Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

Updated on May 22, 2019
Kiane profile image

I am a huge fan of anime. I love sharing the best series with others.

These are the most popular anime of all time, so you can't miss them! If you are a true fan of anime, you probably know all of them. However, if you are new to these addictive Japanese cartoons, this is a perfect list for you! Millions of fans all around the world love these anime series. They are often rewatched and recommended to others!

Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

What Are the Most Popular Anime of All Time?

  1. Dragon Ball
  2. One Piece
  3. Pokemon
  4. Naruto
  5. Death Note
  6. Detective Conan
  7. Attack on Titan
  8. Sailor Moon
  9. Fullmetal Alchemist
  10. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Sword Art Online | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

10. Sword Art Online

Episodes: 49 (total)

Seasons: 2

If very beautiful animation and strong memorable characters is what you expect from an anime series, then give Sword Art Online! a shot. The animation and soundtrack in this series is really enjoyable. It may not have the best pacing and it's not without its flaws, but it's entertaining and it will keep you interested.

The story follows a teenage boy, Kirito, who gets stuck in a massive futuristic online game called Sword Art Online. He becomes one of those lucky enthusiasts who are the first to get access to the game. He logs into the game world full of medieval weapons and dangerous monsters. Sounds exciting for gamers, yes? However, the boy soon realizes that he cannot quit the game until he completes all one hundred levels! Now the game stops being fun and exciting. Actually, it turns into an extremely dangerous ordeal. If the players die into the virtual world, they die in reality. Kirito and his allies decide to do whatever it takes to survive. If you enjoy this anime, check out this list of similar shows.

Fullmetal Alchemist | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Fullmetal Alchemist | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

9. Fullmetal Alchemist

Episodes: 51 ep. (Fullmetal Alchemist), 64 ep. (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)

Seasons: 2

Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story of two brothers who make an attempt to bring their mother back to life. According to the fundamental law of alchemy, in order to get something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of the same value. Thus, one of the brothers loses an arm and the other loses his entire body (his soul becomes bonded into a suit of armor). Soon, the brothers learn about the existence of the Philosopher Stone, which has the ability to transcend the laws of alchemy. Our heroes decide to embark on a quest to get that stone. The further they go, the more they realize they are drawn into a far darker battle than they imagined.

As you might have already guessed, this series belongs to one of the most popular anime genres, shounen, which is aimed at teenage boys. They usually feature a male protagonist who embarks on a dangerous adventure. Actually, Fullmetal Alchemist has a more intricate and complex story then many other shounens. It's also different from many other entries in this genre because it takes place in a fictionalized world with a setting of somewhere in European the early 20th century. This action fantasy anime is considered a must-watch for any anime fan as well as those who are new to the world of anime! If you are still on the fence with this series, check out this review for more info.

Sailor Moon | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Sailor Moon | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

8. Sailor Moon

Episodes: 200

Seasons: 5

If you are looking for comedy, romance, dramatic moments, and a great soundtrack, Sailor Moon should be your choice. The romance and comedy here are well balanced with some funny moments and it works well! The characters here are so easy to relate to! They are cute, lovable, and relatable in many ways. This show may seem childish (primarily because of the voices in dubbed version), but it actually covers a lot of issues such as sexuality, violence, and many relationship problems. Many fans of this anime series say that it's better to avoid the English dubbed version. They recommend that you watch it with subtitles because the voice acting is way better in the original Japanese version.

Sailor Moon is about a regular teenage girl whose life is turned upside down after she learns about her fate. It is revealed that the girl is destined to become a planetary guardian and protect the planet. From then on, she is called the warrior Sailor Moon. She must make allies with the other Sailor Soldiers in order to defend the Earth.

Most Popular Anime by Year

Numerous shows must be discussed when talking about the most popular anime. I'm only covering 10 in this article, but here are some additional recommendations. These are some popular series that are organized by year. These are solid recommendations if you are new to the medium.

