In anime, the storytelling style and corresponding visual elements play crucial factors in a series’ success. However, sometimes audiences never even give a series a shot because of its odd or unwieldy title. For those unfamiliar with the genre’s oddities, there are instances in which an anime’s title bears little relation to what the show is actually about, instead opting for a long-winded or outright bizarre name.
It’s never a good idea to judge a book by its cover. That said, there are some truly awful show titles that understandably put viewers off before they even have a chance to dive in.
Updated May 9, 2023, by Daniel Kurland: Anime is one of the best places to experience incredible adventures with larger-than-life characters, but it can sometimes be a challenge to track a certain series down. Some anime have extremely cumbersome titles, while others are deceptively generic and fail to scratch the surface of what’s really going on. A compelling title plays a big role in whether audiences will check out a series. It’s not the biggest deal when lackluster series go ignored, but some genuinely strong anime get ignored by the public because their names don’t inspire much confidence.
xxxHOLic is a cryptic blend of mystery, dark fantasy, and drama that follows Kimihiro Watanuki, a shy boy plagued by his ability to see the many supernatural spirits that roam the Earth. Yuuko promises Kimihiro salvation from his “curse,” but only if he works at her equally unusual store where wishes are treated like currency.
xxxHOLiC is a bewildering title that not only doesn’t have anything to do with the anime, but it makes it seem like it’s a show about someone with some kind of sexual addiction. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give the audience any help.
FLCL is a burst of adrenaline that presents a coming-of-age story through an extremely heightened lens courtesy of Haruko Haruhara’s wild card antics. Naota Nandaba is a young boy on the cusp of his teen years, yet he dreads the journey ahead of him rather than getting excited over his future.
FLCL, pronounced “Fooly Cooly,” is nonsense that doesn’t bear any significance in the anime. Adult Swim has co-produced two FLCL sequels, Progressive and Alternative, with two more on the way. Their titles, FLCL: Grunge and FLCL: Shoegaze,add even more nonsense to the odd “Fooly Cooly” moniker.
13 Samurai Pizza Cats
‘90s children may have fond memories of Samurai Pizza Cats, an anime with an English dub way ahead of the curve that leaned into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ popularity. The sentai and mecha series parody vehicle features a heroic trio of cats who keep their country safe through martial arts, weapons combat, and mecha warfare.
The descriptive title undersells the series and makes it sound derivative of Ninja Turtles when there’s much more going on here. Admittedly, Samurai Pizza Cats is the new name that Saban created for the anime’s English dub for Saturday morning audiences, but even its original title, Cat Ninja Legend Teyandee, borders on ridiculous.
Charlotte is a gripping examination of children who discover that they have superpowers upon reaching puberty, which triggers a desire to find more of their kind and stay out of the spotlight and remain safe. The anime’s title, Charlotte, refers to a pivotal comet responsible for the special space dust that causes these superpowers, but the comet is only present in a single scene.
There’s no denying that this comet is important, but to an outsider, this cryptic name really gives the wrong impression regarding the series’ content. There are so many better titles for an anime about a school for kids with superpowers.
11 D. Gray-Man
D. Gray-man is one of the most popular shonen series to come out of the early 2000s, where powerful exorcists use their dark arts to fight against demonic monsters. Allen Walker’s quest in D. Gray-man is a lot of fun, but it’s understandable if audiences have missed this shonen hit because of its confusing name that doesn’t have anything to do with exorcists or action.
Allegedly, the anime’s title is meant to be an allusion to Dorian Gray, which was an inspiration for the series’ grave 19th-century setting. Even if that’s the case, it’s still such a big stretch and a strange way to name a series.
Durarara!! is a masterpiece in world-building and methodical storytelling. The moody crime thriller ultimately focuses on the dangerous gangs that congregate in Ikebukuro, but the series frequently plays around with chronology and perspective to get the most out of its conflicted characters.
Durarara!! is a strange title that came to be when the author couldn’t think of a proper name for the series. Durarara!! can be interpreted as the sound of a motorcycle’s revving engine, but this still greatly simplifies the complexity of this crime saga. It’s also not unusual for subsequent anime seasons to turn to unconventional naming patterns. In this case, it’s Durarara!!x2.
9 WorldEnd: What Do You Do At The End Of The World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us?
Based on a series of light novels, WorldEnd: What Do You Do At The End Of The World? Are You Busy? Will You Save Us? features a title that’s appropriate for its source material, but comes considerably clunkier for its anime adaptation. The 12-episode fantasy and sci-fi hybrid has a satisfying story that doesn’t cheat its audience or hold back.
