Anime can be kind of weird in general, however for this list I’m not just picking anime that is weird to watch. These are series where the actual base premise is really odd or even kind of dumb sounding. Sure Paranoia Agent or Serial experiments Lain were pretty trippy to watch but when you strip out the details, one was a thriller about a serial killer with a supernatural bend and the other was in fact a fairly standard if superbly well done cyberpunk scifi drama. On the other hand, if you try to explain the core of the story of these shows to your friends, they’ll look at you weird. But they’re also shows that I happen to have really enjoyed… A lot!
I have a feeling these are the type of shows that can only really exist in anime!
Evil aliens could destroy the world although for now they are making people dance but fear not, a valiant young alien boy is going to team up with a couple of humans and save us all…by fishing. Unless of course the government agent and his duck partner get him first….
Tsuritama is a very fun show that turns into a surprisingly touching coming of age story without warning then just as quickly dives back into the weird. By the latter half of the series the two are inextricably mixed into a glorious one. It’s also very pretty to look at.
I really enjoyed Tsuritama but trying to get anyone to watch it has been difficult because answering the question “what is it about” is a real challenge. It’s about fishing, and also aliens although that may be a stand in for mental illness or isolation… Oh there’s also a pretty strong commentary about conformity and government oversight. Then there’s the duck…
So putting an Ikuhara show on here is sort of a cheat since the guy seems to revel in odd premises. Start from weird and go from there.
Sarazanmai is about three boys that get “cursed” into turning in to kappa and sucked into an ancient conflict with the evil otters. It’s not all bad though as helping out the kappa king may earn them a chance to have one wish granted. To do so they must help the people deal with their personal demons by singing and yanking them out of their anuses… Through the ordeal, they each must face their own traumas.
There isn’t a more normal way to describe Sarazanmai. I left out the cross dressing as a popular idol, the Yakuza subplot and trying to come to terms with homosexuality bits. And yet, for all of that, it’s a fairly relatable show about trying to deal with very horrible things happening in your life. «no matter how weird the premise, the heart of it is very down to earth. Also I love Sarazanmai. Like really love Sarazanmai. It’s one of my favourite shows. It also happens to be gorgeous looking. Maybe I’m just superficial! Whoa…self awareness kind of stings.
3. Kill La Kill
Ryoko’s quest to avenge her late father by finding his killer has brought her and her sentient school uniform to Honnouji Academy to face the powerful school council. Little does she know that a race of evil textile creatures from space is plotting to take over. Thankfully Ryoko’s not shy and in a world were the less clothing you wear the more powerful you can become, she’s about to rise to the top.
In a way Kill la Kill sounds like the plot of an overly ambitious low budget hentai. Some could argue that is. (The plot, not the show. I don’t see how anyone could call Kill la Kill hentai as it’s very far from it.) But there’s a reason this series cemented Trigger studio’s claim to fame and remains unmistakably popular with fans. It’s good.
Kill la Kill leans into it’s weird premise and unlike the previous shows on this list doesn’t normalize at all. Every episode is kind of weird. Unusual elements get piled on one over the other. Characters try to out eccentric themselves. The oddity is part of this shows identity and I love it.
2. To Be A Hero (Heroine)
I’ve grouped both seasons of this show because they are both super weird and also, I really loved them both. They made me cry.
To be a Hero is about a playboy toilet designer who gets turned into an unattractive middle aged man with super powers when he’s sucked down a toilet. Now his own daughter no longer recognizes him so he must keep an eye on her from his neighbour’s place while fighting off aliens (a common theme in these) and boys who are in love with her. There are some heartbreaking moments of father daughter bonding that still put a lump in my throat.
To be a Heroine is about a young girl named You who gets sucked into a world where everyone is naked and her clothes can turn into hot boy weapons. Good thing cause she’s getting attacked from all sides. It’s also about a young man who has disappeared and seems to have gotten mysteriously forgotten by everyone but You. To be a Heroine is about the struggle of overcoming survivor’s guilt and dealing with a loss of a friend as well as how the actions of one generation can impact the next.
These are series with very lofty themes and they don’t always manage to get them across since they rely of slapstick humour and some really out there metaphors. However both touched me and I really want more people to watch them!
1. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
When watching reborn you get the impression that you’re watching a shonen. One that I quite enjoyed but still a fairly typical one with a lot of the tropes and clichés you might expect. But the plot is just bonkers and you kind of have to accept it an move one.
