With hundreds of shows available for streaming or purchase,and with genres and sub-genres galore, anyone can find a compelling title.
Anime is one of those genres, and anyone who has never watched an anime, is missing out. Contrary to popular belief, animes are not just for children. Anime for adults has been around for a long time, and there is something for everyone. Here's our list of must-see anime, old and new for all ages.
Saint Seiya is one of those animes that only works because it is an anime. Follow the Knights of the Zodiac as they fight on behalf of the Greek goddess Athena. This anime is just cool. The fights are sweet in this show, and the twist on Greek lore is refreshing and fun.
It is difficult to find any English versions of this anime (subbed or dubbed), and fans should take advantage of this rare opportunity and enjoy this unique anime.
Neon Genisis Evangelion
Neon Genisis Evangelion is an OG in mecha animes. The anime focuses on the struggles of preventing the apocalypse by showing 14-year-olds battling Angels (titan-esque creatures that want to destroy humanity) in giant robots.
Explaining the plot is beyond difficult, and in all honesty, it is easier just to watch it, you won't regret it.
The story is fantastic and hard to find in the US (literally). The story and characters are complex, making this show and its spin-off movies (also on Netflix) worth the watch.
Fate/Zero is one of the many adaptations of the Fate manga franchise, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best. The adaptation is full of mythological references, so brush up before you start watching this one.
The show name drops figures like Alexander the Great, King Arthur, and Gilgamesh. The characters are all battling for the mythical Holy Grail, and the battles are titanic. Magic, swordplay, and philosophy are the hallmarks of this series. What's not to love?
Bleach is an anime with a focus on sword fighting. Virtually every battle that takes place involves at least one person with a sword. Don't let that description turn you off though, these aren't your average swords, and this isn't your average anime. Kurosaki Ichigo is a high school boy with the ability to see spirits.
He meets a soul reaper (aka shinigami) and gains the powers of one during the encounter. Shinigamis are the sword wielders in this series, and their swords are in a class of their own.
This is a brilliant anime and with the recent addition of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, fans got a whole lot more.
One Piece is an anime that outdoes itself. It is one of the longest animes ever, with over 900 episodes. This hilarious shōnen anime is iconic. The characters are complex and loveable; the story is broad, and the plot is ridiculous.
Follow Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew as they travel the world, battling the Navy, defying the World Government, and facing off against rival pirates on their journey to become the greatest pirate crew of all time.
The anime has been around for years, and it has remained popular throughout its tenure, and it is still ongoing. This anime is a must-see and is worth every minute of time spent binging it.
Full Metal Alchemist and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Full Metal Alchemist and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood are classic. The story focuses on two brothers, Ed and Al, as they strive to master the art of alchemy. The brothers' origins are heartbreaking, and their story is riveting.
The array of characters in this show only adds the appeal, with even the villains being more than they first appear. Their alchemical abilities are put to the test as they battle other alchemists and their creations. This is an amazing series, and there's a reason it is one of the most popular shōnen animes ever.
Attack on Titan
Beware, Attack on Titan is heavy. This anime is amazing and is hands down worth the watch, but be forewarned; there is a lot of death and gore in this series. Humanity has been pushed to the brink as they battle to survive against the Titans.
Titans are large humanoid creatures who consume humans. Their origins are a mystery, and the damage they deal out is catastrophic. Eren Yeager is the lead of this series, and his is a complex story.
He and his friends fight to survive in this Titan riddled world. They work as Titan hunters and attempt to discover the Titan's origins and the key to their demise. The series is heart-wrenching, devastating, and action-packed. It is a great series, but it is not for the faint-hearted.
Death Note is an anime that explores just how twisted people can be. The show follows the story of Light Yagami after he finds a mysterious notebook called the Death Note. The Death Note is a dangerous artifact as it causes the death of any person whose name is written on its pages.
Light begins the story by trying to use the notebook for good, but quickly spirals down a dark path where he tries to create a utopia where he is the god of death. His journey is twisted, and he finds himself hounded by a brilliant detective, known as L.
Their cat-and-mouse chase is riveting; fans will find themselves on the edges of their seats in this masterful series.
Inuyasha is an anime that delves into the lore of ancient Japan. Featuring time travel romances, demons, witches, and a myriad of Japanese yokai, Inuyasha has a little bit of everything.
Kagome is the reincarnation of a Japanese priestess who battled demons and yokai in ancient Japan. She accidentally travels in time back to ancient Japan, where she encounters the half-demon Inuyasha. Their time travels and antics are amazing, and this anime is well worth the watch.
Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter is an excellent anime for fans of gratuitous action. Hunters are warriors who travel around locating rare animals, taking bounties, and finding treasure. The fights are epic in this series, and the protagonist's journey to becoming a great hunter is engaging, to say the least.
The heroes struggle to become a hunter and follow in his father's footsteps is engaging, and the over-the-top fight scenes are pretty fun to watch.
Ouran High School Host Club
Ouran High School Host Club is an undoubted one-of-a-kind anime. The show is pretty woke and way before its time since it came out in 2006. The show's hilarious cast and absurd premise are great for days of laughter.
The heroine, Haruhi Fujioka, is amazing. She is gender fluid and spends a significant portion of the first episode and the rest of the show being mistaken for and treated like a man. The show is full of LGBTQ themes and characters, and it is an absolute delight to watch.
Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden
Want a show that will test the limits of your binge-watching abilities? Then you want Naruto. With over 700—yes, you read that right—episodes in the series, Naruto is a binge-watch that is amazing to watch but requires real dedication to get all the way through.
Naruto and his friends are amazing, and 700+ episodes mean plenty of character development, complex plots, and epic battles. You can watch hours of the ninja run that went viral, all while enjoying the adventures of a ninja boy and his friends. This shōnen anime is a classic.
One Punch Man
Marvel vs. DC? Who needs that noise, when you can watch One Punch Man instead? This comedic action anime is perfect for fans of movies like Thor: Ragnarok. Saitama (aka One Punch Man) struggles with being overpowered (aka OP) and finding himself feeling unfulfilled with being a superhero.
It's hard being a hero who can beat any opponent with a single punch, and this show encapsulates the very human feeling of unfulfillment in the face of unrealized expectations.
His battles are epic, and his story is both hilarious and empathy invoking. This is a great show, and if you love superheroes, this is the anime for you.
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K
Internal monologue, much? Trust me; you've got nothing on The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. Follow the journey of a psychic teenager named Saiki as he struggles to live a normal life while hiding his psychic abilities.
His deadpan delivery, poker-faced panic, and teen angst make him the kind of protagonist we can all relate to. Full of mundane antics, excess internal monologuing, and moody teenage angst, The Disastrous Life of Saiki K is an excellent series for any binge.
There are multiple Pokémon series, and like most Pokémon products, they're all great. Follow Ash and his friends as they struggle to become master Pokémon trainers.
Even though Ash has never actually been an excellent Pokémon trainer, his determination to keep on trying to be one is delightful. This series is full of nostalgia and feel-good vibes. It is a great series, perfect for adults and kids, that never goes out of style.
Some shows speak to us with painful realism, and Aggretsuko is definitely one of them. Retsuko, the protagonist, copes with real-world struggles, like a crappy job, with heavy metal karaoke. Her transformations when she sings and the painfully real struggles she faces are what make this show great.
Being a millennial can be hard; the struggle is so real sometimes, and this anime catches that perfectly. The struggles of young people in the workplace, in the dating scene, and navigating friendships are told beautifully in this comedic anime. It helps that the music is good, too.
Your Lie in April
If you love classical music and the emotions it evokes, then you'll love (and hate) Your Lie in April. Get ready to get hit in the feels, everybody. The anime focuses on a young piano prodigy who loses his demanding mother to a long-term illness and then loses his ability to hear music.
The anime follows his story many years later after he meets and falls in love with a violinist. This anime uses music to its fullest capacity, often using instrumental numbers to convey the characters' deep and complex feelings.
No character in this story is shallow; all of them have complex emotions and arcs. Break out your tissues and comfort chocolates as you follow this beautiful story of loss and love.
Devilman Crybaby is an anime whose premise is the most PG thing about it. Featuring a teenage boy who is possessed by a demon, this series is dark, harsh, and chaotic. An odd mix of humor, moral dilemmas, and the trials of puberty make this anime for adults only.
This is a brutal story, showcasing the depravity of humans and demons and the struggle that comes with growing up in a world that leaves you unprepared for both.
This Netflix original anime is based on the video game with the same name. It is based on the story of Dracula, meaning it is bloody, violent, and heartbreaking. This is not, however, your mother's Dracula story.
If you have never played the video game, then the lore here will be new to you, but don't let the lack of gaming experience stop you. This anime is nail-biting, and discovering the lore while you watch is half the fun.
