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Outside of Japan the term ‘anime’ has come to mean ‘animation made in Japan’ or more broadly, any animated show or movie that uses the signature aspects of Japanese-style animation. In Japanese, anime is actually how you would say animated cartoon (written アニメ). Originating in early 20th century japan the genre is characterised by its vibrant colours, dramatic storylines, and characteristic facial expressions.
Over the last 100 years 1000’s of titles have been released but with so much out there, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favourites.
If it is on this list, it is worth a try.
Short Ones – less than 51 Episodes
Akame Ga Kill (2015) Tatsumi is a fighter who sets off to the Capital in search of a way to make money to assist his poverty-stricken village only to find corruption. After falling victim to a robbery and losing all his money, Tatsumi is taken in by a noble aristocratic girl by the name of Aria. The following night, Aria's place is attacked by a group of assassins known as Night Raid. While Tatsumi at first tries to defend Aria from the assassin Akame, another member of the group, stops the fight to reveal that Aria has kidnapped several villagers and tortures them for fun. Shocked upon seeing the tortured villagers — including his two best friends, Tatsumi kills Aria. Seeing potential in Tatsumi, the Night Raiders recruit the boy in their fight against the corrupt empire.
One Punch Man (2015) In this new action-comedy, everything about the young man named Saitama screams "AVERAGE," from his lifeless expression, to his bald head, to his unimpressive physique. Surprisingly this average-looking fellow is anything but. After three years of training he is on superhero levels and looking for a challenging opponent to test his strength. The problem is, every time he finds a promising candidate, he beats the wes out of them in just one punch. Can Saitama finally find an evil villain strong enough to stress him out?
Fire Force (2019)Following The Great Disaster (大災害, Daisaigai) Tokyo is burning, and citizens are mysteriously suffering from spontaneous human combustion throughout the city. In Year 198 of Tokyo's Solar Era, special fire brigades called the Fire Force fight increasing incidents of spontaneous human combustion where human beings are turned into living infernos called "Infernals" (焰ビト, Homura Bito). Responsible for snuffing out this inferno is the Fire Forces ‘Special Fire Force Company 8’, a team tasked with extinguishing and purifying the souls of Infernals and unravelling the secrets of Spontaneous Human Combustion. The hero Shinra is ready to join their fight after a traumatic childhood and now, as part of Company 8, he'll use his fiery drop kicks to help keep the city from turning to ash.
The Rising of the Shield Hero (2019)Naofumi Iwatani, an easy-going youth, was summoned into a parallel world along with three other young men from other parallel universes to become the world's Cardinal Heroes and fight inter-dimensional hordes of monsters called Waves. Each of the heroes were respectively equipped with their own legendary equipment when summoned. Naofumi happened to receive the Legendary Shield, the item of defence, while the other heroes receive a sword, a spear, and a bow, weapons intended for attack. Unlike the other heroes who are fully supported by the kingdom and gain several strong allies, Naofumi's luck turns to the worse after his single companion, revealed to be the kingdom's Princess, betrays him, steals all his belongings, and leaves him devoid of all assistance and supplies after she falselyaccuses him of sexually assaulting her.
Tokyo Ghoul (2014)Tokyo is haunted by mysterious ghouls who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. The story follows Ken Kaneki, a college student who barely survives a deadly encounter with Rize Kamishiro, his date who reveals herself as a ghoul.
Blue Exorcist / Ao No Exorcist (2011)Humans live in the world of Assiah, demons in Gehenna. The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other, but demons still possess creatures in Assiah in spite of this. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists. Rin Okumura is a boy who bears the curse of being Satan’s illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons. To avenge his foster father’s death as well as to prove himself, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist.
That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime (2018)"Rimuru Tempest" is the new name of a slime in a fantasy world taken by a former 37-year-old human Satou Mikami after he is killed by a passing robber. Broken free from ordinary, stale past life, his fresh adventure in a fantasy world as a slime monster with unique abilities begins.
