An Unforgettable Monogatari: 25 Greatest Anime of All Time

A friend of mine once told me that all lists like these suck. One cannot account for the different themes, genres, or contexts in such instances. Every anime, for example, is different. Each breaks hearts or heals wounds in their own weird and wonderful ways. So, how does one even list the best anime of all time?

So, I chose the easiest solution. Every anime on this list is a personal recommendation. Each of these choices is subjective. While some are well-known and quite popular, others may seem to be odd and out of place. But, to me, they are all worth a watch, if not several binge-watches. That said, here's my list of the top 25 anime of all time:

1. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Bones
Image Credit: Bones

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is the tale of two brothers who break the law of alchemy to bring their mother back from the dead. As a result, Edward loses two limbs, while his younger brother, Alphonse, loses his whole body. The Series follows their adventure after Edward promises to get Al's body back and joins the elite military alchemists to find the secret behind how he can achieve just that.

2. Mushi-shi

Mushi shi Del Rey Manga‎
Image Credit: Del Rey Manga‎

Ginko is a traveler who sees Mushi — ancient life forms with different supernatural powers. A wanderer by nature, he meets people on the way and saves them from various effects of the Mushi.

The entire show — from the art to its music score — is nothing if not heartbreakingly soothing. Ginko travels as if he is always looking for a home that he does not even remember and maybe never even had. On the way, he meets people, some wretched, some not, and learns their stories of joy and woe.

3. Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho Studio Pierrot
Image Credit: Studio Pierrot

Yusuke Urameshi is a high schooler who gets a second shot at life after he dies while trying to save a child from a wayward car. But there's a twist — the only way he gets to return is by becoming a Spirit Detective, i.e., someone who takes on evil supernatural beings and protects the human realm from their malice. He teams up with Hiei and Kurama — two demons with complicated backstories of their own — and ex-rival, Kuwabara, to defeat the forces of evil and protect the world and the people he loves from harm.

4. Hunter x Hunter

Hunter X Hunter Nippon Animation
Image Credit: Nippon Animation

Created by the same person as Yu Yu Hakusho, i.e., Yoshihiro Togashi, Hunter x Hunter is the story of a young boy, Gon Freecs, who sets off to become a Hunter — an elite being with fantastical powers — in order to find his father, a well-known Hunter himself. In the process, he becomes friends and teams up with Kurapika, Leorio, and Killua, who seek to win the near-impossible Hunter Examination themselves. While on his adventure, he encounters fellow hunters, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, impossible creatures, and a bone-chillingly charismatic psychopath who takes a terrible fancy to him.

5. Shokugeki No Soma

Shokugeki No Soma Food Wars J.C.Staff
Image Credit: J.C.Staff

Also known as Food Wars, Shokugeki No Soma follows the culinary adventures of Yukihira Soma as he enrolls in an elite school of chefs to develop his skills and become a better chef than his father. Designed like a fighting anime, food is the weapon of choice as chefs battle against each other in grand and often ridiculous ways. The only to defeat the enemy? To make the judges literally have a foodgasm. While the show often receives criticism for not having dark and heavy themes like most anime of its kind, it is thoroughly engaging and delightful. Lives and the world's fate may not be at stake here, but you still find yourself rooting for the characters as they conquer newer flavors and frontiers and grow as chefs and human beings.

6. Stein's Gate

Steins Gate White
Image Credit: White Fox

Rintarou Okabe is an odd genius of a scientist who teams up with his friend, Mayuri Shiina, and roommate, Itaru Hashida, to quench his thirst for scientific experimentation. But while they have no shortage of enthusiasm, they can't seem to have any breakthroughs — except for one microwave that turns bananas into, well, goo. Things may not be as they seem, and the “useless” goo-making microwave may connect the past and the present in weird, wonderful ways.

Armed with this gadget that can send texts to the past and alter their timeline in irrevocable ways, Rintarou, and his friends battle danger and dodge the watchful and malicious eyes of SERN — an organization that is as mysterious as it is terrifying.

