Even the most beloved anime series ought to have some arcs that receive less attention than the show’s most acclaimed plot threads. In a title with many fast-paced subplots, it’s common to favor more rhapsodic arcs, which end up overshadowing less eye-catching stories.
Be it their length, muddled pacing, or simple community negligence, some of anime’s best story arcs unfairly wind up outside the limelight. Yet, their lack of popularity doesn’t make these underappreciated arcs insignificant. In fact, fans might find the series’ finest qualities shining in the obscured subplots. These underrated anime arcs deserve recognition for their overlooked merits.
10 Uprising Arc
Attack On Titan
The early parts of Attack on Titan were all about non-stop action and compelling mystery plots. So, the first introduction of political mind games in the Uprising arc left fans with mixed feelings. The shift in focus from life-or-death titan battles to Erwin’s plans to overthrow the false monarchy gave viewers tonal whiplash.
Nevertheless, this arc indicates the future grander change in the show’s thematic motifs. It also allows many of its captivating side characters, like Erwin, Historia, and Levi, to have some much-deserved time in the limelight.
9 Slave Arc
The first part of Vinland Saga’s story, dubbed the War arc, was a feast for action lovers that offered non-stop battle spectacle in a captivating Viking setting. However, after the prologue of Thorfinn’s story concludes with Askeladd’sdeath, the boy gets sold into slavery and undergoes a dramatic personality shift.
Many find the slow pace and depressing tone of the Slave arc too tedious. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to acknowledge the significance of the Slave Arc for Thorfinn’s character development and transformation from a ruthless mercenary to a devoted pacifist.
8 Hueco Mundo Arc
After the conclusion of Bleach’s most acclaimed and memorable conflicts, many fans felt that the series struggled to live up to the sky-high expectation set by the Soul Society arc. Subsequently, the Arrancar saga and the Hueco Mundo arc within it were met with modest excitement.
Most found it anticlimactic and hated that the arc borrowed too heavily from Soul Society’s narrative beats. Yet, borrowed plot points didn’t devoid the Hueco Mundo arc of unique characters and unforgettable fights, which helped the arc hold its own.
7 Nadeko Snake Arc
The unorthodox structure of the Monogatari series’ story arc divides the show into incidents focused on a specific girl Araragi is helping. So, the heroine plays an even bigger role than the protagonist in any given arc.
The general dislike for Nadeko Sengoku, the deuteragonist of Bakemonogatari’s Nadeko Snake arc, rubbed off on the perception of her story. However, by redeeming herself in later arcs, Nadeko doesn’t feel as obnoxious during her debut on a rewatch, as the quality of her story is as high as any Monogatari subplot.
6 Eternity Devil Arc
Chainsaw Man was always praised for its frenetic, rapid pacing, leaving almost no room to catch one’s breath between arcs. So, even such a short slowdown as the Eternity Devil arc has a chance of losing the viewers’ attention.
Compared to some of the series’ most well-known subplots, not much unfolds in this middle-of-the-road portion of the story. Yet, the creative mystery of the Eternity Devil’s abilities and the exhilarating final fight between Denji and the villain make up for the arc’s rather sluggish beginning.
5 Jail House Lock Arc
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean
Compared to other seasons of JJBA, Stone Ocean is criminally underrated. However, even within this unfairly disliked part, some arcs are celebrated as the best in the entire series.
This was not the case for the Jail House Lock arc, a subplot fans commonly described as the most boring and anticlimactic in Stone Ocean. While the arc’s finale was abrupt, the unique ability of Jail House Lock and its focus on mind games in place of brute force made this subplot unforgettable, compensating for the lack of a satisfying resolution.
4 Search For Tsunade Arc
Most people are compelled to talk about Naruto’s most action-heavy arcs or story portions that devote the most time to progressing its main heroes. This leaves incredible arcs that center around developing side characters instead of moving the main story obscured and overshadowed.
The Search for Tsunade arc allows a new key character to steal the show, giving her outstanding development in a relatively short timespan. Tsunade swiftly rose to prominence in the series and justly became one of the show’s most beloved supporting characters after this arc.
3 Memory Loss Arc
Famous for both its over-the-top comedy and some of the most heart-wrenching arcs in shonen anime, Gintama has plenty of plots that masterfully mix the two. However, the earliest example of the series diving into more serious character development is always outshined by later plot-heavy subplots.
The Memory Loss arc was the first indication of Gintama’s willingness to tackle mature emotional themes, giving depth and dramatic nuance to Gintoki’s humorous character. Yet, at the same time, it remembers to be as hilarious as every other arc in the series.
2 Greed Island Arc
Hunter X Hunter
While countless fans praise Hunter x Hunter’s Yorknew City and Chimera Ant arcs, the Greed Island arc gets a lot of negativity for being too long and uneventful. Gon and Killua’s unexpected venture into a video game world is the second-longest arc in the series, even if its events aren’t as monumental as some more famous plot threads.
Nevertheless, Greed Island also features the most unique and exciting battles in Hunter x Hunter and develops the heroes’ abilities more significantly than any other arc in the show.
1 Skypiea Arc
The Skypiea arc always protruded as the odd one out, dividing the One Piece fan community into devoted lovers and equally passionate haters. Taking an exceptionally long detour to visit a faraway island in the sky was a bold choice that made Skypiea feel drastically removed from the rest of the story.
Yet, this arc was also one of the most lore-heavy parts of early One Piece, explaining crucial details about the series’ world in a compelling setting that broke the monotony of seafaring adventures.
NEXT: 25 Best One Piece Story Arcs, Ranked
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