I’ve seen 750 anime now, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or a nothing thing. What’s important is that I can now recommend 25 of my favorites to you! So, let’s get into this.
- Best Anime Recommendations
- 25. Samurai Champloo
- 24. Parasyte
- 23. Ping Pong: The Animation
- 22. Vinland Saga
- 21. Attack on Titan
- 20. Kill la Kill
- 19. Monster
- 18. Toradora
- 17. Serial Experiments Lain
- 16. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
- 15. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- 14. Hunter X Hunter (2011)
- 13. Nana
- 12. Neon Genesis Evangelion
- 11. Lovers Suicide Through Rakugo
- 10. Cowboy Bebop
- 9. Princess Mononoke
- 8. Death Note
- 7. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- 6. Code Geass
- 5. Grave of the Fireflies
- 4. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
- 3. Devilman: Crybaby
- 2. From the New World
- 1. Steins;Gate
Best Anime Recommendations
25. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo follows two samurai – Mugen, a breakdancing outcast; and Jin, a stoic traditionalist.
After destroying a bar, they get in trouble with the law but are rescued by the now jobless waitress, FuuKasuni, who hires them both in finding a samurai who smells of sunflowers.
It’s action-packed, dynamic, emotional at times, yet funny as well. It’s amazing how well Shinichiro Watanabe blended both Eastern aesthetic and Western hip-hop music so effectively.
Watching the three of them grow as people and bond was a brilliant experience, and it’s one of the best and unique samurai anime around.
Parasyte is a 2014 Madhouse anime adapting a 1989 classic horror manga.
After a parasitic lifeform fails to control the young high-school student Shinichi, it becomes trapped in his hand, mutating it into an alien morphing appendage.
It refers to itself as Migi, here with the intent of taking over the planet alongside the others in his species.
However, his condition now changed. He resorts to joining Shinichi’s side in warding off those trying to harm him and who he loves.
It’s got a dubstep soundtrack interspersed with piano melodies for the softer moments and fills the void of ‘alien’ anime out there.
There’s really not much like Parasyte – you’ll either love it or hate it, but I’d recommend giving Parasyte a shot.
23. Ping Pong: The Animation
Ping Pong is a story about two boys: Smile and Peco. The former is a drab, rather stoic boy with talent but little ambition, whereas the former wants to become a master of the sport more than anything.
They decide to enlist in an inter-high table tennis tournament.
In the process, they discover more about their wants and desires across a short but incredibly stylistic series filled with hype action and dramatic emotional moments.
It’s a show about self-discovery, resolve, and determination and has tons of metaphors and symbolism despite its short run-time.
Definitely worth checking this one for you, especially for how short it is. Don’t be frightened by the core concept – Ping Pong, boring, right? – because it’s about a lot more than that (though it may make you care about the sport, too).
22. Vinland Saga
Thorfinn is a young boy infatuated by the stories of Vikings and warriors and sailors passed around his settlement.
He aspires to be like one of them, killing and slaughtering and pillaging. His father doesn’t like this and warns his son off this path shortly before being murdered in front of him.
The young boy commits himself to revenge, training alongside and under the man he swears to one day murder.
It’s a tragic, action-packed shounen throughout its first season but will get gradually more adult and seinen as the seasons progress.
It’s a unique anime with a unique setting for the medium and certainly worth a watch, particularly for the production quality we’ve come to expect from Studio Wit…
21. Attack on Titan
And talking of Studio Wit: Attack on Titan, their baby. It put them on the map all the way through the 2010s, though the final season has been handed to Studio MAPPA.
It revolutionized the medium in terms of popularity and accessibility, rippling through the world in a way not seen until One Punch Man, Demon Slayer, or even JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
It features one of the greatest soundtracks in anime courtesy of Hiroyuki Sawano, played beneath a gorgeously animated tragic story with brilliant action sequences.
The mystery unravels organically in a way rarely seen for a shounen anime, combining the best aspects of the kaiju, zombie, and mecha genres into one cohesive package that’s dominated the world.
Enjoy the ride, avoid the spoilers, and get ready for something dynamic as all heck.
20. Kill la Kill
Ryuko Matoi’s search for the person who murdered her father has led her to Honnouji Academy – an authoritarian high school dominated by the egotistical Satsuki Kiryuuin.
The woman is in possession of the other half of Ryuko’s scissor blade, meaning she must have been the one to murder her father.
However, their power difference is staggering, so Ryuko dedicates herself to training and battling her way to the top.
Kill la Kill is the baby of Studio Trigger, really defining their style and place as successors of TengenToppaGurrenLagann after Gainax’s closure.
It’s eclectic as much as it’s wonderfully orchestrated (Hiroyuki Sawano once more) and never stops being entertaining and surprising to the very end.
Respected neurosurgeon Dr. Kenzou Tenma makes the moral decision to save a young boy’s life as opposed to aiding the recovery of the mayor, who helps fund the hospital.
Before this choice, he was engaged to the daughter of the hospital director and had great plans for the future.
However, this all goes awry in a single night, and his life is left in shatters.
