There are a lot of hobbies out there for you to choose from, and every single one of them comes with its own unique fan base that is equally dedicated to the craft; anime lovers out there are fully aware just how intense and loyal the anime community is, and sometimes that can lead to some rather heated debates. The most common (and occasionally the most violent) argument among anime fans is simply which anime deserves to be called the best of all time, and despite the fact that no single anime can truly hold the crown forever, that doesn’t stop tempers from flaring and spit from flying.
But fight amongst yourselves no longer my anime-loving brothers and sisters, I’ve taken it upon myself to settle this debate once and for all. Ok, so maybe this list won’t actually prevent everyone from arguing, but let’s focus on the positives here: each of us loves anime, so let’s momentarily put our differences aside, come together, and watch the greatest animes to ever be created. So which animes have earned the distinguished right to be called the greatest of all time? Here are the 10 anime series that are guaranteed to knock you off your feet, and become a personal favorite!
#10 – Sword Art Online
Let’s be honest, if you’re reading this list then chances are pretty good that you’ve played a video games before: it’s one of the most popular hobbies in the world today; so if everyone loves something then it’s only a matter of time before someone writers a terrifying story about it, and in this case it’s “Sword Art Online.” “Sword Art Online” was originally a light novel series, but was adapted into an animation to help generate a larger following; it ran for two seasons and was met with a very positive critical reception.
The premise of “Sword Art Online” is a rather simple one: 1,000 beta testers for a brand new fantasy game are sucked into the world of the game itself, and are tasked with the goal of completing a deadly dungeon containing 100 increasingly difficult levels; there is only one thing stopping everyone from moving forward: if you die in the game you die in real life. “Sword Art Online” is now finished in its anime form, but bonus content and special edition books are still being printed to expand the show’s universe.
#9 – Attack on Titan
If you fancy yourself a bit of a sadist then “Attack on Titan” is definitely the show for you: it kills off its protagonists at such a rapid rate that George R. R. Martin get’s jealous from time to time. “Attack on Titan” tells the story of the last community of human kind, and their ongoing struggle against a race of gluttonous carnivorous giants; the city becomes a blood bath when the walls begin to crumble, and our heroes must not only discover the source of these mysterious beasts, but retake their homeland one city quadrant at a time.
“Attack on Titan” hasn’t even hit its second season yet, but the manga has been a very popular publication since 2009, and currently has 18 volumes, 3 novels, and two spin off series; despite the low number of episodes currently available, the series has already become a favorite of most anime fans, and because of its high demand, the creators have already confirmed the show’s continuation. So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already had your emotions crushed by “Attack on Titan” then you need to catch up with everyone else!
#8 – Trigun
Before “Trigun” was turned into an anime it was originally a manga series that was divided among three volumes. “Trigun” was adapted for T.V. in 1998 but failed miserably with the Japanese audience; when it was brought to North America in 2003 and featured on the popular Cartoon Network it gained the traction it needed, which allowed the producers to promote the show even farther in other countries. “Trigun” is only a 26 episode run, which is rather short for most anime series, and what’s even more surprising is that the creators don’t intend to expand the story any: they think the ending is rather concrete; nevertheless if after finishing the series you still hunger for more action, then you’ll be pleased to know that an anime movie was made after the show’s completion.
“Trigun” tells the story of a mysterious gunfighter named Vash on a planet called Gunsmoke; he has a massive 60 billion dollar bounty on his head, and teams of vicious bounty hunters will stop at nothing to have his head. “Trigun” is a modern western told in a Japanese style, so there is truly nothing else like it: if you get excited by the thought of futuristic gunshots then you should really give this anime a “shot.”
#7 – Ghost in the Shell
Contrary to what the name may sound like, “Ghost in the Shell” has very little to do with the paranormal: the series is actually about android race relations, and an elite team of cybernetic law enforcement. Unlike some of the other entries on this list, “Ghost in the Shell” has a rather extensive catalog of content: four films (with a live action film in the works), three T.V. series, four video games, three books, and three OVA series; if you’re the kind of person who get’s obsessive about learning all of a show’s lore and history, then this one will certainly keep you occupied.
“Ghost in the Shell” is set in the year 2030, where most everyone has become a cyborg within an artificial body, and the plot centers around several criminal hackers who are attempting to expose a corrupt medical institution that is exploiting the needs of the general public. The show is (not so secretly) a political satire piece on the already existing medical exploitations of citizens for profit, but like any other anime, “Ghost in the Shell” ups the stakes with a healthy dose of mystery and off the walls action!
#6 – Samurai Champloo
When it comes to “Samurai Champloo” what you see is what you get: high flying sword swinging action packed into 26 episodes. “Samurai Champloo” originally aired in 2004, and by the end of its run in 2005 it had become one of the most highly ranked shows across several critical sources; it featured a simple (some would say cliché) line up of characters, but that thing that separated it from every other series was its choice of music: it was uniquely accompanied by a hip-hop centric soundtrack.
