10 Most Whimsical Anime, Ranked

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Whimsy can mean a sense of childlike wonder or an unabashed tendency toward the ridiculous. The best whimsical art and storytelling often have a surreal feel to them. Anime that falls into this nebulous sort of category is dreamlike, and dreams come in varying shades of lovely and strange, so whimsical stories aren’t always incredibly lighthearted, though they often can be.

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Stories set in fabulous, sometimes surrealist, worlds push the envelope in storytelling; often, it’s easy for stories to lean too far into basic tropes. Anime with a strange and otherworldly edge to it, whether it’s personified with a unique magic system or merely through a main character’s way of processing the world around them, makes for odd but refreshing stories with thoughtful themes and a sense of wonder.

10 Hitomi Lost Her Sense Of Color

Iroduku: The World In Colors

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Hitomi is a witch from a magical family line in Iroduku: The World in Colors, and when she experiences trauma, she loses her ability to see color. As she becomes colorblind, she also has a difficult time connecting to other people.

As Hitomi processes her trauma, she must relearn what interpersonal connection and love mean to her moving forward. As it turns out, there are some delightful exceptions to her colorblindness, which sends her in the direction of Yuito, an artist whose drawings she can see in their full color. Iroduku pairs the realities of trauma and recovery well with a gentle, creative magic system.

9 Magical Girl Momo Comes From A Land Of Dreams

Magical Princess Minky Momo

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Image features a visual from Magical Princess Minky Momo: (From left to right) Momo (adult version) in a red dress and holding a yellow bouquet, Mocha (brown monkey), Sindbook (a cream-colored dog), Pipiru (a yellow bird), and Momo holding her wand.

The color palette of Magical Princess Minky Momo alone is an ode to everything that is sweet and whimsical. The magical girl series follows Momo, a pink-haired young girl who lives in Fenarinarsa, “the land of dreams in the sky.”

Momo’s mission is to help Earth regain its ability to dream. She does so by disguising herself as various Earthen workers, like an airline stewardess, and doing deeds to help make humans happy. Though incredibly simple in plot, the theme is insightful: people who have the ability to relax and be happy are the ones best equipped with the energy and mental capacity to pursue their dreams and feed their sense of wonder and imagination.

8 Koto Wants To Find Her Way Out Of The Mirror City

Capital Craze Caricature

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Capital Craze Caricature image.

Capital Craze Caricature has layers of folkloric references and takes place in a “mirror city” where humans, robots, and strange creatures all live together. The mirror city, Kyoto, is like the land of the surreal.

Capital Craze Caricatureis a dark isekai that explores leaping through time and deals with gods and multiverses. The events can be confusing at times, which can come with the territory for more creative, surrealist anime — but it’s worth wading through the possible confusion. The fairy tale imagery, social commentary, and circuitous yet thoughtful plot will intrigue the minds of viewers.

7 Mary Finds A Rare Fly-By-Night Flower

Mary And The Witch’s Flower

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from Mary And The Witch’s Flower.

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is an underrated film that fans of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki should give a chance. It’s based on the children’s novel The Little Broomstick by Mary Stewart, a British mystery author.

When Mary Smith finds a fly-by-night flower, she becomes a witch for just one night. The setting is like a tribute to the English countryside, full of stunning visuals and bright, floral landscapes. The concept of being a temporary witch isn’t one that is explored very often in anime.

6 Himari & Her Three Penguin Friends Are On A Mission Together


<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>An image from Penguindrum.

Penguindrum may be one of the strangest anime out there, balancing difficult, real-life issues like terminal illness with anthropomorphic sidekick characters. When Himari is healed by a spirit in a hat shaped like a penguin, she must do something in return: find the Penguindrum.

Himari isn’t without help, of course. Three little penguins serve as her helpers. Penguindrum is influenced in part by a Japanese children’s novel called Night on the Galactic Railroad by Kenji Miyazawa. Though Penguindrum is a melancholy anime, its message is sweet and poignant, with a charming premise.

5 Human Asahi Is Surrounded By Monster Friends

My Monster Secret

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Asashi Kuromine and Youko Shiragami in My Monster Secret.

My Monster Secret is about Asahi, an average high school boy who starts to realize that he attends school with an ensemble of monsters, including vampires, wolfmen, and aliens. The series has a fresh take on worldbuilding, especially in terms of the rules for these supernatural creatures.

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The writing gets creative with their gifts and limitations, which is refreshing for audiences already quite used to common supernatural tropes. Asahi’s everyday concerns, like developing a crush on a half-vampire girl and struggling to keep her identity a secret, set against the supernatural chaos around him, make My Monster Secret lighthearted, silly, and easy to watch.

4 Minmay Settles Political Unrest In Space With Her Song

Macross: Do You Remember Love?

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Hikaru Lynn and Misa as seen in Macross Do You Remember Love.

Nothing says whimsy quite like resolving space wars through the gift of song while simultaneously navigating a love triangle, as Minmay does in Macross: Do You Remember Love? This Macross movie, in particular, has an eccentric feel to it beyond its premise, especially for Macross fans.

The events that take place in the film don’t truly fit with the rest of the franchise’s timeline, which makes the movie like a romance-driven fever dream from the ’80s. Minmay’s final performance at the end is a dreamy juxtaposition as she sings in her pink pastel pop idol costume against the violent scene of mecha blowing each other apart among the stars.

3 Howl’s Moving Castle Has A Creative Magic System

Howl’s Moving Castle

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sophie and Howl in Howl's Moving Castle.

Calcifer is the best part of the unique magic system in the world of Howl’s Moving Castle. Howl Pendragon’s impressive magical abilities are belied by his silly hyper-fixation on his looks, which lend an air of irreverence to the story and its high-stakes world, keeping the movie from being a straightforward sword and sorcery kind of fantasy and firmly in the realm of a dreamy fairy tale.

Howl’s Moving Castle has plenty of other eccentric and fanciful characters, including a helpful turnip-adorned scarecrow, a redeemable baddie witch, and a slouchy-faced dog who is merely along for the ride.

2 Two Small Friends Live In A Tree & Ride Birds Through The Woods

Hakumei And Mikochi

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mikochi in Hakumei and Mikochi.

Hakumei and Mikochi is about regularly fostering a community where everyone’s gifts and personalities are welcomed for their inherent value, as is exemplified by the polar opposite personalities of the deuteragonists. The series’ lessons about community are well-intentioned and can easily be applied to real life.

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Wholesome community-driven plots make the series very relatable, but it doesn’t take away from how charming and fantastical the series is, where tiny humanoid creatures ride birds through the woods, live in miniature tree houses, and make friends with the local sentient creatures of the forest.

1 Moomin Lives In A Magical Valley


<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Moomintroll from Moomin/Tanoshii Muumin Ikka (1990).

Moomin is a Dutch-Japanese production that takes place in a fantasy world called Moominvalley, where the colors are soft and quixotic, with rosy-hued mountains, butter-yellow skies, and thatched roof houses shaped like grain silos.

Moomin is a pale, chubby little troll-like creature with a long, rounded nose like a hippopotamus. The episodes range in tone from everyday slice-of-life events to eerie and magical conflicts. The overall message to the audience is to spend more time mindfully in nature and to enjoy the simpler things in life. The animation has a dreamlike quality that has captured audiences since 1990.

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