Gundam is one of the most storied anime series. The franchised originated in 1979 with Mobile Suit Gundam. A series that defined the “real robot” mecha genre. Gundam has spawned television series, OVA’s, films, manga, novels, video games and Gunpla (model robots). Gunpla is 90 percent of the Japanese character plastic model market. The majority of Gundam’s revenue comes from retail sales (25 Billion).
4. Jump Comics (Shonen Jump) – $40 Billion
Primarily a line of manga magazines, Jump Comics, are created by Shueisha. Beginning in 1968 it was renamed Weekly Shonen Jump. Now including anime and video games, Shonen Jump has become a massive franchise. Most of it’s revenue is generated from manga magazines and manga sales.
3. Anpanman – $60 Billion
Anpanman is a Japanese children’s superhero picture book written by Takashi Yanase. It ran from 1973 until Yanase death in 2013. It has been adapted into a popular anime series for young children in Japan. Anpanman is a superhero with a anpan for a head. He battles against an evil germ Baikinman. Appearing on children products, from clothing to snack foods to toys. Anpanman has inspired One Punch Man and K-pop song “Anpanman” by BTS.
2. Hello Kitty – $80 Billion
Hello Kitty is a fictional character created by Sanrio. A female Japanese Bobtail, with a red bow and no mouth. She’s a third grade student, that lives outside of London. With a media franchise that includes a product line, clothing apparel, toy-line, manga and anime series. Created in 1974, Hello Kitty is worth about $8 billion dollars a year.
1. Pokemon – $95 Billion
The top media franchise is Pokemon. Created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 the franchise became a video game in 1996. The original video games series is the second highest selling behind Nintendo’s Mario, selling 340 million copies and 1 billion mobile downloads. It’s anime series has over 20 seasons and 1,000 episodes. The Pokemon franchise includes the top selling trading card game (27.2 billion cards sold), books, manga, music, anime films and a theme park.
Neon Genesis Evangelion was created in 1994 by Hideaki Anno and Gainax. An apocalyptic mecha series that focused on the military organization NERV as they fight beings called Angels, to save humanity. Primarily an anime series, Evangelion has expanded to include, merchandising, karaoke, music, manga and Pachinko. It’s currently owned by Khara Studios.
9. Yu-Gi-Oh! – $20 Billion
Yu-Gi-Oh was created in 1996. A Japanese manga series, written and illustrated by Kazuki Takahashi. The plot follows the story of Yugi Mutou as he tries to solve the ancient Millennium Puzzle. The manga has resulted in a massive media franchise that includes a trading card game, video games and a anime series.
8. One Piece – $21 Billion
One Piece is the most successful manga series of all time. Created in 1997 by Eiichiro Oda, the story centers on Monkey D. Luffy as he explores the Grand Line in hopes of finding “One Piece.” Having sold over 450 million copies, the iconic series has expanded it’s reach. With several movies, an anime, video games and merchandising the series has developed into massive revenue.
7. Fish of the North Star – $22 Billion
Created in 1983, the Fist of the North Star manga series was written by Buronson and drawn by Tetsuo Hara. 245 chapters were collected in 27 volumes by Shueisha. Set in a world destroyed by nuclear war, the series follows Kenshiro as he uses his Hokuto Shinken martial art to give his enemies a gory death. While Fist of the North Star has included games, merchandise, anime and manga, the series mostly makes money from Pachinko and arcades.
6. Dragon Ball – $24.3 Billion
Dragon Ball is the storied series from Akira Toriyama. Created in 1984, Dragon Ball started out as a popular manga series. Eventually Dragon Ball became the second highest selling manga series of all time. It was adapted into two anime series, Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. Through several companies, Dragon Ball has developed merchandising, films, both animated and live action, collectibles, trading cards and many video games.
