10 Anime That Are Popular Everywhere Except Japan

Anime may be mostly made in Japan for Japanese audiences, but that doesn’t mean all of these anime shows and movies are hits. In fact, several anime have fallen through the cracks or been bombed hard.

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That’s not to say it was the end for those titles, as they luckily got a second chance overseas. For different reasons, these cartoons not only found success overseas, but also became cultural icons and legends.

ten MD Geist has become a So-Bad-It’s-Good legend in America

There was a time when the anime industry produced too many disposable edgy OVAs, one of which was MD Geist. Most of these OVAs have fallen under Japanese viewers’ radars, and they’re little more than oddities for Americans. MD Geist, however, was immortalized in America thanks to Central Park Media founder John O’Donnell.

For some reason, O’Donnell liked the low-quality OVA. Evidence of his dedication can be seen in the director’s cut, sequel and comics he financed, the non-stop promotions of the OVA and Geist becoming the “spokesman” for the US Manga Corps. O’Donnell’s efforts paid off, as MD Geist endured as an American cult favorite long after its demise in Japan.

9 Dotto! Koni-Chan is a beloved childhood mainstay in Latin America

At first glance, there is nothing remarkable about Dotto! Koni Chan. The kids show was an otherwise typical gag anime aimed at young audiences, and it has come and gone in Japan. But while the shenanigans of Koni and his friends were virtually ignored in Japan, they were a huge hit in Latin America, including Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Mexico.

In the 90s, these countries were importing tons of anime, with Dotto! Koni Chan part of the package. Thanks to it being one of the first children’s anime to make its way to Latin America and great localizations, the anime has become an enduring mainstay of childhood. The proof of its impact is that almost all Dotto! Koni Chan’s YouTube videos are in Spanish.

8 FLCL has been revered as an anime classic in America

Adult Swim is known among American fans for being their entry point into anime, thanks to its anime block which featured unforgettable anime classics like cowboy bebop and Trigun. What these fans might not realize, however, is that their favorite hit anime were lukewarm hits in Japan at best, or outright flops at worst. Concrete example, FLCL.

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Although critically approved in Japan, the OVA was ignored by mainstream audiences, who found the surrealism FLCL too weird for them. American viewers, conversely, fell in love with the absurdity of Naota and Haruko grappling with growing up to such an extent that not only Adult Swim gave FLCL many reruns, but they also ordered four seasons in a row.

seven Crayon Shin-Chan found its greatest success in Catalonia and Spain

To be clear, Pencil Shin Chan was never a flop in Japan but, like most long-running anime, its popularity has waned over the years. While the naughty hijinks of the Nohara family were famous in Japan, they were a cultural phenomenon in Spain, especially in Catalonia. One could even argue that Shin Chan is a bigger success in Spain than in Japan.

Despite (or because of) his raunchy humor, Pencil Shin Chan appealed to Catalan and Spanish viewers. Not only has the anime aired on some of the biggest channels in the region, but its movies have performed very well in theaters. Before his death in 2009, mangaka Yoshito Usui thanked his European fans by writing about the Noharas’ trips to Catalonia and Spain.

6 Samurai Pizza Cats has found its second life as an American parody

Before ADV Films Legendary Hilarious Parody ghost stories, there was Saban Entertainment Samurai pizza cats. Originally known as Ninja Cat Legend Teyandee in Japan, Samurai pizza cats was a passable but unremarkable children’s cartoon that has since been forgotten by its intended Japanese audience.

When anime came to America, it was turned into self-awareness Samurai pizza cats. It was rumored that this was either because the official translations were poorly written or somehow got lost in the mail. Regardless, the new dub was so well received by American and Japanese producers that it became the officially recognized dub.

5 Leiji Matsumoto and his anime are highly respected in France

With titles like Galaxy Express 999, Space battleship Yamato, space pirate Captain Harlock, and more to his credit, it’s clear that Matsumoto is one of the most important names in anime and manga history. However, since many of his works were released between the 70s and 80s, even his anime that were once blockbusters in Japan have now been mostly forgotten.

On the other hand, Matsumoto’s works are immortal in France. Besides that Matsumoto approved an official French sequel to Captain Harlock (which is an icon in France) and oversaw Daft Punk’s Galaxy Express 999-inspired Interstelle 5555, Matsumoto was knighted by France and honored with the prestigious Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2012.

4 Elfen Lied survived the domestic flop thanks to American fans

elf lied earned its reputation as one of the most controversial anime of its time, but the countries it aired in received it differently. In Japan, Kouta and Lucy’s bloody romance has been relegated to the off hours of midnight time slots. It got to the point where the commercials for the DVDs arguably performed better than the actual TV shows of the episodes.

In America, elf lied was also considered too brutal for television, so it was sold exclusively on DVD. Instead of fading into obscurity, the anime spread like wildfire through word of mouth. elf lied was such a cult hit that it became ADV Films’ top-selling title of 2005, and is fondly regarded by nostalgic fans as their formative catwalk anime.

3 Go Nagai’s animated super robots are timeless icons in Europe

The sad reality of the super robot genre is that, despite being one of anime’s most important founding pillars, it’s now a forgotten relic in Japan. This is the case with many pioneering super robot titles from the legendary mangaka Go Nagai, such as Mazinger-Z and UFO Robo Gendizer. While these are mostly artifacts in Japan, they remain beloved icons in Europe.

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For instance, Mazinger-Z is so beloved in Spain that a statue of the titular mech has been built in Cabra del Camp, and Gendizer obtains the same adoration in France. jeeg of steel, meanwhile, is so ingrained in the hearts of Italians that it was an integral part of the film They call me Jeeg, although it was rejected as a spin-off super robot anime by Japan in the 70s.

2 The Big O was saved from cancellation because of the Americans

In 1999, The big O created in Japan. After airing 13 of its planned 26 episodes, the mecha and Neo-Noir hybrid was canceled due to abysmal ratings. Roger Smith’s time in Paradigm City fared better overseas, especially in America where he made waves on Adult Swim. In fact, Adult Swim loved it The big O so much so that they co-produced a second season.

In 2003, The big O returned with 13 more episodes that put an end to some long-standing issues, but shifted from an exciting mecha story to a more philosophical one. Many believe that Big O’s the initial failure was not because of its quality, but because its Western influences resonated better with Americans than Japanese viewers.

1 Voltes V has become a symbol of revolution in the Philippines

Even at its peak in the 1970s, Volta V was only a modest success in Japan. Volta V was just another super robot show, its only noticeable difference being the combined mecha gimmick.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, it became a revolutionary icon after it was banned in 1979. Volta V was later adopted as a symbol of freedom and justice by Filipinos, The giant robot is still used as a symbol of protest.


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