With three seasons so far and a fourth on the way, Castlevania is going an amazing adaptation to the popular Konami video game series.
Anyone who ever claimed that anime is just for kids has never heard of Violet Evergarden. This anime deals with a post-war world and the difficulties of those who survived the conflict. Violet is a traumatized former child soldier, who lost her arms in war and with them her childhood, and emotions.
Her story continues as she struggles to reconnect with her emotions as overcome her trauma with the power of writing, support, and therapy. Few animes (or stories) capture the horrors of war, the power of therapy, and the sheer trauma of war and its aftermath the way Violet Evergarden does.
Little Witch Academia
Fans of Harry Potter will find themselves enchanted by this adorable anime. The show's protagonist, Akko, is a delight. Her plucky spirit, indomitable spirit, and unbridled love for her friends are heartwarming. Akko is charmingly clumsy and inspiring in her journey to master magic and become a great witch.
Fans can't help but be delighted by her personality and one-of-a-kind friendships. Cute characters and charming storytelling are the hallmarks of this adorable shoujo series, and shoujo fans are sure to be delighted by this wonderful addition to the genre.
Kill la Kill
Few animes are as controversial as Kill La Kill. Unlike most controversial animes, the issue doesn't lie with the plot, relationships, or gore, but the shameless fan-service the costumes provide.
It is an odd controversy for a show that passes both the Bechdel and Reverse Bechdel test—if you are not familiar with the test, look it up, it will change how you look at the shows you watch. The take on combat is unique in Kill La Kill, where clothes are what grant characters superpowers.
Shameless fan service aside, the show tackles issue surrounding body image, fashion, and mental health, making it an interesting show all around.
March Comes Like a Lion
March Comes Like A Lion is an anime whose art is unique in every way. The anime features Rei, a 17-year-old Shogi player, who struggles after losing his family. The art style of this anime is fluid; it changes to reflect the emotional struggles Rei faces. It conveys deeper meaning to his emotional turmoil.
The style goes from gorgeous watercolor backgrounds and to stark black and white sketches as we watch Rei attempt to cope with loss. It is truly amazing to see this blend of storytelling and art. This amine is in a league of its own and is worth the watch.
This is one of those animes that makes you feel good. A girl's light music club is in danger of closing, and this anime showcases their struggles to gain enough members to stay open and the difficulties they face as average high schoolers.
It is a cute anime, and it is loads of fun to watch. The music is nice, and the story gives out tons of feel-good vibes. Enjoy the array of J-pop, while watching this band of girls navigates high school, friendships, and coming-of-age.
Kotaro Lives Alone
Kotaro Lives Alone tugs at the heartstrings. Both sweet, gut-wrenching, and comedic, the series follows 4-year-old Kotaro's life when he moves into a new apartment complex. Kotaro wants to care for himself, but his neighbors take him under their wing and look out for him. It runs the gamut of human emotions and deserves more attention and praise for how it transitions between comedy and heavier subject matter. Plus the anime within the anime is a perfect touch. A once in a lifetime anime series.
Romantic Killer blends romance, anti-romance, comedy, and creepy moments. Anzu Hoshino's life changes when a fairy, upset about declining birth rates, makes her their first case study. Fairy Riri plunges her into a reverse harem life. Not only that, but to ensure her attention, Riri removes Anzu's games, chocolate, and cat. With so much on the line, it's a battle of wills chockful of laughs for the audience.
It's no surprise the series is funny with that title. But anime fans and newcomers alike will love the powerful emotional beats the show delivers alongside the laughs.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
Bold, outlandish, and with a catchy “to be continued” end song from the '70s, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure improves each season. It's about the Joestar family—a family possessed with intense psychic powers— adventures. The artistry, detail and the story keep viewers coming back for more. Now's a perfect time to get into it since there are five seasons and many favorites, as nine characters get time to shine in the series. Aside from action and other thrills, gorehounds can rejoice, too, as the series violence delivers gore. Don't miss out. Brawls always deliver entertainment.
Bonus: Avatar the Last Airbender
Within days, it achieved number-one viewership on Netflix. Avatar The Last Airbender is absolutely fantastic. It has a diverse cast, truly amazing character arcs, and a story that captures audiences years later.
There's plenty to love in this series, and the influences from Japan and China are obvious throughout this series. Anime or not (depending on which side of the debate you are on), it is undeniable that this show is 100% worth watching.
Fall in love with Aang and the gaang—yes, they do call themselves that—as they help Aang master all four elements and become a fully realized Avatar and save the world.