15 Overlooked Gems From Anime’s Most Popular Studios

It’s a sad fact of life, but despite the hard work poured into every project, some anime just get overlooked. Even the most popular studios in anime are not immune to having some of their works unwatched by fans, but let’s try to fix that! Here are the overlooked works from some of your favorite anime studios.

 

1Kyoto Animation – Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai

Nearly every single KyoAni projects receive fanfare – even Amagi Brilliant Park and Myriad Colors Phantom World has its share of fans. However, not many people know of Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai.

The adventure series, which follows a king trying to find a girl who is the key to saving the Magical Kingdom, is KyoAni’s first original project. It was sandwiched between Clannad After Story and K-On!, leading it to be all but forgotten.

2P.A. Works – Canaan

P.A. Works is known for creating drama, slice of life, and comedy anime, with Canaan being their sole action series.

Canaan follows a photographer who falls into the seedy Shanghai underworld and meets a mercenary named Canaan. The story, which involves a deadly virus and running from the past, is filled with great gunplay and eye pleasing art.

3Wit Studio – The Rolling Girls

Wit Studio has only been around for four years, but their portfolio is filled with financial hits and popular works…except for The Rolling Girls.

The Rolling Girls is the studio’s lowest selling project and received middling reviews due to poor marketing. Many fans expected an adventure series but instead got a coming-of-age story that preached about the importance of following your dreams. With some years to cool off, now might be a good time to re-examine The Rolling Girls with a newer perspective.

4White Fox – Jormungand

White Fox is another young series that has managed to turn out hit after hit, so it’s tough to find something that was overlooked. But Jormungand is the closest series to fit the bill.

Released in-between Steins;Gate and The Devil is a Part-Timer!, the series hovers between obscure and cult classic. It follows a woman named Koko, an arms dealer who sells weapons to conflict zones in a crusade for world peace…or so she says.

5Doga Kobo – Ryoko’s Case File

Doga Kobo is known for creating moe slice of life anime, but they weren’t always that way. Ryoko’s Case File is one of their earlier works and it’s solid mystery series without an ounce of moe.

Ryoko is an investigator from an elite law school and takes on cases that have police stumped due to seemingly paranormal reasons. It’s an odd series in Doga Kobo’s portfolio but is definitely worth watching.

6J.C. Staff – Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko

J.C. Staff has been around since 1987 and has created some of the most popular series in the industry, including A Certain Magical IndexToradora!, and Slayers. They also have created a lot of overlooked works.

Starship Girl Yamamoto Yohko was chosen because of its fun twist on space battles. In the far future, humans are split into two factions that engage in a war game for galactic supremacy. The spaceships used in battles teleport the pilots to the mother ship upon destruction, so no one dies in the game. It’s basically a game of Battleship, but with human pilots.

7Studio Deen – Full Moon o Sagashite

Studio Deen has been around since 1975, but despite their long history, many modern fans view them as a meme studio due to their low budgets and wonky art direction. They have been rebuilding their reputation with KonoSuba and Rakugo, but their best works are from the late ’90s to early 2000s.

Full Moon o Sagashite is one of their best anime that newer fans overlook. It’s an emotional tale about Mitsuki Kouyama, a young girl who is combating throat cancer while trying to fulfill her dream of becoming a singer.

8Toei Animation – Mononoke

Toei Animation is one of the oldest studios in the industry, with works dating back to 1963! They have become known for their long-running series, like One Piece and Precure, but they have taken on some riskier projects.

Mononoke follows a nameless medicine seller who travels to different locations and exercises yokai that are lingering in the human world. The story isn’t very marketable and the art style (which has a paper-art look) is a unique feature as well. It’s one of Toei’s best works from an artistic standpoint and shows that they are willing to take the occasional risk.

9Madhouse – Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

Madhouse’s projects are either super popular or unknown, which is due to their large workload.

You could pick a handful of overlooked anime from the studio, but Kaiji gets the nod due to its mature storyline and unique premise. The story follows Kaiji Ito, a young man who lives in poverty and attempts to repay his debts through gambling. He is conned into going on a cruise ship, which is a cover for an illegal gambling ring.

10Sunrise – Betterman

Sunrise has been behind some of the biggest hits in anime, including Gundam, Gintama, and Love Live! However, Betterman is easily the studio’s most overlooked anime. It’s a mecha series that is commonly accused of being an

It’s a mecha series that is commonly accused of being an Evangelion clone due to its dark tone, despite Sunrise having been making dark mecha since the ’70s (don’t tell Eva fans that). The story follows a research group looking to cure a deadly brain mutation. A “Betterman” is a humanoid life form that can transform to combat various threats brought about from the brain mutation as the team looks for a cure. A lot of body horror ensues.

11Studio Pierrot – Hanasakeru Seishounen

Studio Pierrot is another storied studio that has been turned into a meme by modern fans. They have been around since 1979 and have worked on iconic series like Urusei YatsuraYu Yu Hakusho, and Kimagure Orange Road.

However, a lot of their modern projects other than NarutoBleach, and Tokyo Ghoul have gone overlooked simply because of their involvement. Fans eager to hate Pierrot should check out Hanasakeru Seishounen, which is a series that blends romance with political turmoil.

12Bones – RahXephon

Bones has emerged as one of Japans premier studios due to their creativity and quality animation. Recent years have seen them work in a variety of genres, but they got their start as a mecha studio. RahXephon is one of their best and most forgotten projects.

Taking inspiration from Mesoamerican cultures and including a compelling romance with mystery, RahXephon is a mecha series that was popular during its initial release but has been passed over in recent years due to its atypical stylings.

13Production I.G. – Maria the Virgin Witch

Production I.G. has a storied history and has worked on hundreds of anime as either a producer or a co-producer.

You could pick any number of overlooked works the studio has worked on, but Maria the Virgin Witch was chosen because of its anti-war message, themes of tolerance, and society’s view on sexuality. All of this is wrapped in a colorful adventure about a witch who is trying to maintain peace between warring humans.

14A-1 Pictures –  Night Raid 1931

A-1 Pictures is one of the largest and most financially successful studios, in part due to being owned by Sony. They are known for having commercial hits, including Sword Art Online.

One common criticism is that A-1 Pictures only creates “commercial” anime, but they have taken risks before. Night Raid 1931 is perhaps their riskiest project due to being set during the Second-Sino-Japanese War. Despite having supernatural elements, the anime doesn’t revise some of the atrocities Japan committed in the war and is fairly accurate from a historical perspective.

15Ufotable – Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu

To a majority of fans, Ufotable is known for adapting Type-Moon works (Fate/stay Night and Kara no Kyoukai) or video games (God Eater and Tales of Zestiria). They all share Ufotable’s penchant for action and serious storytelling…but did you know they got their start as comedy studio? Yeah, didn’t think so.

During their formative years, Ufotable worked on random comedy series, with Ninja Nonsense being the best of the bunch. It follows a normal girl named Kaeda who meets a ninja-in-training…who is tasked with stealing Kaeda’s panties as part of a ninja exam. Yeah, it’s filled with nonsense.

What are your favorite overlooked anime from popular studios?

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