By Chris Lam
We’ve all experienced some pretty wild anime premises in our time, but today, we’re taking a look at some truly over the top storylines that could only happen in anime.
First up on our list:
What is there to even say about FLCL? The premise is pretty simple.
Our main character Naota, after spending “quality time” with his brother’s ex-girlfriend, suddenly gets run over by Haruko, an alien riding on a yellow Vespa with an electric guitar as a weapon. It’s also wielded as both a gun and as an axe. Oh, and as a vehicle too, of course. And it’s specifically a blue, vintage Rickenbacker 4001.
After getting hit in the head by Haruko, Naota accidentally summons robots from his head. In Episode 1, one such robot is named Canti and becomes friendly after being hit by Haruko and is then able to temporarily eat Naota and power up thanks to the special fragment Haruko is looking for. Haruko then becomes Naota’s seductive maid because, of course. Anime.
Are you OK? Has your brain exploded yet? If it hasn’t, you need to be studied by scientists. I watched the series again recently and could barely form cohesive sentences after watching one episode. And that’s not even the half of the backstory.
I haven’t even mentioned each individual character’s backgrounds and what all this insanity might mean. I know it sounds pretty crazy, but oh boy is this craziness beautiful. Plus, I hope you will see what a marvel the animation still is, despite the original series being only six episodes long.
No Guns Life (2019)
Only in anime could a gritty, noir tale about a buff guy with a gun for a head also be an incredibly gripping and emotional story.
Juzo Inui is tasked with handling an issue with any Extended, people with genetic enhancements, he’s contracted to handle. There are also Over-Extended, people whose enhancements go beyond the legal allowance.
Juzo himself is an Over-Extended known as a Gun Slave Unit, used during the last big war to fight for his country as a weapon. But Juzo isn’t really looking to reel in those with illegal enhancements or uncover a conspiracy, he’s just trying to mind his own business and make a living.
Unfortunately, he finds himself wrapped up in a whole mess of terrible situations. And even though he might not like it, he’s also taken it upon himself to defend those close to him, no matter how many dangerous situations it places him in.
He’s strong-willed and can truly take a punch, but it’s not hard to feel a true connection to this man with a gun for a head and his unique supporting cast. If crime, drama and mystery are your thing, look no further than No Guns Life.
Pop Team Epic (2018)
Pop Team Epic is a show about two characters, Popuko and Pipimi and is basically a series of skits. They’re based on a popular and well-loved comic strip series that parodies anime and pop culture beyond.
It’s funny, because I was asked to write about the premise of the anime on this list … but I really can only talk about the format of this anime because it’s completely absurdist and wonderful!
The beginning of the show is literally a red herring. After that, it’s Popuko repeatedly being late for school with toast in her mouth. In another episode, the two are brought into an unfinished fantasy anime’s storyboard. I’m going to assume most people watching this show will understand, but no anime genre is safe from this pair.
The show even changes animation styles and voice actors for Popuko and Pipimi each time. They literally brought on the Japanese voice actors of Freiza and Cell from Dragon Ball Z for Episode 6, people.
AZUR LANE (2019)
AZUR LANE is about badass ladies who are human versions of World War II warships. Yes, you heard me. These are human translations of World War II warships. Ship girls. Sounds crazy? Tell that to Hetalia, which took over the internet when I was in high school.
Oh yeah, it’s an entire genre called gijinka or moe anthropomorphism. But I suppose it’s technically a little more complicated than moe anthropomorphism, because these are apparently human girls fused with naval warships, so … yeah. Did I mention it was based on a really popular Chinese mobile game that also got adapted into manga and light novels?
The actual plot is that Earth’s oceans were invaded by alien monsters called Sirens. To counter this threat, the four main nations — Eagle Union, Royal Navy, Iron Blood, and Sakura Empire — formed an alliance called Azur Lane.
Since the end of the war between Azur Lane and the Sirens, the Iron Blood and Sakura Empire have become the bad guys and formed the Red Axis. And the Sirens might not be entirely gone. But all you need to know is that you’ll get to see a lot of fight scenes between girls that can stand on water because, well, they have “ship powers.”
