Idol is a genre gaining more and more popular in the West. Whether the story features girl groups or boy groups, idol anime is sure to bring great music and a compelling narrative. This list takes a look into the top 10 idol anime.
The criteria for each anime is based on the series as a whole and not just the music. It takes more than being a musician. Idols have to sing, dance, and have the right look to captivate fans. Lastly, the list is strictly about idol groups and excludes music anime about members forming a band.
Kicking off the list, Aikatsu! delivers some hardships to idol fans. The anime is about Starlight Academy, a school for aspiring idols. The story is a cookie cutter idol show where Aoi and her best friend Ichigo attend the school and live a cheerful life, but must endure tough times. Aikatsu! has one 178 episode season, as well as two movies and two side specials. The anime aired during fall 2012 season and has finished airing.
It’s the 21st century and the world has been destroyed from a war. Moving to a new planet there are new rules imposed by the government. On this new planet, music is a source of evil. Based on the real life music group AKB48, the anime’s AKB0048 is formed to rebel against the outlaw of music. The intergalactic idol girls have to dodge the law while trying to save the world. AKB0048 has two 13 episode seasons. The anime aired during spring 2012 and has finished airing.
8 Love Live! School Idol Project
Possibly the most popular idol anime, Love Live! School Idol project comes pretty early on the list. After Otonokizaka High School’s enrolment numbers plummet, the school is set to shut down. However, Honoka wants to do everything she can to save the school from closing. Honoka and her friends create the school idol group “muse” to draw attention to the school. Love Live! School Idol Project has three seasons, two movies, and a special. The anime aired during winter 2013 and has 13 episodes. Outside of the anime, Love Live! has a music rhythm game called Love Live! Idol Festival.
The world in Prism Paradise is every idols dream. Surrounded by music and fashion, people come tryout to become an idol. Laala dreams of becoming an idol, but is held back by her school. Being obsessed with idols and idol culture Prism Paradise is the perfect place for Laala. All her life, Laala has been held down from becoming an idol but her life changes when she’s possibly considered to have the Prism Voice. Now Laala’s goal is to make it to the top. PriPara has two seasons, the first being 140 episodes and the second 51. In addition, PriPara also has seven movies, and a 51 episode alternate setting. The anime aired during summer 2014 and has finished airing.
6 The iDOLM@STER
A group of 13 girls with the goal of being the top idols in the country, is a tougher road than originally thought. For those who want an idol anime where the group achieves fame quickly this is for you. Due to the idols being so popular they lose out on the things that mean most to them. The iDOLM@STER shows the downsides to fame and what it means to sacrifice the things they love. The series has one 25 episode season followed by three specials and a movie. The anime aired during summer 2011 and has finished airing.
5 Zombieland Saga
The first twist on the idol genre from this list goes to Zombieland Saga. Who says the undead can’t be idols? Sakura is a 17-year-old girl who wants to become an idol, but her dreams are cut short by truck-kun. However, 10 years later she comes back as a zombie, but with amnesia. With six other zombie girls she joins Koutarou’s undead idol group, Franchouchou. Koutarou’s voice actor, Mamoru Miyano won best voice actor for his role in Zombieland Saga at the Crunchyroll 2019 Anime Awards. The anime also received a nomination for Anime of the Year. Zombieland Saga has one 12 episode season and is confirmed for a second season. The anime aired during fall 2018 and has finished airing.
If zombies wasn’t enough of a twist on the idol genre, how about aliens, mechs, and science-fiction? Hikaru, a pilot and Minmay a girl with dreams of becoming an idol are caught up in an intergalactic space war. After teleporting to the far end of space the two have to team up with the Macross crew and endure the tragedies of war. Macross has a plethora of side series, sequels, specials, video game adaptations, and a prequel. The original Macross aired for 36 episodes during fall 1982 and has finished airing.
3 Searching For the Full Moon
Entering the top three, Searching for the Full Moon embarks viewers on an emotional journey. Mitsuki and Eichi promise each other that they will achieve their dreams. Mitsuki, a 12-year-old girl, promises to become a singer and Eichi, her love, an astronomer. Searching for the Full Moon deals with real world issues as Mitsuki has throat cancer. On the verge of death, Mitsuki teams up with two Shinigami to help her become a professional singer. Searching for the Full Moon has one 52 episode season and a one episode side special. The anime aired during spring 2002 and has finished airing.
Idolish Seven features a cast of all male idols. Seven boys come together to create an idol group called IDOLiSH7. Each character is unique in their own way and they aim to be the best idol group. However, on their way to the top they’ll have to learn what it takes to be the best. The anime is fairly recent and contains an eight episode side series called IDOLiSH7 Vibrato and a second season coming in 2020. IDOLiSH7 aired for 17 episodes during winter 2018 and season one has finished airing.
1 Skip Beat
Rounding out the top of this list is Skip Beat. Kyouko is a 16-year-old girl who wants to help her friend Shou become a top ranking idol. Kyouko does this out of love, but Shou doesn’t see her the same way. After realizing that Shou only sees her as a servant, she wants her revenge on him. To do this she wants to become a better idol than he is. Skip Beat has one season and ran for 25 episodes. The anime aired during fall 2008 and has finished airing.