TOP RATED ANIME: MUST WATCH LIST
The highest rated anime series [UPDATED 2021]
In recent times, the audience has shown an increasing interest for the Japanese animated series, also referred as Anime, with the term that has acquired a more global connotation. We want to collect in this article, the list of the top rated anime series that a anime-fan or even newcomers of the genre must watch. No spoilers to come in our must watch list of the highest rated anime series.
How do we rank our anime series?
- 1 How do we rank our anime series?
- 2 Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (95/100)
- 3 Neon Genesis Evangelion (95/100)
- 4 Your Name (90.75/100)
- 5 Steins; Gate (88.75/100)
- 6 Cowboy Bebop (88.5/100)
- 7 Attack on Titan season 1-3 ( 88/100)
- 8 Death Note ( 88/100)
- 9 Weathering with you (88/100)
- 10 The Promised Neverland ( 88/100)
- 11 Demon Slayer ( 88/100)
- 12 Violet Evergarden ( 88/100)
- 13 Made in Abyss ( 87.5/100)
- 14 Erased ( 87.5/100)
- 15 Death Parade ( 87.5/100)
- 16 Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion ( 86.5/100)
- 17 Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion ( 87.25/100)
- 18 Gurren Lagann (85/100)
- 19 Toradora! (84.5/100)
- 20 Kill La Kill (84/100)
- 21 Dorohedoro (83.5/100)
- 22 Deviman Crybaby (83.5/100)
- 23 Psycho-Pass (83/100)
- 24 Karegurui – Compulsive Gambler (82.5/100)
- 25 Beastars. (82.5/100)
- 26 Banana Fish (82.5/100)
- 27 B: The Beginning.
- 28 Tokyo Ghoul season 1-2 (82/100)
- 29 Fist of North Star (80.5/100)
- 30 Other famous anime series that are a must watch: our ranking chart.
- 31 Shortly on our TOP RATED ANIME LIST: the titles
- 32 TOP RATED ANIME SERIES – RANKING CHART
- 33 Highly rated anime to watch: final thoughts
These 4 fundamental points determines the quality of an anime (always according to our own opinion). Complexity and hidden meanings: in this field we consider the depth of the plot, its structure and how much intelligible it appears after the 1st watch. The kind of topics (social, philosophical) and their semantic value have an impact on the mark. Plot consistency: the series of events is analysed with the principle of causality. High rates means that the plot is both robust and with minor/or even missing plotholes. Sound and Music: the Opening intro and the soundtracks that accompany the audience throught the episodes and crucial moments are evaluated. Graphics and Drawings: it is related to the graphical quality of the novel, taking into account the year of release.
MUST WATCH LIST OF TOP RATED ANIMES
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood (95/100)
Plot: The series follows the story of two alchemist brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who want to restore their bodies after a disastrous failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy. Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is the perfect recipe for an anime series: the perfect mix of shonen and seinen moments in the narrative archs makes the storyplot almost unequal. Amazing battles, sublime soundtracks and a clver scripts are the fundamentals for a valuable work.
Neon Genesis Evangelion (95/100)
Plot: Neon Genesis Evangelion is widely considered one of the most influential anime created in the 1990’s, if not of all time. It is extremely well known for it’s brave attempts to turn the mecha genre on it’s head, it’s deep character development, and it’s unorthodox storyline. Created by acclaimed studio Gainax, and written by both praised (and sometimes hated) writer Hideaki Anno, Evangelion has been called a masterpiece by anime fans. Evangelion story is set in 2015: humanity’s last hope lies in the hands of Nerv, a special agency under the United Nations, and their Evangelions, giant machines capable of defeating the Angels who herald Earth’s ruin. Gendou Ikari, head of the organization, seeks compatible pilots who can synchronize with the Evangelions and realize their true potential.
