Anime is known for bringing audiences a unique brand of over-the-top humor, and some series do this on a side-splitting scale. From goofy slapstick to sophisticated setups, these comedy series will have you in stitches from beginning to end.
Daily Lives of High School Boys
Some of the funniest moments in life don’t stem from extreme situations or crazy scenarios–they happen with your best friends, and often when you least expect them. Daily Lives of High School Boys follows the eccentric Tadakuni, the rational Hidenori Tabata, and the emotional Yoshitake Tanaka as they attend Sanada North Boys High School.
Their daily hijinks are just the right amount of ridiculous and relatable, and older viewers will see themselves in these characters, remembering those frustrating and character-defining high school years. From pranking each other to chatting about girls, this coming-of-age tale will pull plenty of laughs from you during its 12-episode run.
Watch the series on Crunchyroll or Funimation.
Baka to Test
If brainless comedy is up your alley, Baka to Test won’t disappoint. At the end of their freshman year, students at Fumizuki Academy take an important test, the results of which place them in classes labeled A through F. The highest scorers go to A-class, filled with all the newest amenities and privileges, while the lowest of the low find themselves in F-class, filled with outdated equipment and worn-out furniture.
Akihisa Yoshii considers himself smart, but his test results say otherwise, landing him at the very bottom along with his best friend Yuuji Sakamoto. Most shockingly, genius girl Mizuki Himeji also ends up in F-class after suffering a fever on test day. The students are desperate to claw their way to a higher rank and begin battling each other using the school’s Examinations Summon Battle system, allowing them to summon fantasy characters with power levels equal to the character’s test scores.
Baka to Test is a ridiculous, over-the-top comedy containing every anime trope under the sun. It’s available to stream on Hulu and Funimation.
School Rumble is a romantic comedy that manages to achieve very little plot-wise in its 26-episode run, instead focusing on creating loveable characters and a laugh-out-loud script. Tenma Tsukamoto, a normal sophomore in high school, has a crush on her nice-guy classmate Oji Karasuma, who remains completely oblivious to this fact. Delinquent Kenji Harima has a crush on Tenma, only coming to school to be near her. This love triangle drives the series, with constant misunderstandings and nonsense getting in the way of the character’s confessions. With a strong cast and plenty of relatable situations to latch onto, this chaotic series will satisfy viewers who prefer a less-complex story.
Check out the series on Funimation and Hulu.
Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like working at a bookstore in Japan, Honda-san will show you in detail. Despite how surreal the artwork and characters in this 2018 series may appear, the content within is somewhat educational. While certain aspects of the daily bookstore grind are unique to Japan, anyone who has ever worked a retail job will be able to relate to these situations, from dealing with annoying customers to language barriers to restocking woes. Who knew that being a bookseller could be so backbreaking?
This bizarre and gut-busting series is streaming on Crunchyroll and is perfect for when you don’t have much time to spare. Each episode is around 12 minutes long.
Running for over 200 episodes, Gintama is a masterclass in comedy writing. Always fresh and eternally absurd, the series follows an episodic structure with multiple story arcs woven into the madness and gags found in each episode. Set in an alternate version of the Edo Period, humanity is attacked by aliens called Amanto. After Japan’s defeat, swords are banned in public, but the eccentric samurai Gintoki Sakata isn’t a fan of following the rules.
A freelancer, Gintoki travels with his friends Shinpachi Shimura, Kagura, and Sadaharu as he helps random people and gets into fights with aliens. Anything can–and will–happen in the Gintama universe, and there’s never telling where the next episode will take you.
This lengthy series is available to watch on Crunchyroll and Hulu. The manga series is one of the best-selling manga series of all time, with over 55 million copies in print.
One Punch Man
This action-comedy superhero series took the world by storm in 2015, even making its way to Adult Swim’s Toonami block in 2016. Saitama, while not too impressive to look at, has a unique side hustle: being a superhero. Having trained relentlessly for three years (and losing all of his hair in the process), he has become so powerful that he can defeat any enemy with a single punch.
As great as this may be for those seeking his protection, it’s left Saitama with a problem–being a hero isn’t so fun when you can’t find a challenge. Perpetually bored, Saitama catches the attention of Genos, a cyborg hoping to become his disciple. The two meet new friends, take on new foes, and seek out the excitement of battle in this globally popular series.