Sword Art Online (2012) The only way to escape is to ‘clear’ the game, but death in this game means you actually die dead in real life - The ten thousand who have logged into the beta of the mysterious game ‘Sword Art Online’ using their Nerve Gear (hi tech VR) have been forced into this perilous death game and are trapped inside. Protagonist Kirito, one of the many gamers, has greeted this ‘truth’. He plays as a solo player in the giant castle that is the stage for this game - ‘Aincrad’. To meet the conditions of clearing the game and leaving this twisted virtual world, he must get through all 100 floors. Will Kirito have what it takes to clear the game, or will he die trying?
Seven Deadly Sins (2014)In a world similar to the European Middle Ages, the feared yet revered Holy Knights of Britannia use immensely powerful magic to protect the region of Britannia and its kingdoms. However, a small subset of the Knights supposedly betrayed their homeland and turned their blades against their comrades in an attempt to overthrow the ruler of Liones. They were defeated by the Holy Knights, but rumors continued to persist that these legendary knights, called the "Seven Deadly Sins," were still alive. Ten years later, the Holy Knights themselves staged a coup d’état, and thus became the new, tyrannical rulers of the Kingdom of Liones. Based on the best-selling manga series of the same name, Nanatsu no Taizai follows the adventures of Elizabeth, the third princess of the Kingdom of Liones, and her search for the Seven Deadly Sins. With their help, she endeavours to not only take back her kingdom from the Holy Knights, but to also seek justice in an unjust world.
Blood Lad (2013)Blood Lad follows Staz and Fuyumi, soon joined by the spatial magician Bell and the half-werewolf Wolf, as they travel to find a magic that can bring humans back to life.
Deadman Wonderland (2011)It looked like it would be a normal day for Ganta Igarashi and his classmates—they were preparing to go on a class field trip to a certain prison amusement park called Deadman Wonderland, where the convicts perform dangerous acts for the onlookers' amusement. However, Ganta's life is quickly turned upside down when his whole class gets massacred by a mysterious man in red. Framed for the incident and sentenced to death, Ganta is sent to the very jail he was supposed to visit.
But Ganta's nightmare is only just beginning.
Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a 14-year-old solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. As the only member of the Hestia Familia, he works hard every day in the dungeon to make ends meet while seeking to improve himself.
Parasite - The Maxim (2014)17-year-old Shinichi Izumi is partially infected by a Parasyte; monsters that butcher and consume humans. He must learn to co-exist with the creature if he is to survive both the life of a Parasyte and human, as part monster, part person.
Death Parade (2015)After death, humans go to either heaven or hell. But for some, at the instant of their death, they arrive at the Quindecim, a bar attended by the mysterious white-haired Decim.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (2012-2019)The story of the Joestar family, who are possessed with intense psychic strength, and the adventures each member encounters throughout their lives.
Attack on Titan (2013) Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants. Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super-giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind.
My Hero Academia (2016)Midoriya Izuku was just a regular middle school student in a world where people with superpowers known as Quirks are the norm. Though ‘normal’ he dreams of one day becoming a Hero, despite being bullied by his classmates for not having a Quirk. After being the only one to try and save his childhood friend, Katsuki, from a Villain, All Might, the world's greatest Hero, bestows upon him his own quirk, One For All. The story follows Izuku's entrance into Yuuei High School, a school that cultivates the next generation of Heroes.
Soul Reaper (2008)
The plot of the episodes follows Maka Albarn, a "meister" of the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), and her living weapon, Soul Eater, as she seeks to make the latter into a "death scythe" through absorbing the souls of evil humans.
Darwin’s Game (2020)
17-year old Kaname Sudō accepts an online invitation by a friend to play an app game called Darwin's Game, unbeknownst to him that it involves a fight between life and death. Those who play the game are given a Sigil, an ability that varies from player to player. Trapped in this game of relentless murder and conquest, Kaname determines to clear the game, and seek out and kill the Game Master.
Death Note (2006)Yagami Light is an ace student with a great but mind who’s bored out of his mind. One day he finds the Death Note, a notebook that will kill anybody who’s name is written within. With the Death Note in hand, Light decides to create a perfect world. A world without crime or criminals. When criminals start dropping dead one by one, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the criminal killer.
