Every anime is unique in it’s own way. Each one has an element that makes it different from all others, whether it’s the Main character, the world it’s based in, or just the animation style. In this list I’m going to go through the anime I’ve seen and pick out the most unique among them. These are going to be from several different genre’s and might not necessarily be good, but all of them will be very unique. In this list I want to focus on anime that are thrown into a particular genre but that go above and beyond what you would normally expect from that genre. Another way of putting it would be the least generic anime I’ve seen. Anime that do not follow the prescribed path for the genre that they have been thrust upon them. Anime that do not define a genre but deserve their own. Anime that stand out from the crowd and are truly unique!
The genres that I reference may not be official genres but are generally used to describe these anime in the community. This list is based on the anime I have personally seen and is purely my opinion. It is not all inclusive and everyone may not agree with me.
SPOILER WARNING: While my goal is to try and avoid spoilers as much as possible, some of my reviews may contain spoilers, so be warned.
Table of Contents
10: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the #10 item on out list is the most normal anime in this list of unique anime. “Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash” is another of those “trapped in a video game” anime. This one however, set’s it’s self apart with some very unique features. First of all, staring in the first episode the protagonists, and a large group of other characters wakes up without any memories in a video game like fantasy world. I don’t mean to say that they wake up not knowing how they got there or what happened, which is not uncommon for this type of anime. But every single one of them wakes up with complete amnesia not able to remember where they came from or who they are. The only thing these characters remember is their name.
While this is the only thing they remember, it’s not the only thing that sets this anime apart. Most anime of this type have a MC that “relies” on his/her friends. What I mean by that is that there are friends who follow them around and do stuff, but for the most part the MC takes out the trash and usually ends up saving their friends when they fail. This anime crushes that notion. First setting us up with a group of friends as the protagonist. Unlike other anime the group it’s self is the protagonist, and no one character feels any more or less important than any other character. This becomes very obvious when an event happens that leaves one character unable to fight and the entire group completely falls apart without them, each one actually becoming significantly less capable without the missing piece of their puzzle.
While this anime might not be the most unique anime out there. These unique characteristics that you just don’t see in other anime of this type definitely make it deserving of a spot on this list!
This is just a weird anime. Its very slow paced and relaxing with plenty of soft humor thrown in to brighten up any day. This anime is a slice of life about fishing. Other than fishing though what sets it apart from other slice of life anime?
First of all this is a rare anime that does not have a large focus on school life, but going even further there is a young boy obsessed with fish that seems to have some mysterious powers. Whenever he shoots someone with a water gun that person is compelled to do whatever he wants them to. Even if that means stripping down to their underwear and doing a ritual fishing dance in front of the entire class.
As the anime progresses the MC interacts with this young man who just wants to be his friend in an attempt to find some kind of middle ground. Unlike other slice of life anime, this one does not have the tiniest hint of romance, and makes it’s plot fully known from the very beginning, and that is catching fish. On top of this the art style is another thing that helps this anime stand out, the bright and vibrant colors sets a very unique, enjoyable theme, subconsciously telling you to just set back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Overall what really sets this anime apart though is the atmosphere, there’s no drama, and it doesn’t leave you at the edge of your seat, it’s just a fun little joy to watch.
8: Isekai Shokudou
Here we have another slice of life anime. However, this one is much more unique than Tsuritama. This anime doesn’t try to straddle the lines between fantasy and reality, instead it just breaks them. “Restaurant to Another World” is exactly as it’s name suggests. Once a week every week a strange door appears In various locations in a fantasy world. On this day this restaurant is closed off to it’s normal customers and strives in serving those from another world.
Utilizing modern cooking techniques the MC makes dishes that even the kings of this fantasy world would praise in high regards. Unfortunately for them the only ones who have access to this restaurant are those lucky few who happen to chance upon the door when it appears. While watching this anime I found myself constantly wandering what would stop a group of bandits from just raiding the place if the door showed up in the wrong place at the wrong time. And that question is answered to my satisfaction.
There are two reasons, firstly being that no one would dare to get rid of this precious food, they would like to keep it around for as long as possible. Even mortal enemies can eat at the same table in this restaurant due to the fear of either being kicked out or in some other way loosing this glorious feast.
The other reason is the list of regular customers that come to this restaurant. While many are fairly normal or reasonable, some of the regulars are herald as heroes, royalty, and some of the most powerful races on the world. This list includes but is not limited to, humans, dwarves, elves, fairies, lizard men, and even a dragon.
