30 Best Anime of All Time

Check the 30 greatest anime series including the latest recommendations and the top classics!

Tanjiro Kamado from Kimetsu no Yaiba:Demon Slayer

There are numerous animations produced and released all over the world every year. Here, anime, which is the Japanese term originating in Japan and especially means the animations made in Japan.

It is said that the first Japanese animation was made and released in 1917. Speaking of the earliest famous anime in Japan, Astro Boy (a.k.a. Mighty Atom) was released in 1963 as the first series aired on TV. Around hundreds of new anime are aired on TV and distributed to the movie streaming platforms and come to the screens every year, and the number of must-watch titles is going on increasing year by year.

The industry of anime has prospered substantially in Japan partly because the country has other Japanese pop cultures such as manga, video games and light novels. Some popular anime are adaptations of manga, video games, light novels and other media. And, anime has flourished worldwide so rapidly since anyone can access the Japanese animations with English dubs and subtitles.

Here are 30 best anime series of all time including both the classic anime franchises and the brand new shows. This greatest anime list will help beginners to find which anime to start watching with in the world or anime fans to decide the next one to try. Otherwise, check the best anime by freak’s standards.

This anime list focuses on TV anime series which Japanese call “anime”, so anime movies such as Studio Ghibli films or Makoto Shinkai’s animations are excluded.

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It is not easy to narrow down to only 30 anime and rank them, and there are many others that are worth watching outside this recommendations list, of course.

Let’s start a countdown!

30. Fate

Fate/stay night, based on the game for Windows, was released as the first season of the Fate Series in 2006, followed by the past story Fate/Zero in 2011-2012. The main character Shiro Emiya survives the Holy Grail War with his servant Saber.

From 2014 to 2015, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, which focuses on the other route of Fate/stay night, aired on TV. The 3rd route titled Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel was released with 3 movies in 2017, 2019 and 2020. The following series Fate/Grand Order started in 2016, consisting of the later spin-offs such as Absolute Demonic Battlefront: Babylonia and Grand Temple of Time: Solomon.

Air Dates: From 2006
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Recommended for Fans

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29. Inuyasha

Inuyasha (犬夜叉) is a popular manga published by Weekly Shonen Sunday with 56 volumes totally, and adapted into an anime. The anime series mainly consists two parts: the first part based on the manga vol.1-36 and the second one (Inuyasha: The Final Act) based on the rest of the original manga story. A 15 years old girl Kagome transported to another world in the past meets the half dog-demon named Inuyasha. Kagome and Inuyasya with their party travel to complete the Shikon Jewel, which enables someone’s wish to be realized.

Air Dates: 2000-2010
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Action
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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28. Tokyo Revengers

Tokyo Revengers (東京卍リベンジャーズ) is a popular recent television series, adapted from the current manga series serialized on Weekly Shonen Magazine since 2017. The first season of the anime adaptation was broadcasted with 24 episodes, broadly welcomed by manga and anime fans. A protagonist Takemichi Hanagaki, a unsuccessful 26 years old man, suddenly travels back in time 12 years. To save his ex-girlfriend who dies in an accident in the present time, he tries to change the past as a Yanki junior high schooler.

Air Dates: From 2021
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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27. Bleach

Bleach is what both anime beginners and experienced fans should watch, broadcasted with 366 episodes from 2004 to 2012. It was made by a studio Pierrot, based on the popular manga series serialized on Weekly Shonen Jump between 2001 and 2016. The new series Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (BLEACH 千年血戦篇) covers the rest of the original story from the manga, starting from October, 2022. The action adventure series with the theme of Samurai follows a high schooler Ichigo Kurosaki, who gets supernatural powers to beat evil spirits called Hollows.

Air Dates: From 2004
Genre: Action, Adventure
Recommended for Beginners

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26. Cowboy Bebop

Between 1998 and 1999, Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ), which is now one of the most popular Japanese anime among foreign people, was aired in Japan with 26 episodes. The setting of Cowboy Bebop is the space in 2071 where the bounty hunter Spike Spiegel and his partner Jet Black chase criminals. The anime film Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉) was released in 2001.

