Everyone who watches anime has a favorite, one they feel they can watch at any time, anywhere. Some anime is an acquired taste, for certain, but there are a few out there that have more than stood up to the test of the time. They've become timeless classics.
Just because a core faithful crowd consider a show a classic, though, that doesn’t mean everybody will. So, which classic anime are worth watching again? Which are even good enough to remain a gateway anime for new franchise fans today? If you're looking for an iconic anime that won't disappoint, here are 10 of our top picks.
10 Fooly Cooly
Fooly Cooly is one of the most entertaining anime series a person could watch, if they can get past the confusing metaphors. It follows a young boy named Naota who has his life turned upside down by a woman from another dimension.
Through the confusing, life-threatening and bizarre happenings in the six-episode arc, Naota gains maturity, agency, and confidence. So, basically, Fooly Cooly is a coming-of-age story, wrapped up in a short and sweet sci-fi package. The metaphors for adolescence and growing up can seem a little heavy-handed at times, but overall, the anime is spectacular.
9 Dragon Ball
Sans the Z, the Dragon Ball series is a treasure in the franchise, but definitely slept on. Before Goku was a family man or even a Z-Fighter, he was just a kid running around trying to find Dragon Balls. He made friends and enemies along the way, many of whom have reappeared in the following series for years.
It isn’t necessary to watch Dragon Ball to understand Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Super, but why miss out? I mean, how many people remember when Goku couldn’t fly? He had a flying cloud named Nimbus for years!
8 Fruits Basket
With a new reboot on the scene, lots of fans of the original are feeling nostalgic. Fruits Basket follows the once simplistic life of Tohru Honda, an overly optimistic high school girl, as she navigates her relationships with members of the mysterious Sohma family, a tight-knit clan with a dark (but also kind of hilarious) secret.
Unlike many other reboots, the first incarnation of the Fruits Basket series isn’t bad at all; it’s actually quite delightful. While the animation is dated, it still holds a certain charm and light-hearted feeling that can’t be underestimated. The original score is also excellent.
7 Fullmetal Alchemist
Although there is a more recent incarnation of the series, the original Fullmetal Alchemist has its own charm. In a world that revolves around the “science” of alchemy, two brothers try to use this powerful magic to bring back their dead mother. Instead, one accidentally loses his entire body and has his soul attached to a giant suit of armor.
Yup, that’s the actual premise. Giving up on the notion of resurrection, the boys instead set out to reclaim what they’ve lost physically. Beware: this one is more than a one-day binge watch.
6 Hunter X Hunter
Hunter X Hunter is as captivating now as it was when it first aired. Gon Freecs, a precocious boy with enormous power, sets out on a mission to become a licensed ‘Hunter’ and eventually find his father, a renowned Hunter, who abandoned him at a young age.
The tests for the Hunter Examination are rigorous, bizarre and seemingly never end, but Gon faces them all like a true hero. Along the way he picks up a few friends who are chasing their own ambitions, who are powerful in their own right, and who ultimately help him to achieve his dream.
5 Your Lie In April
Your Lie In April is warm, funny and touching. It’s about a piano prodigy named Kosei who temporarily loses his ability to hear his own playing after his mother dies. He also suffers from anxiety and an inability to see color. That is, until a free-spirited violinist named Kaori comes into his life.
As the two become closer, she helps Kosei open up and reconnect with his piano playing in a way that basically saves his life. Warning: Have some tissues on hand for this one, and maybe a friend who doesn’t mind getting tear stains on their shirt.
Friendship! Teamwork! Follow your dreams! Like most sports anime, these are the central themes that play out in each episode of Haikyu!! Following the progress of the Karasuno High Volleyball Club, Haikyuu!! introduces viewers to an ensemble cast of unforgettable characters. Each member of the team has their own unique story arc and the spirit of the show is bright with positivity and empathy.
There are no real bad guys or villainousopponents; everyone is trying their very best. On top of the beautiful narrative, the animation is gorgeous and engaging. One of the best anime out there, hands down.
3 Cowboy Bebop
An anime about cowboys in space? How epic is that? With its genre-bending flair and simplistic storytelling, Cowboy Bebop really is something to behold.
Four perpetually-broke bounty hunters travel on the edge of space together in search of fortune and adventure. They get a lot more of the latter than the former, but it’s all good, because they make a pretty big name for themselves along the way. Cowboy Bebop is a cult classic, though there are naysayers who would call it overrated.
2 One-Punch Man
If someone hasn’t seen this gem of a show yet, the best gift they could receive is this recommendation. One-Punch Man is as simple as the name sounds; Saitama, an ordinary blue collar worker, lives in a world full of monsters and villains. Fed up, he trains himself and winds up becoming so powerful that he can defeat anyone with just one punch.
While this is immensely boring for him, it’s endlessly entertaining for viewers. Despite its deadpan humor, this show actually does have a plot and a host of other interesting characters, plus amazing fight scenes!
1 Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, Avatar: The Last Airbender is going to be a controversial entry, due to its origins. Is it an anime, or is it not? Many fans would say so, and a fantastic one at that. One of the best shows on Nickelodeon during its three season run, Avatar: The Last Airbender takes its viewers on a journey through a world at war with The Fire Nation.
As this nation is trying to dominate all others, two Water Tribe kids wake up the long lost Avatar, a mythical figure who can supposedly control all the elements but hasn’t been seen for 100 years. Turns out he’s just a kid named Aang, and he’s got a lot of learning to do before he can save anyone. A wild ride lies ahead, for Aang and viewers alike.