10 Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Anime comes in so many genres. There are superheroes in My Hero Academia, horror and gore in Death Note, and even cooking in Food Wars. Back in the era of 2000s, anime based on card games are in the trend. Some anime inspired trading cards such as Pokémon, and even Yu_Gi-Oh! has an essential part to the story itself.

Some series came out with actual trading cards, where fans could collect and play the game. In order from tenth to first, here are the 10 best card game anime series of all time.

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

10. Battle Spirits: Shounen Toppa Bashin

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Battle Spirits is a 2008 anime series based on the Battle Spirits Trading Card Game. It was produced by Sunrise and Nagoya Broadcasting network and aired on TV Asahi from 2008 to 2009. It has been licensed in China, Thailand, and Philipines. The series was directed by Akira Nishimori.

Battle Spirits Plot:

In the near future, a battle card game called “Battle Spirits” has gained enormous popularity. Players of the game known as “Battlers” start duelings everywhere using their color-coded cards with different attributes, creating a “Sengoku (Warring States) period” for the game.

9. Aikatsu!

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Aikatsu! or Aikatsu! Idol Activity is an arcade collectible card game in Bandai's Data Carddass line of machines, which launched in 2012. An anime adaptation by Sunrise began airing on TV Tokyo from 2012. In 2019, the production changed from Sunrise to Bandai Namco Pictures.

Two movies were released in 2014 and 2015. Three manga adaptations has also been published by Shogakukan, along with four Nintendo 3DS games.

Aikatsu! Plot

An idol's brilliance illuminates the dreams of humanity. Starlight Academy, a holy ground for celebrities in training, seeks to realize this belief. Behind its rigorous entrance requirements lie not only the top young stars in the entertainment business, but some of the best memories these students will ever have.

Or so Aoi Kiriya believes. Alongside her best friend Ichigo, Aoi decides to apply for the prestigious private school in hopes of living up to the praise of the biggest idol in the world: Mizuki Kanzaki.

8. Cardfight!! Vanguard

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Cardfight!! CVanguard is a multimedia franchise created in collaboration between Akira Ito, Satoshi Nakamura, Mitsuhisa Tamura, and Bushiroad president, Takaaki Kidani. It currently consists of multiple anime series, an official trading card game, a manga series, and a live-action movie.

Cardfight!! Vanguard Plot

Cardfight!! Vanguard features a world where the game Cardfight!! Vanguard is becoming the latest craze among trading card games, becoming a part of everyday life for people all over the world. The game is not limited to Earth alone; battles between the creatures used by the players take place on another planet called Cray.

The story begins with Aichi Sendou, a timid middle schooler whose meek attitude often leaves him a target for bullies. Aichi was given a very rare card, “Blaster Blade”, when he was very young. It's his one treasure that gives him hope. That is, until it gets taken from him. Although Aichi has never played Cardfight!! Vanguard before, he challenges the thief to a game in order to win the “Blaster Blade” back. This high-stakes game quickly draws Aichi into the world of Vanguard battles, which will test and change his worth as both a player and a person.

7. Duel Masters

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Duel Masters is a media franchise consisting a manga, several anime series, a trading card game, and several video games. The original manga, accompanied with its sequels, sold 4.5 million copies in Japan. The anime adaptation was produced by Takara Tomy from 2006 to 2007.

Duel Masters Plot

The world of Duel Masters is one of five great civilizations. Through a card game, duelists can bring these worlds into existence, making what was previously abstract into reality. These skilled duelists are known as Kaijudo masters.

Shobu Kirifuda is the best player at his local playground, and seeks to become a world-class master like his father. His first step on the road to conquest begins with winning a local tournament. Rather, it should have, except he is destroyed by the best Kaijudo master in the world, Knight. Shobu loses, but upon remembering the words of wisdom his father instilled into him, decides to continue on the road of becoming a duelist who can enjoy the game for what it is.

6. Bakugan Battle Brawlers

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Bakugan Battle Brawlers is a Japanese-Canadian adventure anime series produced by TMS Entertainment, Dentsu Inc., and Nelvana Limited under the direction of Mitsuo Hashimoto. A Japan-exclusive manga series, Baku Tech! Bakugan ran from 2010 to 2014 and an anime adaptation aired from 2012 to 2013, followed by a second season called Baku Tech! Bakugan Gachi from April to December 2013.