One Punch Man is streaming on Funimation, Hulu, Netflix, and Crunchyroll.
Azumanga Daioh defined the early 2000s slice-of-life comedy genre with its lovable characters, surreal absurdity, and general lack of plot. Featuring an ensemble cast of high school girls, the series often follows Chiyo Mihama, the strangest girl in her freshman class. The 10-year-old is a prodigy with a love for cooking and plushies, and the friends she makes each bring their own brand of nonsense to the group.
From Tomo, the tomboy with horrible grades, to Osaka-born Ayumu Kasuga, a scatterbrained girl with a thick accent, anyone who watches this series ends up with a favorite.
This classic comedy series is streaming on HIDIVE.
The world went crazy for Lucky Star in 2007. Members of high school anime clubs around the US began performing the legendary opening dance with fervor, and fans saw glimpses of themselves in each of the four main characters. While also a slice-of-life school comedy, Lucky Star focuses more on the otaku side of things.
The blue-haired Konata Izumi is painfully lazy when it comes to everything that isn’t anime or game-related. Tsukasa Hiiragi is a sweet airhead, while her sister Kagami has her life and grades together and constantly tries to get her friends in line. Miyuki Takara is ultra-polite, speaking in proper Japanese at all times and knowledgeable about nearly every subject under the sun. With no overarching plot to follow, each episode tells its own set of mini-stories, and all of them will have you cracking up.
Lucky Star is available to stream on Funimation.
Pop Team Epic
Popuko and Pipimi are two 14-year-old girls who get into bizarre situations, and the art style of Pop Team Epic hints at the strangeness audiences can expect. Filled with pop culture parodies, non-sequiturs, crude humor, and general absurdity, the 2018 series has amassed a cult following in both Japan and abroad. Based on a four-panel webcomic by Bukubu Okawa–who recently started a new career as a VTuber–this foul-mouthed pair will have you on the floor with their surreal skits and topical references.
Stream Pop Team Epic on Netflix, Crunchyroll, and Funimation. A second season is set to premiere in October 2022.
Another series based on a four-panel comic series, Ichigo Mashimaro (or Strawberry Marshmallow) has a simple catchphrase: “Cute girls doing cute things in cute ways.” Featuring incredibly smooth animation for the time, fans of the series have applauded it for its depiction of friendship and attention to detail.
The story is simple–four grade school girls go to school and live life in the Japanese countryside. The comedy in this series largely comes from Miu Matsuoka, the loose cannon of the group, who manages to pull the others into ridiculous situations. If you want something less over-the-top and more wholesome, this is the series for you.
While most streaming sites have removed Ichigo Mashimaro over the years, the 2005 series is currently available on HIDIVE.
Space Dandy had a seriously star-studded cast behind the scenes. Bringing back a number of staff members from Cowboy Bebop, its production involved over 70 animators and 20 musical artists. The main character–aptly named Dandy–hunts down unclassified aliens and registers them for hefty rewards. The job never gets stale, as Dandy runs into a wacky cast of characters along the way, from zombies to mystical ramen chefs. Along with some buddies, he roams the galaxy in his used spaceship getting himself into trouble and smooth-talking his way out of it.
Follow Dandy’s adventures on Funimation, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.
Cromartie High School
The polite and pacifistic Takashi Kamiyama has a slightly above-average IQ but is otherwise a standard high school student. For reasons unknown, he decides to enroll himself at the infamous Cromartie High School, known as a breeding ground for some of the toughest delinquents in Japan. Now finding himself surrounded by mohawked punks and foul-mouthed robots, Takashi’s daily life gets much more exciting as he attempts to improve Cromartie High’s poor reputation. If you want to see anime Freddie Mercury riding a horse through a school’s corridors, look no further.
The series is available to stream on Crunchyroll, Amazon Prime Video, and Peacock.
Movie villains make it seem like taking over the world is easy, but it’s anything but. Il Palazzo, head of the ACROSS organization, decides to start small by first conquering the Japanese city of Fukuoka. Two young members of the organization, Excel and her partner Hyatt, are on the job, but there are plenty of obstacles standing in their way. No matter how simple the task, the two will undoubtedly screw things up, likely killing people and causing mass destruction along the way.