In the Seven Deadly Sins series, is simply called “powers.” How these powers are invoked are unknown. The source of one’s powers are their “will, beliefs, and their experience.” Powers can be inherited and gained by research or experimentation.” These powers are altered by the emotions of the users. These magical abilities are measured by Balor’s Magical Eye. They measure magic, strength and spirit in terms of numbers. The numerical calculation results in a “Power Level.” Each power is has advantages and disadvantages. All abilities are categorized in terms of offense, defense and support.
The lists of powers are large, with individuals having unique abilities and race based ones. For example, Elizabeth has the ability “Ark” that is a form of light magic from the Goddess Clan. She also has an unnamed ability “that allows her to persuade others to retreat from battle by speaking into their hearts and souls.”
In My Hero Academia, Quirks are “special, superhuman ability an individual can possess. Quirks are generally unique to their user, and are classified in multiple categories. The user is also given one single ability of that said Quirk, rather than many abilities.” Quirks are genetically inherited through “Mendelian inheritance.” They will manifest in children around age 4. Each child will either manifest the same Quirk of their parent or a composite one if both parents have Quirks. It is possible, however, for some children to develop Quirks that aren’t related to their genetic line.
In very rare case animals can possess Quirks, like Nezu. It is also possible that a Quirk can “mutate and merge.” Sometimes people with Quirks that are too difficult for their bodies to handle, for example Yuga Aoyama. His Quirks not only requires that he have a special belt, if he uses it for to long he will get pain in his stomach. Quirks feature more complex aspects to there existence. The concept of the “Quirk Factor” is one of these more complex aspects. The “Quirk Factor” refers to “the collective traits that compose a Quirk. This includes the primary Quirk power as well as all the biological mechanisms that allow said primary power to function properly.”
Quirks can also under go what is called “Awakening.” When this occurs, a users Quirk goes through “evolution.” It’s not clear what exactly triggers this moment, but Himiko Toga’s Quirk transforms during a “life or death situation.” Quirks are categorized in several different “types.”
Emitter – Quirks have the ability to either release certain substances, or alter materials around them in certain ways. Emitter-type Quirks usually require a conscious effort to activate
Transformation – Quirks cause the user to take on a temporary alteration of some kind. Transformation-type Quirks allow the user to temporarily “transform” their body in a variety of manners, sometimes enhancing existing features or perhaps adding new features to the body altogether.
Mutant – Quirks can have a wide variety of features and abilities depending on the individual. Generally, Mutant-type Quirks are associated with the user’s physicality (mutations). As a result, Mutant Quirks are passively active and, at a glance, are the most identifiable.
Nen allows the user to manipulate their own life energy, called aura. These users are referred to as “Nen users.” Aura are produced by all living bodies. Aura flow’s throughout the bodies that escapes through the top of the head. The points in the bodies where aura flows are called “Aura Nodes.” In order to learn Nen, students have to master opening and closing their Aura nodes. There are two ways to learn how to do this, meditation or Initiation.
Nen of the Flame
A precursor to learning Nen, these are mental exercises that “strengthen one’s force of will. Regular practice can smooth the flow of one’s aura.” There are four exercises:
Ten (“Point”): Focus the mind, reflect upon the self and determine the goal.
Zetsu (“Tongue”): Put it into words.
Ren (“Temper”): Intensify your will.
Hatsu (“Release”): Put it to action.
These four principles must be mastered to fully understand Nen. Then one can learn the more advanced techniques. These techniques often combine with or derive from one of the four major principles. The advanced techniques are as follows:
Gyo (“Focus”) – is an advanced application of Ren by which a Nen user concentrates a larger than normal portion of their aura into one specific body part. It increases the strength of that one body part, but leaves the rest of the body more vulnerable. Gyo is most often used in the eyes, allowing a Nen user to see aura and Nen constructs concealed with In.
In (“Conceal”) – is an advanced form of Zetsu used to render one’s aura imperceptible, effectively concealing it. Unlike Zetsu, however, In does not stop the user’s aura flow; instead, it hides it, making it impossible to perceive with any of the five senses or extrasensory perception. Hence, this technique is perfect for launching sneak attacks or laying traps, as it can conceal not only the user’s presence, but also Nen constructs generated with Transmutation, or Conjuration.
