15 Obscure Anime That Used To Be Incredibly Popular

10 Obscure Anime That Used To Be Incredibly Popular

When an anime is popular, the assumption is that it will remain relevant for years to come. Some even become nostalgic holdovers. This is unfortunately not the case for some once-famous anime. No matter how big a deal they were in their prime, these anime fell between the cracks of time.

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These anime didn’t only age poorly or fell out of favor. Because of shifting tastes and social norms, it’s as if they never aired to begin with. This sad fate even befell some of anime’s biggest trendsetters. Time hasn’t been kind to some once-loved anime, and they’ve since fallen into obscurity.

Updated on January 30th, 2023 by Angelo Delos Trinos: There’s more anime being made and aired today than at any other point in history. Because of this, it’s become harder for both new and old anime to even leave a faint impression on fans. This list was updated to include more anime that have since been lost to the fog of time.

15 Noblesse’s Hype Petered Out On A Weekly Basis

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In 2020, Crunchyroll announced its slate of original anime that included adaptations of popular manhwa from WEBTOON. Excitement for what fans thought would be a “Manhwa Invasion” was extreme, especially because the fan-favorite Noblesse was getting adapted. Unfortunately, the manhwa anime fell short of expectations.

When Noblesse began, fans were hooked. But with each passing episode, Noblesse slowly vanished from online conversations. This was thanks to its lukewarm animation and rushed pacing. These issues were unfortunately common among all of Crunchyroll’s new anime. The Manhwa Invasion died when Noblesse ended.

14 Yuri!!! On Ice Was Seemingly Forgotten By MAPPA

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Victor and Yuri stick together in Yuri!!! On Ice

Yuri!!! on Ice wasn’t just 2016’s breakout anime, but one of the most culturally important anime as well. The anime catapulted figure skating into the mainstream, and it was praised for normalizing gay characters and love like never before. MAPPA had a phenomenon in Yuri!!! on Ice! but they didn’t capitalize on its hype.

After announcing Yuri!!! On Ice the Movie: Ice Adolescence in 2017, MAPPA seemingly forgot about it. Despite fans’ begging, MAPPA didn’t release teasers until 2020. Thanks to MAPPA’s long silence and their prioritizing of other projects like Attack on Titan: The Final Season, many fans gave up on ever seeing Yuri and Victor again.

13 No Game No Life Was The Isekai Hit Of Its Time

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sora and Shiro play some games in No Game No Life.

Long before the gamified isekai anime overstayed its welcome, it was a respected subgenre that saw the likes of No Game No Life become smash hits. When step-siblings Sora and Shiro escaped into their video games in 2014, the idea of an overpowered gamer protagonist was still fresh. Viewers quickly bought into No Game No Life.

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However,No Game No Life was overshadowed by bigger isekai titles when the genre got oversaturated in the 2010s. Not helping matters was Madhouse’s lack of interest in making a second season and the anime’s overindulgence in fanservice and incestuous themes. Today, fans are too embarrassed to even mention No Game No Life.

12 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Was Buried By Netflix’s Algorithm

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Jolyne Cujo prepares to fight in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

From 2012 up to just a few years ago, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure seemed inescapable. Memes quoting the Joestars and references to Stands flooded the internet whenever a new JoJo’s season aired, or even when it went into hiatus. But when Stone Ocean debuted in 2021, JoJo’s was inexplicably absent from the online zeitgeist.

Stone Ocean was just as good as JoJo’s previous arcs. But because it was released exclusively through Netflix’s binge model, Stone Ocean wasn’t able to build hype the way Stardust Crusadersdid. Worse, Netflix barely promoted it. Even the biggest JoJo’s fans only realized that JoJo’s returned when Stone Ocean ended in 2022.

11 Hetalia: Axis Powers Was Once An Inescapable Fandom

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The countries sing karaoke in Hetalia Axis Powers

Back in 2009, Hetalia: Axis Powers was one of the most talked-about anime ever. Fans found the anime about anthropomorphized countries reenacting history (especially the World Wars) to be cute and educational, while detractors found it disrespectful. Hetalia seemed ubiquitous in the 2010s, but then it slowly vanished.

This could partially be blamed on the difficulty of finding legally available episodes and manga, which then led to waning fan interest. The franchise is still going strong and even had a new series (Hetalia: WorldStars)last year. Unfortunately, Hetalia’s current place in the anime community is a far cry from what it amassed in its prime.

10 The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya Never Recovered From The Endless Eight’s Backlash

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Haruhi gets mad at Kyon in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya dominated the anime landscape in 2006. The SOS Brigade didn’t just become instant fan favorites, they also shaped the modern slice-of-life and school-life anime. Unfortunately, everything came crashing down after the second season’s “The Endless Eight” arc.

“The Endless Eight” went down as one of the most despised arcs in anime history. Although it was somewhat vindicated by time and a well-received finale movie, the repetitive storyline’s abysmal reception tanked Haruhi’s second season and reputation. Haruhi seemingly vanished overnight after its second season ended.

9 Pretty Cure Was Once A Pillar Of The Magical Girl Genre

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Nagisa and Honoka unleash the magic in Pretty Cure

When it comes to magical girl anime, shows like Sailor Moon and Puella Magi Madoka Magica are the first to spring to mind. What many forget is Pretty Cure, these two distinct eras’ middle chapters. Nagisa and Honoka’s adventures were a loving spoof of the then-stale genre, and their series was so well-received that it spawned a franchise.

Pretty Curewas a beloved breath of fresh air, but its successors beat it at its own game. For example, the spin-offs HeartCatch, Go! Princess, or HUGtto! are seen as major improvements.Meanwhile, Madoka usurped Pretty Cureas the definitive postmodern magical girl anime. Pretty Cure as a franchise is still big in Japan, but few recall the first anime.

