Pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at Pennsylvania State University, and writing about anime in my spare time.
Are you tired of all the mainstream anime choices? Have you already watched all your friends' suggestions but are still looking for more? Do you search for unpopular anime but find lists with options you've already seen? Fear not! This is the list for you. All shows listed here have a MyAnimeList (MAL) popularity ranking of over #2000 and come with my personal recommendation.
10. Gokujou Seitokai (Best Student Council)
Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, School, Slice-of-Life, Super Power
Aired: Spring 2005
MAL Score: 7.04
My Score: 7
Randou Rino is a new high school girl with a talking puppet on her hand. She's mysteriously accepted onto the student council, which wields immense power over more than just the school. Who is this new girl, and why has the student council president taken such a personal interest in her?
Though it may seem like your everyday school club comedy at first glance, Gokujou Seitokai is much more. With action, superpowers, and mystery, this show has a little something for everyone. And what's more, this show has literally no fanservice, so feel free to watch it with family and friends.
9. Hyouge Mono (Jocular Fellow)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Historical, Samurai, Seinen
Studio: Bee Train
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Aired: Spring 2011
MAL Score: 8.10
My Score: 7
Set during the Sengoku period of Japan (Warring States era), this series focuses on Furuta Sasuke, a vassal of Oda Nobunaga, as he gains wealth and power and attempts to leave his mark on the culture of Japan.
This is a truly fascinating show that will teach you the ways of tea ceremony and aesthetics. Despite not being particularly action-packed for a samurai series, the show still manages to draw you in and engage you in what might normally be a sleep-inducing history/art lesson. If nothing else, watch it for the facial expressions. This show is a treasure trove of reaction images.
8. Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume (Scorching Ping Pong Girls)
Genres: Comedy, School, Slice-of-Life, Sports
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Aired: Fall 2016
MAL Score: 7.17
My Score: 7
Tsumujikaze Koyori is a simple girl who loves ping pong. When she joins her middle school's ping pong club, she quickly rises to the top, making friends and overcoming rivalries as she helps in their quest to become national champions.
This is a fairly standard cute girl, school, sports club comedy, which is why it's surprising that it is so unpopular. What differentiates Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume from its peers is its engagement factor. In the show, the main character's passion for the game inspires the other characters to play at their best and truly love ping pong, and as a viewer, this same passion makes the watching experience much more enthralling. You truly root for the characters to win.
I'm going to be honest with you. This show is pretty much just what you see on the cover. If you like most sports anime, you'll enjoy it. If not, skip it.
7. Taishou Yakyuu Musume. (Taisho Baseball Girls)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Historical, School, Seinen, Slice-of-Life, Sports
Aired: Summer 2009
MAL Score: 7.41
My Score: 8
Set in 1925 when baseball is still rather unknown in Japan and there are only a few male teams, 14-year-old Akiko is told by a baseball player that women should only be housewives, so to prove him wrong, she invites her friend Koume to start an all-girls baseball team.
More than your average school sports club anime, this show tackles feminist issues at a time when women weren't even allowed to run in public. The progress these girls make is truly inspiring, and the show will keep you hooked all the way from beginning to end.
6. Kokoro Toshokan (Kokoro Library)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Slice-of-Life
Studio: Studio Deen
Aired: Fall 2001
MAL Score: 6.60
My Score: 8
Kokoro Toshokan is a small library hidden away in the mountains and run by three sisters, Iina, Aruto, and Kokoro. This is the story of Kokoro's everyday life as she tries to become a librarian like her sisters.
This is a relaxing, peaceful show along the same lines as Aria, though there is some action towards the end. Some people may be turned off by the early 2000's art style, but if you can look past that, it's a heartwarming tale sure to make you smile.
5. Figure 17: Tsubasa & Hikaru
Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Slice-of-Life
Aired: Spring 2001
MAL Score: 7.33
My Score: 8
Episodes: 13 (47 min/episode)
10-year-old Tsubasa Shiina moves to Hokkaido with her father, but she is too shy to make friends at her new school. When a UFO crashes near her home, she rushes to the scene and fuses with a metal alien life form to destroy a savage alien monster. When the battle is over, the alien that fused with the girl becomes her identical twin sister Hikaru and begins to live with her. Hikaru helps Tsubasa to open up and make friends while they battle the continuing alien threat.
When people think of anime, this is the kind of show they think about: little girls battling alien monsters. But Figure 17 is so much more than a stereotype. It does an excellent job with character development and delves into mature themes you wouldn't expect in a show about 10-year-olds. This show will give you feels.
