5 More Must See Lesser Known Anime TV Shows
For Fans of: Cowboy Bebop
1) Black Lagoon (Action)
Possibly the only anime that I would actively recommend watching the dubbed over the subbed version. This is a very westernised action show, with characters that would easily fit into any American drama.
Black Lagoon is based on a manga by Rei Hiroe and was adapted into a relatively big hit series by the kings of anime: Madhouse. It follows a team of pirate mercenaries known as the Lagoon Company, who smuggle goods in and around the seas of Southeast Asia. The majority of the series is set in the fictional city of Roanapur in Southeast Asia, were the Yakuza, Triad, Cuban and French Cartels all have their base of operations.
Black Lagoon takes a case of the week approach to its story telling. The two available seasons (and OVA) are divided into mini arcs that last for a few episodes (the longest one is 6), were the gang either needs to protect someone, find some hidden treasure or just blast their way through a whole city of hitmen. From the very first second the series commences, Black Lagoon is one never ending thrill ride.
Madhouse pulled all the stops for this one: The series has some of the best animation ever put together and still looks fantastic now-a-days. I would really recommend watching the Blu-Ray version, since the colours and backgrounds really came to life.
Besides the fantastic action and the fast pacing, Black Lagoon is home to some of the most iconic anime characters of the last decade. The two central characters: Rock and Revy, are synonyms with the action anime genre (especially Revy), and the rest of the team (Dutch and Benny) add an extra layer to the series.
Black Lagoon is non stop action and mayhem. Both seasons are worth watching and the 5 part OVA is fantastic as well. It is a show that can easily be binged watched, so get ready to lose a day or two.
Black Lagoon (Complete Series)
For Fans Of: One Piece
2) Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic/ Kingdom of Magic
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and the second season, Kingdom of Magic, are based on a very successful manga by Shinobu Ohtaka, which slowly nears its conclusion. Therefore, one can expect a third season to soon follow.
Magi is filled with characters that people will recognise: Sinbad, Aladdin and Alibaba. It is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient world were all living things possess Rukh and when they die, this energy returns to the world. Certain people (magicians and magi) can control that Rukh while others can harvest it to create weapons.
Magi can be rather childish when it starts off but it quickly develops into one of the best written series out there. The second season, especially, is worth watching. The anime is created by A-1 Pictures and follows, primarily, the adventures of the young magi, Aladdin, and the discarded prince, Alibaba.
All across the land, labyrinths have suddenly sprouted up from the ground. If someone was able to defeat the labyrinth and claim the treasure, then they would gain unbridled power and riches (and not to mention a Genie!). The first season centres itself on these labyrinths and a lot of time is spent with the core group (which also includes a former slave, Morgiana, and the prince of an Empire aiming to rule the world, Hakuryuu Ren) as they attempt to conquer two separate Labyrinths.
These arcs are entertaining, but the series really shines when it grounds itself in politics (seriously!). The entire second season is a build up to an all out war between a few feuding nations, and each one of the main characters are burden with conflicts of interest that tear them apart. Kingdom of Magic remains one of the top 5 anime seasons of the last 5 years, and is a must watch for any anime fan (season 1 is great, as-well).
Magi is fun, energetic, ambitious and intelligent. Despite being a bit cutesy, at times, the writers are not scared of pushing these characters into rough waters, creating one of the most memorable series of recent years.
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
For Fans Of: Great Teacher Onizuka
3) Assassination Classroom
Assassination Classroom has just premièred its second season, therefore there is no better time to binge watch the first. That squid like thing in the picture is planning to blow up the world in a year. The only thing standing in his way? His class filled with deviant troublemakers.
Assassination Classroom sounds like a really dumb show but the characters go through an impressive amount of development over the first season, which is backed up by the fantastic animation and loveable villain. It is fun, light hearted and occasionally epic.
Directed by Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!) at the studio Lerche (Unbreakable Machine Doll), Assassination Classroom is a mix of gut busting, laugh out loud, comedy (often slapstick) and heart pounding action sequences that are a lot more than just powerful creatures facing off against each other.