ZOMBIE LAND SAGA (2018)
The next show I’m going to cover actually takes place in Japan’s Saga Prefecture. And while the show actually brought some tourism to real-world locations, its premise could only happen in anime.
Sakura was just an ordinary girl on her way to audition for her favorite idol group when she is abruptly killed in a car accident. Thus begins her journey as an idol.
Wait, Chris, she’s dead. What do you mean it’s the beginning? Oh you fool, you forget this is anime! This is where people can be brought back from the dead. An unsavory music manager decides to bring back Sakura and some other girls from different eras of Japan to form the ultimate idol group.
That’s right. They took the idol genre, and mixed zombies into it. I love Japan so much.
But ZOMBIE LAND SAGA is not just an odd premise. The humor in this show is spot on and will appeal to those that are a little more skeptical of idol anime. On top of that, each character has real depth and is fleshed out. Get it? Fleshed out? Because their flesh is probably falling off because they’re zombies? Never mind.
Anyways, this show not only makes fun of the idol anime genre, but ends up being a good idol anime in itself.
Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (2019)
Isekai is definitely unique to anime, and only anime can take it to the next level. Enter: Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious.
This show is self-aware and is told from the perspective of goddess Ristarte, who is deciding which human to send to another world and save the day. But the guy she picks is Seiya Ryuguin, who is way too cautious.
He’s like a gamer who overkills everything. Instead of fighting easy monsters to gain experience, he levels up by taking over Rista’s home and spending all of his time working out. So, what happens when he finally faces his first enemy, a low-level slime? HE BLASTS THE HECK OUT OF IT. Not just once. Over seven times.
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This guy is crazy. Is there a little girl’s life is on the line? Hang on, he’s gotta do more pushups. Did the monster he just destroy leave a few ashes behind? Better set the whole town on fire, just in case it comes back to life. Did a god offer him a little training? Let’s overpower the god until he’s depressed, not eating, and basically laying on the ground getting beat up.
But above all of this, Rista’s reactions are the best part. You don’t get faces like that anywhere other than anime. You want good humor and good isekai tropes? Cautious Hero is a gift that only anime can give.
Kemono Michi: Rise Up (2019)
Honestly, it’d be insane to talk about recent isekai that break the mold without mentioning Kemono Michi: Rise Up. Here’s a sentence that could truly, only happen in anime: a pro wrestler gets isekai’d and gives up everything he knows to follow his dream of running a pet shop. Yes, let that sink in.
And while it sounds like a peaceful slice of life in the making, don’t get ahead of yourself. Our animal-loving wrestler really loves animals. Like, REALLY, really loves animals. And the world he gets summoned to is full of anthropomorphic beasts, so his affectionate tendencies usually lead to some over-the-top adventures or hilarious and ridiculous moments.
Plus, he often insists on wearing his wrestling costume from the previous world, which only heightens the absurdity of everything else going on. Sir, you are tickling a grown beast while wearing next to nothing. This is not how you blend in!
Africa Salaryman (2019)
The premise is office life, but with animals. Because the corporate ladder isn’t enough of a challenge, anime threw it into a carnivorous ecosystem.
Our main guys are Lion, Lizard, and Toucan. Those are their only names and no one finds it weird. Lion is a typical salaryman and is Lizard’s and Toucan’s superior. Is he the king of lions, too? Who knows, but that opening scene has us wondering: How did they even get away with that?
Lizard is a hardworking scaly boy. Apparently he’s also handsome, according to alien and a gorilla. Then there’s Toucan. He’s a self-proclaimed pervert who is lazy and unprofessional. So this is a modern, human-like society, but the food chain still applies. Small animals are terrified of Lion, Toucan eats chicken yakitori and Lizard even questions whether that’s cannibalism.
And what about pets? Yeah, they do have pets. Pigs keep pet pigs and it’s totally acceptable. But don’t worry, nobody can tell the difference between person and pet, because Toucan over here tried to date an actual pet pig.
Also, what about that time Toucan found a dead body in the park, was hardly shocked by it, and instead of alerting the authorities he decided to leave it on his picnic blanket so he could sneak off to an EDM party.
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