Take a break from action and romances and take a chance on some of the unconventional anime series.
These anime take risks in terms of art style and narrative to provide a unique experience for fans looking for something different.
1. Haibane Renmei
Haibane Renmei is a series that needs multiple viewings in order to catch all the subtle hints. The story reveals more questions than answers and doesn’t shove plot details into the viewer’s face.
Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Mystery / Slice of Life
Quick Pitch: Rakka is a Haibane, a being born with small wings and a halo. She lives a quiet and uneventful life, but is curious about what is behind the massive walls surrounding the town.
2. Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena takes the illusions that shoujo anime creates and reveals the ugly truths behind them.
Genre: Drama / Psychological / Romance / Yuri
Studio: J.C. Staff
Quick Pitch: Utena dreams of becoming a prince after a traveling prince consoled Utena after the deaths of her parents. The prince gives Utena a ring with a rose crests and promises to meet her again. While attending Ohtori Academy, Utena takes part in a game of duels.
3. Welcome to Irabu’s Office
The series has a very distinct that uses bright colors and switches between traditional animation and rotoscoping. Welcome to Irabu’s Office also has off kilter humor. It’s basically an anime acid trip.
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Psychological
Studio: Toei Animation
Quick Pitch: Dr. Irabu has a fetish for administering injections to patients, and his advice never makes much sense. However, he somehow manages to help his patients with whatever problems they are facing.
The series experiments with bold art and unique direction. Mononoke is a blend of murder mystery, supernatural, and historical genres that consist of five arcs that connect to a larger story.
Genre: Historical / Horror / Mystery / Occultic
Studio: Toei Animation
Quick Pitch: Kusuriuri is a wandering medicine seller who seeks out malevolent spirits called mononoke. Once Kusuriuri arrives in an area, he must discover the Shape, Truth, and Reasoning of the spirit before it can be exorcised.
5. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo
Gankutsuou is a very different take on the classic The Count of Monte Cristo novel. The visual style is noticeably unique and the story is well paced.
Genre: Drama / Mystery / Science Fiction / Thriller
Quick Pitch: Albert de Morcerf and Franz d’Épinay visit Luna for a festival. While there, they meet the self-made nobleman The Count of Monte Cristo. Taken by The Count’s charm, Albert invites him to Paris. Little did Albert know that this would kick off a series of events.
6. Ping Pong the Animation
One of the top coming-of-age stories in anime…at it centers around ping pong! The art is intentionally crude and manages to capture the mental state of the main character perfectly.
Genre: Coming-of-Age / Sports
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Quick Pitch: Peco and Smile are childhood friends who share an interest in ping pong. Their lives change after Peco loses a match and decides to quit practicing. Smile, due to his own issues, can’t find it in himself to beat Peco in a match. However, a coach sees great potential in Smile.
Don’t let the childish art style fool you, Kaiba pulls no punches. The anime asks morality questions and expects the audience to form their own answers.
Genre: Science Fiction / Romance
Quick Pitch: Death is no longer a worry thanks to the ability to transfer memories into a new body. This technology has given rise to a gray market of memory theft and alteration, which has led to society’s fall. Kaiba is a boy with no memories but is in possession of a locket with the picture of a girl. After surviving an attack, Kaiba escapes into space with the goal of finding the girl.
A story of forbidden love that can be described as a mix of Romeo & Juliet and Tokyo Ghoul (minus the edge).
Genre: Comedy / Horror / Romance
Quick Pitch: Shokujinki are a race of flesh eating monsters that can appear as humans and live in the shadows. The Kifuuken is a martial arts style based down through the Momota family which is used to combat the shokujinki. Toshihiko is a part of the Momota family, and he falls in love with Yuka, a woman who is a shokujinki.
What are some of your favorite unconventional anime series?