Who doesn’t love a good bizarre film or two? Even if it’s just for comedic value?
Absurd comedies aside, some of us enjoy going the extra mile and fling ourselves down the rabbit hole of absolutely insane series. And so this list was created after many hours (and years) of watching the most WTF anime series ever.
Some of these shows have a dark, sinister, surreal quality to them, some have ambiguous plots, and others are downright hilariously nuts. From pleasantly absurd themes to horrifying scenes that are more akin to an acid trip than an anime series plot, there’s bound to be elements in at least a few of these entries that will make you think: “This is the kind of weird I’ve been looking for.”
Be mindful of spoilers, there’s a few ahead!
Try binge watching something that’ll melt your brain with these 16 Most Bizarre Anime Series Ever.
16. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure follows the story of several generations of the Joestar family, all of which have special abilities and powers, who travel the world to fight villains who have gained spooky vampire-like powers from a mysterious ancient stone mask. Something about the animation style, freakishly masculine flamboyant characters in their fabulous tight-fitting outfits, and rock star themes make the show both enticing and insane all at the same time. If the gratuitous use of weirdly placed English doesn’t make JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure silly enough, the fight scenes and constantly changing plot and plot rules make it even weirder.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a good combination of freaky strange and comically strange. The manga the show is based on is one of the best selling manga series of all time, so clearly creator Hirohiko Araki got something right when he created JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. And what a bizarre adventure it is.
FLCL has a special place in the hearts of little weirdos who stayed up a bit too late to watch Adult Swim’s anime block back in the day.
FLCL is a sort of cool weird– almost an avant-garde weird. This comedic science fiction story follows the young blasé Naota who lives with his eccentric widowed father and grandfather. His life is flipped around when a pink-haired psychopathic alien girl named Haruko runs him over with her yellow Vespa and beats him in the head with a blue vintage Rickenbacker 3001 base guitar. That’s quite a sentence, right? It gets even better– since getting bonked on the head by the flighty galactic investigator, giant robots begin to come through the spot on Naota’s head, which has apparently become some sort of extraterrestrial portal.
The series is very short (only six episodes) but is able to pack themes of surrealism, politics, capitalism, mecha, coming-of-age, science fiction, sex, and comedy into less than two and a half hours of screen time. The soundtrack is amazing too– check out The Pillows if you get a chance.
14. Saint Young Men
“Slice of life” genre anime series tend to be pretty predictable– they usually involve a group of high school girls having fun and living their lives. Not to say that’s a bad thing– anime like Lucky Star, Azumanga Daioh, and K-On! are very entertaining and adorable series.
Saint Young Men takes the genre and makes it completely different, and we can confidently say there is nothing else in the world of anime even remotely like this hilarious gem.
Saint Young Men is the totally canon and historically accurate account of when Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha moved in together as roommates in an apartment in Tokyo’s Tachikawa district. Each chapter of the series follows how these religious icons are just dudes just being dudes and love drinking beer together, blogging, and playing video games.
The show is bizarre for its plot and unusual characters but is also refreshingly entertaining. Saint Young Men makes fun of Christianity and Buddhism without being nihilistic or antagonizing, or even very offensive.
13. Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo aired on Cartoon Network in the early 2000s for Western audiences and it was a hard show to forget. Mostly because of how nonsensical and unexpectedly strange it was.
In the year 300X, the world is ruled by a tyrant known as Baldy Bald the 4th. His gang of hair hunting soldiers steal innocent citizens’ hair, leaving them bald and their towns in war-torn despair. An afro-sporting heroic rebel named Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo stands up to this terrible dictatorship to save the people around him. He’s eventually joined by a team that includes a teenage girl, a smelly young man, and an orange creature that looks like a cartoon sun.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo has a lot of typical Japanese manzai traits– lots of mutual ridiculous misunderstandings, cheesy puns, and verbal gags paired with cross-dressing, fourth-wall-breaking, and a load of pop culture references. All of these traits are sort of mashed together on the show, resutling in something difficult to follow. But Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo doesn’t need to be understood, and it doesn’t need you to understand it. Much of the entertainment value in this anime is in its confusion.
12. Kill la Kill
This anime series has seen its share of controversy, with critics arguing that the show is horrendously misogynist, pedophilic, and incredibly flawed. Despite the polarizing effect the show had on anime fans, Kill la Kill isn’t any less outlandishly eccentric and bizarre.
