I've been an online writer for years. I have many different interests, ranging from anime and Japanese culture to animals and art.
Best 10 Comedy Anime of the 2000s
Comedy is subjection. It differs person to person, country to country, solar system to solar system.
To say anime has its own unique style and convection is not an exaggeration. Anime’s sense of comedy tends toward the loud, bombastic, wildly expressives and downright weird. The animation medium can really be used to complement it or in some cases be part of the joke.
Many anime follow a classical Japanese approach to comedy called manzai. Manzai consists of a funny man (boke) and straight man (tsukkomi). Anime’s approach to this classic style is to take a character who might be a genius in some way, like a military stategregiest but make him a lowly waiter. Then have one of the co-workers be mostly normal with a touch of idoisyncities, like they can’t cook but wish they could and the food is akin to poison. And the rest of the side characters are all silly but more or less understand working in a restaurant unlike the main character. And given the anime industry’s fast pace production and release schedule, you might just see that premise someday soon or maybe it already exists.
Because of the speed of the anime industry doing a list runs the risk of having to re-do every few weeks and with comedy being popular and plentiful, it doesn’t make for a very sound list. This list just looks at anime that debuted between 2001 to 2010. A good decade to be sure. So that is the first criteria.
Like most lists on the internet this list was ranked by some measure that seems logical to me, the author. Humor and popularity are among one of the basics here for where the anime were placed. But like many things in the world it probably doesn’t matter so just enjoy it.
This list could change at anytime
Sgt Frog 2004
Sgt Frog or Keroro Gunsou has an Invader ZIm-like premise where an alien race tries and fails to take over the Earth abandoning a single lone platoon. Sgt Frog differs because most of the time the main alien frog, Keroro, would rather be an otaku or he has chores. Relatable!
As the anime goes on we meet more of Keroro’s platoon that were also abandoned on earth after a botched take over attempt. There is Private Tamama, the youngest and most wide-eyed who is so very obedient to Keroro that it can come off as psychotic and it does to hilarious effect. There is also corporal Giroro who is a male tsundere. The interactions with these three is hilarious as they are all different but their idiosyncrasies make for great wacky comedy.
All the characters are great even the seemingly “boring” humans are all fun and memorable. The interplay between the humans and the aliens is really very fun.
At a glance Sgt Frog looks like it is an anime for children, and yes it can appeal to that demographic it does appeal to adults too. Its comedy, while most of the time wacky and absurd, is also clever.
After meeting the core characters the show is very much like a sitcom as there is no story that builds or even arcs. No pesky plots to follow here.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 2007
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is about the most pessimistic character that has ever graced anime. Everything throws Itoshiki Nozomu into the depths of despair, everything. It’s part of his charm. Naturally his foil is the most positive human ever, Fuura Kafuka.
This is a set-up for some great comedy but it doesn’t end there because how could it?. The cast of characters are all of modern embodiments of Japan's problematic people; from perfectionists, hikikomoris, people who only use technology to communicate (ie text messages), stalkers, etc.
This makes Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei very much a commentary of the Japanese zeitgeist of its time and beyond. For example a memorable bit at the end of season one was people apologizing too much to the point of utter madness. A game of apology one-upmanship to the extreme. Or the ‘perfect girl’ who envies a stalker for being able to approach the main character when as a “perfect” girl she can not.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is decidedly not for everyone. It’s a very cynical look on society but in a very ridiculous yet intelligent manner.
Kaichou wa Maid-Sama 2010
A wild rom-com appears! And it’s not even an outlier on this particular list. Kaichou wa Maid-Sama or simply Maid-Sama is mostly a sweet delightful silly anime!
The premise is fairly conventional for an anime rom-com, strong, smart take-no-nonsense sort of man-hater, Misaki is her school’s class president she also works at a maid cafe often displaying the converse of her high-school president personality. Enter Usui, her classmate, who finds out about her work and keeps it a secret.
Of course the two fall for each other though it takes Misaki a longer time to finger out Usui’s feelings because he is rather easy going and flippant and Misaki is very dense with her feelings. A sweet odd couple rip for comedy.
