In October 2019 Makoto Shinkai’s feature film Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You) became the first anime movie to get a wide theatrical release in India. Technically, it was the first anime to play in theatres that weren’t already a popular household title like Shin-chan or Doraemon. It garnered 6.6 million rupees in opening box office collections, paving the way for anime to reach a wider audience in the country. Since then, movies like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 have performed similarly at the box office, gaining critical acclaim and being loved by the Indian masses.
Given its emerging popularity, it is tempting to watch and catch up with the most popular shows the genre has to offer. Here’s a spoiler-free introduction to some of the best anime of all time.
Best Anime Series Of All Time:
Let’s get started with the list of best anime series of all time for every anime lover:
Self-proclaimed mad scientist Okabe Rintaro accidentally discovers a method of time travel via which they can send text messages to the past. Sinister organizations with real-world parallels (CERN exists in-world) are involved while Okabe and his trusty lab members experiment with time travel. Without getting into spoilers, the tone of Steins; Gate shifts at the fifty-percent mark, raising the stakes higher than they already were. If you end up liking Steins;Gate, there is a prequel series called Steins; Gate 0 to further sate your cravings.
10. Death Note
While Death Note has polarizing reviews, it is an excellent entry point into anime itself. Light Yagami is a genius with a god complex who acquires a notebook, which kills anyone whose name is written in it. People start to notice and the world’s greatest detective L is soon on Light’s heels. What follows is a battle of wits between Light and L, each trying to outsmart the other. A common critique of Death Note is that the show loses its vision about halfway through, but the first half of the show is tight-knit and of the highest quality. New viewers will enjoy this show the most, while seasoned viewers will appreciate the religious motifs and nods to morality subtly inserted in the show.
9. Cowboy Bebop
It’s best pitched as a crossover between futuristic science fiction and 20th-century western movies. Set in the year 2071, Cowboy Bebop showcases the adventures of a bounty-hunting crew but tackles themes of loneliness and running from one’s past. Having been released in 1998, the anime became a cult classic over time, gaining universal acclaim at the time of its initial broadcast. The only reason it’s so low on our list is that modern technology allows for the development of visually better anime while not compromising on the actual content they portray.
8. One Punch Man
Saitama is a hero for fun. By sheer training the man has become absurdly strong, being able to obliterate even the mightiest of villains with a single punch. The problem is that Saitama is now bored with life and has no motivation to be a hero. That changes when Genos, a cyborg, shows up and requests Saitama to be his mentor. He also tells him about the Hero Association which Saitama finally gets interested in and decides to join. One Punch Man is full of top-notch humor and action sequences that are surprisingly well-realized for a show whose foundations are pure comedy.
7. Demon Slayer
The premise of the show is fairly straightforward. Kamado Tanjirou returns home to find his family massacred by a demon and his little sister transformed into a demon herself. He vows to train and join the Demon Slayers, avenging the deaths of people killed by demons and hoping to turn his sister back into a human. The animation is indescribably gorgeous and some shots feel hyper-realistic. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, the sequel movie to the first season broke all records and became the highest-grossing Japanese film in history, surpassing the iconic Spirited Away by a margin of more than $100M, which just contributes to the reasons to watch it.
6. Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen is your typical shonen anime, which combines all the elements found in the genre and offers it in a beautiful package. Yuji Itadori swallows a cursed object – the finger of a demon – and inherits the ability to use the in-world magic known as Jujutsu Sorcery. He then trains amongst fellow sorcerers and sets on a quest to find and consume all parts of the demon, which would enable its exorcism. Only a single season of the show comprising 24 episodes is out so far, but it immediately became a fan favorite upon release and the production quality is expected to be increasingly higher in the forthcoming seasons.
5. Attack on Titan
Adapted from Hajime Isamaya’s manga that took the world by storm, the Attack of Titan anime has established itself as one of the best anime of the decade. It’s set in a world where humanity is driven to near extinction by giant titans, the survivors living secluded within the safety of impenetrable walls. The show offers one of the best takes on themes of humanity and the effects of war ever seen in any medium. This is a great time to catch up with the show as the final part of the final season is scheduled to release in 2023. AoT currently has 86 episodes out.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (FMAB) is a reboot of its predecessor Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA). It follows its source material more closely and also revamps the animation style. FMAB is a story of two brothers on a journey to reclaim their physical bodies after a ritual to bring their mother back from the dead goes horribly wrong. The highlight of the show is its magic system Alchemy, which involves the transmutation of matter within the bounds of well-defined laws. With just 64 episodes, the show tells a complete story, managing to tie most of its loose ends, executing an ending that feels justified and earned.
3. One Piece
Monkey D. Luffy is a young pirate who dreams of finding the treasure known as “One Piece” and becoming the king of pirates. As a child, he accidentally eats the Devil Fruit, turning his body into rubber. We follow the adventures of Luffy and his crew as they sail in search of this treasure, visiting different lands and encountering people of different cultures, all of whom feel extremely well-realized and fleshed out. There are several parallels to the “hero’s journey” theme often found in the fantasy genre. Be warned though: the anime as well as the manga it’s adapted from are still ongoing, and they’re not expected to end anytime soon either. As of August 2022, the show has a whooping 1026 episodes released. Regardless, it’s loved and cherished by almost everyone who is following it, earning a rating of 8.9/10 on IMDb based on 120k reviews.
2. Dragon Ball Z
The plot needs no introduction for this one as it’s probably a familiar name, having aired on television in Hindi. Dragon Ball Z and all its spin-offs were loved by children, the plot often being a matter of discussion on the commute to school. Even the merchandise was popular; the main characters Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta ornamented several pencil boxes and bags. The nostalgia factor aside, the show brings an invigorating experience to the table. At 291 episodes, Dragon Ball Z is a fairly approachable anime to watch as a stepping stone to several longer works, some even deriving tropes from it.
Considered by many to be the “granddaddy of anime”, Naruto and its spin-offs really do contain everything an anime can possibly offer. The series follows Naruto, a ninja whose goal is to become the Hokage; the leader of his village. This one-line summary barely scratches the surface though, as the show is just so expansive. Naruto and its spin-off Naruto Shippuden collectively span a whooping 720 episodes, giving the viewer the best of everything, be it plot, characters, worldbuilding, or general themes dealt with in the show. The pivotal moments of the anime land flawlessly and the viewers root for the characters at every turn. Completing the anime is extremely satisfying and it stays with you for a long, long time.
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