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The best anime on Amazon Prime Video right now

Amazon Prime Video is one of the most consistent platforms for watching new content, and that includes plenty of content for anime fans looking for a diverse selection of TV shows and movies alike. The offerings have only gotten better as of late, as Prime Video bolstered its anime catalog thanks to the addition of Crunchyroll, making it an optional premium channel that lets customers streamline both subscriptions in one app.

While it’s the same as paying for both separately, this makes streaming anime even more accessible. Still, despite the genre’s greater accessibility in general in recent years, it can come across as intimidating for beginners to know where to start. We’ve curated a monthly updated guide on some of the best anime to watch on Amazon Prime Video. That includes the service’s native offerings, plus those available through the premium Crunchyroll channel.

For those who might be feeling a little overwhelmed, but are still intrigued by the genre, we also have worthwhile guides on the best anime on Netflix and the best anime on Hulu to help fans get the most value out of their subscriptions.

To Your Eternity (2021)

To Your Eternity
tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Animation, Drama, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Reiji Kawashima, Kenjiro Tsuda, Eri Inagawa

One of the more refreshing shounen anime adaptations as of late, To Your Eternity is tasteful mix of fantasy and touching drama. Based on the manga of the same name by Yoshitoki Ōima, the story is about an immortal entity dubbed Fushi who travels across the world using their supernatural abilities to take the forms of various characters over centuries.

To Your Eternity has a similar mellow tone as anime/manga series like Mushi-Shi, using its fantasy elements to tell intimate character-driven stories about the people Fushi meets. The series is a wonderful exploration of the human condition.

Golden Kamuy (2018)

Golden Kamuy
tv-ma 4 Seasons
Genre Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Western
Cast Chikahiro Kobayashi, Haruka Shiraishi, Takayuki Sugo

Writer and illustrator Satoru Noda’s Golden Kamuy has been one of the best seinen manga series in recent years. It had an overall fulfilling run and well-earned finale, and the anime adaptation has done it justice so far. Golden Kamuy is set in early 1900s Japan in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War, with veteran Saichi Sugimoto and his newfound friend and Ainu native Asirpa teaming up in a race against time to find the indigenous peoples’ hidden gold treasure.

It’s an excellent period-piece anime that balances sincere character drama with occasional comedic relief. The series features a diverse cast of characters, each with deep motivations that explore themes of post-war traumas. Animation company Geno Studio adapted the first three seasons of the TV show, with Brain’s Base helming the upcoming fourth and final season.

Death Parade (2015)

Death Parade
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Drama, Mystery
Cast Asami Seto, Tomoaki Maeno, Misa Kato

An anime-original story, Death Parade takes a creative twist on the concept of the afterlife. Produced by animation studio Madhouse, the series takes place largely in an otherworldly bar called Quindecim, with the enigmatic bartender Decim catering to its recently deceased pairs of souls and having them compete in various games to judge who is reincarnated and who is sent into the void.

Death Parade combines intense emotional storytelling as Decim slowly learns the nuances of human morality and the tragic — and sometimes gruesome — backstories of the otherworldly bar’s patrons. But for all the gut-wrenching and bittersweet storytelling, the character designs and overall art direction have an impeccable sense of style.

Girls' Last Tour (2017)

Girls' Last Tour
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Mystery, Action & Adventure, Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Yurika Kubo, Inori Minase, Akira Ishida

Though many anime fans likely have a set idea for what a slice-of-life anime typically entails, Girls’ Last Tour takes a unique approach. Animated by studio White Fox and adapted from Tsukumizu’s manga of the same name, the story takes place in a bleak and decimated alternate future where two young girls — Yuuri and Chito — wander the ruins and aftermath of an unspecified apocalypse while simply trying to live their day-to-day lives.

Girls’ Last Tour depicts a sharp contrast in tone, as the postapocalyptic backdrop is anything but hopeful, but it’s colored in a more optimistic light thanks to its dual leads’ charming perspectives. It’s an undoubtedly bold and creative take on the slice-of-life anime formula, and it succeeds in telling an uplifting story about finding and making your own happiness in the face of dire circumstances.

Run with the Wind (2018) new

Run with the Wind
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Animation, Drama, Comedy
Cast Takeo Otsuka, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Miyu Irino

Sports anime are a great way to tell stories from more grounded perspectives, and Run With the Wind is one of the best contemporary examples. Production I.G adapts author Shion Mura’s novel of the same name, telling the story of former high school ace runner and current college student Kakeru Kurahara as he’s inadvertently roped into joining his university’s track club.

Together, a group of unlikely students morphs into an inspiring team of athletes who develop sincere bonds worth getting emotionally invested in. Run With the Wind will surely suit the tastes of Haikyu!! fans, as the story is sincerely down to earth and features Production I.G’s usual charming art direction and clean animation work.

