The blast in popularity that anime has received in the past few years is nothing short of impressive. We’ve witnessed giant robots, giant humans, kaiju, power-ups and every display of strength under the sun. Among these stories, there were also relatable human moments displayed by the characters we’ve grown so attached to. In celebration of anime as a medium for storytelling, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Anime series that have aged well in 2023. These may not be objectively the greatest, but they are so good they manage to resonate with multiple generations of fans.
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Monster is a psychological thriller that follows the slow moral descent of a good man that makes a wrong decision. His journey towards fixing this wrong makes for an interesting toil that questions human nature itself. This show tackles exposition in a way that keeps the obvious answers at bay in exchange for a slow peel of its layers. By the time you’re ready for some answers, you will have grown into it well enough to appreciate what there is to learn.
Author Naoki Urasawa is a master at piecing together complex thrillers, and Monster stands at the peak of his works. It’s worth checking out after all these years. Especially today, where many people enjoy media that explores complex villains. We believe you’ll find Monster’s antagonist eerily compelling.
9. Yu Yu Hakusho
Ask any anime historian, “what’s the best tournament arc ever?” and the answer is likely to be Yu Yu Hakusho’s Dark Tournament Saga. This show had everything you could ask for in a shonen, and it still managed to avoid being a cliché mess. There’s a lot of heart to be found in Yu Yu Hakusho’s characters, and Yoshihiro Togashi gave us one of the best power systems we’ve seen in an anime series and explains why it has aged well.
This series is easily among the most influential titles from the ‘90s, and it’s not hard to see why. With Yusuke as its main character, we get to see him grow from a selfish delinquent into a strong martial artist. All the allies he finds along the way are also colourful both in design and personality. It’s easily a shonen with infinite replay value.
8. Dragon Ball Z
When there’s more power to be attained, trust that Goku and the Z fighters will step up for the challenge. This anime series has gone through multiple eras that have their own distinct feelings and aesthetics and has aged incredibly. However, one thing we can’t deny is that Goku manages to remain one of the most exciting MCs to see on a screen. His larger-than-life personality and childlike curiosity make him a crop among his contemporaries.
After so many years, this martial arts story continues to go leaps and bounds to craft new power-ups and enhanced versions of old adversaries. There’s never a wrong time to begin getting into Dragon Ball.
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7. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Hideaki Anno might have had some idea of the impact Evangelion would have, but there’s no way he was able to fathom the movement it has become after all this time. Evangelion has managed to have its own identity outside of any labels within the anime community. Part of its notoriety is centred on its difficult ending and lore. It’s hard to find people that were able to “get” Evangelion on a first viewing attempt. However, the depth is worth looking into. It’s a harrowing tale that explores dark themes like depression while creating a surreal world-building experience. It’s also deeply personal in the way it connects the threads to Shinji and his father’s secrets. It’s a work of art that still resonates with the current generation of anime fans.
6. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Nothing about this anime series is predictable, and we mean absolutely nothing, which explains why it has aged so well over the years. As an outsider, hearing friends and fellow anime fans mention Jojo’s feels kind of odd. “What’s everyone’s obsession with these buff guys and weird poses?” you may ask. Well, this franchise is a lot more than it seems to be on the surface. It follows generations of people from the same family, with their names creating the word “Jojo” if you look into the nicknaming variations.
Beyond the weird familial aspect, Jojo’s is also home to one of anime’s most iconic power systems, the Stand. A spirit-like avatar that is controlled by a human for unique purposes. Stands come in all shapes and sizes, so watching battles in this series is never a cliché experience.
5. Attack On Titan
A more recent title on this list, Attack On Titan, has managed to cement itself atop the shoulders of giants, and it’s not because of the massive creatures in the anime. Hajime Isayama’s manga is a storytelling masterpiece that shocked the world of anime in the best ways possible. The way it handles multiple story threads without missing a beat is impressive. Once things start to come together, it hits in a way most anime will never be able to rival.
When it comes to fights and characters, Attack On Titan is one of the best you can find, even among some of the iconic anime of decades past. It’s easily relevant today, and its epic finale is sure to rock your socks off.
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4. Cowboy Bebop
If there’s an entry on this list that transcends anime, it’s likely to be this one. Cowboy Bebop is an anime that feels smooth and precise with its approach to storytelling. Its protagonist, Spike Spiegel, is one of the most stylish anime MCs you’ll ever see, and the cast of supporting characters is the blueprint for many tropes you see even outside of anime. The way this story respects itself is also worth admiring, and it’s wrapped up in a conclusion that’s considered one of the most heartfelt in anime.
The space opera theme, worldbuilding, backgrounds and music are amazing on their own, but the way they come together to craft this amazing story is unforgettable. Once you’re finished watching it, blast out the amazing jazz soundtrack from Yoko Kanno on your speaker.
3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
No list like this would be complete without including the story that took us to a deeply personal level in an anime story. Fullmetal Alchemist may appear to be like most other anime in the way it has a young, arrogant protagonist. But the way its main character, Edward Elric, approaches his motivations is deeply human. He isn’t simply arrogant to the flaws of his world, and he has to directly tackle the morbid reality of drastic decisions. This theme follows throughout the entire story and can be seen in both Edward and Alphonse. Their quest is beautifully explored, and once you reach the end, it feels like you’ve grown with the characters.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood also tackles bigger stories outside of the lives of its main characters. We see themes of genocide explored in some episodes, and the way it’s done isn’t simply made like a footnote. It’s a genuine subplot that affects some of the characters permanently.
2. Death Note
“I’ll take this potato chip… and eat it!” Death Note has some of the most meme-worthy moments you can find in an anime, but the high-stakes psychological game is why we truly love it. The battle between Light Yagami and the mysterious L is one that is hard to look away from. It’s nice to see how the upper hand switches so often, and seeing the two characters get close while Light tries to deceive L is nothing short of masterful.
The anime’s premise is also really simple, making it easy for non-anime fans to get into. Death Note enjoys a status among many anime fans as their first watch for the medium. It’s not hard to see why. The show is beginner-friendly and enjoyable, even with its mind games of cat and mouse.
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1. One Piece
The king of longevity, One Piece is an anime that has been relevant since its start in 1999. This show is adapted from Eiichiro Oda’s popular manga, and it’s easily the biggest anime in many major regions around the world. One Piece, as a global phenomenon, is hard to beat. Even in the US, it’s one of the top 5 shows, with Pokemon taking the top spot.
One Piece has managed to keep its audience interested in its mysteries after all these years, and this can be attributed to Oda’s brilliant approach to exposition. His characters are always larger than life, and it’s hard to find any two characters that feel the same. Each arc presents its own unique style, and the eras of the show are also quite distinct. Pre-time skip and post-time skip One Piece are both great, but the things that make each part amazing are also very different.
Oda’s vision has had a lasting impact, and there’s an even bigger audience to capture with the upcoming Netflix One Piece series. If you’re a longtime anime fan, you should check out One Piece in some capacity.
Which anime series do you think has aged well in 2023?