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The 37 best anime series of all time, ranked

From classics like Pokémon to Neon Genesis Evangelion and action-heavy picks like My Hero Academia these are the best anime of all time.

Best anime series: Luffy, naruto, Sailor Moon, and Goku

What are the best anime of all time? Originating back in 1917 and later becoming an unstoppable international phenomenon in the ’80s, anime is a Japanese art form that truly is like no other.

Producing some of the best TV series ever made, the form constantly sparks the imagination and amazes viewers. From cute anime characters to action-packed fights and brutal anime villains, it’s a medium that literally everyone can enjoy. But with a century’s worth of content to get through, let’s be honest: finding the best anime series of all time is a daunting task. So, we here at The Digital Fix have taken up the challenge. Below, we’ve battled through all the filler and increased our power levels to bring you the best anime to add to your watch list right now.

Best anime: Koro-sensei teaching a student who is trying to kill him with a knife in Assassination Classroom

37. Assassination Classroom (2015-2016)

Assassination Classroom has everything that I personally love about anime. It has high stakes, tragic backstories, and some downright silly personalities to keep things light and fun throughout its impending doom narrative. What more could you want?

Telling the story of a seemingly unbeatable alien, the anime follows a class of outcasts who are tasked with assassinating the creature (who is now their homeroom teacher) before he destroys the world. The fate of humanity rests in these teens’ hands, and so does the pressure of graduation. This shounen anime has action and smart humor but also shows us each character’s personal growth.

So yeah, if you don’t get swept away by the story or style, trust us: you will still fall in love with all these students and their eccentric, squishy teacher.

Best anime: Kaguya-sama Love is War

36. Kaguya-Sama: Love is War (2019 – Present)

Ever heard the phrase that love is a battlefield? Well, the hilarious anime Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes that saying to heart and shows us a unique romance anime where a confession with your crush becomes a strategic minefield.

Set in the senior high school division of the prestigious Shuchiin Academy, the student council president Miyuki and Vice President Kaguya are the perfect couple on paper. So why aren’t they dating? Simple: neither want to lose by confessing first.

The standoff leads to giggle-inducing mind games as both teens try to trick each other into asking the other out. With bold personalities and this original take on first love, Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is a guaranteed good time. Also, it has one of the best dubs around! Check out our guide to the Kaguya-Sama: Love is War season 4 release date for more information.

Best anime: JoJo and Dio in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

35. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012-Present)

OK, let’s start off by saying that when it comes to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, we recommend the entire franchise instead of a single series. This is due to two reasons, the first being that every outing in this series is amazing in its own right, and the second reason is that there were too many fights among The Digital Fix team to pick a clear winner.

And it’s no wonder we are all so passionate about this anime, considering its massive impact, both on the shounen genre and the anime meme community today. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure follows different generations of the Joestar family. Each breakout series follows a new descendant blessed with a star-shaped birthmark and exists in a world filled with supernatural forces and beings.

While every protagonist has their own identity, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure always delivers vibrant fight scenes, delightfully dramatic art styles, and some of the most iconic music in anime today.

Best anime: Riko and her friends in Made in Abyss

34. Made in Abyss (2017-present)

If you love Studio Ghibli movies and are looking for an adventure-driven anime for beginners, then Made in Abyss is the perfect choice. But be warned, despite its cute art style, this anime isn’t for kids, as psychological horror elements are often woven into the story. And to be fair, the horror aspects of the show make sense, given the fact it is about a giant hole filled with secrets.

Made in Abyss centers around the orphaned girl Riko, who lives in a town that surrounds an incredibly large and deep pit known as the Abyss. The hole is regularly explored due to it holding artifacts from an ancient civilization. However, after Riko ventures into the dark to find her mother, she has to face all the dangers that are lurking deep in the shadows. This anime shows childlike wonder in contrast with pure horror and is a too often overlooked masterpiece.

best anime: Denji transformed in the Chainsaw Man anime

33. Chainsaw Man (2022 – Present)

Chainsaw Man may have only hit our small screens in 2022, but already, it has established itself as one of the most exciting new anime series around. It’s gory, fast-paced, and fully captures how exciting, horrific, and just downright fun anime can truly be.