Air Dates: 1998-1999
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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25. My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia (僕のヒーローアカデミア) is one of the most popular ongoing anime that consists of several seasons while the original manga has been published on the Weekly Shonen Jump since 2014. A young boy Izuku Midoriya and other Heroes fights the Villains using their superpowers Quirks. My Hero Academia is also popular among international anime fans since the touch and atmosphere in the anime look like an American Superhero comic rather than Japanese anime.

Air Dates: From 2016
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners

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24. Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen (呪術廻戦) has been a top manga and anime series since the manga series started its serialization on Weekly Shonen Jump in 2018. The first season of the anime adaptation, produced by the modern Japanese anime studio Mappa, aired with 24 episodes in 2020. Since the end of 2021, the first anime movie Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (劇場版 呪術廻戦 0) has been welcomed by plenty of fans, based on the volume 0 of the manga series. It has been also decided that the latest second season will hit the air in 2023.

Air Dates: From 2020
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Action
Recommended for Fans

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23. Steins;Gate

Quite a few anime lovers look on Steins;Gate (シュタインズ・ゲート) as the best anime in recent years. The sci-fi anime’s 24 episodes were aired on TV in 2011, followed by Steins;Gate 0 (シュタインズ・ゲート ゼロ), the continuation of the story (but the timeline is past), in 2018. The main character Rintaro Okabe and other Future Gadget Laboratory members try to invent a kind of time machine, and the anime is known for its time loop plot. Many fans of Steins;Gate visit the town of the setting: Akihabara, Tokyo.

Air Dates: 2011-2018
Genre: Science Fiction, Time loop
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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22. Tokyo Ghoul

The popular dark fantasy manga Tokyo Ghoul (東京喰種トーキョーグール), published on the Weekly Young Jump in 2011-2014, was adapted into an anime from 2014. And, the sequel title Tokyo Ghoul:re (東京喰種トーキョーグール:re) was aired as the second half of the anime in 2018. The thrilling show focuses on the theme of Ghouls, which live in the human society looking like a normal human. However, the ghouls subsist on human flesh as food.

Air Dates: 2014-2018
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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21. OreGairu: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。) , which is also known as just OreGairu or My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, As I Expected, is a popular modern anime series with the genre of slice of life (the setting is based on dailly life). The slice-of-life anime is made into from the light novel that completed with the 17th volume in 2019. The cynical and pessimistic character Hachiman Hikigaya starts offering help and advice to other students in the school service club with two heroines: Yukino Yukinoshita and Yui Yuigahama.

The anime series was completed with the final season My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Fin (やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。完) in 2020.

Air Dates: 2013-2020
Genre: Slice of life, Romance, Comedy
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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20. Love Live!

An idol, which means Japanese pop singer groups in Japanese, is now a very popular theme of anime, and Love Live! (ラブライブ!) is the most famous and first anime that assured the establishment of the theme. The two seasons of Love Live! was aired in 2013-2014, and the second title of the anime series was released as Love Live! Sunshine!! (ラブライブ!サンシャイン!!) in 2016-2017. Love Live! focuses on the process of how the high school idol group named μ’s (pronounced “muse”) grows, and Aqours is featured in Love Live! Sunshine!!.

More new titles like Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club and Love Live! Superstar!! are being made following the current popular series. Fans of Love Live! visit the Tokyo’s town Akihabara, which is the mecca of Japanese anime and inspired the production of the anime.

Air Dates: From 2013
Genre: Slice of life, Comedy
Recommended for Beginners

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19. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The slice-of-life anime The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱) is one of the best anime after 2000s. It was initially published as a light novel in 2003, which was adapted into anime in 2006. Before the anime was released, there had been already a large number of fans of the light novel. The first season of the anime never bored them by broadcasting the stories out of order, which were not chronological.

The anime represent the daily life of SOS Brigade which is the school club established by the main heroine Haruhi Suzumiya. But, she is not just a human…

Air Dates: 2006-2009
Genre: Sekaikei, Slice of life, Comedy, Science Fiction, Time loop
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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18. Detective Conan

Detective Conan (名探偵コナン), which is also known as Case Closed, is a popular ongoing detective anime while the original manga has been published on the Weekly Shonen Sunday since 1994. The high school detective Shinichi Kudo is transformed into a kid by a poison named APTX-4869, and he identifies himself as Conan Edogawa to hide his true identity from the opposite Black Organization.

New anime movies are regularly hit the big screen. Detective Conan is the mystery anime that both adults and children can enjoy watching.

