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Top 50 Most Popular Anime of All Time

most popular anime of all time

Anime has evolved from a niche subculture to a global phenomenon, captivating audiences with its unique storytelling, vibrant animation, and diverse genres. Over the years, countless anime series have left a lasting impact on fans worldwide, earning a place in the hearts of viewers and solidifying their status as the most popular anime of all time. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the top 50 anime that have shaped the industry and continue to be celebrated for their innovation, creativity, and cultural significance.

Table of Contents

1. “Naruto” (2002-2007)

Release Date: October 3, 2002

Episodes: 220

Director: Hayato Date

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Naruto, created by Masashi Kishimoto, follows the journey of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja with dreams of becoming the strongest ninja and the leader of his village.

“Naruto” became a cultural phenomenon, blending intense battles, intricate world-building, and compelling characters. Its sequel, “Naruto: Shippuden,” continued the legacy, solidifying its place among the most popular anime series of all time. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

2. “One Piece” (1999-present)

Release Date: October 20, 1999

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai, Hiroaki Miyamoto

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece” follows Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew as they search for the legendary One Piece treasure. With a sprawling world, rich character development, and a gripping narrative, “One Piece” has maintained its popularity for over two decades.

3. “Dragon Ball Z” (1989-1996)

Release Date: April 26, 1989

Episodes: 291

Director: Daisuke Nishio

Genre: Action, Adventure, Martial Arts, Fantasy

Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball Z” is a cornerstone of anime history, known for its epic battles, iconic characters, and the journey of Goku from a young warrior to the defender of the universe. Its impact on the anime industry and pop culture is immeasurable. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

4. “Attack on Titan” (2013-2021)

Release Date: April 6, 2013

Episodes: 75

Director: Tetsurō Araki, Masashi Koizuka

Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic

Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” took the anime world by storm with its intense plot, complex characters, and jaw-dropping revelations. As humanity fights for survival against giant humanoid creatures, the series explores themes of power, freedom, and the consequences of war.

5. “Death Note” (2006-2007)

Release Date: October 4, 2006

Episodes: 37

Director: Tetsurō Araki

Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller

Tsugumi Ohba’s “Death Note” is a psychological thriller that follows the story of Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a mysterious notebook with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in it. The battle of wits between Light and the enigmatic detective L captivated audiences worldwide. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

6. “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” (2009-2010)

Release Date: April 5, 2009

Episodes: 64

Director: Yasuhiro Irie

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Adapted from Hiromu Arakawa’s manga, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is a masterful tale of two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, on a quest for the Philosopher’s Stone. Known for its intricate plot, well-developed characters, and exploration of morality, the series stands as a pinnacle of storytelling in anime.

7. “My Hero Academia” (2016-present)

Release Date: April 3, 2016

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Kenji Nagasaki

Genre: Action, Comedy, Superhero

Kohei Horikoshi’s “My Hero Academia” presents a world where individuals possess superpowers known as Quirks. The series follows Izuku Midoriya’s journey to become the greatest hero. With its dynamic action sequences and exploration of heroism, the anime has gained widespread acclaim. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

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8. “Cowboy Bebop” (1998)

Release Date: April 3, 1998

Episodes: 26

Director: Shinichirō Watanabe

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Space, Drama

“Cowboy Bebop” is a space-western masterpiece that follows bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and his eclectic crew as they traverse the galaxy. Renowned for its stylish animation, jazz-infused soundtrack, and mature themes, this series has left an enduring legacy in the anime industry.

9. “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995-1996)

Release Date: October 4, 1995

Episodes: 26

Director: Hideaki Anno

Genre: Mecha, Psychological, Drama

Hideaki Anno’s “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is a groundbreaking mecha series that explores the psychological struggles of its protagonists as they pilot giant robots to protect Earth. The series’ complex narrative and symbolic imagery have sparked extensive analysis and discussion. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

10. “One Punch Man” (2015-2019)

Release Date: October 5, 2015

Episodes: 24

Director: Shingo Natsume

Genre: Action, Comedy, Parody, Superhero

Created by the artist ONE, “One Punch Man” offers a comedic twist on the superhero genre, following Saitama, a hero who defeats any opponent with a single punch. The series blends humor with spectacular action, satirizing common tropes in the superhero genre.

