Top 10 Favorite Anime TV Shows List

Top 10 Favorite Anime TV Shows List

Originating from and popularized in Japan, anime is a unique form of animation that frequently adapts Japanese comics known as “manga,” Japanese young adult “light” novels, and video games. Unlike most American animation typically geared toward general demographics, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons, anime is a medium in which a limitless array of specific stories can be told by primarily Japanese creators for audience members of all ages and backgrounds. From Studio Ghibli’s timeless cinematic masterpiece Spirited Away (2001), to Sunrise Inc.’s sprawling science fiction space western drama Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999), anime offers a bit of something for everyone.

While many viewers prefer watching anime spoken in its original Japanese language with native language subtitles, others have grown accustomed to watching anime with native language dubbing (voice acting). Unfortunately, native language dubs are not always an accurate reflection of the Japanese dubbing in terms of dialogue alterations and musical substitutions; however, I often feel a deeper connection to the characters onscreen when I’m able to understand what they’re saying while they’re speaking in English. With that said, the following are my Top 10 Anime Television Shows, from my least to most favorite, with a few honorable mentions.

  1. Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma (2015-2020) [86 Episodes]

Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, or “Soma of the Shokugeki,” is wonderfully bizarre yet deliciously executed. Food Wars centers on teenage student, Soma Yukihira, an exceptionally talented chef who has worked with his father at Restaurant Yukihira for the majority of his life. Soma soon applies and transfers to Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute, an elite culinary high school located in Tokyo, Japan that has a mere 10% graduation rate. Upon his unruly arrival, Soma quickly realizes the school is filled with other unbelievably gifted chefs who have lofty dreams and aspirations of their own. The passion of these chefs is illustrated beautifully throughout their various team exercises as well as the individual challenges provided by their instructors. These challenges often spark intense rivalries between students that are often settled in “food war” competitions, where students must create a superior dish using pre-established guidelines under the purview of several judges. While excessively erotic and downright silly at times, the amazing skill as well as the entertaining personalities of the chefs onscreen and the mouth-watering appeal of their phenomenal dishes help maintain a crisp focus on the narrative.

  1. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2019-Present) [26 Episodes Thus Far]

Although it had been serialized as a manga from 2016 to 2020, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba or “Blade of Demon Destruction” was not adapted into a full-fledged anime until 2019. The franchise has since exploded in popularity, particularly in Japan, where the cinematic sequel to the series, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Train (2020), became the #1 highest grossing film of all time there, surpassing the previous record-holder, Spirited Away. Set in Taishō-Era Japan (1912-1926), siblings Tanjiro Kamado and Nezuko Kamado live peacefully with their family until their home is brutally attacked by an unknown demon. Tanjiro and Nezuko’s other siblings and mother are killed in the shocking attack while Nezuko herself is somehow transformed into a bloodthirsty demon. Tanjiro pledges to find the demon responsible for their family’s slaughter and restore Nezuko’s humanity, an oath that eventually leads the siblings into a centuries-long conflict between demons and humans from the secretive Demon Slayer Corps. The stunning animation and incredible performances from the voice actors largely contribute to the anime’s massive success; however, the emotional resonance between Tanjiro and the other characters, both heroic and villainous alike, are what truly sets Demon Slayer apart from other anime.

  1. Hellsing Ultimate (2006-2012) [10 Original Video Animations]

A spiritual successor to Bram Stoker’s landmark novel, Dracula (1897), Hellsing Ultimate is an ultra-violent affair, focusing on the hostile schemes of humans who dare to use vampires and other monsters for their own nefarious means. Inspired by Abraham Van Helsing’s Royal Order of Protestant Knights, the Hellsing Organization is now led by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing and tasked with covertly eliminating supernatural threats to England. Upon his defeat at the hands of Helsing 100 years prior, the original and utmost powerful vampire, Alucard, swore himself to eternal servitude of the Hellsing family, and is now used as an instrument in Hellsing’s annihilation of evil. Meanwhile, Catholic Vatican Section XIII, also known as the Iscariot Organization, opposes Hellsing’s Protestant beliefs as well as their unholy use of Alucard, believing him to be a detriment to mankind. Amid these two rival organizations is Millennium, a group intent on reviving Nazi Germany. The grisly clashes between these three organizations is catastrophic, culminating in one of the most chaotic battles seen in all of anime. Nothing can prepare you for the ruthless and ambitious story of Hellsing Ultimate, a reboot of the original Hellsing (2001-2002) television series that more closely adapts author Kouta Hirona’s manga this time around. The dark, moody setting and imposing personalities of the characters, most notably Integra and Alucard, elevate this tried and true story about humans versus vampires to new heights.