Samurai Champloo (2004) new

Samurai Champloo
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Drama
Cast Ayako Kawasumi, Kazuya Nakai, Ginpei Sato
Created by Shinichiro Watanabe

Samurai Champloo is another uniquely stylish and resonating anime from beloved Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe. Animated by studio Manglobe, the series is set in a fictionalized Edo-era Japan as the rival ronin Jin and Mugen are saved from execution by a former teahouse waitress named Fuu and are now indebted to help her find the elusive “samurai who smells of sunflowers.”

Similar to Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo was widely praised for its slick animation, thrilling action sequences, inventive use of music, and poignant social commentary. It might not carry quite the same revered weight as Watanabe’s earlier series, but Champloo is more than deserving of its acclaim as one of the best anime of the 2000s.

Cowboy Bebop (1998) new

Cowboy Bebop
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Western
Cast Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara

Arguably one of the most important anime series in the history of the genre, Cowboy Bebop is a timeless sci-fi story. Set in 2071, the series follows the exploits of an unlikely bounty hunting crew in a world where corporate greed has devastated Earth and forced most of humanity to colonize space — only to continue making the same mistakes.

Complemented by a fantastic acid-jazz soundtrack that influences the animation and art direction, Cowboy Bebop features a unique cast of characters with compelling backstories and character arcs. This series’ episodic story and core plot blend the sci-fi and neon-noir genres and are anchored by thoughtful themes of the human condition.

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc – Memorial Edition (2022) new

Berserk: The Golden Age Arc – Memorial Edition
1 Season
Genre Action & Adventure, Drama, Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Hiroaki Iwanaga, Takahiro Sakurai, Toa Yukinari

The late Kentaro Miura’s Berserk manga is one of the most acclaimed in the medium, and while the dense dark fantasy epic isn’t as prolific in the anime space, the most recent adaptation of The Golden Age Arc is a worthy celebration of the writer/artist’s legacy. Berserk: The Golden Age Arc — Memorial Edition focuses on a lone young mercenary named Guts.

He has only known pain and war his entire life, but Guts finds himself recruited in larger-than-life leader Griffith’s Band of the Hawk. Along with the latter’s second-in-command, Casca, the trio lead the mercenary group in a massive war on a kingdom’s behalf — all while a sinister fate looms over their heads. The Golden Age Arc — Memorial Edition is Studio 4C’s TV adaptation of the studio’s original anime movie trilogy.

TRIGUN (1998) new

tv-14 1 Season
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Animation
Cast Masaya Onosaka, Hiromi Tsuru, Satsuki Yukino
Created by Yasuhiro Nightow

The recent CG-animated reboot Trigun Stampede was an impressive reimagination on its own terms, but the original anime adaptation of writer Yasuhiro Nightow manga still holds up as a classic. Animated by studio Madhouse, the 1998 Trigun series follows the gunslinger Vash “the Humanoid Typhoon” as he travels a sci-fi desert wasteland and is feared by most of this world’s inhabitants.

However, for the level of notoriety he’s built up, Vash avoids violence whenever possible and has a goofy personality. Cleverly combining the sci-fi and Western genres, Trigun is an inventive anime classic that’s far more than meets the eye. As the series progresses, a captivating mystery unfolds — with Vash at the center of it all.

One Piece (1999) new

One Piece
tv-14 22 Seasons
Genre Action & Adventure, Comedy, Animation
Cast Mayumi Tanaka, Kazuya Nakai, Akemi Okamura

Thanks to the addition of the Crunchyroll channel, anime fans now have access to the flagship One Piece anime series in addition to the spin-off movies. Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece is a shounen manga and anime phenomenon that’s going strong decades later, with the series being a consistently entertaining experience.

Animated by Toei Animation, the show opens with young Monkey D. Luffy as he embarks on a grand quest to follow in the footsteps of his role model, Red-Haired Shanks, to become a world-class pirate — and discover the immense treasure that renowned pirate Gol D. Roger, left behind before being executed. What follows is a vibrant swashbuckling saga filled with colorful casts of heroes, villains, and everything in between.

One Piece Film Red (2022) new

One Piece Film Red
Genre Animation, Adventure, Action, Fantasy
Stars Kaori Nazuka, Shuichi Ikeda, Mayumi Tanaka
Directed by Goro Taniguchi

On top of the lucrative manga and main anime series, One Piece excels in the anime film department as well. The latest entry in the spin-off film series, animators Toei Animation and director Gorō Taniguchi developed One Piece Film: Red to tell an original story with a new supporting character. This movie sees Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirate crew attend a live concert of the land’s most popular singer Uta.

Things are as colorful and joyous as one might expect from such a premise in a One Piece story, but things inevitably take a more dire town when it’s revealed Uta has trapped the audience in her dream space in an attempt to create a world free of conflict. Though it admittedly delves into the tropes often seen in big-franchise anime movies, One Piece Film: Red is an entertaining and sincere celebration of what makes this franchise so beloved.

