As one of the top trends from Japan that seems to be taking the western world by storm, anime series have secured their place in the global pop culture a long time ago. However, the recent years and the true rise of the internet seem to have help spread the word even further, and anime shows now seem to be more popular than ever.
And there is a very good and easy to understand this whole trend – anime are awesome! They are exciting and packed with a spirit of their own, intriguing and engaging storylines, as well as pure general awesomeness.
But you should also know that a LOT of anime can be found out there. The concept has been around for quite a while and in case you’re new to it, you have a lot of catching up to do. With that in mind, we took the liberty of diving into the scene in a bold attempt to bring you the best anime series ever.
Our quest yielded many champions, and we have rounded them all up into a Top 10 rundown. The list patiently awaits below.
How to find the best anime series?
This is an intricate question, and as is often the case with art and entertainment, the answer very much depends on your personal taste. There are so many factors that determine whether or not you will like a certain series that we can’t even begin to list them.
However, there are also objective factors based on which certain series can be singled out over the others. We did our best to accomplish just that and filter our the stuff that gives a bad impression of anime or wastes your time with poor quality content. It’s the crème de la crème here, make sure to check out the full results in the list.
– Death Note
Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note is a story of Light Yagami, a high-school student who finds a supernatural notebook that grants its owner an unparalleled ability to kill anyone whose face or name he knows.
The man decides to use the book to create “a world cleansed of evil,” and act as its ruler and God. A detective known as L enters the story in an attempt to stop him, starting a series of very interesting events with engaging characters and stories that will keep you on the very edge of your seat.
We don’t want to reveal anything else as far as the story goes (no spoilers), but we can say that he story is superbly written and executed. Although the series is aimed towards younger audiences, we can’t possibly see why Death Note couldn’t engage anime fans of any age group.
As for the casing, the item comes in a very nice and elaborate package containing 10 discs and each of the 37 episodes. In total, we’re looking at quite lengthy 850 minutes, a perfect measure for one epic journey.
Recommended for: boys and girls aged 8 to 18
This list would be very much incomplete without the mention of the legendary Naruto!
Written by Masashi Kishimoto, the series follows the life journey of young ninja Naruto Uzumaki and his constant struggle to gain recognition and secure a place in the pantheon of greats.
What we are looking at is one of the most iconic anime series of all time. This is one of the great that changed the world, resulting in an incredible set of 220 episodes between 2002 and 2007.
From aesthetic and design features to characters, the storyline and the overall approach, Naruto changed a lot and stands out as a truly revolutionary series. As always, we don’t want to spoil your viewing experience, but we can say that you are up for an intriguing journey of courage, wisdom, loyalty and endurance.
There is a lot of goods to check out here, and we recommend kicking things off at the very start with the Vol. 1 set. Loaded with 6 discs and a running time of around 650 minutes, this package will introduce you to the world of Naruto and do a very good job in reeling you in to become a fan. If you’re wondering what is the best series to start watching anime, this one just might be the answer.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 15+
– Fullmetal Alchemist
Up next, a killer series that was voted the most popular anime of all time in Japan. Fullmetal Alchemist follows the story of Eric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, as they try to achieve unthinkable goals through the power of alchemy. The fantasy world in which the story is set sees alchemy as the highest form of advanced technology, making the two brothers a very revered members of the society.
Throughout the series, Ed and Alphonse can be found in pursuit for the philosopher’s stone that would allow them to restore their bodies following a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.
Another tidbit we can reveal to you is that alchemy in this world comes at a cost – while giving supernatural abilities, it also costs the alchemist a physical portion of himself. This very concept has been woven incredibly well throughout the entire series, combining the elements of the seven deadly sins, and much more.
We recommend starting this journey with the 4-disc Season 1 DVD package. With over 600 minutes, this one is bound to be a real hoot for ya. Additionally, if you really want to dig in, we suggest the Fullmetal Alchemist Box Set, an incredible combo of each of the 27 volumes and a whole lot of extra goodies.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 16+
– Cowboy Bebop
The year is 2071, and the world is a cruel, ruthless place. We are following the journey of a group of bounty hunters aboard the Bebop spaceship, targeting the topics of existentialism, loneliness and much more.
Apart from the fact that this is one of the few anime series that have scored a stronger success in the United States than in Japan or China, Cowboy Bebop was considered somewhat controversial upon the initial release back in 1998 due to tackling some adult themes and offering more adult-oriented content. Nothing gory and nothing too sexual, so don’t worry about the team going over the top.
Anyway, this is an action-loaded anime and perhaps most importantly – the characters are intriguing and authentic, drawing you into the story and keeping you engaged and thoroughly entertained.
Another thing we must point out – Cowboy Bebop is universally hailed as one of the very first features of anime genre to make it big in the States, serving as a gateway for the entire genre to reach global success. For that alone, it is worthy of any rundown of this type.
We recommend getting The Complete Series package to experience the whole series properly. With 5 discs and a 650-minute length, this is all you need to know as far as Cowboy Bebop goes.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 18+
– Tokyo Ghoul
Going towards more recent times and more recent smash hits of the anime domain, we wholeheartedly recommend checking out the Tokyo Ghoul series. Crafted by Sui Ishida, this one is classified as a horror anime, dealing with the matter of the undead hungry for human flesh.
The story takes us to an alternate reality in which human flesh eating ghouls walk among us in secrecy. They depend on human flesh to stay alive, and are forced to keep their true nature an utmost secret.
The ghouls are basically supernatural, with enhanced physical abilities such as speed, strength and stamina, as well as ability to use a special predatory organ called “Kagune.”