Koro-Sensei (the squid teacher) is hard to truly understand (especially in the beginning of the series). He is a powerful monster, very capable (and willing) to destroy the Earth. He is, also, kind of a pervert and spends most of his free-time browsing dirty magazines while drooling like a toddler.
At the same time, Koro-Sensei genuinely cares about his students. Throughout the first season (and the few released episodes of season 2), there is no doubting how far he is willing to go to protect his class. Despite all of them wanting (clearly) to kill him, he spends the entire show singling out their strongest traits and developing them, so these delinquents that are shunned by the world around them, can reach their full potential.
To be honest, he is kind of a mix Master Roshi and any of the big villains from the Dragon Ball series. It is an odd mix, but surprisingly works well. The students also have distinct personality that work off each other very well.
Assassination Classroom (Season 1)
For Fans Of: Dragon Ball Z
4) Yu Yu Hakusho (Shōnen, Action, Comedy)
Yu Yu Hakusho is a lot older than anything else on this list. It follows Yusuke, a street brawling delinquent, who ends up getting killed after an unexpected act of altruism. Due to this unexpected act, Hell is still not prepared to accept him into their fold, so they decide to grant him a second chance, as long as he serves as their lackey.
Yu Yu Hakusho is a legendary anime series. All four characters in the above picture are loved by anime fans in general. It's art style is timeless, in the same way that the original Dragon Ball is, and the story arcs remain as captivating today as they were the day they got released.
This is not some unknown gem (it originally aired alongside Dragon Ball Z), but I decided to include it within this list simply because it is one of the easiest series to get into. After watching One Piece and all the Dragon Ball series, Yu Yu Hakusho was the first long running show (over a hundred episodes) that captured my attention and showed me how complex and intelligent even a basic Shōnen series can be. I would not be the anime fan I am today if I had not watched this series.
Yu Yu Hakusho is split into four sagas: Ghost Files, Dark Tournament, Chapter Black and the 3 Kings. Dark Tournament and Chapter Black are easily the two strongest, with great villains in both sagas and the most ambition. The first saga, Ghost Files, is a decent entry point for the characters and the world they exist in, but it lacks the scale found in both the following arcs.
Unfortunately, the show kind of ended on a whimper instant of a bang. The 3 Kings arc derails an otherwise perfect anime, but it by no means ruins it. It is not all that long either (just over 15 episodes) and has a few good moments thrown in as well.
Yu Yu Hakusho (Season 1)
For Fans Of: Hajime No Ippo
5) Haikyu!! (Sports, Comedy)
I know what you're thinking. 'Who the hell likes Volleyball? Not even volleyball players like volleyball. They only do it because they couldn't get into the basketball team.'
First things first, volleyball is awesome and very challenging to master. But, even if the sport does not peak your interest, Haikyuu!! is about the characters and how they grow while playing the sport they love. The passion they feel is, honestly, infectious.
Slam Dunk (Basketball) and Ping- Pong: The Animation (Soccer, obviously) could have easily made the list instead of Haikyuu!!. All require no knowledge or love for the sport at all. The reason I went with this show is, honestly, because it is the newest one. Season two of Haikyu!! is currently airing (and it is awesome!), so here's a show that is currently developing its fan base and doing a great job of it.
The series follows Shōyō Hinata, a short student who gains a love for volleyball after watching his idol (the Little Giant) at a national championship match on TV. Despite his physical disadvantage, Hinata creates a volleyball team during Junior High and spends most of his time practising alone until the final tournament, were he finally gets an opportunity to play. Unfortunately, he comes up against the 'King of the Court', Kageyama, and ends up suffering a horrible loss.
Fast forward to Highschool and Hinata and Kageyama end up on the same team in the same school, Karasuno: A school that once was considered a power house in the sport but as fallen on dark days.
Like pretty much all sports anime, Haikyu!! is about overcoming the odds to excel were nobody believed you can. Hinata's love for volleyball is infectious and his relationship with Kageyama (and the entire team) is one of the most enjoyable back and forth currently on TV.