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Josei, School, Slice-of-Life
Aired: Winter 2004
MAL Score: 7.48
My Score: 9
Kumiko Yamaguchi is a new, enthusiastic math teacher at an all-boys high school for delinquents, but she also has a secret: she's the acting head of a powerful yakuza clan. Will she be able to teach her unmotivated students while keeping her secret under wraps?
This show is a joy to watch. The character interactions are very enjoyable, and the main character is a total badass. It's a heartwarming show where every episode is fun.
3. Puchi Puri Yuushi (Petite Princess Yucie)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Romance, Shoujo
Aired: Fall 2002
MAL Score: 7.53
My Score: 9
Yucie is a 17-year-old girl who stopped growing at the age of 10. She is admitted to the Princess Academy where she gets the chance to compete to become the legendary Platinum Princess. Yucie makes friends with her rivals while attempting to find the pieces of the Eternal Tiara, which will allow her to use its magic to become an adult like she has always dreamed of.
Though this is mainly a little girls' princess show, it can be enjoyable for all ages. The friendship aspects are very heartwarming, and the romance is quite cute. The comedy is also on point, and there are some feels.
2. Magical Nyan Nyan Taruto (Magical Meow Meow Taruto)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Magic
Studio: Madhouse, TNK
Aired: Summer 2001
MAL Score: 6.41
My Score: 9
Taruto is a cat who just moved to a new city with her master and his family. She makes friends with the local animals and finds out she might be a legendary magical princess. But Taruto's magic is unpredictable, and enemies are after her. Taruto is torn between taking up her role as this princess or staying with the human she so loves.
This show is ridiculously cute. If that's not enough to make you watch it on its own, it also has a good mix of action and comedy to keep you engaged. The plot itself is nothing remarkable, but it is heartwarming. You're sure to be left with a smile.
1. Binbou Shimai Monogatari (Poor Sisters Story)
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Seinen, Slice-of-Life
Studio: Toei Animation
Aired: Summer 2006
MAL Score: 6.94
My Score: 9
The Yamada sisters, 15-year-old Kyou and 9-year-old Asu, lost their mother when they were very young, and then their father ran away due to gambling debts. Now they are on their own, Kyou working part-time jobs while Asu takes care of the apartment as they both go to school. Despite their circumstances, they try to look on the bright side and greet each day happily.
This is a sweet story set among the harsh realities of life. It's easy to empathize with the characters, and the show does a great job of evoking emotions in the viewer. You'll be sure to feel both happiness and sadness along with the sisters, but overall it's a heartwarming show.
Looking for More Unpopular Anime?
Check out the Unpopular Anime Supporters club on MAL. There is a list of unpopular anime in the club relations, and there is also a thread where they are sorted by genre to make searching for a new anime easy.
What's your favorite unpopular anime series? Comment below.
JaydenTivon on July 13, 2020:
Hi-scoool! Seha Girls or Sega Hard Girls.
Cassidy Cornblatt (author) on April 19, 2020:
Black Bullet is a popular anime.
Amiyah CK on April 18, 2020:
anonmous on January 03, 2020:
Anonymous_Fox on April 13, 2018:
Nice list, dude! Never watched any of these series. Time to start downloading!!!
None inportant on January 19, 2018:
none of these even intrested me
Cassidy Cornblatt (author) on June 27, 2017:
I'm surprised you've even seen 2 haha. I deliberately chose very obscure anime because I wanted to create a list that would even be helpful for anime veterans. In my experience, most lists of unpopular anime are helpful for newcomers but include a lot of titles that anime fans have already seen.
Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on June 27, 2017:
Hey, I'm an anime fan just like you yet I've only watched 2 anime from this list. I'm amazed as to how unpopular these titles are. But then, that doesn't make them any less interesting. LOL
Cassidy Cornblatt (author) on June 26, 2017:
That's very true. Often anime groups on social media sites only post content related to the most mainstream of anime since that will get the most likes and comments. This makes finding unpopular anime that might appeal to you much more difficult. I added a section at the end of the article with a link to a MAL club dedicated to promoting unpopular anime, so feel free to check it out if you're looking for more.
N B Yomi from Dallas, TX on June 26, 2017:
True to form, this is why I should explore sites outside of social media. I'll actually get introduced to lesser known anime that may or may not appeal to me. The only anime on this list I'm passingly familiar with however is Taruto, and that's only because I've seen that cat-girl before.