Your Name (90.75/100)
Plot: The 2016 worldwide success of Makoto Shinkai. In a world dominated by stupid sequels and remakes this anime filmt restores hope in today’s entertainment. Not only it is emotional and feels real, it delivers a relevant message. Superb the imagination and palette but we also appreciate that it aims to remind us the social issues that we should be paying attention to. Your Name tells the story of Taki and Mitsuha, who under special circumstances experience body-shifting. A unique relation develops between the two teenagers whose minds become closer day by day.
Steins; Gate (88.75/100)
Plot: Our top rated anime series is Steins; Gate (a must watch anime together with the sequel/midquel Steins; Gate 0). It is probably the best anime about time travel so far. The series takes 5-6 episodes to take-off but once there you’ll not be able to stuck from it. Okabe Rintarou, a university student who refers to himself as Crazy Mad Scientist Hououin Kyouma and his lab’s members work on a microwave device that can transfer messages to the past. Without getting captured, they should get it working in order to beat the evil organization, SERN and stop their evil plans. In this anime series you can find science, sad moments and light heart scenes in a mix which make the Steins; Gate universe an essential series for fans. The series is so comlex and well organised that we bet you’ll need to rewatch it. We have also prepared a timeline explanation in this article (Steins; Gate timeline explained)
Cowboy Bebop (88.5/100)
Plot: The story is set in a space western setting (year 2071). We follow two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet, who own a ship called the Bebop. They travel the Solar system, chasing wanted criminals to earn money. Along the way, they also pick up two women; the debt-laden Faye Valentine and the playful kid and computer genius Edward. Cowboy Bebop constitutes a break for the anime industry. Its episodic structure and its unique soundracks quality lift Cowboy Bebop to our contemporary area, where the fragile psychology of the characters is exhibited to the audience.
Attack on Titan season 1-3 ( 88/100)
Plot: While the final season is currently on air (Aot season 4) and previous 3 season of Attack on Titan are for sure to retrieve. In fact, Attack on Titan anime is one of the most acclaimed of recent times. The first 3 season have been developed by Studio Wit while the final season is produced by MAPPA Studio. Attack on Titan is set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans; the story follows Eren Yeager, who vows to exterminate the Titans after a Titan brings about the destruction of his hometown and the death of his mother. This is only the incipt of the plot, since Aot is well known for deep plot twists and keeping the spectator stuck to the screen till the very end. Even after season 3 a lot of mysteries have to be discovered. You can find our philosophy insight here (The philosophy behind Attack on Titan)
Death Note ( 88/100)
Plot: In our must watch list of the top rated anime series we couldn’t miss a true classic as Death Note. We cannot add nothing to one of the most famous contemporary animes. What’s this anime about? Let’s see what happens if a teen genius (Light Yagami) stumbles across a mysterious otherworldly notebook: the “Death Note“, which belonged to the Shinigami Ryuk and grants the user the supernatural ability to kill anyone whose name is written in its pages… We wrote two articles about Death Note to cover this anime: Death Note explained analysis and Death Note: Light vs L.
Weathering with you (88/100)
Plot: The masterpiece of Makoto Shinkai is the story of a high-school boy who runs away from his rural home to Tokyo and befriends an orphan girl who has the ability to manipulate the weather. The film was produced by Wakana Okamura and Kinue Itō, and the music was composed by Radwimps. The animed film (it’s not an anime series) comes after the worldwide success of Your Name. You can check the review of weathering with you here.
The Promised Neverland ( 88/100)
Plot: Don’t be fooled by the childish appearance of the characters, The Promised Neverland will keep the audience crushed by the thrilling atmosphere of the Grace Field House, an orphanage. An idyllic, apparently perfect place for the orphans where to grow and spend their lifes, waiting for family adoption. The pleasant appeareance barely resists 20 mins of episode 1, when the true nature of the orphanage is revealed. The Grace Field House, directed by the caretaker “Mama” Isabella is literally a farm for raising up the children. Emma, Ray and Norman, three orphans, will make up an escape plan full of twists. See also: The Promised Neverland review: why is the best anime of 2019.