Haikyu!! (2014) new

tv-14 4 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure
Cast Ayumu Murase, Kaito Ishikawa, Daisuke Namikawa

Though it’s not the most common subgenre of anime, sports series have an impressive catalog of shows to watch. The likes of Slam Dunk and Hajime no Ippo are regarded as classics, but Haikyu!! has established itself as the go-to modern sports anime.

Animated by Production I.G, Haikyu!! puts a slice-of-life spin on volleyball, as it follows the journeys of high schooler Shoyo Hinata as he attempts to become an elite player despite being outclassed by his contemporaries in height. Alongside a diverse supporting cast, heartfelt character arcs, stylish art direction, and slick animation work, Haikyu!! makes this an incredibly investing watch and easy to root for these young athletes.

Jujutsu Kaisen (2020) new

Jujutsu Kaisen
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Writer Gege Akutami’s Jujustu Kaisen manga is one of the biggest modern shounen sensations, and that acclaim has translated into the anime adaptation. Produced by famed studio MAPPA, this series sees high schooler Yuji Itadori enrolled in Tokyo Jujutsu High, where he’s trained and guided by some of Japan’s greatest sorcerers in combatting the otherworldly Cursed Spirits rampant throughout the country.

Bolstered by an engaging main and supporting cast of characters, stylish art design, and exhilarating animation, Jujutsu Kaisen is an exciting dark urban fantasy and martial art anime. It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest additions to the service now that anime fans on Amazon Prime Video can access it through the added Crunchyroll channel.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 (2021) new

Jujutsu Kaisen 0
Genre Animation, Action, Fantasy
Stars Megumi Ogata, Kana Hanazawa, Yuichi Nakamura
Directed by Sunghoo Park

Adapting writer Gege Akutami’s one-shot manga of the same name, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is one of the most thrilling anime movies in recent years. A prequel story to the flagship series, the movie puts Yuta Okkotsu under the spotlight as he aims to become a sorcerer to help quell the Cursed Spirit of his late childhood friend and love interest Rika Orimoto.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 was a welcome stopgap release to satiate fans before the release of the TV anime series’ second season, and it flexes all the slick and visceral anime action seen in the show. It also does well to earn its emotional beats, touching on themes of coming-of-age and coping with grief.

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead (2023) new

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Shuichiro Umeda, Tomori Kusunoki, Makoto Furukawa

One of the more under-the-radar anime hits this year, writer Haro Aso and artist Kotaro Takata’s Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead takes its comedic spin on the apocalypse to the anime space. Animated by studio Bug Films, the story has a brutally overworked 24-year-old named Akira Tendo crushed under the weight of his corrupt corporate superiors.

However, a sudden zombie breakout brings Japan’s society to its knees, and Akira couldn’t be more relieved. Now with a newfound sense of purpose and freedom, he sets off on a mission to fulfill all the things on his bucket list that his oppressive corporate lifestyle prevented. Mixing vibrant visuals with surprisingly clever social commentary on unbalanced world-life culture, Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead is a comically refreshing way to subvert zombie-themed tropes.

Mushi-Shi (2005) new

tv-14 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Yuto Nakano, Mika Doi, Yuji Ueda

Yuki Urushibara’s Mushi-Shi is a welcome change of pace in both the manga and anime mediums. Animation studio Artland handled the adaptation, taking audiences along Ginko — the titular Mushi-Shi — as he travels the picturesque Japanese countryside helping a variety of people in their encounters with spiritual beings known as Mushi.

As opposed to the usual high-octane action of many popular anime, Mushi-Shi is a mellow, beautiful collection of short stories touching on themes of mankind’s relationship with nature. The episodic format of the story is adapted well, allowing the stories of each episode’s supporting cast to feel intimate in scope.


tv-14 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Sakura Ando, Kenji Matsuda

The original Trigun manga by Yasuhiro Nightow and studio Madhouse’s anime adaptation of it were classics of the ’90s. That made the prospect of a reboot that drastically alters the story into something mostly original a risky proposition, but studio Orange’s Trigun Stampede impressively stuck the landing.

Set in a dystopic future where humanity had to break up into colonies to find a new hospitable planet to live on, the anime tells the story of Vash “The Humanoid Typhoon” for his destructive reputation. However, he’s a pacifist and champion of peace, and that misinformed reputation comes from the atrocities committed by his twin brother. Trigun Stampede makes smart twists to justify its intriguing new story, all without trying to replace the classic original.

SPY x FAMILY (2022) new

tv-14 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Comedy, Action & Adventure
Cast Takuya Eguchi, Atsumi Tanezaki, Saori Hayami

One of the best contemporary anime to watch on Amazon Prime Video through the Crunchyroll premium channel is Spy x Family. An animation co-effort by Wit Studio and CloverWorks, this adaptation of Tatsuya Endo’s manga of the same name has become a charming modern sensation.

