Ayu is one of the biggest anime fans out there and watches as many series as possible.
The Best Anime of All Time
In this article 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 on shonen manga:
1. One Piece (1999)
2. Prince of Tennis (2001)
3. Naruto (2002)
4. Bleach (2004)
5. Katekyo Hitman Reborn (2006)
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6. Naruto Shippuden (2007)
7. Haikyuu! (2014)
8. Boku no Hero Academia (2016)
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 storylines 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.
Haikyuu is one of the most recent additions in this category which already has 3 seasons, the first two having 25 episodes each, while the third season only has 10 episodes.
I also just recently added Boku no Hero Academia, the shortest anime series on this list yet. Its second season is currently running but the first season only has 13 episodes. It may be the one with the least number of episodes right now but with a strong initial arc like that, I would like to believe that this anime has the potential to run long like the others here. I super like this and I think this is the first time or one of those rare times when the MC can be both strong and analytical, highly recommending to include this in your to-watch list if it's not yet there.
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, with season 2 currently airing, and Assassination Classroom with only less than 50 episodes even with two seasons combined), 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)
9. Assassination Classroom (2015); Assassination Classroom Second/Final Season (2016)
Each of the 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 (the second season is currently airing) and Tokyo Ghoul with only 13 episodes in its first season (I'm still debating with myself internally if I would like to recommend the second season, Tokyo Ghoul: Root A). 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).
The most recent addition to this category is Assassination Classroom, which was completed within two seasons, the first one having 22 episodes, while the second, with 25 episodes. I personally thought that the series started slow, but the story will pick up after watching a few episodes, and then you will definitely come to love all the characters moving forward!
Action/Sports—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)
4. Yuri!!! On Ice (2016)
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.
I recently added Yuri!!! On Ice on this list, the only sports anime in the category. I was actually hesitant at first because Yuri On Ice appears to be fundamentally different compared to the other titles listed here, but I didn't want to go through the trouble of adding a new original anime category with only one entry. Compared to other titles, Yuri On Ice's strength relies more on character growth, relationships, and emphasis on details.
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 is 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 that 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, is 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 adaptations 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!
REAL HUMAN NOT A BOT on August 27, 2020:
ye where is gintama
and death note dont have more than 50 episode lol
and where is Fairy Tail
and dragon ball lol
im not a pokemon fan but where is pokemon
Marude dameda osan( Madao ) on July 19, 2020:
where is gintama?
Gin toki on July 05, 2020:
Why is there no gintama
Devi on June 12, 2020:
Uhhhh Haven't you heard about Fairy Tail??
Bruhh why isn't it there?!
lemon on May 24, 2020:
no tokyo ghoul:re?
Star on May 19, 2020:
Where is fairy tail is obvious ur being bias
Raza on April 27, 2020:
Dragon Ball series...
Coolkidgamer5648 (Rhohann) on April 03, 2020:
Fairy tail is also more than a 100 episodes even more than naruto bruh
and where is my favorite Hunter X Hunter and also some of these u should add in ur list [ Your lie in April, Pokemon, Dragon Ball, In another world with a smartphone, No game no life, Jo-jo bizarre adventure, Free, Gintama, Seven Deadly Sins, One punch, Attack on Titan, ]
(P.S. I watched all of this and some other more anime) I hope u watch these anime they are so good!!!
(Yuri on ice has triple exclamation points that means SUPER GAY
two exclamation points mean VERY GAY and one exclamation point means GAY but that is just a meme in school so do not take it seriously]
Huh on March 23, 2020:
How can one piece be better then Bleach? I won't approve this sorry -.-
bfgkjlae;gw on February 06, 2020:
Is pokemon still debatable for being an anime? its so popular. *sniff* some of my favorites werent there. I read more than i get to watch anime
Jonathan Neilson on January 24, 2020:
Dragon ball series?
Cathie on January 03, 2020:
Uh ever heard of fairy tail?
Ryan lewis on January 01, 2020:
I would add hunter hunter to the list and possibly fairy tail besides that all my favorites are there i recently just started watching anime in the last 3 momths im trying to find something new to watch but am stuck everything ive tried is either to boring in the beginning or piss me off part way through to where i dont want to watch anymore if u have any suggestions idk how u would lmk but they would be appreciated? Thank you
Clarisse Sta Maria on November 27, 2019:
YourName on November 25, 2019:
best ending ever- Code Geass
Gon on October 11, 2019:
Hunter x Hunter fans laughing on the shounen list
Gon/Anime Watcher on July 28, 2019:
I've been browsing your site for more than 5 years already. Haven't seen any updates for more than 4 years. I hope you can add up some titles. HxH2011 is still a favorite of mine, so is Fairy Tale. One punch man is one of the best. I hope you can add these 3 animes and even more so i can watch them too. thanks.
katar on July 15, 2019:
what happen to fairy tail
CurlyFry on July 01, 2019:
"Tiger & Bunny" is really a beautifully done series! Check it out?
sagnet on June 06, 2019:
Wish the voting would allow for my top 5.....yeah it should be like that..:P
Ahmed on June 04, 2019:
Kiseijuu Sei no Kakuritsu should be included with these anime list
Tintin on May 30, 2019:
Where is Akatsuki na Yona? Was quite cool too. Holla to all the Attack on titan fans, crazy intensity
I am not a troll on March 12, 2019:
Case Closed.....how no one has:'(
Aksal on March 01, 2019:
Where is Fairy Tail? Dragon ball?
iNgeon on February 27, 2019:
Wish the voting would allow for my top 5
raghava on February 26, 2019:
dragon ballz you missed it
Moonrise on February 25, 2019:
Your opinion on Fruit Basket please :)
Kira Yoshikage on February 23, 2019:
HonjoRen on February 22, 2019:
You should add wotaku ni koi wa muzukashii in the josei list
Emma on January 24, 2019:
On the sports anime I think a good one would be Free!