  1. Attack on Titan (2013-Present) [68 Episodes Thus Far]

While Hellsing Ultimate relishes in the terror caused by its monsters, Attack on Titan instead tells a heroic story about the bravery of humans who face terrifying monsters. These monsters, known as “Titans,” are gigantic, mindless, humanoid creatures with an uncontrollable appetite for human beings. Inside three enormous concrete walls lies the last of mankind, sealed away from the onslaught of the Titans’ 100 years ago. Life within the walls is sad, but relatively peaceful – that is, until the towering Colossal Titan and destructive Armored Titan attack the town of Shiganshina, located just inside the outer third wall, Wall Maria. The staggering assault opens the entire area up to a bloody invasion by other Titans, one of which devours the mother of a teenage boy named Eren Yaeger, who promptly vows revenge upon all Titans. With his adopted sister, Mikasa Ackerman, and his best friend, Armin Arlert, the trio eventually enlist in their nation’s military to uncover the origins and motivations of the Titans as well as what lies beyond the walls they have lived in for their entire lives. The mass appeal of Attack on Titan lies in its natural ability to garner sympathy for its various characters while they work tirelessly toward their respective goals, only for viewers to bear witness to those characters as they are ripped away from them, à la Game of Thrones (2011-2019). The sheer veracity of characters like Eren and his remarkable willpower to do what needs to be done in the face of hopelessness is powerfully demonstrated, especially when the stakes in Attack on Titan are immeasurably high.

  1. Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014) [148 Episodes]

A colorful, quirky action-adventure anime with recurring themes of growing-up and friendship at its core, Hunter x Hunter is a magnificent TV series that beautifully balances the wonders of its world with the dangers of those who occupy it. The series follows 12 year-old boy, Gon Freecss, who learns his father is still alive and operates as an accomplished Hunter; licensed, elite members of humanity who are proficient in tracking down secret treasures, rare beasts, or even other individuals, and possess access to specific information and locations around the world that regular people do not. Gon is inspired by his father’s achievements, and on his mission to taking the Hunter Examination, Gon meets a number of characters, such as Killua Zoldyck, Kurapika Kurta, Leorio Paradinight, and Hisoka Morow, all of whom both interest and frighten him beyond all levels of imagination. This reboot of the 1999-2001 TV series of the same name and its accompanying 2002-2004 Original Video Animation (OVA) series features excellent animation and newly adapted content from the on-again, off-again manga written by author Yoshihiro Togashi. Even at nearly 150 episodes, Hunter x Hunter maintains a unique level of brilliance with each new episode as it’s always willing to take big risks with its beloved characters in telling meaningful stories.

  1. Assassination Classroom (2015-2016) [47 Episodes)

Despite a dubious title, Assassination Classroom is an unexpectedly charming coming-of-age story set within the framework of a heartfelt relationship developed between a group of junior high school students and their outrageous teacher. The series stars an ostensibly invincible tentacled creature who suddenly destroys more than half of Earth’s moon, threatening to destroy the planet itself unless the Japanese government allows him to teach a group of failing students in Class 3-E at Kunugigaoko Junior High School. The creature further dictates that the students will have one school year to assassinate him or the creature will fulfill his promise to destroy the Earth. With no other immediate choice, the government agrees to the creature’s absurd demands and promises to award 100 million USD to whomever is successful in their assassination of the creature – student or otherwise. This strange creature, nicknamed “Koro-Sensei,” or “unkillable teacher,” surprisingly challenges his students to actually improve upon their academic scores, all while becoming deadly assassins who might actually be capable of killing him. Memorable characters and emotional relationships stitch together this farfetched tale into something unexpected and extraordinary.

  1. Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996) [291 Episodes]

The sequel to the anime Dragon Ball (1986-1989), Dragon Ball Z is inarguably the most successful anime television series of all time. While Dragon Ball manga author Akira Toriyama‘s story did not initially separate the stories of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z from one another, the producers of the anime decided to brand the sequel series as Dragon Ball Z once the main character of the series, Goku, had grown from a child into an adult with a family of his own, naturally resulting in a tonal shift. From the invasion of the alien “saiyan” race to the hunt for the Dragon Balls on planet Namek, back to Earth versus the androids and finally the encounter with the evil entity, Majin Buu, Dragon Ball Z is a timeless series that created many of the tropes anime has heavily relied upon since its first airing on Japanese television in 1989 throughout its impressive seven year run until 1996. Despite an overabundance of filler content not found in the original manga, audiences have remained invested in the gripping action, iconic characters, incredible moments and delightful score of Dragon Ball Z for over 30 years, inspiring more than 20 films and 2 sequel series, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super. From Super Saiyan and beyond, Dragon Ball Z is a must-watch series for anime fans.