A Spy going under the codename “Twilight” embarks on a high-stakes mission to maintain peace between two fragile nations, requiring him to take on the alias Loid Forger as part of a fabricated family. Little do they know, each of the family members has something to hide, from Yor’s assassin background and Anya’s telepathic powers. Combining ’60s and modern aesthetics, Spy x Family is a delightful spy-thiller and feel-good comedy hybrid.

Dragon Ball Super (2015) new

Dragon Ball Super
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Masako Nozawa, Ryou Horikawa, Hiromi Tsuru
Created by Akira Toriyama

Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise became one of the faces of the anime genre worldwide, making Dragon Ball Super something of an inevitability. Taking place seven years after the events of the groundbreaking Dragon Ball Z, Super sees Goku and his friends enjoying peaceful times before Beerus, a galactic God of Destruction, comes to challenge him to try and defy a prophecy of his defeat.

It’s only the catalyst of the anime series, though, as these events pave the way for a wild assortment of otherworldly threats and over-the-top power-ups to define Dragon Ball Super. Though it’s tough to top the success of the series to start it all and the raving success of Z, Super is a fun way of getting more colorfully bombastic action from this universe.

Naruto Shippūden (2007) new

Naruto Shippūden
tv-pg 20 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Junko Takeuchi, Chie Nakamura, Noriaki Sugiyama

Though it’s part of the same flagship Naruto manga, Studio Pierrot adapted Masashi Kishimoto’s time-skip portion of the series as the sequel anime Naruto: Shippuden.

Also now made available through the Crunchyroll premium channel upgrade on Prime, this series takes place around 2.5 years after the original series, with Naruto returning to the Hidden Leaf Village after training with Master Jiraiya. Now with Sasuke a rogue ninja and the Akatsuki organization steadily materializing its sinister plans on the shinobi world, Naruto: Shippuden greatly expands the scope and stakes of this world.

Memories (1995)

Genre Fantasy, Animation, Science Fiction
Stars Tsutomu Isobe, Koichi Yamadera, Shozo Iizuka
Directed by Koji Morimoto, Katsuhiro Otomo, Tensai Okamura

Memories is one of the most unique anime movies of the ’90s, both in style and structure. Animated by Madhouse and Studio 4C, Memories is an anthology movie comprised of three short stories: Magnetic Rose, Stink Bomb, and Cannon Fodder.

Each of these tales delves into different aspects of science fiction by blending it with other subgenres, ranging from grim psychological horror, comedy, and a tragic war-time epic. It’s an interesting way of exploring the sci-fi genre through the lenses of distinct voices in the anime industry, with Akira director Katsuhiro Otomo spearheading Cannon Fodder.

One Piece: Stampede (2019)

One Piece: Stampede
Genre Animation, Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Stars Mayumi Tanaka, Kazuya Nakai, Akemi Okamura
Directed by Takashi Otsuka
Writer Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece is one of the biggest shounen manga and anime phenomenons, and it’s been going strong in both mediums since the late ’90s. And while the theatrical anime movies have no canonical bearing on the main series, they’re nonetheless beloved by longtime fans. In director Takashi Otsuka and Toei Animation’s One Piece: Stampede, Monkey D. Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirate crew arrive at the Pirates Festival — a full-on celebration for these swashbucklers. The team takes part in a competition to find one of the coveted treasures left behind by Gol D. Roger, but the sudden appearance of a new villain shakes things up. One Piece: Stampede is an exciting, colorful romp that longtime fans are sure to enjoy, while also remaining accessible enough to pique the interest of prospective and uninitiated audiences.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018)

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Genre Action, Science Fiction, Animation
Stars Masako Nozawa, Aya Hisakawa, Ryou Horikawa
Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine
Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga evolved into one of the most lucrative multimedia brands, and it still boasts a devoted fan base going into the 2020s. Directed by Tatsuya Nagamine and also animated by Toei Animation, Dragon Ball Super: Broly served as the long-awaited canonization of the titular fan-favorite villain. However, this movie brings a welcome twist compared to the approach in the original legacy movies, with the Legendary Super Saiyan more of an innocent bystander manipulated by the powers that be. Dragon Ball Super: Broly is one of the best modern celebrations of the franchise as a whole, showing Goku and Vegeta in perfect form, a more than worthy adversary in Broly, and some of the most vibrant 2D animation the series has ever seen.

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple (2006)

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple
1 Season
Genre Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Cast Tomokazu Seki, Tomoko Kawakami, Jurota Kosugi
Though the ’00s were dominated by the likes of Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece when it comes to shounen series, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple was a welcome change of pace all the same. Based on the manga by Syun Matsuena’s manga and adapted into an anime by TMS Entertainment, this series follows 15-year-old Kenichi Shirahama as the tries to learn martial arts. The kind but relentlessly bullied young boy wants to take a stand for himself and learn karate, with transfer student Miu Fuuriniji introducing him to the Ryozanpaku dojo. From there, Kenichi begins to learn from the dojo’s endearingly strange masters. Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple makes a case for the era’s more underrated shounen, providing an action-packed and comedic change of pace without world-ending threats.

