I was talking to a friend about Japan anime when he asked me what was my favorite one. I quickly realized that it was impossible to name only one anime as favorite, and that the list of Japanese anime I loved was huge. Then, I started writing down every anime that I could remember since I was a little girl to make this list. So what are the best Japanese anime of all time?
Inuyasha, Vampire Knight, Beelzebub, Swort Art Online, Dragon Ball, to name a few, are between those you should see at least once in your life. Some of them aren’t recent, but watching old anime is also the best way to avoid watching the same thing as the entire world.
And now, without further delay, let’s take a look at this list of amazing Japanese anime. 🙂
P.S.: This list is not ranged in any order because it is just impossible to say which one is better than the other.
Released: 1996 (manga), 2000 (anime)
Number of episodes: 167
Storyline: Inuyasha is a fantasy anime with troubled romance and adventure all the way long. This is the story of a 15-year-old girl, Higurashi Kagome who travels between modern-day Tokyo, where she lives a normal life, and the Japan of the Sengoku period, where adventures and dangers await her.
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While in old Japan, she meets a half-demon called Inuyasha who will help her on the quest to find the sacred jewel she accidentally shattered in many pieces on her first visit to the past.
She also falls in love with Inuyasha, marking the beginning of a very complicated romance, but I can’t tell you more without spoiling the story 🙂
Along the way, other allies will join this adventure for many reasons, adding even more fun.
I really recommend watching this anime because the story is amazing and it has multiple funny moments.
Released: 1991 (manga), 1992 (anime)
Number of episodes: 46
Storyline: Sailor Moon is a magical girl anime. It follows the story of a 14-year-old student, Usagi Tsukino, that can transform herself into Sailor Moon thanks to a black cat named Luna. Their mission is to locate the moon princess while fighting the Dark Kingdom and Queen Beryl.
Along the way, other sailor soldiers will join the fight and help Sailor Moon.
This anime is loaded with magic and funny moments. It had great success, so there were several other anime after this one to continue the story:
- Sailor Moon R
- Sailor Moon S
- Sailor Moon SuperS
- Sailor Moon Stars
Released: 1984 (manga), 1986 (anime)
Number of episodes: 153 (in the first series)
Storyline: Does Dragon Ball really need to be presented? For those who will be reading this article in the next century, here it goes. 🙂
Dragon Ball is a fantasy anime bursting with martial arts and adventure. I can’t recall another anime with the same success as this one. It even had several anime series to continue the story:
- Dragon Ball Z in 1989 with 291 episodes
- Dragon Ball GT in 1996 with 64 episodes
- Dragon Ball Z Kai in 2009 with 167 episodes
- Dragon Ball Super in 2015 with 131 episodes
- Super Dragon Ball Heroes in 2008 with 14 episodes
The anime tells the story of Goku since his childhood while training martial arts and searching for the seven Dragon Balls. These balls can summon a dragon called Shenron that grants one wish before disappearing. From there, you have a whole year to search for the seven balls and summon the dragon again.
Released: 2001 (manga), 2003 (anime)
Number of episodes: 51
Storyline: Fullmetal Alchemist is a dark fantasy and a science fiction adventure. It follows the story of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who tried to bring their mother back to life using alchemy, but they didn’t manage to do it. Instead, Alphonse lost his entire body and Edward lost a leg trying to bring his mother back, and an arm to tie his brother’s soul to an empty armor.
The story goes on searching for the philosopher’s stone which can restore their bodies and bring their mother back to life.
Released: 2004 (manga), 2008 (anime)
Number of episodes: 13
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Storyline: The Vampire Knight is a dark fantasy and supernatural romance. It tells the story of Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of the Academy Cross’ headmaster, and Zero Kiryu, her adopted brother, who experienced a troubled childhood because of vampires.
This academy has one night class followed by vampires and one day class followed by humans that completely ignore the existence of vampires in the night class.
The whole story revolves around Yuki, Zero, and Kaname Kuran, a pure-blood vampire. They’re also in a complicated love triangle where Yuki’s heart balances between Zero and Kaname.
Released: 1987 (manga), 1989 (anime
Number of episodes: 18
Storyline: Ranma 1/2 is a martial arts anime, but also a romantic comedy full of adventures. It tells the story of Ranma, a young boy who fell into a cursed spring while training with his father Genma. The curse makes Ranma turn into a girl when in contact with cold water, while his father turns into a panda. This effect can be reversed if they come in contact with hot water, at least until the next cold shower 🙂
This is an anime full of the funniest situations because of the sudden change in the physical form of the characters and the love-hate relationship between some characters.
Sword Art Online
Released: 2002 (novel), 2012 (anime)
Number of episodes: 25
Storyline: Sword Art Online is a science fiction anime loaded with action and adventure. The story is based on a virtual reality where people can enter a massively multiplayer online role-playing game thanks to a helmet that activates all senses.
This anime follows the virtual life of Kazuto Kirigaya, known in-game as Kirito, and Asuna Yuuki who are trapped inside the game called Sword Art Online.
Released: 2006 (manga), 2009 (anime)
Number of episodes: 328
Storyline: Fairy Tail is a fantasy anime with lots of adventures. The story takes place in a fantasy world with several guilds of wizards. The main character is Natsu Dragneel, a dragon slayer wizard, that is searching for his adoptive father (dragon Igneel).
The story goes on with several missions and many new characters that will join the adventure progressively.
