic AND epic fights, you'd think shonen fans would be all over it. Alas...
Kyo Kara Maoh is extremely well written and detail, with huge amounts of thought going in to every tiny aspect of the plot and the world it is set in, Additionally, all of the characters are amazing, and it's got a perfect balance of humor and seriousness. This is another series that had a great English dub that will never get finished, and that just generally doesn't have nearly as large a fanbase as a show of this caliber deserves.
An explanation for this is the difficulty in bringing in American audiences with fantasy action and heavy Yaoi influences. While there are fans of this, it's a smaller audience.
Kyoumen No Silhouette by Tamase Nagayama in the writing and Yuna Kagesaki (mostly know for Karin) in the drawing. It tells the situation of a young androphobic princess who must take the throne of her country with she just being 15 years old. To have more protection, she looks for her Body Double...who turns to be a Dude Looks Like a Lady farmer. The story has great comedy situations and heartwarming moments while the princess and her new male shadow start to adapt at their new lifes, resposabilities and each other but sadly there's only one fansub translating the manga and hasn't go beyong the first chapter.
The Legend Of Mother Sarah is a must read for readers who are dying to see AT LAST a heroic, realistic, adult female protagonist with no super powers being Badass and whose story does NOT - repeat does NOT - revolve around men, relationships, sex, fashion or anything frivolous/girly, and with little to no gratuitous Fanservice. It's rather an Epic with a lot of grim, serious and otherwise not very female-oriented themes (war, terrorism, survival, power struggles...) along with more female-friendly ones (motherhood, widowhood, abortion, making it as a woman alone, family...). The whole thing written by the creator of AKIRA, no less.
Like The Clouds, Like the Wind is an anime movie so obscure that most anime fans have never even heard of it. (Those that have often confuse it for a work by Studio Ghibli, thanks to its character design, its high quality, and the fact that the plot features a plucky young girl facing challenge and adversity. The film was actually animated by Studio Pierrot.) The plot is simple: a poor country girl is recruited (along with a bunch of other girls) to travel to the capital of Ancient China so she can be trained to become one of his concubines (and possibly, his head wife.) Reasons this film has remained in obscurity vary (it may have a lot to do with the film's bittersweet Her Heart Will Go On ending, or maybe the subject matter just doesn't appeal to anyone outside of Japan.) Regardless, this movie is definitely worth watching if you can hunt down a copy (There is at last one English fansub out there, floating around on some video sites...)
Lupin III is considered an important piece of both Japanese and Italian pop culture, but it never really caught on anywhere else, despite the efforts of Geneon, Funimation, Discotek Media, andTokyoPop putting out tons of stuff in North America. Which is a shame, considering the timeless characters, humor and action throughout the franchise.
Macross II was the first true sequel to the classic Super Dimension Fortress Macross series. Being done without the original creators' involvement has turned it into a black sheep of sorts within all of the Macross universe, even going so far as to declare it outside canon. While YMMV on its overall story, on its own merits, it stands as a great piece of anime, and its mecha (especially the GORGEOUS VF-2S), music and battles stand right there with some of the best in Macross. Luckily, it has gotten a nod or two within canon (though some Take That's as well), and even got its own campaign in the last PSP Macross game.
Mahoraba at first glance looks like a cliche Unwanted Harem style comedy. It avoids that almost immediately and heads towards a surprisingly heartwarming Slice of Life with some snarky, sarcastic wit and some of the most... interesting (and yet adorable) characters around. It's not afraid to pull your heartstrings, without being hokey, and the finale wraps everything up with a feeling like a great big hug in a warm sweater. Go read when you're feeling down and it's guaranteed to make you feel better.