Based on author Tatsuki Fujimoto’s manga of the same name, Chainsaw Man follows the life of Denji, who, after his adorable devil dog Pochita saves his life, can transform sections of his body into chainsaws. Yes, it sounds mental, but trust us, this show is as gnarly and just downright cool as they come.

With devils being maimed, Denji’s hilarious side-quest to get laid, and plenty of supernatural conflict –Chainsaw Man is already a classic, and personally, we can’t wait until the Chainsaw Man season 2 release date.

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32. Mob Psycho 100 (2016 – 2022)

Mob Psycho 100 is a near-perfect series and also has one of the best endings you’ll ever see in anime, period. It’s a show that every fan can easily fall in love with, thanks to its captivating coming-of-age story, complex characters, and enduring art style.

If you haven’t heard about Mob Psycho already via the internet or on your Crunchyroll recommendation lists, it’s a show that centers around a middle-schooler named Shigeo Kageyama, who is emotionally repressed and has immense psychic powers at his disposal. As he faces obstacles and meets supernatural entities, Shigeo is forced to grow both psychically and emotionally.

Basically, Mob Psycho 100 may be simple in its premise, but its execution makes it a modern masterpiece that you need to see at least once in your lifetime.

Best anime: Komi shivering with nerves in Komi Can't Communicate

31. Komi Can’t Communicate (2021 – 2022)

If you want a series that is wholesome and is a perfect anime for beginners, then Komi Can’t Communicate is the pick for you. The Netflix anime series gives you all the feel-good storylines that we love from sitcoms, paired with hilarious characters and a cute art style.

Komi Can’t Communicate follows Komi, a beautiful girl with a severe communication disorder. Komi is often misunderstood and can’t say a word to her peers. However, despite her shyness, Komi has one dream – to have 100 friends. So, with the help of her classmate Tadano, we see Komi overcome her fears and work hard towards achieving her social butterfly goals.

While anime set in high school isn’t for everyone, disliking Komi Can’t Communicate is impossible. The series is adorable and reminds us to keep trying our best.

Best anime: Kenzo in Monster holding a gun in the rain

30. Monster (2004 – 2005)

Adapted by the studio behind Death Note, Madhouse, Monster is one of the best-crafted pieces of storytelling you’ll ever see. The series follows the story of the surgeon Kenzo Tenma, whose life turns upside down once one of his former patients, John Liebert, is revealed to be a cold-blooded serial killer who wants to watch the world burn.

The show is dark; it is gritty and deeply psychological. It is also one of the best gateways into anime since it’s a prime example of how vast and misunderstood the medium is. Yes, giant robots bashing each other and colorful animal sidekicks are super cool, but anime can tell real-world stories. It isn’t just about power levels or cheeky fan service. Truly, Monster is the kind of show you can recommend to anyone and also one that everyone who tunes into it will enjoy.

Best anime: Ryo in Yuji's body in Jujutsu Kaisen

29. Jujutsu Kaisen (2020 – Present)

Jujutsu Kaisen is one of the most exciting new anime series out right now, and if you are a big Shounen action fan, here is a title you’ll want to jump on immediately. The show is centered around a secret organization called Jujutsu Sorcerers, whose main goal is to eradicate curses from the world.

But the lines between right and wrong are blurred once the high school student Yuji Itadori becomes the host of one of the most powerful curses around – Ryomen Sukuna. Yuji is basically told he is dead either way and decides to help the organization resurrect Ryomen in order to kill it once and for all. From its art, likable characters, and foreboding themes, Jujutsu Kaisen is an amazing watch for those who love to get their adrenaline going.

Best anime: Utena and Anthy in Revolutionary Girl Utena

28. Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)

If you are a fan of shows like Steven Universe or She-Ra, then Revolutionary Girl Utena may seem familiar, thanks to how much it influenced all your modern favs. It is surreal, beautiful, and one of the weirdest series in anime, period.

And when we say weird, we mean it. There is even an episode of someone laying an egg, so if you aren’t avant-garde inclined, you better skip to the next entry now. If you are still keen, it is important to remember that while Revolutionary Girl Utena is a story following the teenage girl Utena Tenjou in her quest to sword fight her way to win the hand of the Rose Bride, it relies heavily on metaphors and symbolism.