Air Dates: From 1996
Genre: Mystery
Recommended for Beginners

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17. Mobile Suit Gundam

In terms of name recognition and history, Mobile Suit Gundam (機動戦士ガンダム) is one of the best Japanese animated series especially for adults, which is also known as a pioneer categorized as mecha and action. The fans around the world commemorated the 40th anniversary of Gundam in 2019.

The first TV series directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino and produced by Sunrise aired between 1979 and 1980, containing 43 episodes. Its re-edited movie edition is divided into three parts released in 1981 and 1982. There are lots of following and spin-off titles in the Gundam series including the early Zeta Gundam and ZZ and the modern Reconguista in G and Iron-Blooded Orphans.

Set in Universal Century year 0079 when space colonization becomes a reality, Mobile Suit Gundam presents a conflict between the Earth Federation and the Principality of Zeon. A shy geeky teenager Amuro Ray pilots a giant humanoid weapon called mobile suits to fight against the Principality of Zeon that is led by its Lieutenant Commander Char Aznable.

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16. Violet Evergarden

The famous Japanese animation studio Kyoto Animation released the quality anime Violet Evergarden (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン) in 2018, which is based on the light novel with 3 volumes. The anime movie Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memory Doll (ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン 外伝 – 永遠と自動手記人形 -) was released in 2019 after the TV anime series, and the brand new story Violet Evergarden the Movie (劇場版 ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン) followed the stories as a film in April, 2020.

The life of the girl Violet who works writing for others as Auto Memory Dolls is depicted with the beautifully-drawn pictures in this anime.

Air Dates: 2018
Genre: Drama
Recommended for Fans

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15. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。), which is also called just Anohana, is one of the most heartwarming anime in Japan. Its story begins with this plot: Jinta Yadomi, whose nickname is Jintan, plays video games instead of attending high school.

One day in summer, his childhood friend Meiko Homma (Menma) shows up before Jintan as a ghost though she died in an accident years before. The moving anime is brought to an end with just 11 episodes.

Air Dates: 2011
Genre: Drama
Recommended for Fans

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14. Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師), which is abbreviated to Hagaren in Japanese, is a well-known Japanese sci-fi anime worldwide. This anime is divided into two different anime: Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. The former Fullmetal Alchemist was broadcasted before the manga series did not finish the story, which means its story is different from the original one. On the other hand, the manga’s story is truly depicted in the latter Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.

The brother Edward and Alphonse loses a part or the whole of their body by violating a taboo, and they start traveling to find the way to retrieve their bodies.

Air Dates: 2003-2010
Genre: Adventure, Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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13. Attack on Titan

As one of the best action anime in recent years, Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人) should be listed. It was originally released as a manga in 2009, and the first season of the anime adaption was aired in 2013. In the story, humanity stands on the edge of extinction for being attacked by the titans. The main characters Eren Yeager and Mikasa Ackerman with the other Survey Corps members battle against the titans.

The story of the manga series came to the end in April, 2021. The fourth and final season of the anime series started from the winter of 2020 and will be completed with the final part airing in 2023.

Air Dates: 2013-2022
Genre: Action, Dark Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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12. Ghost in the Shell

The legendary cyberpunk anime series Ghost in the Shell (攻殻機動隊) was originally released in 1995 as an anime film directed by Mamoru Oshii, which was followed by the first season of the TV anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (攻殻機動隊 STAND ALONE COMPLEX) under the direction of Kenji Kamiyama.

The setting of the anime is Japan in the parallel world after 2030 where the science technology is highly developed. In this anime, Public Security Section 9 including the main member Major Motoko Kusanagi works to prevent crimes. The new title of the series Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045 (攻殻機動隊 SAC_2045) with full 3DCG was released with 12 episodes exclusively on Netflix all over the world in 2020.

Air Dates: From 2002
Genre: Science Fiction, Cyberpunk
Recommended for Freaks

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11. Dragon Ball

Many anime fans associate the most famous action anime with Dragon Ball (ドラゴンボール), which started to be aired in 1984. Dragon Ball is originally made as the Weekly Shonen Jump manga by Akira Toriyama. There are several main parts in the Dragon Ball series, and it is ongoing as the new title Dragon Ball Super (ドラゴンボール超) from 2015. The well-known part is Dragon Ball Z (ドラゴンボールZ) where the story proceeds after the main character Goku is grown up.