Maison Ikkoku and Urusei Yatsura, while both shows are renowned classics in Japan but their fame in the US is extremely minor compared to the likes of Ranma ˝ and Inuyasha. Maison Ikkoku is often considered to be Rumiko's finest Romance story while Urusei Yatsura made Rumiko a household name in Japan. Unfortunately the fact that the English releases for both for these shows have been a bit more limited probably doesn't help. (As for Urusei Yatsura only a portion of the series has been dubbed in English. While the whole Maison Ikkoku series is available in English only the 1st quarter of the series was available in English during the mid 90's but was placed into a hiatus. The remaining episodes of the series were not dubbed until the mid 2000s.)
Märchen Awakens Romance is a series created by Nobuki Anzai, the creator of Flame of Recca. There is hardly any fandom in the English due to one of the reviewers sites claiming that "It's just another one of those pointless action series". Has fully developed characters, intense action scenes, and for the anime extreme fanservice for the boys and girls.
Me And The Devil Blues and 2001Nights are two very good manga but no one has heard of them before on either side of the Pacific. One is an absolutely beautiful Southern American gothic-horror story featuring a legendary blues musician and a legendary criminal getting into violent misadventures while the other is a collection of short stories written in the classic hard-scifi style of Arthur C. Clarke, full of tearjerkers and all that good stuff.
Mimia Hime - It's Tanaka Yutaka's first totally G-rated work...and it's still full of everything we love about it. Scenery Porn, mood whiplashes, tear jerkers, crowning moments of hearwarming, and warm fuzzies galore! It's only in its first volume with more to come, but there's no way this should be missed. It definitely stole my heart with its awesomeness, and it'll definitely steal yours too!
Momoko: Kaeru no Uta ga Kikoeru yo: There aren't many anime that have actual physically or mentally disabled characters (I wonder why that is), and many studios don't have the balls to take such a risk. But anime studios who DO make not only an anime with a disabled character, but portray them so wonderfully, so poignantly, and so accurately without feeling heavy-handed, overly melodramatic, overly sentimental, or cheesy has balls of plexi-glass and titanium, and this movie has to be the ballsiest, riskiest thing I've ever seen. It's such a sweet story about a boy whose twin sister is disabled and has to deal with the fact that she's going to his school as part of an experiment in education. God, this thing isn't even subbed!...but I'm campaigning to get this subbed by one particular fansubbing group (I'm looking at you, Licca Fansubs!!!). More people need to know about this awesome anime movie!
The Monster Rancher anime had pretty much everything you could ask for in an anime—a deep storyline, plenty of Moments Of Awesome, knowing the stakes were serious, compelling characters, and a pretty good English dub. But it got sidelined by Pokemon and Digimon.
And now it's getting the love it deserves, as Discotek Media just announced that they licensed this and are gonna release both the dub and original versions, Samurai Pizza Cats style!
Mouryou No Hako, a one-of-a-kind, utterly mind-consuming mystery series, based on the excellent novel by Kyougoku Natsuhiko and animated by Madhouse's best (with character designs by CLAMP!). The script, atmosphere, acting, and plot are captivating and realistic but keep the eerie supernatural vibe present in Kyougoku's novel. And if you weren't already afraid of boxes, well... consider yourself warned.
Muhyo And Roji is actually a great manga, even though the art style is a bit weird. Good character development, good spacing, amazing story-telling and awesome Tear Jerker moments, this absolutely Needs More Love. And it has very awesome Tear Jerker moments.
Musashi no Ken. It's a kendo anime from the 80s and its about 70 episodes long. No wonder many people don't know about it. But Justin Sevakis wrote a very well-informed article about it here. Heck, it's so underrated that even in Japan the show is out of print!
Mushishi. I love this anime, and it's pretty much a fresh breath from all the other anime out there... for when you just need a rest from crazy action and moe fanservice and what have you.
My Bride Is a Mermaid: This show really deserves all the lovin' it can get. Please tell all of your friends about it. And anyone and everyone on the Internet who's willing to listen to you, for that matter. And tell them to do the same. And so forth. Just tell everybody about it, please. Maybe they'll actually make more episodes, and do so consistently, if you do.