7. Akira

Akira Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Image Credit: Tokyo Movie Shinsha

Hailed as one of the greatest anime movies of all time, Akira is a semi-philosophical tale set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. In 1988, a boy with mysterious psychic powers set Tokyo alight. He began the domino crash that led to World War III. he was later apprehended by the authorities and never heard from again. It's now 2019, and terrorism and gang violence abound in Neo-Tokyo.

It is in this dystopic world that Shoutarou Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang, finds himself in the middle of another battle against incomprehensible powers when an accident leads his best friend to develop psychic abilities. Does this mean the world as they know it is near its end again? Well, not on Shoutarou's watch.

8. Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin Studio Gallop
Image Credit: Studio Gallop

Popularly known as Samurai X, Rurouni Kenshin is a 1996 anime adaptation of Nobuhiro Watsuki's manga of the same name. It follows the adventures of a once cold-blooded killer, Kenshin Himura, as he adopts a pacifist lifestyle in an effort to repent for his sins. He travels through the land, vowing to protect the weak and right the wrongs of his past. On the way, he befriends Kaoru Kamiya and helps protect her dojo from a fake Battousai — which was Kenshin's title before he changed his ways. When Kaoru asks him to stay, he gives up his wandering. But can a ruthless killer truly redeem himself and uphold his newfound ideals?

9. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop Sunrise
Image Credit: Sunrise

It is 2071, and humanity has made earth-like settlements on planets across the universe. And, with it, has expanded crime. Petty thieves, vicious killers, and fancy weapon-toting gangsters abound in this universe.

Goofy and slightly mysterious bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and his bizarre yet delightful group of friends make up the crew of their ever-beloved ship — Bebop. Together, they hunt criminals and form unbreakable bonds over shared trauma and bellies full of laughter. But now Spike's painful past is catching up to them. So, now he must choose what's more important — vengeance for past wrongs against him or his hard-earned bond with his found family.

10. One Piece

One Piece Toei Animation
Image Credit: Toei Animation

There was once a being of sheer wonder and terrifying power. Known to the world as the Pirate King, he was the most revered, the most feared one to sail across the Grand Line. When he was finally captured and executed by the World Government, his final words sent a ripple across the seas. He spoke of a legendary treasure that could bring the owner endless riches and fame. And its name was One Piece.

This led to the beginning of the grand era of pirates, with mighty beings taking to the seas to find this great treasure and earn the title of Pirate King. this is when we meet Monkey D. Luffy — a pirate and a captain like no other. He is not a ruthless killer. He is an adventurer with a thirst for wonder. His kindness and indomitable spirit win him the loyalty of a powerful crew. Together, they vow to find One Piece and win Luffy the title of Pirate King.

11. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan Wit Studio
Image Credit: Wit Studio

Long ago, humanity was almost eradicated by despicable giant creatures called Titans, who consume human flesh for pleasure. This forced the last survivors to hide behind impregnable walls. A hundred years have passed since, and no one has encountered the creatures until now.

The story begins when one Titan breaches the unbreachable outer walls and wreaks havoc on humanity again. Eren Yeager, our protagonist, witnesses heart-rending personal loss at the hands of the monster. Determined to seek vengeance and restore peace, he joins the Survey Corps — the elite group of fighters tasked to save humanity from eradication at the hands of these ruthless creatures.

12. Banana Fish

Banana Fish MAPPA
Image Credit: MAPPA

Raised by the godfather of the American mafia, Dino Golzine, Ash Lynx, or Aslan Jade Callenreese is not just another 17-year-old but the leader of his gang. Our story begins when Ash's brother, Griffin, returns from the war in Iraq, muttering two words over and over again — ‘Banana Fish.'

Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, Ash meets two reporters investigating the gangs of New York. But, when they get kidnapped by Dino, Ash must put everything on the line to rescue them. Will this derail his plans to get to the bottom of the Banana Fish mystery? Or does the path to their rescue and Ash's connection with Dino hold more answers than meets the eye?

13. Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden Kyoto Animation
Image Credit: Kyoto Animation

They say war takes no prisoners. Even the ones who survive do so at a cost and are ever changed as a result. Violet Evergarden — a young girl raised to be a weapon of destruction — is no stranger to the price war exacts. Violet returns to a peaceful world after four years after the bloodbath ends. Gravely injured in battle, she only has the words of the one she held dear.

