Mainstream shows are bad right? You hear that a lot nowadays.
In the anime groups online that I am in the users are looking for more hidden gem anime.

With the rise of many obnoxious fan bases that support the popular anime, this development does not surprise me.

I also think it’s due to the fact that many fans including myself are going through the “what should I watch the next” phase.

People’s recommendations usually do not help solve this problem because you have probably seen their recommendations.

This obviously refers to more veteran fans of the medium. These are the fans that have seen most of what is considered “Popular” and want something different.

For the newer fans out there Popular vs Hidden Gems may not have quite the significance.
I think new fans should consider this and that is the point of this article.
What you should expect is dive into this topic where we discuss what popular anime is, what hidden gems are and what should you watch.

I hope you get out something from this. While you read the article ask yourself which do I prefer to watch Hidden Gems or Popular Mainstream anime.

Popular Anime

tokyo Ghoul Touka and Kaneki
Roy Edward and Alphones

Defining each topic thing is important before actually any discussion can occur.

It’s very difficult to define what is a popular anime. Because popularity is subjective and hard to quantify. So I have created certain criteria to decide what is and what is not considered popular anime.

I do admit that the criteria might seem arbitrary.

So here is what I have come up with. For this and other categories of anime I have used myanimelist as point of reference.

Also, keep in mind that an anime could be considered popular if not all of the critera are met. These are just certain characteristics that popular anime share. Most anime will share a combination of these things but not all of them.

What is Considered Popular?

If the show has a following of 500,000 or more on myanimelist.
This is purely a numbers game but if over a million people are a fan of series it’s pretty popular.
If the series is currently airing right now.
Usually, the most popular shows are currently airing. One big issue that has arrived in most anime communities is that older shows that were once popular stopped airing and people forgot about them. This leads me to believe that being relevant contributes heavily to popularity.
If the fanbase on social media is large and active.
A popular show will have a community of fans making themselves known on all social media sites. A good test is to join anime groups and wait for the typical posts about what are the best anime. What you will find are similar lists of shows each time.

This is a big indicator of what is popular right now.

If it’s highly reviewed on most critics sites.
On Myanimelist any series rated seven or higher lands on the popular spectrum under my criteria. A high rating is usually proof that a series is popular. For example, FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the highest-rated show on Myanimelist and it’s one of the most well-known anime of our time. If a show is constantly appearing on high on top ten lists it’s a popular series.

If the series is readily available on most streaming sites to watch.

When I researching where to watch shows I noticed a correlation between popular anime and the number of streaming sites that have them. It seems the most popular anime are on more sites. By contrast, hidden gems are on one platform or none. For example, FullMetal Alchemist Brotherhood is available on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, and Hulu. It’s not rocket science if there is a huge demand for a series then most services will want to get it. Thus if a show is on multiple platforms it’s because it’s very popular.

If it’s something you think about it when anime comes to mind.

This is might be the most subject of all things on this list. My thought here is that when you hear the words anime what comes to mind? For me, I think of Miyazaki films, Evangelion Neon Genesis, Akira, Pokemon, Yugioh, Dragon Ball. Basically, any anime that you would normally associate with the term anime is a popular series. If not then why would you associate with anime then? Why is the series that stands out of a sea of thousands of series?

Pros of Popular Anime:

The quality of the show is “usually” good.

Afterall how could a show that everyone likes have bad quality? This has never happened before.

All jokes aside if an anime is popular expect high production values and good content. I personally not a fan of One Punch Man. Despite this irregularity, I can’t deny that One Punch Man has high production values and great content. If you watch popular anime you may not like the story but you cannot deny it’s quality.

