I already completed two posts about obscure anime, but I want to mention one more collection of them and what makes each one high or low on my rating scale. At least 3 of these entries are hilarious comedies. I encourge readers to watch a few of these; maybe pick one of the 6/10 entries and one of the 8/10 entries, and tell me if you think I’m right about the show being better or worse. Enjoy!
1. Noein: Mou Hitori no Kimi e (To Your Other Self)
Aired in Fall 2005 and animated by Satelight. My Rating: 5.8/10 “Average”
Five kids in their last year of elementary school become involved with things otherworldly and fantastical after encountering Crow, a man from another dimension called La’Cryma. One of the kids, Yuu, is shocked to hear that Crow claims to be him from 15 years later. Right now, Crow is trying to protect main female lead Haruka, who is said to possess “The Dragon Torque.” This is a power which is needed to stop the invading Shangri-la dimension from destroying all other dimensions.
The story concept is solid, and the big reveals are are cases of good, classic sci-fi. However, they’re all painfully predictable. You can see the plot twists coming from miles away. The kids are cute and funny, but never explored in depth. It’s the same with the adult characters; they seemed very promising at first, but were never developed that well. The art is very stylized, which I usually like, but in this case I just wasn’t a fan, for whatever reason. Noein currently has a rating of 7.68 on myanimelist.net, so it’s clear that a lot of people think it was a fairly good show. Maybe it is, but I wasn’t able to appreciate it.
2. Ookami Kakushi (Spirited Away By The Wolf or Wolfed Away)
Aired in Winter 2010 and animated by AIC. My Rating: 6.0/10 “Fine”
Story: Hiroshi moves to a small town in the country. Something seems out of place, though, when a few people start to go missing. It seems like the mysterious and cold female student Nemuru might know something about this. Though I’m personally a fan of this anime, I can’t exactly call it good. Still, let me start with the positives. Ookami Kakushi has a solid story concept, a fairly exciting plot, and an amazing soundtrack. I like most anime involving wolves or wolflike creatures. Nemuru was a somewhat interesting character, but still not developed enough.
Don’t watch Ookami Kakushi if you can’t handle simplistic characters or a main character who is weak-willed. (Most of the time I like characters like this. Examples are Shinji from Evangelion and Yukiteru from Mirai Nikki. However, both of those characters had a lot of interesting character psychology, while Hiroshi has none.) Hiroshi seems poorly written. His voice is a bit annoying in the Japanese audio, and probably much worse in the English dub. The story’s conclusion is a bit weak and anti-climatic. Plus, it’s hard to take it seriously throughout, what with everyone in town wanting to “eat” Hiroshi.
3. Zombie Loan (Anime and OVAs)
Aired in summer 2007 and animated by Xebec. My Rating: 6.4/10 “Fine”
Main female character Michiru has “shinigami eyes,” or the ability to see if and when a person is going to die by simply looking at them. Two new acquaintances of Michiru, Chika Akatsuki and Shito Tachibana, have the signs of death all over them. Michiru soon discovers this is because the boys are already dead! They are “zombies,” but not the kind that rots and tries to eat brains– the hot kind with superhuman abilities. Working for the Zombie Loan agency, Chika and Shito are tasked with hunting down zombies who have lost their humanity and turned violent. Michuru must now help them.
Again, I actully thoroughly enjoyed this anime and consider myself a faithful fan, but as a critic, I can’t say it’s really good. Other fans of Zombie Loan have told me that the manga version was worlds better, and they’re probably right. The plot was all over the place, a disordered mess. It seemed like the elements of both shounen ai and shoujo ai were there just to make audiences happy, without any explanations or development of the relationships. The animation didn’t do it for me– it looked painfully low-budget during the most important action sequences. Check it out for yourself, though.
4. Kemonozume (Beast Claws)
Aired in Summer 2006 and animated by Madhouse. My Rating: 7.2/10 “Good”
Beasts with huge claws haunt the world in secret. They can disguise as humans and blend in with society, but when they want to eat someone, they go berserk, change into their hideous monster forms, and kill everything in sight. The Kifuuken group has always taken it upon themselves to slay the fierce creatures. A promising Kifuuken swordsman, Toshihiko, falls in love with female MC, Yuka Kamitsuki. Surprise– she’s actually a monster! Kemonozume shows the intense romance between Yuka and Toshihiko, as well they try to defeat whoever has been leading the Beast Claws from the shadows.
This series is one of the works of Yuasa Masaaki, who directed and/or created several artisitically similar series including Youjohan Shinwa Taikei, Kaiba, Ping Pong The Animation, and Devilman: Crybaby. Masaaki’s works tend to be thought-provoking, psychological, and sometimes very violent and sexual as in the case of Kemonozume. Most of the series Masaaki worked on have cheap and extremely simple artwork, but feature interesting and dynamic movement, plus unusual colors.
Aired in Spring 2001 and animated by Bee Train. My Rating: 7.4/10 “Good”
“Noir” is the team name of the two most talented and feared assassin from long ago. The French assassin Mireille Bouquet (golden hair) encounters a girl named Kirika (short brown hair) who is an astounding fighter and killer. But she has no memories of who she is or why she has these skills. Mireille teams up with Kirika and they start an action-intense adventure to answer the questions about their pasts and their destinies. The two gun-slinging girls decide to call themselves “Noir.”