  • 2000: FLCL
  • 2001: Fruits Basket
  • 2002: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • 2003: Kino's Journey
  • 2004: Samurai Champloo
  • 2005: Eureka Seven
  • 2006: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • 2007: Gurren Lagann
  • 2008: Spice and Wolf
  • 2009: Bakemonogatari
  • 2010: Durarara!!
  • 2011: Steins;Gate
  • 2012: Psycho-Pass
  • 2013: Kill la Kill
  • 2014: Haikyu!!
  • 2015: One-Punch Man
  • 2016: Yuri!!! on Ice
  • 2017: Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
  • 2018: Pop Team Epic

Attack on Titan | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Attack on Titan | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

7. Attack on Titan

Episodes: 54 (total)

Seasons: 3

If you are looking for an epic and dramatic anime with a captivating story, look no further. Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime series that is full of epic fight scenes as well as an interesting and meaningful narrative. It is filled with tragic scenes and sad moments. This show will likely break your heart a lot as many characters sacrifice their lives in order to protect humanity.

Adapted from the award-winning manga of the same name, Attack on Titan takes us to a world where mankind is on the verge of extinction. Terrifying and enormous creatures called titans have forced humans to hide behind gigantic walls. These titans love human flesh not out of hunger but out of pleasure. That makes them even more terrifying. Humans have been hiding behind the walls for 100 years and they don't expect any intrusions. However, their calm life comes to an end when a titan breaches the outer wall. The story follows Eren Yeager and his two allies who dedicate their lives to defeating the man-eating creatures. If you're still uncertain about this series. you should check out this review for another opinion.

Detective Conan | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Detective Conan | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

6. Detective Conan

Episodes: Over 900 and counting
Seasons: 27 and counting

Detective Conan has everything to keep you interested. It has funny moments, a love story, drama, and unique mysteries. If you are looking for well-thought-out mysteries where the solutions are not so obvious, give it a shot! The writers definitely put a lot of effort into their work!

The story follows Shinichi Kudou, who has the magnificent skill of being able to solve even the most challenging cases. This is significant when you take into account that he is only 17. One night changes his life. It's the night when the young detective witnesses two suspicious men at an amusement park. They notice him and give him some experimental drug. He survives, but his body has shrunken down to the size of a seven-year-old boy! While hiding his real identity, Shinichi investigates the strange organization that has made a dramatic change to his body.

Death Note | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Death Note | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

5. Death Note

Episodes: 37
Seasons: 1

If you want to see a really unique and compelling story, you should try Death Note. This anime is truly one of the best and most popular out there. It keeps the viewer in suspense and keeps them thinking. You will be forced to wonder about what you would have done if you were in a character's place.

Imagine that you can kill people by simply picturing them in your mind and writing down their names in a special notebook. It's insane, isn't it? However, it's possible for Light Yagami, a high school student who stumbles upon a Death Note. This special notebook has been thrown into the human world by a god of death, who did so just because of his boredom. After discovering such a power in his hands, Light decides to make the world a better place by extinguishing as many criminals as he can. However, police discover the unusual serial killings and wants to catch the culprit with the help of an eccentric young detective.

Best Action Anime

You may have noticed that a lot of these anime fall into the action or shonen genre. These genres tend to be the most popular as they cater to a wide audience and find the most commercial success. Here are some other action anime that are worth checking out.

  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Angel Beats!
  • Baccano!
  • My Hero Academia
  • Fate/Zero
  • Trigun
  • Mob Psycho 100
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion
  • Tiger & Bunny

Naruto | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Naruto | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

4. Naruto

Episodes: 220 episodes (original anime series), 500 episodes (Naruto: Shippuden), and over 100 episodes and counting (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations)
Seasons: 5 seasons (original anime series), 21 seasons (Naruto: Shippuden), and 1 season (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations)

You will love the degree of emotions in this show. There are so many heart-wrenching moments that it will make you really worry about the characters or even cry a river! There are so many reasons to love this vastly popular anime series! First of all, it has character development. Everyone in the series has their dark past which binds the viewer to the story. We can't deny the fact that even antagonists in this show are likeable because they each have their own justified reasons. There are so many lovable, smart, and righteous characters! Another thing that makes Naruto so special is a deeply developed jutsu structure; each character is not simply overloaded with powers. They have their own unique fighting style. This complexity is one of the things that makes the series different from others.

Naruto revolves around the adventures of a boy with a living monster inside him. A long time ago, a powerful fox called Nine-Tails attacked one of the villages in the Shinobi Countries. The leader of the village sacrificed his life and sealed the monster inside his newborn son, Naruto. Years later, the boy struggles to find his place in this world. One day, the hyperactive Naruto becomes a ninja. He forms his own team and sets out on different missions requested by the villagers. Due to his temper, Naruto stumbles upon not only great friends but also some dangerous foes.