  1. Yu Yu Hakusho (1992-1994) [112 Episodes]

Quite often overlooked, but never wholly forgotten, Yu Yu Hakusho walks a fine line in comfortably sustaining an exceptional level of creativity while telling an admittedly basic, but undeniably thrilling action-adventure story about the physical and mental trials of 14-year-old juvenile delinquent, Yusuke Urameshi. In saving a child’s life at the cost of his own, Yusuke shocks the Spirit World with his selfless sacrifice and works to win his life back until he is eventually appointed Spirit World Detective. This appointment leads him on the path of several investigations that regularly blur the lines between humans and monsters. While Yu Yu Hakusho’s manga predates author Yoshihiro Togashi’s subsequent manga for Hunter x Hunter, it exceeds the latter in both drama and emotion on multiple occasions without over-staying its welcome. Featuring relatable characters and intimidating villains, Yu Yu Hakusho captures the unconventional spirit of anime itself with ample sentiment and intriguing conflicts.

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010) [64 Episodes]

Considered to be one the greatest anime of all time, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the culmination of everything animated storytelling can be. Packed with action, adventure, comedy, drama, horror and thrills, the world of Fullmetal Alchemist emphasizes the scientific practice of alchemy, where characters may create new objects by manipulating the physical properties of existing objects. Brotherhood tells the story of Edward and Alphonse Elric, orphaned brothers who scour their country of Amestris for the legendary Philosopher’s Stone. After the passing of their mother due to illness, Ed and Al attempt to revive her through human transmutation, a forbidden alchemic technique. Upon their disastrous revival attempt, Ed loses his leg while Al loses his entire body. Desperate to bring Al back, Ed sacrifices his arm to bond Al’s soul to a suit of armor, thus beginning the brothers’ journey to restore their bodies using the Philosopher’s Stone. The law of equivalent exchange reigns supreme in Fullmetal Alchemist as alchemy dictates that something can only be gained when something else is lost. Believing the Philosopher’s Stone may provide them with the power they need to bypass the law of equivalent exchange and avoid additional sacrifice, Ed and Al endure tremendous hardships while meeting unique characters along the way who both assist and deter them from their end goal. Much like Hellsing Ultimate and Hunter x Hunter, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is reboot of the original Fullmetal Alchemist (2003-2004) anime with Brotherhood adhering much more closely to the manga written by author Hiromu Arakawa. With jaw-dropping information reveals that feed into a strong overarching narrative, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one of the best and most diverse stories anime has to offer.

  1. Death Note (2006-2007) [37 Episodes]

Death Note is a masterpiece work of animation. A murder-mystery-thriller, the story of Death Note follows the unfathomable machinations of teenage genius, Light Yagami, who happens across a mysterious black notebook called a “Death Note” with instructions inside detailing how to use the notebook to kill others by simply writing the victim’s real name in the note while picturing that victim’s face. Light soon realizes the unbelievable power and devastating potential of the Death Note is real, vowing to use the notebook to end all crime in the world. The result of Light’s crusade leads to an immensely compelling cat-and-mouse chase between Light and the police as well as the enigmatic, world-renowned investigator, L. It’s clear from Episodes 1 & 2 that Death Note is not for the faint of heart, featuring shocking murders and harrowing mind games. Like pop culture icons, Walter White from Breaking Bad (2008-2013) and Dexter from Dexter (2006-2013) that debuted on TV several years later, Light’s idealistic beliefs eventually twist him into something completely unrecognizable on his warped path toward ultimate justice.

A few honorable mentions not included in this Top 10 list are: Bleach (2004-2012), Soul Eater (2008-2009), My Hero Academia (2016-Present) and Tokyo Ghoul (2014) as well as both of its sequel series, Tokyo Ghoul √A (2015) and Tokyo Ghoul:re (2018).

Thank you for reading this list, covering my Top 10 Favorite Anime TV Shows!

The Mercer County Library System (MCLS) catalog features a number of anime movies and television shows as well as their manga and light novel counterparts.

What are your favorite anime? Feel free to comment below!

- Jamie Anderson, Lawrence Headquarters Branch