11. “Hunter x Hunter” (2011-2014)

Release Date: October 2, 2011

Episodes: 148

Director: Hiroshi Kōjina

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Hunter x Hunter” follows Gon Freecss on his quest to become a Hunter and find his missing father. Known for its intricate world-building, strategic battles, and character development, the series has earned a dedicated fan base. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

12. “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” (2019-2020)

Release Date: April 6, 2019

Episodes: 26

Director: Haruo Sotozaki

Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy, Historical

Koyoharu Gotouge’s “Demon Slayer” took the anime world by storm, combining breathtaking animation with a compelling story of Tanjiro Kamado’s quest to save his sister from demonic curses. The series became a cultural phenomenon, breaking records and winning numerous awards.

13. “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” (2006-2008)

Release Date: October 6, 2006

Episodes: 25

Director: Gorō Taniguchi

Genre: Action, Mecha, Military, Psychological

“Code Geass” follows Lelouch vi Britannia’s rebellion against an oppressive regime, wielding the power of the Geass. Known for its intricate plot twists, moral ambiguity, and political intrigue, the series has left a lasting impact on the mecha genre. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

14. “Steins Gate” (2011)

Release Date: April 6, 2011

Episodes: 24

Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki, Takuya Satō

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Based on the visual novel by 5pb. and Nitroplus, “Steins;Gate” explores time travel and its consequences. The series balances intricate storytelling with memorable characters, creating a gripping narrative that has resonated with fans.

15. “Fairy Tail” (2009-2019)

Release Date: October 12, 2009

Episodes: 328

Director: Shinji Ishihira

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Magic

Hiro Mashima’s “Fairy Tail” follows the adventures of Natsu Dragneel and his friends in the Fairy Tail guild. Known for its vibrant characters, magical battles, and themes of friendship, the series became a staple in the anime community. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

16. “Bleach” (2004-2012)

Release Date: October 5, 2004

Episodes: 366

Director: Noriyuki Abe

Genre: Action, Supernatural

Tite Kubo’s “Bleach” follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a teenager with the ability to see ghosts, as he becomes a Soul Reaper. With its intense battles, spiritual themes, and a vast cast of characters, “Bleach” became a long-running fan favorite.

17. “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” (2012-present)

Release Date: October 6, 2012

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Naokatsu Tsuda

Genre: Action, Adventure, Supernatural

Hirohiko Araki’s “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” spans multiple generations of the Joestar family, each facing supernatural threats. Known for its unique art style, inventive battles, and memorable catchphrases, the series has become a cultural phenomenon. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

18. “Tokyo Ghoul” (2014-2018)

Release Date: July 4, 2014

Episodes: 48

Director: Shuhei Morita

Genre: Action, Horror, Mystery, Psychological

Sui Ishida’s “Tokyo Ghoul” explores the life of Kaneki Ken, who becomes a half-ghoul after a chance encounter. The series delves into existential themes, moral ambiguity, and the consequences of a world divided between humans and ghouls.

19. “Soul Eater” (2008-2009)

Release Date: April 7, 2008

Episodes: 51

Director: Takuya Igarashi

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Dark Fantasy

Atsushi Ōkubo’s “Soul Eater” follows students at the Death Weapon Meister Academy as they hunt evil souls. Known for its unique art style, dynamic action sequences, and quirky characters, the series gained a dedicated following. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

20. “Haikyuu!!” (2014-2020)

Release Date: April 6, 2014

Episodes: 85

Director: Susumu Mitsunaka

Genre: Sports, Comedy, Drama

Haruichi Furudate’s “Haikyuu!!” is a sports anime that follows the journey of the Karasuno High School volleyball team. With its dynamic animation, character-driven storytelling, and intense sports action, the series has garnered praise from both sports and anime enthusiasts.