En (“Circle”) – is an advanced application of Ten and Ren. In Ren, aura usually envelops only a small amount of space around the user’s body. En is when one extends their Ren so that their aura extends further than normal, then uses Ten at the same time to contain and give shape to that aura, normally a sphere.
Shu (“Enfold”) – is an advanced application of Ten. Shu allows a user of Nen to enshroud an object with their aura, allowing them to use that object as an extension of their own body.
Ko (“Temper”) – is a combination of Ten, Zetsu, Hatsu, Ren, and Gyo in which all of the user’s aura is concentrated into one particular body part. Gyo is utilized to focus aura on a part of the body, while Ten is used to prevent it from dispersing. Zetsu is used to completely stop the flow of Nen in all other parts of the body, increasing the output in the desired area. With Ren, the amount of aura is increased even further. This makes that one body part extremely powerful, but at the cost of leaving the rest of the user’s body completely unprotected. Due to the risk it carries, Ko is regarded as a purely offensive technique.
Ken (“Fortify”) – is the advanced version of the basic Ren and Ten techniques. It is a primarily defensive technique where a Nen user maintains a state of Ren for a prolonged amount of time. The amount of aura surrounding the user’s body during Ken is about 10 times higher than during Ten. Ken allows a Nen user to guard against attacks from any direction, but the large amount of aura produced makes it tiring to maintain. It is considered the best option to defend from Ko, despite not being as powerful as the latter on any given part of the body, as it protects all of it evenly.
Ryu (“Flow”) – is the term for use of Gyo from a state of Ken to perform real-time offensive and defensive value adjustments. If Ko devolves 100% of one’s aura to offense or, much more rarely, to defense, and Ken splits it evenly between the two, Ryu is redistributing one’s aura according to any other percentage, for example by focusing 70% of one’s aura in one fist as one is about to strike, or 80% in one’s leg to block an incoming kick. It is utilized to damage a Ken user without leaving oneself as unprotected as during Ko, although the power of the technique is lower. Ryu is difficult to master, as it requires not only to control one’s aura flow with great precision, but also to be able to estimate the amount of aura utilized by the opponent at a glance.
In the diagram below is the six different types of aura. Everyone is born with one of the six, they are tasked with learning a new unique technique. There are “numerical approximations” that determine how efficient one would be at using aura abilities. One has a chance to be 100% efficient in their own aura type. One can be 80 % efficient in the adjacent aura type, 40% efficient at the opposite or farthest category, and 60% efficient in the two remaining categories.
Nen gets even more complex, as there are several sub-nen types, limitations, conditions, activation requirements, and aura power levels.
In the Naruto series, Chakra is the means to using any technique. Generally the use of hand seals are required to create jutsus. These techniques allow users to enact effects such as walking on water, breathing fire or creating illusions. Chakra is restricted by the Eight Gates, tenketsu that are located along the chakra pathway system. Chakra became a form of life energy that all people can produce. If a person runs out of chakra, they will die. Chakra is created when two forms of energy, physical and spiritual are mixed together. The amount of chakra an individual possess is generally determined by genes, however, they can train to increase their limits, some what.
Mastering Chakra Control requires a great deal of training. It’s not important to have massive amounts of chakra, but to be able “control and conserve it.” In order to have good chakra control ” a ninja should only mold as much chakra as they need to perform a given ability. If they mold more chakra than is needed, the excess chakra is wasted and they will tire out faster from its loss. If they don’t mold enough chakra, a technique will not be performed effectively, if at all, likely creating problems in a combat situation.” When a ninja wants to create ninjutsu, they need to use one of two methods of manipulating chakra, shape transformation and nature transformation.
Shape transformation deals with controlling the form, movement, and potency of chakra.
Nature transformation deals with changing the physical properties of chakra into an element. There is also the nature transformation of Yin and Yang, which deals with changing the ratio of spiritual and physical energies within chakra.
