10 Seinen Anime That Bombed But Became Cult Classics

Seinen series are some of the most famous in anime. Some of these series have a lot of work put into them, but that doesn’t always translate into profits. Even popular shows like One Punch Man only received 10,500 sales. Comparing this to popular shonen works like Attack on Titan (52,000 sales) or Jujutsu Kaisen (26,000 sales), the metric of success for seinen works is more tempered.



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With that considered, great seinen works still fail to clear 3,000 sales. Despite their stature and the fervor they instill, these works do not meet the average initial sales of other seinen shows. Regardless, these seemingly unsuccessful anime are beloved by the communities they belong to.

10 Parasyte: The Maxim Blends Body Horror & Action

Parasyte: The Maxim combines the action of anime and manga with the sci-fi horror of 1980s cinema. It moves and fights like a modern anime, but its lurid visuals and psychological conflicts feel like products of an older era. This is because the anime is an adaptation that modernizes a 1988 manga. In this regard, Parasyte: The Maxim is one of the best examples of a modern adaptation.

Its initial sales do not reflect its merits as a successful adaptation. The anime only sold 839 copies, based on DVD and Blu-ray sales. This could mean that the show will become more and more obscure as time passes, but the audience it currently has will remember it for its strengths.

9 Hinamatsuri’s Absurdist Deadpan Humor Won Viewers Over

An upstart Yakuza member acting as a telekinetic girl’s caretaker is a premise with a lot of comedic potential. Hinamatsuri lives up to it. The scenarios are over-the-top while Hina maintains her deadpan expression. The duo of Hina and Nitta are undoubtedly adorable and charming, getting on the viewer’s good side with ease.

However, Hinamatsuri‘s endearing humor did not result in sales. Its initial release pushed only 928 copies despite being an adored modern comedy show. Yakuza-lead media is on the rise, so the potential for Hinamatsuri‘s cult following to grow is still very much alive.

8 Grand Blue Dreaming Gives College Living A Hilarious Spin

Anime fans are already used to school club shows with comedic and slice-of-life elements, but a college setting changes the dynamics. Since the cast of Grand Blue Dreaming lives away from their parents, they have greater amounts of social freedom. The show translates this as a lot of drinking, partying, and socializing. Many characters clash in funny ways.

While the anime receives acclaim from viewers and fans, it doesn’t get a lot of sales. Its initial release was shy of 1,700 sales. Given this show is based on one of the most popular current comedy manga, it’s strange that its anime does not match its reputation financially.

7 The Eccentric Visuals Of Welcome To Irabu’s Office Makes It Stand Out

Welcome to Irabu’s Office uses rotoscoping, different textures, and vibrant colors to create its visual aesthetic. To some, this blend might seem abrasive or obnoxious, but the show has developed a fanbase of viewers looking for something different. In that regard, the anime is novel and authentic. Irabu deals with mental health struggles in ways that match the quirkiness of the art.

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Irabu‘s initial sales reached 1,400 copies, which is to be expected for original and idiosyncratic works like this. However, its cult following is evidence that there is room for anime as specific as Welcome to Irabu’s Office.

6 There Is Elegance In Emma: A Victorian Romance

The seinen demographic is not well known for its historical romances but Emma: a Victorian Romance is one of its rare exceptions. It’s an earnest romance that does not use any tricks outside the historical romance wheelhouse. What sets it apart is its precision and execution. The emotional beats land when they need to and the drama is rooted in a struggle to strive for intimacy.

Emma, along with the other works from manga creator Kaoru Mori, are held in the highest regard within the seinen demographic, but 2,000 sales could explain why her other works are not getting adaptations. Regardless, the anime has a dedicated group of fans to hold it up.

5 Wandering Son Highlights Important Perspectives

Questions regarding gender identity and sexuality aren’t given enough attention in anime, but Wandering Son makes it the central focus. Taking the perspective of children, it shows that these are topics that even kids have to grapple with. Its pastel aesthetic accentuates how tender and fragile these moments are for the child cast.

No other show in the medium has explored gender identity and expression like Wandering Son. However, the show reached 1,000 copies sold in its initial release. As important as its subject is, and as impressive as its execution is as well, the sales were not there. Its legacy will live on in the hearts of all its viewers, regardless of its financial performance.

4 House Of Five Leaves’ Quiet Nature Hides Depth

A show with an inward and pacifistic swordsman might not appeal to most people, but House of Five Leaves figures out an effective narrative for it. What starts out as a story about a band of outlaws doing what they can to survive evolves into a drama about clashing moralities. Its subtle build exposes how amazing Masanosuke and Yaichi’s dynamic is.

Popularity was not in the cards for this anime, only selling 720 copies, but the strength of its drama sets it apart from its peers. Behind its minimalists and pale expressions, House of Five Leaves keeps a sharp edge that cuts right through its fans.

3 Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor Burdens Its Viewers With A Psycological Toll

There might not be an anime that generates anxiety better than Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor. It takes people who are in dire straights and lures them into underground gambling competitions. While this premise is not new, Kaiji isn’t afraid to show its main character’s real state of mind. The pressure gets to Kaiji and viewers cannot help but worry about his struggle to survive.

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Kaiji is the best show about gambling, grounding the stakes so well that the audience is shaken by it. A total of 720 copies were sold for its initial release despite the tremendous quality of its presentation and narrative writing. For those in the know, Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor will be remembered as a giant in seinen anime.

2 Hyouge Mono Ended The Life Of Its Studio

Hyouge Mono is 39 episodes of historical Japanese warfare, political intrigue, and machinations veiled in tea ceremonies and artisan talk. It frames the Warring States period of Japan around the concerns of aesthetic choices and priceless artifacts. This is an aspect of courtly politics that doesn’t get explored enough, but the anime uses it as the primary vehicle of the narrative.

As ambitious as its vision was, it was not profitable and marked the end of studio Bee Train. Committing to the adaptation as well as they did resulted in the collapse of the company. While its profits and sales figures aren’t known, it’s hard to ignore the studio’s closure after the show’s release.

1 Vinland Saga Is A Decade-Defining Action Show

The much awaited adaptation of Vinland Saga lived up to the hype. The fights were intense, the visuals were gorgeous, and the character drama was stronger than ever. Thorfinn’s aimless anger was powerful to watch. Canute’s growth throughout the series was also handled superbly. Admittedly, the show’s star performance came from Askeladd, who won over nearly every viewer.

Somehow, one of the most acclaimed action shows of the last decade only received 256 sales on its initial release. This show will go down as a classic even if the sales of its DVDs and Blu-rays don’t suggest that. It is just too powerful of a series to be forgotten.

NEXT: 10 Seinen Anime To Get You Into The Genre

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