If you want to know which are the best anime of all time, then this list will show you the top titles and anime recommendations that you should be watching!
Unlike the American cartoons that are mostly in the action/adventure and comedy genre, the anime shows dwell into much serious issues often focusing on including more depth and deeper meaning to the story. Of course, there are funny anime as well as slice-of-life anime based on romance and light-hearted storylines; but there are also anime shows that focuses on supernatural and fantasy elements giving us some of the best stories to remember. Since there are tens of thousands of titles in existence, and more are being aired or undergoing production every month, we decided to give you the very best of the anime shows to watch!
The titles listed in the below list range between a number of different genres – from fantasy to romance, from comedy to action, and even psychological and thrillers. However, there’s one thing in common in all of these anime shows which is that there are the best and definitely worth your time! So, without wasting any more time, let’s get started with our top anime shows list!
Best Anime of All Time! – Updated
26. Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online is one of the best isekai anime that played a huge role in making the entire genre popular. The show focuses on Kirito, and the other players, who are trapped in a virtual reality online role-playing game without a log out option, and the only way to come out of the game and in the real world is by winning it. The show has spawned a sequel season, and a spin-off series as well, and season 3 is going to be released soon as well.
25. Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann is a show that begins in the depths of the Earth and by the finale episode, takes you to the outer space fighting giant mecha robots that are the bigger than the biggest galaxies. Follow the story of Simon and Kamina who live in a subterranean village and after finding a mecha robot sets out on a journey to go to the surface that’ll eventually lead them into the far expanse of the outer space.
Kagome is a modern-day teenage girl who is dragged through a portal that leads her 500-year in the past in feudal Japan during the violent Sengoku era. There, she meets with a half-demon, Inuyasha, and together they go on a journey to recover the shards of jewel of great power from all over Japan and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. The story is a perfect blend of action, adventure, comedy, romance and fantasy and has become one of the classics in the anime world.
Vash The Stampede is a merciless villain who’s earned the name of “The Humanoid Typhoon” as he is capable of destroying entire cities leaving a trail of death and destruction in his wake. This has earned him a bounty of $$60 billion double dollars which means there are always some bounty hunters on his tail. However, he is completely opposite of what the rumors suggest as he is a huge softie, claims to have never taken a life and avoids violence at all costs. So, what exactly is the reason of his insane bounty and how will his past affect his present and future? You’ll have to watch the anime to find out!
22. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is one of the best anime shows that I have seen because it’s quirky, violent, funny and the hip hop beats are the best. The show takes you to the Edo period of Japan where Fuu Kasumi, a young waitress saves the two samurais, Mugen and Jin, from execution for their crime of killing the local magistrate’s son. She then hires both of them as bodyguards to help her in her quest of finding a mysterious warrior. What makes the show extremely fun is the rivalry between Mugen and Jin who are always at each other’s throats, but also watch each other’s backs. Also, there’s an awesome baseball game as well in one of the episodes that makes the show all the more awesome!
21. Fairy Tail
The show begins with Lucy Heartfilia, a young girl who aspires to become a powerful wizard by joining the strongest magic guild, Fairy Tail. She meets with Natsu Dragneel, a fire dragon slayer and also a member of Fairy Tail, who invites her to join the guild. Thus begins the adventures of the duo, along with Happy, Gray Fullbuster and Erza Scarlett as they go on dangerous missions, taking out evil wizards and guilds and becoming stronger together. The third and final season of the show is going to premiere soon, so it’s time to catch up on the older episodes and get ready for the final arc to air!
20. No Game No Life
Shora and Siro are siblings who make up the legendary gamer duo under the username “Blank”. One day, they receive a mysterious email challenging them to a chess match, after which both of them are transported to another realm where they meet Tet, the God of Games. In this new world, everything is settled with games and the fundamental rule is that the players should wager something of equal value. The siblings find themselves at home in this strange new world and decide to defeat Tet, unite all the warring races and become the new Gods of this gaming world.