Are the “mystical arts a ninja will utilize in battle.” Ninja’s need to form seals to manifest the technique. There are three different types of jutsu:
Ninjutsu – is the most nebulous of the three, and may most simply be described as anything that is not genjutsu or taijutsu. Most ninjutsu require chakra and hand seals, but this is not always the case since the mere usage of weaponry qualifies as ninjutsu.
Genjutsu – is one of the main jutsu categories which uses chakra. Unlike ninjutsu, the effects of genjutsu are not real, being only sensory illusions experienced by those who fall victim to it.
Taijutsu – is a basic form of techniques and refers to any techniques involving the martial arts or the optimization of natural human abilities. Taijutsu is executed by directly accessing the user’s physical and mental energies, relying on the stamina and strength gained through training. It typically does not require chakra, though chakra may be used to enhance its techniques. Taijutsu generally requires no hand seals to perform, occasionally making use of certain stances or poses, and are far quicker to use than ninjutsu or genjutsu. Taijutsu is hand-to-hand combat.
Devil Fruits are mysterious fruits that are found throughout the One Piece world. Once consumed the fruit provides the eater with an ability. With the exception of Black Beard, an individual can only have one devil fruit ability. Devil fruits are divide into three different categories:
Paramecia – These fruits give the users a power that can affect their body, manipulate the environment, and/or produce substances. This Devil Fruit type can be categorized into two basic groups: those which are based on a characteristic (such as elasticity or slowness) or an object (bombs, doors, etc.).
Logia – this type allows the user to completely alter their form into a natural element and manipulate it at will.
Zoan – This type of fruit allows the user to transform into another species and inter-species hybrid forms at will. Zoan types are especially effective in close combat.
Every living person in the world has a mysterious power called Haki. However, most people do realize they have it. There are three different types of Haki:
Kenbunshoku Haki – is a form of Haki that allows the user to sense the presence of others, even if they are concealed from view or too far to see normally.
Busoshoku Haki – is a form of Haki that allows the user to use their spirit to create, in essence, an invisible armor around themselves, providing potentially incredible offensive and defensive capabilities. Notably, this form of Haki can be used to injure Devil Fruit users that are otherwise immune to certain kinds of physical harm, mainly Logia users.
Haoshoku Haki – is a rare form of Haki that cannot be attained through training. Only one in several million people have this ability. This type of Haki allows the user to exert their willpower over others.
In One Piece every crew has a combatant, martial arts are a very important part of the series. While not the main form of power, martial arts are used by many characters in the series. Characters like Sabo use martial arts style and stick-fighting. Jinbe uses Fish-Man Karate and Fish-Man Jujutsu. Throughout the series several different form of martial arts are presented. They are generally characterized by styles (Black Leg Style), species (Fish-Man Karate) and culture (Okama Kenpo).
Nearly every crew has a swordsmen. They are considered to be important assets to the crew and are often highly ranked in their crew. There are two different kinds of swordsmen, the Strong Blade and the Gentle Blade. Strong Blade swordsmen focus on strength like Zoro, Ryuma and Kawamatsu. However, the Gentle Blade swordsmen like Tashigi, Kaku and Brook emphasize speed. The greatest swordsmen alive, Mihawk, uses swordsmanship that combines Strong and Gentle Blade styles. Swords are categorized in One Piece by “Grade.” There are 12 Supreme Grade Swords, 21 Great Grade Swords, 50 Skillful Grade Swords and a undetermined number of Grade Swords.
Three Great Powers
The military takes a very important role in the One Piece series. The Three Great Powers consists of the Marines, the Shichibukai (now disbanded) and the Yonko. The military hopes to replace the Shichibukai with the SSG. The three powers balance each other out, with SSG and the Military equaling Yonko.