Yet she has no idea what those words mean. Determined to create something akin to a new life, she starts working at CH Postal Services. Here, she encounters an Auto Memory Doll — one that turns thoughts and memories into words. This gives her a semblance of hope, and she begins working as an Auto Memory Doll herself, changing her life and those around her forever.

14. Ouran High School Host Club

Ouran High School Host Club Bones
Image Credit: Bones

Studious and naive Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at Ouran High School. One day, while looking for a place to study, she stumbles across the school's personal host club — a place where beautiful boys entertain their rich female patrons. When the club's president startles her, she breaks a priceless vase by accident.

Unable to repay the cost and mistaken for a boy by fellow club members, she is forced to play the part of host to repay her debt. So begins a new chapter of her story as she discovers the eccentric personalities of the club's other members. Friendship and romance develop as the boys go from being a bunch of spoilt but not unkind schoolmates to her guardians and found family. Upbeat and hopeful, this anime is one that may not be able to give most others on this list a run for their money but is still one I hold close to my heart.

15. Angel Beats!

Angel Beats P.A. Works and
Image Credit: P.A. Works and Aniplex

Death is one of life's greatest mysteries. But not for 17-year-old Yuzuru Otonashi, who ends up in the outlandish dimension between life and death and gets to discover the answer to the question “What happens after we die?” himself. The dimension takes the form of a high school, presided over by the OP figure and student council president — Kanade “Angel” Tachibana. The residents of this dimension all died unwanted deaths.

This leads to the formation of a faction of rebels — ones who feel wronged by the Almighty. In their effort to defeat Angel and take control of their own lives, this faction's leader — Yuki Nakamura — recruits Otonashi. But Otonashi isn't very sure about the rightfulness of their actions.

16. Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom Lerche
Image Credit: Lerche

A wretched little building in the heart of the mountains beside Kunugigaoka Middle School houses a hopeless bunch of delinquents and dropouts of class 3-E. Ostracised by the school and its students, their future seems grim till they get a new teacher — Koro-sensei.

Koro-sensei is great. He believes in them and encourages their talents. He knows his students will soon be able to return to the main campus armed with their fiery spirits and newfound academic abilities. Except Koro-sensei has a secret. He has destroyed the moon and has promised to do the same to earth by the March of the following year. So, students are tasked to identify his weakness and assassinate him before he can go ahead with his plan.

17. Naruto

Naruto Pierrot
Image Credit: Pierrot

Naruto Uzumaki has only one aim in life and it is to become strong enough to protect his home and the ones he loves. So, he leaves behind Konohagakure, i.e., the Hidden Leaf Village, to train and grow more powerful than ever. Armed with a goofy and indomitable spirit, Naruto, thus, trains to be a ninja, battling enemies like Akatsuki — an elite group of rogue ninjas who threaten the very existence of the world as they know it.

Will Naruto be able to grow strong enough to dominate over all those who endanger the ones he loves? Will he, armed with his prowess and those of his found family, be able to become the next Hokage?

18. Code Geass

Code Geass Sunrise
Image Credit: Sunrise

It is the year 2010, and Japan has been renamed Area 11 after the military nation of the Holy Empire of Britannia conquered it. Britannia has since established a reign of terror and tyranny in Japan, leading to the rise of rebels who seek to free Japan from the empire's clutches.

Lelouch Lamperouge, a hapless student, is accidentally caught in the crossfires between the two nations. He is rescued by a mysterious maiden named CC, and she gives him the Geass, i.e., the Power of Kings. Thus, Lelouch becomes Zero — the mysterious albeit merciless hero and vigilante — who will stop at nothing until he avenged himself and brought Britannia to its knees.

19. Black Butler

Black Butler A 1 Pictures
Image Credit: A-1 Pictures

Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is the story of a butler like no other. Impeccable at his job and in his service towards his master, Ciel Phantomhive, Sebastian Michaelis is almost too perfect at his role. This is understandable, of course, considering he is… a demon. As a child, Ciel sold his soul to Sebastian in exchange for vengeance against the ones responsible for the dark tragedy in his past.

