Classic Toonami’s Most Underrated Anime

Between its original run from 1997 to 2008, Toonami introduced kids to Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing, Yu Yu Hakusho and One Piece. These classic anime are undeniably among Toonami's most iconic, but they are far from the only ones to air during this original programming block. After all, even the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion was briefly in the cartoon time slot.

However, for every Goku and Usagi, Toonami introduced kids to lesser-known anime heroes and heroines. To be considered for this list, the anime must have been shown on Toonami in some form.

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7. Ronin Warriors

Ronin Warriors

There are several anime out there where a group of friends teams up to fight some evil adversary. However, while some of these shows, like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon, proved immediately popular with kids watching Toonami, Ronin Warriors failed to catch on -- which is a shame. While it was never on-par with those other legendary classics, Ronin Warriors -- one of the first anime to air on Toonami -- was more fun than it's given credit for.

Ronin Warriors focuses on a team of five teens in magical armor, standing up against a demon lord who wishes to dominate all of reality under his iron fist. The series follows a straightforward structure, but it manages to incorporate a great deal of imagination into its short run of 39 episodes.

6. Record of Lodoss Wars

Surprisingly, Record of Lodoss War did air on Toonami -- sort of. Toonami's website used to stream anime back during the early years of the timeslot. Toonami Reactor showed several anime that they couldn't fit into their limited time window, such as Harlock Saga and Star Blazers. Record of Lodoss War was one of the more surprising anime on there that, to this day, is criminally underrated among modern anime fans.

Record of Lodoss War is essentially Dungeons & Dragons the anime. You have your standard fantasy party embarking on an epic adventure with goblins, dragons and witches. In an era where Dungeons & Dragons has re-emerged in popularity, Record of Lodoss War seems poised for a re-evaluation by modern fans. It might have been a little too dry for eight-year-olds at the time, but the series ranks among the best anime classic Toonami ever showed.

5. Tenchi Muyo

In many ways, Tenchi Muyo created the harem genre. It was a series starring a man who tons of women just couldn't get enough of. This concept doesn't sound like Toonami material -- considering the station primarily showed action anime. However, Tenchi Muyo compensated by throwing enough zany sci-fi concepts at its audience to keep them perpetually on their toes, from space princesses to living spaceships to ancient weapons bestowed upon the worthy.

Tenchi Muyo ran its numerous spin-offs on Toonami, one after another. The anime was originally a simple OVA, but it proved popular enough in Japan to warrant sequels. While today Tenchi Muyo is less widely discussed, many kids who grew up with classic Toonami have vague memories about a show that they suspect was heavily censored on its broadcast.

4. Hamtaro

Hamtaro and friends.

Hamtaro was always a hard sell to the Toonami audience. The show centered on a group of lovable hamsters who ended up getting into shenanigans. The show ultimately struggled to find its audience and, despite having a solid Gameboy spin-off, fell into obscurity. Even the advertisements for Hamtaro showed Toonami's host TOM scratching his head on how to justify airing it.

Considering the rest of the programming on Toonami, Hamtaro's inclusion felt like an anomaly especially considering its target demographic was younger. Still, there's something just so charming about Hamtaro that, even years later, it's the kind of show you can easily watch and enjoy while never being able to explain why you like it so much, beyond it being cute.

3. Cyborg 009

Cyborg 009 joined the numerous sci-fi anime to air on Toonami. However, unlike Outlaw Star or Gundam, Cyborg 009 was a remake of an older anime -- one that always just felt a little off from the rest of the shows to air on Toonami. Thus, despite continued attempts to make Cyborg 009 the next cult classic, it never found its footing in America.

Cyborg 009 is a manga by the legendary Shotaro Ishinomori -- the same man behind Super Sentai and Kamen Rider. This version of the anime was the third adaptation of the manga. One of the later adaptations even pitted the titular cyborgs against Devilman. However, while the show remains iconic in Japan, it was just another anime in America.

2. Rave Master

Rave Master

Before Hiro Mashima made Fairy Tail, he created Rave Master -- an epic fantasy that felt in many ways like Fairy Tail's spiritual prequel. Haru Glory is a boy on a mission: save the world from chaos by assembling a special stone known as the Rave. It's a typical fantasy adventure that follows the core essentials of the genre.

Rave Master ran on Toonami before switching to the Miguzi timeslot and later, surprisingly enough, switched channels and went to SyFy. Rave Master's manga was pretty popular, but its anime was adapted by TokyoPop, who made several controversial changes to the series that disappointed fans of the source material. As a result, while Rave Master's manga is fondly remembered, the anime is unfairly judged due to the mucked-up dub.

1. Zatch Bell!

Zatch Bell! is essentially a shonen battle anime with doll-like fairy creatures. It, in many ways, resembles Shaman King with its Shaman Fight, only replace the spirits of Shaman King with Mamodo -- mysterious beings controlled by magical spellbooks wielded by humans. The anime lasted for a staggering 150 episodes, yet only a fraction of them aired on Toonami before it went off the air.

Zatch Bell! is another anime that found great success in Japan, being up for numerous awards during its decent run. In America, however, it never found its audience -- and given the clever anime's exciting concept, it's a shame. Still, it managed to create its own epic story that never got a chance to play out in America fully, so it's certainly one worth revisiting to enjoy.

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