If you watch enough anime, as I have been doing over two decades at this point, your are bound to run into some weird ones. Admittedly, anime has gotten less strange over the years. These days you get the odd experimental piece of art every now and then, but not as many quintessentially Japanese strange anime as you did in the early 00’s. However, if you are looking for weird anime to satisfy your own personal lust for oddness or, more likely, to win some argument on the internet somewhere, here’s every oddity I could think of.
Kappas are one of Japan’s more odd mythological creatures, but when it comes to kappa in anime, there are only a spare few. That is, until this beautiful Kappa-centric series came out. Like many series on this list, watching it causally will make it seem like a drug-fueled romp. Of course, it stuffs in a lot of symbolism to unearth under all the literal butt-sucking.
Punch Line is the type of ride that you have to stay on for awhile to truly appreciate. It tries its hand at being a strange comedy in the beginning, and kind of falls flat. However, if you make it to the half way point, the weird gets so out of control that it becomes impressive.
The plot of the show makes sense when you watch it, but it is surprisingly hard to put into a sentence. Basically, the main character becomes a ghost, initially uses that to look at panties, then ends up observing a series of events over and over again, each time ending in a time reset.
It takes multiple watches to suss out the finer details usually, but once you understand what is actually going on in FLCL, it isn’t actually that strange of a series. The issue is that it moves at such a pace that it can be hard to catch what is going on, then the moments that you do catch seem absolutely insane out of context.
Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt
The art style and bare bones plot about angels kicked out of heaven for being bad girls could easily make this seem like a western cartoon, but only Japan could make it so lewd and so weird. The innocent animation combined with the lewd jokes is jarring in the best way.
Bobobo takes the shounen plot, you know the one because for awhile there it was really the only one, and it turns it into pure absurdism. It was like people were pitching in a writer’s room, and no idea was shot down. Often everything in the show is there just to serve silliness and nothing else.
Japan is very passionate about their canned drinks. So much so that it is actually surprising that this is the only anime about soda cans anthropomorphized into cute girls that fight each other like sexy Pokemon.
Featuring a plot about two brothers trying to save their sister’s soul from a penguin hat that is holding it hostage by finding the titular penguindrum, Mawaru Penguindrum seems like abstract oddness. As is often the case, there is a lot under the surface in terms of themes and allusions. However, what its poking at, most audiences won’t understand because it is a specifically Japanese problem (which you can read more about here). It makes it difficult to access for some when they realize that it wasn’t just meant to be abstractly weird.
Notorious to connoisseurs of weird anime despite its now advanced age, Excel Saga was a master at presenting the random. It didn’t have much of a plot beyond the standard Pinky and The Brain plot of a girl trying to help her evil overlord take over the world, and foiling his already poorly throughout plans with her ineptitude. However, it is often the unexpected ways things went wrong and the parodies it played with along the way that made it charmingly weird.
When you assemble a list of very weird anime, it turns out that an anime series where your hand gets replaced with a cute girl doesn’t seem so weird anymore. Still, it is worth noting that while it could have been, this isn’t as lewd as it sounds.
Saint Young Men
I don’t usually put OVAs, but this is a special exception. It is a series about Jesus and Buddha, who are on vacation from their heavenly duties, living in a Tokyo apartment together. It’s actually pretty chill.
Back Street Girls
At a glance, a real quick glance, Back Street Girls doesn’t seem too weird. However, learning that it is about three gangsters who make a mistake and are told to go have sex changes in Thailand so they can become a female idol group is what makes it weird. Combined with the slap-dash animation, you would be right to wonder why they even made it.
Cromartie High School
When you put Cromaritie High School on a full list of weird anime, something strange happens. It no longer seems that bananas. However, by itself, Cromartie is a trip. Every character is super macho which amps up the intensity of the strange situations that take place in the school. If absurd comedy like Nichijou, Daily Lives of High School Boys, or Asobi Asobase are your favorite things, this is one of the progenitors of it.
Anything by Masaki Yuasa can be expected to have a little weirdness to it. Even the relatively normal Japan Sinks 2020 had that whole cult arc in it that made it weird. However, when it comes to Yuasa weird, Kaiba is the king weird.
What is is about? Well, that’s hard to explain. It is, most simply put, about a young boy that wakes up in a room with no memories, a locket with a picture, and a big ol’ literal and metaphorical hole in his chest. From there it explores a world of every sad concept you can imagine.
Like Masaki Yuasa is known for weird, so, too, was Satoshi Kon when he lived. Unlike Masaki Yuasa, his repertoire was mostly limited to movies like Millennium Actress, Paprika, and Tokyo Godfathers. Paranoia Agent will remain his sole anime series, and it is as odd as it is thought-provoking.
On the surface, Paranoia Agent is about a detective investigating incidents where a boy on roller blades is beating people with a bat. Under the surface, there is so much more to it than that.
The Qwaser of Stigmata
There are plenty of lewd comedy anime like Shimoneta or Super HxEros. However, Qwaser of Stigmata doesn’t seem to be trying to be a lewd comedy. It is trying to be serious, but with fan service eeking out the pores. The thing that makes Qwaser of Stigmata so odd among its sexy peers is that the hero of it uses a substance that can only be obtained through breast milk to get his powers.
This is (one reason) why everyone thinks we are perverts, guys.
Abnormal Physiology Seminar
This series is unique because it… Well, it can go from being a little sexy to absolutely repulsing you. It is actually kind of impressive in that way it does things, but this also means that it can be incredibly hard to watch.
Yuri Bear Storm
Because it is not for everyone, many a surreal anime gets labeled as weird, and languishes there. It happened with Sarazanmai, and it happened with Yuri Bear Storm. However, while Yuri Bear Storm is all about pushing its themes through lesbian bears and murder, somehow people still think it is so odd.
Pani Poni Dash
The plot is simple, and strange, about a 11-year-old becoming a high school teacher. From there, it becomes a spastic comedy akin to many of the other absurd comedies on this list. And like many others, again some of the jokes pass right over many because of cultural differences. However, as it also packs in a lot of parodies, it sort of evens out the appeal.
Am I the only one that finds idol anime innately weird? Well, Zombieland Saga takes that to the next step by making the idols into zombies. And you know what? It’s weird, but it is also really good. The music is on point. The comedy is even more on point. The girls are cute, albeit a little rotten.
On the topic of strange idol anime, even stranger than Zombieland Saga is Sekko Boys. In it, the boy idol group is Greco-Roman statue busts. It tells the story of their manager doing idol management things while they make it difficult. Unlike Zombieland Saga, it’s not what you would call a “good” anime series, but it is appropriately strange enough.
Do you have more weird anime recommendations? Let fans know all about them in the comments section below.