19. Akame ga Kill!
If you love watching action anime, then Akame ga Kill! should be on top of your watch list. The story follows Tatsumi, a country boy, who sets out on a journey to the Capital and make a name for himself so that he can help his village by sending them money. However, he meets Night Raid, a dangerous group of assassins, and joins them following certain events. Thus his journey begins as he fights against the very Empire that he sought to protect after learning the real truth about the Prime Minister and the child emperor!
If you are a fan of Minority Report, then you will love watching this anime show as the premise is more or less the same. The detectives in the show have a special weapon that is capable of determining the mental state of citizens and learn about any hints of criminal intent. The inspectors are then given the order to either rehabilitate them or to execute them right on the spot based on certain parameters. Akane Tsunemori, an honest policewoman, starts questioning and doubting this “perfect” system as she faces a criminal mastermind who’s able to elude the system easily.
17. Black Lagoon
When a Japanese businessman, Rokurou Okajima, finally gets a chance to break apart from his dull and monotonous life by going on a business trip, he’d never imagined that he’ll be captured by a mercenary group called Black Lagoon. His company abandons him when the group tries to negotiate for his life, and so Rokurou decides to join the mercenary group. As a part of the gang, he’ll have to get prepared for all the bloodshed that he’s going to witness. Black Lagoon is one of the best anime with a high-octane storytelling where Rokurou tries to hold on to his values and philosophies as he slowly transforms from a businessman to a mercenary.
If you research for the best anime of all time that everyone should watch, then Steins;Gate will always be on the list no matter which website you read. The sci-fi anime has maintained its position as one of the best thanks to it’s gripping story which not only features elements of time-travel but is also a really good thriller. The story revolves around a university student and his colleagues as they indulge in their habit of inventing “future gadgets”, with the “Phone Microwave” being their most promising invention. Things take a drastic turn when the gang finds out that the “Phone Microwave” is able to send emails in the past, altering the flow of time, and they must use this newfound power to stop an evil organization.
15. Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul is based on the best-selling manga series of the same name by author, Sui Ishida, and follow the story of a college student named Ken Kaneki. The city of Tokyo, which was once a metropolis, has become a merciless place as vicious creatures named “Ghouls”, who feed on human flesh, exist alongside the humans and the citizens live in constant fear. Ken Kaneki, through an unfortunate meeting, is attacked by a Ghoul and although he doesn’t die from the attack, he’s transformed into a half-Ghoul/half-human hybrid and is forced to adapt to this new lifestyle.
Bleach, once considered as one of the big three of the manga world, is a must watch anime show! The story focuses on Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student, who can see ghosts. Once when his family is attacked by a Hollow, a corrupt spirit that devours human souls, he encounters a Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki. After getting injured, she transfers some of her powers to Ichigo making him a Soul Reaper as well. And thus begins the story of the young high school student who trains as a Soul Reaper and soon learns that Hollows are not the only threat to the human world!
Guts, a young mercenary who was born from the corpse of his mother, is a skilled swordsman who fights everyday of his life moving from one battlefield to the next. After an encounter with the mercenary group called “Band of the Hawk”, he is recruited by their leader Griffith and quickly starts climbing the ranks proving to be a mighty addition to the group. As they battle their way to the royal court, Guts realizes that the world is not as he sees it to be, and is much different!
12. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
If you like to watch an anime with a smart main character, then Code Geass should be one of your top choices. Lelouch Lamperouge, an exiled prince of Britannia, comes into contact with a mysterious girl C.C. who bestows upon him the “Geass”, which is also known as the Power of the Kings. Realizing what his newfound power can do, Lelouch assumes a new identity as the masked vigilante, Zero, and starts plotting his revenge against the all-powerful empire of Britannia.