Any battle scenes are worth watching, however, it is especially recommended to watch Goku vs Freeza and Goku’s son Gohan vs Cell.

Air Dates: From 1984
Genre: Action, Adventure
Recommended for Beginners

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10. Death Note

The mystery and horror anime Dearth Note (デスノート), based on the manga published on the Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006, is highly rated by both domestic and international anime fans. It is so popular worldwide partly because the anime is completed with the relatively short story (37 episodes) in addition to the well-elaborated storyline.

The protagonist Light Yagami finds a Death Note which makes people die if their names are written on the note. You can enjoy watching of the high-level game of wits.

Air Dates: 2006-2007
Genre: Mystery
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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9. Pokémon

Pokémon (ポケモン) is one of the most popular Japanese anime and games around the globe now, and it was first aired in Japan as the Japanese title Pocket Monsters (ポケットモンスター) in 1997.  New titles have been broadcasted every time a new game is released, and the latest series is being broadcasted from 2019 following the previous Sun & Moon (ポケットモンスター サン&ムーン).

The young boy Satoshi travels all over the world with various Pokemon like Pikachu to become a Pokemon master.

Air Dates: From 1997
Genre: Kids, Family, Adventure
Recommended for Beginners

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8. Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World-

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:ゼロから始める異世界生活), which is also called just Re:Zero, is looked on as one of the best Japanese anime and light novels released in 2010s. The season 1 started with 25 episodes in 2016; the newly-edited version was aired from the beginning of 2020.

The season 2 of Re:Zero was broadcasted with 25 episodes during 2020 and 2021. The main character Subaru is sent to Isekai (another world) with no superpower except a certain ability. The story proceeds with the encounter with the heroine Emilia.

Air Dates: From 2016
Genre: Isekai, Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Time loop
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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7. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

The popular manga and anime franchise JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険) started to be published from 1987, and the series consists of 8 parts from Phantom Blood (ファントムブラッド) to Jojolion (ジョジョリオン) so far (as of 2020). The newest anime adaption is the 6th part Stone Ocean (ストーンオーシャン) which was first distributed on Netflix in 2021.

The stories focus on the mysterious adventures of the Joestar family. A main character varies by the part, but they all are the Joestar family. Unique characters and intense battle scenes are highlights of the anime.

Air Dates: From 2012
Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Recommended for Fans/Freaks

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6. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis EVANGELION (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン), directed by Hideaki Anno, is worldly known as one of the symbols of Japanese anime in 1990s. The famous mecha anime mainly depicts the story of the 4 teenagers: Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, Asuka Langley Soryu and Kaworu Nagisa. They fight with the enemies called Angels by piloting the giant humanoid robot Evangelions.

The three anime movies were released: Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:序) in 2007, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:破) in 2009 and Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版:Q) in 2012. Additionally, the final title Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 (シン・エヴァンゲリオン劇場版:||) came to the big screen in movies in 2021.

Air Dates: 1995-1996
Genre: Mecha, Action, Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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5. One Piece

What is the most famous and top-selling ongoing manga and anime is One Piece (ワンピース) without a doubt. The first volume of the manga was published in 1997, and there are now over 100 volumes sold around the world. The anime adaption began two years later after the first manga was released, and over 1,000 episodes have been aired since then. The whole story of One Piece can be divided into about 10 parts, and beginners can enjoy it even if they start anywhere.

It proceeds with the adventures of the main character Monkey D. Luffy and his crews in the pirates world. He sets sail on the sea in search of the ultimate treasure called “One Piece”. There are Devil Fruits in the world of One Piece, which grant a superpower to those who eat one while the fruits unable them to swim. Powerful fight scenes between the Devil Fruits eaters including Luffy are stunning.

Air Dates: From 1999
Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy, Drama
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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4. Monogatari Series

Monogatari Series (物語シリーズ), produced by the animation studio Shaft under the direction of Akiyuki Shinbo, is the popular anime series released in 2009. It is adapted into an anime from the novels written by Nisioisin (Nishio Ishin). The first season of Monogatari Series started as Bakemonogatari (化物語), Nisemonogatari (偽物語) and Nisemonogatari Black (偽物語 黒) in 2009-2012. Monogatari means “Story” or “Tale” in Japanese, and various bizarre stories are depicted focusing on unique characters such as the high school boy Koyomi Araragi and several heroines.

