So, you just got through your anime starter pack. You're wearing a Konohagakure headband and an Attack on Titan t-shirt, you write your grocery lists in a Death Note you bought on Amazon, and you know way more about volleyball than a person who doesn't play the game has any reason to know. It's understandable that you're eager to show off your newly acquired nerd cred, but not so fast — there's a ton of great anime no one knows about that you should watch.
If you want to be a true anime expert, you have to watch the obscure, high-quality anime that other people haven't seen. Try some of these criminally underrated anime, and see if you find something you like. And if you don't find anything, it's totally cool to go rewatch your favorite Miyazaki movie again. Hey, at least you tried, right?
Yuu Otosaka, the protagonist of Charlotte, can slip into people's minds and control them for brief periods of time. He's not the only one with amazing powers — in fact, there's a whole school full of gifted individuals at Hoshinoumi Academy. Because the government is out to capture people with special abilities, Yuu and his friends track down and protect people with powers.
You'll like this anime if you liked Angel Beats, another (more popular) project by Charlotte's creator Jun Maeda. You'll also like it if you like X-Men, because Charlotte is basically anime X-Men. Except, you know, not terrible.
Do you like the competitive aspect of the sports anime genre, but would rather they focused more on character development than cool new ways to smack a ball around? Would you have liked Yu-Gi-Oh! twenty times more if they'd spent more time showing you the actual relationships between the characters, instead of spending entire episode on a card game with no set rules that also inexplicably determined the fate of the world? Do you like awesome female protagonists? How about traditional Japanese poetry?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should watch Chihayafuru. The series takes us deep into the world of competitive karuta, a physically and mentally demanding card game based on Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a Japanese anthology of one hundred poets.
Fans of Sword Art Online should definitely consider checking out .hack//Sign, another (far superior) anime about the perils and pleasures of online gaming. While the animation may not be as slick, and the ideas about how online gaming works might seem antiquated, it's still a must-see. What makes .hack//Sign truly stand out is its exceptional soundtrack, written and performed by the inimitable Yuki Kajiura.
Paradise Kiss, an anime by the same folks who brought us the more popular Nana, is one of the few anime that takes an in-depth look at the process behind fashion design. If that's something you're into, Paradise Kiss is right up your alley.
Besides the unique subject matter, Paradise Kiss features creative character designs, fun interactions, and theme songs by the fabulous Tomoko Kawase and, unexpectedly, Franz Ferdinand.