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30 Best Anime Shows Of All Time Ranked

With so many different genres to choose from, creating a definitive list of the best anime series of all time is no simple task. A show that one viewer sees as being ultraviolent for the sake of it is a masterclass in realism to another. Slice-of-life shows don't appeal to everyone, but to some, there's nothing more comforting. Huge robots doing battle is a bore to many, while others buzz off the idea. From shonen, seinen, and shoujo to mecha, harem, and the ever-popular isekai, there really is something for everyone in the world of anime. However, there's a handful of special shows that transcend the trappings of their genres, and it's those universal crowdpleasers we're going to look at today. From seminal shows that inspired generations of fans and creators to the modern-day classics that stand as a shining example of the medium, we're ranking the 30 best anime series of all time.

Updated on February 16, 2022: Whether you're into horror, cooking, or sci-fi action, new anime series are coming out all the time. Check back here regularly as we'll keep this list updated with new anime series that have become instant classics.

30. Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World

"Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World" actually started its own life as fan fiction on the website Shousetsuka ni Narou, inspired by the light novel series "The Familiar of Zero." It follows a hikikomori (a Japanese term for modern-day hermits who cut themselves off from society) who's suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into a fantasy world. Natsuki Subaru rarely leaves his home, only venturing outside for supplies. He's on his way back from his local convenience store one day when he's transported to a land inhabited by elves, witches, and all manner of magical creatures. He's killed not long after arriving in the Kingdom of Lugnica (one of the Four Great Nations in the "Re:Zero" world), but he regenerates, leading him to the realization that he can alter the past by dying in the present.

With this knowledge, Natsuki decides to help a half-elf named Emilia, who befriended him upon his arrival in this strange new world. She's a contender for the throne of Lugnica, and his powers of regeneration come in very useful. It might sound like your typical isekai, but it's refreshingly self-aware. When he first pops up in Lugnica, Natsuki says, "Is this one of those isekai summoning things?" In fact, the success of "Re:Zero" is partly what led to the isekai boom in the first place. As the Anime News Network explained, "'Konosuba' and 'Re:Zero' proved that Narou isekai novels specifically were worth investing in." 

29. Elfen Lied

"Elfen Lied" follows a Diclonius (a mutated species of human with invisible telekinetic appendages known as Vectors) by the name of Lucy. The story begins when Lucy escapes from the government facility she's being housed in, brutally killing many of her captors in the process. She's injured during the escape, however, and she develops a split personality as a result. While Lucy has been hardened by the inhumane experimentation she was subjected to behind closed doors, her second personality (Nyu) is sweet and innocent. It's this side of her that Kouta and Yuka — the sympathetic locals who give her shelter — get to know. Together, they aim to protect their new friend from the government agents hunting her down.

If the plot sounds remarkably similar to "Stranger Things," that's no accident. The anime was "really influential," co-creator Matt Duffer told The Daily Beast. "When I watched it, I thought it felt like an ultraviolent 'E.T.' There were a lot of things in there that I really liked and that made their way into the show, particularly related to the character of Eleven." The Duffers weren't the only ones to fall in love with the series. It became a big crossover hit when it arrived in the States in the mid-'00s, and while its popularity has waned somewhat in the years since (largely due to the fact that fans feel as though 13 episodes just wasn't enough), it's still a seminal show that shouldn't be missed.

28. Paranoia Agent

The only original anime series from the late, great Satoshi Kon (the genius behind such feature films as "Perfect Blue," "Millennium Actress," "Tokyo Godfathers," and "Paprika"), 2004's "Paranoia Agent" is a unique tale that follows a large group of people who've all been affected by the same social phenomenon. It begins when stressed-out character designer Tsukiko Sagi is attacked by a baseball bat-wielding child thug while walking home late one evening. She doesn't see the face of her assailant; all she knows is that he was around elementary school age, wore a pair of golden rollerblades, and had a bent, golden baseball bat for a weapon.

It's an unlikely story, and as such, the cops don't believe her, assuming that the character designer's overly active imagination is simply running wild. When further attacks start happening and the victims describe what seems to be the same boy, however, the authorities are forced to take it seriously. Fear of being attacked by Shonen Bat (or Lil' Slugger in the English version) starts to spread, and we're given a window into the lives of his unrelated victims. With just 13 episodes, this show is perfect for binging, and it still hits as hard today. "Anime auteur Satoshi Kon brings his feverish vision to the serialized form in 'Paranoia Agent,' a disturbing meditation on individual and societal anxiety," reads the Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, where it holds a perfect 100% rating.