Popular anime has large fanbases.
What’s better than loving an anime that you just watched? Having other people to talk to about that same anime. For the many cons of large fanbases, the biggest strength is being a place where fans can discuss their favorite anime.
From a practical point of view having a large fanbase can also help in trying to understand what you just watch. Some anime are so popular that there are even youtube channels dedicated to that series. It’s great when you can watch the latest episode of a series and an hour later people are already talking about it. Some youtube channels may even have live streaming going on immediately afterward.
Popular Anime is Everywhere.
This refers to where you can watch them. But a large fanbase also represents the anime in Cons, Social Media, and in everyday life(for example, people where memorabilia). Thus popular anime is everywhere. This is excellent because if you want to watch the show then you have options. If you want memorabilia you will also have plenty of options. This is a great benefit to being a fan of a popular series.
More Content Exist.
Most popular anime have more seasons made for it. This makes watching them worthwhile. If you like the series you will have plenty of content to watch. Also, the series will not end due to cancellation or budget issues. This is basic economics if the demand for the series is high than the supply will have to meet that demand.

Cons of Popular Anime:

The Large Fanbase
Remeber When I said that a large fan base has cons? Well here are some of them. Many of these fanbases will ignore the shows you like in favor of theirs. This can get annoying when arguments surrouding the top anime start. These fanbases will insit that it is their series that is the greatest of all time. There is nothing wrong with this except that this mentality can get very toxic.

Not to go too deep into this but in anime there is an expression called the big three. The big three are the three biggest anime today. Those words alone can create toxic arguments among these fanbases. The debate for this alone has pissed off fans for decades.

Sometimes it comes to a point where it’s hard to like shows when people like this ruin it by taking it too seriously.

Spoliers are everywhere

With popular anime you need to be up to date on the series or stay out the internet for awhile. It can be assumed that once a episode comes out people will discuss it immedately. So if you hate spoilers then you need to watch every new episode for your favorite series.The spoliers may come as facebook posts, discussions in forums, and even the title of youtube videos. Fair warning a popular show requires dedication.

You Don’t Watch Anything Else

Many popular anime fall into the genre of Shounens. One of the biggest characteristcs of shounen is that they are lengthy I am talking over 300 episodes long.

This could lead to you getting stuck on just watching this one series by itself therby ignoring everything else. You may even fall into the trap of only watching shows similar to the popular one that you just finished. Because you are only watching anime of this type you miss out of watching other anime.

From personal experience and from talking with other anime fans this problaby still persists today.

Should you watch Popular Anime?

I mean why not they are popular for a reason. Some of the most ground breaking series are popular. Akira changed the anime landscape forever and it’s a popular series.

I know that when people say the word popular it has a negative connotation. Who cares, watch what you want if you enjoy regardless of it’s popularity.

My only request is that you do not neglect the less popular shows and do not join the group of fans who are obnoxious obsessed with the popular series. Also please check out all kinds of anime besides the popular shows.

Hidden Gems

Excel from Excel Saga
Black Jack with Pinoko
Hidden Gems are even harder to define than popular anime. My biggest hurdle is how do you classify anime that were popular when they debuted but since have fallen into obscurity. Technically they are not hidden gems but they could be because they are not “popular”.
From my perspective, I am not sure what defines something as “unknown” in this context. With this in mind, I came up with several criteria on what I consider a hidden gem anime.
Much like the popular anime criteria take this with a grain of salt.

What is a Hidden Gem:

If the anime has a following of 150,000 or fewer on Myanimelist.
150,000 is the number of followers you will find on anime that are deep into the 700’s of Myanimelist’s top anime search results. If a show is buried that deep in the list I consider it unknown. Myanimelist is not the end-all source but it does give a pretty good sign of how popular the show is.
Also, it was hard to find a series on Myanimelist that had followings under 100,000 that also had high scores. Which makes sense because most shows that are good will get some level of notoriety. 150,000 is a good benchmark.
If the average score is 7 or higher out of 10
A hidden gem has to be good so as long as the average score is seven or higher that means it is pretty good.

If the anime has a small social media presence.

You can figure this out by doing a little research. The key is to answer the following questions.
How many groups exist for that anime on any social media sites? How many members do these groups have? Do groups that discuss all anime ever bring up your show?
Chances are if the anime that you were watching is not brought up often in conversation you can mark it as unknown or at least unpopular.

