15 Anime that Obliterate the 3 Episode Rule

I Pulled in a Favor

Lately I’ve been pretty busy so I asked my buddy K at the Movies if I could borrow his intern for today’s article. This is what they came up with, and I think you’ll have plenty to talk about after giving this one a read. Here are 15 anime that prove the 3 episode rule isn’t one fans should always follow.

All Anime fans know the “three episode rule” but these are the anime series that completely break that rule that we all know and abide by. The Three-Episode Rule is when anime fans gauge whether a show is worth watching after the first 3 episodes. Why keep watching a show if you think it sucks after 3 episodes?

15. Death Note

Death Note: "New World" Review - IGN

Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami, a high school genius who discovered a Shinagami death note with the power to kill the names written inside of it. Light aims to become the God of the new world, coming up with the name Kira to strike fear into criminals and that the harbinger of death is coming for those considered unjust. Thanks to his death spirit Ryuk, Light learns to use this power to its maximum power and bring change and order to the world as he sees fit.

Death Note is as alluring as concepts come in terms of drawing audiences in immediately. Surely a viewer comes instantly engaged wondering what they would do with this power at their disposal. However, Death Note might appear to fumble out of the gate spending too much of its first couple of episodes on tedious exposition. For starters, fan favorite L is posing as a disembodied voice and his impostor Lind. L. Taylor, and doesn’t become the recognizable sleuth until much later in the series. Light is able to establish himself as an interesting character with a perplexing moral compass, however he is far from the anti-antagonist he is destined to become.

14. Bunny Girl Senpai

First Impression: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – Beneath the  Tangles

Unlike other slice-of-life stories in anime, Bunny Girl Senpai takes a unique turn and explores the daily life of unusual high school teens. This top notch anime follows Sakuta Azusagawa as he encounters a flurry of love interests who all suffer from odd problems caused by puberty Syndrome and must help them overcome their supernatural happenstances. 

Bunny Girl Senpai rocks right out of the gate with what is probably it’s strongest arc featuring the titular bunny girl, Mai Sakurajima. Sakuta and Mai have unrivaled strong chemistry, and great dialogue that makes their romance and struggles a gripping tale. However, Bunny Girl Senpai has a lot to offer beyond its first pair, and gets better as it fleshes out characters and shares the spotlight with them. Bunny Girl Senpai throughout proves that it’s humor and representation of adolescent issues that it is capable of delivering a consistently memorable plot.

13. Great Pretender

Great Pretender Tricks and Entertains - Final Review

The premise of Great Pretender it self should be enough to sell newcomers into the anime. Essentially, the heist anime takes place across the globe as a crime syndicate of Makoto “Edamame” Edamura and his best friend Laurent Tierry attempt to con greedy people, while one-upping one another in the process.

Throughout the 21-episode anime, viewers explore Makoto learning the ropes of what it takes to run big time heists. Each episode explores the moral ambiguity of the con-artists’ morality and what led them to become the criminal masterminds they ended up becoming. Now heist plot fans might not initially like the serendipity of luck that goes into the elaborate schemes, however, the show is unmistakable in how much fun it can be to indulge in such convoluted plots.

The characters grow more beyond what meets the eye and show other aspects of themselves the more the show progresses from its original start.

12. Fate/Zero

Reaper's Reviews: 'Fate/Zero' - ReelRundown

Fans of Gen Urobuchi know him best for his exploration of character philosophy and enduring hardship that you love and recognize such titles such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass, Aldnoah Zero, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom, and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. However, possibly Urobuchi at his best is the unique philosophical perspectives found in Fate/Zero. This makes Fate/Zero an intellectually stimulating action oriented show, however, waiting for the action to begin can be tedious making it a slow burn for viewers to see the full picture.