In shonen anime and manga, power systems are established in order to explain the mechanisms for abilities used in combat. These powers systems can make or break a series. It’s important for these series to be have well balanced power systems. The best made power systems will have unique abilities, that are difficult to master or at least take effort. They should feature a variety of techniques, that range in complexity. Some systems will become “broken,” allowing only a few characters to excel in the series. Dragon Ball Z is a great example of a series that ended up broken. Once a series that focused on martial arts, Dragon Ball Z eventually became a series that focused largely on three saiyans, Goku, Vegeta and Gohan.
While Goku and Vegeta continued to get stronger, Gohan fell behind. Due to the nature of saiyan cells (S Cells), Goku and Vegeta continue to get stronger at rapid rates. This eventual means that they’re the only two that will matter in battle. None of this is to say that the series stopped being enjoyable, just that the power system became broken at some point. That said many of the best power systems often incorporate a “broken” ability that allows the main character to surpass his or her enemies.
10. Demon Slayer – Breath Styles
The main form of combat in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba are the breath styles. In conjunction with Nichirin blades, they’re able to battle on par with Demons. Derived from the “Breath of the Sun” the Breath styles are taught by the Demon Slaying Corps. By making use of particular and concentrated breathing patterns, the lung capacity and oxygen in the blood increases. This is all in service of increasing the physical abilities. When focusing breaths, Demon Slayers are able to accomplish feats such as “clotting wounds,” and “slowing down the circulation of poison.” Overall there are 15 branches of breathing styles. Demon Slayer’s power system is simple but has variety.
In Black Clover, Mana is the primary form of energy that exists in nature. It is the source of all magic spells. Mana is used to activate all spells. Almost every human can use mana to some extent. Mages in the Black Clover universe have “affinities” for mana “attributes.” These attributes can be one of four great attributes: fire, water, wind, and earth. Or they can be one of several derivative elements like lightning or ice. In addition to this, mages can develop “latent abilities” connected to their element. Wind users have the latent ability “mana sensory.”
Elements like water and fire are common, with elements like light and space being rare. Mages are limited to their element, but they can augment their element into other forms. However, if a mage is a hybrid of two races they may have “dual affinity.” While rare it’s possible for a mage to use science to “artificially enhance themselves” given them more than one element. The more mana a mage possess the stronger they are.
Grimories are magical items that enhance the users ability to use magic. They are the written record of all the spells that a user learns. As the owner gets stronger the book becomes inscribed with newer spells. Connected to their owners, Grimoires cannot be used by other mages and disappear when their owners die. However, Grimoires of Despair are the exception.
A Stand is a visual manifestation of life energy, they’re generally represented as a figure that hovers around the “Stand user.” A stand can represent the ” the manifestation of an individual’s innate fighting spirit and embodies, to an extent, the individual’s psyche.” Stands follow a “loose” set of rules, they’re an embodiment of the user psyche, therefore, they are all unique. This “uniqueness” results in a vast difference in abilities, power and usefulness of Stands. Some Stands can even be detrimental to their users. Any damage sustained by a Stand is reflected on the user and vice-versa. However, automatic Stands and bound Stands are the exception. If Stands are destroyed their user dies with them.
Stands obey every command that is demanded of them within there limits. However, some Stands cannot be controlled by their user. This can result in the Stand killing it’s own user. One rule that governs Stands and their users is that they can only have one. Learning and mastering a Stands ability can be difficult. Stand users are usually ignorant of the ability of their Stand at first. Once they discover it, then they have to learn the various uses for the Stands abilities. To use a Stand, a user has to summon it. Then the user needs to command it, if they hope to use their powers. However, automatic Stands act by themselves.
Based on appearance Stands are classified into 5 different categories, Natural Humanoid, Artificial Humanoid, Natural Non-Humanoid, Artificial Non-Humanoid and Phenomenon. Furthermore, Stands all have supernatural properties, in addition to unique powers. Stands are invulnerable to harm by anything other than another Stand or damage to their user. A Stand’s powers vary wildly, ranging from using a sword, fire or even stopping time. An important limitation on Stands are “firing range.” This range is largely the distance that a Stand is still effective. On top of all that, Stands have six parameters that they can be judged.