Kaichou wa Maid-Sama is a very cute show that is very enjoyable to watch. Its humor is at the benefit of romance and not the other way around. It’s a romance first and foremost that has many great comedic elements. It also has some drama too, so a bit for every taste like a parfait.
Yakitate Japan 2004
The thought behind this anime's mere existence is because mangaka, Takashi Hashiguchi, surmised that anything can be made into a shonen style manga/anime and thus competitive bread-making became a shounen manga turned anime. It’s very much a precursor to Food Wars just with bread, lots of bread. All the bread in the world!
The protagonist Azuma Kazuma, while none too smart, is a special person. He has magical hands of legend that can make bread ferment faster or Hands of the Sun, he has warm hands and it's amazing. His goal is to create a staple bread for Japan or Ja-Pan because Pan is Japanese for bread, it’s a pun. Punny!
This show is a ridiculous joke but through the lens of the shounen troupe it adds competition, battle and weirdly high stakes involving baking bread. You will laugh and you will learn a lot about bread and bread making, so it’s educational to boot.
School Rumble 2004
The title of this anime makes one think that this show is about fighting and you would be wrong, this show is about a love-triangle with a plethora of zany side characters as the show goes on.
The main character, Tenma is a sweet, lovable very dense girl who is head-over heels in love with Kurasama, a dull young man who prefers curry to anything and then there Harima an reformed delininent who is madly in love with Tenma and while he looks tough and scary he is actually very sweet, sort of dumb and very creative. Plus animals love him. Basically these three are a joy to watch as they are all very silly, enduring and super obvious. Kurasama’s rain gear is worth it.
There isn’t much of a premise aside from silly high-school in love but that is enough given this anime’s knack for crazy yet normal situations, like Tenma being too embarrassed to leave the bathroom because her crush is outside of it and for whatever reason will not leave. So she scales down the side of the building only to see her crush below. Or Harima trying and failing to get Tenma to notice that she forgot to put her name on her test which means she will fail. Or just everyone crushing on the wrong people and making utter fools of themselves. Such is life.
The show never gets too serious and if it does it doesn’t stay that way for very long. The ultimate ending is a let down but ignoring that it’s still a super funny show.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu 2003
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu takes place between the first season of Full Metal Panic! and the second season. It’s a companion piece that focuses more on Chidori and Sagara at school and how inept Sagara is as a normal high school occurrence and less about mechs and the military operations that protect Chidori. This makes this anime very humorous and light-hearted opposed to the main storyline.
One of these normal high school situations that Sagara mishandles is him blowing up the sneaker lockers when he notices someone put something in his locker. Turns out it was a love letter.
The episodes are made up of two 10 minutes story vignettes so the show doubles the amount of over the top reactions Sagara has to normal people’s problems.
Azumanga Daioh 2002
f all the anime in existence, few epitomizes the genre of slice-of-life as perfectly as Azumanga Daioh.
Azumanga Daioh was based on a yonkoma or four panel comic similar to traditional comic strip, hence Azumanga has a more sketch comedy show approach than a situtionian based comedy which lends itself well to the slice-of-life genre.
The characters therefore are the highlight as they drive the weird comedy anywhere in this high school setting. The cast consists of a group of female students and a fews teachers plus cats. All of them have weird yet very relatable personalities (more or less.)
For instance you have the child prodigy who doesn’t fit in super well, the absent minded weird quiet one, the tall sensitive girl, and the energetic and competitive one who is also non athletic and a slacker. The cast builds and makes for a good balance between the comedy being based in some semblance of reality (even anime can have some standards) and the surreal craziness. Who doesn’t love Chiyo’s father? WHO?
Azumanga Daioh is a fun yet enduring weird comedic anime that set the standard for comedic slice of life for all times.
Ouran HighSchool Host Club 2006
The second Rom-Com makes its appearance on this list and it’s Ouran HighSchool Host Club. Because of course it is.