8 Love Hina Was A Pioneer In The Harem Genre

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Keitaro runs with Naru in Love Hina

It could be said that the modern harem anime wouldn’t exist without Love Hina. The harem genre’s rules all have a direct link to the raunchy slapstick that the hapless Keitaro and his love interests got into. Not only do Love Hina’s successors still religiously follow this blueprint, but Love Hina was the first harem anime to break through overseas.

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Keitaro and company’s brand of fanservice-heavy shenanigans may have been fresh and fun in the early 2000s, but they come across as amateurish and annoying by today’s standards. In its defense, Love Hina was a product of its time. However, few remember Love Hina at all, and those who can don’t have fond memories of it.

7 The Prince Of Tennis Was The World’s Introduction To Sports Anime

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Team Seigaku takes a picture The Prince of Tennis

Sports anime have been popular in Japan for as long as anime has been around, but the genre only broke through in the West after The Prince of Tennis aired in 2001. Though the games that Ryoma Echizen and his varsity tennis teammates played are formulaic by today’s standards, The Prince of Tennis became one of the biggest hits of the early 2000s.

Besides being surpassed by better sports anime, The Prince of Tennisfell furtherinto obscurity because only a fraction of it was dubbed. Viz Media localized 50 of 178 episodes, and it was only in 2021 that Funimation promised to finish it. The series is still big in Japan, but it never recaptured the international fame it got at the turn of the millennium.

6 Slayers Was The Biggest Fantasy Anime Of The ’90s

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lina hangs out with her friends In Slayers

High fantasy anime were a big deal in the ’90s, with Slayers being one of the most popular. Unlike their genre contemporaries, Lina Inverse and her friends’ adventures were parodic. This didn’t just make their series stand out from the competition, but it also helped turn Slayers into one of the biggest franchises of the time.

Unfortunately, Slayers fell from grace when it diverged from its light novels. The anime’s fourth and fifth seasons were received so poorly that its ratings tanked and pushed the series into a still-ongoing dormancy. Not helping matters is how difficult tracking down the anime’s DVDs are, especially those with the coveted special features.

5 Record Of Lodoss War Was Overshadowed By The Fantasies It Inspired

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Parn and Deedlit frolick on the grass in Record of Lodoss War

Fantasy anime as it’s known today would arguably not exist if it weren’t for Record of Lodoss War. Fantasy anime were common in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but Parn and his fellow adventurers’ tales codified and solidified the genre’s current conventions and formula. Record of Lodoss War quickly became the blockbuster fantasy of its time.

Record of Lodoss War’s original OVA spawned spin-offs like anime, movies, video games, and even a tabletop game. The anime also inspired many more fantasies, all of which have since surpassed the original in terms of relevance. Even though it’s still respected today, Record of Lodoss War is little more than a historical footnote today.

4 Fist Of The North Star Was Overtaken By JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kenshiro summons his power in Fist of the North Star

From the moment it premiered in 2012, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure became the definition of peak manliness in anime. The Joestar family’s history of adventures and fights wouldn’t be as great as it is without Kenshiro’s post-apocalyptic trek. However, the Joestars long supplanted their inspiration in the public consciousness.

Fist of the North Starwas one of the most popular anime in the ’80s. It even inspired hits like Berserk and Vinland Saga. As the decades went by, Kenshiro’s saga was reduced to memes that only focused on his anime’s over-the-top schlock, like his catchphrase “Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru” (“You’re already dead”) or his high-pitched battle cries.

3 Super Dimension Fortress Macross Was Buried By Robotech And Time

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Hikaru saves Lynn in Super Dimension Fortress Macross.

In the ’80s, the first Macross anime was popular and important. Super Dimension Fortress Macross codified many mecha tropes and anime conventions. For example, its transforming robots led to Transformers, and it even paved the way for what would become idol anime. As time went on, Macross was slowly left behind.

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Many factors led to Macross’ gradual descent. These include Macross having difficulty in adapting to modern tastes, and the audience’s slowly declining interest in mecha anime. The most detrimental roadblock was Macross’ Americanized version, Robotech, which robbed it of its nostalgic spotlight among English-speaking fans.

2 Mazinger Z Was The Progenitor Of The Super Robot Anime

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mazinger Z stops the missiles In Mazinger Z

All super robot stories can be traced back to Mazinger Z, which is recognized as the genre’s true origin. Besides being the first of its genre, Koji Kabuto’s time with Mazinger Z codified most (if not all) of the super robot anime’s tropes. Mazinger Z dominated the ’70s and practically created an entire genre, but it didn’t stay on top forever.

The super robot genre slowly waned in popularity and relevance, taking Mazinger Z down with it. Worse, Mazinger Z premiered after Voltron in America, leading viewers to think it was a rip-off of what it inspired. Today, Mazinger Z is only really remembered by few viewers, while newcomers see it as a corny relic of a bygone trend.

1 Astro Boy (1963) Was The First Modern Anime & Manga

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Atom and Uran show the city in Astro Boy (1963)

The unfortunate thing about Osamu Tezuka’s most famous work, the original Astro Boy anime, is that it’s been mostly forgotten. Today, very few people have watched or even recall it. However, without Atom’s adventures in the future, anime and manga as they’re known today wouldn’t even exist.

Besides being the first global anime hit to show how much entertainment and storytelling potential the medium had to offer, Astro Boy was also the first anime to embrace its merchandising side. Astro Boy may have laid the groundwork for the modern anime industry and fandom but, these days, it’s only relevant in Japan.

NEXT: 10 Amazing Anime Characters Fans Take For Granted, Ranked


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