The main sources of combat ability in FullMetal Alchemist is Alchemy. Based on the ancient metaphysical mystical art that allows the user to “manipulating and altering matter by using natural energy.” This is called Transmutation, which required three aspects to succeed.
Comprehension – Understanding the inherent structure and properties of the atomic or molecular makeup of a particular material to be transmuted, including the flow and balance of potential and kinetic energy within.
Deconstruction – Using energy to break down the physical structure of the identified material into a more malleable state so as to be easily reshaped into a new form.
Reconstruction – Continuing the flow of energy so as to reform the material into a new shape.
In order to use alchemy a practitioner would need to have complete understanding of chemistry and ancient alchemical theory. Generally, you need to have high intellect. The Alchemists are said to transmute using various substance. Some use the Four Classical Elements (Water, Earth, Fire and Air) and other use the Three Essential Principles (Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury). Regardless, the most important tenet of alchemy is the concept of Equivalent Exchange. Separated into two laws:
The Law of Conservation of Mass, which states that energy and matter can neither be created from nothing nor destroyed to the point of elemental nonexistence. In other words, to create an object weighing one kilogram, at least one kilogram of material is necessary and destroying an object weighing one kilogram would reduce it to a set of parts, the sum of which would weigh one kilogram.
The Law of Natural Providence, which states that an object or material made of a particular substance or element can only be transmuted into another object with the same basic makeup and properties of that initial material. In other words, an object or material made mostly of water can only be transmuted into another object with the attributes of water.
Alchemy includes more than simply an understanding of transmutation and adhering to the laws of Equivalent Exchange. Alchemists need to use a transmutation circle. These circles can be drawn anywhere and by any medium. transmutation circles are made up of two parts, the circle and a “alchemical rune.” Alchemy gets even more complicated, as it focuses on human soul binding, Homunculus (artificial humans) and resurrection.
The Bleach series features numerous different forms of fighting. However, the series primarily focused on the use of Zanpakuto or Soul Cutter Sword. The main weapon used by the Shinigami, Arrancar and Visored. The lowest ranked Zanpakuto is called Asauchi and they lack names. However, the Zanpakuto of a Shinigami Captain do have names. Each weapon are uniquely generated by the users soul. The soul of a Shinigami will determine the shape and ability of the sword. Zanpakuto’s are sentient beings and it’s name is that of the living spirit that powers the sword. Once the Shinigami learns the name of it’s Zanpakuto, they are able to communicate with each other and get stronger.
Zanpakuto are born with their Shinigami and will die with them. The one exception to the uniqueness of a Zanpakuto is the Ise Clan’s, Shinken Hakkyoken. A Zanpakuto can choose to withhold it’s true name from it’s wielder if they deem them unworthy. In order to communicate with their Zanpakuto a Shinigami must use an advance form of training called Jinzen. Based on the ability of the Shinigami to communicate with their Zanpakuto’s spirit, a Zanpakuto will develop two forms, Shikai and Bankai.
Shikai – is the second (or first upgraded) form available to a Zanpakutō. To activate it, the Shinigami needs to learn the name of their Zanpakutō. This is not as easy as simply picking a name, for the living spirit of the Zanpakutō already has its own name. The Shinigami must be able to communicate and harmonize with their Zanpakutō effectively, which requires being able to speak to the spirit within its world.
Bankai – is the second and final upgraded form of a Zanpakutō. To achieve Bankai, one must be able to materialize and subjugate their Zanpakutō spirit. Materialization means the opposite of getting dragged into the Zanpakutō’s inner world: the wielder needs to summon the Zanpakutō’s spirit into the physical world. It usually takes 10 years or more to achieve, plus the experience needed to master it. Despite the Zanpakutō spirit being subjugated for their Shinigami to learn Bankai, the Zanpakutō also becomes stronger and learns Bankai at precisely the moment their Shinigami learns it. Even though Bankai is the final stage of a Zanpakutō, it does not mean the Shinigami’s growth ends there. A Bankai, especially one recently obtained, can evolve even further as its Shinigami gets stronger. Ichigo and Urahara managed to achieve Bankai at accelerated rates.
