Top 15 Most Popular Anime in the World

Most Popular Anime
A compilation of some of the most famous anime characters in history! (Some western cartoons as well, if you can find them!)

So, What Are The Most Popular Animes of Today?

Nearly sixty anime come out each season, and trying out each one week by week can become more of a chore than entertainment.

When there aren’t many new series you’re interested in, it’s best to take that season off and catch up on some classics you’ve been meaning to get back to.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the fifteen most popular anime in the world. If you’re not impressed with the currently airing selection on Crunchyroll or VRV, keep reading for the must-see anime all fans can enjoy.

15. Osomatsu-san

Back in the 60s there was an anime called Osomatsu-kun about a family with sixtuplet boys who were always causing trouble for their teachers and neighbors. They would pose as each other when they got in trouble, and even play tricks on strangers by pretending they are all the same person. It became so popular that new seasons came amount over twenty years later. And twenty years after that, a sequel was made: Osomatsu-san.

Now, the same sixtuplets are in their early twenties and not in employment, education, or training (the show refers to this as being a NEET). Even still, they get up to some pretty surprising schemes that will leave audiences rolling on the floor. Each of their defining personality traits is more pronounced now, making it much easier to tell them apart. And of course, to pick your favorite out of a merch selection.

14. Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari is an urban fantasy anime by the production company behind Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. It follows Koyomi Araragi, a teenage vampire bite survivor, and his encounters with girls who are tormented by paranormal oddities. He and the man who saved him from becoming a vampire help these girls as best they can, but they find out that most of these oddities have bubbled up from within them.

The original books contained multiple story arcs per volume, and the anime imitates this structure by naming the seasons after the books. When you enter a new arc, usually focusing on a new girl and a new evil spirit, the opening theme will completely change! If you love dark serialized stories with a striking visual style, you will love Bakemonogatari.

13. Gintama

In an era where Shounen manga and hot blooded battles have become the norm, Gintama is the perfect anime for those who want an episodic romp through anime tropes. The series takes place during Japan’s Edo period, except aliens have invaded and caused technology to improve much faster. If you like the settings of both Rurouni Kenshin and Excel Saga, this might be right up your alley.

Gintoki, an ex samurai who is just trying to make rent by doing odd jobs with his friends, gets pulled into an ongoing conflict concerning evil organizations that each get more deadly than the last. His best friend is Shinpachi, a younger man dedicated to learning the ways of the samurai. They also live with Kagura, an alien girl who takes human form to fight alongside the cast.

12. Mobile Suit Gundam

If Gigantor is the father of all mecha, Mobile Suit Gundam is its godfather. Yoshiyuki Tomino wanted to create serious war story within the sci-fi genre, and used the Saturday morning kids’ show formula to do it. The original show sparked three recap films and many, many sequels. In fact, there are so many gundam series that they needed to be split between the less realistic series and the “canon” Universal Century timeline.

The original Mobile Suit Gundam takes place in the far future, where a war against the totalitarian Zeon faction is waged in the stars. Enter Amuro Ray, a teenage boy who isn’t great at communicating with others but highly proficient in science and robotics. Because of his gifts, he is conscripted to pilot the Mobile Suit and is found to be a completely new type of pilot.

11. Naruto Shippuuden

Naruto Shippuuden is a direct continuation from the hit Shounen Jump adaptation Naruto. Three years after he left his village to hone his ninja skills, Naruto returns to his home prepared to take on new missions and find his missing friend Sasuke. All of his friends have gotten stronger as well, and it’s just in time. Because the evil Akatsuki organization is ready to enact their next plan.

Fans of the original Naruto may remember his unbreakable connection to the nine tailed fox spirit within him. In this series, the Akatsuki are looking for a way to detach that spirit from Naruto and use it for their own gain. 

To make matters even worse, there are more people with “tailed beasts” within them that the Akatsuki is targeting. Naruto will have to find Sasuke between defending these new ninjas from the Akatsuki.

10. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is a remake of the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime. The first anime was a bit of a mess, because it was created while the manga was still being written. This resulted in a lot of artistic liberties taken by the writers, which makes the finale quite divisive among fans.

Our leads, Edward and Alphonse Elric botched an attempt to bring their mother back to life using the magical process of alchemy. This produced some horrific results, and cost Edward an arm and a leg. Literally. Meanwhile, Alphonse’s entire body was taken as a sacrifice, leaving him trapped in a hollow suit of armor.

Now that Edward has robotic limbs built from the fictional trade “automail”, they have set out on a quest to get their bodies back, and to warn others from repeating their mistakes.

9. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop rose to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s while airing on Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” block. And even now, it remains one of the most respected anime series outside Japan. The series nails that rustic, western tone without losing the futuristic texture of the spaceships, warp pipes, and terraformed moons. 

Spike Spiegel is a bounty hunter in space with a haunting past. Similarly, his co-pilot Jet Black has his own reasons for leaving his career and combing the galaxy for baddies. The girls of their crew, Faye Valentine and Radical Edward, may not even remember what got them into their situation in the first place. 

The mysteries of their pasts unfold through their episodic interactions with the people they help and the criminals they meet.

8. Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is a high octane war story about a military group dedicated to killing the titans— a race of semi-sentient naked giants who invade their villages and eat people. But because the titans have a very specific weak point behind their neck, they assassinate them using what is possibly the coolest technology in anime history. It consists of air-powered grappling hooks that jettison the user into the air, and a pair of swords with detachable blades in case they get dull mid-battle.