My Lovely Ghost Kana is a three volume manga that is one of the most beautifully written and illustrated and moving love stories I've ever read in any medium. It takes some of the most potentially darkest character backgrounds ever and turns them into a glorious celebration of life and love that will move you to happy tears many times over. The two main characters have sex often, invariably getting the title classified as hentai, which would undoubtedly turn many people off from reading it. But creator Tanaka Yutaka does a masterful job of storytelling that the sex is only a natural, playful and loving part of a relationship. The sexual content is much softer than most hentai, and it stops appearing in later chapters entirely. By the end, you'll have completely forgotten, and you'll feel like running outside and hugging someone.
It seems criminal to have Tanaka Yutaka's other magnum opus Ai-Ren not included here. Read this, too.
Also his short story collection Virgin Night. It's got much more of the sex but just as much story and is just as heartwarming as everything else he writes. Heck, if it has Tanaka-san's name on it, you probably should read it.
Ni no Hime no Monogatari is a one-shot historical romance manga. It depicts a sweet and compelling romance between a princess and her personal guard. The two grow up together and slowly begin to depend on each other without realizing that they have fallen in love. The climax occurs when they must both make sacrifices for their love. The work is by Izumi Kaneyoshi.
Night Head Genensis is a 24 episode anime series about two brothers with psychic powers who escape the research center they've been locked up in since they were kids. All they want is a normal life, but plenty of people want to take advantage of their powers. Not to mention the fact that they're supposed to lead some sort of 'revolution.' Although the plot seems kind of cliche at first, the way it's handled is rather original. And the music is beautiful. Just listen to the opening theme. There's also a manga adaption with absolutely gorgeous artwork, but only two volumes are released in English so far with no news on the third volume and the story is compressed to the point where it can sometimes be difficult to follow. Everyone who knows about this series adores it, but very few people actually know about it. Give it some love people!
Nightchool, again by Svetlana Chmakova. This is another example of her work that manages to break the rather crummy expectations and opinions most people have of OEL Manga. Give it a look if you've got say, just 20 minutes and an internet connection.
Nurse Angel Ririka SOS is a fun Magical Girl Warrior anime about a girl who answers a Call to Adventure offered by a messenger from a foreign world to help him fight off malevolent aliens. And why? Because she thinks he's dreamy. It's not as well known; probably because Sailor Moon Super S was airing at the time. The show itself is sweet, fun, genuine, and very adorable...but don't think it's bad! Oh no! It definitely has it's crowning moments of awesome and when it comes to tear jerkers it does not mess around.
Oh! Edo Rocket is a comedy/drama/sci-fi anime, and one of the only anime based on a live play instead of a manga, set in Edo during the 1800's. But it is by no means a period piece- while the story is heavy most of the time, the comedy really sets the tone for the show in the forefront. The characters are quirky and simple to understand, there are more Anachronism Stews than Disney's Hercules, the art style is a bit separate from the usual anime fare, and both the Japanese recording and the English dub break the fourth wall regularly. It's fun, upbeat, and jazzy. However, no one seems to remember it after its initial airing in 2007, and the DVDs for the dub don't seem to be selling well.
While it is regarded is a great manga and the original anime has always been seen as superb One Piece has suffered in the west immensely because the anime dub was picked up by 4Kids who Bowdlerise it to hell and back destroying any chance of popularity with a western market for years. This has fortunately been rectified as 4Kids no longer own the rights to One Piece and it is being handled with more love and care
Ookiku Furikabutte/Big Windup. Yes, its a baseball manga/anime. And yes, it's great. The author obviously knows her stuff, and presents it in a manner that is accessible to anyone, from those who don't know a lick of baseball to those of us who enjoy the sport. And what's not to love with the great characters, great relationships, and lovable humor.
Seconded! Big Windup is an excellently written series with great characters that didn't get nearly the love it deserves. The English dub was very well done, too, but it did not get enough of a following to warrant the translation of season two. The dub voice actors credit the low sales to the fact that baseball is simply the "boring" among the organized sports, not to mention how the first season builds up to only one drawn out game with another school, and most fans of anime are people who are not particularly athletic.