Fun fact: the final episode, Going Too Far, was deliberately created to be too obscene for Japanese broadcast and was only originally included as a DVD bonus.
This utterly bizarre 1999 sci-fi comedy series is streaming on Funimation. (Yes, the final episode is there too.)
Grand Blue Dreaming
In the seaside town of Izu, Iori Kitahara is starting his freshman year at Izu University. Moving into a room above his uncle’s diving shop ‘Grand Blue,’ he’s shocked when he meets the local Diving Club–a group of rowdy and very nude upperclassmen who immediately try to peer pressure Iori into getting wasted.
The weak-willed freshman eventually gives in, becoming the life of the party. Dedicated to living his ideal college life, will Iori be able to keep on the straight and narrow, or will he become a delinquent? This slapstick series is great for escapism, and for those wanting more, the manga series is available in English by Kodansha Comics USA.
Grand Blue Dreaming is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.
If the image wasn’t clear, Shimoneta is not appropriate for children. After Japan introduces strict morality laws, the nation aims to rid itself of everything obscene. Citizens are monitored, ensuring that society remains chaste and pure. Tanukichi Okuma, the son of a terrorist who opposed the new laws, offers his help to the student council at his high school, attempting to get close to the student council president Anna Nishikinomiya, his childhood crush. What Tanukichi doesn’t know is that Anna has a secret identity–Blue Snow, a masked criminal dedicated to spreading lewd material to the masses. Dirty jokes are the name of the game here, and every episode is crammed full.
The series is now streaming on Funimation and Hulu. Remember to shoo the kids out of the room before binging this one.
Golden Boy is another series for the 18+ crowd. The 1995 series follows Kintarou Ooe, a part-timer riding his bike all around Japan to find jobs wherever he can. The beginning of each episode shows our protagonist running into a young, beautiful woman, whose interest or disinterest in him drives the plot forward.
Despite seeming like a clumsy and perverted oaf, Kintarou is a resourceful boy, often exceeding the women’s expectations. Filled with exaggerated facial expressions and lewd gags, this show is the most NSFW of the bunch. For mature audiences, however, it’s sure to entertain.
This short but sidesplitting 6-episode series is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Sakamoto is almost too handsome. Sophisticated and suave, he wows his classmates on his first day of high school with his intelligence and charm. Women love him, men loathe him, and he manages every situation with ease and refinement. Much of the series follows Sakamoto’s fellow classmates attempting to prank him or derail him in some way, only to end up making the boy genius seem all the more cool when he comes out unscathed. Without much of a plot to speak of, we know one thing–Sakamoto is about to become your idol.
Get to know Sakamoto by streaming the series on HIDIVE.
If you’ve spent any time on the anime side of the internet, you’ve likely heard people say that Nichijou is one of the funniest anime series to exist. While some don’t like to get their expectations up, it’s fair to do so with this now-legendary slice-of-life series. Focusing on the daily antics of a trio of childhood friends, Nichijou expertly combines the mundane and the insane. One episode may focus entirely on the girls walking to school, while another will show the principal suplex a deer or a student being bitten by a talking crow. It’s slapstick, it’s lighthearted, and it’s applauded for a reason.
Nichijou is streaming now on Funimation and Crunchyroll.
Great Teacher Onizuka
Eikichi Onizuka has a dream: to become the best high school teacher in all of Japan. Formerly a biker gang leader, his goal isn’t as nice as it seems. Onizuka doesn’t care about helping students–he cares about finding a cute teenage wife. After landing a job at the prestigious Holy Forest Academy, this fledgling teacher is put to the test when he’s charged with handling a group of delinquents. While the kids think they can break him, Onizuka has plenty up his sleeve–and he might just be a good guy after all.
GTO is available to watch on Crunchyroll and Amazon Prime Video.
Asobi Asobase excels at everything it does. With high-quality animation and some of the most hysterical voice acting we’ve ever heard, the series follows three high-schoolers and their ‘Pastime Club,’ dedicated to simply having fun and nothing else. Olivia, a foreign transfer student who doesn’t speak English, meets Hanako Honda, a loud-mouthed moron, and Kasumi Nomura, a quiet loner with a big secret. Despite having little in common, the three become best friends, and even without any semblance of a plot, this is a series you’ll be rewatching for years to come.
Watch this screamingly funny series on Crunchyroll.