One of the most appealing aspects of anime is the seemingly endless genres that cater to niche interests and fringe communities. There’s probably an anime series out there for everyone, but this can also create extremely polarizing programs that are acquired tastes.
Comedy is extremely subjective and there are plenty of anime that attempt to build laughs from strange places. It’s sublime when humor manages to transcend language and culture and connects on a universal level. That being said, some of the anime that are viewed as comedy classics aren’t guaranteed to make everyone laugh.
10/10 Popuko & Pipimi Troll Their Crowd Through Post-Modern Mockery
Pop Team Epic
Pop Team Epic is a ridiculous gag anime where absolutely nothing is sacred. This unpredictable avalanche of comedy ostensibly operates as an absurdist sketch series that delivers bite-sized doses of silliness.
There are genuine jokes in Pop Team Epic,but it’s very much a series that enjoys trolling its audience and engaging in unrepentant meme-based humor, which is admittedly not for everyone. Some episodes are more normal than others, but each installment basically plays out twice, with the second take functioning as a nightmare version that makes odd, benign changes to the original.
9/10 Excel Pokes Fun At Every Anime Genre Imaginable
Excel Saga is close to 25 years old and yet it’s still one of the most clever parodies of the anime industry. The 26-episode series follows Excel as she attempts to secure city-wide domination for her revolutionary group, ACROSS.
That being said, the plot is practically irrelevant in Excel Saga and the true charm of the gag series comes out in how every episode transforms the anime into a totally different genre of storytelling. Excel Saga‘s cultural touchstones and points of parody still land, but they require an intense knowledge of the medium in order to keep up with the mile-a-minute pacing of its quirky comedy.
8/10 The Matsuno Sextuplets Deliver Unabashed Ego-Driven Comedy With Heart & Soul
Osomatsu-kun was a perfectly serviceable family comedy and slice-of-life series for the younger crowd during the 1960s and ’80s. On the other hand, Osomatsu-san is the modern reboot that matures the series’ central sextuplets into a group of slacker adults who are petrified of contributing to society. The character dynamics between the Matsuno sextuplets make for great comedy.
However, the anime also plays by its own rules when it comes to its outrageous satirical impulses. Some episodes are somber meditations on loneliness while others broadly lampoon Mobile Suit Gundam. It’s a chaotic and disorienting approach to storytelling that audiences either love or hate.
7/10 Sakamoto Pushes One Excellent Joke To The Extreme
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
There’s just over a dozen episodes of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, but not a second is wasted in the comedy anime. Plenty of series look at annoying wunderkind students who never falter — much to everyone else’s chagrin — but there’s such unique energy and intention behind this series that will surprise unsuspecting audiences.
The seemingly episodic comedy culminates in a powerful conclusion that only further reflects the brilliance of this oddball gem. That being said, the repetitive nature of Sakamoto’s successes and how he remains infallible will wear thin for some.
6/10 Bobobo Satirizes Shonen With Pure Absurdity
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo is 76 episodes of pure lunacy that fulfills shonen storytelling tropes but then proceeds to tear them to pieces. The anime’s laborious title gives a pretty good impression that this anime is a joke.
Bobobo takes on enemies with his super-powerful nose hairs and the characters subscribe to a way of life known as hajike that celebrates the art of nonsense as a way to confuse the opponent. This strange brand of comedy will either work for audiences or will immediately frustrate them as they fail to find the purpose in such a silly endeavor with illogical stakes and storytelling.
5/10 The Pastimers Club Celebrates Personality & Imagination
Some of the funniest comedies are the ones that hide behind simple ideas and use this mundane setup to deliver surreal laughs. Asobi Asobase looks like any other cheerful slice-of-life comedy that’s set at a school and follows a group of lovable misfits, which in this case includes Olivia, Hanako, and Kasumi in their self-made Pastimers Club.
Asobi Asobase‘s loose structure opens itself up to the unpredictable impulses and fleets of fancy from this trio of girls. There’s such affable energy to Asobi Asobase, but some audiences don’t give the Pastimers Club enough of a chance.
4/10 Space Dandy Is A Stylistic Experimental Delight That Never Holds Back
At first glance, Space Dandy might look like some cheap ripoff of Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, or any of the other bounty hunter space operas that dominate the medium. Coming from the prolific Shinichiro Watanabe, Space Dandy takes advantage of the limitless nature of the universe with its atypical storytelling.
Each planet visited becomes an opportunity to indulge in a totally new genre or show off a different art style. Space Dandy engages in some grand ideas and gets in on the multiverse trend way ahead of the curve. The sheer audacity and ambition of Space Dandy are hard to deny, but not everyone is a fan of concept episodes and genre parodies.
3/10 Saiki’s Psychic Powers Are More Of A Cumbersome Burden
The Disastrous Life Of Saiki K.
Kusuo Saiki has become a surprisingly popular shonen character over the past decade and despite his extraordinary psychic abilities, he’s a character who plays around in comedies instead of action series. Saiki’s greatest burden is that he simply wants to be left alone, so he’ll use his incredible psychic powers to orchestrate convoluted scenarios all in the name of perpetual anonymity.
It’s hard to not fall in love with Saiki and his many unusual friends, but its frenetic pacing is too much for some. Jokes stampede over one another instead of letting each gag breathe. This chaotic energy keeps certain audiences away.
2/10 Takeshi Kamiyama Is Let Loose In A School Of Silliness
Cromartie High School
Cromartie High School adopts a sterile art style that’s decidedly not funny, but all of this is in service to how the show broadly lampoons the juvenile delinquent subgenre prevalent in anime and manga. Cromartie High School is simultaneously ridiculous and bone-dry with its comedy.
Much of this has to do with the series’ main character, Takashi Kamiyama, who’s not so much an active individual as he’s a blank slate who’s exposed to the school’s many eccentricities. Cromartie High School won’t telegraph some of its jokes, but then it will also have a robot and Freddie Mercury among Takashi’s classmates, which speaks to the anime’s contrasting tastes.
1/10 Panty & Stocking Crudely Mock Anime Conventions For Big Laughs
Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt indulges in the inherent extremes of anime. This crude comedy follows two disgraced angels who hunt ghosts by turning their lingerie into weapons. It’s a bold series that’s not meant to be taken seriously, and its unique aesthetics are viewed by many to be abrasive instead of expressive.
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt ended its one-season run in 2010, but more than a dozen years later, it’s set for a modern extension from Studio TRIGGER. It’s unclear if this update will contain the same irreverent comedy and sense of shamelessness, but TRIGGER is a fearless company that doesn’t fear controversy.
NEXT: 10 Funniest Anime Jokes That Were Lost In Translation