Anime has exploded in popularity in recent years. What was once seen as a niche interest has now become mainstream entertainment. With so many great anime series, narrowing down a list of the absolute best can be challenging. However, after careful consideration, here are my picks for the top 10 most excellent anime series ever.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a re-telling of the beloved original Fullmetal Alchemist series. It follows the adventures of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who try to restore their bodies after a failed attempt at bringing their mother back to life through alchemy. Complex philosophies on morality and redemption permeate each episode. The Elric brothers clash with the nefarious Homunculi as they try to uncover the secrets of the mystical Philosopher’s Stone. With 64 gripping episodes, it is the perfect binge-worthy anime.
2. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans live inside walled cities to protect themselves from man-eating Titans. The story follows Eren Jaeger’s quest for retribution against the Titans after they destroy his hometown and kill his mother. With its intense action sequences, Attack on Titan keeps viewers on the edge. Underneath the thrilling Titan battles lies a more profound mystery regarding the true origin of the Titans and the humans’ lost memories.
3. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is essential for anime fans looking for something on the lighter side. This space western follows a crew of quirky bounty hunters aboard the ship Bebop as they track down wanted criminals. Cowboy Bebop redefined cool for the anime medium with top-notch fight choreography and a smooth jazz soundtrack. While the series has its share of goofy humor, it also delivers emotional gut punches when you least expect it.
4. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most influential anime series ever made. This mecha anime is, on the surface, about teenagers piloting giant robots called Evangelions to defend Earth from enigmatic invaders called Angels. However, the show takes viewers deep into an introspective dive into the human psyche. Symbolism and philosophical themes run rampant as the play unravels the traumatic histories of its main characters. Once you’ve finished this 26-episode rollercoaster, the mind-bending End of Evangelion movie is essential viewing.
5. Dragon Ball Z
Every list of great anime is complete with Dragon Ball Z. This shonen action series needs an introduction for any anime fan. Following the adventures of Goku and his friends, Dragon Ball Z elevated the action genre to new heights. The gripping martial arts battles feature dizzying displays of speed, strength, and energy attacks. With grand tournaments, cyborgs, time travel, and the planet’s ultimate showdowns, Dragon Ball Z never fails to deliver epic excitement.
6. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Puella Magi Madoka Magica puts a darker twist on the famous “magical girl” anime genre. Middle schooler Madoka Kaname’s life changes when she meets Kyubey, a magical creature who offers to grant Madoka one wish if she agrees to become a magical girl. However, the life of a magical girl proves to be much more ominous and dangerous than it first appears. Madoka must make life-altering choices as she navigates the thin line between hope and despair.
7. Hunter x Hunter
For shonen action fans, Hunter x Hunter offers thrilling fights on par with Dragon Ball Z. The series follows young Gon Freecss in his quest to become a Hunter, an elite treasure seeker, to track down his missing father. Alongside fellow aspiring Hunters Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio, Gon faces life-threatening trials and battles against wicked criminals. With clever power systems and ever-escalating stakes, Hunter x Hunter cements itself as one of the all-time anime greats.
Steins; Gate is a one-of-a-kind sci-fi thriller anime. Eccentric college student Rintaro Okabe accidentally discovers time travel through the phone microwave gadget he invented. However, he soon learns the grave consequences of tampering with time when his friend Mayuri becomes the target of an ominous organization. The darker the present becomes with each failed attempt to alter the past. Steins; Gate will keep you guessing with its constantly shifting timelines and head-spinning twists.
9. Spirited Away
Acclaimed Studio Ghibli reached new heights with Spirited Away. This fantasy adventure whisks 10-year-old Chihiro into the spirit world after her parents are turned into pigs. To rescue her parents and return home, Chihiro must find work at a strange bathhouse for spirits under the mysterious witch Yubaba. With imaginative characters and immersive animation, Spirited Away captures childhood’s whimsy and wonder.
10. Death Note
Death Note’s psychological thriller depicts the cat-and-mouse game between genius high school student Light Yagami and an enigmatic detective known only as L. When Light finds a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone simply by writing their name, he takes it upon himself to rid the world of evil. But L will stop at nothing to uncover the serial killer’s true identity. Death Note offers one of anime’s most compelling explorations of morality gone awry.
The anime on this list showcases the absolute best that the medium has to offer. From exhilarating action and mind-bending sci-fi to inspirational heroes and thought-provoking themes, these series exemplify timeless storytelling. For newcomers and diehard otaku alike, these 10 anime are must-watch staples guaranteed to spark emotions and leave a lasting impression. Their captivating worlds and characters will stick with you long after watching the final episode. So grab some snacks, put on your favorite anime T-shirt, and get ready to binge the greatest hits.
FAQs about the Best Anime
Q: What are some common themes in the best anime?
A: Many of the best anime deal with philosophical questions about morality, identity, redemption, and the human condition. Complex themes are mixed seamlessly with thrilling action and lovable characters.
Q: Should I watch anime subbed or dubbed?
A: This is a point of debate amongst anime fans. Subbed means watching with subtitles, while dubbed has been translated into another language like English. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Though dubbed versions sometimes suffer from translation issues, they allow you to focus on the animation without reading subtitles.
Q: Is anime only for kids?
A: Not! While some anime appeal more to younger viewers, the best series engage audiences of all ages with complex plots, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking themes.
Q: How can I watch anime as a beginner?
A: Sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation offer extensive anime libraries for legal streaming. Start with widely recommended anime movies from Studio Ghibli, like Spirited Away. For the series, Death Note and Attack on Titan are solid starters.
Q: What is the difference between anime and Western cartoons?
A: Anime is known for diverse art styles, in-depth storytelling, complex characters, and various genres geared toward all age groups. Western cartoons tend to be more formulaic and aimed primarily at children. However, in recent years, the lines have blurred between Eastern and Western animation styles and storytelling.