Princess Principal (2017)

Princess Principal
1 Season
Genre Action & Adventure, Animation, Mystery, Drama
Cast Akira Sekine, Ayaka Imamura, Nozomi Furuki
An anime-original series animated by studios Actas and Studio 3Hz, Princess Principal is more than meets the eye. While on the surface it seems like another trope-filled high school slice-of-life series, the anime uses it as mere stage dressing for an interesting mystery plot. Set in the early 20th century, the discovery of a new material called Cavorite led England into political turmoil. Five girls from the Kingdom of the Commonwealth attend a prestigious school under the guise of normal students, but they are truly undercover agents helping the Commonwealth fight a shadow war. Princess Principal is an engaging and clever story that subverts the expectations set by its title.

Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector (2020)

Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector
Genre Science Fiction, Action, Crime, Animation
Stars Takahiro Sakurai, Junichi Suwabe, Yuichi Nakamura
Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani

While the Psycho-Pass series hasn’t measured up to its lauded first season, its subsequent seasons and sequel anime movies are solid stories on their own terms. Set after the events of its third season, Psycho-Pass 3: First Inspector is set in a dystopian cyberpunk sandbox where an artificial intelligence system determines the likelihood of criminality in Japan’s citizens — and is willing to go as far as executing lethal force to deal with uncommitted crimes.

The Sybil System that makes these judgments is being targeted by a shadow criminal mastermind, and its Inspectors Arata Shindou and Mikhail Kei Ignatov argue over how to deal with this conspiracy and the greater ideologies at play surrounding it.

Tomorrow's Joe 2 The Movie (1981)

Tomorrow's Joe 2 The Movie
Genre Action, Animation, Drama
Stars Teruhiko Aoi, Jûkei Fujioka, Toshiyuki Hosokawa
Directed by Osamu Dezaki

While Hajime no Ippo and Megalox have carried its mantle, Asao Takamori’s Tomorrow’s Joe holds up well even today. The anime adaptations have easily been some of the best sports and boxing series in the genre, with Tomorrow’s Joe 2 proving to be a powerful follow-up to the ’70s TV show. It picks up with Bantamweight fighter Joe Yabuki reeling after the tragic events of the original series and retiring from the ring.

However, after a soul-searching journey, Joe finds himself compelled back into the boxing world with the help of his trainer and world-renowned boxer Carlos Rivera. Tomorrow’s Joe 2 is one of the best showcases of an anime profoundly balancing sports and character drama.

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (2019)

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising
Genre Animation, Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Stars Daiki Yamashita, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Yoshio Inoue
Directed by Kenji Nagasaki
Writer Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia has become a modern-age juggernaut as a franchise, and the anime movie adaptations are an excellent way for fans to get an additional fix. The movies are anime-original stories that are also the rare example of being canon to the flagship TV series, with My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising being the film series’ second installment. The young, budding heroes of Class 1-A visit Nabu Island, where they get a chance to get more hands-on superhero experience, but they find out they’re getting more than they bargained for when a villain with a formidable Quirk takes the island by surprise. They can’t depend on the retired All Might to come to the rescue, putting the heroes-in-training in the spotlight.

My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission (2021)

My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission
Genre Animation, Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Stars Daiki Yamashita, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Yuki Kaji
Directed by Kenji Nagasaki

Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia manga has become one of the most lucrative shounen anime adaptations in recent years. That success has led to a string of original movies hitting the big screen, with 2021’s My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission being the franchise’s latest theatrical venture.

Once again animated by veteran anime studio Bones, World Heroes’ Mission takes place sometime after season 5 of the TV series and sees Deku become framed for a crime he didn’t commit. This all happens as a much wider threat looms; the radical Humarise group is looking to eradicate all humans powered by Quirks.

Gintama: The Very Final (2021)

Gintama: The Very Final
Genre Animation, Action, Comedy
Stars Tomokazu Sugita, Daisuke Sakaguchi, Rie Kugimiya
Directed by Chizuru Miyawaki
Alongside other hits like One Piece, Hideaki Sorachi’s Gintama is one of the longest-running shounen manga series. That translated seamlessly in the anime space, with Gintoki and company’s exploits spanning nearly 400 episodes and three movies. Gintama: The Very Final, animated by Bandai Namco Pictures, serves as the overall anime series; swan song. Two years after the alien invasion of the O-Edo Central Terminal, Gintoki’s freelance samurai group, Shinsengumi, has since disbanded. But after he encounters some of the Tendoshu alien remnants, he returns to occupied Edo with his reformed group.