Gintama is a story of feudal Japan where the aliens from outer space have invaded Earth, taken over the country and established a ban on swords. Gintoki Sakata, however, is still a samurai by heart and along with his companions and an oversized pet dog, he takes up whatever job he can find which leads to various encounters that more than often lead to funny, but unfortunate, consequences. Although the show is considered as one of the best comedy anime shows, as they constantly parody scenes from many other anime shows, there are a lot of badass moments as well and also some really cool fight sequences too.
10. Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter is one of the shows that you definitely need to watch as the story is quite unique and gripping. Gon Freecss is a 12-year-old boy who, in the hopes of finding his father, decides to become a Hunter himself by taking the deadly exam with an extremely low success rate. The Hunters are basically adventurers who are extremely skilled and specializes in various fields ranging from treasure hunting and cooking and puts their lives on the line to uncover all the secrets possible. In the journey to become a Hunter, Gon makes new friends like Kurapika, Leorio and Killua, who’s the same age as Gon, and they team-up to defy all the odds and work towards realizing each other’s goals.
9. Naruto/Naruto Shippūden
Naruto Uzumaki is one of the most popular characters in the world and the hero of the best-selling manga series. The story begins with Naruto as a child who’s neglected by the entire village and struggles to find his place among the villagers. Moments before Naruto was born, a nine-tailed demon fox attacked the village, and the Fourth Hokage, the leader of the village, sealed the fox within the newborn Naruto and saved the village. This is the reason why the villagers are afraid of him and never acknowledges his presence. However, Naruto, instead of being dejected, sets a goal in his mind that he wants to become the Hokage and earn everyone’s respect and thus begins his journey where he finds new friends, becomes stronger than any ninja in all the villages and achieves what he was looking for all the time! The story has come to a conclusion, so if you’ve not watched the show, then you can binge-watch it right now and not worry about waiting for another episode.
8. Dragon Ball Z
Everyone in the world knows about Dragon Ball Z, even the ones who’ve never heard of what anime is! This is the show that drew western audiences’ attention to the east and brought the anime and manga the recognition they deserved. Dragon Ball Z is the sequel to the popular Dragon Ball show, and begins with Goku all grown up and living happily with his wife and son. However, an alien pays a visit to him revealing that he is his brother and also reveals why Goku was sent to the planet and what his objectives are. After learning that he is from another planet, Goku and his friends work hard to become strong and protect Earth from new, and powerful, threats that would soon set their sights on Earth and the any-wish granting Dragon Balls.
7. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is a show where centuries ago, the monstorous giants called Titans appeared and brought humanity to the brink of extinction. However, the last remaining humans banded together and started living peacefully within enormous concentric walls that keep the titans out. However, after 100 years of peace and no titan sightings, one day a Colossal Titan appears and shatters the impregnable walls allowing the other titans to enter the village and start devouring the humans. Eren Yeager is one of the unfortunate souls as he witnesses his mother being eaten alive by one of the titans. He then enlists himself in the Survey Corps and dedicates his life to eradicate all the titans himself. He is joined by Mikasa Ackerman, his friend Armin Arlet and other recruits in his quest to battle the titans while uncovering the secrets behind their sudden appearance.
6. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is one of the most popular and best anime of all time and it deserves all the praise it can get. The show focuses on a ragtag group of bounty hunters which include Spike Spiegel, his partner Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong and a genetically-engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi named Ein. The story takes place in the year 2071 where the humans has left the now uninhabitable surface of the planet Earth and settled on several other planets and moons. The Inter Solar System Police keeps the peace in the galaxy, and they are aided by the other bounty hunters who take up various jobs chasing bounties and collecting rewards. This anime is a high-octane show, with light-hearted comedy, and follows the adventures of the crew as they complete various missions while unraveling each other’s dark past.