Koyomi Araragi handles with lots of problems arising from apparitions called Kaii in Japanese. The apparitions (like supernatural ghost) have influence on the characters, and he saves them. There are mainly 5 seasons of the novel and 3 of them have been adapted into an anime. In an interview, the director Akiyuki Shinbo said that he would like to continue producing the rest of the seasons as long as the original novel is being published.

Air Dates: From 2009
Genre: Fantasy, Slice of life, Comedy
Recommended for Freaks

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3. Clannad

The third position of the best anime list may satisfy many Japanese anime fans, however, some foreign people may be surprised at it since Clannad (クラナド) is less known worldwide. Clannad is one of the Kyoto Animation’s masterpieces, which is recommended for any kind of anime fan. There is no action scene or supernatural event in this anime, but human drama is represented sensitively.

There are two parts in the anime: Clannad in 2007-2008 and Clannad After Story in 2008-2009. The story follows the daily life of the main character Tomoya and the heroine Nagisa in the high school. It reaches the climax in the second half of the anime, and touching episodes move you. It is totally worth spending the amount of time for 44 main episodes.

Air Dates: 2007-2009
Genre: Drama, Slice of life
Recommended for Beginners/Fans/Freaks

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2. Naruto

Naruto (ナルト), the greatest anime with the theme of Ninja, was initially released as the Weekly Shonen Jump manga by Masashi Kishimoto in 1999 and run until 2014. The anime Naruto series was completed in 2017 after no less than 15 years, consisting of two titles: Naruto (NARUTO -ナルト-) aired in 2002-2007 and Naruto: Shippuden (NARUTO -ナルト- 疾風伝) aired in 2007-2017.

The setting of Naruto is the fictional world of Shinobi (Ninja), and the ineffective boy Naruto is growing by the help of many friends and masters there. Naruto and other Ninja characters battle with various Ninja techniques using the chakra energy.

Lots of anime’s essentials such as strong bonds with friends and family, betrayal and parting are represented in this anime. Many anime fans may pick out Naruto as the top of anime especially for foreign people, and it deserves it. Nevertheless, Naruto yields the top position to a certain new anime being released.

Air Dates: 2002-2017
Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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1. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

The advent of a shockingly quality anime surprised experienced fans all over the world in 2019. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (鬼滅の刃) is adapted into an anime from the manga by Koyoharu Gotoge, which was serialized on the Weekly Shonen Jump from 2016. The first season of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba with 26 episodes was welcomed by both fans of the manga and people who had not read it.

It is set in the Taisho period (1912-1926) in Japan where demons exist with human beings. The main character Tanjiro Kamado finds his family is killed by the attack of demons and only his sister Nezuko is changed into a demon. He decides to become a demon slayer to restore her to a human.

This anime includes every important part for an excellent anime from the main character’s purity and growing to friends with the spirit of brotherhood and respect for any characters. The battle scenes between demon slayers with swords and unique demon characters are intense, which is beautifully drawn. Each character’s past and background including even demons is respectfully depicted in this anime.

It is followed by the sequel story Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (劇場版 鬼滅の刃 無限列車編) released in October, 2020. At the same time as the second season of the TV series Entertainment District Arc finished in February in 2022, it was announced that the production of the season 3 Swordsmith Village Arc was decided. This franchise has not completed yet, but it is safe to say that Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba will grow to represent the best anime in Japan and around the world.

Air Dates: From 2019
Genre: Drama, Action, Adventure, Dark Fantasy
Recommended for Beginners/Fans

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This best anime list covers from the classic series to the ongoing new faces including the latest trends. I did the best to be objective as much as possible to complete the ultimate ranking that helps many fans to understand the lineup of quality works and to find the one to watch next. As the advent of nicer one, this best anime’s position is changing.

▽This is the list of the best latest anime series of 2022!▽

And, if you are wondering how to watch the lineup above, Netflix is one of the reasonable and useful options. Check the list of must-watches on Netflix below!

For those who like manga, see the best 25 manga list of all time in this article below.

For Studio Ghibli fans, compare your favorite films with this list of 15 best Ghibli movies below!

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