When you've watched a lot of mainstream anime series, they can start to feel very similar. Never-ending fights, new villains around every corner, battles for freedom and friendship—there are lots of common anime tropes that might make you roll your eyes.
Even when an anime series starts off with a brand new premise, you might get bored when its potential is squandered by creators who don't know what to do with it and end up turning it into the same old stuff.
Fortunately, there are many anime series that have blazed their own paths with fresh new spins and interesting new takes. You might've heard of some of these, while others probably flew under your radar. Regardless, they deserve recognition for their originality.
Here are some of the most refreshingly original anime series from the past few years that don't feel like your usual anime series.
What do you think of when you hear "high school anime"? Probably a lot of romance plots, intermixed with sports, fantasy, and even the undead. Well, here's one that's unlike any of that.
The Netflix-produced Kakegurui might be set in a high school environment, but this one's a prestigious school where the students are proficient gamblers.
The twist of the story is that one's spot in the school's society and hierarchy is determined by their ability to gamble. Winners are popular and earn the right of authority over losers, who are tagged as "pets."
You'll find the gambling scenes and risk-taking games as intense as any fight scene that involves swords, guns, or magical abilities.
10. Angels of Death
Many anime series start off slowly and take their time to establish characters, build up plots, and orchestrate everything towards the main story. Angels of Death hits the ground running with intense scenes and character developments.
Every scene takes the story in a darker direction, never relying on the need for filler arcs or pointless side stories to pad out episodes. It's all about the story and the characters, right from the get-go.
9. Tokyo Revengers
Lasers, fireballs, and water dragons are some of the most common elements that dominate anime fight scenes, but not in Tokyo Revengers. This anime features "normal human" fight scenes that are more interested in character dynamics than flashy magic.
Yet while Tokyo Revengers is quite action-packed with brutal fights between high school guys, it isn't the same kind of action as Baki or Kengan Ashura, which feature superhuman feats like ripping off people's faces with bare hands or easily crushing bones with one punch.
And while Tokyo Revengers may appear to be a typical fantasy series with its time travel element, you'll see that it's just a plot device that introduces the idea of changing the past, which is where most of the plot happens.
8. Dr. Stone
Unlike most isekai anime series—which involve characters being taken to other worlds beyond our own—Dr. Stone features characters who wake up 3,000 years in the future after all of humanity has been mysteriously turned to stone.
It's technically still Earth, but all technology and signs of modernity have been lost, and the world has reverted to a primitive state. That makes it feel like a completely new and foreign world.
In following their struggle for survival, Dr. Stone eschews the usual anime fight scenes in favor of Senku Ishigami's attempts to rebuild the world from scratch by using his knowledge and the help of his team.
7. Cells at Work!
Cells at Work! is an anime series unlike any other. What makes it so interesting? Well, everything! Not only are the characters and story well-crafted, but it takes inspiration from real-life science.
Indeed, the characters of Cells at Work! aren't ninjas or Saiyans or demons but rather the basic units of human life: the cells within us, except personified and portrayed in captivating ways.
Cells at Work! centers on the everyday life of a red blood cell who roams around and delivers oxygen to the parts of the body. That might sound boring, but wait until the viruses and other pathogens appear—that's when macrophages and white blood cells come into play!
6. Spy X Family
Spy X Family features a fresh new take on spies and assassins—by moving away from bloody, action-packed sequences and putting them into a cute, awkward, and comedic situation.
The Forger Family of Spy X Family is one of the weirdest yet coolest families in anime: the father is a super spy, the mother is a deadly assassin, and the daughter is a mind reader. But none of them know that about each other, except the daughter who keeps it a secret.
Watching this eclectic family go through the troubles of everyday life—like trying to get the daughter enrolled in a prestigious school—is funny, heartwarming, and oh so cute.
5. Call of the Night
We all know that when there's a vampire in an anime series, it's bound to be bloody and dark. Yet while Call of the Night is indeed dark, it leans more toward the lighter side with its vampire-themed stories.
Another factor that makes it different from most animes in the genre is its plot, which involves a human who wants to become a vampire because he's bored of his "day" life.
Call of the Night is by Liden Films and is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Kotoyama.
4. The Way of the Househusband
Badass male lead? Check. Cool story and plots? Check. Intense character interactions? Yup, that too. These are the typical marks of shonen anime series, but The Way of the Househusband makes it real fresh.
Its art direction and animation style alone are unlike anything you've probably seen, and its short episodes pack tons of comedy and action that'll hook you. The entire series is brilliantly executed in a way that entertains kids and adults alike.
3. Love After World Domination
Love After World Domination is an anime adaptation of the manga of the same name, written by Hiroshi Noda and illustrated by Takahiro Wakamatsu.
This sentai-themed anime series features a typical save-the-world plot involving a group of color-coded heroes (the Freezing Sentai Gelato 5) and the enemy organization (Gekko).
Unlike other hero-themed anime series that center on the battles between good and evil, Love After World Domination focuses on the secret love between the top fighters from opposing sides: Fudo Aikawa (hero name: Red Gelato) and Desumi Magahara (villain name: Reaper Princess).
Publicly, they're at war. Privately, they're dating. Isn't that an awesome premise for an anime series?
2. Uncle From Another World
Uncle From Another World isn't just an anime with a fresh premise, but also one of the weirdest spins in the isekai genre.
Yosuke (aka Uncle) spends 17 years in a coma after he's hit by the famous Truck-kun. When he wakes up, he's able to use magical spells—which, apparently, is possible because he was sent to another world for the entire time he was in his coma.
Uncle From Another World is an anime adaptation of the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Hotondoshindeiru.
1. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War
Romantic comedy anime series often partner free-spirited female leads with serious male leads. One of them usually ends up being some combination of dumb, clumsy, energetic, or innocent to build up the plot and insert comedic moments into the narrative.
But the romantic comedy anime series Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is quite different in many aspects. Both of its leads are serious and proud, with wacky side characters that blend comedy into the romance.
As it turns out, the two main characters are in denial about their feelings for one another and they're too proud to confess their love. Indeed, they're in a war over it and they believe whoever confesses first loses.