Re Zero – Starting Life in Another World (2016)Natsuki Subaru is an ordinary high school student who is lost in an alternate universe, where he is rescued by a beautiful, silver-haired girl. He accompanies her to return the favour, but the destiny she is burdened with is more than Subaru can imagine. Enemies attack one by one, and both of them are killed. He then finds out he has the power to avoid death by rewinding time, but only back to the time he arrived in this world.
Charlotte (2015)The story focuses on the special abilities that occur among a small percentage of boys and girls during puberty. Yuu Otosaka uses his power without others knowing, and lives a fairly normal, average school life. Before him suddenly appears a girl, Nao Tomori and the fate of the special power-users will be exposed.
Seraph of the end (2015)One day, a mysterious virus appeared on Earth which killed every infected human over the age of 13. At the same time, vampires emerged from the world's dark recesses and enslaved mankind. Enter Hyakuya Yuuichirou, a young boy, who along with the rest of the children from his orphanage, are treated as livestock by the vampires. Even in captivity, Yuuichirou dreams big. He dreams of killing vampires. He dreams of killing them all and one day gets a chance.
Devil Man Cry Baby (2018)One day Akira's best friend tells him that ancient demons have returned to take back the world from humans and suggests that he unites with one. Akira successfully does so, transforming into Devilman, a being with a demon's powers but who retains the soul of a human. Akira heads into a brutal, degenerate war against evil. With fear of demons taking over the world, humanity devolves into a state of paranoia and violence and Akira sets out to save other demon-human hybrids like himself.
The Devil Is a Part Timer (2013)The demon lord seeks to conquer the world of Ente Isla by annexing its four continents with the help of his demon generals. After being confronted by the hero Emilia and her companions, the demon lord escapes with his general Alciel to the world of Ente Isla through a gate to modern Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately however, due to the lack of magic in the modern contemporary world, both the demon lord and Alciel change into forms representing what they would look like if they were human. In order to survive, the demon lord gets a part-time job in the fast food restaurant MgRonald, while Alciel serves as his houseman.
Angel Beats (2010)Angel Beats! turns a high school setting into a static purgatory where wayward souls find themselves seeking resolution for the things they missed out on while alive. When Otonashi wakes up dead with no memories other than his name, he throws in with a rebel group attempting to take down "Angel," the student body president who they believe can patch them through to God.
Beyond the Boundary (2013)Mirai Kuriyama is the sole survivor of a clan of Spirit World warriors with the power to employ their blood as weapons. As such, Mirai is tasked with hunting down and killing "youmu"—creatures said to be the manifestation of negative human emotions.
07 Ghost (2009)Young amnesiac finds out that the army he was forced to join destroyed his father's kingdom. He finds shelter in a church and discovers that demons are trying to invade the world. He must find his past, vengeance and save the world.
Chrome Shelled Regios / Kukaku Shelled Regios (2009)In a post-apocalyptic world overrun with mutated beasts called Limbeekoon or Filth Monsters, humanity is forced to live in large mobile cities called Regios and learn to use special weapons called Dite, by harnessing the power of Kei to defend themselves.
Haikyuu (2014)A chance event triggered Shouyou Hinata's love for volleyball. His club had no members, but somehow he persevered and the club finally made it into its first and final regular match of middle school, where it was steamrolled by Tobio Kageyama, a superstar player known as "King of the Court." Vowing revenge, Hinata applied to the Karasuno High School volleyball club... only to come face-to-face with his hated rival, Kageyama!
Kenichi: the mightiest disciple (2006)Shirahama Kenichi is an average student who has earned the nickname "Weak Legs" and is always getting bullied. One day he meets a girl named Fuurinji Miu who helps him build the courage to begin training at the mysterious dojo where she lives. Here Kenichi faces intense training from masters of many different martial arts styles as he attempts to become stronger.
Cowboy Bebop (1998)
Based on the worldwide phenomenon from Sunrise Inc., Cowboy Bebop is the jazz-inspired, genre-bending story of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Radical Ed: a ragtag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals. They’ll even save the world… for the right price
Samurai Champloo (2005)Samurai Champloo tells the story of three strangers in the Tokugawa era (also known as the Edo Period) who come together on a journey across Japan. A young woman named Fuu is working as a waitress in a tea shop when she is harassed by a band of samurai. She is saved by Mugen, a mysterious rogue, and Jin, a young ronin.