Utena constantly fights gender norms, safeguards women, and is dedicated to revolutionizing the world. It was an anime that was ahead of its time and has rightfully cemented itself in the genre’s history as one of the greats.

Best anime series: Digimon Adventures

27. Digimon Adventure (1999)

The popularity of Pokémon in the late ’90s saw a number of TV networks jump on the monster-based anime bandwagon, with mixed success. One show that did manage to take root in the West, though, was Digimon Adventure.

The show followed seven kids, known as the DigiDestined, who were transported to the Digital World in order to save it from nefarious forces bent on conquering the cybernetic paradise. To do so, the kids were given a partner Digimon and special Digivices, which allowed them to tap into the power of Digivolution. (That’s a lot of ‘Digi’.)

On the surface, Digimon Adventure seemed like a Pokémon rip-off, but it’s nothing could be further from the truth. Digimon Adventure is a surprisingly layered show about the power of friendship, which boasts some really impressive character work and imaginative action scenes well beyond anything the earlier  Pokémon seasons were doing.

Best anime series; Shaman King

26. Shaman King’ (2001 – 2005)

Shaman King hooked us with an incredible English-language opening theme, but this series has a lot more going for it than a kickass song. Set in a world where Shaman — psychics who are capable of talking to the dead and using them for Shaman fights —  exist, the anime follows Yoh, a young medium who sets out to become the Shaman King.

It’s pretty standard anime stuff, really, but where Shaman King excelled was in its weird and wacky character design. No two ghosts that Yoh and his friends use for battle are the same, and they come in a variety of ‘flavors.’ From noble samurai and evil nurses to Eldritch horrors from beyond the universe, Shaman King’s ghosts always had the most.

Best anime: Hunter x Hunter

25. Hunter x Hunter (2011 – 2014)

Hunter x Hunter is one of the most famous anime series in existence, with a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim behind its name. It isn’t often that we all agree that something is great, but Hunter x Hunter proves to be one of the few shows everyone loves.

The story is dramatic, with a clear goal. Gon Freecss learns that his estranged father was a legendary hunter and becomes determined to follow in his footsteps and eventually surpass the man who abandoned him. Directed by Hiroshi Kōjina, the 2011 series of Hunter x Hunter restarts the entire story instead of following on from the original ‘90s anime.

The result is a new and improved series that is more accurate to the manga. It’s more focused – giving us more character development and plot payout. This is a near-perfect show and the perfect pick for anime newbies to start off with.

Best anime: Samurai Champloo

24. Samurai Champloo (2004 – 2005)

Samurai Champloo is incredibly fun to watch and is packed with chilled vibes. Now, you may be wondering how an anime with swordfights set in Edo period Japan is “chill.” But, we promise that this show is a delicate and delightfully unstructured story that focuses on tradition and culture, melded with music composed by hip-hop artists Shinji “Tsutchie,” Fat Jon, Nujabes, and Force of Nature.

Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, the anime follows the tea waitress Fuu, outlaw Mugen, and samurai Jin. Taking its cues from the road movie genre, we see the trio set out on a journey to find a samurai who smells of sunflowers. Along the way, the gang meets friends and foes and learns tolerance as well as what it means to accept death. This isn’t an emotional hard hitter but is a relaxing watch that will blow you away with its style and general vibes.

Best anime: Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion

23. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006)

If you are a fan of Shakespeare or ancient Greek tragedies, then the anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is a must-watch. The series follows the exiled prince Lelouch vi Britannia, who, after obtaining the power of absolute obedience, leads a rebellion against the Holy Britannia Empire. There is drama, mecha battles, and morally dubious characters everywhere you turn.

In short, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is peak entertainment. It should also be noted that Lelouch is one of the best anti-heroes in the entire genre whose downfall and poetic redemption will stick in your mind for years to come. There is a reason why folks still talk about this story constantly, so what are you waiting for? It’s time to join the Zero fan club.

Best anime: Steins Gate

22. Steins Gate (2011 – 2012)

Steins Gate is an often-overlooked anime by fans despite its critical acclaim due to misconceptions around its pacing. Now, granted, the first few episodes have almost a slice-of-life feel to them as the plot is set up, but trust us, Steins Gate’s story is worth all your patience.