The story here starts as college student Ken Kaneki has a near fatal encounter with his date Rize Kamishiro, who turned out to be a ghoul. This leaves the man as a half-ghoul (who also must consume human flesh to survive), leaving him stranded between two worlds.
There’s a very nice DVD/BluRay package out there for grabs, and if horror stuff is your cup of tea, we are positive you will enjoy Tokyo Ghoul. A thumbs up from here!
Recommended for: Audiences aged 16+
– Soul Eater
If you like your anime perfectly set up to match a video game, go for the Soul Eater series! Taking place in the fictional Death City, Nevada, the series is focused on the Death Weapon Meister Academy, a very special school led by Death (Shinigami, that is) himself.
The basic synopsis here is that the Academy operates as a training facility for humans who can transform themselves into weapons, as well as for individuals who can control those weapons, also known as meisters.
The main goal of the meister students is defeat and absorb souls of 99 evil humans and a single witch through their weapons. This way, their weapons can get a level up and hopefully reach the stage of becoming a “death scythe,” or a weapon suitable for being used by Death himself.
As expected, several Soul Eater video games already exist and we recommend those to any gamer out there, especially if you’re both a gamer and an anime aficionado.
Although this seems a bit violent and gory, the series is actually very well suited for viewers of just about any age. To dive into the goods, we recommend getting The Complete Series edition with 8 discs and 1275 minutes of content.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 6+
– Dragon Ball Z
If anime lies even a pair of miles away from your interests, you are bound to be at least somewhat familiar with the legendary Dragon Ball series. For many fans out there, Dragon Ball is the one that started it all. So many folks out there see Goku and his adventures as one of the fondest memories of their childhood, only further proving the impact of the whole series.
For this particular occasion, we would like to draw your attention towards Dragon Ball Z, the sequel to the original series and once again a colossal global success.
Once again, we are looking at Goku and many of the original characters defending the planet from a variety of villains attempting to destroy or conquer Earth. The episodes follow a global story, although they can very often be watched individually.
As you might already know, Dragon Ball is accompanied by a plethora of merchandise, so if you’re up for diving into memorabilia collection, there’s a long road ahead. For starters, we recommend purchasing the Season 1 Blu-ray; it just might mark the beginning of a long adventure for you.
Recommended for all ages
– Attack on Titan
Illustrated by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan is a dark fantasy post-apocalyptic anime set in the time where the world of humans is threatened by titans. The entire humanity is settled in cities surrounded by giant walls to protect themselves from being eaten by those giant humanoids.
The story at first focused on a fella named Eren Yeager, as well as his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and childhood friend Armin Arlert. The three heroes join the military to fight the Titans after their home town was invaded by titans and Eren’s mother is eaten.
As the story advances, we get to meet not only the humans, but the titans and their true nature. At one point, the world Eren is trying to protect looks at him as he is the monster. There is more to this one than meets the eye, and we thoroughly recommend joining the ride.
This series was predominantly popular in Japan, and the vast majority of 52.5 million shipped units (50 million to be precise) belong to the land of the rising sun.
For the start of this trek, we recommend getting the limited edition pack with 4 discs and 300 minutes of footage.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 8+
– Sword Art Online
As one of the more recent top-level anime series, Sword Art Online takes place in a virtual reality MMORPG world, once again establishing a strong connection with the gaming world.
The concept is this – 10,000 gamers log into a brand new, massively anticipated Virtual Reality Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online (SAO), only to find out that there are trapped inside and cannot leave the game.
Their only way out is to somehow reach the 100th floor of the game’s castle and beat the final boss. Death within the game will result in death in real life. Sounds quite intriguing if you ask us. What’s cool about this series is that it’s still running since the 2009 launch, meaning that although you have a lot of catching up to do, you can still do it and follow the story as it progresses in real time.
As expected, the series was also transposed into an actual video game you can play, making Sword Art Online one of the ultimate anime series for all you gamers out there. With 16 million copies sold around the globe thus far, this is one of the strongest ongoing features in the world at the moment. We say join the ride while it lasts!
Recommended for: Audiences aged 12+
– Blue Exorcist
While we’re talking about ongoing series, we say check out the Blue Exorcist. Illustrated by Kazue Katō, this story focuses on a teenager named Rin Okumura. The fella finds out that he is in fact the son of Satan and inheritor of his powers.
The plot thickens as Satan murders Okumura’s guardian, an exorcist called Father Shiro Fujimoto, causing Rin to dedicate his life to strive towards mastering exorcism in order to ultimately defeat his father.
This supernatural anime might seem somewhat basic, but it in fact delves into some deep matters and really makes the viewer think from time to time. It is primarily crafted towards younger crowds of course, making it a perfect gift for your kiddo.
To properly delve into the world of Blue Exorcist, we recommend getting the Complete First Season DVD. With 5 discs and around 325 minutes of running time, it will take you on one heck of a ride. Highly recommended, a major thumbs up from here.
Recommended for: Audiences aged 9+
When all is said and combined, these 10 fine franchises are all strong contestants for the flattering title of the best anime series in the world. Some of them are classics, others are fresh kids striving towards becoming classics in the future. Now it’s just a matter of jotting down your personal preferences and spending budged and determining where to start.
If you are new to the world of anime, we have to say that we envy you a bit.
All of us longtime anime fans remember with great fondness that moment of first diving into the amazing animated world. So make your choice wisely, you’re about to kick off one stellar journey. A journey of a lifetime you could say!