27. Pokemon

No Japanese export has impacted pop culture in the way that "Pokemon" has. What began as a pair of twin games on Nintendo's original Game Boy quickly grew into the highest-grossing media franchise of all time (it's made over $100 billion U.S. dollars globally), spawning several video games, a hugely popular trading card game, numerous films, and, of course, a long-running anime series. 

The first season of the "Pokemon" anime may not be a masterpiece of storytelling or a benchmark in animation, but it holds a special place in the hearts of '90s and '00s kids and for good reason. The adventures of Ash (or Satoshi in the Japanese version, named after franchise creator Satoshi Tajiri) and his trusty sidekick Pikachu never fail to raise your spirits, even today. It might sound odd to use the term "more believable" when talking about battling creatures that reside in little red and white balls, but the original 151 pokemon designs are exactly that — less outlandish and made with particular functions in mind. Unfortunately, the line between Pokemon types became blurred as the years marched on, with the designers seemingly running out of ideas, leaving fans wistful for 1997. After all, with its iconic theme tune and unforgettable characters, the "Indigo League" series remains the very best.

26. No Game No Life

Short and sweet, the 12-episode anime "No Game No Life" is a vibrant and binge-worthy show about a pair of orphaned step-siblings who are transported to a world centered around gaming. After losing their parents, Sora and Shiro become hermits, shunning the outside world and relying only on each other. They spend their time gaming together, forming a fearsome duo known in the online gaming community as Blank. They become so successful that they're contacted by Tet, a god from another reality. Tet challenges them to a game of online chess, and believing it to be the work of pranksters, they accept. When they win, they suddenly find themselves in a fantasy world called Disboard, where everything is decided by games.

Tet created Disboard as a way to bring an end to the ongoing conflict that plagued his plane of existence, earning the title of One True God in the process. His magic stops the different races that live there (there are 16 in total) from inflicting physical harm on one another. The only way to challenge Tet for control of the world is to either defeat or unite all the races, the first worthy challenge the step-siblings have faced in quite some time. Fair warning — the first season of the show ends on a pretty big cliffhanger, and fans have been waiting patiently for Season 2 for years now. Even so, "No Game No Life" is essential viewing for anime fans everywhere.

25. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

"Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion" takes place in an alternate timeline where the planet is divided into three superpowers. Europe and Africa have joined forces and go by the name Europa United, Asia is now known as the Chinese Federation, and the Americas are called the Holy Britannian Empire. In this world, the fictional Queen Elizabeth III fled to her Stateside colonies after her forces got trounced by Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar, and she never returned. We enter the story as the expansionist Britannian Empire (now led by Emperor Charles zi Britannia) is launching an assault on the Japanese islands, and they're causing havoc.

The invaders from the West seek to strip the Japanese people of their culture and freedoms, rechristening the country Area 11 and dubbing its inhabitants "Elevens," which, needless to say, does not go down well with the locals. It falls to Lelouch (an exiled Britannian prince who's been living in Japan since falling out with his dad over the death of his mother) to save his adopted country from his tyrannical father. Lelouch adopts the moniker Zero and becomes a masked vigilante, giving the Japanese people a symbol of hope. With the help of his rebel group, The Black Knights, he leads the fight against the Brittanians. It's a sweeping tale of family, loyalty, and revenge that grows on you the longer you stick with it.

24. Dragon Ball Z

The often-overlooked original "Dragon Ball" series (based on Akira Toriyama's manga of the same name) was among the best anime of the 1980s, but in terms of cultural impact, it pales in comparison to "Dragon Ball Z." The beloved sequel series ages up the main character significantly. Goku was a whippersnapper in "Dragon Ball," but here, he's a young adult with a child of his own, father to the equally badass Gohan. Together, they must fight to stop an alien race to which they unknowingly belong. When a Saiyan named Raditz shows up on Earth, he drops a huge truth bomb on Goku — they are brothers by blood, and Goku's real purpose is a sinister one indeed.

The Saiyans sent Goku (whose real name, it turns out, is Kakarot) to Earth to conquer the planet in their name many moons ago, but he suffered a head injury when he landed, causing a pretty bad case of amnesia. Goku forgot all about his mission and grew up believing himself to be a member of the human race rather than an invader trying to overthrow it. Now, he'll defend his adopted planet at any cost, leading to some ridiculously cool battles. Subsequent sequel series "Dragon Ball GT" and "Dragon Ball Super" have plenty to offer the diehard shonen fan, but if you're only going to watch one "Dragon Ball" series, make it "Dragon Ball Z."