The protagonist Eren Yeager joins the military after his mother is killed by the titans, and eventually joins the survey corps to explore the world beyond the city walls. His childhood friends Mikasa and Armin join the military with Eren because they are inspired by his conviction to kill each and every one of the titans. But the origin of these hideous beasts leads them to a reality even worse than what they grew up believing.

7. Death Note

Death Note makes the viewer ask themselves what would happen if they could control the world. Somewhere in the underworld, a god of death loses his notebook full of the names of people he’s killed. That notebook, or Death Note, lands in Japan, and highschooler Light Yagami picks it up.

Light soon finds out that if he writes someone’s name in the Death Note, they will die almost immediately. He uses this power to try and shape the world as he sees fit, and uses the pseudonym “Kira” to publicly claim the killings. However, the law is investigating Kira’s true identity with a detective smart enough to challenge Light’s cunning.

6. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Without Neon Genesis Evangelion, there would not be a midnight time slot for anime in Japan. The series started off strong in 1995, airing on primetime as the latest and greatest mecha show. However, the show got relegated to midnight once it got too dark for the entire family to watch. 

That being said, the Evangelion franchise has exploded since then and brought with it four feature films, a lifestyle brand even bigger than Pokemon, and a Japanese theme park. 

At first glance, Evangelion is a “monster of the week” type of show but with much cooler fight scenes. But as the series continues, it shows itself to be an in-depth look at how we communicate with each other. The characters are not always likable, but the viewer can find out why through the frustration they feel for their actions. 

Anyone that wants to know more about themselves as an anime fan should take some time to check this one out. 

5. Spirited Away

Spirited Away was the first anime film to win an Oscar for the best animated picture. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki at his world famous Studio Ghibli, the movie is about a young girl named Chihiro anxious to move away from her hometown. When she and her parents drive under a bridge on the road to their new home, they enter a world of magic and traditional Japanese monsters.

Chihiro quickly loses track of her parents, and ends up working in the bathhouse to eventually find them and leave the world of spirits and ghouls. While she’s there, she must contend with the powerful witch Yubaba who owns the place, monstrously messy guests, and coworkers who don’t understand what she hates about all this. This stunning adventure is best watched with your whole family, but is uplifting no matter who you are.

4. Sword Art Online

This is a perfect anime for people who have fallen in love with MMO RPGs like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The story is about a brand new MMO game that uses fully functioning VR to simulate all aspects of life for the player. But an evil entity has been pulling the strings throughout the development of the game.

Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya was a beta tester for Sword Art Online, and when the game finally launches, he is happy to start playing with others until he realizes that he can’t log out anymore. A mysterious game master locks all of the users into the game, and claims  that if their character dies or someone removes the nerve gear, the will die in real life. It is up to Kirito to make friends with his fellow players and get as many of them out of the game as possible.

3. Your Name

Your Name broke box office records in Japan and China for anime films when it first came out in 2016. It revolves around a certain disaster in contemporary Japanese history (no spoilers!), and a pair of teens who fall in love by repeatedly swapping bodies. They can’t control when they swap, but they try their best to communicate with each other through written notes and text messages. 

The lead couple are worlds apart, but they become closer than anyone through living each other’s lives and finding out how their families think of them. While many would find this movie uplifting, beware that it’s certainly a tearjerker as well. This has remained the perfect anime date movie since 2016, but it’ll have to be an indoor date now that it’s left theaters.

2. Dragon Ball Super

Because of how many anime come out each year, it may be surprising to that Dragon Ball Super is already over. But the recent games Dragonball FighterZ and Dragonball Xenoverse will ensure that this series echoes far into the future. The Dragonball franchise does not need a lot of original material to build side content out of, and so we may not see a new continuation of the anime for a few years.

The series picks up just a few months after the end of Dragonball Z.  After Buu is defeated, Goku and Vegeta are challenged by new villains causing destruction on earth. They call themselves Bills and Whis, andclaim to be gods of the universe looking for anyone that could possibly challenge them. 

To even stand a chance against them, Goku and the rest of the Z fighters will need to find a new way to get stronger. A method that could allow Goku to match the power of a god.

1. One Piece

One Piece is easily the most popular anime worldwide. It is the longest running manga series in Shounen Jump and likely has more individual episodes, movies, TV specials, and DVD extra episodes than any other anime. 

Both inside and outside Japan, the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his pirate crew have touched countless hearts. The TV series and original manga still run weekly to this day. Each are viewable to anyone through the Funimation and Shounen Jump apps. Naturally, the digital publication of One Piece helped it grow exponentially over the course of this decade.

The show centers on Luffy’s quest to find “One Piece,” a treasure left behind by Gold Roger, the previous king of the pirates. Before he was executed, he announced that his treasure was hidden somewhere on the most treacherous of the high seas. This place is called the Grand Line, and is teeming with powerful pirates who all want the treasure just as badly.

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Niccolo is a tenth level basement scribe from the futuristic underground of Massachusetts. Cybernetic enhancements, paragraph breaks, and new battle systems come naturally to him.
Gamer Since: 1997
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Currently Playing: Final Fantasy 7 (Switch)
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