Top 10 Most Influential Anime

Script written by Arschel Morell These are the Anime titles that haven't just inspired in Japan, but around the world. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Anime. For this list, we're looking at titles that have had a defining impact on the world of Anime and whose influence spreads beyond into the world of pop culture, U.S Animation and Live Action Filmmaking. Special thanks to our user Ashjbow for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Arschel Morell

Top 10 Most Influential Anime


These are the Anime titles that haven’t just inspired in Japan, but around the world. Welcome to Watchmojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Anime.

For this list, we’re looking at titles that have had a defining impact on the world of Anime and whose influence spreads beyond into the world of pop culture, U.S Animation and Live Action Filmmaking.

#10: “Doraemon” franchise (1973-)

Kicking off our list is one of Anime’s most adorable icons. Doraemon, the story of a time traveling cat saving the future by inspiring a young boy in the past, is aimed at young children. The power to inspire is Doraemon’s greatest gift, in Anime and in the real world. The Anime feline features in many advertisement campaigns in Japan, from cars, featuring live action actors, to educational children’s manga. With an incredibly long lifespan across four decades, three Anime series and countless films, Doraemon isn’t looking to stop inspiring the world anytime soon.

#9: “Cowboy Bebop” (1998-99)

Cowboy Bebop is a smooth concoction of fast paced action, adult stories, and a diverse musical score that die-hard anime fans and casual viewers can get behind. Bebop’s initial debut was received so well by fans and critics, that it stayed in constant rotation on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block for over a decade. Wow. As it was heavily inspired by western culture and scifi story telling, so too has Cowboy Bebop done the same for western media. Animated series like the Boondocks revel in it’s animation style while live action series like Firefly enjoy a new breed of sci-fi western storytelling.

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

On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion just seems to be another giant robots vs monsters series. However, N.G.E. plays more as an extreme character study than an action series. Besides bringing up matters of faith and self worth, the series was unrelenting in making the lives of it’s central cast as hellish as possible. The series is legendary and Evangelion’s psychological themes would go on to influence other stellar mecha Anime like Rahxephon. You might also notice a little of its mecha vs. monster magic being used to fuel a certain U.S. giant robot/monster smash fest called Pacific Rim.

#7: “Sailor Moon” (1992-97)

If Dragon Ball Z made Anime cool for the guys, the Sailor Moon made it a girls game too. Sailor Moon helped popularize the “magical girl” genre with a mix of magic, humor and of course, Sailor Suits. It’s global influence is substantial, inspiring other Magical Girl Anime like Madoka Magica. Sailor Moon focus on strong female role models can also be seen in English animation such as The Legend of Korra. It’s no wonder that Sailor Moon and her friends have found new life in a brand new adaptation, Sailor Moon Crystal. The ladies are looking just as good as ever.

#6: “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979-80)

Back when most mecha series centered on Humans fighting Aliens in giant robots, Mobile Suit Gundam was an unexpected change. Focusing on a conflict between humans, the series explored war and how it’s not so clear cut, even for the good guys. It’s a series that had children used as soldiers, took the time to show us the good and bad on both sides, and even explore genocidal actions that dominated the central plot. Almost four decades since its debut, these themes are still key factors in many entries of the Gundam Franchise. Gundam continues to inspire today, as seen in recent classics Code Geass and Aldnoah Zero.

#5: “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (1984)

When making a list like this, you have to include Hayao Miyazaki. Which film do you pick though? My Neighbor Totoro was a strong contender. In the end, we went with one of Miyazaki’s earlier classics, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Naussica’s focus on a strong female protagonist and powerful messages of environmentalism and anti war sentiments would become standard Miyazaki film elements. American films such as Ferngully and James Cameron’s Avatar would feature women at the forefront of man against nature conflicts. Along with it’s fantastical elements and gorgeous designs, it’s easy to see the universal appeal of Naussica’s voice and style.

#4: “Pokémon” (1997-)

The number one Anime for audiences of all ages. Bolstered by the popularity of its video game counterpart, Pokemon was, and continues to be, one of the most monumental titles worldwide. The story of Ash Ketchum’s quest to become the greatest Pokemon master is an inspiration to youth worldwide. The series caught on like wildfire in the United States with kids everywhere buying the merchandise and racing home after school to catch new adventures. Whether it’s the video game series or the long running anime, people will be trying to catch em’ all for years to come.

#3: “Dragon Ball” franchise (1986- )

Akira Toriyama’s quintessential shonen adventure is also one of Anime’s greatest success stories. Dragon Ball has always been a big hit in Japan and the U.S. The rapid fire action and bad ass characters like Goku and Vegeta have been the basis for several modern action Anime like Bleach and Kill La Kill. The world of cinema has even taken a stab at trying to capture the magic of Dragon Ball’s action, as seen in films like The Matrix. With a brand new series, Dragon Ball Super, and new theatrical success with Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F, Dragon Ball continues to be a resounding success worldwide.

#2: “Astro Boy” (1963)

In the beginning, there was an animator named Osamu Tezuka. His premiere masterwork, Astro Boy, focused on themes of humanity and heroism in the heart of a metal hero. These themes transcend genres and the effect Astro Boy made can be felt more than half a century later. Video game franchise Mega Man features a hero fashioned in the style of Astro. Meanwhile, Anime, such as Ghost in the Shell, continue to explore a more existential side to Astro Boy’s messages about man and machine co-existence. A shining example to animators worldwide, generations later, Astro Boy still stands as Anime’s first and most eternal hero.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few Honorable Mentions

“Ghost in the Shell” (1995)

“Speed Racer” (1967-68)

“Rose of Versailles” (1979-80)

“Voltron” (1984)

“Robotech/Macross” (1985)

#1: “Akira” (1988)

For a long time, you couldn’t talk about Anime without bringing up this title. Telling the story of a flashy but dystopian future Tokyo, Akira brought mature storytelling to the Animation scene. In an era dominated by Disney family features, Akira showed the world that animation could be just as edgy and adult as most live action feature films. Were the film live action, it would more than likely look ridiculous today, but Akira’s animation looks just as god now as it did in the 80s. The magic of Akira is felt in films such as Looper and Chronicle, both giving nods to the Anime that changed everything.

Do you agree with our list? What favorite Anime of yours do you feel left a lasting impact in the entertainment universe? For more title honoring Top 10’s published daily, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com

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