Released: 2008 (manga), 2011 (anime)
Number of episodes: 60
Storyline: Beelzebub is an action comedy anime full of hilarious and crazy situations like you’ve never seen before. It tells the story of a first-year student named Tatsumi Oga in a school for delinquents. He has to raise the demon king’s baby (baby Beel), even if he doesn’t want to, but he is given no choice as the baby is emotionally attached to him, and there’s no way to put a large distance between them, otherwise, Tatsumi Oga will feel it (very hard by the way :)).
As the baby only attaches himself to those who are incredibly evil and strong, Tatsumi Oga tries to find other students stronger than him to get rid of Baby Beel. Needless to say, this is easier said than done.
If you want an anime that gathers action, comedy, evil, and one-way romance, Beelzebub is made for you.
Released: 1994 (manga), 1996 (anime)
Number of episodes: 95
Storyline: Samurai X is an adventure anime filled with martial arts and romance. This is the story of a former assassin known as Hitokiri Battosai during the Meiji period in 1878. After the war, the assassin disappears and becomes Himura Kenshin, a swordsman who decides to protect people and never kill again.
His path to peace will be full of difficulties, as he will find new and old enemies along the way. Fortunately, new friends will be joining the adventure to help him.
There’s also a lovely romance story between Himura Kenshin and Kamiya Kaoru, a young woman who teaches in a swordsmanship school and who will participate in Kenshin’s journey.
Oh My Goddess!
Released: 1988 (manga), 2005 (anime)
Number of episodes: 26
Storyline: Oh My Goddess! is a fantasy romantic comedy. This anime follows the story of Keiichi Morisato, a college student who calls the Goddess Help Line by accident. The goddess Belldandy is sent to help and grant him a wish. As he thought that it was all a joke, he played the game and asked for the goddess to stay with him…forever!
Once his wish is granted, the story goes on showing all the funny adventures of a normal student living with a goddess, and also the evolution of their relationship. Other sisters (goddesses) will also join the adventure to add even more chaos to this funny story.
Released: 1990 (manga), 1992 (anime)
Number of episodes: 970
Storyline: Crayon Shin-chan is a comedy anime. And when I say comedy, I mean one of the funniest anime of all time. It tells the story of a five-year-old boy’s everyday life.
This anime is based on Shin-chan’s antics and, believe me, there are many of them. This boy has mischievous behavior and uses weird and unnatural language, making the jokes even more fun.
In some episodes, you start laughing at the beginning, and you only stop at the end. If you’re in need of fun, this anime can help you for sure.
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Neon Genesis Evangelion
Released: 1994 (manga), 1995 (anime)
Number of episodes: 26
Storyline: Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha anime with an apocalyptic story and a psychological drama. It happens in Tokyo, 15 years after a worldwide cataclysm, where teenagers (Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, and Asuka Langley) are chosen to pilot giant robots (mecha) called Evangelion in a war against Angels (aliens invading Earth).
During the story, you’ll understand the troubled minds of these teenagers who had a difficult past.
If you search for a deep story, you’ll find what you need in this anime that’s not like any other.
Released: 1992 (manga), 1994 (anime)
Number of episodes: 26
Storyline: Blue Seed is a supernatural anime mixed with romance and action. It tells the story of an ordinary high school student, Momiji Fujimiya, who is the descendant of the “Kushinada”, an ancient princess whose power is to send ancient monsters (aragami) to eternal sleep.
Momiji refuses to believe that she can be the Kushinada and tries to escape from her destiny, but she changes her mind when she understands that her sister is the former Kushinada.
Momiji is protected by Mamoru Kusanagi, who also tries to protect her sister, and eventually falls in love with him.
Released: 2002 (manga), 2004 (anime)
Number of episodes: 13
Storyline: Elfen Lied is a dark fantasy and a horror science fiction. It follows the story of Lucy, who belongs to the Diclonius, a newly mutated species. They are similar to humans, but have horns and invisible arms called Vectors.
The Diclonius were often held prisoners in facilities for experimentation. This was the case with Lucy until she escaped and got injured, creating a second personality that is like a child.
The whole story is filled with suspense, not knowing when Lucy will use her violent Vectors or stay innocent like a child due to her second personality.
Released: 1999 (manga), 2002 (anime)
Number of episodes: 220
Storyline: Naruto is a martial arts anime filled with fantasy and adventure. It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who became the host of the Nine-Tails Fox when he was only a baby. Because of this, Naruto had a difficult childhood and its dream of becoming the next Hokage was often criticized by the others.
This anime follows the adventures of Naruto while trying to become the strongest ninja to finally realize its dream.
Released: 2005 (manga), 2007 (anime)
Number of episodes: 12
Storyline: Murder Princess is an action anime filled with fantasy. It tells the story of a princess called Alita, whose kingdom was taken by an illegal seizure of power. Alita escaped to the forest and ended up falling off a cliff with a bounty hunter called Falis when a monster was after her.
This near-death experience caused the inversion of Alita and Falis souls. Since Falis now looks exactly like Alita, Alita asks her to take her place as the princess of Forland and to protect the kingdom. In exchange, she will become her servant.
Falis accepted the job and became a fierce princess.
And that’s it, we arrived at the end of this list of great anime. Please notice that this is only my opinion of some of the best anime that I got the chance to see, but I know that there are more out there waiting to be found by you and me.
If you have some great anime in mind, feel free to share your opinion in the comments below. I would gladly take a look at your top anime 🙂