The anime is somewhat episodic, each episode only being somewhat linked to all the others, it is most definitely enjoyable to watch. The thing that sets this anime apart isn’t its animation style, its story, or even its settings. The thing that sets this anime apart and makes it unique is a premise that isn’t seen in any other anime that I know of to date! Premise alone does not make the most unique anime but it definitely earns this one the #8 spot on this list.
7: Ascendance of a Bookworm
From this point on all of the anime listed are so unique and so good that they are all in my top 10 favorites! Like the other anime in this list this isn’t you’re generic every day isekai. This anime features a girl who loves books almost as much as her family. She spends every day of her life in the library reading. Until one day she is killed by a book shelf falling over on her.
She wakes up in the body of a young frail girl. Her new body is very weak and sickly, so much so that a casual walk down the street will usually land her in bed with a sever fever for several days. So right away this is an unusual anime. The young girl is completely dependent on her parents, and is extremely frail. The only thing she wants to do is to read, but unfortunately for her books in this world are hand made, hand written, and bought and sold only by the very wealthy. Her dream is to one day open a library. But how is she going to do that when her families income is only slightly above average?
Well that’s obvious, she will revolutionize the technology of this world to suit her needs and mass produce cheap books. This is where another difference comes in, in most isekai when the MC wants to do something they either flat out cant, or they can like an expert. In this anime we watch the MC struggle to preform complex tasks, and while everything progresses fairly quickly for us the viewer, the anime makes it clear that the first step, making paper takes the MC over two years to accomplish, even when she has the basic knowledge of how it’s done. The world does not fall into her lap, she has to work hard to bring it to herself.
If all of that is not enough, the MC has to be worried about people trying to stab her in the back and sabotage her around every corner. Because the rich want to stay rich, and the powerful don’t like competitors. Magic also exists in this world though only a nobles can use it. Meaning that the MC can not while she has immense magical power that the nobles take from her and store in magical items to use for themselves she can not use magic and they will not teach it to her because she is not one of them. With no connections, no power, no health, and only limited knowledge to aid her how will she ever succeed in owning her own library?
The animation in this show is good but nothing special, what really sets it apart is the plot and story, not only is the story very rich but its very well thought out, it explores economics, politics, and technology and you can tell the author did their research, unlike some other anime I’ve seen. The author really put the time and effort into writing this and it really shows. I would even call this anime educational. This intense detail, while keeping everything very interesting and fun to watch, along with one of the least generic MC’s I’ve ever seen is what makes this anime truly unique and worth the # 7 spot on this list. But there are still 6 anime that are even more unique than this, keep reading for them!
This anime is unique in any number of ways. Lets start with it’s artistic style. The entire anime is like a work of art, it uses a very minimalist art style that is still great to this day regardless of the age of the anime. Throughout the series, from the first episode to the last the anime has a way of subconscious telling you what to focus on, so your attention is always on the correct part of the screen. While that’s unusual though, other anime do this as well, so lets get to the story. The story in this anime is what truly makes it unique.
First let’s start with the XxX in the title. In the western world and most English speaking country this has a completely different meaning than it does in Japan. In Japan the X is not a letter but a symbol meaning to join together, or to cross over. The X is used in several different anime, the reason for three X’s here is the original story. I’m trying to avoid spoilers here so let me just say that there is an actual reason for all of the references to other anime and manga in here, and this story took many many years to build up to and write before even the very first page of the manga was ever released. There was probably more work put into this story than almost any other story I’ve seen except maybe one piece.
This again isn’t the only thing that sets it apart. Lets look at the story it’s self, it’s about a young man that sees ghosts and yokai, because he can see them they like to haunt him. One day he accidentally stumbles into a shop and meets two young girls who welcome him as a valued customer. As he explains hat he stumbled in by mistake and tries to walk away a strange female voice speaks up from behind a curtain explaining “If you are here than it’s not accident, it is fate.” The two young girls grab him and throw him into the room where the shop keeper introduces herself. After asking him a few questions and telling him a few things he already knows she asks him if she can see the thing in his pocket, he hesitantly pulls it out to show her to which she says “This will work as payment” and hands it to the young girls who carry it off. Surprised that she just took his grandfathers stop watch as payment for nothing he goes off on her.
She explains that her shop is one that grants wishes but only for the appropriate payment. Then shows her true colors, she starts telling him secrets he has never told anybody before including that he can see ghosts. She explains if he is there he must have a wish. After explaining that he wishes to no longer see ghosts she tells him she can grant his wish and offers him a price that is far more than he can afford.