21. “Noragami” (2014-2016)

Release Date: January 5, 2014

Episodes: 25

Director: Kotaro Tamura

Genre: Action, Adventure, Supernatural

Adachitoka’s “Noragami” follows Yato, a minor god striving to gain followers, and Hiyori, a girl with a unique connection to the spiritual realm. With its blend of action, humor, and exploration of divine themes, the series has garnered a dedicated fanbase. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

22. “Black Clover” (2017-present)

Release Date: October 3, 2017

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Tatsuya Yoshihara

Genre: Action, Magic, Fantasy

Yūki Tabata’s “Black Clover” follows Asta, a boy born without magic in a world where it is everything. Determined to become the Wizard King, Asta embarks on a journey of growth, camaraderie, and magical battles.

23. “Mob Psycho 100” (2016-2019)

Release Date: July 11, 2016

Episodes: 25

Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural

Created by ONE, the same mind behind “One Punch Man,” “Mob Psycho 100” follows Shigeo Kageyama, nicknamed Mob, a powerful psychic trying to navigate adolescence. The series is celebrated for its unique animation style and the exploration of psychic abilities. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

24. “Psycho-Pass” (2012-2013)

Release Date: October 12, 2012

Episodes: 22

Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Psychological, Thriller

“Psycho-Pass” is a dystopian thriller set in a society where law enforcement utilizes a system to measure citizens’ mental states. The series, created by Gen Urobuchi, delves into ethical questions surrounding justice, surveillance, and human nature.

25. “Dragon Ball” (1986-1989)

Release Date: February 26, 1986

Episodes: 153

Director: Daisuke Nishio

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball” is the series that introduced audiences to Goku’s adventures, from his childhood to becoming a formidable martial artist. With its humor, iconic battles, and exploration of the Dragon Balls, the series laid the foundation for the “Dragon Ball” franchise. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

26. “Tokyo Revengers” (2021-present)

Release Date: April 11, 2021

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Koichi Hatsumi

Genre: Action, Drama, Romance, Supernatural

Ken Wakui’s “Tokyo Revengers” follows Takemichi Hanagaki, who discovers he can time-travel and attempts to alter the future by preventing a tragic event. The series combines elements of gang conflicts, time travel, and personal growth.

27. “One Outs” (2008-2009)

Release Date: October 7, 2008

Episodes: 25

Director: Yuzo Sato

Genre: Psychological, Sports, Thriller

Written by Shinobu Kaitani, “One Outs” is a sports anime centered on Tokuchi Toua, a pitcher with a unique approach to baseball. The series explores mind games, strategy, and the psychological aspects of sports competition. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

28. “Your Lie in April” (2014-2015)

Release Date: October 10, 2014

Episodes: 22

Director: Kyohei Ishiguro

Genre: Drama, Music, Romance

Naoshi Arakawa’s “Your Lie in April” is a poignant tale of a young pianist overcoming personal struggles through music and the impact of a vibrant violinist. The series explores themes of love, loss, and the transformative power of art.

29. “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic” (2012-2013)

Release Date: October 7, 2012

Episodes: 25

Director: Koji Masunari

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Shinobu Ohtaka’s “Magi” follows Aladdin, Alibaba, and Morgiana as they navigate a world of magic, dungeons, and political intrigue. The series draws inspiration from Arabian Nights and weaves a rich tapestry of adventure and friendship. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

30. “Great Teacher Onizuka” (1999-2000)

Release Date: June 30, 1999

Episodes: 43

Director: Naoyasu Hanyu, Noriyuki Abe

Genre: Comedy, Drama, School, Slice of Life

Tohru Fujisawa’s “Great Teacher Onizuka” follows Eikichi Onizuka, an unconventional teacher, as he connects with his students and tackles the challenges of high school life. The series is celebrated for its humor, social commentary, and Onizuka’s unorthodox teaching methods.