If asked to put a number on my enjoyment of this series, I’d say 9/10. However, something felt like it was missing in this show. It was also repetitive at times. The relatively simple plot was drawn out longer than it needed to be, and made to seem more convoluted. The characters didn’t have enough individual personality to interest me, especially considering they aren’t that different from all the other assassin characters in other works produced by Bee Train. Unlike the later productions Madlax and Phantom: Requiem of the Phantom, Noir in comparison lacked emotional depth and psychological twists.
6. Sabagebu! (Survival Game Club!)
Aired in Summer 2014 and animated by Pierrot Plus. My Rating: 7.4/10 “Good”
Ever since movies like Battle Royale came out, there have been anime series with the main theme of death match or survival game. I believe Sabage (Survival Game) has become its own genre by now. So, what happens if you combined a comedy shoujo series with the theme of survival games? You’d get this hilarious show, the Survival Game Club. The girls in this anime are members of a club that uses airsoft or paint guns and plays out mock battles with each other or with competing airsoft gun teams.
Even though it’s all in their imagination, there’s a good deal of violence (mostly comical) as characters kill each other many times only to return to life once the game is over. The mock battles make me laugh every time, as do the quirky characters. Momoko is a cold-hearted sadist. Urara is a mashochistic lesbian. Miou is a gun fanatic and a hopelessly over-confident rich girl. Kayo likes anime, manga, and cosplay, but is also great with silent killings. Maya is the pretty girl with oversized breasts who the other girls usually kill off first out of jealousy. Sounds fun, right?
7. Uchouten Kazoku (Eccentric Family)
Aired in Summer 2013 and animated by P.A. Works. My Rating: 7.8/10 “Good”
Majestic but often foul-tempered Tengu rule the skies, shape-shifting Tanuki run along the ground, and humans are unaware of the existence of both. Eccentric Family is the story of the Shimogamo family of tanuki, made up of Tousen and her sons Ya-ichiro, Ya-saburo, Ya-jiro, and Ya-shiro. The main focus of the story is on Yasaburo, among his brothers the most mischievous and the best at shape-shifting. Benten, the gorgeous human woman who learned to fly like a Tengu, is also a central character. Yasaburo is voiced by Sakurai Takahiro and Benten by Noto Mamiko.
It’s a given that few will agree with my personal ratings for shows, but it’s especially true with Eccentric Family. I absolutely love the show, but other anime otakus I’ve talked to either haven’t heard of it or were not impressed by it. Some don’t like the simple but stylized art. Others expected more action when the show really fits more into the genres of Comedy, Family, Slice-of-Life, and of course Fantasy. There isn’t much of an over-arching plot, but I could tell early on that there wouldn’t be. I enjoyed the slow-paced, bizzare, and sometimes emotional stories of the Eccentric Family.
8. Jinrui wa Suita Shimashita (Humanity Has Declined)
Aired in Summer 2012 and animated by AIC A.S.T.A. My Rating: 8.0/10 “Excellent”
Unnamed protagonist “Watashi” is a mediator between the Old Humanity of the past and the present world’s New Humanity, comprised of tiny, cute fairies. These little guys possess advanced technology that seems like magic, and they don’t care how it affects humans. Watashi can only get the fairies to listen to her by giving them candy and sweets. This anime is effing hilarious. It may not be for everyone, but Humanity Has Declined is in my top 15 favorite comedy ever. It’s loaded with satire of society and of anime otaku culture. It’s also got a lot of absurd-style humor.
9. Youjohan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)
Aired in Spring 2010 and animated by Madhouse. My Rating: 8.2/10 “Excellent”
The Protagonist (another “Watashi”) has just started college and wants a perfectly fun and happy campus life where he can meet and win the heart of a raven-haired beauty. But it seems like Watashi can’t “win” with anything at all. He is constantly side-tracked from his optimal path by his “friend” Ozu, who can justifiably be called a youkai (demon/spirit). Will Watashi ever notice that the right opportunity is already dangling in front of him? Will he ever be free from the clutches of Ozu?
I’ve mentioned Tatami Galaxy before and probaly will again after this. Like Kemonozume, it’s one of the works of Yuasa Masaaki, creator and director of several weird anime series. I love this one because for me it’s symbolism for people with social anxiety and child-like expectations who need to learn who their real friends are, how to better spend their time, and what to realistically expect in life. (As someone with social anxiety, cyclic thinking, and a pretty childish mind, I deeply empathize.) That being said, it’s also funny as hell to Watashi’s comical efforts fail, and to see the devilish antics of Ozu.
10. Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Aired in Summer 2009 and animated by Bones and Kinema Cirtus. My Rating: 8.2/10 “Excellent”
This one’s a tearjerker. Mirai and her younger brother Yuuki are visiting a robotics museum when a category 8 earthquake suddenly hits, devastating most areas of Tokyo. Far away from their home and parents, Mirai and Yuuki must rely on the kind and stern woman Mari to help them survive and make their way back home. In terms of enjoyment, this is another 9/10 series for me. The story structure is quite rough, though, and the animation is very low-budget and crawling with painful CGI. It seems to take a long time for character growth to happen. Those are the main reasons I say it’s 8/10.