Even the music featured in “Samurai Champloo” went on to win awards; it was created by the creator’s long time friend, DJ Tsutchie, as well as Japanese hip hop artists that were already seeing work in the video-game industry. “Samurai Champloo” tells a rather simple story about two samurai who accidentally cause the death of the magistrate’s son, who renders a verdict of execution; the two manage to escape with the help of a local town girl, who convinces them to help her find a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers. Trust me when I say that after watching one hip-hop inspire sword fight that you’ll be hooked for good on “Samurai Champloo.”
#5 – One Punch Man
Every genre features its own collection of a long running list of clichés, but “One Punch Man” is dedicated to breaking all of them. Every big budget anime showcases super powerful fighters that all need a ton of time to monologue and power up, but the show’s protagonist, Saitama, dispatches each of his opponents with a single nuclear strike. “One Punch Man” started as an internet comic, but as more and more people began supporting the publication it started to gain the support it needed to become a fully fledged manga.
“One Punch Man” is currently in its second anime season, but already it has become a favorite on nearly everyone’s list: its perfected balance of humor and action, as well as its unexpected take on classic story telling tropes has made it stand out alongside the biggest anime publications of all time. “One Punch Man” is a story about a world populated by monsters, which are kept at bay by a publicly funded “hero association” that contains the planet’s most gifted people; when the world starts to be threatened by increasingly dangerous threats, Saitama (a man who just wants to be a hero for fun) happens to keep stumbling upon them, while gaining the attention of the hero association.
#4 – Fullmetal Alchemist
Everyone reading this article has certainly heard of “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and if you haven’t then you need to change that immediately. The “Fullmetal Alchemist” series consists of 27 manga volumes, 10 novel volumes, two standalone films, and two anime series that total 115 episodes: “Fullmetal Alchemist,” and “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood;” the shows aired on 2003 and 2009 respectively, and won five American Anime Awards, as well as being nominated for several more awards, and completely dominating at every other major awards ceremony they showed up for… believe me, the show certainly deserves the recognition.
“Fullmetal Alchemist” follows a collection of “alchemists,” powerful spell casters who train in the magical arts that permeate throughout the world, as they seek to create a Philosopher’s Stone, a mystic item that promises to grant immortality; of course the show’s villain seeks to abuse the power of the stone for their own selfish desires, but the heroes are willing to take that risk to regain their natural bodies and preserve the lives of their loved ones. “Fullmetal Alchemist” is an emotional rollercoaster, and I promise that you won’t regret checking it out.
#3 – Berserk
“Attack on Titan” can be fairly brutal, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the graphic content of “Berserk,” a dark fantasy series that explores the best and worst parts contained within human nature; it features incredible displays of medieval violence, as well as perhaps gratuitous sexual content, but its unapologetically raw and vivid story telling style will both grip you and tear you apart. “Berserk” started as a manga with 37 volumes, but has since been adapted into three anime films, an anime series, and is currently being adapted into a new series this year.
“Berserk” is about two mercenaries named Guts and Griffith that are trying to end a war that has been raging on for a hundred years; their victory is short lived, as a series of unfortunate events places them face to face with a horde of demons on another plane of existence. “Berserk” is both a horrendously graphic action piece, as well as a playground for some incredibly compelling political intrigue and commentary; I wouldn’t recommend watching the series if you have a light stomach, but those that can muster up the strength to make it through, you’ll be treated with an incredibly rich fantasy story that will knock you off your feet.
#2 – Death Note
There are some people out there who fantasize about punishing criminals for all the terrible things they have done, but most of us don’t have the stupidity or the guts to pursue the vigilante lifestyle (we can’t all be Batman, right?). Thankfully we all get to live out our immoral and devilish fantasies through “Death Note,” a story about a high school student who finds a magical black journal that kills anyone whose name is written inside of it: the perfect excuse for a budding sociopath to cleanse the world of “evil.”
“Death Note” is more than just some kind of cathartic series about systematic execution, it’s also a complex murder mystery that brings the viewer along on a game of cat and mouse, pitting our would be antihero against both the Japanese police department and a team of detectives looking to expose him and bring him to justice. “Death Note” is by all means not an action packed series, but the masterfully woven story, coupled with some incredible twists and turns, will surely leave you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.
#1 – Cowboy Bebop
No matter how you slice it, “Cowboy Bebop” has time and time again proven to be the greatest anime to ever grace our T.V. sets; it was first released way back in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2001 when the show became an international release did it achieve its remarkable level of fame. “Cowboy Bebop” was a revolutionary story when it first debuted, because not only did it demonstrate that animation could reach higher levels of storytelling, but it dealt with original topics that had real depth to them like existentialism and cosmic loneliness.
The plot of “Cowboy Bebop” is a rather simple one, but that’s because it was the first animation of its time to present it: the story centers on a bounty hunter named Spike Spiegel, who travels through space apprehending fugitives; the stakes are raised when an infamous outlaw seeks to assassinate his competition. “Cowboy Bebop” only ran for 26 episodes, so there really is no excuse not to see this series at least once, but let’s be honest with ourselves: people who finish “Cowboy Bebop” usually watch it multiple times… after all, it IS the greatest anime of all time!