It’s a tale we go through every year. With the sheer raw number of new anime created every year, it is difficult to keep up with many of them, and downright physically impossible to see all of them. As a result, there are a lot of intriguing or high quality shows that for some reason or another manage to slip through the cracks, even on services that are dedicated to streaming anime, such as Crunchyroll. As I’ve done the last few years, it is time once more for my yearly countdown article where I round up the 10 best or most interesting titles that underperformed over the course of the year, and give them another chance in the spotlight.
As usual, the method I use to form this list is admittedly highly flawed, but without the actual viewership data from Crunchyroll themselves, it is the best I can do. How this method works is I compare the shows’ MyAnimeList viewer numbers(which is their total members number minus their “plan to watch” number), and compare them with the viewer numbers of the year’s most watched show according to MAL stats, and simply put any show with less than 20% of that show’s viewer numbers is eligible for consideration. Like last year, the order these shows are in is purely based on their percentage of viewers, as ordering them by preference is kind of pointless since it was my preferences that got them into the list out of the vast pool of candidates in the first place.
This year the shows on this list are being compared to My Hero Academia Season 3, the show from 2018 with the highest MAL viewers. Like always, we’ll start with my honorable mention, which was, rather ironically, only 777 viewers short, as of the time this article was written, from making the list proper, the closest margin between 10th place and the HM spot yet.
HM - Golden Kamuy
How many watched it: Only 15% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
This gloriously pulpy adventure show has been endlessly entertaining, and often finding new ways to do it. It is simultaneously an action-adventure show about a treasure hunt for a lost fortune of gold, a comedy, a stunning piece of historical fiction, and a cooking show, and manages to balance all of its gimmicks as if it was Mick Foley in the 1998 Royal Rumble. It’s a shame that apparently not that many people saw it. Come on guys, the CGI bears aren’t that bad.
#10 - HANEBADO!
How many watched it: Only 14.8% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
This show’s lack of popularity was rather surprising to me, as I thought it was one of the most talked about shows of the Summer season. I suppose it was just a vocal minority who had a lot to say about the show. This dramatic badminton show with absolutely no chill featured gorgeous animation and a roller coaster of emotions that wasn’t always the most enjoyable ride, but it was still an entertaining romp worthy of at least one watch through, even if the show does leave a lot of important plot threads unresolved at the end.
#9 - SSSS.Gridman
How many watched it: Only 12% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
So, someone explain to me just how the holy hell a freaking Trigger production is amongst the year’s under the radar shows. I mean I suppose the subject material being a relatively unknown tokusatsu show that few in the West knew much about(unless you were one of the few to watch Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, the American adaptation of the show from whom this anime got the “SSSS” in its title from) probably contributed to that, but like my Twitter feed all season long was filled with fanart of Rikka and Akane. I suppose that makes this show 2018's Mr. Osomatsu/Kemono Friends, popular in Japan, but only loved by a small passionate group elsewhere. Which is a shame, because this is one of Trigger’s best works yet, and a much needed rebound for the studio after DARLING in the FRANXX’s slow decline into a massive wet fart.
#8 - School Babysitters
How many watched it: Only 11.9% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
Now this show is just simply adorable. It was able to effectively use the weaponized cuteness of the toddlers time and again, providing for both some humorous moments and some jabs to your feels. It was an enjoyable if somewhat flawed show, mainly in how they handled some of the non-toddler cast members, but I can also see how the show didn’t really find a larger audience. Slice of life shows can be rather hit-or-miss when it comes to being popular, and it is extremely difficult to guess which ones will be successful, because two SoL shows can have the same things going for them, and be of rather equal levels of quality, but one takes off, while the other languishes.
#7 - Comic Girls
How many watched it: Only 11.6% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
Much like School Babysitters, this is unfortunately one of those slice of life shows that lost the popularity lottery. Which is just a damn shame, as this show has a phenomenal cast and stellar writing. It had some of the funniest moments of the year for me, as well as some of the most emotional, and nearly all of the show’s examples of both revolve around its central character, Kaoruko “Kaos” Moeta. The adorable struggling mangaka just has to be seen to be believed, not to mention the incredible vocal performance from her voice actor, Hikaru Akao, for whom this was her first starring role.
