Top 10 Anime Not Based on Manga

Script written by Brandon Stuhr These original anime series didn't get their start as a manga, yet are just as successful and memorable as the best stories out there. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for Top 10 Anime Not Based on a Manga. For this list, we are only considering series that are not based off of a manga, light novel, or began as a visual novel. Special thanks to our users Spideyfan-0913, Brandon Alvares and Carlos Daniel Gonzalez Suarez for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Brandon Stuhr.

Top 10 Anime Not Based on a Manga


These original anime series didn't get their start as a manga, yet are just as successful and memorable as the best stories out there. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for Top 10 Anime Not Based on a Manga.

For this list, we are only considering series that are not based off of a manga, light novel, or began as a visual novel. Some series may have a manga that was made after the fact, but we’re still counting them, as long as the anime came first. We are also excluding anime films, as that is a list for another day.

#10: “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” (2011)

Let’s kick this list off with a re-working of the magical girl genre. At first glance, this series looks like any other magical girl anime but takes the entire concept and adds plenty of grim. Following high school girls who, in order to have a wish granted must become magical girls as a trade off, and trust it, it’s not all pretty skirts and tuxedo wearing boyfriends. The “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” anime was welcomed with acclaim across the board, spawning multiple manga, novel, film, and video game adaptations. Regardless of the medium, you can grab your disturbed magical girl fix.

#9: “Pokemon” (1997-)

Our next entry should be a stranger to very few. For a quick refresher, this anime classic tells the story of young boy Ash Ketchem and his goal to be the greatest Pokemon master ever. The jury is still out on whether or not he ever will. While many are familiar with Ash’s adventures in the world of Pokemon through the anime, Pokemon started off not as a manga, but as an anime and video game franchise. While most of the anime is actually not canon with the video game series, it sure provides yet another adventure for every Pokemon.

#8: “Wolf’s Rain” (2003)

Wolves are perhaps the most majestic creatures in the wilderness, but these wolves are a lot more than meets the eye. In Wolf’s Rain we join four majestic wolves as they clash with each other in their adventure for the Lunar Flower, something that is supposed to hold the key to Paradise. Originally planned as only a standalone anime series, “Wolf’s Rain” would later include a manga and an OVA series. Unlike most manga, the “Wolf’s Rain” manga was released near the end of the series, offering a retelling of the series events in greater detail.

#7: “Gurren Lagann” (2007)

It’s time to fight evil in the flashiest and over the top way possible. Fans join teenagers Simon and Kamina as they take control of mechanized robots known as Gunmen and create the mighty Gurren Lagann to free Earth from the oppressive Spiral King. Redefining the modern mecha genre, “Gurren Lagann” proves that fighting with mechs doesn’t have to be too serious and you can have plenty of fun along the way. The mega-successful mecha series would later spawn many adaptations and sequels across the anime board including manga, light novel, film, and video games. Damn, who knew giant robot fights are the key to success? Oh, right. Japan.

#6:"Samurai 7" (2004)

Basing it's story loosely off of the Akira Kurosawa classic "Seven Samurai", this series tells the story of a Japanese village ravaged by bandits. The villagers end up searching for samurai to protect them from the annual bandit raids. "Samurai 7" sports a unique art style, serving as a treat for many fans of the series. Unlike our other entries, "Samurai 7" is a standalone product. This adds a sense of authenticity as the epic storytelling has not been duplicated onany other medium in the genre. Maybe we should hire some samurai of our own. Watch out comment section!

#5: “Samurai Champloo’ (2004-05)

Welcome to a different kind of Japan. This action classic forces fans to follow ronin Mugen and company as they travel the land in order to complete their personal goals. Headed by “Cowboy Bebop” director Shinichiro Watanabe, “Samurai Champloo” quickly garnered acclaim in the anime community for its spin on a traditional samurai story. Halfway through the series’s run “Samurai Champloo” would also gain a two volume manga adaptation, further increasing its fan base. Take Japanese history and culture, add just a splash of hip hop, and you have a unique story worth telling.

#4: “Paranoia Agent” (2004)

Let’s take a step into the mind of surrealist anime master Satoshi Kon. Focusing on the sociological impact of the Lil’ Slugger phenomenon, Paranoia Agent tells a surrealist story about the implications of fear and guilt on society. Unlike most of the other entries on our list, “Paranoia Agent” has had no manga or light novel adaptations since its release. Not for lack of trying, as one novel, written by Satoshi Kon himself, was eventually adapted and added to the franchise. No matter how much you want to, don’t fall victim to Lil’ Slugger.

#3: “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” (2006-08)

Morality is a tricky thing, and one of the most powerful themes in this series is that nothing is black and white and freedom comes with a huge price tag. No one knows this better than “Code Geass” protagonist Lelouch vi Britannia, who receives the “Power of Kings”, known as the Geass. Using this power to free Japan from the oppressive Britannia Empire, he is branded as a hero by some, and terrorist by others. “Code Geass” quickly became a super popular must see for any anime fan, also spawning a multitude of adaptions across the majority of mediums anime has to offer.

#2: “Darker Than Black” (2007-09)

Taking place after the anomalies “Hell’s Gate” and “Heavens Gate” appeared in Japan and South America that vastly impacted both the land and sky around them. Shortly afterwards were the appearance of individuals with super human powers known as “Contractors”, this series explores just how much an individual will give up in order to wield absolute power. “Darker Than Black” quickly gained fans due to its unique take on film noir, becoming a hidden gem among the modern anime community. While many adaptations have followed after the anime’s success, we still recommend the original for the full effect. What would you do to become a Contractor?
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions.
“FLCL” (2000-01)

“Blood+” (2005-06)

“Kill La Kill” (2013-14)

“Serial Experiments Lain” (1998)

“Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki” (1992-2005)

“Un-Go” (2011)


#1: “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995-96)

The apocalypse is nigh. Actually it already happened. In this mind blowing mecha classic, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” tells the story of teenage boy Shinji as he is forced to defend an apocalyptic Earth from the encroaching Angel threat. Created as an original idea during the creator’s depression, the series has spawned multiple additions to the franchise, including the equally popular “End of Evangelion” anime film. “Neon Genesis Evangelion” had become one of the best selling anime series of the 1990s, introducing anime to an entirely new audience. Evangelion is one of the biggest and most acclaimed series in anime, and earns even more points for being an original series not based on an anime.

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite non-manga anime? For more original top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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