What is the Best Anime of All Time?

Anime can be a daunting prospect for the more uninitiated viewer. Many choose to ignore it due to Anime historically having bad dubs, and viewers being too intimidated to watch it subtitled. With a 50-year history, find out what the best anime of all time can be an equally difficult prospect- but we’ve narrowed it all down for you and done our research (as well as watching what is probably too much anime).

What is the best anime of all time?

A good start to watching high-quality anime would be to probably start with Studio Ghibli’s offerings. Ghibli has often been called ‘The Disney of Anime’ but to simplify it down to that would be a misnomer. As well as being watchable for children, Studio Ghibli also weaves complex social messages in there for more mature viewers. For example, Princess Mononoke’s themes are centered not only around mystical aspects but also on the preservation of nature in the wake of the industrial revolution. These themes are near-flawlessly woven into the film’s narrative. In addition to this, we see a unique style from Ghibli, foregoing traditional Anime character designs. This consistency in design is what makes the studio so notorious.

But to just look at Studio Ghibli as holding the candle for creating the best Anime of all time would be discrediting other creators. In 2016 we saw Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa) shoot up the box office in a staggering fashion- and for a good reason too. Your Name is beautifully animated, with its simple premise setting up 2 main characters for a story that you’ll never forget. The success of Your Name saw it overtake Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away to become the highest grossing Anime of all time. But for people that are looking for something a little more- classics of anime also include a huge genre mostly unexplored by other mediums- Mecha.

Neon Genesis Evangelion created many of the character types that we see in modern anime today. With reluctant protagonist Shinji Ikari, this series gained notoriety for having an unorthodox ending in addition to having more compilation films and alternate ending films that you can shake a stick at. If Mecha isn’t quite your thing, then Akira is also a must-watch, with an eclectic score, slick visuals and a sci-fi plot that delivers some jaw-dropping animation. Akira is regarded as one of the ‘great’ Anime films, and it’s easy to see why.

While most mainstream anime series’ like Attack on Titan are great, you have to dig a little bit deeper to find the cream of the crop. Kentaro Miura’s long-running Manga series Berserk has had a plethora of adaptations, from well-directed series from the 90’s all the way to 3 CGI/Anime compilation movies. What makes Berserk a must-see is the journey of Guts, our central protagonist as he learns to deal with loss and suffering in an utterly bleak world.

For the more discerning viewer, Satoshi Kon creates more arthouse-style movies to sate your need for the more weird and wonderful Anime movies. Perfect Blue takes us through the psyche of a Japanese Pop Idol, and how she deals with looking inwardly at her own past work, discovering a stalker and more. While Anime movies like this are more few and far between, the late Satoshi Kon created not only more Arthouse-style anime flicks but also one of the most cohesive and creatively daring Anime movies around.

Another noted anime writer is Gen Urobochi, who directed the acclaimed Psycho Pass, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Aldnoah Zero and most recently a Kabuki Puppet style series named Thunderbolt Fantasy. Urobochi’s directorial style is to create subversive themes woven into traditional genres. It’s police procedural with Psycho Pass and Mecha with Aldnoah Zero. While Urobochi still remains in a relative niche in the anime community, it’s undeniable that almost every series written by him is a masterpiece.

With a plethora of options, it’s hard to crown a single movie or series as the best Anime of all time. There are options out there for all kinds of fans, whether you’re a self-proclaimed film buff all the way to a casual viewer. Anime can be a daunting genre to dive into, but every series we’ve listed in here should give you a good idea of the breadth and range of a variety of Anime, all the way from the weird and wonderful Perfect Blue to critically acclaimed hit Princess Mononoke.

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Team Zavvi

Team Zavvi


A collection of thoughts, opinions and news from the staff at Zavvi.