These are the most popular anime of all time, so you can't miss them! If you are a true fan of anime, you probably know all of them. I have selected these titles based on their iconic status and how much they have resonated with anime fans. These entries are just my personal opinion, but I am sure most fans will agree with my choices. If you are new to these addictive Japanese cartoons, this is a perfect list for you. Millions of fans all around the world love these anime series. They are often rewatched and recommended to others.
What Are the Most Popular Anime of All Time?
- Dragon Ball
- One Piece
- Death Note
- Detective Conan
- Attack on Titan
- Sailor Moon
- Fullmetal Alchemist
Sword Art Online
10. Sword Art Online
Episodes: 49 (total)
If very beautiful animation and strong memorable characters is what you expect from an anime series, then give Sword Art Online! a shot. The animation and soundtrack in this series is really enjoyable. It may not have the best pacing and it's not without its flaws, but it's entertaining and it will keep you interested.
The story follows a teenage boy, Kirito, who gets stuck in a massive futuristic online game called Sword Art Online. He becomes one of those lucky enthusiasts who are the first to get access to the game. He logs into the game world full of medieval weapons and dangerous monsters. Sounds exciting for gamers, yes? However, the boy soon realizes that he cannot quit the game until he completes all one hundred levels! Now the game stops being fun and exciting. Actually, it turns into an extremely dangerous ordeal. If the players die into the virtual world, they die in reality. Kirito and his allies decide to do whatever it takes to survive. If you enjoy this anime, check out this list of similar shows.
9. Fullmetal Alchemist
Episodes: 51 ep. (Fullmetal Alchemist), 64 ep. (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Seasons: One for each series
Fullmetal Alchemist tells the story of two brothers who make an attempt to bring their mother back to life. According to the fundamental law of alchemy, in order to get something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of the same value. Thus, one of the brothers loses an arm and the other loses his entire body (his soul becomes bonded into a suit of armor). Soon, the brothers learn about the existence of the Philosopher Stone, which has the ability to transcend the laws of alchemy. Our heroes decide to embark on a quest to get that stone. The further they go, the more they realize they are drawn into a far darker battle than they imagined.
As you might have already guessed, this series belongs to one of the most popular anime genres, shounen, which is aimed at teenage boys. They usually feature a male protagonist who embarks on a dangerous adventure. Actually, Fullmetal Alchemist has a more intricate and complex story then many other shounens. It's also different from many other entries in this genre because it takes place in a fictionalized world with a setting of somewhere in European the early 20th century. This action fantasy anime is considered a must-watch for any anime fan as well as those who are new to the world of anime! If you are still on the fence with this series, check out this review for more info.
8. Sailor Moon
If you are looking for comedy, romance, dramatic moments, and a great soundtrack, Sailor Moon should be your choice. The romance and comedy here are well balanced with some funny moments and it works well! The characters here are so easy to relate to! They are cute, lovable, and relatable in many ways. This show may seem childish (primarily because of the voices in dubbed version), but it actually covers a lot of issues such as sexuality, violence, and many relationship problems. Many fans of this anime series say that it's better to avoid the English dubbed version. They recommend that you watch it with subtitles because the voice acting is way better in the original Japanese version.
Sailor Moon is about a regular teenage girl whose life is turned upside down after she learns about her fate. It is revealed that the girl is destined to become a planetary guardian and protect the planet. From then on, she is called the warrior Sailor Moon. She must make allies with the other Sailor Soldiers in order to defend the Earth.
Most Popular Anime by Year
Numerous shows must be discussed when talking about the most popular anime. I'm only covering 10 in this article, but here are some additional recommendations. These are some popular series that are organized by year. These are solid recommendations if you are new to the medium.
- 2000: FLCL
- 2001: Fruits Basket
- 2002: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
- 2003: Kino's Journey
- 2004: Samurai Champloo
- 2005: Eureka Seven
- 2006: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
- 2007: Gurren Lagann
- 2008: Spice and Wolf
- 2009: Bakemonogatari
- 2010: Durarara!!
- 2011: Steins;Gate
- 2012: Psycho-Pass
- 2013: Kill la Kill
- 2014: Haikyu!!
- 2015: One-Punch Man
- 2016: Yuri!!! on Ice
- 2017: Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
- 2018: Pop Team Epic
7. Attack on Titan
Episodes: 54 (total)
If you are looking for an epic and dramatic anime with a captivating story, look no further. Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime series that is full of epic fight scenes as well as an interesting and meaningful narrative. It is filled with tragic scenes and sad moments. This show will likely break your heart a lot as many characters sacrifice their lives in order to protect humanity.
Adapted from the award-winning manga of the same name, Attack on Titan takes us to a world where mankind is on the verge of extinction. Terrifying and enormous creatures called titans have forced humans to hide behind gigantic walls. These titans love human flesh not out of hunger but out of pleasure. That makes them even more terrifying. Humans have been hiding behind the walls for 100 years and they don't expect any intrusions. However, their calm life comes to an end when a titan breaches the outer wall. The story follows Eren Yeager and his two allies who dedicate their lives to defeating the man-eating creatures. If you're still uncertain about this series. you should check out this review for another opinion.
6. Detective Conan
Episodes: Over 900 and counting
Seasons: 27 and counting
Detective Conan has everything to keep you interested. It has funny moments, a love story, drama, and unique mysteries. If you are looking for well-thought-out mysteries where the solutions are not so obvious, give it a shot! The writers definitely put a lot of effort into their work!