However, he discovers years later that the boy he saves is a serial killer and finds purpose in understanding and stopping him somehow.
It’s grizzly, twisted, and mature in a way very few anime manage to get, with a fantastic pace and direction throughout.
Ryuuji looks like a thug, but he’s actually rather calm and lovely. Taiga looks small and timid but is very aggressive and assertive.
Through a chance encounter, they discover they each have a crush on the other’s best friend and decide to team up. However, throughout their attempts, they come to depend on each other.
It’s a lovely romance with some fantastic characters and comedy moments, with a satisfying finale and beautiful musical direction.
It’s animated with a vivid palette and great art style that hardly looks like it’s aged twelve years.
I highly recommend this to anybody interested in romance dramas as it will likely meet your expectations.
17. Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain was way ahead of its time, releasing in 1998 yet depicting a prophetic future filled with the internet, social disconnection, dissociation, and concepts of collective consciousness.
It explores these topics (and more) through the main character, Lain Iwakura, an introverted teenager who lives in and out of reality after receiving her first PC following a classmate’s suicide.
Throughout the course of the wonderfully directed and produced series, we watch her lapse of sanity and derealization through the digital and real worlds.
It changes your perception with every episode and owes itself greatly to rewatching.
However, it’s a hard one to digest and has a rather slow methodic pace.
Nonetheless, Serial Experiments Lain has gone down as one of the best anime ever made, so you may as well give the first episode a shot and see if the tone is for you.
16. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Where do I even start with JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure? Set across 8 (currently) parts, Hirohiko Araki tells a ton of diverse stories with different mechanics and settings and characters, making it a constantly changing experience.
The only things that connect each part are lineage and genetics, as well as themes of predeterminism and bettering oneself.
We follow a vampire story set in Victorian England, a 1930s tale of ancient races and sun magic, a globetrotting adventure from Japan to Egypt, a slice of life thriller about a fetishistic serial killer, a mafia shounen set in Naples and Rome, a Florida prison break with reality on the line, an American horse race for the corpse parts of Jesus Christ, and a wacky exploration of the Self and human connection.
This is all punctuated with a beautiful artistic direction and attention to musical detail, lending every adapted episode its own identity that perfectly suits the source material. I really cannot wait for part 6’s upcoming adaptation – hopefully in 2021!
15. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the highest-rated anime on MyAnimeList, as in under 100-episodes, it achieves what other shounen fail by telling a complete and filler-free action-packed adventure.
Our protagonists, Edward and Alphonse, are seeking the Philosopher’s Stone – an ancient artifact capable of undoing the gravest mistake an alchemist can make in breaking the Law of Equivalent Exchange.
After attempting a ritual to resurrect their mother, it fails, and Ed loses his left leg and arm, with his brother Alphonse losing his body, his soul affixed to a suit of armor. They want to overturn the law and bring back their bodies.
It’s got a satisfying conclusion, constantly engaging action, and endearing characters, which is why it’s so highly revered among both casual and more frequent anime watchers.
This is also one of the best anime to stream on Netflix.
14. Hunter X Hunter (2011)
Hunter x Hunter (2011) follows Gon, a young boy with the dream of becoming a Hunter – licensed professional of a respective field – in order to find his father who abandoned him.
Hunter x Hunter is similar to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood in quite a few ways.
First, they’re two of the only medium-length shounen anime to be considered amazing, filler-free, and constantly engaging.
Second, they are both remakes of a pre-existing series that received critical acclaim but remained unfinished due to dissonance with the manga’s release schedule.
Third, they both follow boys exploring a hostile world with a specific goal in mind, populated with charm and character, comprising both dark and lighthearted moments.
It’s a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to genre and rarely loses steam. I highly, HIGHLY, recommend Hunter x Hunter to all beginners of anime or shounen.
NANA is such a unique and wonderful melodrama, telling the story of two entirely different girls – Nana Komatsu and Nona Osaki – who meet one another and have their lives’ combine.
It’s one of (if not the) best shoujo / josei out there, tackling raw and untapped topics rarely seen in anime with engaging sensitivity.
Like the characters, the sound design is always harmonizing with the setting and scenario, providing context and identity as well as a beautiful soundscape.
It’s got a wonderful art style and some gorgeous cinematography at key moments and is only let down by the lack of (for now) ending.
12. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deconstruction of the mecha genre, piloted by Hideaki Anno. It follows Shinji Ikari, a neglected introverted teenager who intends to meet his father, Gendo.
However, he becomes a chosen pilot of the Evangelion against the invasion of aliens known as Angels and is forced into combat.
It’s disturbingly abstract, incorporating obscure imagery and mental health storytelling into an alien war mecha narrative.
The production decline towards the end of the series is also made up for by the movie, The End of Evangelion, which provides a satisfying conclusion to the mainline story.
11. Lovers Suicide Through Rakugo
Yotarouis an ex-convict who is eager to perform Rakugo, ancient Japanese stage acting where the person plays every character. After he gets out of jail, he decides to meet with Yakumo – a professional of the art – to teach him.
