One of my favorite things in the world is anime (go fig) and there are so many good ones that slipped through the cracks of our collective conscience. So given that here are five anime you may not have heard of that I give a fully enthused recommendation to.
5. Pandora Hearts
Based off a reasonably successful shonen manga of the same name, the anime begins with Oz Vessalius undergoing a rite of passage ceremony in his family when all of a sudden Oz is dragged into a hellish dimension known as the Abyss where he meets a mysterious creature known as a chain. Said chain's name is Alice and through forming a contract she and Oz escape the Abyss and end up in the employ of an organization known as Pandora. They learn more chains have escaped from the Abyss and agree to assist Pandora on the condition that Alice can retrieve her memories. Mixing up a monster of the week formula with a mystery brewing in the background, while not new, Pandora Hearts uses an novel take on Alice in Wonderland to help stand out among the rank and file and for my money it works pretty well. (Especially given that usually I can't stand AiW, blame overexposure for that) The characters are pretty likable and interesting ranging from the tomboyish Alice to the maniacal Break (trust me you'll love this dude), along with a kickass score composed by Yuki Kajiura (.hack series, Girls with Guns Trilogy, etc.) that captures the dark and whimsical atmosphere. Also some nice 19th century looking artwork goes a long way to. Only real black mark against this anime is its ending but everything leading up to it is well worth the price of admission.
4. Ergo Proxy
In the city of Romdo, detective Re-L Mayer investigates a series of murders involving sentient androids, instead she encounters a monster known as a proxy she then notices that an unassuming immigrant named Vincent Law is somehow present where the proxy appears and she interrogates him. After being questioned Vincent realizes he is missing pieces to his past and leaves Romdo to head to Mosk, his birthplace, to learn the secrets of his past along with Re-L and a sentient android named Pino in tow, and what follows is a massive conspiracy that will change the world forever. Taking a cyberpunk setting with some light references to Greek mythology and Rene Descartes, this anime takes you on a journey all the while asking questions concerning purpose and identity. Admittedly it can be slow, little on the dry side, and at times difficult to follow but this is an anime that treats you like an adult as it asks you to keep up and be an active participant in its mystery and questions. Its artwork has a rough unpolished look and a color palette full of earth tones that compliment the setting and help sell the atmosphere. If you can get into it, I guarantee you'll be sucked in.
3. DOGS: Stray Dogs Howling in the Dark
Set in a dystopic European city where violence, crime, genetic experiments and other scientific brutalities have become common. We follow four people; Heine Rammsteiner, Badou Nails, Naoto Fuyumine, and Mihai Mihaeroff and their individual stories. This OVA is basically a four episode advertisement for the manga DOGS: Bullets & Carnage where the characters actually meet and begin a search for the underground in order to find answers to their pasts. But man what an advertisement, each individual episode clocks in around 15 minutes but the writing is so good that you're immediately immersed and by the time it's over you're both surprised that an hour went by and left wanting more. With some stylish character designs and kickass characters DOGS is a short and sweet anime with some serious "bite" to it. (See what I did there ) Also the manga comes highly recommended.
2. Serial Experiments Lain
The archetypal underrated anime, and this is one case I don't feel I'm being hyperbolic. Serial Experiments Lain follows a middle school student named Lain who becomes immersed in cyberspace after she receives a message from a recently dead classmate about how God can be found in the virtual world. Okay I'm not gonna lie this is an anime that's slowly paced, very dense, complex, and you'll be saying WTF a lot while watching this if you're not paying attention and keeping up with the anime. So you better be the patient and attentive type and be an active participant, otherwise you will most likely not like this anime. But if you can do that you'll find an anime that is intellectually enriching and nothing short of pure artwork.
Following the misadventures of sorceress Lina Inverse and her friends through an fantasy world that both parodies and celebrates the cliches of the genre. This is an anime that can be gut busting hilarious one moment and then take a turn for the dark or emotionally powerful the next. If you love fantasy, anime, and think the marriage is one made in heaven then you really gotta check out Slayers and find an anime with some funny and enjoyable characters. And don't be intimidated by the high episode count either, it's totally worth it.