He brings up the stop watch to which she replies “That was payment for the information I gave you previously.” He sighs and walks away but before leaving she agrees to grant his wish when he was worked enough to earn the necessary wage to pay for his wish being granted. Thus going forward he becomes her shop assistant, along the way learning many different things about the world that he never knew, including how to grant wishes himself. Little does he know that the owner of the shop will not be the one to grant his wish and the price is far more than he ever could have imagined.
This anime is not a ghost story, or even a collection of stories but is it’s own unique story all together. Spanning multiple genres from romance, to horror, comedy, supernal, sci-fi, this anime tries to be a little bit of everything. Surprisingly it pulls it off very well. Everything about this anime is unique and you can really tell exactly how much work and effort was put into every tiny detail of the original story.
5: FLCL (Fooly Cooly)
How can an anime be more unique than XxXHolic? Well look no further than this 6 episode OVA. This is a very short coming of age story. This anime is great for older and younger audiences, and tackles a lot of deep topics that most anime tend to shy away from, and tackles them in a way that most anime tend to shy away from. It does this while being a completely silly nonsensical mess of an anime.
It’s hard to explain this anime honestly. From a Vespa riding, guitar obsessed lunatic of a maid; to seemingly ordinary fat cat, a robot with a TV for a head, a crazy father and grandfather, a young man with horns growing out of his head, and a cat eared girl who likes sour soda, this anime is a complete mess of silliness. But when it’s time to get serious the music and shading really help to set the perfect mood. This anime really goes out of its way to be different, and it does so very well. There isn’t a whole lot to say about it but trust me this is one of the most unique anime out there and coming in at only 6 episodes is a very easy watch. so give it a shot you will not regret it! Oh did anyone say pirate king? Yeah he’s in here too.
4: Monogatari series
This anime has a very generic story, it’s a harem about a guy collecting zodiac girls like pokemon. Ok that is a very very bad oversimplification of the anime lol. In all seriousness it’s not the animation style, the generic story, or even the generic MC that sets this anime apart, if it were then it would not be on this list. What makes this anime unique, and something that makes it worthy of the #4 spot on this list is the way it tell the story.
Ask anyone who has ever seen Monogatari, whether they loved it or hated it, and they will tell you 100% unanimously that this anime is one of the most unique they have ever seen, because of the way that the story is told. This anime is one that you either love or hate, there is no middle ground. The story of this anime is told like a very intricate puzzle and is told completely out of order. In fact there are at-least half a dozen different ways you can watch this anime, one of them even includes skipping between two or three seasons at once to watch individual episodes in a certain order.
You could literally watch the anime from end to beginning and it would be just as fun as watching it from beginning to end. And that’s actually one of the possible watch orders that people point out. This anime is another one of those that is a true work of art just in the way that it is told. You might be setting there reading this review and ask how something like XxX Holic could be less unique than this when it’s animation style, story, and about everything else is unique, but trust me and give it a shot and you will very quickly see what sets this anime apart! There are though at-least 3 anime that are more unique than this one!
Coming up at #3 is a huge leap from #4. This anime exudes uniqueness from every pore of it’s being. Every second is an experience to look forward to! From the artwork, how the story is told, the story it’s self, and almost every character in this story is unique, even the background characters here have their own unique personalities and characteristics. It would not even be an exaggeration to say there are no background characters in this series just a full list of supporting characters that help to move the story along.
This anime is about a Mushishi, a researcher that studies creatures called mushi. Most people can not see mushi and do not even believe in them, but almost everyone has heard of them. The main character only wants to study and document mushi, but he still has to eat, and buy clothes and supplies. So when he isn’t foraging he will sometimes help local town folk or those who request him for help.
Mushi can do many things, from helping to harming crops, attracting or scaring off game animals or fish, to even helping or harming the health of people. While he believes it’s best to let the mushi be and let the natural order be what it may, he still accepts requests to help. Wherever possible he will make the smallest impact on the mushi as he can almost always refusing to kill them. Though it’s very easy in some cases. Sometimes this is as easy as teaching the people to live with them. Sometimes it means scaring the mushi off, sometimes it means attracting other mushi to counterbalance each-other.
Every episode in this anime is unique and while it is the single most episodic anime on this list and one of the most episodic anime’s I’ve ever seen, it is one of, if not the least repetitive anime I have ever seen, and certainly on this list. This anime is a true work of art. Furthermore the slow paced, relaxing atmosphere that it sets, makes this anime one of the most enjoyable to watch. Out of any anime I have ever seen I can not say I have enjoyed the experience of just watching any other anime nearly as much.
While this anime is not my personal favorite it is an anime that is so easy to watch regardless of what mood I’m in, even if I had just finished the last episode the day prior. I would not hesitate to re-watch this absolute masterpiece. That being said, there are at-least two anime that are even more unique than this one.