A broken Shikai will regenerate, a broken Bankai will never return to its original state. However, a Zanpakuto can be reforged. Zanpakuto are generally grouped into three categories, Melee, Kido and Elemental. Despite the fact that Zanpakuto is the main form of combat in Bleach, there are three other forms of combat. Hoho is a more defensive style of fighting that focuses on fast movements and footwork. Kido (Demon Arts) is a form of combat the produces spells. They often require an incantation to activate. Finally, there is Hakudo (Hand to Hand Combat). Using their body, users attack with their feet and hands. Making use of their physical strength and martial arts skills.
To celebrate my 900th blog post, I decided to make my top ten anime of all time lists. When coming up with the top ten I focused on series that had the most impact on me. At the same time I also choose anime that can and have stood the test of time (even from an animation stand point), and I would recommend to anyone. I don’t think any of these series are going to be surprise anyone, as most are mainstream to an anime audience.
[Note] One Piece, Naruto and Bleach aren’t on the lists because I prefer(ed) the manga.
10. Dragon Ball Z
If this was a list of the series that I was the most nostalgic about Dragon Ball Z would be number one. Most of my childhood was centered on DBZ . The Cartoon Network would torture me by repeating the same arc’s over and over again. I must have watched the Radditz arc at least 50 times before they moved on to the saiyan arc. The series has come to define anime for many anime fans and non-anime fans. It’s hands down one of, if not the most popular anime series of all-time. Dragon Ball Z has been often mocked for it’s constant screaming and it’s “inaction sequences.” My mother would often comment “did they start fighting yet” as she would walk past the t.v. Despite it’s iconic status, DBZ as a series had a lot of problems. This is mostly due to running up against the manga. DBZ had many bad fillers, dragged out fights and at one point took ten episodes for planet Namek to explode. Even with this, the series had some of the most epic fights and has clearly left a mark on anime in general. Dragon Ball Z still remains an anime series that I consider a must see.
9. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
A mecha anime series by Gainax, Gurren Lagann focuses on mankind’s rise from a subterranean existence to the galactic exploration. Taking place in a future where Earth is ruled by the Spiral King, Lordgenome, a young digger named Simon and his “brother” Kamina dream of reaching the surface. As they and Team Gurren make their way to the skies, they engage in epic, over the top mecha battles. Gurren Lagann features high quality animation, surprising deaths, fanservice, theme music power ups and cool mecha designs. Gurren Lagann resulted in another anime classic for Gainax.
8. Made in Abyss
My favorite anime genre tends to be shonen, but Made in Abyss made me appreciate the seinen genre more. Made in Abyss plays with expectation, if you think the adorable characters are going to have a fun adventure, you are wrong. While only having one season under it’s belt, Made in Abyss had a profound impact on me. Exciting, ruthless, filled with body horror, tear jerking moments and has a intriguing mystery to discover. Made in Abyss is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth the emotional scarring.
7. Hunter X Hunter
For some reason I kept avoiding Hunter X Hunter. After running into a little bit of an anime drought, I decided to give the series a try. I wasn’t disappointed. On the surface Hunter X Hunter feels like a typical shonen series, but it’s more than that. Gon Freecss, the main protagonists, is a prime example of the undermining of shonen tropes this series does. I loved it’s complicated power system (Nen), character development, action and the uses of a narrator. Narration seemed unnecessary at first but I think it is an amazing addition to the series that adds to it.
