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What Are the Best Anime Series of All Time

Picking just 8 titles for this list of best anime was really difficult, but our team of writers and anime enthusiasts eventually came up with the top titles of best anime series. We took several things into consideration when choosing our 8: Did the anime leave its mark on the culture in a meaningful way? Did they influence the industry and genre? And, of course, did we just like them?

8. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion anime image. best anime series

There’s a reason we all still need an ending explained for Neon Genesis Evangelion more than 20 years after its release. The mythology behind the production of Hideaki Anno’s groundbreaking anime has become as much a part of Evangelion’s story as the anime itself, with its final two episodes still being divisive and up for debate.

There’s no debate over Evangelion’s continued excellence, though, both as an elevated take on the mech anime genre and as a harrowing and incredibly personal exploration of depression. Even with countless movie and series sequels and reimaginings, nothing touches the masterwork of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s first run, which remains a fan-favorite and showcases how a singular auteur approach to storytelling can create art that continues to resonate for generations.

7. Hunter x Hunter

Hunter x Hunter anime image. best anime series

Hunter x Hunter (pronounced Hunter Hunter) starts out with a familiar trope: A hero, in this case, a young boy named Gon, leaves his small town for the first time on an adventure. He leaves the island on a quest to find his long-forgotten father who had left him behind. His only clue? He’s a world-famous licensed Hunter — so Gon sets off to take the notoriously deadly exam and become a Hunter himself. It sounds mundane and almost cheery, but Hunter x Hunter is anything but.

The emotional highs and lows and the arcs of both the protagonists and antagonists are some of the best. As with most shonen, the dramatic action is fantastic, too.

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6. Mob Psycho 100

Mob Psycho 100 image. best anime series

Don’t let the title fool you. Mob Psycho 100 is another fun romp from original One-Punch Man creator One. The series works as both a parody of shonen-style anime and a great example of it, revolving around an eighth-grader named Mob, a quiet, reserved boy who specializes in exorcising evil spirits.

The catch is that his own supernatural powers are tied to his emotions. If he gets pushed over the edge, the entire world is in peril.

This series thrives on the strength of its humor, its small but memorable cast of characters, and its dynamic visual style.

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5. Hajime no Ippo

Hajime no Ippo fighting spirit anime image. best anime series

Also known in the US as Fighting Spirit, Hajime no Ippo is a thrilling adaptation of an incredibly long-running manga series.

Picture a mashup of Rocky and The Karate Kid and you’ll have some idea of what to expect from this coming-of-age drama about a bullied teen named Ippo Makunouchi who discovers he has a knack for boxing. The series follows Ippo’s training and gradual rise through the boxing ranks.

What really makes this series shine is the way it strives to flesh out both sides of any given match-up. Ippo doesn’t just train to be the best but to understand and connect with his opponents. That alone is enough to set this series apart.

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4. Monster

Monster anime image. best anime series

Monster is quite simply one of the best stories ever told in anime/manga form, but more than that, it’s a special anime because of how different it is from everything else.

In a medium dominated by giant robots, superpowered heroes that shoot beams out of their hands, and virtual fantasy worlds, Monster is refreshingly grounded in reality. It’s a dark, mature, gritty thriller about a good man who loses everything after doing what he believed to be the right thing and the dark descent that he must endure in order to correct his mistake.

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3. One Piece

One Piece image. best anime series

After almost 20 years, One Piece continues to entertain audiences worldwide with more than 1000 episodes. Going as long as the series has been with its pirate journey, it can be tough for any anime to keep up with fans both new and old. One Piece manages to do that with the amazing mind of Eiichiro Oda.

The world-building, the deep characters, the hilarious adventure, and the amazing adaptation that sometimes beats out the manga catapults this series to the top of shonen anime history. It’s through Oda’s vision that the series has had such a lasting impact on viewers throughout the years and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

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2. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy bebop image. best anime series

It’s hard to believe Cowboy Bebop is over 20 years old because of how well it still holds up, both in its conception and its execution. The space western that introduced the world to Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and of course Ein still looks gorgeous, with a resonant story, strong characters, and one heck of a soundtrack that ensures it remains one of the best anime ever made.

Cowboy Bebop has had an indelible impact that reaches far beyond anime; everyone from Orson Scott Card to Rian Johnson to Robin Williams has praised the series and cited its influence on their work.

Cowboy Bebop still works so well because of the continually relatable story at the heart of its genre-bending 26-episode run. Its exploration of adult themes like loss anchors the crew’s journey throughout the stars, making it a series we’re happy to revisit even after all this time. Three, two, one, let’s jam!

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1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood image. best anime series

The struggle of most anime is laying out intricate world-building while balancing a cast of memorable characters, iconic moments, and thrilling fights. And that’s what makes Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood so special.

The framing device for our entry into this sprawling world is one of sympathy. We understand why the Elric brothers would practice forbidden alchemy in an attempt to resurrect their dead mother at the cost of their physical bodies. And yet despite divine intervention slapping them in the face, telling them no, they continue on their quest.

And that quest to resurrect their mother paves the way for motivation that guides them through a world of monsters, government conspiracy, and divinity. And despite all this elegance, FMA: Brotherhood also knows when to lay it all bare in unforgettable moments that will leave you standing in front of your TV cheering for the Elric brothers.

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