23. One-Punch Man

If you're starting to feel superhero fatigue kicking in, you're not alone — the hero of the hit webcomic turned anime "One-Punch Man" is feeling it too. Saitama is so powerful that he can defeat any foe with (you guessed it) just a single punch, and it's left him feeling rather jaded. "Punching is oftentimes pretty useless against life's problems," the character's creator, who goes by the name ONE, told ComicBook.com. "But inside One-Punch Man's universe, I made Saitama a sort of guy who was capable of adapting his life to the world that surrounded him, only armed with his immense power. The only obstacles he faces are mundane things, like running short of money."

The set-up makes for some great comedy, but this is an anime with something for everyone. The battles are both imaginative and intense, especially after the alien invader Boros arrives on the scene (spoiler alert — he survives Saitama's punch). We come for the laughs and the punches, but the heart of the show lies in Saitama's relationship with Genos, whose family was killed by a cyborg villain. Saitama becomes a reluctant mentor to the up-and-coming hero, who's out for revenge for his family and his city, which was razed to the ground by the killer. 

22. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

"JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" may seem rather impenetrable at first glance, but once you wrap your head around the concept of the show, it's an easy and highly entertaining watch. Each season is based on a different arc from Hirohiko Araki's long-running manga series, and they're more or less self-contained, following a different member of the Joestar family (all of whom have names that can be abbreviated as "JoJo," hence the title of the series). This means you can skip the first season and dive straight into "Stardust Crusaders," which brought in many of the elements that "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" is best known for.

"Stardust Crusaders" introduced manga readers and, later, anime viewers to the concept of Stands, physical entities that are generated by users for the purpose of fighting (see the image above). Protagonist Jotaro Kujo initially believes his Stand to be an evil spirit of some kind, but he soon comes to realize that he's not possessed and that his Stand is actually a manifestation of his fighting spirit. Its sudden presence coincides with the reemergence of Dio Brando, his grandfather Jonathan's arch-rival. Dio managed to cheat death by attaching his own head to Jonathan Joestar's body, and he plans on using his Stand to take over the world. The stakes are high, and the fashion is fabulous — Araki's creations are so iconic that JoJo even has a Gucci crossover.

21. Naruto / Naruto: Shippuden

Even if you're not familiar with anime, chances are you've heard of Naruto — or, more particularly, his iconic sprinting style. The so-called "Naruto run" gained international attention in 2019 when a prankster did one during a news report from Area 51, bringing a bunch of new fans to the classic anime. It's the tale of ambitious young ninja Naruto Uzumaki, who longs to become the head (or Hokage) of his village, Konoha. He's not exactly a popular choice, however — when Naruto was a baby, Kurama (aka the Nine-Tailed Fox) attacked the village, and Naruto's father was forced to seal the demon inside his newborn son. This leads to Naruto being largely shunned by his peers, but he remains determined to prove himself a worthy leader.

Like Masashi Kishimoto's manga, the anime is told in two parts: "Naruto," which deals with the titular character's pre-teen years, and "Naruto: Shippuden," in which he comes of age. While the sequel series just about gets the nod from most fans due to its superior animation, both are brilliant and worth your time. People have been debating which is better for years, to no avail. "As a teen, I always thought 'Shippuden' was better because of their power ups, new designs, and bigger battles," said one viewer when the debate blew up on Reddit in 2021. "Now looking back (I'm in my mid-20s now), OG 'Naruto's' story felt more cohesive." We'll let you be the judge.

20. Monster

"Monster" is the gripping tale of Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon working in Germany during the Cold War. He's stationed in the West German city of Düsseldorf, where patients from the East tend to receive poorer levels of treatment. Tenma becomes an outcast after he refuses to abandon an East German child in favor of treating a West German politician, though he soon comes to realize that this maybe wasn't the smartest move — the kid he saves is Johan Liebert, who turns out to be a serial killer. When the doctors that turned on Tenma start turning up dead, the foreigner becomes a suspect, but police can find no evidence against him. Almost a decade passes as Tenma manages to rebuild his life, but Liebert reemerges, and the Japanese doctor is once again suspected of committing his crimes.