The weirdness is mostly in the show’s plot: a vagrant schoolgirl named Ryuko is on a path of revenge to kill her father’s murderer. Along the way, Ryuko is tossed into a violent battle against Satsuki, the student council president of a George Orwell’s 1984-style academy. Most of the main characters have to fight nearly naked in order to bond with the sentient, special power-granting clothing that is ambiguous in nature but seems to be some sort of alien or artificially intelligence. The living outfits also drink their blood and can turn them into violent unstoppable monsters as well. They fight with giant scissors, too.
11. Paranoia Agent
This series was one of the late Satoshi Kon’s awesome works of art. And like much of his previous work it is otherworldly, dreamlike, and totally bizarre. Paranoia Agent has frequently been compared to David Lynch works, if that can paint a picture for you.
In Paranoia Agent, a strange social phenomenon begins to take over the Musashino district of Tokyo. It is started by an adolescent serial attacker named Lil’ Slugger who beats people with a baseball bat. As more and more people claim to have been attacked by the assailant, investigators begin to figure out that the attacks are not random. Rather, Lil’ Slugger attacks people in deep crisis, and subsequently the attacks lead the victims to improvement in their lives. When a police detective begins to suspect that the assailant is a supernatural being, the show goes from thrilling to downright crazy.
10. Sekkou Boys
Some may hear the plot of Sekkou Boys and find it to be weird and pointless. However, this show is not only entertainingly strange but very smart as well.
In Sekkou Boys, we meet a fresh of out art school graduate named Miki who takes her first job as a manager for a new idol group known as Sekkou Boys. Miki hates the crap out of statues– she sucked at painting them in art school and got shamed for it, and never wants to be around statues again. Unfortunately, the idol group she manages is literally four hyper-realistic gypsum busts in the likeness of St. Giorgio, Michaelangelo’s Medici, Hermes, and Mars. The statues can speak (without moving their lips) but have to be carted around to their concerts. The best part about this show is that nobody seems to question why the statues are in an idol group, how they talk, if they are really sentient, etc. except for Miki.
Sekkou Boys is a satirical criticism of the exploitation of young people in the idol industry and how what we consider attractive is getting more and more convoluted. It’s weird, funny, and serious at times. Definitely worth watching.
9. Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the most avant-garde anime series out there. The series’ themes deal with reality, communication, identity, cyberpunk culture, and technology. However, it can be difficult for even the most intelligent and analytical person to get a firm grasp on what this show was really trying to say.
Lain is a young suburban girl who is introduced to something called the Wired, which appears to be a global communication network much like the World Wide Web. After her classmate dies, students begin to receive messages from the dead girl. Lain discovers that her classmate is not “dead” but rather her spirit has somehow been uploaded to the virtual reality world of the Wired. The idea of the afterlife and God come into question throughout the series and things just get increasingly more crazy.
8. Inferno Cop
In our modern age of vapid and shallow cinema that only seeks to get cheap thrills from us, Inferno Cop was generously sent from the heavens to redeem us. This is a masterpiece of our time. None can compare to Inferno Cop. While mediocre films like The Godfather and The Shawshank Redemption are remembered and awarded, Inferno Cop remains a deeply underrated and timeless classic that hopefully one day will be recognized for its outstanding artistry.
Inferno Cop is relatable, realistic, and deeply affecting. If Nicolas Cage’s Ghost Rider was beautifully animated by the best of the best Japanese animators, cast with the most diverse and talented Japanese voice actors, and had some of the most thrilling plot developments and heartwrenching endings ever, it wouldn’t be far off from the magnum opus that is Inferno Cop.
The episodes are only a few minutes long, so it won’t take long to get through it. You can’t consider yourself a well-rounded anime fan unless you’ve seen the best animated series of all time: Inferno Cop.
Ever looked at your can of sexy La Croix sparkling water and wished it could turn into a new girlfriend? We’ve all been there. Akikan! helps us live out that fantasy in a small way.
This bizarre anime series is about a group of anthropomorphic drink cans who battle each other. A high school student named Kazuichi finds that his can of melon soda has magically turned into a human girl, with a matching outfit and everything. More of these soda can girls begin to appear and they can apparently survive by fusing with the carbon dioxide in their specific drink. They were created by the enigmatic “Akikan Elect” to put an end to the age-old question of whether steel or aluminum cans are better.
If we had a list of the most visually stunning animated series of all time, Mononoke would be very, very close to the top. The warping and changing animation styles overlaid with beautiful, bright, diverse colors make Mononoke look like a moving collage of fine Japanese paper.
Mononoke is a spin-off series of Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales (a great series to watch, though it is more spooky than bizarre). Mononoke follows the enigmatic Medicine Seller, a man who seems like a simple merchant yet seems to encounter countless supernatural problems that only he is able to put a stop to. Think The Exorcist meets Spirited Away.
