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 Submission Guidelines

Anime Obscura welcomes contributor articles that speak to this website’s niche: anime, manga, and visual novels that fall a bit outside the mainstream or come from the classic past. Within that realm, there are certain topics we are seeking to cover more than others, and some topics we don’t plan to cover at all.

We are especially interested in articles about…

  • Thoughtful character analyses or plot analyses that delves into “why?” more than “what happened?”
  • Classic anime (1975-1995) that have not aired on Cartoon Network or Netflix
  • Small-run manga series (ex. many smaller series from TokyoPop)
  • Anime from now-defunct companies or (lively/entertaining) histories of those companies
  • Product reviews for physical otaku goods (figures, posters, etc.) with pictures provided by you

We are NOT interested in articles about…

  • Hentai anime/manga, nukige visual novels, or physical goods that meet or exceed an 18+ rating
  • Anime that have aired on Cartoon Network or Netflix (We’re “obscura,” remember? However, exceptions will be made for a particularly good character analysis. If you get inside Vash the Stampede’s head and blow our minds with your insights, you have our ear.)


Where to Buy…?

If you see an anime, manga, or visual novel on this site that interests you, finding it may or may not be easy, depending on how rare it is and whether or not it’s out of print. I’ve prepared a few suggestions below that will hopefully help you pick up the title you’re looking for.

“YO, HO, YO, HO…?”

First, a quick plea: don’t be a pirate.

Harlock - Don't be a pirate

I know the economy’s tight, and everyone can appreciate the glittering appeal of “free.” Problem is, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The companies that license, translate, troubleshoot, and sub/dub these products have to pay their employees and stay in the black. Moreover, anime and manga is a niche market, and most of these companies aren’t exactly making money hand over fist – they depend on fans to do the right thing to ensure they can keep bringing these products out.

If you can’t buy a series directly, an incredible amount of anime now streams for free online on companies’ official sites (supported only through fewer commercials than you see on TV), older anime whose license has expired may be on YouTube, and digital manga is a growing and usually more inexpensive way to enjoy your favorite manga series. There’s less reason than ever before to steal content. The only circumstances I’d condone getting an unofficial copy of a title is if it’s “long gone” out of print and being sold for ridiculous scalper’s prices on Amazon or eBay (in which case the company is no longer making a profit), or if it isn’t currently licensed or officially translated in the part of the world where you live.

In every other case, support the official licensed product, and do the right thing.



Right Stuf Anime

Perfect for new and slightly out-of-print products

This is the super-center of all things you might find discussed at this site. Their deals and customer service are both excellent – just a great company to purchase from all-around. RightStuf carries many older titles, and you can collect most of many older series from their clearance bin for quite a discount. (However, “most” is an important qualifier, as RightStuf seldom moves series into the clearance bin section until one or more volumes of the series are no longer available. Therefore, quite a few are incomplete, and you might have to look elsewhere to complete your collection.)


Robert’s Anime Corner Store (RACS)

Perfect for new and slightly out-of-print products

Robert’s Anime Corner Store is an excellent alternative to RightStuf that offers a similar array of products. I would recommend checking both places for pricing and availability before you buy, because RACS has some things in stock that RS no longer carries (and vice-versa). Their customer service is also phenomenal, and they’re known for packaging products carefully, snugly, and securely when they ship.


Anime Castle

Excellent selection of products, both new and out of print

Anime Castle has been in the anime and manga business a long time, and consequently, they have an enormous stock of items to choose from. You will find a few out-of-print titles here that are impossible to find elsewhere, and to their credit, I’ve never known Anime Castle to engage in scarcity-gouging. Their only downside is that their online game isn’t very strong — you may note with puzzlement the “Flood Sale” from 2007 on the front page. Still, my orders have always been delivered promptly, so they take care of business.