The series raises some interesting questions about the obligations of medical professionals, but it lets viewers make up their own minds. The story was inspired by "The Fugitive" (the David Janssen-led TV series), which left quite the impression on the creator of the original manga, Naoki Urasawa. "I watched it when I was about 8," he told All the Anime. "The story is that a doctor is accused of murder, the detectives are chasing him and he must run away. That storyline really had an impact on me." Fans of the cult American TV show and the Harrison Ford-led remake movie will no doubt love "Monster" too.

19. One Piece

Eiichiro Oda's "One Piece" is the best-selling manga series of all time by a considerable distance, having shipped in excess of 450 million units — over 150 million more than the closest contender, "Dragon Ball." With over 1,000 episodes and counting (not to mention several feature films), the anime is quite the beast, but we're here to give you the lowdown so you can jump in at any point and enjoy this shonen smash hit. It's the story of pirate captain Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, who search the Grand Line (an ocean route filled with danger and mystery) for a legendary treasure known as One Piece. It was once owned by the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, who challenged other pirates to locate it just before his execution at the hands of the World Government.

Luffy longs for Roger's fabled treasure, as well as his title — it's his dream to locate the One Piece and become the new Pirate King. Of course, there's plenty of competition, but Luffy has a distinct advantage. On top of his loyal crew, he has the ability to launch attacks from a great distance using his stretchy limbs. See, as a child, he accidentally ate a Gum-Gum Fruit (one of the supernatural Devil Fruits in the "One Piece" world), which gave his body rubbery properties. It's a wild ride filled with fun and adventure, and it's never too late to join in.

18. Gintama

If you like samurai sagas and science fiction, then "Gintama" is the anime for you. Based on Hideaki Sorachi's hit manga, it takes place in an alternate version of Japan's Edo period, one in which aliens called Amanto have taken control. Terrified by the might of the Amanto (meaning "Sky People"), the shogun backs down and allows the invaders into his country, but the proud samurai won't roll over so easily. Despite the puppet shogun imposing a ban on carrying swords, freelance samurai refuse to abide by the cowardly new laws and set about ridding Earth of these unwanted alien pests. One such samurai goes by the name of Gintoki Sakata. He's the focus of the series, but he doesn't work alone.

After stumbling across a bunch of aliens trying to send a human girl to a brothel, he springs into action and cuts them down, earning the respect and admiration of her brother, Shinpachi. In awe of his sister's rescuer, the bespectacled samurai-in-training joins Gintoki's team. Not all the aliens are bad, however — his crew is later bolstered by the extraterrestrial teen Kagura, who comes from a particularly badass alien clan. It's mainly lighthearted in nature, but what sets "Gintama" apart from similar shows is the emotional clout it often (and sometimes without warning) brings to the table. The series wrapped with the feature-length film "Gintama: The Final," which was one of the best anime movies of 2021.

17. Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma

Watching animated people eat animated food is a strangely satisfying experience, and that's particularly true of anime — Ponyo and Sosuke eating ramen will make your mouth water every single time. If food anime is your thing, then look no further than "Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma," a show that will get your belly rumbling without fail. With recipes from the renowned Japanese chef Yuki Morisaki, the manga became a hit in its home country, and the anime adaptation from J.C. Staff (the studio behind the likes of "A Certain Magical Index," "Toradora!" and "The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.") was beloved the world over.

It's the story of teenager Soma Yukihira, who dreams of following in his father's footsteps and taking over his restaurant. If he's going to match and eventually surpass his father, he'll have to graduate from Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, Japan's most prestigious culinary school. The children of rich and famous chefs study here, and some of them aren't thrilled about having the son of a common cook studying with them. Soma is ready and willing to prove them all wrong — at Totsuki, students regularly engage in competitions called "shokugeki," facing off against one another to see who can come up with the best meal under trying circumstances. Soma's passion for food is infectious, and the show features a large cast of memorable characters. With five seasons to get your teeth stuck into, this anime is a foodie's dream come true.

16. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

The "Ghost in the Shell" film is considered a seminal classic (the 1995 anime film, that is — not the whitewashed live-action Hollywood version), but too many people seem to overlook "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex," which dropped to critical acclaim in 2002. While the 1995 film followed Public Security Section 9's hunt for the Puppet Master, "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" concentrates on a different villain from Masamune Shirow's manga. Cybernetic protagonist the Major (full name Major Motoko Kusanagi, a counter-cyberterrorist ace and the field commander of Section 9) goes after the terrorist group the Individual Eleven, as well as the cyber hacker the Laughing Man, in this gripping series.

"Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" boasts some fantastic animation from Production I.G., the studio behind such shows as "Psycho-Pass," "Eden of the East," and "Haikyu!!" It sees the members of Section 9 uncover corruption within other branches of the Japanese government, and it expands on many of the philosophical questions posed in the manga. "The difference between human and machine grows ever more blurred in this anime vision of things to come," The Guardian said in its review. "If only all sci-fi was this good." It's a binge-worthy show, but don't fear — once you've devoured all 26 episodes, a second season ("Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd GIG") set two years after the first will fill that void.

15. My Hero Academia

We live in a time saturated with superheroes, and so does Izuku Midoriya, the protagonist of "My Hero Academia." In his world, an estimated 80% of the population has some kind of Quirk (the in-universe term for a superpower), though Izuku is one of the unlucky 20% who doesn't. He was born with no powers whatsoever, though that never stopped him from wanting to become a hero. His tenacity wins him favor with Japan's most famous hero, All Might, who decides to take him under his wing and help him secure a place at U.A. High School, Japan's top heroics institution. We soon learn that, like Izuku, there's a lot more to All Might than meets the eye.

Based on the manga by Kohei Horikoshi — who's a huge fan of American superheroes and once went to see "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" dressed as Spider-Man — "My Hero Academia" is still ongoing at the time of this writing, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It ended the 2010s with a bang (All Might's throwdown with the show's big bad, All for One, is a thing of legend) and will likely be around for years to come. There's never been a better time to get aboard the MHA train.

14. Made in Abyss

The animation may look super cutesy, but don't be fooled — "Made in Abyss" is an anime that you shouldn't watch with your family. It starts out innocently enough, but once the action moves into the Abyss (the giant hole that the town of Orth is built around), things start getting dark. We follow an orphan named Riko, whose mother was a well-known Cave Raider, people who venture into the Abyss hoping to unlock its secrets. It's a dangerous job, however. Strange creatures dwell within, and those who make it out alive are rarely the same — spending too much time down there leads to a condition that has been dubbed "the curse of the Abyss."

Despite the dangers, Riko longs to follow in her mother's footsteps. Ignoring all the warnings, she takes a trip down into the Abyss, exploring the higher, safer levels first. But being the daughter of a famous Cave Raider, she's not content with that. When her mother's notes are discovered by another Cave Raider who dared to go deep into the Abyss, she resolves to do the same and finally unravel the mystery of the hole, as well as her mother's disappearance. Things get weird down in the depths, and you won't forget what you see in a hurry.

13. Neon Genesis Evangelion

While technically a mecha anime, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" broke the mold when it came to humans doing battle by using giant robots. Evangelions are not your typical mecha machine — they're living, organic creatures that were created from scraps of the first Angel, the villains of the series. These giant creatures were awakened during an experiment gone wrong, after a team of scientists led by Dr. Katsuragi caused an explosion that melted the polar ice caps and caused widespread destruction, wiping out 50% of humankind in a cataclysmic event that became known as the Second Impact.

With a Third Impact looming, humans "pilot" the Evangelions (they enter the cyborg beings via a cockpit-like opening) to stop the Angels. Shinji Ikari is one such pilot, a teen who's tasked with defending Tokyo-3 by his estranged father. He's joined by Misato Katsuragi and cocky German-Japanese-American Asuka Langley Soryu. Their mission is to use the Evangelions to stop the Third Impact — or so we're led to believe. With twists and turns aplenty, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is the deep-thinker's mecha, and the questions it poses remain just as relevant today. The show's finale split opinion at the time (it was described as "soul-crushingly sad" by SyFy) and two feature-length films — "Death & Rebirth" and "End of Evangelion" — were released to serve as an alternate ending to the series, though fans have come to appreciate the original finale in the years since.

12. Assassination Classroom

"Assassination Classroom" follows a class of middle school rejects tasked with saving the world from a yellow, tentacled alien. The creature destroys most of the moon (turning it into a permanent crescent) and then comes to Earth, where he insists on taking over as the teacher of Class 3-E. He begins molding the low-achieving students into skilled assassins and claims that Earth will meet the same fate as the moon if the students cannot kill him by the end of the school year. He's super fast and nigh-on impossible to kill, but he's also the best teacher the kids have ever had — he drastically improves their grades and brings them out of their shells, gaining their trust and admiration.