The story follows Shinichi Kudou, who has the magnificent skill of being able to solve even the most challenging cases. This is significant when you take into account that he is only 17. One night changes his life. It's the night when the young detective witnesses two suspicious men at an amusement park. They notice him and give him some experimental drug. He survives, but his body has shrunken down to the size of a seven-year-old boy! While hiding his real identity, Shinichi investigates the strange organization that has made a dramatic change to his body.
5. Death Note
If you want to see a really unique and compelling story, you should try Death Note. This anime is truly one of the best and most popular out there. It keeps the viewer in suspense and keeps them thinking. You will be forced to wonder about what you would have done if you were in a character's place.
Imagine that you can kill people by simply picturing them in your mind and writing down their names in a special notebook. It's insane, isn't it? However, it's possible for Light Yagami, a high school student who stumbles upon a Death Note. This special notebook has been thrown into the human world by a god of death, who did so just because of his boredom. After discovering such a power in his hands, Light decides to make the world a better place by extinguishing as many criminals as he can. However, police discover the unusual serial killings and wants to catch the culprit with the help of an eccentric young detective.
Best Action Anime
You may have noticed that a lot of these anime fall into the action or shonen genre. These genres tend to be the most popular as they cater to a wide audience and find the most commercial success. Here are some other action anime that are worth checking out.
- Cowboy Bebop
- Angel Beats!
- My Hero Academia
- Mob Psycho 100
- Rurouni Kenshin
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Tiger & Bunny
Episodes: 220 episodes (original anime series), 500 episodes (Naruto: Shippuden), and over 100 episodes and counting (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations)
Seasons: 5 seasons (original anime series), 21 seasons (Naruto: Shippuden), and 1 season (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations)
You will love the degree of emotions in this show. There are so many heart-wrenching moments that it will make you really worry about the characters or even cry a river! There are so many reasons to love this vastly popular anime series! First of all, it has character development. Everyone in the series has their dark past which binds the viewer to the story. We can't deny the fact that even antagonists in this show are likeable because they each have their own justified reasons. There are so many lovable, smart, and righteous characters! Another thing that makes Naruto so special is a deeply developed jutsu structure; each character is not simply overloaded with powers. They have their own unique fighting style. This complexity is one of the things that makes the series different from others.
Naruto revolves around the adventures of a boy with a living monster inside him. A long time ago, a powerful fox called Nine-Tails attacked one of the villages in the Shinobi Countries. The leader of the village sacrificed his life and sealed the monster inside his newborn son, Naruto. Years later, the boy struggles to find his place in this world. One day, the hyperactive Naruto becomes a ninja. He forms his own team and sets out on different missions requested by the villagers. Due to his temper, Naruto stumbles upon not only great friends but also some dangerous foes.
Episodes: Over 1000 and counting
Seasons: 22 and counting
Pokemon is considered to be one of the most popular anime series out there. This show is fun and has adventure, action, and morals. Since the show is aimed primarily at kids, it teaches them many moral lessons. The road trip stories never take place in one town, so you won't be annoyed. Give this cute show a try, especially if you have experienced this franchise in other mediums such as games or cards.
The story centers on Satoshi, a 10-year-old boy who has always dreamed of becoming a Pokemon trainer. His dream is about to come true, but all three Pokemon for beginners have already been taken. Only one is left, a rebellious electric Pokemon named Pikachu. Satoshi and Pikachu set out on a journey to become the best among the best. That's when the adventures begin!
Most Popular Anime Characters
A memorable character can make a great anime. A funny personality or heroic demeanor can make a character stand out and become popular with anime fans. Here are some of the best characters from anime.
- Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto
- L from Death Note
- Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece
- Goku from Dragon Ball
- Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Natsu from Fairy Tail
- Lelouch vi Britannia from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
- Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach
- Killua Zoldyck from Hunter x Hunter
- Inuyasha from Inuyasha
2. One Piece
Episodes: Over 800 and counting
Seasons: 20 and counting
One Piece is a great anime that you can easily become obsessed with! The show starts off with the Pirate King revealing the existance of One Piece, the treasure that will give its owner an unlimited amount of riches and fame. He reveals that before his execution. The anime follows Monkey D. Luffy, a teenage boy who forms his crew and travels across the Grand Line, battles strong enemies, and experiences different adventures in order to reach the greatest treasure. You will fall in love with each and every member of Luffy´s crew. All these characters are well developed and unique with their different and fun personalities. The beginning mostly spends time introducing the characters, though you will always find some action in these episodes. However, once the formed crew reaches their destination, you will dive into endless adventure!
The fans of this show recommend watching it in its original Japanese language with subtitles. That way, you can be sure the episodes are not cut, edited, and the characters are not given ridiculous voices. It should be noted that the art style in this anime is completely different from its contemporaries. It´s much more cartoonish.
1. Dragon Ball
Dragonball follows Son Goku, a young boy who lives in the woods. He has no friends and lives alone until a girl stumbles upon him. She is searching for a set of Dragon Balls, magical objects that are said to grant one wish to anyone who collects all seven of them. The girl wants to find all of them and make a wish for a good boyfriend. Goku has one dragon ball. However, he has no desire to give it away.
Expect a lot of fighting and humor! You shouldn't expect a grand story from a fighting shounen. The fights are not ludicurously long here, so it's not boring to watch. Actually, it's very exciting! I have to admit that the animation and art are not the best here in comparison to modern anime. However, there's some charm in the old art style. Dragonball is a must-watch for anyone who likes anime. Give this remarkable classic a try!