Perfect for all older products (from new to ancient), some newer

If you just can’t find it anywhere else, eBay is your buddy. The online auction site should be your very first stop for any title that has long been out of print. Depending on the rarity of the product and the knowledge level of the seller, you’ll occasionally stumble across a real steal, or at least an excellent bargain. With that said, the nature of the site (all private sellers) does mean you’ll see some bootleg products from time to time. Follow the golden rule of piracy-free purchasing and steer clear.



All of the sites listed below are 100% legal ways to watch anime online without having to fork over fat stacks of cash. All of them are free and supported only by advertising — far fewer ads than you’d watch on a paid satellite channel. You can also purchase subscriptions to skip the ads and gain access to premium content (especially English-language dubs).


CrunchyRoll is the closest thing the Internet’s got to a legal one-stop shop for free, streaming anime. Although they’re primarily known for their spectacular selection of brand-new anime, you’ll find a few older classics here as well.


HIDIVE is the streaming site for all anime licensed by Sentai Filmworks, and it has an interesting and convoluted origin story. Back in the mid-2000s, the now-defunct ADV Films started the Anime Nework to stream their shows, and it was the first serious attempt by an anime licensor at a fully online anime streaming site. After ADV’s 2009 implosion, Sentai Filmworks incorporated and picked up most of ADV’s properties, including ownership of the Anime Network. In 2017, Sentai spun their online streaming into a new company (HIDIVE) while leaving the old Anime Network with the rights to their smaller cable offerings.

Anyway, that’s a lot of history that may or may not interest you. Bottom-line: HIDIVE is an extremely cheap way to gain access to Sentai’s massive catalog (both dub and sub) of anime and live-action movies and TV/OVA series. It’s easily one of the best bang-for-your-bucks in anime today, and because of Sentai’s friendliness to short, quirky series, it’s an excellent spot to search for hidden gems.

Funimation Channel

There are many nice things I can say about Funimation, but for right here, the key thing is that if high-quality English dubs are your shtick, this is the channel you might want to fork over the extra subscription money for. Funimation dubs almost every title they license, and their experienced voice actors are some of the best in the business.

Aniplex Channel

Aniplex USA is notorious for releasing outrageously overpriced physical editions of their anime titles that can run you (into the ground) about $80 for a 4-episode Blu-Ray. However, there’s no need to lose your shirt or turn pirate to watch their many excellent titles. Stream them here for free.

… But wait, there’s more!

If you don’t see your anime of choice available from one of the ones I listed above, check out this exhaustive list, which contains many other sites that allow you to legally stream anime.



The following sites are excellent places to purchase digital manga, either from the publisher directly or via online retail.

Viz Media

Seven Seas Manga (purchasable through Comixology and Bookwalker, FREE through Zoom Comics)

TokyoPop (via Comixology)

Digital Manga Publishing

Barnes and Noble




FruitBat Factory (SFW)

Fruitbat Factory is a publisher of many anime-ish games, many of which have visual novel elements while primarily being some other genre (strategy, puzzle, etc.). Their most famous titles are probably War of the Human Tanks and 99 Spirits. You can purchase these or their other titles on PC here direct from the company, giving you a DRM-free direct download as well as a Steam key for any purchase. Fruitback Factory doesn’t deal in eroge, and their site is SFW.

Steam (SFW)

Steam is becoming a more and more happening place when it comes to visual novel sales, and you can find all-ages titles from all the major visual novel publishers here. In a few cases, you’ll also find all-ages “revamps” of games that used to have adult content where this content is now removed; these versions are often exclusive to Steam. There are also a growing number of independently produced “OEL (Original English Language)” visual novel titles or independently-translated titles ported from the Japanese.


JAST USA is the longest-running publisher of visual novels in the West, having been founded back in 1996. Their website carries download versions of all of their own titles, plus a growing selection of DRM-free downloads from other publishers. Note that while they generally do a good job of keeping explicit images off their front-page, a majority of their games have adult sexual content.

