10 Lesser-Known Anime You Should Watch Right Now
1. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)
Seeing as the loose sequel film Yoru wa Mijikashi Aruke yo Otome (Night is Short, Walk on Girl) just hit U.S. screens this past week, it seems fitting to mention such an iconic yet understated anime. The shows’ appeal can be found through the themes of time travel, dimensional fate, and true love. It is also beautifully animated in a rare, low saturated style that allows specific plot-related elements to pop.
If you always wondered if things could have been drastically better if only you had done something differently, this anime is for you. Following the protagonist, appropriately named Watashi (Me) so as to become easy to identify with, it is meant to make you reflect on the fragility of your own life’s path, all while enjoying the unique story and artwork.
Not to be confused with the box office hit, “Mononoke Hime” (Princess Mononoke), Mononoke still deals with demons and spirits, but focuses on the folklore and cultural significance of Japanese culture. The nameless “Medicine Seller” totes his magical wares throughout feudal era Japan in search of “Mononoke,” which are powerful ayakashi (spirits). To exercise these spirits, he must find their Form, Truth, and Reason before being able to wield his exorcism tools, so each episode features a new Monoke and a mystery to solve.
The layered patterns and paper-like art style of this series is something to appreciate, despite your interest in textiles. Also, as a supernatural period drama, there are a ton of historical facts to keep you engaged and wanting more.
3. Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari (Poco’s Udon World)
This anime takes the concept of a single dish and turns it into a family drama. So if you enjoy your anime served with plenty of drama, Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari is for you. The plot consists of a baby Japanese Tanuki (Racoon Dog) that helps the emotionally reserved Souta connect once more with the memory of his deceased father, as well as his origins of growing up in an udon shop.
Throughout each episode, there are plenty of sweet and funny moments to keep your cravings at bay, as well as glamorous udon shots. If you are a top-tier gourmet or an Instagram food blogger, this show is guaranteed to stimulate your appetite, and maybe even your tear ducts.
4. Fuuji Monogatari (Windy Tales)
Though some might criticize this anime for its aesthetic, it is really a reflection on the theme, which is how the wind plays a part in our lives. The air and its movement are captured perfectly in the quick, light and sketch-like quality of the character and scene design.
This is a Slice of Life anime, meaning it is a reflection of everyday life, so there is not too much excitement. It is the perfect way to spend an easy-going afternoon feeling lighter than air. Set during the most agonizing teen years of awkward confessions and rejections, the high school bittersweet nostalgia will hit you like a burst of crisp wind. So be warned, it might sting a bit.
5. Tonari no Seki-kun (My Neighbor Seki)
This show is composed of short skits, meaning there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to enjoy, without having to commit to a whole feature-length film. Adapted from a graphic novel, this story tells the odd happenings of Yokoi’s seat neighbor, Seki, at school. Every day, he finds some new and bizarre way to distract himself from his studies. Whether it be building sand castles or pulling cats out of his backpack, it is often at Yokoi’s expense.
If you can’t seem to make a dent in your “To Watch” anime list, “Tonari no Seki-kun” is just short and sweet enough to squeeze in anytime for a little pick-me-up, as well as a laugh or two.
6. Dennou Coil (A Circle of Children)
This story is about Yuuko Okonogi, a young girl who is adjusting to a world that has incorporated augmented reality and high-tech gadgets into everyday life. She joins her grandmothers’ “Investigation Agency,” which solves neighborhood virtual hacking and virus problems. Though the characters are ridiculously cute while dealing with their pre-teen drama, the story is complex and has plenty of substance for viewers of all ages.
For Sci-Fi fans and those who question consciousness in relation to the digital age, this series slowly unpacks the positive and negative aspects of a tech dominant world through the perspective of an innocent. But be warned, it will probably leave you looking suspiciously at your cell phone for some time.
7. Moyashimon (Moyasimon, Tales of Agriculture)
If you’re a germaphobe, this isn’t the anime for you. Tadayasu is a college freshman at an agricultural school in Tokyo. He is extremely knowledgeable about microbes, and naturally so because he can see them with a naked eye. This show is both educational and entertaining due to the thorough accounts of the various cultures and microorganisms found in flora or fauna. The tiny creatures talk and exhibit humanoid behaviors to symbolize their real-life characteristics, which is just as informative as it is hilarious.
Moyasimon is perfect for viewers looking to walk away from a series feeling satisfied, as though they were watching the Discovery Channel rather than an anime. Who knows, maybe it will inspire you to study microorganisms too.
8. NeiA Under Seven
If you are an anime buff, you have probably heard of “Serial Experiment Lain.” Coming from the same artist, “NieA Under Seven” offers a unique and original take on aliens and their existence or purpose in our universe. In this world, aliens have been inhabiting the earth for some time, and are seen as second-class citizens by most. Mayuko, a studious and poor cram school student allows (“allows” being a generous term), one such alien to inhabit her tiny apartment. Thus begins their dysfunctional yet touching friendship.
For those who want to see the dissection of modern-day issues, the series tackles real-world issues such as discrimination and poverty in a dystopian society of fantastical UFOs and miraculous happenings.
If memories exist in memory chips and not in the brain, death becomes insignificant. The world of “Kaiba” has the wealthy buying bodies of impoverished people who have no choice but to give up their fleshy vessels. After awakening in an empty room as blank as a slate, the adventure of a boy named Kaiba is one of creating an identity and answering the questions of life with the help of a woman he was supposed to never forget.
This anime is a rare bird thanks to the unique plot, complex characters, and sentimentality of retro Japanese animation. It will take you on an adventure of a lifetime, set in a perilous future, and shrouded in mystery.
10. Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai (Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi)
Satoshi is going through an existential crisis at the young age of twelve-years-old. He lost his card collection, his best friend Arumi is moving away, and now he and Arumi have been transported to a magical world that appears to be a reimagined version of their hometown. The pair tries to return home by trecking through grounds of fantasy, dating-sims and other elements of otaku (pop-culture fanatic) culture.
Through each episode, it is easy to see that the imagination is a powerful thing which can be frightening, exhilarating or both. “Abenobashi Mahou Shoutengai” is visually stunning, emotion-evoking and worthy of a binge watch.