Japan becomes the site of the 4th Holy Grail War, and those fighting for the grail talk literally in circles around one another trying to explain to the audience all the exposition they need to follow along. Even after an extended first episode to establish all that, most of the first couple episodes are everyone waiting for someone to make the first move. It can be annoying waiting for the war to begin, and wondering when Saber will actually show us what her weapon truly looks like. However, the unique perspective on guilt, fame and the nature of desire, Zero is the very best the Fate franchise has to offer.

11. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Streaming Online | Hulu (Free Trial)

Despite being somewhat of a highly rated anime, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood just might not appear all that special at the start. After all, the 2010 remake has the tall task of mixing the two genres of fantasy and adventure together. Essentially, Fullmetal tells the story of former two-armed boy Edward Elrich and his hastily assembled ghost brother as they try to find the mythical philosopher’s stone. At first, this screams Dragons and magic spells right? However, viewers might be shocked by how emotionally intense this show is from the get-go.

Its episodes more or less tackle the loss of family, over ambitiousness, and pasts haunting the very people desperate to escape them. This is evident from the first couple of episodes, which might have turned off returning viewers who already got this from the previous installment. However, what first appears to be a pointless sleek recreation of a good show, evolves into something much grander than its predecessor.

10. Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar The Last Airbender's New Series And Movies Are Years Away

It’s Avatar: The Last Airbender that introduced Western Audiences to what anime truly could be. Avatar follows the reincarnation of a holy warrior that possesses elemental powers who awakens amidst a war set off by the Fire Nation. Becoming the world’s last hope, Aang must master all his elemental powers and bring peace before the Fire Nation acquires the power of Sozin’s Comet.

Some anime fans don’t consider Avatar to be a “true” anime, however with the amount of fan support and popularity the show has, is there any doubt that anime fans love the world in which Avatar has created. 

While its success did spawn a sequel, The Legend of Korra, most fans will state that it’s the original characters they adore from the series. However, Avatar might fail to impress within its first season as so many of the best characters such as Toph Beifong, Azula, and Ty Lee are not introduced until season 2. You really have to have patients to enjoy the full roster of personalities, however most appear to find the wait well worth it.

9. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

Spring 2020: What I'm Watching – SpaceWhales Anime Blog

Granted, Villainess touts the best first opening songs of an anime to ever exist on this Earth. However, Bakarina’s child antics might not appeal to some. The anime tells the story of an Otome gamer, who is Isekai’d into her favorite Otome game and assumes the identity of the games antagonist Catrina Claes. Even with her insane Otome gamer knowledge, it is going to take a masterful performance in order to avoid a bad Otome ending which would lead to her unfortunate doom.

Despite praise for its animation, humor, and soundtrack, Villainess won’t immediately grasp the interest of the viewers unless they’re already expecting a reverse harem comedy. However, those willing to watch to the end will see quite the riveting tale of friendship, passion, and overcoming awkward flirting.

8. Charlotte

Anime Like Charlotte | 6 Must See Anime Similar to Charlotte

Super powers have always been an interesting concept in fiction, and Charlotte amps that up to 11. That is unless viewers are willing to wait for Mad Lad Yuu Otosaka to introduce all of his quirky friends. However, if viewers don’t care to wait a while, Charlotte is a far cry from what the simple kids with superpowers story has to offer.

Viewers shouldn’t let things like poor implications or continuity erasure get to them. Likewise, the presence of edgy bully Tobey Maguire phases, middle school yanderes, or ultimate reduction of your characters into only serving a shallow purpose within the plot…none of this should feel out of place with what was established in the first batch of episodes. Should a viewer find Charlotte’s first couple of episodes appealing, the show really blows it up midway and grasps at straws constantly ending in a plethora of suspenseful moments.

7. Whisper of the Heart

Whisper of the Heart | Netflix

Fans of Studio Ghibli might be surprised that not every Ghibli movie has to be a magical fantasy adventure about growing up. In Whisper of the Heart, protagonist Shizuku Tsukishima is a 14-year-old girl who wants to know a mystery of who checked out her favorite book before her, and finish her assignment to adapt Country Roads into her own song. She spends the entire 111 minutes, trying to figure out what kind of story she wants to write. While Whisper serves as one of many Coming-of-age stories from the studio, fans do feel split regarding Whisper as a whole.