New Initial D the Movie: Legend 3 -- Dream (2016)

New Initial D the Movie: Legend 3 -- Dream
Genre Action, Animation, Drama
Stars Hiroaki Hirata, Hiroshi Tsuchida, Mamoru Miyano
Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

The definitive racing anime series returns with New Initial D the Movie: Legend 3 — Dream. This trilogy closer ties up the early story arcs of Shuuichi Shigeno’s manga. Picking up on the cliffhanger ending of Legend 2 — Racer, protagonist Takumi Fujiwara receives a formal challenge from the Akagi Red Suns’ leader, Ryousuke Takahashi.

After spending the summer racing around Gunma and taking on the city’s best drivers, Takumi becomes thrilled at the prospect of challenging this street-racing legend. With the title of Gunma’s fastest driver on the line, Legend 3 — Dream ends a crucial storyline of the series.

Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell
Genre Action, Animation, Science Fiction
Stars Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Otsuka, Iemasa Kayumi
Directed by Mamoru Oshii

One of the most influential anime movies of all time, director Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell made a case for the genre’s appeal westward. Ghost in the Shell — adapting Masamune Shirow’s manga of the same name — takes place in a sci-fi future where Major Motoko Kusanagi and Section 9 are tasked with apprehending a highly skilled hacker.

The movie was animated by the experienced studio Production I.G with crisp animation work and striking visuals. A critically acclaimed anime that holds up today, Ghost in the Shell is a stylish hybrid of neo-noir and cyberpunk genres akin to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.

New Initial D the Movie - Legend 2: Racer (2015)

New Initial D the Movie - Legend 2: Racer
Genre Animation, Drama, Action
Stars Hiroaki Hirata, Hiroshi Tsuchida, Maaya Uchida
Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

Writer Shuichi Shigeno’s Initial D manga series is iconic within the medium, and its anime adaptations have lived up to the prestige. Animation studios Liden Films and Sanzigen return for Initial D Legend 2: Racer, which condenses and recaps the early parts of the story covered in the source material and TV anime adaptation.

Following the surge in fame after the events of Legend 1: Awakening, Racer sees protagonist Takumi face a challenge from Takeshi Nakazato. The leader of the street-racing gang known as the Myogi NightKids, this challenger will put pressure on Takmu’s newfound reputation.

New Initial D the Movie - Legend 1: Awakening (2014)

New Initial D the Movie - Legend 1: Awakening
Genre Animation, Action
Stars Mamoru Miyano, Yuichi Nakamura, Daisuke Ono
Directed by Masamitsu Hidaka

A manga and anime classic, Shuuichi Shigeno’s Initial D is perhaps the best racing-themed series in both mediums. Produced by animation studios Liden Films and Sanzigen, Initial D Legend 1: Awakening is a modernized remake and a movie adaptation of the classic story.

Covering the early parts of the manga, Awakening begins with protagonist and seemingly ordinary high schooler Takumi Fujiwara, who works as a gas station attendant and delivery boy for his father’s tofu restaurant. However, he’s also an elite street racer, leading to several gangs challenging him to test his mettle as a modern legend.

Naruto (2002)

tv-pg 4 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Junko Takeuchi, Noriaki Sugiyama, Chie Nakamura

Back in the days when Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine’s “Big Three” reigned supreme, Naruto was helping lead the charge in manga alongside the likes of Bleach and One Piece. Masashi Kishimoto’s series was a phenomenon for both manga and anime on the international stage, and the original Naruto series still holds up as a nostalgic modern classic.

It follows young inspiring ninja and village outcast Naruto Uzumaki as he attempts to gain the respect of the Hidden Leaf Village and become its Hokage. Along the way, the series unravels multiple action-focused exploits and introduces a variety of colorful characters.

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (2012)

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
Genre Animation, Science Fiction, Action, Drama
Stars Megumi Ogata, Yuko Miyamura, Akira Ishida
Directed by Hideaki Anno

The penultimate installment in an anime movie reimagining, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo begins 14 years after the cataclysmic event dubbed the Third Impact. Protagonist Shinji Ikari is trapped inside his Evangelion Unit-01 and is recovered by his friends and allies, only to find himself taken prisoner.

Who Shinji once thought of as his friends now treat him as hostile, casting suspicions and doubt on his character following the events of 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. The Rebuild of Evangelion anime film series was a dragged-out process, but it all comes together thrillingly as a complete story after the finale, 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time.

InuYasha (2000)

tv-14 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Comedy
Cast Kappei Yamaguchi, Satsuki Yukino

Rumiko Takahashi’s InuYasha manga was a shonen classic from the ’90s. and animation studio Sunrise’s adaptation was similarly well-received. Fifteen-year-old Kagome Higurashi finds herself transported to Sengoku-era Japan and meets a half-dog demon named Inuyasha.