5. My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is the most recent show compared to the other titles on the list, and yet, it has become extremely popular in a short number of years. All this is thanks to the amazing storytelling by Kohei Horikoshi, the author of the manga which debuted in July 2014. The story follows Izuku Midoriya who’s born without any quirks (superpowers) in a world where 80% population has quirks, but he dreams of becoming the strongest hero in the world. After a chance encounter with world’s number one hero, All Might, he is chosen to become his successor and All Might transfers his quirk to him and trains him to become a hero. Izuku then enrolls in the prestigious high school for hero training and begins his journey to realize his goal. What makes this show so popular is that it doesn’t just focus on the main character, but also focuses on the other characters and how they develop. Moreover, there aren’t any rage moments where the main character suddenly becomes so overpowered that he can defeat any villains, and everything progresses as it’s supposed to be! Moreover, not just Izuku, but the main villain also has his character developed from the scratch as he keeps becoming powerful, learning from his successes and failures, just like Izuku is doing.
4. One Punch Man
You might have reservations of watching a show whose main character is so powerful that he can defeat all his opponents with just a single punch, right? That’s the main premise of One Punch Man where the hero, Saitama, has become so powerful that he doesn’t feel anything while battling because of his enormous strength. However, the show is far from being called boring and is actually one of the best things you’d ever watch. Saitama goes from being a hero for fun, to a pro hero registered with the Hero organization and battles against and defeats villains that threaten not only his daily life, but also the entire planet. The second season of the show is announced, so you should catch up on all the available episodes to get ready for more, upcoming action!
3. Death Note
Death Note is the most recommended anime of all time, and people always recommend this title to those who want to get started. In fact, I got into anime with Death Note and there’s no stopping me now. The story, unlike other light-hearted titles on this list, is quite thrilling as it not just displays the battle of wits between two of the smartest people in the world, but also displays a lot of deaths as the main character doles out his brand of justice. The story follows a high school student and a prodigy, Light Yagami, who comes into possession of a Death Note when it’s dropped by a Shinagami in the human world. When you write someone’s name in the Death Note, they’ll die and Light, now going by the name of Kira, uses his newfound power to get rid of all the criminals and bring about a new world order. The police quickly discovers that a new serial killer is targeting just the criminals and enlists the help of the world’s best detective, L, in order to apprehend this culprit and thus begins the game of wits between two of the smartest people in the world.
2. One Piece
One Piece is the best anime show of all time and it’s been on the top spot for more than two decades now! The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy who dreams of becoming the next Pirate King and find the biggest treasure left by the previous Pirate King, the ‘One Piece’. He recruits new members in his crew, each of whom have their own goals to achieve in life, and they go on exploring new islands, fighting powerful opponents and unlocking various mysteries of the world. The story is not just about a pirate adventure because there are a lot of secrets of the world that would change everything when unveiled, and the crew soon find themselves at the center of them all as they are being targeted by the strongest people in the world including the pirates, the World Government and the Navy. The anime show, and the manga chapters, is still ongoing and it has managed to maintain the top spot defeating all the odds. If you think you won’t be able to complete watching the show since there are a lot of episodes, then I suggest you just start because once you do, you won’t be able to stop anytime soon.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
This is my favorite show, and also one of the most popular and recommended anime of all time. If someone says that they don’t like watching anime, then tell them to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and they’ll change their mind and become a lifelong fan of anime. The show follows the story of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, as they go on a worldwide search to find the mythical relic, a Philosopher’s Stone, to get back everything they’ve lost. When the brothers were kids, they performed a forbidden alchemy – the human transmutation – in order to bring their dead mother back to life and paid a huge price. Edward lost his left leg and Alphonse lost his physical body. Edward sacrifices his right arm in order to tie Alphonse’s soul to the suit of armor and he manages to get metal limbs for himself and the two brothers set out on a journey to find out an answer to get their original bodies back.
These were some of the best anime shows of all time that everyone needs to watch at least once in their lifetime! If you have just started watching anime and were looking for recommendations for the top shows, then you’ve got them now. Go on and watch these titles and then you can come back and thank us in the comments section below. Moreover, if you think that we missed out on any good titles, then do share them with us and the other readers!