Underrated anime series released at the wrong time
All something needs to win is to be in the right place at the right time. Godzilla wasn’t the first or only monster movie in 1954, but it ended up creating a franchise that has lasted nearly 70 years. The long awaited the Lord of the Rings the film adaptation finally arrived after more than 40 years of failed projects in 2001, and since then the fantasy genre has dominated every screen, big and small.
But not everything hits this right time. Either they miss a trend by a few years, or they just don’t get it until someone dusts it off years later and sees its true value. It applies to movies, TV shows and anime among other media. Check out these shows for example. These are underrated anime that could have done better had they been released in other eras.
6 Suisei No Gargantia
The Japanese title is much less greedy than the English title (Gargantia on the Verdant Planet). The show is about a mech pilot who is kicked out of his sci-fi setting via a wormhole to a strange, primeval planet called Earth. Not only does he have to adapt to the Earthlings’ strange customs and language, but they also have to get used to him and “Chamber” – his AI-operated “Calibre Machine” (mech).
Taking the robot out of its comfort zone to make it old-fashioned is unique, and the show itself has received strong reviews. But the tastes of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann raised the bar both in terms of seriousness and yuck. These days, giant robot anime needs something more than the joy of mechs to gain mainstream appeal. Thereby, GargantiaThe simpler premise and hook of may have had better luck during the genre’s heyday in the 1980s than it does today.
5 Fist of the North Star
Kenshiro’s gory adventures in the post-apocalyptic wasteland are a cult favorite in the West. It was popular enough to release shows, movies, and video games beyond Japanese shores. But it was a big hit in Japan in its heyday. Both the manga and the show started just as the 1980s were heating up, then went back up again at the end. This is also seen with the road warrior-style villains and mules galore.
Perhaps that’s why its appeal in the West has cooled beyond the basic “Bruce Lee meets Mad Max” concept. Set in the late 1990s, the show was too old to be fresh, too young to be retro, and too violent for the Pokemon and dragonball time slices. If he returned to the West at the same time as Japan, Fist of the North Star could have been remembered more fondly by more people.
4 SK8 Infinity
The skateboarding craze tends to come and go. It was hot in the late 1970s with skateboarders like Tony Hawk, then hot again in the early 2000s via skateboarders like… well, Tony Hawk again. If it was something cyclical, SK8 Infinity would have come out just in time for that. The show follows Reki as he introduces Langa, the new transfer student from his high school, to the world of hardcore skateboarding in Okinawa.
It might still catch on as the series has received favorable reviews from critics and fans alike. But SK8 might have paved a better way if its premise could have been made in the early 2000s. Skateboarding was everywhere both in real life and on TV via shows and video games. Anime was also on the rise in the mainstream thanks to naruto, dragonball, and more. A show combining the two would have garnered more attention back then than it does today.
3 Yakitate!! Japan
There are many anime shows that could be summed up as “the kid leaves to be the best X”. Naruto wants to be the best ninja in his village. Luffy wants to be the Pirate King. Then in Yakitate!! Japan, Kazuma Azuma wants to put Japanese baking on the map by giving the nation its own unique kind of bread. A Ja-Pan, so to speak.
The premise is not a world away from the most popular Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma. In this show, Soma must cook up curious cuisines at his elite school to save his family’s restaurant and outdo his father. The difference is that yakitate stuck to baking, and it came out a decade earlier in 2004. If the two shows were presented one-on-one in a Friday night food wars block, they might have benefited from this competitive advantage. As is, food wars fans might also enjoy its pastry-based predecessor.
This Gothic tale of exorcists against demons based in the 19th century has really taken root in its homeland. The manga has been shot in several Jump publications since 2004, alongside a 103-episode anime adaptation. Additionally, a relatively short 13-episode sequel series titled D. Gray-Man Hallow. The English versions of the manga have even reached the New York Times List of best sellers. Still, his animated version didn’t catch on in the West in 2006.
The reviews were cool, considering it derivative but entertaining. Viewers seemed to think the same as, in 2011, voice actor Todd Halberkorn said his DVD sales lagged other works. Still, interest in the series spiked again in 2016 when Funimation got their hands on it. Now both the original anime and Sanctify can be seen in full on their streaming service. Giving 113 episodes of a show a chance is an easier commitment to make with VOD than with DVD.
1 Afro samurai
Afro samurai market like this Yasuke could run. Beginning as an irregular series in the Nou Nou Hau dōjinshi in 1998, this story of a wandering samurai seeking revenge for his father’s death caught on well enough to earn a short anime series in 2007. fondly remembered, and a sequel to that game that was so bad the publishers called it back shortly after release.
Black action leads were less common around Afro samurai‘s original run, not to mention the ones in manga and anime. They usually had more hoops to jump through, to put it mildly. However, POC action stars have figured out the rise of Black Panther, Ms. Marvel, Blue Beetle, and others. The time has come for Afro and his headband to show everyone who #1 really is.
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