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The 15 Greatest Guilty Pleasure Anime You Secretly Love

Updated November 15, 2019 38.3k votes 8.2k voters 234.8k views15 items

List RulesVote up the anime you're secretly into.

The guilty pleasure anime category encompasses the shows you don't want anyone to know you're into. For some people, these are fan service anime - these series can be a ton of fun, but viewers might feel weird about them, either for moral reasons or simply because they'd be embarrassed to have someone walk in on them while they're watching. For others, a guilty pleasure show might be super cute in a way that doesn't fit their image.

There's no reason an adult can't enjoy Chi's Sweet Home, but it may be hard to explain to a non-fan why they're watching a show aimed at small children. A handful of shows just aren't well-written or are only good in parts. If someone is a literature major who regularly reads the classics, they might struggle to articulate why they're so passionate about Yu-Gi-Oh! Regardless of individual taste, there are a ton of popular shows people wouldn't necessarily boast about watching.

  • The much-maligned but beloved series Sword Art Online is totally a guilty pleasure viewing experience. It starts with a solid premise: A group of virtual-reality gamers is trapped in a game for well over a year, and if they are eliminated in the game, they will be eliminated in real life. It also features awesome fight scenes, an interesting romance plot between Kirito and his girlfriend, Asuna, and a fun, expansive fantasy world.

    So what makes it a guilty pleasure? First of all, it's total wish-fulfillment - Kirito's in-game skills are unreasonably good, and he's attractive to every girl he comes across. It's also difficult to enjoy the part where Asuna, a formerly strong heroine, gets locked in a cage by Nobuyuki Sugou, her unwanted fiance.

    Despite its sillier and more disturbing parts, it's hard not to feel affection for Sword Art Online.

    Do you secretly love this?
  • Photo: Xebec

    Keijo!!!!!!!! is about women fighting using only their chests and their rears. While there's no counterargument to this being blatant fan service, it also somehow manages to be wholesome. These ladies are serious about achieving victory in their strange sport, and it's hard not to root for them - even if the show feels cringe-worthy at times.

    Do you secretly love this?
  • Fruits Basket is one of those series that is equally flawed as it is lovable. The Sohma family's structure is terrifying; horrible acts are dismissed and forgiven because the culprit (usually Akito Sohma ) is also in pain. Twentysomething men hit on teenagers, and it's supposed to be funny. The art is also dated, featuring some of the most scarily enormous eyes in any anime ever.

    Despite these flaws, it's hard not to get sucked in by the drama, the romance, and the truly unforgettable cast of characters, including the aforementioned Akito Sohma, who despite his often egregious behavior is a truly fascinating villain. Someone calling themselves a Fruits Basket fan might have a few caveats, but nevertheless, it's a pleasure to be one.

    Do you secretly love this?
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! and its various spinoff series were an integral part of many anime fans' early viewing experience, but that doesn't make them high-quality. This franchise has taken some serious narrative leaps - the first series deals with past lives in ancient Egypt; GX sees the children go to a barren hellscape, where the main character eliminates almost everyone he knows; and most of 5D's is about police mistreatment - but these shows are also about card games.

    Specifically, card games the franchise is desperately trying to sell. Yu-Gi-Oh! can feel more like an advertisement at times, rather than an enjoyable show with a well-plotted story, but it's a highly addicting binge-watch.

    Do you secretly love this?