Mononoke’s plot is very strange and the whole series feels like it is taking place in an extended dream. If you love surreal art and films but want to watch something that isn’t as dark as a David Lynch or David Cronenberg piece, you may really enjoy Mononoke. While the show has some dark elements, it is difficult to get too sucked into it with so much visual beauty bombarding your eyeballs at every moment.
This science fiction comedy anime series is as weird as it gets. But Space Dandy‘s weirdness isn’t its ultimate desirable trait– the series’ humor is so good that it is able to cross cultural barriers and be genuinely funny to Western audiences that may not be particularly interested in anime.
Space Dandy follows the story of a (you guessed it) dandy guy in space who hunts aliens with this robot sidekick and his cat-alien pal Meow. This space opera isn’t Cowboy Bebop by any means, but the misadventures of Dandy and his friends are pretty damn funny. The bizarre continuity of the series is confusing until the very end when all is explained– but we won’t spoil it for you. If you want to watch a space-themed anime series that is a weird as it is hilarious, you need to check out Space Dandy. The references to old science fiction, music, and pop culture are also pretty funny when you catch them.
4. Cromartie High School
Cromartie High School is a parody of Japanese yankii manga of the ’80s that focused on bad boy delinquents. It definitely achieves its goal and Cromartie High School is super weird and super hilarious.
The series follows the life of a young student named Takashi and his bizarre classmates at the titular Cromartie High School. The school is known for its rough student body. All of the characters in the show are uniquely nuts. Takashi is the least insane and most of the student body thinks his soft demeanor means that he’s the toughest kid at school, because what nice guy would get sent there anyway? Shinjuro is Takashi’s first buddy– he sports a purple mohawk and is notoriously dumber than a rock. Also, his mohawk is apparently fake. Akira is the only character that seems to have any sense about him, but he also looks identical to his mother. Like, literally identical. Shinichi is rumored to be a robot and this is proven when he is involved in a motorcycle accident that fuses him to the bike. Nobody but the main characters seem to notice.
Cromartie High School also has a rare sort of English dub that is almost funnier than the original Japanese dub, too.
3. Humanity has Declined
It sure has. This short anime series is set in a post-apocalyptic universe where human beings have drastically regressed and the human population is steadily decreased. Our main character is a nameless nihilist girl caught in between human beings and beings called “fairies” that appear to be little elfish creatures that love sweets and jolly things. They also pester her often and cause her trouble with their little elf powers.
While the plot doesn’t sound too bizarre, trust us. This show is nuts. There’s a weird time paradox between the main heroine and her gun-fanatic grandfather, and they were unable to meet until she was thirteen. The fairies are kind of creepy with their permanent, unnerving smiles and have some sort of advanced technology that allows them to perform “magic”. A girl named Y is a friend of the heroine who researches lost human artifacts, but after finding a yaoi manga from around our current time has given up her pursuit and has become a yaoi writer instead.
2. Punch Line
Punch Line has the twist of all twists: if our lead character sees a girl’s panties twice in a row, the Earth will be completely decimated by a meteor. Yep, you heard correctly.
Punch Line follows a young man named Yuta who lives in an apartment complex with four girls; Mikatan, Ito, Meika, and Lovera. After Yuta is involved in a bus hijacking scenario, he discovers his spirit has been catapulted from his physical body. A helpful cat spirit named Chiranosuke helps Yuta gain control of his spirit powers in order to protect his beloved roommates from the numerous nonsensical circumstances they get involved in. But there’s also that twist– if he sees some panties, the world could be destroyed. That’s not even the weirdest part of the series. Mikatan is an idol star who moonlights as a street fighter magical girl. Ito has a pet bear. Meika is a robot. Lovera is an exorcist. There’s no end to the weirdness that is Punch Line.
Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist is the anime personification of a dirty joke.
In Shimoneta, a dystopian future Japanese society exists where the government has banned any and all perceived immoral or shameful activity. This includes viewing pornography and even swearing. All citizens are required to wear tech devices called Peace Makers to analyze every word and hand motion they make to arrest them for breaking the dystopian law. A student named Tanukichi enters an elite public morality school to find his crush, the student council president Anna. Tanukichi becomes acquainted with the pervert terrorist named Blue Snow and she kidnaps him and forces him to join her organization. The organization called SOX is dedicated to spreading pornography around the city to protest the oppressive regime.
There’s a lot of creatively hilarious swearing as protest in the anime and it is one of those rare gems of insanity that you just have to watch to get.
Have you enjoyed any of these bizarre series? Let us know in the comments.