The setting is a super, duper uppercrust highschool and the host club, a group of super attractive boys who flirt with the girls of the school all while eating cakes and drinking tea, living the dream. The outliner is Haruhi, a female commoner who is on a scholorashio turned indentured servant to the club to pay off a debt.
Most of the core humor is the leader of the pack, Tamaki’s reaction to very trivial mundane items like instant coffee. He also is very emotionally immature, confusing his attraction to Haruhi as some sort of weird paternal dynamic.
Ouran has less overtly romantic moments and it's more about the comedic interactions between the characters. These characters all get along and are supportive. They are rarely antagonistic towards each other.
There are a few dramatic serious moments but they are sparse throughout the show. Mostly Ouran is silly and charming and has a nice sarcastic bent at times.
Cromartie High School 2003
Sakigake! Cromartie Koukou or Cromartie High School has a logic but mostly it ignores it and opts for the weird and surreal style of comedy.
It’s set-up is very simple: a straight-lace kid, Kamiyama, ends up in a delinquent school. Why?
Read the manga! That is the only explanation the show offers up because we got no time for backstory when there is such a diverse cast of characters. And that is no mere exaggeration, amongst Kamiyama, who is hailed as a badass rabbit amongst lions, there is a guy with a pink mohawk that moves on its own, an average robot, a gorilla and Freddie Mercury from Queen. That’s right, Freddie Mercury is a character in this for no reason and he’s in highschool.
The surreal madcap style comedy is only enhanced but the show’s own production limits. There is no budget to art and animation and did they make that part of comedy and charm of the show? Yes they did. Elements just slide and zoom weirdly that you can’t help but not love and respect the gumption. It knows it’s bad and it reveals it. The bad quality of the art and animation is a highlight of Cromartie’s comedy.
Cromartie High School is such a bizarre surreal anime that oozes comedy through every pore of its twelve episode runtime. Plus Freddie Mercury.
What happens when all the facets of anime’s approach to comedy are so perfectly synthesized into a big expressive colorful super funny show? You get Gintama.
You get it all with Gintama, a surreal premise that while random has a logic that can be ignored should it need to be or not. A brilliant balanced game of random chance amongst its crazy cast of unique delightfully weird outlandish characters.
The Premise, or rather the setting, is that aliens took over during the Edo period (1603-1867) and banned Samurai and swords. So we have a sci-fi Edo period with Aliens running a mock.
As is standard with any and all comedy anime, the cast of characters of Gintama are all insane and completely over-the-top.
The main character is Gintoki who does odd-jobs and will do what he needs for the money, though he’d rather be reading JUMP and sometimes he just isn’t so helpful. The odd job angle keeps this show in the sit-com area but proves good for all the silly shenanigans you would want from Gintoki and his hungry crew. Plus there is Elizabeth, who is one of the weirdest beings in anime.
Gintama does well with its meta humor in that it just demolishes the 4th wall and builds something altogether new and wonderful. The characters outright make fun of the budget, argue about the tropes they fulfill and plagiarize other anime’s stories.
And there is an entire arc that is just about character polls. Classic Gintama.
It’s just a rich tapestry of seamless humor that shines amongst the anime offerings.
Plus it’s such a shiny sounding name. How can one not love it?
What is your favorite genre of Anime?
nejsm on June 14, 2015:
Really? Where's Gintama? It's the best anime in comedy that I've ever seen!
AghiuTZa on March 13, 2015:
You didn't even mention Great Teacher Onizuka, that may be because it's an anime meant mainly for boys, it's my all time favorite comedy anime, definitely worth watching!
cookiemonster on November 24, 2014:
outran high school host club makes my day
Aja103654 on February 02, 2013:
Most of the animes listed here, I already saw. They always cheer me up. Ranma 1/2 I used to watch as a child. I think I will go back and watch it again. thanks for reminding me.
avigarret on December 21, 2012:
Ranma 1/2 all the way for me, kawaii lens, thanks for sharing :)
CommanderNicole on December 11, 2012:
I think my favorite genre would be slice of life.