With a new year already here, we take a look at the 10 best Anime of the decade. Anime has been around for a long time. While a lot of Anime classics are continue their runs to this day, there are many new Anime carving a place in the canon. They now hold a special place in the hearts of hardcore fans and new audiences. These new Anime range from adult action affairs to classic Manga stories, to satirical Netflix original series.
So let’s take a look at the 10 best Anime of the decade.
Attack On Titan: Surviving An Apocalypse
Debuting in 2013, based on the Manga of the same name, Attack On Titan is a brand new anime that quickly became a classic. Both hardcore Anime enthusiasts, as well as newcomers to the medium love the fantasy-themed Anime. It’s unique story and world-building truly sets it apart from traditional Anime content. The story involves a world where giant Titans destroyed all humanity. The survivors live in cities huddled together, protected from the beings. However, when one Titan ends up attacking a city, it forever changes the life of one character who seeks revenge. It’s this character’s adventure as they go through a variety of adventures, on their way to becoming a Titan killer.
Image via Netflix.
Attack On Titan is Japan’s 8th best-selling Anime of the decade. The anime also won multiple awards for direction, script, and soundtrack. Critically it’s considered one of the best Anime out there, topping multiple ‘Best Of’ lists throughout the decade, and is truly one of the best anime of the decade.
Attack On Titan is now streaming on Netflix.
Aggretsuko: The Best New Non-Action Anime Of The Decade
Aggretsuko debuted with original animated shorts in 2016, then a worldwide debut as a Netflix original series. The series is a different kind of Anime than most, making it incredibly special. The Netflix original series premiered in 2018, which they fast-tracked to multiple seasons. Currently you can stream three seasons. The genre of Aggretsuko is a satirical musical workplace comedy. The story follows Retsuko, an anthropomorphic red panda frustrated with her life as an office worker. As a means of release, she finds talent in a Karaoke bar singing hardcore death metal. The contrast of a cute little panda, and her violently aggressive death metal alter ego is what sets Aggretsuko apart. The plot is very relatable, while the musical elements keep things fresh.
Image via Netflix.
Aggretsuko earned critical acclaim immediately upon release. Critics heralded the series as uniquely original, turning the usual workplace comedy on its head. Aggretsuko currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Dragon Ball Super: A Beloved Franchise Returns
One of the gateways into the Anime medium for most Western audiences has always been Dragon Ball. The Anime series based on a Manga is hugely popular worldwide as one of the first Anime exported from Japan for mainstream networks worldwide. The franchise consisted of the original Dragon Ball and its sequel Dragon Ball Z. Fans high demand has created many re-releases of the series with multiple versions released on home video.
Image via Toei Studio
Debuting in 2015, Dragon Ball Super is the sequel and continuation of the series that expands the story. The original focused on the adventures of Goku and then his son Gohan, living on their home planet and sometimes beyond. Super takes things further. The new stories still see Goku going to other universes to fight other villains that threaten the universe. The stories are larger in scale, with more stakes and universe-ending conflicts.
The series allows new audiences to fall in love with what made the franchise a classic. The series takes an already beloved franchise and brings it into the modern-day for a brand new generation of Anime lovers.
Your Name: Crossover Appeal With An Endearing Story
One of the greatest crossover Anime films of the decade was Your Name. The 2016 film by Makoto Shinkai is beloved for its beautiful style of animation and vibrant visuals. The story is about a girl who wishes she was a boy. She then begins to change bodies every now and then with a boy, living in another town. The stories of these two characters intertwine and they affect each other’s lives.
Image via CoMix Wave Films
The Freaky Friday-style body-switching movie became incredibly relatable. The story is also timely, especially given the current social landscape when it comes to gender dynamics. Your Name was a huge success for Anime movies of its kind, winning over Western and local audiences. The movie has a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 97%.
The Ancient Magus’ Bride: Controversial At Best
One of the more complicated Anime of the decade is The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Released in 2017 with a controversial story, the series is one of the more problematic Anime that still manage to make it work. A high school orphan is unhappy with her life. Receiving no support from family or friends, she decides to auction herself off to the highest bidder. The person who ends up buying her is a large and ancient Magus, or sorcerer, who has an animal skull for a head.
Image via Crunchyroll
Despite its controversial premise, the story works as the Magus introduces the young girl to a life that she never expected. Finding herself in a world of magic and fantasy, the girl ends up having a much better life. Even how the love story’s handling won over audiences and critics. Imagine a more complicated version of Beauty And The Beast, set in a world of magic and fantasy. Just like Belle, Hatori Chise chooses to go into bondage. It’s a tricky premise to make work, and whether it succeeds or not is up to you. Still, The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a captivating and complex tale worthy of discussion in the best Anime of the 2010s.