MangaGamer (NSFW)

MangaGamer is the other major English-language publisher of visual novels, and they are also probably the largest in terms of volume at this point. MangaGamer sells download versions of all of their own titles, physical copies of some of those titles, and downloads of a number of third-party visual novels and eroge. While they do have a handful of all-ages games, most are eroge, and the site is definitely not safe for work.

J-List (NSFW) and J-Box (SFW)

J-List sells both physical and download copies of any visual novel produced by JAST USA, as well as all physical copies produced by MangaGamer and a few from the now-defunct Hirameki. Because J-List and JAST USA share the same man as founder and CEO (Peter Payne), J-List will have physical copies of newer JAST titles before anyone else.

NOTE: J-Box is an all-ages, safe-for-work version of J-Lists’s site that doesn’t contain any games or products with 18+ content. If you want to stick with games without explicit material, this is the version you want to browse.

Denpasoft (Questionably SFW)

Denpasoft is the publisher of the Sakura [Fill-in-the-blank] visual novels on Steam, Fruit of Grisaia, and several other and upcoming titles. You can buy all of their titles on Steam, but they can also be bought directly and DRM-free from their store, sometimes with additional features and content. Like JAST, they generally keep their front page clean, but you may run into explicit images while visiting the site due to adult content in the games.

What’s a Visual Novel?

Pretty much everyone familiar with Japanese pop culture knows about anime and manga, but you may not be as familiar with another facet that’s pretty big in Japan but just now gaining traction overseas: the world of visual novels. A visual novel is a style of video game that involves more reading than button-mashing gameplay. In fact, it can be helpful to think of them as “choose your own adventure” books with tons of character art and full voice acting rather than games in the normal sense. Although they occasionally come out on consoles, the overwhelming majority are played or read on PC.

There are lots of reasons to pay attention to visual novels. Not only do they have plenty of intrinsic entertainment value, but they heavily influence the anime industry as source material. Fate/stay Night, Clannad, Higurashi: Whey They Cry, Little Busters, Amagami SS, Steins Gate, Ef: Tale of Memories and Melody, School Days, and Shuffle all started life as visual novels, just to rattle off a few. Some of them feature deep, rich plots and characterization most anime would envy. So why is this genre of game so little-known outside of Japan?

Oreimo - Eroge 4

As Kyosuke here found out, a high percentage of visual novels are eroge (“erotic games”), meaning they contain some degree of explicit sexual material. This begs the question: why would visual novels intentionally pigeon-hole themselves in the 18+ market? The answer lies in the genre’s origins: back when they started in the 1980s and early 1990s, pretty much all visual novels were straight-up porn. However, over time more and more developers started adding complex plots and characterization to the games, and nowadays many boast stories you could call “high art” with blinking.

Some visual novels have left the 18+ material behind entirely, and these are advertised as all-ages. In recent years, the emergence of Steam as a PC gaming powerhouse has provided a growing market for all-ages visual novels. It has also created a strong impetus for many companies to remove adult content from some games where its importance was marginal in the first place, creating all-ages versions of titles such as When My Heart Had Wings and Littlewitch Romanesque.

With that said, quite a bit of the visual novel market is still dominated by eroge. Even so, it’s important to note that not all eroge are cut from the same cloth. Eroge is a curious genre in that while it does contain explicit sexual content, that may not be its main focus or selling point. For example, games such as Katawa Shoujo or Yumina the Ethereal do contain sex scenes, but if they were completely removed or avoided, you would still be playing an excellent game. Unlike in Western entertainment where explicit material and deep, complex stories tend to segregate like oil and water, you’ll often find them in unashamed admixture within eroge. Many of these are honestly touching or suspenseful stories where characters just happen to get nekkid and make whoopie.

Yumina - It's that kind of game
Source: Yumina the Ethereal

Of course, many eroge never wandered away from the genre’s original purpose. These games, a subgenre of eroge called nukige, are overwhelmingly pornographic in presentation and content. If you think the distinction between story-based eroge and nukige sounds confusing, I can guarantee it’s probably less confusing than you think. It shouldn’t take more than a quick look at the title or cover art to tell that Princess Evangile and Family Project will be completely different experiences from Amorous Professor Cherry or My Sex Slave is a Classmate.