Gantz (2004)People who have recently died are brought back to life and supplied with high-tech weapons in order to defeat an army of monsters in Tokyo and Osaka.
Kill La Kill (2013)A young girl arrives at a school of superhumans to find out the truth behind her father's murder.
Mob Psycho 100 (2016)Mob Psycho 100 is the story about a young middle schooler, Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed "Mob" living in Seasoning City. Ever since he was young, he has had astounding psychic powers which obviously help him in battle. However, this esper power is unable to grant him the one thing he wishes for the most: to be friends with the girl he likes in his class.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014-2015)Shiro Emiya becomes a magi and summons a mystical female warrior named Saber to battle with him. They are about to enter a contest where only one team can leave, and Shiro has second thoughts when his feelings for Saber grow.
Magi: Adventures of Sinbad / Magi: Sinbad no Bouken (2016)Magi: Sinbad no Bouken tells the epic saga of Sinbad's early life as he travels the world, honing his skill and influence, while gathering allies and power to become the High King of the Seven Seas.
Goblin Slayer (2018)
A young priestess has formed her first adventuring party, but almost immediately they find themselves in distress. It's the Goblin Slayer who comes to their rescue—a man who's dedicated his life to the extermination of all goblins, by any means necessary. And when rumors of his feats begin to circulate, there's no telling who might come calling next.
Be warned, episode one is very distressing.
Long ones – more than 51 episodes
Black Clover (2017)Asta and Yuno were abandoned together at the same church and have been inseparable since. As children, they promised that they would compete against each other to see who would become the next Emperor Magus. However, as they grew up, the differences between them became obvious. Yuno was a genius with magic, with amazing power and control, whilst Asta could not use magic at all, and tried to make up for his lack by training physically. When they received their Grimoires at age 15, Yuno got a spectacular book with a four-leaf clover (most people receive a three-leaf-clover), while Asta received nothing at all. However, when Yuno was threatened, the truth about Asta's power is revealed.
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (2003)The series follows the story of two alchemist brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who want to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy. Unlike the first anime, which added original elements to the story, the second series follows the manga.
Naruto (2002) & Naruto Shippuden (2007)In a world where powerful ninjas with mystical powers run things and evil lurks in the shadows of every nation, we follow Naruto Uzamaki, a young boy who lost his parents when the legendary Nine-Tailed demon fox attacked the village hidden in the leaves killing many innocent people. The Fourth Hokage, leader of the village, sacrifices himself in order to defeat the demon, sealing half of its chakra into himself and half into the baby, Naruto Uzumaki. Growing up in the rebuilt village as an orphan and an outcast, with his loud mouth and careless attitude, Naruto is determined to defy the odds and one day become the greatest ninja, the hokage and leader of his village. Along with his friends, and hope, Naruto trains to become a better ninja than expected.
Most long time anime fans will have seen this already, but If you haven’t you need to.
Bleach (2004)A 15 year-old teenager named Kurosaki Ichigo has the ability to see the undead/ghosts/spirits. The journey begins when Ichigo first meets with Rukia Kuchiki, a Shinigami (Soul Reaper). Her mission in the real world is to find evil spirits called Hollow, then capture them. When Rukia first meets Ichigo, she finds Ichigo has a tremendous ability in his soul. The story continues on with twisted and turns, excitement and sad, friends and foes, and the most important of all, EVERYONE in the series has unique SUPERPOWER.
Dragon Ball Super (2016)A follow on to the classic. To protect Earth, Goku transforms into the Super Saiyan God to fight Beerus by using the power of five Super Saiyans, which includes Vegeta, Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and the baby named Pan in Videl's womb. Goku shows an immense amount of power that is enough to impress Beerus.
One Piece (1999)The series focuses on Monkey D. Luffy, a young man who, inspired by his childhood idol and powerful pirate "Red Haired" Shanks, sets off on a journey from the East Blue Sea to find the titular treasure and proclaim himself the King of the Pirates.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)The better version and the alternate retelling of the original Hunter x Hunter series. Gon Freece is a boy living on a small island. He learns that the father he doesn’t remember is an extremely famous hunter. Gon takes the hunter exam to seek out his father, but he soon learns that the challenges he must face are beyond his imagination.