2: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
This is NOT your typical magical girl anime. That is my catchphrase for describing this anime. I honestly wanted to put this as number one on my list and initially had full plans to, because this is my #3 favorite anime of all time, and the highest of any other anime on this list in my personal favorites. That however, is not the reason it is on this list.
It’s really hard to explain too much into the story without giving spoilers so I will just stick with my first line. Lets go into art though, this anime transitions between at-least half a dozen different art styles, that are all very intricately connected in-order to tell a story without the need for words.
Don’t get me wrong there is PLENTY of dialogue in this anime. Even if you were def and could not read though you would still be able to tell the general story of this anime just from the genius use of it’s various art styles. This anime without any sound or subtitles is by it’s self a work of art. That’s not enough to land it in second place though, or even on this list.
This anime has an excellent and unique story that I will not delve into, and even the sound-tract and tone of voice from the voice actors helps to seed the mood for this anime, and yes the mood does change frequently and quite drastically. The obvious plot twists that catch you off guard make you want to face-palm when you re-watch it for the 50th time. Trust me this anime is definitely unique and worth watching!
Time for some honorable mentions!
Kuuchuu Buranko: This is one of the most unique anime I have ever seen. They say art is suppose to evoke emotions and this one truly does that. From what I’ve seen it’s is definitely deserving a place on this list. So why is it just a honorable mention you might ask? My stomach could not handle watching more than two episodes of this anime. Its indescribable, and definitely unique it most certainly evoked many weird emotions. Unfortunately since I can not write a proper review and I haven’t actually seen enough to tell exactly how unique it is it’s left as an honorable mention.
Pupa: This anime is just bad, in fact that’s the only thing that makes it so unique, how absolutely terrible it is. I considered putting it on this list but I don’t think my readers would enjoy reading about how bad an anime is.
Monster: This anime has a fairly unique story, overnight a famous doctor goes from rich to broke, and the next thing he knows he’s being chased by assassins. He has to find out who is hiring them and then fight his moral dilemma as a doctor trained to save lives and decide whether or not to kill the man trying to kill him. While the story in this anime is definitely unique it’s unfortunately not unique enough to land it a spot on this list. But it’s still good so it’s still recommended.
Kora Wa Zombie Desuka: This anime is just plain crazy, it’s about a chainsaw wielding magical girl who is also a zombie. Oh did I mention that he’s actually a guy? Yeah. That is definitely unique, but being the only thing that’s truly unique about this anime is not reason enough to put it on this list.
Letter Bee: The story is nothing special in this anime, but the artwork and soundtrack are absolutely stunning, above and beyond any expectations. This anime is definitely unique in it’s ability to set an atmosphere, but that’s about it. So it’s only left as an honorable mention on this list.
Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt: This anime is truly unique in every way. For an anime that is. This anime is much more reminiscent of a western style cartoon in almost every aspect, and if it wasn’t for the Japanese language and if you didn’t pay close attention you would probably think that is was one. Because it’s very unique for anime, but not so much for animation in general it lands as just an honorable mention on this list.
There are many many anime that are all very unique in their own ways, but lets go ahead and get to #1!
1: The Ancient Magus’ Bride
As I mentioned previously I wanted to put Madoka Magica as the number one slot on this list but the more I thought about it the more I could not bring myself to do it because this anime is a true masterpiece of unique anime. Everything from the art style, storytelling, world building, characters, events, creatures, magic, everything that was unique about every other anime on this list, this anime is unique in the same aspect, but not the same way.
This anime is set in our modern day world. However, a secret society of mages exist in their own world that is made up of the unseen parts of our world. The fairies, dragons, and spirits that live with us and beside us, but we never see nor hear. Our MC is a young girl who is kidnapped and auctioned off as a human slave. She is bought by an ancient Magus, who is a non-human, with a very non-human appearance that would turn anyone off. He asks her to marry him.
At first she is very reluctant, but he isn’t insistent in the least and even offers to let her go after he has properly treated her. After spending a few days with him and meeting some magical creatures that she befriends she starts to think about her life previously and how well he has been treating her and has to make a decision to either return to her old life where she had nothing, and no one cared about her, or to live with and even marry a monster who is who knows how much older than her, or will a better suitor appear perhaps? Maybe he dead dog next door, or the fairy king? Who knows, only time will tell…
This anime is by far the single most unique anime I have ever seen in every single aspect. If you ask me for a generic anime, this would be my very last recommendation, and if you ask me for something unique this will always be my first recommendation. This will always be the first anime to come to mind. And so this anime is truly deserving of the title #1 most unique anime I have ever seen!