Jeff on January 13, 2019:
Wow surprised and delighted that you put Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan. It is a great and very underrated anime.
Dragon ball on December 26, 2018:
I'm surprised you didn't put dragon ball on for shonen which is arguably the greatest shonen of all time along with one-piece and Naruto.
Fairy Tail on December 25, 2018:
Any Shounen list without fairy tail isn't worth looking at.
Amy on November 30, 2018:
How dare you guys 8% my hero academia
And no fairy tail boooo
N B Yomi from Dallas, TX on November 24, 2018:
Interesting list, I'mma come back to this if I'm in need of anime to watch. :p
Seraph on November 20, 2018:
One piece is the BEST
Saimre on November 15, 2018:
gintama & hunter x hunter???
mikaylab123 on November 12, 2018:
no game no life
person on November 07, 2018:
your lie in april?
lizzy on October 31, 2018:
i love reborn the best anime i ever watched
Jay Sim on October 23, 2018:
Ok, I mostly like this list, but you really can't recommend One Piece. It is a good anime, one of my favorites, but it is also one of the longest running series. That's just my opinion...
wyatt on October 22, 2018:
tokyo ghoul is very good and bloody.
jestin on October 15, 2018:
DRAGON BALL SUPER
DRAGON BALL Z
DRAGON BALL GT
akash on October 10, 2018:
You forgot No game No life in light novel series
Wendy leon on October 09, 2018:
You forgot fairy tail sailor moon Rwby darling in the franXX sound!euphonium and my hero academia
ray on September 15, 2018:
you guys forgot about the best of all.....
Rajit Aryan from New delhi on September 12, 2018:
hunter X hunter
Future Diary(but just 26 ep And ova episode
E.N.D on August 30, 2018:
Happy is disappointed that fairy tail isn't an option
natsu on August 29, 2018:
boooooo no fairytail boooooooooooo, fairytail should be included
Arthur on August 02, 2018:
if you like toradora then i would recommend "The Pet Girl Of Sakurasou"
Tavia on July 23, 2018:
I nearly picked Soul Eater but the anime is actually kinda bad when u compare it to the manga (which is beaut btw) if i had to recommend an anime tho i would consider Noragami or The ancient magus bride :)
Toto on July 21, 2018:
Bro. And FAIRY TAIL k
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on July 18, 2018:
Henry Ivanz A. Boy on July 16, 2018:
I would recommend Steins;Gate
Stone heart on July 07, 2018:
You clearly forgot Seven deadly sins (Nanatsu no taizai) that is far most addicting anime I've ever watched.
epefem on July 03, 2018:
they forgot some really good shows!
just to point few: fairy tail, dragon ball (z,s, etc.), one punch man, black clover and etc.
yea but they had a decent list.....
AnimeJunkie on June 29, 2018:
Really? on June 11, 2018:
So nobody is going to point out that death note does not have 50 episodes?
ME on June 10, 2018:
I would recommend Ranma 1/2. It's more than 100 episodes and has comedy/romance in it as well. Even though the drawing style is old, it still is a very good anime.
Kayju on June 09, 2018:
I agree u need to add Nisekoi and Toradora! on the list they are really good and made me cry.
Lulu on June 05, 2018:
Id recommend Toradora.
Brie on May 11, 2018:
I'd recommend Sword Art Online one and 2 or SAO for short if you like fantasy anime
Felix on May 06, 2018:
Hi, i've watched animes such as, naruto, naruto shippuden, fairy tail, hajime no ippo, knb, fmab, code geass, death note, aot, opm, db, dbz, super and many more.
But now, i am searching for a plot, storywise, adventure, comedy anime that are not so serious ones, since i have just finished up code geass, so what do you think should i watch?
and another thing, between one piece, bleach and soul eater what do you prefer for me to watch first? Thanks
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on May 06, 2018:
lovely complex is about high school life and is just light while soul eater is a bit dark and is more on the action side so maybe whatever fits your mood best? :)
An B on May 05, 2018:
Mahoutsukai no Yome! Akatsuki no Yona! Mushishi ^^
ava fot short on May 04, 2018:
i agree can you help me chose i have seen some of them is Lovely Complex good or soul easter goood which one shoul i wach
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on May 01, 2018:
will do!! thanks for the reco!!
Alexandra on May 01, 2018:
Soredemo sekai wa utsukushii is one of the best. Try watching it ^_^
Christal on April 23, 2018:
You wont recommend Hunter X Hunter? Why? Its one of the bests!!!
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on April 05, 2018:
Wolbfjl on April 05, 2018:
Add Chivalry of a fail knight and Tokyo raven for action,romance,fantasy,magic
Taki on April 02, 2018:
Kimi No Na Wa
ALL THE WAY!
Salty on March 28, 2018:
I'm salty I couldn't vote for Code Geass
101 on March 27, 2018:
l8l on March 27, 2018:
Hunter x hunter
Ethan Mead on March 25, 2018:
Tokyo Ghoul S3 soon
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on March 04, 2018:
dragos on March 04, 2018:
A noob's list :P
zizza on February 22, 2018:
I would personally add hunter x hunter and yuyu hakushu. Also for sport hajime no ippo
Ayu (author) from Sorajima on February 04, 2018:
Will be here soon
Hotgps on February 03, 2018:
Where is Gintama? on February 01, 2018:
Where is it, huh?