Highly Recommended Anime Series of All Time
The Best Anime of All Time
In this Hub I list the very best anime of all time, organized into useful categories:
• shonen: where most anime/manga series listed are currently ongoing with more than 100 episodes
• shonen: completed series with more than 50 episodes (except Shingeki no Kyojin with 25 episodes + 5 OVA)
• shonen: original anime with less than 50 episodes
• light novel-based anime
• shojo/kodomo (usually targeted to children/younger audiences)
Shonen—Ongoing Manga, More Than 100 Episodes
In order of release date, these are the best long-running anime series based from shonen manga:
1. One Piece (1999)
2. Prince of Tennis (2001)
3. Naruto (2002)
4. Bleach (2004)
5. Katekyo Hitman Reborn (2006)
6. Naruto Shippuden (2007)
These anime titles are long-running anime series mostly based on shonen manga. These stories usually revolve around the main characters' search for power and strength to fulfill their dreams and protect their families, friends, and loved ones. As the story lines progress, the characters exhibit physical and mental growth, bringing them closer to their dreams (for example Naruto who wants to be Hokage or Luffy who dreams of finding the One Piece and becoming the Pirate King).
The manga counterpart of each title listed above is still currently ongoing except for the original Prince of Tennis manga, which ended in 2008. Good news for Prince of Tennis fans: A new manga series began serialization in 2009, called New Prince of Tennis, as a continuation of the original manga.
Shonen—Completed With More Than 50 Episodes (except SNK)
The best completed anime/manga series with more than 50 episodes (except for Shingeki no Kyojin - manga ongoing, season 2 in the making), in order of release date:
1. Fullmetal Alchemist/Hagane no Renkinjustushi (2003)
2. Code Geass (2006 - original anime)
3. Death Note (2007)
4 Soul Eater (2008)
5. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (2009)
6. Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyou - Season 2 (2011)
7. Shingeki no Kyojin (2013)
8. Tokyo Ghoul (2014)
Each of titles listed above is based on shonen manga series, except for Code Geass, which was an original anime production. Tokyo Ghoul is also categorized under seinen. The above-mentioned anime span 50 episodes or more, except for Nurarihyon no Mago with only 26 episodes (52 episodes if season 1 is to be included), Shingeki no Kyojin which only 25 aired episodes during its first season and Tokyo Ghoul with only 13 episodes in its first season (season 2, Tokyo Ghoul: Root A) is currently ongoing. Unlike long-running anime series, there are rarely filler episodes. These series are usually canon works that strictly followed the original storyline and have fast-paced but concise plots and breathtaking twists. The limited number of episodes means that there are rarely dull episodes and for some titles, every single episode is heart-stopping.
Both the Fullmetal Alchemist series, Code Geass and Soul Eater featured lots of physical battle scenes. While the fight scenes in Fullmetal Alchemist are often based on alchemy and/or military force, Code Geass featured mecha-type battles. Meanwhile, both Code Geass and Death Note were mainly battles of wits between main and secondary characters. As for Shingei no Kyojin, it has one of the most powerful plots I've ever seen, filled with intense and violent action scenes enough to give us mini heart attacks in every single episode. Tokyo Ghoul started slow, fight scenes are scattered across the 13 episodes but are awesome (especially season one's last episode), albeit censored.
I was hesitant at first if I will group Sennen Makyou with the rest of the amazingly intense titles here since Nurarihyon no Mago's theme is a bit lighter. In terms of plot, however, Sennen Makyou was beautifully done and is in no way inferior compared to the others. (Nurarihyon no Mago season 1 was intentionally excluded from this list)
Shonen—Original Anime With Less Than 50 Episodes
These are the very best original anime series with less than 50 episodes, in order of release date:
1. Cowboy Bebop (1998)
2. Samurai Champloo (2004)
3. Psycho-Pass (2012)
I made a separate category for the anime titles listed above because these are all anime originals and are short anime series spanning 22 episodes or more. Also, there are a lot of stand-alone episodes (self-contained stories which does not need prior viewing of other episodes) in Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. Unlike most of the anime listed earlier in this Hub, these series are already completed and were given a proper ending (even if it feels as if they ended too soon!). It is important to note that Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo are both Shinichiro Watanabe creations.