In 2015, Spin Master revealed plans to relaunch Bakugan. The relaunch was later announced on 2017 to occur the first quarter of 2019, with the series titled Bakugan: Battle Planet.

Bakugan Battle Brawlers Plot

Mysterious cards came down from the sky one day. Capable of summoning powerful creatures from another dimension, they became the centerpiece of a new game called Bakugan. The game gained instant popularity among children and teenagers, with the best of them competing in a worldwide ranking.

Meanwhile, war for domination over Vestroia, the homeland of Bakugan cards, rages on. Invaded by the White Dragon Naga and his servants, the Doom Beings, the realm becomes increasingly destabilized. Dimensions begin to merge and many Bakugan players come to realize that their pastime is not merely a game.

Danma Kuusou, one such Bakugan player, intends to become the World Ranking's leader someday. However, during one of his fights he experiences a vision of a clash in Vestroia. The fight suddenly moves to Earth, where Danma comes into possession of a talking, mighty fire Bakugan, Pyrus Dragonoid. He soon gets dragged into the conflict, and together with his Bakugan Brawlers team, must traverse the dimensions and restore balance in a ravaged world.

5. Selector Infected WIXOSS

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Selector Infected WIXOSS is a multimedia franchise produced as a collaboration between Takara Tommy, J.C. Staff, and Warner Entertainment Japan. An anime television series by J.C.Staff, titled selector infected WIXOSS, aired in Japan between April and June 2014, with a second season, selector spread WIXOSS, airing between October and December 2014.

A compilation film, titled selector destructed WIXOSS, was released on February 13, 2016. A sequel anime television series, titled Lostorage incited WIXOSS, aired from October to December 2016, with its second season, Lostorage conflated WIXOSS, airing from April to June 2018.

Another anime television series, titled WIXOSS Diva(A)Live, aired from January to March 2021. Several manga spin-offs, a novelisation, and a smartphone app have also been produced.

Selector Infected WIXOSS Plot

Things are not always what they seem. This is especially true for Ruuko Kominato, when she receives a deck of cards for the popular card game WIXOSS, only to find a girl trapped inside her LRIG, or avatar card. Upon meeting others in the same situation, Ruuko discovers that she has now become a “Selector,” a player in a special version of WIXOSS where girls can battle each other for a chance to have their deepest desires come true. However, there is a catch. In contrast to the glory that awaits them after their victories, there is a cruel fate: if they lose three times, their lives will be destroyed.

4. Cardcaptor Sakura

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Cardcaptor Sakura is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by the manga group Clamp. Serialized monthly in the shojo manga magazine Nakayoshi from May 1996 to June 2000, it was also published in 12 tankobon volumes by Kodansha between November 1996 and July 2000.

The manga was adapted into a 70 episodes anime television series by Madhouse that aired on NHK BS2 from April 1998 to March 2000. Additional media include two anime films, video games, art books, picture books, and film comics.

Cardcaptor Sakura Plot

Sakura Kinomoto is a normal fourth grader, until one day, she stumbles upon a mysterious book containing a set of cards. Unfortunately, she has little time to divine what the cards mean because she accidentally stirs up a magical gust of wind and unintentionally scatters the cards all over the world. Suddenly awakened from the book, the Beast of the Seal, Keroberos (Kero-chan), tells Sakura that she has released the mystical Clow Cards created by the sorcerer Clow Reed. The Cards are no ordinary playthings. Each of them possesses incredible powers, and because they like acting independently, Clow sealed all the Cards within a book. Now that the Cards are set free, they pose a grave danger upon the world, and it is up to Sakura to prevent the Cards from causing a catastrophe.

Appointing Sakura the title of “the Cardcaptor” and granting her the Sealed Key, Keroberos tasks her with finding and recapturing all the Cards. Alongside her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji, and with Kero-chan's guidance, Sakura must learn to balance her new secret duty with the everyday troubles of a young girl involving love, family, and school, all while she takes flight on her magical adventures as Sakura the Cardcaptor.