31. “Assassination Classroom” (2015-2016)

Release Date: January 9, 2015

Episodes: 47

Director: Seiji Kishi

Genre: Action, Comedy, School, Supernatural

Yūsei Matsui’s “Assassination Classroom” revolves around a class of students tasked with assassinating their otherworldly teacher, Koro-sensei, before he destroys Earth. The series masterfully blends humor, action, and emotional depth. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

32. “Durarara!!” (2010-2016)

Release Date: January 8, 2010

Episodes: 60

Director: Takahiro Omori

Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural

Ryohgo Narita’s “Durarara!!” is a sprawling urban tale set in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, featuring a diverse cast of characters and supernatural elements. The series weaves multiple narratives, creating a complex and interconnected story.

33. “One Piece” (1999-present)

Release Date: October 20, 1999

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Konosuke Uda, Munehisa Sakai, Hiroaki Miyamoto

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece” continues to stand the test of time, following Monkey D. Luffy and his crew on their quest for the elusive One Piece treasure. With its adventurous spirit, diverse characters, and epic world-building, the series remains a cornerstone of the anime industry. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

34. “Gintama” (2006-2018)

Release Date: April 4, 2006

Episodes: 367

Director: Shinji Takamatsu, Yoichi Fujita

Genre: Action, Comedy, Historical, Parody, Sci-Fi

Hideaki Sorachi’s “Gintama” is a comedic masterpiece set in an alternate-history Edo period invaded by aliens. The series combines humor, action, and heartfelt moments, breaking the fourth wall with its self-awareness and parody elements.

35. “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” (2013-2014)

Release Date: October 6, 2013

Episodes: 25

Director: Koji Masunari

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

The sequel to “Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic,” “Magi: The Kingdom of Magic” continues the adventures of Aladdin, Alibaba, and Morgiana as they confront political intrigue and magical challenges in a world inspired by Arabian Nights. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

36. “Beelzebub” (2011-2012)

Release Date: January 9, 2011

Episodes: 60

Director: Nobuhiro Takamoto

Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural

Ryūhei Tamura’s “Beelzebub” follows delinquent Tatsumi Oga, who is tasked with raising the son of the Demon Lord. The series combines humor, action, and supernatural elements, creating a unique and entertaining narrative.

37. “Parasyte -the maxim-” (2014-2015)

Release Date: October 9, 2014

Episodes: 24

Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Horror, Psychological

Hitoshi Iwaaki’s “Parasyte” explores the consequences of an alien invasion where parasitic creatures take over human hosts. The series delves into themes of identity, morality, and the symbiotic relationship between humans and parasites. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

38. “The Promised Neverland” (2019-2021)

Release Date: January 11, 2019

Episodes: 23

Director: Mamoru Kanbe

Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller, Horror

Kaiu Shirai’s “The Promised Neverland” follows orphans trying to escape a sinister orphanage. The series combines suspenseful storytelling with psychological horror, creating a gripping narrative that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

39. “Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World” (2016-present)

Release Date: April 4, 2016

Episodes: Ongoing

Director: Masaharu Watanabe

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Psychological, Thriller

Tappei Nagatsuki’s “Re:Zero” follows Subaru Natsuki, who finds himself in a fantasy world and discovers he can return from death. The series explores themes of trauma, resilience, and the consequences of choices. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

40. “Hellsing Ultimate” (2006-2012)

Release Date: February 10, 2006

Episodes: 10

Director: Tomokazu Tokoro

Genre: Action, Horror, Supernatural, Vampire

“Hellsing Ultimate” adapts Kouta Hirano’s manga, featuring the Hellsing Organization’s battles against supernatural threats, including vampires and ghouls. The series is known for its intense action and gothic atmosphere.