Haganai - Eroge
If you still aren’t sure, use the test Yozora posed to Sena in Haganai.

The last thing to mention is that visual novels often have very different levels and styles of interactivity. A few, called sound novels or kinetic novels, don’t offer the player any branching choices whatsoever, and the story is predetermined and just meant to be read and experienced. This lack of interactivity raises the question of whether sound novels should be considered “games,” but otherwise the play style is similar to any other visual novel. (Higurashi: When They Cry was a sound novel.)

The most common gameplay style in visual novels by far is the “branching plot” narrative, where 90% of the game is simply reading, but the player will be offered a choice of options at critical points in the story that will affect the long-term outcome. Pretty much all dating sims (visual novels where you embark on a romance with one character among many… usually) use this gameplay style. However, you’ll also find it in mystery, horror, action, comedy, and pretty much any other genre. Note that if you see a game advertised as otome, that means it’s a female heroine picking among a harem of guys rather than vice-versa. Most branching-plot visual novels offer a mixture of good and bad endings, though a few darker games offer mostly or all bad endings. School Days, in particular, is notorious for its many train-wreck outcomes, one of the worst of which was adapted for its anime. But moving ahead…


Finally, in addition to sound novels and branching-plot games, there are also visual novels out there that include a lot of legitimate gameplay more typical of a regular video game than a “choose your own adventure” book. I’m personally familiar with titles that are puzzle games, strategy games, and RPGs of several flavors (turn-based, card-based, and action) that offer dozens of hours of real-time gameplay. What makes these still fall under the heading of visual novels is that the bulk of the game is still spent reading text in the traditional visual novel style (windowed text with character art and voice acting), usually with multiple endings tied to the main character romancing a particular love interest.

So, there’s your two-cent tour of the world of visual novels. Anime Obscura won’t be reviewing any nukige for reasons that I hope will be obvious, but we’ll definitely touch on some all-ages games, and might cautiously explore an eroge if it’s story-based and has lots of redeeming virtues. We certainly encourage you to give this genre a try yourself, because while you might accidentally experience one of these moments…

Oreimo - Eroge 6

… you’re much more likely to simply be bombarded by feels, as in this moment. D’aww.

Oreimo - Eroge 5

About This Site

If you’re here and reading this, chances are good that you’re already an anime or manga fan. You may be a crusty old geek who cut your teeth on recorded VHS tapes of Robotech or even Astro Boy. You may be a newly-minted otaku (whether young or a new convert) who wants to dig deeper into this new interest.

In either case, five bucks says you have missed some great series without realizing it. Here’s the deal: there are some smash hits everyone is aware of and some perennial anime favorites every fan worth their salt knows. Still, the amount of material out there is incredibly vast. Some series that were once prominent have sunk into obscurity, others never made it onto the pop-culture radar at all, and still others were niche material by design. The bottom line is that no one has seen it all.

That’s where I hope this blog will be a fun and useful resource for you. I’m no more a perfect encyclopedia of otaku-dom than any other anime/manga fan, but I do have a predilection for seeking out more obscure titles… the stuff that’s out of print, published by companies that no longer exist, perhaps that never made the jump from VHS to DVD or Blu-Ray. I also have a thing for anime series with premises that are downright weird, for lack of a more sophisticated term. If you’re a fan who wants to venture away from the titles promoted on Netflix and Cartoon Network to venture into series that are lesser-known but still fun, you’re in the right place. Not every title we discuss here will be obscure, but hidden gems and oddball series will be our main stock in trade.

So sit back and enjoy, fellow geek. And remember, when we pool our arcane knowledge of anime, manga, and visual novels…

Otaku No Video - Nothing We Can't Do