3. Chihayafuru

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Chihayafuru is a josei manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu. It has been serialized in Kodansha's Be Love magazine since December 2007. The manga has won the Manga Taisho and the Kodansha Manga Award. Since its fourth volume was released in March 2009, it has regularly appeared on the Japanese Comic Ranking chart, and in 2019 was estimated to have over 24 million copies in print. Its popularity has boosted the profile of competitive karuta in Japan.

An anime television series adaptation aired from 2011 to 2012. The second season aired from January to June 2013 and the third from 2019 to 2020. Three live action film adaptations were released from 2016 to 2018.

Chihayafuru Plot

Chihaya Ayase, a strong-willed and tomboyish girl, grows up under the shadow of her older sister. With no dreams of her own, she is contented with her share in life till she meets Arata Wataya. The quiet transfer student in her elementary class introduces her to competitive karuta, a physically and mentally demanding card game inspired by the classic Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets. Captivated by Arata's passion for the game and inspired by the possibility of becoming the best in Japan, Chihaya quickly falls in love with the world of karuta. Along with the prodigy Arata and her haughty but hard-working friend Taichi Mashima, she joins the local Shiranami Society. The trio spends their idyllic childhood days playing together, until circumstances split them up.

Now in high school, Chihaya has grown into a karuta freak. She wants to establish the Municipal Mizusawa High Competitive Karuta Club, setting her sights on the national championship at Omi Jingu. Reunited with the now indifferent Taichi, Chihaya's dream of establishing a karuta team is only one step away from becoming true: she must bring together members with a passion for the game that matches her own.

2. Z/X: Ignition

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Z/X: Ignition is a collectible card game produced by Nippon Ichi Software and Broccoli. It is marketed as the first “free” collectible card game, with a free deck offered to players at card shops and events in Japan. A PlayStation 3 game titled Z/X Zillions of enemy X: Zekkai no Crusade, developed by Nippon Ichi Software and produced by Broccoli was released in Japan on 2013.

A manga adaptation written by Broccoli with art by Karegashi Tsuchiya began serialization in Shueisha's V Jump from September 2012. A 12-episode anime television series adaptation titled Z/X Ignition aired between January 9, 2014 and March 27, 2014.

An anime series was announced in February 2015, which was later revealed to be an adaptation of a new manga series titled Z/X Code reunion. It is written by Tatsuhiko Urahata with art by Takuya Fujima, and it began serialization in V Jump from September 2017. The anime adaptation is produced by Passione and aired between October 8, 2019 and December 24, 2019.

Z/X: Ignition Plot

The story is set in the not-so-distant future. Five “Black Points” suddenly appeared around the world as portals to parallel worlds. Immediately after, strange creatures began their invasion from these portals. These creatures are the inhabitants of five worlds—the same worlds in different timeframes. In order to ensure their own future timeframe survives, each of the five invasion forces battle to wipe the other future timeframes out. The key is one card-shaped device.

1. Yu-Gi-Oh!

Best Card Game Anime Series of All Time

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a manga series about trading card gaming written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi. It was serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine between 1996 to 2004. The manga series has spawned a media franchise that includes multiple spin-off manga and anime series, a trading card game, and numerous video games.

Two anime series; the first anime adaptation was produced by Toei Animation, which aired from April to October 1998, while the second, produced by NAS and animated by Studio Gallop titled Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, aired between 2000 and 2004. Yu-Gi-Oh has since become one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Plot

Bullies often target Yuugi Mutou. His beautiful childhood friend, Anzu Mazaki, is always there to stand up for him, but he can't depend on her forever. Katsuya Jonouchi, who is almost always accompanied by his verbal sparring partner Hiroto Honda, doesn't seem like a bad person either, despite always bringing Yuugi trouble. But most of all, Yuugi wishes for a true friend who understands him and would never betray him.

Yuugi treasures his Millennium Puzzle, an ancient Egyptian artifact that was brought into his grandfather's game shop. Believing that solving the puzzle will grant him his wish, he completes the puzzle, unleashing a new personality within him: the soul of the “King of Games.”

Dark, twisted, strong, and reliable, the new personality named Yami Yuugi is the exact opposite of Yuugi. Upon any injustice toward him, Yami Yuugi takes over Yuugi's body and forces the opponent into a “Shadow Game.” The stakes are high as whoever loses shall have a taste of the darkness that resides within their own heart.