So, Ciel waits, carrying out orders from the Queen with Sebastian's help. But while the latter initially seems to only focus on the delicious meal Ciel's soul will one day make, he unwittingly bonds with the boy, taking on the role of a guardian angel — one who will destroy everything and everyone who would dare harm Ciel.

20. Haikyuu!!

Haikyuu Production I.G
Image Credit: Production I.G

Shouyou Hinata may be small in stature, but his ambitions soar high. He once witnessed the Little Giant reign the high school volleyball court despite his smallness. That lit an indomitable fire in his heart. After enrolling in the Little Giant's alma mater — Karasuno High School — Hinata is disappointed to find the team only a shell of its former glory.

Desperate to win, he teams up with Tobiyo Kageyama — a volleyball prodigy known for his selfishness on the court. Together, they figure out what it truly means to be part of a team even as they slowly and painstakingly start the uphill battle to restore Karasuno High to its former glory.

21. Gintama

Gintama Sunrise
Image Credit: Sunrise

Once a city famous for its powerful and ambitious samurais, Edo has since lost its glory due to feudal Japan's surrender to Amanto — their alien overlords. Under their governance, carrying swords in public is banned. But that doesn't seem to faze Gintoki Sakata — who wears his samurai attire with evident pride and carries his wooden sword everywhere.

Gintoki is accompanied by Shinpachi Shimura — a samurai in training, Kagura — a girl with a neverending appetite and inhuman physical prowess, and a dog with a penchant for biting people on their heads. Together, they run Yorozuya, a business designed to take care of odd jobs, as they encounter eccentric humans and aliens and solve their problems in bizarre and wonderful ways.

22. Fate

Fate Studio Deen
Image Credit: Studio Deen

The Holy Grail grants its champion any wish, at least, that's what the legends say. Corrupted by that greed, three Holy Grail wars raged in the past, each more vicious than the other and leaving no victors in the end.

The Fourth Holy Grail War now looms large, and the Einzbern family has enlisted the help of the ruthless killer Kiritsugu Emiya by making him marry their daughter Irisviel. Kiritsugu, thus, becomes one of the seven participants of the war and each of them is armed with an ancient warrior in the form of a familiar. These seven fight against each other, fueled by desires, dark or otherwise. Will Kiritsugu emerge as the victor in this bloody war and finally be able to get ahold of the Grail? Or will the Grail again leave no victor, only bodies and blood in its wake?

23. Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen MAPPA
Image Credit: MAPPA

Yuuji Itadori is a regular high-schooler who whiles away his days caring for his hospitalized grandfather. He is part of the school's Occult Club, which merely pretends to engage with the paranormal. But he accidentally discovers a cursed item — the demon Sukuma Ryoumen's severed finger. The demon in question is said to be the King of Curses — malevolent beings formed out of human malice and darkness. He ends up somehow swallowing the finger and starts discovering his own powers. This is how he enrolls in Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School and begins the journey toward becoming a Jujutsu sorcerer.

24. Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket TMS Entertainment
Image Credit: TMS Entertainment

Tooru Honda's life is a rollercoaster. One moment, she loses her home and family when her beloved mother passes away. Soon after, she finds herself entangled in the lives and secrets of the personified versions of the Chinese Zodiac animals. With them, Tooru rediscovers the meaning of friendship and family.

But, while life with the Souma family — as the Zodiac beings are called — seems filled with laughter and good cheer, dark and painful tales line their past and present. Forced to remain together due to a promise made eons ago, they live in fear and frustration. Will Tooru be able to free her beloved friends from their shackles? Or will they be forever doomed to bind themselves to a promise that lost meaning centuries ago?

25. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion
Image Credit: Gainax

Fifteen years after a cataclysmic event known as the Second Impact, Angels descend on Tokyo-3. The celestial creatures do not offer humankind redemption but eradication. When humanity's advanced technology and military tactics fall short in the war against the Angels, NERV — a dark organization led by Gendou Ikari — rises as humanity's only hope. NERV uses colossal robots called Evangelions to fight the Angels.

But operating an Evangelion comes at a high psychological cost. Despite that, Gendou's young son, Shinji, volunteers to pilot Evangelion Unit – 01 after he learns that the robot is designed using his biometric data, making him the only person to operate it.

This post was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.