Kagome and Inuyasha adventure across the countryside together to gather the pieces of the powerful Shikon Jewel before it falls into the wrong hands. InuYasha has been praised for its tasteful balance of action, fantastical setting, humor, and handling of darker themes.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (2009)

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
Genre Animation, Science Fiction, Action, Drama
Stars Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Yuko Miyamura
Directed by Hideaki Anno

While it may appear daunting for the uninitiated, the Rebuild of Evangelion collection of anime movies is a great way to expand upon the original hit TV series. This franchise has been praised as some of the best anime ever created, and it’s among the most compelling sci-fi mecha IPs as well. The second installment in the four-movie collection, Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, continues the story of its predecessor, which follows the first six episodes of the TV anime almost exactly.

However, this sequel is where the story begins to notably deviate from the TV anime’s continuity, altering events from episodes 8-19 and even introducing new characters. It follows Shinji and company as they continue their fight as NERV pilots in the titular Evangelion mechs.

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007)

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone
Genre Animation, Science Fiction, Action, Drama
Stars Megumi Ogata, Megumi Hayashibara, Kotono Mitsuishi
Directed by Hideaki Anno
One of the all-time classics of the anime genre, the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series was influential for its time, and it paved the way for a wider franchise in the years to come. While it may be a bit overwhelming at first to start, the series and its complementary film collection Rebuild of Evangelion proved to be a climactic reimagination of the original story. Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone kicks things off with young Shinji Ikari, a 14-year-old boy enlisted in the mysterious agency known as Nerv, to pilot the titular Eva mechas in a fight against the equally mysterious alien species called Angels. Covering and redoing the first six episodes of the TV anime, Evangelion 1.11 solidly recaptures the philosophical intrigue and thrilling action.

Death Note (2006)

Death Note
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Animation, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Mamoru Miyano, Noriko Hidaka, Nozomu Sasaki
Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note was one of the most iconic manga of the 2000s, and studio Madhouse’s anime adaptation of it successfully capitalized on that acclaim in the TV space. Undoubtedly one of the darker shounen anime out there, Death Note is an immensely gripping supernatural crime thriller. The story mainly centers around high schooler Light Yagami, as he stumbles upon the titular notebook with the power to kill nearly anyone he wants so long as he works around its restrictions. The young man then takes it upon himself to become the god of a new world, cleansing it of what he perceives as its plaguing evils as he sees fit. Enter the eccentric L, a world-class detective, who then works with the Japanese police to apprehend this serial killer before he inevitably gets out of hand. Through and through, Death Note is a riveting detective story and a satisfying battle of wits.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (2012)

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
tv-ma 5 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Fairouz Ai, Daisuke Ono, Mutsumi Tamura
Manga creator Hirohiko Araki’s influential JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series has come a long way since animation studio David Production adapted it into an anime and propelled it to global stardom. It’s effectively become one of the most beloved ongoing shounen anime, with the adventures of the Joestar family proving to be whimsically over-the-top. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure follows the generational story of the family, from Jonathan in 1800s England and the years that follow battling the prophetic villain Dio and beyond. Featuring an irresistibly ridiculous sense of style and a colorful rotating cast of characters, these first five parts (seasons 1-4) will surely satisfy those looking for some supernatural campiness and action.

Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Hunter x Hunter
tv-14 3 Seasons
Genre Action & Adventure, Animation, Drama
Cast Megumi Han, Mariya Ise, Miyuki Sawashiro
While fans of Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga are still painstakingly waiting for a conclusion, the 2011 Hunter x Hunter remake anime by veteran animation studio Madhouse is still an excellent rendition of the story. It’s been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest shounen series to date, characterized by colorful characters and a dense world. Hunter x Hunter opens up with young Gon attempting to follow in the footsteps of the father who abandoned him to become a Hunter — a specialist in exploring and discovering a variety of things and places. He then meets and becomes friends with Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio along the way, and they have their own lofty ambitions of becoming Hunters. From there, this vibrant cast of characters sees exciting new locales and clashes with an array of unique villains. Hunter x Hunter makes this all feel refreshing and thrilling to watch unfold thanks to its impressive worldbuilding, lore, and complex power-level systems.

Blade of the Immortal (2019) new

Blade of the Immortal
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Drama, Action & Adventure
Cast Houko Kuwashima, Ayane Sakura, Kenjiro Tsuda
Hiroaki Samura’s Blade of the Immortal is one of the most critically praised seinen manga, combining a period-piece setting with elements of dark fantasy. The series’ anime adaptations never quite did the source material full justice, but the 2019 TV show animated by Lidenfilms proved to at least be a solid effort. This Amazon Prime Video exclusive series takes place in feudal Japan through the infamous ronin Manji, known as the Hundred Man Killer. He earned this name by killing 100 innocent people, but the most terrifying aspect of the swordsman is his immortality. Cursed by an 800-year-old nun with bloodworms that can cure nearly any wound, Manji agrees to go on a quest to kill 1,000 evil men to atone for his crimes and be free of immortality. Along the way, he’s recruited by 16-year-old Rin Asano, who requests his help in getting revenge on the people who murdered her parents.

Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)

Great Teacher Onizuka
tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Comedy, Drama
Cast Wataru Takagi, Junko Noda, Isshin Chiba
Should fans want a more grounded but no less nuanced break from high-octane action anime, GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka is a great comedy-drama centered around school life. The story follows the titular Eikichi Onizuka, a former juvenile delinquent, on his mission to become Japan’s greatest teacher — but for sleazy and selfish reasons. However, Onizuka is surprised when he gets a teaching job handling one of the toughest classes at Holy Forest Academy. But even more surprising is the passion he feels for his students and teaching, with Onizuka doing whatever he can to help the kids overcome issues of bullying, suicide, and more real-world traumas that are relevant today.

Psycho-Pass (2012)

tv-ma 3 Seasons
Genre Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Animation, Action & Adventure
Cast Yuki Kaji, Kana Hanazawa, Yuichi Nakamura
For anime fans who want a healthy dose of cyberpunk in their shows, Psycho-Pass is one of the most popular choices out there. An anime original series produced by studio Production I.G (of Haikyuu!! and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex fame), Psycho-Pass takes place in a technological dystopia where the Japanese government forcibly monitors citizens’ propensity for criminal activity — and is more than willing to deal out lethal force if they don’t pass. The story then centers around the cynical and jaded Enforcers who help carry out these laws, until a newcomer with bright-eyed goals for true justice comes along. As expected from this subgenre, Psycho-Pass draws heavily from the likes of Ridley Scott’s landmark cyberpunk movie Blade Runner.

Land of the Lustrous (2017)

Land of the Lustrous
tv-14 1 Season
Genre Animation, Drama, Mystery, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Cast Tomoyo Kurosawa, Rie Kugimiya, Mariya Ise
Land of the Lustrous is an acclaimed fantasy manga, and its anime adaptation is arguably one of the best examples of CG animation done well. The series takes place in a future where crystalline beings known as Gems live in a world that has been destroyed by six meteors. Enter Phos, a Gem that has been regarded by its friends as too fragile to help contribute directly to the war efforts against the invading Lunarians — a species hungry to turn the Gems into decorations. Upon meeting a similarly neglected Gem named Cinnabar, the two become friends and look for a new role they can occupy to help their friends. The series has been acclaimed for its creative fantasy world and premise.

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021)

Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
84 %
Genre Animation, Action, Science Fiction, Drama
Stars Megumi Ogata, Yuko Miyamura, Megumi Hayashibara
Directed by Hideaki Anno
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha icon in the anime industry. The sci-fi world is set 15 years after a worldwide cataclysmic event, where a young boy named Shinji Ikari and other children are recruited into a mysterious organization called Nerv. There, they are trained to pilot the titular bio-mechas against alien beings known as Angels. Part of the Rebuild of Evangelion collection of movies, 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time is the fourth and final movie in the collection that wraps up this psychological and sweeping reimagined version of the original TV anime.

Made In Abyss (2017)

Made In Abyss
tv-ma 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Drama, Action & Adventure, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Taking place in an inventive, dark fantasy world, Made in Abyss follows an orphaned girl named Riko who strives to become an acclaimed Cave Raider like her missing mother. In her adventures, Riko meets a robot boy whom she names Reg. The two become close friends and team up to explore the mysterious and titular Abyss in the center of their hometown. As they descend further into the Abyss, grim mysteries unravel, and the world-building of this series greatly expands.

Vinland Saga (2019)

Vinland Saga
tv-ma 2 Seasons
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure, Drama
Cast Yuto Uemura, Naoya Uchida, Kensho Ono

Vikings get the anime treatment in Vinland Saga, one of the newer entries on this list. The Vikings have dominated society for a thousand years and have an insatiable thirst for violence. Thorfinn grows up in this culture, spending much of his boyhood on a battlefield, building his skills to ultimately achieve revenge for his father’s murder.

Dororo (2019)

tv-ma 1 Season
Genre Animation, Action & Adventure
Cast Rio Suzuki, Hiroki Suzuki, Naoya Uchida
Based on the legendary 1967 manga, Dororo follows the journies of an orphaned child and an unusual swordsman as they battle demons across the continent. Those demons are there due to a long-ago deal made by a corrupt samurai lord to help his lands flourish. To do so, he trades his newborn son’s organs. Abandoned, Hyakkimaru is adopted by a local doctor who gives the boy prosthetics. As he grows up, he vows to reclaim his body one piece at a time by forcibly taking them from the demons who took them in the deal his father made.

Editors' Recommendations

Movie images and data from:
Guillermo Kurten
Freelance Writer, Entertainment
A University of Houston graduate in Print Media Journalism, Guillermo has covered sports entertainment and practically all…
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