Pokemon | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Pokemon | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

3. Pokemon

Episodes: Over 1000 and counting
Seasons: 22 and counting

Pokemon is considered to be one of the most popular anime series out there. This show is fun and has adventure, action, and morals. Since the show is aimed primarily at kids, it teaches them many moral lessons. The road trip stories never take place in one town, so you won't be annoyed. Give this cute show a try, especially if you have experienced this franchise in other mediums such as games or cards.

The story centers on Satoshi, a 10-year-old boy who has always dreamed of becoming a Pokemon trainer. His dream is about to come true, but all three Pokemon for beginners have already been taken. Only one is left, a rebellious electric Pokemon named Pikachu. Satoshi and Pikachu set out on a journey to become the best among the best. That's when the adventures begin!

A memorable character can make a great anime. A funny personality or heroic demeanor can make a character stand out and become popular with anime fans. Here are some of the best characters from anime.

  • Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto
  • L from Death Note
  • Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece
  • Goku from Dragon Ball
  • Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Natsu from Fairy Tail
  • Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach
  • Killua Zoldyck from Hunter x Hunter
  • Inuyasha from Inuyasha

One Piece | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
One Piece | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

2. One Piece

Episodes: Over 800 and counting
Seasons: 20 and counting

One Piece is a great anime that you can easily become obsessed with! The show starts off with the Pirate King revealing the existance of One Piece, the treasure that will give its owner an unlimited amount of riches and fame. He reveals that before his execution. The anime follows Monkey D. Luffy, a teenage boy who forms his crew and travels across the Grand Line, battles strong enemies, and experiences different adventures in order to reach the greatest treasure. You will fall in love with each and every member of Luffy´s crew. All these characters are well developed and unique with their different and fun personalities. The beginning mostly spends time introducing the characters, though you will always find some action in these episodes. However, once the formed crew reaches their destination, you will dive into endless adventure!

The fans of this show recommend watching it in its original Japanese language with subtitles. That way, you can be sure the episodes are not cut, edited, and the characters are not given ridiculous voices. It should be noted that the art style in this anime is completely different from its contemporaries. It´s much more cartoonish.

Dragon Ball | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time
Dragon Ball | Top 10 Most Popular Anime of All Time

1. Dragon Ball

Episodes: 153
Seasons: 9

Dragonball follows Son Goku, a young boy who lives in the woods. He has no friends and lives alone until a girl stumbles upon him. She is searching for a set of Dragon Balls, magical objects that are said to grant one wish to anyone who collects all seven of them. The girl wants to find all of them and make a wish for a good boyfriend. Goku has one dragon ball. However, he has no desire to give it away.

Expect a lot of fighting and humor! You shouldn't expect a grand story from a fighting shounen. The fights are not ludicurously long here, so it's not boring to watch. Actually, it's very exciting! I have to admit that the animation and art are not the best here in comparison to modern anime. However, there's some charm in the old art style. Dragonball is a must-watch for anyone who likes anime. Give this remarkable classic a try!

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    • profile image

      -Angela- 

      3 days ago

      this is realy wrong because alot es pokemon is well known it really isn't like that much out of 50 aboute 43 say it's was good but now its really dumb or somthing like that.

    • profile image

      Animegod909 

      4 days ago

      I love all anime i dont have a fav i just love em all.

    • profile image

      Pokemaster 

      7 days ago

      Pokemon forever

    • profile image

      THE NARUTO LOVER 

      7 days ago

      HOW IS DRAGONBALL AND ONE PIECE AND pokemon IN FRONT OF NARUTO?????? NARUTO IS THE BEST OF THEM ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nothing else has Chakra or Jutsus, and all the Naruto fight are awesome!!!!! (Except Neji vs Hinati that sucked) THINK OF SHIKAMARUS MISSION IT WAS SO GOOD AND THE KEKKAI GENKAIS ALSO!!!!! KIMIMARU CAN RIP OUT HIS SPINE and he doesn't die. AND CHIDORI AND RASENGAN ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CHAKRA BALLS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Naruto us not that good at the start, so that is why people do not like it maybe??? But it gets MUCH better later on... At first Naruto was just vandalizing the Hokage statues (HIS OWN DAD!!!!) and transforming into................................................................................................ BUT LATER...Well he gets told to steal a scroll and he masters a jutsu the Shadow Clone and then the guy comes to kill him but Iruka saves him and Naruto escaped... Then the Zabuza fight that was cool.... Then.... The chunin exams happened and we see Gaara (and Orochimaru) ... Though I don't get how he did the first exam which was a test... THE ONLY THING GOING ON IN HIS MIND IS 'KILL EVERYTHING!!!' ... Then in the 3rd exam it was really cool except the Neji vs Hinati... We can all agree Lee vs Gaara was the best of the 3rd chunin exam excluding the finals... Then we had Naruto vs Neji THAT FIGHT WAS SO COOL!!!!! Shikamaru is my favorite character and I am like him... But.... Gaara vs Sasuke was so cool I was in awe staring at the TV... I think I have been typing too much so umm bye...

