14 Times Anime Took Completely Boring Subjects and Made Them Exciting

List Rules
Vote up the shows you are surprisingly interested in.

One of the most amazing things about anime is the genre's uncanny ability to make even the most mundane subjects interesting. You might not find calligraphy to be a particularly enticing subject, but that doesn't mean you won't like Barakamon. Even if you haven't looked at a bike since you were six, Yowamushi Pedal can get you hyped on life behind handlebars. 

When anime takes a "boring" subject and makes it interesting, it's almost always because that subject provides a lens through which to view the characters. Many of these shows have complex, well-developed casts who would hold viewers' interest even if the show were about watching paint dry. Others find a way to make a seemingly dull concept appear genuinely fun.


  • Could an anime that focuses on farm life possibly be interesting? If you answered no, then you haven't seen Silver SpoonYugo Hachiken enrolls in an agricultural boarding school to escape the heavy demands of his family. There, he learns to enjoy a way of life totally unfamiliar to city-dwellers. 

    Some of the lessons learned are to be expected: you can't truly appreciate food until you know where it comes from, and where food comes from can be hard to swallow. Others, however, are more surprising. Hachiken's classmate Komaba has to abandon his dreams in order to support his family after their farm is foreclosed on thanks to the debts his late father left behind. Hachiken has to grapple with the unfairness of life in the lower class, as well as his own inability to change the situation, and ultimately finds ways to support his friends.

    Most anime don't get that real, but that's what makes Silver Spoon so special, despite its less than enticing initial premise. 

    1,006 votes
  • 2
    656 VOTES

    'Sweetness and Lightning' Will Leave You Happy And Hungry

    Sweetness and Lightning features a young teacher named Kohei Inuzuka and his three-year-old daughter Tsumugi, who team up with his Kohei's student Kotori to learn how to cook. This probably sounds like a cooking show so dull it wouldn't even make it onto Food Network, but it's surprisingly emotionally resonant.

    Not only does the trio make some truly mouthwatering dishes, but its members also learn to cope with serious problems. Kohei's wife died shortly before the start of the series, and neither he nor Tsumugi have been able to move on. Through cooking, the family learns how to make peace with the loss of their loved one. For Kotori, cooking becomes a way for her to get closer to her living mom. 

    656 votes
  • 'One Punch Man' Complicates Its Overpowered Protagonist
    Photo: Madhouse

    One Punch Man is one of the most popular anime to appear in the last few years, but if you only knew the basic premise, you'd have no idea why. The show is about Saitama, a guy who can win any battle with a single punch. With such an overpowered hook, it's hard to imagine a plot with any real suspense. 

    On the contrary, the show takes a boring concept and makes it hilarious. Sure, Saitama is absurdly powerful, but he's also a huge dork whose main hobby is couponing. The people around him don't consider him to be a hero; they think he's a loser who's probably faking his powers. This show knows all the shonen tropes, and is intent on defying them. 

    1,627 votes
  • 'Chihayafuru' Makes An Admittedly Dull Card Game Emotionally Gratifying
    Photo: Madhouse

    "Karuta," a card game based off of the classic Japanese Anthology of Hundred Poets, is a snoozefest for many people, including a lot of the characters in ChihayafuruThe main character, Chihaya Ayase, wants to become the greatest karuta player in Japan (and consequently the whole world). Her passion is so great that viewers can't help but feel it too.

    Even if you don't catch karuta feveryou'll still get into the story. Outside of her karuta goals, Chihaya must reconnect with her old friend Arata, who has given up on karuta, and deal with her feelings of inferiority as compared to her model sister. Watch for karuta or watch for Chihaya; either way, you won't be disappointed. 

    565 votes
  • 6
    448 VOTES

    'Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun' Makes Chores Seem Fun

    Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun is one of the weirdest shows to come out of 2017. Its premise — a main character who is really into cleaning but also plays soccer which is inherently dirty — is so dull that it almost seems fake. 

    While the premise made a lot of anime fans pass up on this show, it's surprisingly charming. Aoyama's cleaning habit sometimes seems more like a mental illness than a quirk, but this doesn't stop the majority of his classmates from absolutely adoring him. Sure, his obsession with cleanliness can be debilitating — forcing him to spend hours scrubbing the locker room instead of attending practice — but people appreciate his efforts, and usually manage to accommodate him. It's unexpected but heartwarming.

    It's also hysterically funny. Want to see an episode that centers on how good a washcloth smells? How about an episode about a guy playing soccer with his butt?  This is the show for you. No doubt about it, Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun is a bizarre show, but there's a lot more to it than the premise suggests.

    448 votes