The story features a romantic core persistent throughout the life of these two totally different men and is set in two different times.
It’s one of Studio Deen’s greatest works, being both sad yet hopeful but constantly engaging, but is unfortunately rather under-watched, so give it a try.
It paints an illustrative tale of a traditional art form, explaining why those who practice Rakugo love it.
10. Cowboy Bebop
With Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe successfully merged the musical genre of jazz with both Western spaghetti movies and science fiction adventures.
It’s an episodic joy set in the year-2071 and following a group of intergalactic bounty hunters all driven by the mistakes of their past and the guilt they feel.
Despite being a wonderfully animated action-adventure, it manages to tell an emotionally poignant and somber story that has stuck with watchers for decades now.
9. Princess Mononoke
Princess Mononoke is one of the best-animated movies around, embodying many of the regular Ghibli themes of deforestation and natural conversion through a gorgeous epic set in a natural setting being invaded by industrial forces.
There is no overt antagonist, with every character given a reason for the things they do, yet we are forced to confront our own feelings for the state of nature (particularly our own planet).
It follows Ashitaka, a boy caught between the manmade world of technology and agriculture, and the natural experience symbolized by San – the princess of the forest.
Definitely give this a watch as it’s appropriate for anyone of any age.
8. Death Note
Death Note follows Light Yagami, an intelligent high school student who comes across a notebook courtesy of a God of Death.
When a name is written in it, they die, and so Light sets about ridding the world of those he feels deserves justice – however, somewhere along the lines, he gains the attention of the elusive master detective known as ‘L.’
It’s one of the best thriller anime, telling an engaging and twisting cat-and-mouse narrative accompanied by music befitting a spiritual battleground.
The animation and art style are also stellar, constantly swooping and dynamic, just like the story deserves.
7. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Simon and Kamina are orphan blood brothers living deep underground with the remnants of human civilization. They dream of escaping, and that dream is met when a mecha falls through the roof of their lodgings, and they’ve launched into a galactic adventure with a scale unmatched on almost every other medium.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann doesn’t just suspend disbelief, it grand slams it into the ground and stomps on its corpse.
It’s artistically gorgeous, with some of the best animations in the medium making use of blended traditional and digital art perfectly.
6. Code Geass
Lelouch is a royal prince of Britannia, exiled from his family through betrayal and forced to live among the masses.
He desires revenge and to discover the person in his family behind the death of his mother and disabling of sister – and begins a path of vengeance after reviving a special power giving him a mind control ability known as ‘Geass.’
Its action-packed, dynamic, and emotionally turning, managing to balance the eccentricities of most anime with rooted moments reminiscent of Western dramas or mystery thrillers.
5. Grave of the Fireflies
Perhaps the most important movie in the Studio Ghibli catalog, Grave of the Fireflies, adapts Akiyuki’s semi-autobiography experiences during the Kobe firebombing of WWII.
It’s gorgeously drawn, especially for its age, blending the Ghibli aesthetic with gritty realism.
It tells the story of Seita and Setsuko, two young siblings attempting to survive after everything is taken from them, and never stops being somber.
Don’t go into this one unprepared: it is a sad, dark, and disturbing movie, wonderfully immortalizing a tragic moment in history.
4. Legend of the Galactic Heroes
After 150-years of intense stalemating, the Galactic Empire and Free Planets Alliance launch into an unforgettable war spanning the course of the series.
It’s gargantuan in scale, rivaling shows like Game of Thrones for cast number and diplomatic discourse.
It’s got the largest voice cast in anime, and that’s well deserved as Legend of the Galactic Heroes starts strong and remains firm throughout its entire 110-episode run.
Definitely check this out for a slow burn punctuated with fantastic explosive moments.
3. Devilman: Crybaby
Devilman Crybaby is the definitive version of Go Nagai’s old but classic manga. It’s even more irreverent and disturbing as it was when it was first published, encapsulating on everything dark and morbid or mature to tell an edgy-yet-lovable tragedy.
It really never stops being a gorefest of devastation and sadness, ending with one of the most unforgettable and influential endings in manga history. Warning though, this is not for the faint of heart.
2. From the New World
Centuries in to the future, following a psychokinetic culling that reduced the human population, the 12-year-old Saki Watanabe and her friends are starting at their new school, designed for such PK-latent children.
Soon, their classmates begin to disappear, and the adults act secretive, their minds turn and change, and the world as they know is called into question.
It’s adapted from a 2008 novel by Yusuke Kishi and possesses the pacing of a novel, building into its third act only to explode in a dystopia exploration of the self and humanity.
Steins;Gate is one of my favorite pieces of media, both in its visual novel and anime format.
It tells a story set in Akihabara about time travel, tackling cognitive psychology and quantum mechanics subjects with a tangible romantic and thriller through-line.
It’s utterly unforgettable and plays with your expectations of narrative, meaning that a rewatch only increases its strengths.
It follows Okabe Rintarou and his friend group of social outcasts as they come to terms with their biggest weaknesses and regrets, managing to tech plenty of head-spinning theories along the way.
It has a slow burn for the first half, but it pays off.
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