Princess Tutu. This is the only actual anime series that I'd consider myself a fan of, but nobody else I know has ever heard of it (before I told them, at any rate), and unfortunately, it's not hard to see why. The title just screams Girl-Show Ghetto, and of course, not many American little girls watch anime (and it's dark enough that it might not be deemed appropriate for them, anyway). It's hard to describe (which doesn't help convincing people to watch it), but give a very brief summation, it's a Magical Girl show that subverts many Magical Girl and Fairy Tale tropes, a tribute to ballet, and a very intelligent children's show. Some people watch the first few episodes and dismiss it as a stereotypical Magical Girl show, but it all sets the stage for an amazing ending, by far the best I've ever seen for any series.
Perhaps this troper can help describe it a bit better. Princess Tutu is, plainly, a Masterpiece. An exceedingly excellent overhaul of the Magical Girl genre, a grandly elegant ballet, a brilliantly crafted piece of metafiction, and an excellent subversion of the Tragic story structure. The writers spend every second they can developing the characters, spending nary a minute on filler in favor of tightly written action to move the plot along (as it should be; anime ought to be 'show, don't tell.'). Though at times appearing a bit limited, the animation is quite pretty; elevated by the brilliant incorporation of classical music, not only to fit the action, but to deepen the use of Fairy Tales, Ballets, and Operas as devices to reflect the ongoing saga of The Prince & The Raven (incidentally, the story offers many a subversive twist on those stories as well). Princess Tutu is a grand, awe-inspiring, and deeply emotional story about stories. And while receiving a fair amount of critical acclaim in America, it's not seen by nearly enough people. Though this happens to many series, Tutu deserves much better.
Pumpkin Scissors is an anime and manga that features a story about the aftermath of a major conflict on the size and technological level similar to that of the First World War. The core group of characters are part of an army group dedicated to the recovery effort, and have to deal with the damage caused by the war ranging from food shortages to riots to rogue army units and super soldiers. The characters also have to deal with corruption, the ire of the masses for being part of the army, and lack of respect from other army units for being 'soft'. It also has an aesthetic similar to that of Fullmetal Alchemist.
Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin sure as hell needs some more love! It tells the story of six inmates locked in a Japanese prison ten years following World War II, and about the struggle they take in order to survive. The writing is very effective, the characters are well developed (at least enough to gather a strong and realistic sense of camaraderie amongst them) and contains some excellent voice acting. If you're squeamish (and believe me, it can get pretty Squick inducing) it's understandable, but if you can power through the harshness, you'll be justly rewarded.
Rave Master. The art in the first few volumes isn't too impressive and the anime was terrible, so it didn't have the best take off ever, but the story and characters are just fantastic. Plus, now that the mangaka's second manga, Fairy Tail, seems to be much more successful, maybe readers will check out this other title out of curiosity?
Ray, by Yoshitomi Akihito. You'd believe that an action-packed manga with a likable heroine who is Cursed with Awesome (X-ray eyes), quite a bit of medical-related fanservice, a lot of shoutouts to Black Jack, AKIRA and other classics, and a rich argument delving with the life of the terminally ill, cloning ethics, sacrificing for the greater good and other strong topics would have gained some following. However, it has become largely forgotten. Pity!
Real Drive is an anime created by Shirow Masamune and Production I.G (the same people who produced Ghost in the Shell). It is highly enjoyable, having a heartwarming story and some of the best music I've heard in a while. It's beautifully animated — Production I.G did a superb job and paid even the smallest details attention. The end result is an anime that is filled to the brim with Scenery Porn: one can almost feel the warm tropical sun on them as they watch. There's no defined storyline: in a sense, it's like a slice of life show that proceeds at a casual, relaxed pace that shows how technology has come to affect humanity in ways we cannot imagine. Despite having all the elements of a good slice-of-life/speculative fiction type anime, it remains virtually unrecognized by the anime community.