At some point a bunch of powerful mafia hitmen got turned into babies with magical pacifiers. Strap in, we’re just starting. One of whom, Reborn, has been dispatched to find the latest head of the notorious mob Vongola family and teach him the ways of organized crime. Which is going to be tough since Tsuna happens to be a looser Japanese student. At least he has magical powers as well as a lot of friends. I say friends but their just other boys around school, some of which are super scary and Tsuna would never talk to them under normal circumstances. Oh and Tsuna’s powers activate sort of randomly and he stripes when they do…
Eventually there’s a time travel arc and one of the protagonist is a multidimensional criminal… The mafia hitmen baby become one of the most reasonable aspects. I wish they would make another season!
Oh I didn’t add it but Assassination Classroom also has a really crazy premise that’s sort of hard to even make sense out of until the second season. I also love that show… Oh and World Conquest Zvezda!
So there you have it, 5 (actually more like 8) shows that I really enjoyed but have some pretty crazy premises. Do you have any anime which are great but you have a hard time explaining or recommending them because of a weird premise?
21 thoughts on “My Top 5 Great Anime with Questionable Premises”
I was waiting for one piece 😅✌gomugomu go
Anime has too many wacky premises
Sarazanmai… I’m six episodes into it. I suppose I’d like it better if half the episode wasn’t a slight variation on the same animation over and over. I’m finding the musical numbers obnoxious. I just wish there were more unique plot to each episode. With everything being so anus oriented, there’s a certain gross-out factor.
But it is hard to object to the fan service. And the boys’ secrets are all interesting.
Kill la Kill was one of those anime I tried a couple years ago and just could not get interested. I tried it again just recently and loved it.
To be a Heroine… wow! I was getting really confused by it. Finally, by episode 7, I’m figuring out what the plot is, what is flashback, and what is isekai. Or is it fantasy?
You’re in for a ride, To Be A Heroine gets..unexpected
Both anime complete, both are quite enjoyable with flaws. At least, IMHO.
Have you seen Kyousougiga? That’s a weird one. Arakowa Under the Bridge is another.
Yes – I reviewed both.
Kyousougiga is a through the looking glass retelling for me and I absolutely love it.
Arakowa is about a guy who decides to escape the pressures of society by taking a break with a community of homeless people who all have eccentric personalities. The show is quirky but a pretty common premise.
It’s been quite long since I watched Tsuritama but I remember enjoying it, and also vague details about the coming of age point. And Sarazanmai… I really didn’t expect for that show to be as deep as it is weird. Amazing list!
Thank you! Both of those shows are very dear to me
Heh, your thumbnail for this post has Midori Days, Assassination Classroom, and Shimoneta. Sort of fitting for the topic.
Also, have you ever tried to explain Kyousogiga while also trying to avoid spoilers? There are so many weird anime that I’ve lost the sense for what’s weird, and I only find out that they are when I try to tell people what it’s about.
I’d say the hardes Ikuhara to explain is Penguin Drum.
For some reason, I didn’t quite enjoy Tsuritama as much as everyone else who watched the show seems to have, but I still liked it quite a bit.
I essentially used my thumbnail as honourable mentions….
The only time I explained Kyousougiga I said it was a retelling of Alice through the Looking Glass stronger religious themes and an emphasis on familial bonds… I wonder if that person will be mad at me.
That’s a fairly neat summary, I’d say.
All of these shows are really fun. I think most of these shows end up being more interesting than more “normals” shows because they tend to be by people who have more wacky vision of the show. Like the animations in Kill La Kill are really weird but its a lot more interesting than other shows… but as you said they make it really hard to explain to people because they are all so absurd. Although most of them do end up loving it at the end!
Sometime you need to take a chance of wacky
I loved Hitman Reborn and Kill la Kill is among my all time favorites.
I mean… Hitman Reborn at one point had little animals hidden in boxes that can be released for all sort of super attacking options…so that is pretty much up my alley.
I really do love these type of shows, I even enjoyed Keijo a fair bit.. from a non fan servicey perspective. Fooly Cooly comes to mind when naming another.
FLCL is also a great show with a crazy premise. Great pull. In fact it may have been lightning in a bottle.
I like the effort in going for more stylized header images! I would suggest making the title at the bottom (which is what the post is about, after all) a tad bigger, though.
But stylized yet sort of dumb and useless is such a great metaphor for me as a person…. Noted – I’ll try it out
The thing I like about this type of show is that they tend to go all-in on their wacky premises and take themselves amusingly seriously. That really helps in a lot of cases; the juxtaposition between the absurd concept and the fact that said absurdity is A Big Deal to the characters really works for me; if you pair an absurd concept with overly wacky humour, it can get a bit much.
I quite like that as well. Just sink into the absurdity