Update: This review is referred to The Promised Neverland season 1, if you want to know what of what we think about the (shameful) second season aired in 2021, see our post: why The Promised Neverland 2 is a disaster.
Demon Slayer ( 88/100)
Plot: Demon Slayer is a 2019 shonen anime which has revently raised the interest of anime fans. The storyplot follows Tanjiro Kamado and his sister Nezuko Kamado as they seek a cure to Nezuko’s demon curse. Tanjiro and Nezuko become entangled in the affairs of a secret society, known as the Demon Slayer Corps, that have been waging a secret war against demons for centuries.
Violet Evergarden ( 88/100)
Plot: This anime series is pure emotion and armony. The story is focused on a young girl, Violet Evergarden, whose capabilities as soldier have been exploited in field battles. Now, Violet is reintegrating back into society after the war is over andher life’s purpose is to understand the last words her mentor and guardian, Major Gilbert, had told her: “I love you. If have already watched Violet Evergarden, enjoy our analysis review Violet Evergarden, is it possible to learn emotions?
Made in Abyss ( 87.5/100)
Plot: Don’t be fooled by the graphic design of the characters which may recall a children anime. The story centers around a young girl (Riko) that enters the abyss with the specific goal to find her mother and is accompanied by human-like robot (Reg) that also looks like a kid and was coming from the Abyss. What is the Abyss? It is an enourmous hole on the Earth from where the Cave Raiders hunt for special relics. The Abyss as a dangerous and particular environment inhabitated by strange creatures. On the retirning way, the human visitors of the Abyss are subjected to the so-called “Curse of the Abyss”. The deeper one goes, the more acute the effects of the curse manifest. There is a lot of mental and physical pain put on the characters and we always have to remind ourselves that these two behave like and are children. The show underlines the psychological and physical strength of the character of Made in Abyss. A film and a season 2 of Made in Abyss is schedule for 2021-2022.
Erased ( 87.5/100)
Plot: The anime consist of 12 episodes focusing on Satoru Fujinuma, who possesses an ability known as “Revival” that sends him back in time moments before a life-threatening incident, enabling him to prevent it from happening again. Someone like to compare Erased to Steins Gate because it involves some time traveling. Other people wondered about the mystery and crime genre and compared it to Death Note. This anime is neither of them. It doesn’t revolve around time traveling as the main idea or the plot of the story. Also, it doesn’t involve that much darkness and crime twist as Death Note. It is about loneliness and friendship, courage and hesitation, evil and good, family and abuse; It is about a lot. The anime series experiences a progression since the very beginning that will never bore the audience with its excellent sounds and character background.
Death Parade ( 87.5/100)
Plot: Death Parade gives an alternative view of the after-death. Let’s consider to find yourself to face a bartender in a moder European bar which will define your destiny: heaven or hell. Of course, you don’t remember that you just died. The view of Death Parade will give you another perspective of the “Memento Mori” (Death Parade: the bar game to reveal soul destiny).
Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion ( 86.5/100)
Plot: Based on the award winning manga series written by Iwaaki Hitoshi, coming from the highly praised Madhouse studio, with all excitement and intense story, Parasyte (Kiseijuu) is another top rated anime series. The story set-up in a realistic world where an unknown organism invaded Earth and take over human bodies. Accidentally, one of that organism is trying to enter into someone’s body, a body of a sleeping boy named Shinichi Izumi, but the organism (Migi) can only take over Shinichi hand only. The incident created a bizarre creature that lives eventually in Shinichi’s right hand. Meanwhile, other organisms that successfully take over a human / animal bodies is starting to attack the Civilians secretly and eat them. With that fact, Shinichi decided to fight other ruthless parasites with Migi’s help.
Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion ( 87.25/100)
Plot: After Holy Empire of Britannia attacks and conquers Japan and reduces the once proud nation as an occupied country, Lelouch, an exiled Imperial Prince of Britannia empire, vows to wrestle Japan to its freedom. He encounters a mysterious girl named C.C., who bestows upon him the mystical power of Geass. Code Geass is a great anime review which greatly mixes actions, strategy and powerful soundtracks. For more insight about the topics and analysis check Why Lelouch is the real hero of Code Geass.
Gurren Lagann (85/100)
Plot: Gurren Lagann is a mechan-anime series animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami. The series can be considered as a turning point for the director Hiroyuki Imaishi and thw playwright Kazuki Nakashima which, later, would have given birth to Kill La Kill (2013) and Promare (2019). The plot focuses on two teenagers, Simon and Kamina, who live in a subterranean village and wish to go to the surface. Gurren Lagann har clear references to another highly rated anime Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) which can be considered an important precursor of not only the mecha-centered anime. For more about see: Gurren Lagann, a legacy of NGE .
Plot: The first romantic-comedy anime of our list. The storyplot focuses on the school adventures of Taiga and Ryuuji. The typical sentimental dynamics of young generations are well captured by Toradora! A must watch for a deep and touching heart series about the most common social interaction problem: the fear of not being understood and beloved. To clarify the ending of Toradora, simply check our article: Toradora: ending and relationship explained.
Kill La Kill (84/100)
Plot: Kill la Kill has a character design very similar to Gurren Lagann. Honnouji Academy is forcefully ruled by the iron-fisted control of its student council and its president, Satsuki Kiryuuin. Transfer student, Ryuuko Matoi, arrives on campus carrying a giant sword, that is actually half of a scissor. She is looking for the woman who holds the other half of her sword who killed her father. The anime inspects philosophical topics exploiting a very dynamic storyplot. Kill la Kill is more than a mere fanservice product, analyzing social problems through the concept of clothing (Kill la Kill review: the deception of clothing)
Plot: The world of Dorohedoro is one of the rarest and most original ever seen. It’s violent, dark, confusing, with many strange things in it, without falling into the typical. Dorohedoro takes place in a post apocalyptic future where class differences are at the forefront. There are two kinds of people: Magic users and the others. While magic users live in a better world, the people who can’t use magic live in a place called ‘Hole‘ and only magic users can travel between two worlds. A second season of Dorohedoro is expected for renewal by Netflix in 2021-2022.
Deviman Crybaby (83.5/100)
Plot: Devilman Crybaby is a 2018 Japanese anime series based on Go Nagai’s manga series Devilman. DevilMan Crybaby is considered one of the best anime netflix original released. The plot of Devilman Crybaby focuses on Akira Fudo, a weak and unassuming teenagers who is exposed by his childhood friend Ryo Asuka to the exixtence of the demons. In a reckless attempt to save his best friend, Akira unwittingly merges with the devil Amon and becomes a Devilman, gaining an immense power. Devilman Crybaby offers a pessimistic view of the world governed by chaos and purseud by the violence of the humans. For more readings about animes Netflix original which deserve a watch check this article: the best 7 anime Netflix original to watch.
Plot: In the list of our top rated anime series, a Sci-Fi crime story like Psycho-Pass cannot be missed. The series takes place in the near future (Tokyo 2112), when it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person’s state of mind and personality. This information is recorded and processed, and the term “Psycho–Pass” in the anime’s title refers to a standard used to measure an individual’s being. The anime is organized in three season where you’ll smash into a new concept of “intelligence” and “Justice”. Check our articles about Psycho-Pass here.
Karegurui – Compulsive Gambler (82.5/100)
Plot: Karegurui is an anime adaptation produced by Studio MAPPA aired in Japan in 2017. A second season, Karegurui xx has been aired in 2019 for a comprehensive of 24 episodes of the two seasons. The show focuses on Yumeko Jabami, a new student who gambles for the fun of it and is really good at it. Her actions end up disrupting the student hierarchy of Hyakkaou Academy, causing the Student Council to come up with ways to stop her. Throughout the show, Yumeko meets Ryouta Suzui and fellow gambling gal Meari Saotome who help her as she gambles to her heart’s content.