Rokudenashi Blues is one of the best high school delinquent stories ever. Not only are the action scenes intense, but most of the characters, including the non-delinquents, are really well developed. And main character Maeda is one of the most Crazy Awesome, Hot-Blooded, and idiotic heroes ever to grace a shounen manga. However, even the scanlations have pretty much stopped...
Sangatsu No Lion, a Slice of Life/drama detailing the life of a professional shogi player. The series is difficult to get into for some people due to the fact that shogi is a relatively unknown game outside of Japan. However, knowledge of the game itself is not a requirement to enjoy the subtle drama and heartwarming moments that come along with it.
As it says on the page Scrapped Princess is an absolutely fantastic show... and yet no one ever talks about it. Perhaps the title has something to do with it. It's pretty much Studio Bones' forgotten masterpiece, airing between Wolf's Rain and Fullmetal Alchemist in 2003. With an absolutely epic storyline combining fantasy and science fiction, interesting characters, strong production values, and an excellent dub including the likes of Kari Walghren, Michelle Ruff, Yuri Lowenthal, and Crispin F***ing Freeman, this truly is one of the better shows you're probably not watching.
SD Gundam Force: A CG anime based off a long-running series of Affectionate Parodies. One of the most interesting, and underrated entries of the Gundam franchise. When it first aired, SDGF was flamed to a crisp by many as nothing more than a Lighter and Softer perversion of the Gundam franchise. However, there's a surprising amount of depth hidden beneath the cutesy exterior, ranging from extended Mythology Gags to deeper characterization than one would expect from something that looks so adorable.
Seto no Hanayome is hands down, the funniest Anime (if not one of the funniest TV shows in general) ever made. Do yourself a favor and watch the first two episodes at the very least. No review or synopsis will do it any justice, you really just need to see it for yourself. For your own sake.
Shonen Onmyouji: The first episode may be a bit cliche, and the premise itself is rather off-putting, but don't you dare pass this off as another monster fighting show. It delves into some pretty deep stuff, especially in that ungodly awesome second half, where everything, even the smallest of details nobody would even notice, come together in the most awesome way possible. It also has one of the best, most bittersweet endings I've ever seen.
Simoun. At first glance, it's a fetishistic yuri series where you get to see girls kiss each other. In reality, it's a moving war-drama, with political intrigue, well-handled religious elements, and a great soundtrack to boot.
Spring And Chaos: an autobiographical OVA base on the life of Kenji Miyazawa, one of Japan's most famous poets. It's directed by Shoji Kawamori (the Macross guy), no less. It's one of the most moving films you'll ever see.
Star Driver is an excellent new anime from Soul Eater director Takuya Igarashi and Revolutionary Girl Utena writer Yoji Enokido (who also created Ouran High School Host Club together), animated by Studio Bones. The show shares a bevy similarities to the formula of Revolutionary Girl Utena, so much so that it's been called that show's spiritual successor, and contains several Shout Outs to a lot of other well-known anime. The story so far takes an approach that's sadly become rare these days: the overall plot remains a mystery, while the show delicately teases the viewers with new information on what's really going on. It does this by focusing on specific characters each episode and digging deeper into their backstory, revealing their perspective on this series of bizarre events and people on this peculiar island. This is all topped off with beautiful animation, interesting and likeable characters, incredible music, and an overall sense of fun. That's the beauty of the series; it doesn't take itself too seriously at all. Sure, it is a bit formulaic, but it's to be expected from a show that takes so many cues from Utena. Sadly, and partly due to the fact that it's a completely original work not adapted from anything, the show hasn't gotten nearly the TV ratings it deserves in Japan nor the attention it deserves in North America. Maybe its popularity will come once it's finished, but only time will tell.