Light Novel-Based Anime
The very best light novel-based anime, in no particular order:
1. Scrapped Princess (2003)
2. Full Metal Panic! (2002)
3. Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid (2005)
4. Sword Art Online (2012) - Season 1
5. Kyoukai no Kanata/Beyond the Boundary (2013)
6. Mahouka Koukou no Rettosei (2014)
7. Amagi Brilliant Park (2014)
The above-mentioned titles are neither manga-based nor original anime creations but are based on light novels which were further developed into other media forms, such as manga and anime. Moreover, the number of episodes of both series are just above 20 (except for The Second Raid, with 13 and Kyoukai no Kanata with 12). The original Scrapped Princess light novel ran from 1999 to 2005 but the anime adaptation was aired in 2003 with 24 episodes. You might have noticed that two of the above-listed titles are Shoji Gatoh creations, namely the Full Metal Panic series (TSR included) and Amagi Brilliant Park.
Another reason why I grouped these titles together is because the creators of the above-mentioned works were able to balance the action and romance within the story—something that rarely, rarely happens in the previous categories I mentioned.
I would also like to emphasize that I am only recommending Sword Art Online's first season. Season 2 was.. oh well.
The best Josei I've seen are:
1. Nodame Cantabile (2007)
2. Nodame Catabile: Paris-Hen (2008)
3. Nodame Cantabile: Finale (2010)
4. Kuragehime (2011)
5. Chihayafuru (2011)
6. Chihayafuru Season 2 (2013)
Nodame Cantabile revolves around the lives of very adorable, musically inclined characters, Nodame and Chiaki, while Kuragehime, about the jellyfish-loving Tsukimi and the fashion-loving Kuranosuke. I didn't expect Chihayafuru to be equally interesting at first but it was really beautiful. It introduced me to a fascinating sport called Competitive Karuta which was so damn good I would play it if I can read Japanese. I personally think Chihayafuru's selling point would be its characters (the character development of each person was commendable), the friendship, the sport itself and god, the love triangle. Just when you thought that Chihaya and Arata are official, how Taichi was being positioned halfway through the story would make you question what you thought was canon and then Chihaya would crush every theory you ever had all over again.
The humor of these titles also appealed to my liking.
The best shojo anime, in order of release date:
1. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)
2. Lovely Complex (2007)
3. Skip Beat (2008)
4. Kimi ni Todoke (2009)
These titles were grouped together because their stories are based on school life, friendship, and of course, romance. Skip Beat, explores the showbiz life while Ouran High School Host Club allows us a glimpse into the not so typical host club life - the rich kids way. The number of episodes per season is only around 25 episodes (more or less). Lovely Complex and Kimi no Todoke are about the high school life experience.
Both Lovely Complex manga and anime adaptation have successfully ended. Everyone is still waiting for a second Ouran season because the manga has long since ended already. However, Skip Beat and Kimi ni Todoke manga chapters are coming out at such a slow and painful pace that I am not expecting a new season release anytime soon.
The first three (Ouran High School Host Club, Lovely Complex and Skip Beat are romantic-comedy series) while Kimi ni Todoke is a light drama anime series.
Light Shojo for Young Fans
For younger audiences, these are the best light shojo titles, in order of release date:
1. Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
2. Daa! Daa! Daa! (2000)
I created this category for a number of reasons: One, both attract very young audiences; two, both have adorable and satisfying endings (just a tiny bit different from the original manga plot); and three, Li Syaoran and Kanata look very much alike (in fact, my kind of boys if I were their age). The stories are both cute, and I love them both equally, although there was more depth to Cardcaptor Sakura but Daa! Daa! Daa! is adorable in its own way and is ideal if you are looking for anything feel-good to watch.
Do you Agree with my List?
Please leave a comment to let me know if I missed any of the best anime titles!