Based on the visual novel of the same name, the plot revolves around the self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintaro Okabe, whose dealings with time traveling send him and his friends down a dark path leading to madness and trauma. As the show progresses, the characters’ facades are broken down, despair and past experiences are exposed, and mysteries keep you hooked.

Steins Gate is a captivating viewing experience, and we’d recommend watching it at least twice to let the story wash over you fully. There are constant observations and psychological character reasons to pick up on. Give it an honest shot, and you’ll feel invested and satisfied by the end.

Best anime: Spy x Family

21. Spy x Family (2022 – Present)

Spy x Family is one of the newest anime titles on this list, but it has already marked itself as one of the best series to come out of 2022. Based on the manga by Tatsuya Endo, Spy x Family has something to offer every anime fan, whether they love shounen troupes, comedy, or hits of romance.

A secret agent, code-named Twilight, is tasked to spy on Donovan Desmond, the leader of the National Unity Party, who threatens the peace with our hero’s home, Westalis. The only way to get close to him is through enrolling a kid at the private school attended by Donovan’s son. So Twilight ends up adopting a child and enters a fake marriage as his cover. The only problem is his new daughter can read minds, and his wife is an assassin.

Seeing the trio become an unlikely family, try and hide secrets from each other, and save the day is great. Truly, Spy x Family can be enjoyed no matter what mood you’re in, and it has become one of the best go-to feel-good shows you can watch right now. We can’t wait for the Spy x Family season 2 release date!

Best anime: Sailor Moon

20. Sailor Moon (1992 – 1997)

Who doesn’t love a magical girl anime every now and again? Few series are as iconic as Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon, with the show becoming a pop culture staple since its release. Even folks who don’t know anime know Sailor Moon, thanks to the series’ eye-catching designs and likable characters.

Usagi Tsukino is your typical middle school teen who dreams of romance. However, her life is turned upside down once she and her friends unlock their powers and become the Earth’s protectors against evil. Sailor Moon is light-hearted fun but also shows fans a parallel between Usagi embracing responsibility with her new powers and growing up as a whole. Basically, this anime is a coming-of-age tale that whacks you over the head with optimistic characters, pretty lights, and plenty of action.

Best anime: Hellsing Ultimate

19. Hellsing Ultimate (2006 – 2012)

Hellsing Ultimate is an action anime like no other, especially if you are a vampire movie fan or an avid player of the Wolfenstein video game franchise. The show tells the story of the secret Hellsing Organization, whose sole purpose is to destroy ghouls, bloodsuckers and protect England. However, their main weapon against the monsters is none other than the Vampire Alucard.

Now using a monster against its own kind may seem odd, but Alucard is the world’s only hope once the organization discovers a Nazi group intent on conquering the world with the help of a battalion of vampire soldiers. Hellsing Ultimate is wild and bloody, and unlike the first 2001 anime series, Hellsing, it follows the original manga’s storyline closely. No matter your mood, it will get your blood pumping, and the carnage will make you gasp.

Best anime: Mushishi

18. Mushishi (2005 – 2014)

Based on Yuki Urushibara’s manga, Mushishi sees the man Ginko travel around Japan, protecting people from supernatural creatures called Mushi. Set between the Edo and Meiji periods, the show doesn’t put boxes around good or evil but instead shows these creatures as beings just trying to survive. There are no hulking monsters, no nightmares. Instead, we get antagonists similar to primitive life forms such as fungi or bacteria.

It is a unique outlook for a story and manages never to leave you shaking in your boots. This is what makes Mushishi stand out in the genre as it is oddly calming and cozy despite its supernatural elements that you can watch, no matter your mood or the occasion. On top of its stellar tone and atmosphere, Mushishi is intriguing and pulls viewers in with its references to folklore and Asian legends. So, a winner all around.

Best anime: Berserk

17. Berserk (1997 – 1998)

Berserk is another entry on our list that truly has it all. Do you want in-depth characters with heart-wrenching backstories? A killer soundtrack? How about some dark and gory fights that make you leave your morals at the door? Well, Berserk gives you that perfect combination.