After all, despite being an emotionally resonating premise of passion that was pretty unique at the time, Whisper is an extremely leisurely paced story. So much so that you really only get to experience the fantasy world in which Shizuku creates in the sequel film The Cat Returns. However, despite often saving the thrills for later, Whisper however subverts the expected fantasy elements and presents a grounded and thoughtful experience from early on. The dialogue is engaging and the film is filled with so much background details, viewers are sure to appreciate upon second watch. It is a slow burn, however, all the background details and major plot developments all culminate into the ending which is pretty satisfying to witness.

7. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan' should be your next watch, regardless if you are an anime  fan

While Attack on Titan indeed plays around the concept of fighting monstrous monkey men and skinless people, there’s a lot more to the story than a viewer might initially realize. Eren Yeager who has witnessed first hand the atrocities that these Titans are capable of, dedicates himself to the Survey Corps who protect humans within the confines of a massive wall. The Survey Corps desperate for new recruits, enlist the young teenaged Eren, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert to fight the looming monsters expected to bring doom to humanity. However, they find that fighting these monsters aren’t all fun and games as they initially had hoped.

Granted, much of Attack on Titan revolves solely around Eren Yeager’s struggles as a protagonist coping with the responsibility to fight for the world. However, keen viewers soon notice that there’s more themes and philosophy drenched in the show beyond the don’t get eaten mission. After a controversial last few episodes, Attack on Titan  asked fans wondering if the final season was all worth the wait. However, it totally is proving that the first couple of episodes established a perfect bookend to a series that ties all the loose ends by the epic finale.

6. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland season 2's manga changes are a risk ready to pay off  - Polygon

When viewers see The Promised Neverland and its first episode, it’s reasonable to assume it’s going to be about little orphan Annies. And it makes sense, as the plot is in fact about Orphans, Emma, Norman, and Phil learning the truth of where the adopted kids really go, and finding a sense of family in the process. Emma and her siblings believe that there is something strange going on at the Grace Field and swear to get to the bottom of it.

However, what seems like a simple plot of Orphans singing about the sun coming out tomorrow, is actually a total subversion of expectations. Unlike other carefree orphans who nonchalantly eat animal crackers in their soup, Promised Neverland explores the risks, perils, and dangers that come with living in a world without parental protection. As early as the first couple of episodes, you get enough hints to pick up on the dark Hansel and Gretel inspirations of the story but still you are left wondering if the show really goes in that strange of a direction. You get hooked right from the start and the show just gets better and better ending in a great finale in Season 2 leaving people talking about it.

4. Guilty Crown

Guilty Crown - 03 - Lost in Anime

In the distant future, the “Apocalypse Virus” has wiped out most of humanity after the worst Christmas ever. Inori Yuzuriha runs into Shuu Ouma and bestows upon him the Power of Kings which allows him to draw out altered versions of people concentrating on a sole aspect of their personality. This can be a lot to take in for the heavy expository mini-series, however unlike other 22 episode mini-series Guilty Crown hits the ground running out the gate.

As Shuu is dragged into war, the show impresses with its ability to unravel the truth of the situation over time. Is everyone really who they say they are, and are their causes as noble as one might first suspect.

3. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

The Most Powerful JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Villains Ranked

Exploring time manipulation in itself can be quite an interesting premise – but unfortunately, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure strikes a gambit of odd character designs that can be a bit off-putting for fans. Following the adventures of Jotaro Kujo and other Jo’s throughout history as they fight their arch nemesis Dio Brando and others that attempt to destroy the Joestar house and lineage. 

Credit where it is due, JoJo’s boasts some of the most stunning visuals and alluring musical scores for it’s time. However, viewers might not necessarily get invested in the colorful cast of stand-users, vampires, and brawlers right away and figure out not to stick around much longer. However, true JoJo Stan’s might realize that plot points begin to connect and coverage into an all encompassing narrative that is as crazy as it is noisy.

2. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – Anime Review | Nefarious Reviews

Premise alone, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, will immediately seem like an anime classic. After all, this iconic KyoAni series tackles aliens, time travelers, and espers, however that doesn’t even begin to go into the bombastic titular character.

Haruhi Suzumiya may appear to be your average high school girl, however is capable of God-like reality warping and needs to be constantly amused by her fellow club mates however they can. However, things can get a little tricky as Haruhi is all meant to be kept unaware of this fact, forcing Kyon into some uncomfortable positions doing whatever he can to keep Haruhi happy.

Despite its explosive comedy and occasional fanservice, Haruhi struggles to initially feel anything special, conforming to the “ordinary boy meets magical girl” archetype. However, by it’s fifth or so episode the anime has revealed its full cast and the fun really begins. However, if you aren’t pleased with the show’s opening, fans have actually suggested an alternative viewing order to follow along in a more traditional sense. However, regardless in which order you watch it, don’t let a slow start detract from how these characters are amazing from the start and are only just beginning to wiggle into your heart like their catchy ending song.

1. Another

Another - 09 - Lost in Anime

Horror fans will be surprised that Another throws them smack in the middle of a strange mystery occurring in the class 3 at Yomiyama North Middle School and its dealing with a deadly curse. 15-year-old Kouichi Sakakibara joins the class late and has to figure out why there is a countermeasure committee and why everyone else ignores the strange mystery girl with an eye-patch, Mei Misaki. This mysterious class will have you wondering who really a mysterious paranormal extra of the class and why any of the misfortune the class suffers from is happening.

Fans not so used to having to figure out why things are happening might get easily flustered with Another’s constant withholding of crucial information. However, from the very beginning the creepy atmosphere and eerie feel of the show will instantly hook you into following along the search for answers. However, it requires a lot of patience to receive those answers and might cause some viewers to question if the show ever gets good. Another instantly hooks anyone watching in with an epic opening and creepy ambiguity that leaves any watcher wondering what any of this means and how it can be stopped. However, some people just can’t handle the gory moments or are a little disappointed they have to sit through so much exposition just to get to some more gruesome happenings.

Another is one of the best horror anime out there, from start to finish you’ll be clutching your pillow hiding from the horror. However, give it some time as there is much more that has yet to occur by the time you hit episode 3. Another is a show that let’s the audience know that it’s going to be a good thrill ride right from the very beginning. However, those who have the patience to sit through the beginning will appreciate the pace in which the mystery reveals itself into an epic climax.

There you have it folks, 15 anime that are the exception to the 3 episode rule. What anime would you have put on the list? Do you agree with these choices? Be sure to let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks again to K for lending me his excellent intern. Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the article, and if you are truly reading this then I’ll let you in on a little secret. This is clearly a very serious article unlike the one it’s based on here. If you enjoyed this article, please be sure to share and consider a donation via the buttons below. K and I both need to feed the (starving) intern after all!

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11 thoughts on “15 Anime that Obliterate the 3 Episode Rule

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the intern’s ̶m̶e̶m̶e̶ article, they put a lot of work into getting it just right! In general, I don’t really drop anything so I’m kind of a mad lad in that way. Though, it’s always fun to see other people’s perspectives on this sort of thing.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha, yeah sometimes it can be a bit mad. Though I count it all as relevant for the stuff I create.

          PS – The “intern” is a running meme with K at the Movies and myself. I assure you, we do not share an unpaid intern. We use them when we author a certain style of article, kind of like an alias.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Another few good ones I would add to this list are Higurashi, Kaiji and Casshern Sins. You haven’t really experienced the core of those stories if you don’t stick around past the first few episodes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Usually if a show has any kind of reputation it’s worth hearing out. Even then, the 3 episode rule has always been kind of silly to me. I never drop anything I commit to because generally they are worth the time.

      Liked by 1 person

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