Many fans of the Pretty Cure franchise absolutely hated Suite Pretty Cure ♪ when it first came out, namely because it came right after the critically acclaimed HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, and it was seen as completely inferior to it, making it the Sailor Moon SuperS of the franchise. This hate is completely undeserved, as I'm through a huge majority of the series, and if you ask me, I think it's a great show in its own right. The transformation sequences are a visual orgasm with surprisingly good CG, the characters, while a bit bland, do develop and are actually quite realistically handled (I especially adore Ako. Seriously, why do people hate her?! I hear it's because she's a Bratty Half-Pint but she's actually not like that. People should be happy she's not whiny or annoying like Chibiusa!), the premise might be a bit flimsy but there's actually quite a bit of Fridge Brilliance to it if you really think about it, and the villains are actually quite good in the later half of the series. I love Heartcatch just as much as the next person, but Suite really doesn't deserve the crap it gets from the fandom. I will admit, the fights between Hibiki and Kanade do get annoying, but they fade quickly, plus I find it realistic that even friends get into fights, emphasizing that friendships aren't always rock solid. I really liked that. The best part? You know how in Pokémon where the villains make an obvious plan to do bad things to them and the heroes are so stupid they don't figure it out and fall for it anyway? You won't find that in Suite! Thank GOD, they actually make the characters extremely smart and crafty in this series! Somebody finally gets it! It may not be the best Pretty Cure series in the franchise, but it's definitely one of my favorites.
Texhnolyze has not only an indepth story line expressing such deep concepts as fate, existence and humanity but has the guts to be challenging from haveing an intro episode with less than five words to one of the bleakest endings I have ever seen it deserves more love for being so daring if not only for the drop dead gorgeous ending theme and having such great epicness that must be experienced.
The Five Star Stories is an epic, and I mean epic, manga. It's weird and wonderful, with artificial humans and giant robots and traps. So far, only the first 10 volumes have been released in English, and scanlation efforts are sparse for the last two volumes. But for those who don't want their Real Robot stories to be angsting about war while killing people left and right, it's a welcome breath of fresh air.
The Ghost Stories English dub. The voice actors were basically told to do whatever they want with the script, and they make it hilarious. The entire series is basically one big Crowning Moment of Funny.
The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer is a little known work with involving well-developed characters, great action, and an interesting story. Along with talking animals, psychic powers, golem, and a gigantic hammer bigger than the planet Earth.
"Interesting" being a severe understatement. It breaks a lot of the rules of most Shonen manga and has truly emotional moments.
There, Beyond the Beyond (just Beyond the Beyond in North America) is a six-volume shonen manga with beautiful art and a fun, engaging adventure story, but has had terrible luck reaching English audiences in any official capacity. Tokyopop invested almost nothing into translating it and cancelled the translation due to lack of sales, and Chuang-Yi in Singapore only made it to the fifth book before encountering legal problems that prevented them from finishing translating the series.
The Tatami Galaxy (by the aforementioned Masaaki Yuasa) is a strange slice-of-life story about a freshman in college and his two year quest for a "rose-colored campus life". After a while, it gets pretty weird, like having to turn back time several episodes to see what else he could have done in his two years. It seems a bit repetitive, but all the rewinds answer questions you would have about the series over time. It's one of those series that you have to watch to the end to get a feeling of satisfaction. The characters are great, the animation is a lovely mix between two mediums, and the story is overall pretty engaging. More people should check it out, though.
The Twelve Kingdoms. It's well-written, with realistic characters who struggle through their sudden shift into another world. The main trio deal with their problems differently - one is The Chosen One who is trying to adapt, the other is a geek who wants to stay, and the third simply wants to get home. Watch it.
Toriko while beloved in it's homeland of japan, definitely needs more love in the rest of the world. Aside from the unique concept of hunting food in away similar to Monster Hunter, there's several chapters devoted to eating the captured ingredients and not only isd it delicious, it's insane. It will make you want to eat while reading the series or watching the anime. Not to mention the action in the series is fantastic. It starts off a bit solow, but if you grind through it, it ends up being an awesome read.
Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector is an interesting and well-written horror/mystery manga about a Baku named Hiruko. He helps people with their nightmare, and in exchange he gets to eat the nightmare after it has been resolved. The manga is tragically obscure, unfortunately. The fact that the English version is now out of print certainly doesn't help matters. If you enjoyed xxxHOLiC, no doubt you'll enjoy Nightmare Inspector.