Following the story of a beefy anti-hero to end all anti-heroes, Guts, the anime is a tale of survival and reflection. Every belief Guts holds is challenged as he cuts his way through Midland. Warning, though, this show isn’t for the faint-hearted. I mean, Guts himself was born from a corpse that was left hanging from a tree, so brace yourselves before diving into this masterpiece.

16. Parasyte: The Maxim (2014 – 2015)

Based on Hitoshi Iwaaki’s manga, here is a horror anime that is recognized as one of the best spooky series you can find. Shinichi Izumi is your typical high school student until alien parasitic creatures (aptly named Parasites) invade the earth.

One night, Izumi prevents a flesh-eating parasite from taking over his brain, causing the alien to gain control of his hand instead. The two strike a deal, agreeing to share Izumi’s body and go about killing fully formed parasites before more innocent civilians fall victim to the otherworldly beings.

The anime is violent, super existential, and has a banging score. By the end of its season-long runtime, it makes us question who are the true parasites. Seeing Izumi’s character development is also one of the best narrative payoffs.

Starting as a weak character, we see his thought process shift, and his experiences affect him on a deep level, seamlessly crafting a complex emotional journey intertwined with enjoyable scares and gore.

Best anime series: My Hero Academia

15. My Hero Academia (2016 – Present)

Shockingly, in a world where superpowers are plentiful, some use them to be terrible people. My Hero Academia is about a particularly bright group of students who want to thwart these evildoers and become the greatest heroes on Earth in the process.

Deku is the protagonist, a boy born without a Quirk who inherits the powers of All Might, the manga’s Superman analog. We follow him and his closest friends as they engage in increasingly colorful battles with an array of villains. Charming, heart-warming, and occasionally a little inspiring, too.

Best anime series: Ouran High School Host Club

14. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Sometimes, you just want a wholesome and fun anime that is guaranteed to make you smile. This romance series is charmingly ridiculous, taking every Shojo stereotype you can think of and amping it up to 100.

It follows the misadventures of the Ouran Host Club, a group of the most handsome students in the school who have too much free time on their hands and serve their female classmates for a price. Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student, accidentally breaks a priceless vase and is forced to join the club as a host to repay her debt.

The series is hilarious, delightfully absurd, and pokes fun at otaku culture. Every episode is more elaborate than the next, and in terms of an enduring satire that makes fun of overused romance manga tropes, it’s an anime that you just can’t beat.

13. One-Punch Man (2015 – Present)

People who don’t like anime usually give the following reasons: the fight scenes are too crazy, the characters are too dramatic, and everything just looks too bizarre. Well, One-Punch Man has all of those qualities and really makes a point of it in the best possible way, giving us one of the funniest and most self-aware anime out there right now.

Saitama is a bald superhero who can beat any opponent with just one punch. While that sounds amazing on paper, it has caused the hero to feel immensely bored and desperate to find a worthy opponent who can give him a proper fight.

For any fans of the Shounen genre, One-Punch Man lovingly makes hilarious jabs at every trope in the book. From over-the-top speeches, silly obsessions with power levels, and a chaotic art style, it is a superhero story that we have never seen before. Seriously, we can’t wait for One-Punch Man season 3.

Best anime: Mononoke

12. Mononoke (2007)

One of the best horror anime around, Mononoke is a beautifully animated but incredibly eerie show that centers around grim tales and ghost stories. It follows a mysterious man called the ‘Medicine Seller’ who seeks out and destroys revengeful spirits called Mononoke, who latch onto troubled humans.

The series is structured as a collection of individual stories, with each new case diving into the nightmarish surrealism of the character’s psyches. With its amazing script, 17th-century Japanese hand-painted aesthetics, and chaotic atmosphere, Mononoke is a must-watch experience. It really is like watching a nightmare come to life in the most unsettling yet strangely beautiful way.

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11. Demon Slayer (2019 – Present)

If you’re an anime fan, chances are that you’ve already become a devoted follower of Tanjiro and the Demon Slayer Corp, just like us at The Digital Fix. Demon Slayer is one of the highest-grossing media franchises for a reason: it’s just that good. Based on the manga of the same name by Koyoharu Gotouge, it is an anime that combines Japanese mythology, straight fantasy, and touches of horror with classic Shonen tropes.

Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro’s journey to defeat the demon king Muzan Kibutsuji and find a cure for his sister after she is infected with Muzan’s blood. Throughout the series, we see the Demon Slayer characters face off against the undead, navigate morally grey backstories, and explore how humanity can both be broken and restored.

So, if you love action, quality writing, and a few decapitations, then this is the perfect pick for you. You can also check out our guide on everything we know about Demon Slayer season 4 as we wait anxiously for Tanjiro’s quest to continue.

Best anime series: Naruto

10. Naruto (2002- 2007)

The story of Naruto Uzumaki and his quest to become the Hokage was an iconic 2000s anime, and no list is complete without Konoha’s Number One Knuckle Head Ninja. Sure, it was a basic battle anime, but what made the show truly special were the Naruto characters.

Series creator Masashi Kishimoto managed to create such a wonderful cast full of lovable heroes and loathable villains (Although we’ve got a soft spot for a few Akatsuki members) that it’s impossible not to be charmed Naruto. Believe it!

Best anime series: Pokémon

9. Pokémon (1997 – Present)

The most successful video game adaptation of all time, Pokémon is an adorable classic about perseverance and friendship. It is also full of the cutest critters you’ll ever see in any form of media, animated or not (shout out to all the Bulbasaur fans). Set in the colorful world seen in each video game, the anime is full of childlike wonder, has a beautiful innocence to it, and is generally smile-inducing.

The show centers around aspiring Pokémon masters Ash and Pikachu, traveling around the globe on a mission to battle their way to the top and catch all the wild Pokémon they can find. The duo is joined by a rotating cast of wacky companions and faces Team Rocket’s enduring evil schemes during their adventures.

From its whimsical art to Team Rocket’s iconic catchphrase and featuring some of the best character designs you’ll ever see, Pokémon is an unforgettable series and comes with some great Pokémon movies, too.

Best anime series: Death Note

8. Death Note (2006 – 2007)

The saying ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ has never applied to anything as perfectly as it applies to Death Note. A psychological thriller, Death Note is a beloved series that intertwines crime and supernatural forces and is hyper-focused on a tense battle of wits between two geniuses.

Light Yagami finds a Death Note, a book held by Death Gods (Shinigami) that causes people to die when their names are written down on it. He decides to use the book to target criminals, becoming a supernatural vigilante. As people start dropping like flies, the media dubs him Kira, and eventually, a task force led by an eccentric detective called L begins to hunt him down.

The writing in the anime has plenty of twists and turns, making you question your own morals and bringing a fresh new take on the thriller genre.

Best anime series: Dragon Ball z

7. Dragon Ball Z (1989 – 1996)

Speaking about the best shounen anime, you have to mention the king of that subgenre, Dragon Ball Z. Although we had a tough time picking which Dragon Ball series to put on this list, as we love them all (except GT, sorry monkey fans), you just can’t beat the general kookiness of Dragon Ball Z. For many of us, the series was our gateway into anime in general.

Set in a dystopian world, there are seven dragon balls that, once gathered, can summon the all-mighty dragon Shenron, who will grant whoever calls him a wish. The immense power of the Dragon Balls attracts evil forces regularly, and Goku, a Saiyan who is obsessed with food and fighting, must act as Earth’s protector. The series is full of action and enduring characters that’ll make you invested in the entire story — even the filler episodes (seriously, you need to rewatch all of Dragon Ball in order again).

Best anime series: Fruit Baskets

6. Fruit Baskets (2019)

In 2019, anime fans got to see the reboot of one of the best romance anime series around, Fruit Baskets. And guess what? The show is better than ever. Here is a shojo anime that reminds us just how likable and wholesome this genre can be – giving us humor, cute relationships, and enough conflict that you’re still at the edge of your seat with each episode.

The anime tells the story of Tohru Honda, who begins living in a house with her popular classmate Yuki Sohma and his cousin Shigure. However, once she meets another relative of the mysterious family Kyo, she soon discovers that her new roomies are possessed by the spirits of the Chinese zodiac.

The characters in Fruit Baskets all have pretty tragic backstories, but with its expert writing and tone, this anime stays optimistic while dealing with heavy themes such as shame, jealousy, and fighting against fate.