    • profile image

      Nobody 

      12 days ago

      Top 3 of my favourite anime:

      1) Tokyo Ghoul

      2) Kaitou Joker

      3) Yuri on ice

      Come to think of it, my standards to anime are pretty high.

    • profile image

      brxkenhearts 

      2 weeks ago

      TOKYO GHOUL!

    • profile image

      lol 

      3 weeks ago

      i heart my hero academia

    • profile image

      trez 

      3 weeks ago

      I love naruto

    • profile image

      Alex 

      4 weeks ago

      Fairy Tail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      4 weeks ago

      1. vampire knight

      2. my hero academe

    • profile image

      XxGraydontronxX 

      4 weeks ago

      My top 3 anime's are:

      1. Tokyo Ghoul

      2. Erased

      3. The Promised Neverland

    • profile image

      ab 

      4 weeks ago

      Top 3 anime's that I love is:

      Attack on Titan

      Sword Art Online

      Tokyo Ghoul

    • profile image

      BOI 

      5 weeks ago

      some how i ended up here while doing a project for school while in school sooo ima just keep looking at anime stuff

    • profile image

      jeff 

      5 weeks ago

      dbz is bae

    • profile image

      Yeet 

      5 weeks ago

      bruh how is Pokemon in front of Naruto? As a die hard naruto fan I am triggered

    • profile image

      naruto 

      6 weeks ago

      to run. Amen

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      6 weeks ago

      Fairy tail

    • profile image

      run 

      6 weeks ago

      bleach is GOAT

    • profile image

      Chumbucket 

      6 weeks ago

      what about JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

    • profile image

      Giovanni 

      7 weeks ago

      This is hardly the list of the MOST POPULAR ANIME OF ALL TIME, these are the most popular Anime from 90s onward.

      What about: LUPIN, LAMU, DORAEMON, GUNDAM? I believe a true anime lover, and a Japanese person would disagree with this list.

      These are the most popular Anime for this generation... not of all time...

    • profile image

      teddy_1 

      8 weeks ago

      one piece

    • profile image

      rogrlio 

      8 weeks ago

      tokyo ghoul

    • profile image

      I_believe 

      2 months ago

      @chidera Back off will you? if you were a true otaku, you'd NEVER call any anime trash! So you certainly aren't. Also, Fairy tail is a really good anime, regardless of what you say. It teaches one about faith, perseverance, and most of all, love.

      @shurthi I wish fairy tail was on the list, too.

    • profile image

      Farewell 

      2 months ago

      No Yu-Gi-Oh? OK that was unexpected

    • profile image

      Tony 

      2 months ago

      One piece is my all time favorite no one

      Will change my mind

    • profile image

      Chaboi 

      3 months ago

      Pretty sure dragon ball has WAY more episodes than just 153 if the count the original, dragon ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super, and even more if you include Dragon Ball GT. Might wanna fix that, I think the episode count was probably derived from one series only.

    • profile image

      Elliott 

      3 months ago

      Naruto and Fairy tail are number 1 in my heart

    • profile image

      Edith 

      3 months ago

      I’ve watched all of these anime and the ads of the ones of the side lol i have way too much time on my hands

    • profile image

      Erika 

      3 months ago

      I don't know which is my favorite:

      - How I got recarnated as a slime (Tensei Shitara slime datte Ken)

      -My hero Academia (Boku No hero academia)

    • profile image

      Chidera Onyibor 

      3 months ago

      @Shruthi Because Fairy Tail is TRASH

    • profile image

      Shruthi 

      3 months ago

      Why is Fairy Tail not here?!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      8 months ago from UK

      You certainly know a lot on the subject of anime.

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