41. “Yu Yu Hakusho” (1992-1995)

Release Date: October 10, 1992

Episodes: 112

Director: Noriyuki Abe

Genre: Action, Supernatural

Yoshihiro Togashi’s “Yu Yu Hakusho” follows Yusuke Urameshi, a delinquent who becomes a Spirit Detective tasked with protecting the human world from supernatural threats. Known for its dynamic action, memorable characters, and exploration of the afterlife, the series remains a classic in the shonen genre. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

42. “Toradora!” (2008-2009)

Release Date: October 2, 2008

Episodes: 25

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Slice of Life

Yuyuko Takemiya’s “Toradora!” is a romantic comedy that follows Ryuuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka as they navigate high school life and unexpected feelings for each other. The series is praised for its character development and emotional depth.

43. “Blue Exorcist” (2011-2017)

Release Date: April 17, 2011

Episodes: 37

Director: Tensai Okamura

Genre: Action, Supernatural, Fantasy

Kazue Kato’s “Blue Exorcist” centers on Rin Okumura, a teenager who discovers he is the son of Satan. Determined to become an exorcist, Rin confronts demonic threats while grappling with his demonic heritage. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

44. “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day” (2011)

Release Date: April 15, 2011

Episodes: 11

Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai

Genre: Drama, Slice of Life, Supernatural

Mari Okada’s “Anohana” revolves around a group of friends haunted by the ghost of their deceased friend, Menma. The series explores themes of grief, friendship, and the impact of loss on the lives of those left behind.

45. “Black Lagoon” (2006-2007)

Release Date: April 9, 2006

Episodes: 24

Director: Sunao Katabuchi

Genre: Action, Seinen

Rei Hiroe’s “Black Lagoon” follows the adventures of the Lagoon Company, a group of mercenaries operating in the criminal underworld. Known for its gritty realism, intense action, and morally ambiguous characters, the series stands out in the action genre. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

46. “March Comes in Like a Lion” (2016-2018)

Release Date: October 8, 2016

Episodes: 44

Director: Akiyuki Shinbo, Kenjirou Okada

Genre: Drama, Game, Seinen, Slice of Life

Chica Umino’s “March Comes in Like a Lion” explores the life of Rei Kiriyama, a young shogi player dealing with personal challenges. The series delves into themes of loneliness, mental health, and the healing power of human connections.

47. “Mob Psycho 100 II” (2019)

Release Date: January 7, 2019

Episodes: 13

Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa

Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural

The second season of “Mob Psycho 100” continues the story of Shigeo Kageyama, aka Mob, as he grapples with his psychic abilities and navigates the challenges of adolescence. The series builds on the strengths of the first season, delivering compelling character development and breathtaking animation. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

48. “Vinland Saga” (2019)

Release Date: July 7, 2019

Episodes: 24

Director: Shuhei Yabuta

Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Drama

Makoto Yukimura’s “Vinland Saga” is a historical epic set during the Viking Age, following the journey of Thorfinn as he seeks revenge for his father’s death. The series explores themes of war, honor, and the consequences of vengeance.

49. “Dorohedoro” (2020)

Release Date: January 12, 2020

Episodes: 12

Director: Yuichiro Hayashi

Genre: Action, Comedy, Horror, Magic

Q Hayashida’s “Dorohedoro” is a dark fantasy series that follows Caiman, a man with a reptile head, on his quest to unravel the mystery of his transformation. The series blends surrealism, violence, and humor in a unique and captivating narrative. It is one of the most popular anime of all time.

50. “Haikyuu!! To The Top” (2020)

Release Date: January 10, 2020

Episodes: 12

Director: Masako Satou

Genre: Sports, Comedy, Drama

The latest installment in the “Haikyuu!!” series continues to follow the Karasuno High School volleyball team as they strive for success. With its dynamic sports action and character-driven storytelling, “Haikyuu!! To The Top” maintains the series’ reputation as a sports anime favorite.

Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration of the top 50 most popular anime of all time, these final entries showcase the diverse genres and storytelling styles that have contributed to anime’s global appeal. From classic shonen adventures to emotional dramas and dark fantasies, each series has left an indelible mark on the medium. Whether you’re a seasoned anime enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of Japanese animation, these titles offer a fantastic starting point to explore the vast and dynamic landscape of anime storytelling.

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