Best anime series: Cowboy Bebop

5. Cowboy Bebop (1998 – 1999)

Who doesn’t love a good old Western set in space? A noir-esque, intergalactic, action-driven show, Cowboy Bebop is a beautifully animated series full of intriguing characters and touching storylines. It is moody, full of genuinely funny jokes, and has one of the best soundtracks you will hear in any anime.

Set in 2071, where crime rates are rising, and space travel is the norm, we follow a group of bounty hunters led by Spike Spiegel, an exiled hitman with a mysterious past. Besides fast-paced adventures, the series has strong themes surrounding loss, which every crew member in the cast has gone through in some capacity.

This interpersonal drama, paired with Cowboy Bebop’s high-flying action scenes, makes the anime fun but weirdly relatable at the same time. There is also a cute corgi among the ranks of the bounty-hunting gang (Ine is the bestest boy), which is always a plus in our books.

Best anime series: Attack on Titan

4. Attack on Titan (2013 -2023)

It is hard to find someone who doesn’t adore or at least respect Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan. Yes, at first glance, it may seem like another shounen anime, but here is a show that expertly explores themes of war, oppression, and classism.

Attack on Titan follows three friends who fight against gargantuan humanoid monsters, known as Titans, and other threats that exist outside of their city’s impressive walls. Every Attack on Titan character stands out, but Eren Yeager’s story proves to be one of the most exciting and complex arcs in anime today. Also, the visuals in Attack on Titan are downright stunning, and every fight scene is perfectly captured for our small screens.

Best anime series: Luffy from One Piece

3. One Piece (1999 – Present)

You knew that we couldn’t talk about the best anime series without mentioning the aspiring king of the Pirates. One Piece is widely considered one of the best TV series ever made, and for a good reason.

Telling the story of a rubber-limbed One Piece character, Captain Monkey D. Luffy, and his zany crew, The Straw Hat Pirates, the show revolves around Luffy’s seemingly never-ending mission to find Gol D. Roger’s treasure (The One Piece).

It’s a story that never gets stale and builds up a gripping and imaginative world that captures a sense of adventure and fun, making it an easy watch for both anime newbies and veterans alike. One Piece is a show full of comedy, drama, and as all its new episodes prove (even the One Piece filler episodes), it is also a series that just keeps getting better over time.

Best anime series: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

2. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009 – 2010)

Nothing beats a well-crafted story, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood knows how to keep viewers engaged. Everything in the anime works together to build a detailed fantasy world, mixing heart-racing fight sequences with intricate storylines. The show’s structure makes viewers really care about all the characters’ fates and futures – Also, the magic system in the anime is pretty sick.

A faithful adaptation that directly follows the events from Hiromu Arakawa’s Fullmetal Alchemist manga, the anime centers around brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric, who both have an affinity for alchemy. After failing to bring back their dead mother, Al’s body is obliterated, and Edward sacrifices his arm to bring back his brother’s soul.

To regain their bodies, the two begin a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone, uncovering secrets and conspiracies along the way. The series has some striking moments and depicts a world that feels alive, full of history and subtext, informing all the characters’ decisions. Truly a great piece of storytelling, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a must-watch.

Best anime series: Evangelion

1. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995 – 1996)

An iconic show whose deep and meaningful story is as action-packed as it is profound, you’ll struggle to find a better piece of storytelling than Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Trying to explain the amazing story of this anime briefly is tricky due to how deep and meaningful its plot truly goes. But the main gist is that in a dystopian version of Tokyo, a young boy, Shinji, must pilot a bio-mech named Evangelion and battle destructive beings called Angels, who are hell-bent on destroying humanity.

Besides being wildly entertaining with all its mass destruction, Evangelion is also a powerful personal reflection of mental health. The series shows how depression manifests and (depending on which of the show’s two endings you decide to latch onto) how it feels to overcome the arduous journey to self-acceptance.

There are also giant mechs fighting some bizarre-looking monsters every other episode, so what more could you want?

Those are the best anime series. If you’d like to catch up on some staples, read our guide on where to watch Pokemon, One Piece, and Dragon Ball. Or, take a look at our lists of the best Netflix anime and all the top anime movies around.

We also have guides on how to watch all of One Piece in order, and all of Naruto in order. Finally, check out our lists of the best movies of all time and all the new movies released this year.