Willem is a hero who’s both lovable and intimidating, which is integral in an adventure like this. The problem with the anime’s cumbersome title is that it sounds sarcastic and that this struggle is meant to be some kind of joke. Willem’s mission to rid the Earth of its ferocious beasts is no laughing matter.
8 Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Masaaki Yuasa and his team at Science SARU typically turn out tour de force anime productions. 2020’s Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is no exception in this regard, but it’s very easy to completely skip this inspirational burst of joy because of its misleading title.
Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! creates an image of a protective sibling or even a spry martial artist. In reality, the anime is about a trio of introverted students who bond through their shared love of anime and the creative process. These friends set out to create their own anime, and the series’ 12 episodes are such a creative treat.
7 Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo
There’s a strong case to be made that Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is either the worst or best anime title of all time since it effectively trolls the audience as much as the series’ surrealist storytelling does. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is a broad lampoon of the shonen genre as much as it properly fits into the action-centric type of series.
A lot of shonen parodies exist, but few are as relentless and unpredictable as Bobobo. The title is a reference to the anime’s brash protagonist, but the repeated and absurdist nature of it all makes it hard for an outsider to understand what the show is about and if it’s even meant to be taken seriously.
6 I My Me! Strawberry Eggs
The humor that stems from gender-based misunderstandings is a frequent well that anime draws from, like in the 13-episode I My Me! Strawberry Eggs. The anime’s plot is somewhat clichéd and involves a competent male teacher needing to masquerade as a woman in order to gain employment at a sexist school. The plot itself isn’t deep, but the character dynamics and romantic tension all deliver.
I My Me! Strawberry Eggs is another situation where this title isn’t necessarily terrible when in a vacuum, but it’s got absolutely nothing to do with its series’ storytelling. The title is grammatically confusing in English, and there are no strawberry eggs to be seen in this tender series.
5 The Legend Of The Legendary Heroes
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is a 24-episode fantasy/action anime from 2010 that doesn’t reinvent the wheel. However, it’s still successful with its complicated cast of characters, all of whom are uniquely skilled.
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes contains limited comedy as it doesn’t want to diminish the weight of its epic adventure. The problem is that the anime’s title makes the series sound like a parody of fantasy adventures. The title’s repetitive nature is both clunky and unintentionally humorous.
4 Shimoneta: A Boring World Where The Concept Of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist
Heroes come in many shapes and sizes and don’t always wear capes. This is the driving force behind Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist, where two freedom-fighting vigilantes try to save the world through lewd gags and visuals.
Shimoneta is undeniably a comedy, but it still grapples with some thought-provoking and important themes with regard to censorship. Those who don’t give Shimoneta a chance mostly assume that it’s empty bawdy humor, which is understandable given its broad title, but there are genuine layers to this series.
3 Rascal Does Not Dream Of Bunny Girl Senpai
A title like Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, paired together with the anime’s marketing visuals, makes it easy to assume that this is a shallow series that revolves around hormonal humor and awkward situations. Admittedly, there is a girl in a bunny costume who’s vital to the story.
However, Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai is more of a psychological character study that gradually evolves into a thoughtful science-fiction romance. Sakuta’s confusing condition is thoughtfully examined, and each episode packs in emotional revelations instead of the cheap gags that are implied by the series’ title.
2 So I’m A Spider, So What?
There are now so many satirical isekai series that a show with a title as ridiculous as So I’m a Spider, So What? doesn’t even seem strange. So I’m a Spider, So What? reincarnates an entire class of students who reawaken in a fantasy world that’s heavy with RPG customs. The main character finds that she’s been reincarnated not as a heroic warrior or powerful magic user, but instead as a lowly spider monster.
The 24 episodes of So I’m a Spider, So What? are quite entertaining and fresh. The biggest issue is that the show’s generic title lumps it together with the many “subversive” isekai series that lack substance.
1 I Want To Eat Your Pancreas
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is an anime feature film, not a series, but its name is distinctly unusual nonetheless. There are many anime movies that intentionally manipulate the audience’s emotions and become devastating tear-jerkers. I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is a touching coming-of-age story that also shines a light on life’s random, unfair nature.
The movie’s title telegraphs that a pancreas plays a vital role in the film, but it’s too lighthearted. It makes it seem as if the movie is a broad comedy or about man-eating monsters.
NEXT: Getting Started: 10 Best Gateway Anime For Different Genres
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