On the surface, "Assassination Classroom" seems totally bonkers, but it's actually a wholesome and hilarious story about underestimating kids. While the motives of this strange alien (who went by the name "The Reaper" before being redubbed Koro-sensei, meaning "unkillable teacher") are unclear to begin with, it soon becomes obvious that there's a lot more to him than mindless destruction. "Depending on how you utilize the complexes you have about yourself, you can do incredible things," Yusei Matsui, creator of the original manga, told ComicBook.com. "When you look at that with the kids in 3-E, it's not as if they all have superhuman abilities, but Koro-sensei gives them the opportunity and a different way of looking at their situation."

11. Parasyte: The Maxim

Plenty of anime shows switch between feel-good vibes and ultraviolence, but few do it as skillfully as "Parasyte: The Maxim," one of the most memorable horror anime of all time. Based on the manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki, it's the story of 17-year-old high school student Shinichi Izumi, who's forced to coexist with an alien. The anime opens with a race of parasitic extraterrestrials arriving on Earth. The small, worm-like creatures enter human bodies through nostrils and ears, burrowing into the brain and turning the unsuspecting victims into hosts. They maintain a human shape to keep their presence a secret, but they're able to transform into truly monstrous forms at will.

Luckily for Shinichi, he went to bed listening to music the night the aliens arrived. The parasite that attempted to take over his body was denied entry by his headphones, and when it tried to get in via his nose, the tickling sensation made him sneeze. He woke up, and in a panic, the creature burrowed into his hand instead. The quick-thinking teen used the wire of his headphones to make a quick tourniquet, stopping the invader from getting to his brain. It took over his right hand instead (he ends up calling it Migi, meaning "right" in Japanese), with each retaining their own sentience and personalities. It's an uneasy alliance at first, but the pair eventually come together to try and stop Gotou, the most powerful parasite of the lot.

10. Mob Psycho 100

Adapted from ONE's hit web manga of the same name, "Mob Psycho 100" is the tale of a middle school kid who goes to great lengths to suppress some uncanny abilities. Shigeo Kageyama is an Esper, a term for people with ESP (extrasensory perception). He bottles up his emotions out of fear that his immense powers will cause great damage to those around him — becoming too angry or too sad or, essentially, too much of any emotion is dangerous. Reaching 100% on the emotional scale triggers his abilities, which means trouble for his enemies. It's a dire existence for a child, though salvation arrives in the form of Reigen Arataka, a con artist and so-called spirit medium who offers to take Mob under his wing and teach him how to harness his powers.

Of course, there are plenty of bumps in the road. Reigen seeks to exploit Mob's powers for monetary gain initially, but the swindler soon realizes that the boy is in need of some genuine training — if he was to lose control altogether it would result in a cataclysmic event. When other Espers (a word that fans of the beloved '80s anime film "Akira" will be familiar with) begin showing up and provoking Mob, he's forced to put Reigen's teachings to the test. 

9. Mushishi

A beautifully rendered, meandering series set in a fictional time between the Edo and Meiji periods (Japan remains willingly cut off from the rest of the world but still has some outside tech), "Mushishi" follows a man named Ginko as he travels from place to place, hoping to unravel the secrets of the Mushi — primitive but supernatural lifeforms that only a few people can see. Those who study the Mushi are referred to as Mushishi (meaning "Mushi masters"), though even their knowledge of these ethereal beings is limited. For reasons unknown to us and to him, the Mushi are attached to Ginko. He suspects that they hold the secrets to the meaning of life itself, but the answers remain just out of reach.

Based on Yuki Urushibara's manga of the same name, the anime is episodic in nature, with each installment focused on a new Mushi mystery. It's a soothing series that's light on dialogue in the best of ways. "It is not often that one comes across an anime that is not bogged down with fan service, tiresome gags, and pointless dialogue that are all there simply for the sake of filling up the 20-something minutes of the allotted time of each episode," The Artifice said in its glowing review. "'Mushishi' manages to escape these moments of excess by doing exactly what every show is supposed to do: devote itself completely and solely to the presentation of a story."

8. Violet Evergarden

Based on Akiko Takase's light novel of the same name, "Violet Evergarden" is the story of a female soldier struggling to reintegrate into society following a conflict known as the Great War (while it's set in a fictional world, the Great War mimics World War I in terms of its weaponry and aesthetic). Violet was abandoned as a child and still bears the emotional scars. She came to the attention of the military after killing a group of soldiers who tried to take advantage of her. When the Great War ends, Violet — who lost both of her arms in a grenade explosion and had them replaced with high-tech prosthetic ones — gets a job at an agency that writes love letters for those who are unable to find the words themselves.