How many watched it: Only 9.7% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
There’s no real secret as to why this show didn’t attract much attention with MAL users. It is clear as day being the direct sequel to a relatively long show works against it. That’s before getting into any of the issues the latest entry in the Cardcaptor Sakura franchise has, such as having a rather slow pace all things considered. It is still absolutely an enjoyable watch, especially for fans of the series dying to see more of it.
How many watched it: Only 8.4% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
On second thought, this is this year’s Mr. Osomatsu/Kemono Friends, at least financially speaking, as Umamusume was a powerhouse on home video in 2018. Granted, it was heavily aided out by Cygames including codes for Granblue Fantasy with the home video release, but whatever it takes I suppose. This is just such a weird show that shouldn’t work on paper, but the merger of monster girls and sports anime, with dashes of idol anime and slice of life for flavoring not only worked, it excelled, becoming one of the biggest legitimate surprises of the year. Umamusume took a couple of episodes to find its footing, but once it began focusing in on its horse racing aspect above everything else, it kicked into a high gear that it just never came back down from.
#4 - Harukana Receive
How many watched it: Only 8.3% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
Given the amount of anime of...questionable quality that manage to still find big audiences solely because they have a bunch of pretty girls in skimpy attire, it puzzles me how a genuinely good show that happens to feature a bunch of pretty girls in bathing suits failed to find any kind of audience. Harukana Receive was one of this year’s chillest shows, being a relaxing and amusing series about beach volleyball. It also had some surprising depths to it with some of its character arcs, making the show a better piece of entertainment.
#3 - Run with the Wind
How many watched it: Only 8% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
This show seems to be suffering a bit of the same issues Girlish Number did back in 2016, and that is, despite associations with a hugely popular franchise, almost no one watches it. In Run with the Wind’s case, it features a lot of people on its staff with ties to several of the most well known sports anime series around, such as Haikyuu!!, Prince of Tennis, and Hajime no Ippo. Unlike the bulk of sports anime, this trades in thrilling action for dramatic character study. The sport itself, marathon relay racing, could probably be swapped out for many other sports and still be effective, as the driving force here is the characters and their journey to improve themselves.
#2 - Planet With
How many watched it: Only 4.9% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
This is another show where I can completely understand why not that many people saw it. The first episode of Planet With, despite being highly entertaining, is rather overwhelming. The series just tosses viewers into the deep end in a sink or swim situation, before it slowly gives out context and explanations for the technicolor madness we see before us. Those who managed to withstand the opening barrage the show tossed out were met with one of the most tightly paced series in recent memories. Planet With was able to do in just 12 episodes what many shows struggle to do in 24 or more, and in the process easily became the year’s standout mecha show.
#1 - Lupin the 3rd Part 5
How many watched it: Only 2.2% of My Hero Academia Season 3's viewership
Let’s be real here, I think we might be able to fairly guess why the simply breathtaking fifth main entry in the venerable Lupin the 3rd franchise currently only has under 10,000 viewers on MAL. It’s because it is the fifth main entry. People see that big old “Part 5" and assume they have to watch all the previous seasons, and just nope the hell out of the prospect of watching several hundred episodes of Lupin just to catch up. The funny little thing with Lupin the 3rd is that almost every single entry in the series functions as both a continuation and as a stand alone work.
What I mean is that the characters’ histories progress over the franchise, but you don’t absolutely need to watch everything to jump in. The characters are usually handled in such a way that you can hit the ground running and get a good feel for them within minutes. Part 5 in particular is something that people really should see. It is arguably the franchise, and its cast, at its best. It achieves this while taking the utter piss out of modern society, especially its reliance on social media and other technology. You won’t regret taking the plunge.
That’ll just about do it for this one. These were my Top 10 series from 2018 on Crunchyroll that barely anyone saw. What about you guys? Did any of your favorites make this list this year? Do y’all have any additional shows you feel didn’t get the kind of loving you felt they deserve? Feel free to share them below!