Variante is a sad 19-issue manga involving a dead girl coming back to life, a secret government agency that wishes to use her, and monsters that they are tasked with both fighting and hiding from the public.
Watashi No Messiah-sama, a compelling and well-woven tale of despair, betrayal, strife, and ultimately, hope from the creator of Heaven's Lost Property Sure, the art starts off bad and the story gets confusing at times, but the sheer human aspect of being a messiah is visited in this manga. Not to mention its heartwarming and awesome moments...
With The Light. It's probably the most accurate portrayal of Autism, yet the only ones who seem to know about it are people in the autism community. The characters are very well written and the misconceptions about autism are pointed out and tackled head-on. The only problem it has is that the statistics are often out-of-date, but that's because it took a long time for the manga to be translated.
W Juliet is a romantic, very funny, well drawn, artistic, and dramatic manga with a High School gender bender plot but few who have even heard of it. Due to it being made 1997-2002, book stores don't usually carry it and it's nearly impossible to find outside of conventions or the internet so it's very unlikely to develop a following from people new to manga.
Worst, a manga by Takahashi Hiroshi that doesn't even have its own TV Tropes page. It's about high school delinquents (pretty much all are the major character type) at Suzuran, a high school known for being filled with strong delinquents. They form factions, get into street fights, and generally try to prove that they're the best around.
Additionally, Crows by the same author, which actually came before Worst (Worst is the sequel series to Crows).
Zero: A brutal boxing manga about an undefeated champion with the nickname Zero. The artstyle is idiosyncratic, but the artist definitely knows what he's doing, and some pages are downright beautiful. At only two volumes, it's a fairly quick read and a must for any fan of boxing or fighting manga.
Virtually ANYTHING in the World Masterpiece Theater, especially Les Miserables Shojo Cosette. A lot of people think it's a moe-fied and kiddiefied version of the book. I have seen the entire series, and while it has been made kid friendly, it is ANYTHING BUT a moefied production. The anime still retains the dark atmosphere, the characters are amazing, and while some important parts were cut out, others were left intact. Of course, this also applies to every other anime in the World Masterpiece Theater too, even though they're becoming more well known. Also, NO anime in the WMT has any of the things modern anime do, like over-exaggerated expressions (creepy or chibi), none of the characters have rainbow colored hair of disproportionate body parts (especially boobs), and the stories of all the shows are actually simple, but are executed so wonderfully.
The 2010 shojo manga Taiyouno Ie has a lot going for it. It has great art, an interesting plotline, and is mostly original (or original as shoujo manga can be, anyway). Nevertheless, it isn't widely known. Also, there's none of that bishonen nonsense either, and usually, we don't have exaggerated situations or reactions. One of the best shojo manga out there currently in this troper's biased opinion.
Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Read a review. It'll have you thinking its a terrible series. In reality, its amazingly well done, with gorgeous animation, in-depth characters and appears to be inspired by Nanoha, and later on Madoka, the two magical girl series that turned the genre on its head and kicked it sideways. Symphogear gets lumped in with things like Precure because of its plot based on the power of music. It's got a great plot, at times very dark and mature moments (child slavery and abuse is dealt with), kick-ass action, a soundtrack that belongs on the Crowning Music of Awesome page, and lovable characters. It was well known enough to get a second season, but much of the criticism is still hanging around.
Got to make a shout out to Tegami Bachi, a charming, gorgeously textured manga about a weepy letter courier and his many adventures. It has a deceptively cutesy, storybook style that may throw older viewers off; but it's well juxtaposed against a world two hairs shy of crapsack territory. In addition to a highly original, intensely complicated plot that evolves with the characters. It's a modest, yet immense series; chalked full of Woobies, Tearjerkers, epic, Lovecraftian storylines, and just the right helping of Fanservice. And it's also just really, really pretty. Needless to say, it is woefully underrated.