Her motive is straightforward: The last thing that her mentor and guardian Major Gilbert (the first person to treat the deadly orphan as human) said to her was "I love you," and she wants to understand what he meant by that. An absolute masterclass from Kyoto Animation, "Violet Evergarden" is a real feast for the eyes (it deservedly won the award for Best Animation at the Crunchyroll Anime Awards in 2019), but be warned: As beautiful as it is to look at, Violet's story will crush you. This is an anime that explores everything from PTSD to feminism in unexpected ways, blending steampunk themes with revisionist history to brilliant effect.

7. Steins;Gate

Set in Tokyo's famous Akihabara district (a mecca for all things tech, gaming, and anime), the mind-bending sci-fi series "Steins;Gate" is about three friends who accidentally discover a means of time travel. Protagonist Rintaro Okabe runs the Future Gadget Laboratory, which — while it sounds impressive — is essentially a rundown apartment where he and his oddball mates, Mayuri Shiina and Itaru Hashida, hang out and conduct experiments. They're enthusiastic about their work, but they don't seem to be getting anywhere. They're working on a cellphone-powered microwave oven when we join the story, a device that probably won't change the world ... until it does.

Rintaro is shocked when he stumbles across the dead body of renowned neuroscientist Kurisu Makise after attending a time travel conference one day. He sends a text message to his friends about what he saw — only to discover that they received his message before he actually sent it. It turns out their invention can send texts back in time, and the trio unwittingly saved the researcher's life. Grateful and fascinated, Kurisu decides to join their ragtag team, and together, they figure out how to send memories back, essentially achieving time travel. "Steins;Gate" was a huge hit when it dropped in 2011, and it still holds up to this day. "Funny, intense and occasionally creepy, 'Steins;Gate' contains just about everything you could ask for in an anime series," said Den of Geek after reviewing the show's Blu-ray release in 2013.

6. Devilman Crybaby

Netflix's "Devilman Crybaby" seemed to come out of nowhere to set the anime world alight in 2018, but those familiar with the work of Masaaki Yuasa (best known for the experimental anime film "Mind Game") weren't at all surprised to see it blow up. It's based on Go Nagai's classic manga series "Devilman," but its far more adult in its themes and content. While "Devilman" was very much a shonen manga, "Devilman Crybaby" is brutal and absolutely heartbreaking at the same time. 

The title of the show refers to Akira Fudo, a sensitive teen who gets transformed into a demon during a crazy night out in Tokyo. How does that happen exactly? When his friend, Ryo Asuka, returns from an expedition to the Amazon claiming to have discovered the origin of demons, Akira's initially skeptical. And then he's horrified when Ryo breaks a glass bottle and starts stabbing people in the nightclub, and his horror turns to terror when Ryo's victims begin to transform into demons.

In the commotion, a demon named Amon attempts to possess Akira, but our hero's will is too strong to be overcome completely. He becomes Devilman, a half-demon who uses his powers to defend humankind. His relationship with Ryo quickly disintegrates when he realizes that his friend knows a lot more than he initially let on. It's a tragic tale with some truly crushing moments, but once you get used to the unique animation style of studio Science SARU, you'll be hooked.

5. Attack on Titan

Hajime Isayama's manga series "Attack on Titan" became a huge hit in Japan after debuting in 2009, and the anime adaptation would go on to become a global phenomenon, spanning the best part of a decade. It takes place in a world where humanity has been reduced to living inside walled cities to stay safe from the Titans, monstrous humanoid beasts with a penchant for destruction and a taste for human flesh. "The idea of being isolated within the wall originated with manga creator Hajime Isayama, who was inspired by Japanese culture," Wit Studio president George Wada told the Anime News Network. "The Japanese people can become very isolated and enclosed, so it's more of a Japanese cultural idea. ... The 'Wall of Fear' plays a big role in the series. I think people overcoming that fear is relatable to the audience."

The fear really kicks in when that protection fails, which happens early on in the series. The Titans successfully breach the walls of Shiganshina, and a boy named Eren Yeager watches his mother get eaten alive. He grows up to become a valued member of the Survey Corps (the section of the military dedicated to eradicating the Titans) and swears revenge on them, but there's more to Eren — and the Titans — than meets the eye. As stunning as it is traumatizing, "Attack on Titan" is a must-see for any anime fan with the stomach for it: Many of the Titan designs are genuine nightmare fuel.