- Plot: The story takes place in a world of modern, civilized, anthropomorphic animals with a cultural division between carnivores and herbivores. The series takes its name from the in-universe rank of Beastar, an individual of great talent and notoriety. The anime series consists of 24 episodes (12 episodes each season) with the second season of Beastars scheduled to be premiered on July 2021. Despite we were skeptical about the CGI and 3D visuals we were thoroughly impressed and astonished by its brilliant imagery.
Banana Fish (82.5/100)
Plot: Ash Lynx is a 17-years old teenager in New York City. Raised by the infamous godfather of the mafia, Dino Golzine, he begins investigating the mysterious “Banana Fish”—the same two words his older brother, Griffin, has muttered since his return from the Iraq War.
B: The Beginning.
Plot: B: The Beginning is another Netflix Original Anime that deserve a mention. The anime series is composed by two season (B: The Beginning and B: The Beginning succession) for a total of 16 episodes with the last season aired since March 2021. Another sequel and anime renewal is expected to complete the story. B: The Beginning is a crime-supernatural story set on the fictional European archipelago nation of Cremona. One side, we have the detective Keith Flick who returns to the force after years in isolation to find his sister’s murderer. He believes they may be connected to a series of killings by a man the local police have named Killer B. For more information check our post about Anime Netflix original best chart.
Tokyo Ghoul season 1-2 (82/100)
Plot: Tokyo Ghoul is set in an alternate reality where ghouls, creatures that look like normal people but can only survive by eating human flesh, live amongst the human population in secrecy, hiding their true nature in order to evade pursuit from the authorities.The protagonist, Ken Kaneki found himself to be a ghoul after a surgery to save his life. You can find our analysis of Tokyo Ghoul here.
Fist of North Star (80.5/100)
Plot: First of the North Star relives the episodes of the animated anime/manga episodes in a very concentrated way. Each narrative arch is dedicated to a particular character which has marked the faith of the Hokuto Shinken. Let’s follow the steps of the shining warrior Kenshiro.
Other famous anime series that are a must watch: our ranking chart.
As you can appreciate, the anime listed above cannot be fully comprehensive, but you can make an idea about which anime series are worth watching because are top rated inside the anime community. For example, we haven’t mentioned some worldwide famous series like DragonBall, One Piece, Naruto and Pokemon. In fact, in our list we preferred to focus on some titles that don’t have the same spread or consist on a more limited amount of episodes (not over 80 anime eposodes).
Shortly on our TOP RATED ANIME LIST: the titles
Our top anime chart will be updated with the following anime series which, for sure, deserve a high place on the to rated anime ranking. Shortly in our must watch list you’ll find also:
Great Teacher Onizuka
TOP RATED ANIME SERIES – RANKING CHART
|Anime||Complexity and hidden meanings||Plot consistency||Sounds and Music||Graphics and drawings||Global Rank (/100)|
|Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood||92||96||97||95||95|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion||100||95||95||90||95|
|Weathering with you||80||80||96||86||88|
|Attack on Titan (1-3)||90||88||92||82||88|
|The Promised Neverland||88||90||88||86||88|
|Made in Abyss||90||90||85||85||87.5|
|Code Geass (R1 and R2)||90||82||88||89||87.25|
|Kill La Kill||80||82||84||90||84|
|Tokyo Ghoul (season 1-2)||85||80||82||81||82|
|Fist of North Star||80||80||82||80||80.5|
Highly rated anime to watch: final thoughts
As you may appreciate from our top anime chart, some anime series are classified with the same score. That’s because comparing different anime genre is quite difficult and the final decision is left to the spectactor. And you do you agree with us? What anime do you like the most?