If the anime was once popular but has fallen into obscurity

This may not be true for some but if a series was a big deal many years ago and now is not talked about any more you could argue it’s become a hidden gem.
I am not talking about anime like Bleach where the series ended but the fan base is still active. The anime that I refer to are series where the active fan base has abandoned the show after it finished airing.
Nana is the type of anime that I am referring to. Nana was a big deal when it first came out and it even had a live-action series. Right now no one talks about and it has become quite obscure.
It’s not among the top 100 in Myanimelist’s top anime or movies.
You can find anime that may not a large following but anime fans still ranked it high in many top anime lists.
For example “Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms” is currently ranked 27 on Myanimelist’s top films yet it only has 144,000 members.
From my earlier definition that would make it a hidden gem. However, in this case, it would not because it’s ranked very high. If you can view an anime with in the first two pages of a top list then it’s not an unknown series.
I am focusing on anime that you would have to dig to learn about.

Pros of Hidden Gems:

A smaller fanbase
This at first seems like a negative but a small group has its own benefits including:
1. no loud obnoxious fans who are ridiculous obsessed over the series
2. no toxic culture of shaming others for not liking their favorite anime
Keep in mind that this may not be true because people can be crazy regardless of the size of the group. But I find that the large fandoms tend to have a higher amount of crazy fans.
Spoiler Problems do not exist
Because there is a smaller fan base, fewer people are talking about the series. Also if the show has already ended awhile ago then the amount of discussion on social media will be minimal. You get a chance to experience the series without the possibility of someone ruining it for you.
You have the privilege to bring an obscure anime to the main stream

There is something satisfying with bringing something unknown to the mainstream. When you know it is due to your actions that now everyone is learning about this series. This is something that I take pride in when I find an obscure show and talk about it.

Cons of Hidden Gems:

No second season or early cancelation.
If something is in high demand and supply goes up what do you suppose happens when demand goes down? The supply also goes down.

Unfortunately, hidden gem do not have a huge demand when compared to more popular titles which is why many studios have to canceled shows or never made a second season.

So keep in mind that you may find a great anime to watch but it could a one and done thing or you might be near the end of the show only to find out there is no end.
One of my hopes is that if more people find and watch these hidden gems then a reboot of the series may happen.

The anime is obscure in the eyes of the world

If you cosplay as a character from a hidden gem anime chances are no one is going to know who it is.
Any conversation among anime fans could end on the drop of dime simply because they may not know what show you are talking about.
Also, the majority of cosplays and merchandise at conventions will only be from popular anime.
When I was at C2E2 this year I saw mostly My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer cosplay.
The sad part is JoJo’s Bizarre is a very popular anime but there were few cosplayers.
This just goes to show that anime’s popularity is dynamic and can change on a time.
Social media is not any better.

You may not find any online groups dedicated to the series or people in generic groups that have watched the show.

I know I said that smaller groups can have its advantages but ultimately having no one to share in the series you love is kinda depressing. Which is why you might have to make the groups and start the discussion yourself.

Should You Watch Hidden Gem Anime:

For me watching anime is usually something that I partake in alone. What I mean by that is after I watched a series I move on. Reading forums or watching discussions on youtube is not a must for me. With that in mind, I have no issue with watching hidden gem shows.
The whole definition is purely subjective anyway so you might find the happy medium of series that’s popular but not too popular.
If you find an interesting hidden gem anime I would not let the cons prevent you from watching the series. Being unknown does not equate to low quality.

Final thoughts

When exploring the world of anime it’s important to watch both popular and obscure shows.
My biggest concern going forward is that the influx of new anime will eventually make even some of the greats become obscure shows.
I think only a handful of shows will last the test of time.
On some level, popular things going into obscurity is inevitable . We see it all the time with trends, movies, etc. Even though the anime becomes obscure it will always be available as long as people do not forget it.
While I can’t prevent it, that does not mean we should go along with this with no resistance.
If you get nothing else from this article then this is all that matters. All anime deserves your attention regardless if it’s followe by millions or only twenty thousand know about it.
Watch the popular anime but don’t forget about the hidden gems.

But now I want to hear from you. What do you think about Hidden Gem anime? Is it worth people’s time?

What is your reason to watch or avoid hidden gem anime?

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Thanks so much for reading and have a great day
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Mymediachops is a blog created by a life long anime fan. My goal is to prove that anime is for everyone. I focus on created content to help new fans get into the medium while also discussing anime that made a big impact on my life.