Humour is one of the hardest things to translate from one culture to another. There are plenty of anime that can make you laugh, but certain types of comedy aren't going to have that spontaneous hilarity because you aren't immersed in the culture that created it. Even English dubs usually localize humor to account for cultural differences and norms. Some anime are funny in a more general way, but the shows I've listed here aren't just good for a chuckle. No, these are shows that can make you laugh out loud. I recommend against drinking milk while watching these.
10. Love Hina
- Year: 2000
- Where to Buy: Amazon
It's hard to believe that Love Hina is now more than 20 years old, but this classic harem anime comedy is still great for a laugh. The plot, premise, and setup are mainly in service of the comedy aspect, but there's a sweet story in here too.
As a child, Keitaro made a promise to a girl that they would go to the prestigious Tokyo University together. The problem is that he's forgotten her name and her face! You'd think that would mean she wasn't that important, but Keitaro is obsessed with her.
This is why he wants to get into Tokyo University, but he's already failed the entrance exam twice. With his parents refusing to support him anymore, Keitaro ends up becoming the manager of a girls-only dorm that belongs to his grandmother. This means he can keep trying to pass his exam, but now he also has to contend with a dorm full of colorful girls.
Love Hina is mainly funny because of what a dork Keitaro is and all the misunderstandings that leave him under the heel of one irate lady or another. Some of the stuff that happens in Love Hina is so well-timed or unexpected that you can't help but let out a laugh or two.
9. Excel Saga
- Year: 1999
- Where to Stream: Crunchyroll
Excel Saga is one of those anime that's hard to explain. It's a surreal comedy filled with a million references, parodies, and sight gags. The plot matters about as much as it does in a movie like Hot Shots or Airplane! Nonetheless, the basic idea is that there's a secret organization called ACROSS that wants to take over the world. It's lead by the numbskull Lord Il Palazzo, and he's two top agents Excel and Hyatt.
If you don't know much about anime and manga as a whole, you probably won't appreciate the reference in Excel Saga quite as much, but the sheer absurdity of the show shines through regardless.
Excel Saga has one of the most eclectic and hilarious sets of characters, and Excel herself is an utter wrecking ball. Not everyone will get Excel Saga, but for those who understand what the anime is trying to do, you'll laugh till the end.
There are plenty of great isekai ("other world") animes, but we think none are as funny as Konosuba. Right from the start, you know this isn't going to be your typical isekai. First of all, the main character, Kazuma, dies in a very embarrassing way. He mistook a slow tractor for a speeding truck and tried to "save" a girl by pushing her out of the way. He then dies of shock, and other people on the scene have a good laugh about how lame he was.
Given a second chance to live in another world by the goddess Aqua, Kazuma can choose one thing to take with him. Instead of choosing a superhuman ability or a magic sword, Kazuma cheekily says that he wants Aqua to come with him. After all, she's a goddess!
Sadly, it turns out that she's as dumb as a rock and therefore less than useful. Kazuma isn't high on adventure, and he and Aqua have to find a way to make ends meet, so they work odd jobs and sleep in a barn. Once they do start adventuring, the party grows and is joined by a masochist crusader and an explosion-crazed mage who only knows one spell and collapses when she casts it.
Kazuma himself is a real dirtbag, so honestly, he deserves to be in this party of idiots and freaks. As you can imagine, nothing they do goes as planned, and it's never less than hilarious.
7. Detroit Metal City
We've written about Detroit Metal City before as an anime worth watching, but as a comedy, it's far too underrated. It's the premise that's the big gag in this show - Soichi Negishi is a sweet boy who loves Swedish pop music and wants to make a living as a musician playing that music. However, he needs to make a living too, and it turns out that he's got an incredible talent for heavy metal, both as a guitarist and as a vocalist.
Disguised as the psychotic stage character Krauser II, his band Detroit Metal City is the hottest up-and-coming metal act. Soichi hates Krauser, he hates the music, and he hates the fans. You know, with that much hate inside, it's no wonder he's such a genuine madman when he dons the wig and makeup.
The weird situations caused by Soichi's split personality and double are gut-busting funny. It's a situational comedy with clever setups and great delivery. Each episode is also very short, so the gimmick doesn't outstay its welcome.
6. Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
Another short-form anime, Sakamoto, is about a young man who is truly perfect. No matter what people do to him as a prank, no matter how impossible something is, he always pulls it off with grace, dignity, and skill.
However, how he ends up overcoming every situation is usually so ridiculous that you can't help laughing your head off. Also, despite being so perfect, Sakamoto isn't very perceptive. He can't really tell how other people feel, and despite being in real danger sometimes, he doesn't seem to notice. It makes you wonder if his perfection is just really an incredible amount of luck. Regardless of how he makes it through life without embarrassing himself or failing, it's always comedy genius.
5. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
The first gag you've probably noticed is that Saiki K. is pronounced "psychic." Yes, Saiki is, in fact, psychic. Not just that, he's incredibly powerful, with related abilities such as telekinesis and teleportation. The last thing that he wants is for people to find out that's he's basically a psychic god, so each episode deals with how Saiki uses his powers to deal with his problems, but in a way where no one is any the wiser about his powers.
The excuses or ruses that he comes up with lead to all sorts of funny situations. Oh, and he has to wear a set of antennas on his head in order to regulate his powers because without it, he'd become so uncontrollably powerful he'll destroy the world. No pressure.
4. One Punch Man
One Punch man is very popular and is probably famous for being one of the best-animated fighting anime ever. However, the show is primarily a comedy, so if you've been avoiding it because you somehow thought it was a serious superhero show, throw those preconceptions out.
In the world of OPM, there are many large cities filled with people and superheroes. Monsters and supervillains are constantly attacking people and property, which is why superheroes are organized into a ranked force that keeps the world safe.
Saitama is just an ordinary guy who one day takes on a big lobster monster and barely succeeds in defeating him. He then starts training to be a better hero, but he somehow unlocks a massive amount of power. We're talking Superman levels of vulnerability. He's so strong that he can finish ANY fight in a single punch. The punchline is that Saitama hates being so strong. Life is boring and meaningless to him. Walking around like an invulnerable god, he's losing touch with his humanity, and he bumbles through the epic events happening around him, caring more about shopping coupons and video games than fighting "weak" opponents.
Saitama's deadpan schtick ends up being the funniest part of an already funny show. OPM is a blast all the way through. If you want to enjoy some of the best sakuga ("high-end animation") and battle sequence while also hanging on to your seat with laughter, OPM is the best choice. It's an anime that can make you laugh and blow your socks off.
3. Great Teacher Onizuka
This late '90s anime doesn't get as much attention today as it should. GTO was a hit when it came out, and it's still easy to stream today, which is good because it's also one of the funniest anime we've ever seen. Onizuka is a former gang member who decides to become a teacher. Through a series of small miracles, he becomes a teacher at a prestigious school, and a lot of people aren't happy with his teaching style.
GTO is filled with great comedy moments, but honestly, it deserves to be here just for the moments where Onizuka gives the vice principal a meltdown - which happens a lot. You almost feel sorry for the guy, but not sorry enough to avoid a full-blown laugher.
Trigun hails from the same era as Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop, so it looks great and had that '90s quality vibe we really love. It also has a similar setting as the other two shows since it's sort of a space western. Well, no one actually goes into space and travels to other planets, but Trigun is set on a world called Gunsmoke - a desert planet, which doesn't make much sense scientifically, but for the purpose of the show, it's one huge cowboy playground.
Vash the Stampede is a wandering gunman with amnesia and a terrible reputation for leaving a wake of destruction behind him, which is why two agents from the Bernardelli Insurance Society are dispatched to find a way to curb Vash's damage. It would be cheaper to keep him happy than pay all the insurance claims!
The thing is, Vash isn't actually the reason all the damage is happening; it's usually caused by bad luck or the endless bounty hunters after the massive reward for his death or capture. Vash himself is a real goofball and wouldn't hurt a fly. Well, unless it was self-defense. Either way, he's the comedic heart of the show, and his devil-may-care attitude often drives the insurance ladies to the brink.
Trigun is a hilarious anime that has plenty to laugh about, but it also has a serious edge to it with some real tragedy. But hey, what is comedy without tragedy?
Gintama is one of those long-running shows with episode counts far into the hundreds. So it's surprising that it manages to keep the comedy side of things going. Set in an alternate history where aliens took over Japan during the time when Samurai still walked the street, Gintama tells the story of an ex-Samurai named Gintoki Sakata. After swords are banned by the aliens, he starts to work as an odd-job freelancer. He'll literally take on any job, no matter how stupid, as long as it pays.
Over time more people join him as their drive to make a living in any way possible kicks off numerous adventures in this weird world. Gintama is sort of hard to describe, and "sci-fi comedy" doesn't really do it justice. For example, in one episode, four characters all get stuck in toilet cubicles with no toilet paper, and they end up competing to see who can last the longest before wiping with, well, you know. What about the time freaking Santa came to town? There's an episode where smoking is banned, so one character travels the universe looking for a place he can still smoke, then ends up on a straight-up parody Dragon Ball Z planet. Seriously, we couldn't make this stuff up if we wanted to! If there's an anime to really pull a laugh out of you, it's this one.
Now YOU Suggest Some Anime That Makes People Laugh
As we said, humor is one of the most subjective things, so we expect that everyone will disagree with at least some of these choices. So please, put your funny anime suggestion in the comments. We can all really use an (anime) laugh right now.