6. Mob Psycho 100
An anime from web-comic creator ONE, Mob Psycho 100, is about a 14 year old boy named Shigeo Kageyama. He aims to be ordinary despite the fact that he’s extraordinary with telekinesis. He is a complicated young man struggling with his emotions and fear of his power harming others. Mob Psycho 100 main moral lesson is that despite having an extraordinary abilities you still need work to improve yourself as a human. Mob in particular embodies this theme. Despite his psychic powers he doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. That said, Mob Psycho 100 is still a shonen series with fluid animation, bright colors, humor, funny characters and epic battles.
5. One Punch Man
The creator of Mob Psycho 100 is also the creator of One Punch Man. The title is to be taken literally, as the main protagonist, Saitama is capable of defeating most monsters with one punch. One Punch Man is a parody of the shonen superhero series. It makes fun of the over the top and somewhat silly nature of the typical shonen anime, that results in the main character always defeating the bad guy. It’s surprising how satisfying you find Saitama’s one hit victories. The series does have interesting action, usually it’s other less powerful characters are doing the fighting though. Despite this the series does manage to keep us wondering, which monster can make Saitama hit it more than once. The first season is considered perfect, the second one, not so much. Still, One Punch Man remains an important series for anime fans to watch.
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse is a sad, tragic tale. Born into a world that practices alchemy, the brothers arrogance leads them to believe that they can break one of the most important rules of alchemy. Trying to resurrect their mother, Ed loses his right arm and left leg and his brother loses his entire body. The brothers go in search of the “philosopher stone,” so they can transmute without consequences. While maintaining a sense of humor, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, is full of themes like sacrifice, death, selfishness, what is truth, and the value of life. If you want to watch an anime series that balances dark themes, comedy and great action, FMA is it.
3. Attack on Titan
If you read this far it’s clear that I love anime series that manage to successfully combine dark, mature themes with great action and top animation. Attack on Titan is a series that lives up to those standards. What separates Attack on Titan from typical series is the level of dreariness. While the main characters are largely safe, you’ll never certain. Secondary characters and any other character are fair game. With characters that are constantly underdogs, failure is the most likely outcome. Often in anime you feel that everything will be fine, in Attack on Titan your surprised that half the squad is still alive. Attack on Titan has mystery, what are titans (weird giant humanoids) and why do they eat humans? Conspiracies, what is the government doing? As they fight for human survival, the scouts deal with trauma, lost and death.
2. Cowboy Bebop
For many Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever. Considered to be a masterpiece, Shinichiro Watanabe blends elements of westerns with elements of film noir. The classic anime series Lupin the third was a visual influence and the three main characters of Cowboy Bebop are inspired by Lupin, Jigen and Fujiko from Lupin. The overall story is influence by Japanese cinema. Cowboy Bebop also uses a jazz heavy soundtrack that is iconic on it’s own, marking a major departure from the common use of J Pop. Cowboy Bebop focuses on mature themes like loneliness and difficulties escaping the past, it’s well animated, well (voice) acted and generally entertaining. Cowboy Bebop is considered a “gateway series” for anime, and I couldn’t agree more.
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion
When I first began watching Neon Genesis Evangelion it was for the epic and violent mecha battles. I couldn’t comprehend the more complex themes and imagery woven into the narrative. Evangelion is credited with revolutionizing anime as a medium. Set in the year 2000, a global cataclysm called the “Second Impact,” changes the world. Antarctica is destroyed and the planet’s axis shifts, causing flooding and a altered climate. After nuclear war, half the worlds population is wiped out. Teenagers, Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu and Rei Ayanami pilot massive mecha called Eva’s. Their enemy are physic altering monsters dubbed Angels.
Evangelion explores complex themes like depression, human subjectivity, and child abuse. The series makes many references to philosophical, psychoanalytic concepts, as well as references to Kabbalah, Christian and Jewish religions. Evangelion even uses religious texts like the Book of Genesis within the series and the Angels share names found in religion like Sachiel. The series has been described as both a ” both a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre.” On the surface, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a mecha anime with distinctly designed robots that engage in brutal battles. However, the series has levels of deeper and more sophisticated themes that makes Evangelion one of the most well regarded series ever.