One-Punch Man: The Best Genre Subversion New Anime Of The Decade
A great Anime that falls in the superhero genre is One Punch Man. Based on a web-comic, the 2015 Anime series is all about superheroes, while also subverting the genre in fun and creative ways. The story sees a world of superheroes, but one where a particular hero stands out. The hero in question is an extremely overpowered one who has trained himself beyond his limit. This allows him to be stronger than every villain he fights, defeating everyone quite easily. Becoming bored in his life, he seeks newer challenges. The series is critically acclaimed currently holding 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Image via Viz Media.
One Punch Man plays with the various tropes of good and evil. The hero being extremely overpowered allows the show to subvert the usual aspect of the stakes in a conflict. Since we already know the hero is the strongest, what does he need to overcome? What is the challenge? There are questions answered by One-Punch Man in fun and entertaining ways.
One-Punch Man is currently streaming on Netflix.
My Hero Academia: Anime X-Men Crossed With Harry Potter
My Hero Academia is another superhero Anime on this list that took the world by storm. Released in 2016, it has already topped many lists as one of the best Anime of the decade, including Crunchyroll’s top 100. The superhero Anime is a little bit X-Men and a little bit Harry Potter. The setting of this story is a school that trains superheroes.
Image via Funimation.
The story is about one young boy with no powers, living in a world where everyone has powers. Despite not having any powers himself, he dreams of being a superhero. However, after an act of goodness on his part, the greatest superhero ever transfers his powers onto the boy. Finally, he’s a legitimately super-powered person. So, obviously he needs training in these powers. The show’s modern animation is delightful to watch and incredibly gripping. The action and humor are very American, making it easier for Western audiences to jump into the Anime. The show itself earned rave reviews worldwide. It’s no wonder that My Hero Academia is one of the best Anime of the decade.
Hunter X Hunter: Fun And Adventurous In The Best Ways
Another Anime that is widely regarded as one of the best Anime of the decade is Hunter x Hunter. Imagine if Pokemon met The Mandalorian. That’s essentially the premise of Hunter x Hunter. The Anime gained immense popularity, garnering two different TV show adaptations. The 2011 series is the one that’s been more popularized in the West and holds nearly unanimous critical acclaim. Hunter X Hunter tells the story of a young boy and his hunt for his father and fame. Thought of as an orphan, the boy learns his father is alive and a renowned Hunter. Hunters are highly trained people who track down artifacts, beasts and even people in a world full of supernatural and mystical concepts. So basically Supernatural as an Anime.
Image via Viz Media
Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, Hunter x Hunter follows the journey of this boy as he trains to become a Hunter himself. He has various adventures along the way with new friends. One day, he hopes to find his father. Hunter X Hunter regales audiences with its innocent and captivating story. The animation and visuals of otherworldly ideas capture the imagination. The innocence of the main character, along with a well thought out story earns Hunter x Hunter an entry into the best Anime of the decade list.
The Seven Deadly Sins: The Best Quest Anime Of The Decade
One of Netflix’s first forays into Anime was to produce The Seven Deadly Sins. The series was an instant hit in 2018, even before being on Netflix. Upon its release, the show became one Netflix’s most binged series in 24 hours of release. The modern animation style and the adventure-driven story made it appeal to a larger demographic than some other niche Anime.
Image via Netflix.
Totally a quest story, The Seven Deadly Sins has a kingdom that needs a band of knights for its redemption. The series starts as the leader of the group seeks out and recruits each member back into his cause. Together, they must save the kingdom they once protected from the clutches of a demon horde. The Seven Deadly Sins is one of the best anime of the decade due to its fun character interactions and thrilling action. While many of the Anime on this list can be a personal journeys of fighting inner demons and other emotional crises, this series is much lighter fare. The action sequences are innovative, while the story moves as an engaging pace.
Castlevania: Original, Thought Provoking And Mature
One of (if not the) the best Anime of the decade is an original series created in America. Castlevania somewhat changed the game with its Anime offering. It was produced by an American Anime studio, Powerhouse Animation, currently working on the He-Man sequel as well as the released Seis Manos. The series is widely regarded as one of the best Anime of recent times, and one of Netflix’s first original Anime. Based on a popular Konami video game, Castlevania also brought talents like comic book writer Warren Ellis and producer Adi Shankar into the Anime medium.
Image via Netflix.
The story begins with Dracula’s wife burning at the stake at the hands of religious townspeople The devastated creature of myth vows revenge on the world. As his hordes of demons lay waste to civilization, one man has to reluctantly rise and oppose him. Even though all he wants to do is drink and eat. Castlevania takes the concept of a villain to new heights by allowing audiences to actually feel sympathy for him. Even before the hero steps into the story. It’s also one of the first-ever English Anime that is extremely graphic and only for mature audiences. The series is one of the best new modern Anime of the decade. And in 2020, the latest season of the Anime series is one the most anticipated of the year.
Which Anime do you think was the best of the last decade? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image via Toei Studio.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.