4. Cowboy Bebop

If you've seen the live-action adaptation of the classic anime "Cowboy Bebop," you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. The now-canceled Netflix remake failed to capture the swagger of the original show, a richly textured, genre-blending space saga set in the year 2071. It follows the exploits of former hitman Spike Spiegel and one-time ISSP (Inter Solar System Police) officer Jet Black, bounty hunters who travel from planet to planet on their spaceship, the Bebop. Their crew grows as the series progresses, much to Spike's annoyance. The truth, however, is that he needs all the help he can get — he's on the run from the Red Dragon Syndicate, his former employers.

Fans of sci-fi and Westerns cannot afford to miss this seminal show (it holds a perfect 100% on the Tomatometer), which is just as enthralling today as it was in the 1990s. When the team that brought the show to life appeared together on a panel at New York Comic-Con in 2018, they revealed that they were inspired by American cinema as well as their own particular tastes in films. "Director [Shinichiro] Watanabe's rhetoric was, 'Let's make something we want to see,'" screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto said (via the Anime News Network). "Our target audience was not kids, but ourselves and our peers. The truth is that kids want to watch what adults are watching. And so, that was perhaps one of the reasons why it attracted a broad audience."

3. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

To call the 2020 film "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train" a success would be a huge understatement — it raced past Studio Ghibli classic "Spirited Away" to become the highest-grossing movie in Japan's history, animated or otherwise. It's a must-see for anime buffs, and so is the series that started it all. An adaptation of Koyoharu Gotouge's manga of the same name, "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba" is the story of Tanjiro Kamado, a farm boy who decides to join the Demon Slayer Corps after his family is slaughtered by a demon (a former human with supernatural abilities that can only be killed by decapitation).

The breadwinner of the family, Tanjiro returns from a neighboring market town one day to find his village in ruins and his family dead — all but his sister. The kindhearted Nezuko Kamado managed to survive the attack, though she was turned into a demon in the process. Shreds of her humanity remain, however, and Tanjiro refuses to give up on her. The series follows Tanjiro's efforts to save his sister and wipe out the demons once and for all, with the help of the Demon Slayer Corps' so-called "Breathing Styles," which will elevate his skills and make him a match for the demons. With lush animation and swordplay galore (it's set during Japan's Taisho period), "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba" is a modern-day classic.

2. Death Note

Based on the classic manga series by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata, "Death Note" is the story of high school student Light Yagami, who discovers an otherworldly notebook that gives him god-like powers. To his shock, Light realizes that when he writes the name of a person in the pages of the book, that person will die in the exact circumstances he describes. The only stipulation is that he must know their full name and what they look like. With the owner of the Death Note (an apple-loving spirit named Ryuk) by his side, he adopts the moniker Kira and sets about ridding the world of criminals, intent on creating his perfect utopia. The show becomes a game of cat and mouse, with a brilliant detective named L tracking the teenage vigilante down.

"Death Note" is a thrilling watch that stays with you long after the final episode. It raises some interesting questions about justice and forces you to consider the fragility of life. "The basic underlying idea was that 'humans are not immortals and once they are dead, they do not come back alive again,'" Tsugumi Ohba said. "This is to indirectly say that we should all treasure the present and live our lives to the fullest. I never thought it was important to define Light as either good or evil." Skip the awful live-action Netflix film, and watch the critically acclaimed anime instead — you won't regret it.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

The critically acclaimed "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" takes place in a world where alchemy (the science of decomposing and reconstructing physical matter) is widely practiced. When brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric attempt to use alchemy to resurrect their deceased mother, it goes horribly wrong. Bringing people back is a big no-no in the alchemist world, which operates on the law of equivalent exchange. Gaining something means losing something of equal value, and Edward loses a few limbs, while Alphonse loses his entire body. However, Edward is able to bind his brother's soul to a nearby suit of armor before he's lost forever. The show follows their efforts to find the philosopher's stone and fix their bodies.

This is the second adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa's hit manga series "Fullmetal Alchemist," and it's far superior to the first, which was made when the manga was still ongoing and therefore deviates from the source material significantly in its latter stages. This second iteration is considered by many to be the best anime series of all time (it holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is the number one ranked show on MyAnimeList), and we have to agree. It's fun, full of heart, and boasts numerous memorable characters — especially the female ones. Part of that is because creator Hiromu Arakawa grew up on a farm, where the chores were neverending. "Everyone has to work hard to make ends meet, including women and kids," she said (via The Mary Sue). "That's the reason there are so many working women in 'Fullmetal.'"