With shows currently airing including the popular Spy X FamilyClearly, having a weird name or an unusual concept doesn’t mean an anime can’t be very successful. With highlights from recent years, including Rascal doesn’t dream of Bunny Girl Senpai and Beastarssome series cannot be judged by their coverage.
Whether it was the title, the concept, or a rocky start that led viewers to lower their expectations, these shows all managed to deliver in the end. Anime fans gathered on private soldier and voted on which of the surprisingly good series exceeded their expectations the most and here are the results.
ACCA: 13 Territory Inspection Department (2017)
At a time of unprecedented peace in the Dowa Kingdom, protagonist Jean Otus is given the task of auditing the country’s 13 districts in his capacity as second-in-command of the ACCA Inspection Service, the group controlling the districts. If that premise doesn’t sound appealing, the series is sure to surprise with the intriguing plot it slowly unfolds.
As rumors of a coup surface, it’s up to Otus to uncover the truth as he journeys through a rich and well-realized fantasy world. While politically themed drama isn’t for everyone, ACCA: 13 Territory Inspection Department. is not a show that viewers should dismiss for its premise.
While a unique visual style can be an advantage for an anime, it can also alienate and put off viewers accustomed to more traditional visuals. XxxHOLIC is a show that leans so heavily on its unusual aesthetic that it’s impossible to ignore, with the characters all boasting extremely long, slender features and often moving in disconcerting ways.
Fans would say xxxHolicIts charm comes from its creepiness, which lends itself to the strange world of Kimihiro Watanuki and the supernatural spirits that torment him. The anime is episodic but the stories it tells in each episode are interesting enough to overcome some of its initial flaws.
Ajin: Demi-Human (2016)
One of many great anime series on Netflix, Ajin: Demi-human has drawn many complaints about its 3D CGI animation style which certainly has its downsides at times. However, when criticism is so focused on a particular aspect of a show, its good points can end up being overlooked.
This explains why Ajin: Demi-human ended up being much better than many viewers expected. While its premise of a small group of people marginalized for their superhuman power isn’t new, the series proves to be as well-executed as some of the best supernatural thrillers of recent years.
The internet may have made it difficult to unbiasedly view a show inhabited entirely by anthropomorphic animals, but BEASTARS is a show that rewards the viewer for giving them a chance. Similar to Disney zootopia, BEASTARS introduces the viewer to a society where an uncomfortable tension exists between herbivores and carnivores.
Using this setting and its wolf protagonist Legoshi, who works as a stagehand for his school’s drama club, to explore issues like prejudice, the series ends up being interesting and dramatic. BEASTARS also has some great characters to get to know as the series progresses, and it’s easy to see why so many fans were pleasantly surprised.
Food wars! : Shokugeki No Souma (2015)
There’s an anime for nearly every career or hobby at this point, so it’s no surprise that there’s a series that brings the thrills of competitive cooking to life. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that Food wars! is so popular, highly rated and is a shounen anime, aimed at a young male audience.
Food wars! So isn’t a show to be dismissed as a niche anime hobby, though that’s not the only reason it may initially put off some viewers. The fan service scenes in which the characters experience “food gasps” from eating good food might also cause viewers to lower their expectations early on, but Food wars! nonetheless does a great job of making cooking exciting.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (2013)
For anime fans, the prospect of a rom-com set in a high school club might not generate much excitement, and the title awkward “My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFUdoesn’t do much to raise hopes, either. Nonetheless, the series manages to feel anything but generic once its plot begins to unfold.
Centered around the character Hachiman Hikigaya, whose apathetic and self-absorbed approach to life has him doomed to help others in the Volunteer Service Club, it quickly becomes clear that the series is very well written. Its characters and their interactions make for a show that easily rises above its generic premise.
Re:Zero, Starting Life in Another World (2016)
In 2016, it would have been easy to think that isekai anime was starting to play out, with fans growing weary of the highly stereotypical nature of these shows which transported an ordinary character into a fantasy setting, but Re: zero has been able to breathe new life into the genre. The show referenced many anime tropes like the isekai truck, but managed to avoid playing them.
Instead of exhibiting the power fantasy that usually accompanies isekai anime, protagonist Natsuki Subaru only has the option to return to a given point after death and try again. It soon begins to look more like a curse to Subaru as he is tortured by terrifying and seemingly unavoidable situations that all end in his death, setting up a fascinating streak.
Black Clover (2017)
With so many iconic anime series in the shounen action genre, it’s hard to imagine any show being able to live up to the titans of the past. black clover might never reach series heights like Hunter X Hunter but it still does a surprisingly good job of building a big fantasy world with amazing action.
Some viewers were also put off black clover by the protagonist Asta’s voice acting at the start of the series in his original Japanese audio, characterized by a lot of over-the-top energy. For fans who may overlook this, however, black clover is one of the best action anime of recent years.
Assassination Classroom (2013)
A shamelessly bizarre and super fun show about a group of college students and the tentacled monster who threatens to destroy the earth if they don’t stop him, who also happens to be their teacher, Assassination Classroom is full of surprises. The show is an action-comedy that uses its unusual premise to deliver well on both aspects.
As the students improve their assassination skills in hopes of one day taking down their ever-smiling bright yellow teacher, the show only gets better. Korosensei also happens to be the friendliest anime teacher, so Assassination Classroom It might be worth watching just for that.
Rascal Doesn’t Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (2018)
A comedy and romantic drama that is not easy to recommend to friends, Rascal doesn’t dream of Bunny Girl Senpai has nothing to do with bunny girls. Aside from the misleading title, the show features an intriguing premise centered around “puberty syndrome,” a supernatural condition particularly prevalent in main character Sakuta’s high school.
One of the most underrated anime of the last five years, Rascal doesn’t dream of Bunny Girl Senpai wows viewers with its cast of quirky characters. Its popularity despite its odd marketing shows how far the series has exceeded expectations to become a fan favorite.
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