Top 10 Best Anime Series of ALL TIME

Written by Brianna Lawrence and Ashley Bowman We’ve arrived at the summit of Japanese Animation. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Anime of All Time. For this list, we’re looking through the entirety of the anime history books to see which series stand out as the very best. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our best anime by decade series.
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Top 10 Anime of All Time


We’ve arrived at the summit of Japanese Animation. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Anime of All Time.

For this list, we’re looking through the entirety of the anime history books to see which series stand out as the very best. And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our best anime by decade series.

#10: Fate/Zero (2011-12)


While there was a Fate/Stay Night anime back in 2006, Fate/Zero is what really made us fans of the franchise and set the stage for future titles. Set 10 years prior to Fate/Stay Night, the stage is set for the battle to obtain the Holy Grail, an item that grants the victor any wish they desire. This series features a cast of interesting, well-developed characters, each with their own motivations for wanting the grail, and each with fantastical abilities captured in brilliantly choreographed fight scenes. It’s hard to believe that something this epic started as a hentai game.

#9: Gintama (2006-)


Speaking of retellings of the Edo period, this may be one of the funniest. Aliens are on the attack, and the Shogun bravely... surrenders when he realizes that they can’t win. This leads to the aliens taking all of the samurais’ swords, and the Edo period getting a futuristic makeover where old forcibly meets new. Perfectly timed comedy combined with this crazy premise make this one of the most hilarious series of the decade which can be surprisingly touching at times. In the middle of it all is Gintoki: a wavy haired, out-of-work samurai who reads Shonen Jump and gets upset over spilled parfaits.

#8: Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1988-97)


Based on the science fiction novels by Yoshiki Tanaka, this anime tells the story of the battle between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance. We watch the development and growth of two men: Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire and Yang Wen Li of the Free Planets Alliance. The series shows each of their stories, which makes you understand where both are coming from in their goals and ideals. It’s not just the battles that make this series memorable, it’s the participants of the war and the harsh realities that are presented throughout the series.

#7: Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-96)


You don’t watch Evangelion. You live it. Ask any anime fan and they’d tell you exactly when they experienced Eva. And if you happen to be part of the 1% who hasn’t gotten to know Shinji and why he needs to get in the damn robot, we’re pretty sure someone is going to strap you down and teach you the gospel of NGE. The series is a metaphor of sorts for Shinji growing up, complete with religious symbolism, a bunch of mecha, and that awkward teenage chemistry we all try our best to forget. Evangelion is an undisputed masterpiece.

#6: Steins;Gate (2011)


Time travel isn’t the easiest phenomenon to tackle, but this anime series manages to capture it perfectly. Sure, the power sounds great in theory, but can be confusing, and painful, to deal with, especially if you’re trying to save someone you care about. That’s the feeling we get as we watch self-proclaimed mad scientist, Rintaro Okabe, travel back multiple times in an attempt to save someone close to him. Watching him go from eccentric to desperate is quite the dizzying ride, but you’re rooting for him to succeed... no matter how much it hurts.

#5: Gurren Lagann (2007)


Have you ever watched an anime series that that gave you goose bumps every single episode? That’s our number two pick. Forced to live underground, our lead character, Simon, often leans on his best friend, Kamina, who has dreams of visiting the surface world. When Kamina convinces Simon to kick reason to the curb and join him, things get a bit... outlandish, and all of that bizarre mecha craziness is highlighted with a wild and colorful animation style – some of the best Gainax has to offer. What else can we say but: Row row, fight the powah!

#4: “One Piece” (1999-)


As stated in our best of series, One Piece is an anime titan that simply cannot be defined in a single decade – But it is certainly one of the all time greats. Standing as the best selling series in Japan, and also earning insurmountable success in the greater world, The adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates has kept the masses pondering all the big mysteries - What is One Piece? Who will be King of the Pirates? Will this series ever end? Probably not but we’re not complaining.

#3: Dragon Ball Z (1989-96)


Sure, the series started in 89, but it really got going in the 90s. Let’s face it, this was THE action anime series of the 90s... even with its laughable edits. Even non-anime fans knew who Goku was, even if it was the generalization of him having a strong set of lungs from all that yelling. The series was less about finding the dragon balls, and more about rooting for your favorite Z-fighter, in earth shattering battles. Years later, we’re still rockin’ the dragon.

#2: Cowboy Bebop (1998-99)


You always gotta start it off with Tank. Ah, Bebop, the perfect anime to introduce people to the medium and show them that anime was more than the mature rated stuff that aired on late night television. In a decade where anime was starting to make headway in the U.S., it was easy for people to label it as “weird,” but Bebop hit all the right notes with it’s fun characters, slick animation, phenomenal music, and a plot that was easy to get into. As stylish as it was entertaining, what else can we say but “See You Space Cowboy.”

HMs:

Death Note

Code Geass

JoJo Bizarre Adventure

#1: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-10)


In 2003, we were thrust into the world of alchemy, where the rule of equivelant exchange governs all. The series took us through a gauntlet of emotions with the Elric brothers, and in the end we... kind of liked the ending. Few people expected the series to be rebooted, especially after just 5 years. With Brotherhood following the manga closer, we had an even greater story to digest, new characters, more fluid fight scenes, and more heart-crushing plot points. This was definitely the definitive version of the series to watch, and what could arguably be one of the greatest stories ever told.
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