Top 30 Most Popular Anime On The Planet

Top 30 Most Popular Anime On The Planet
VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman
Fans can't get enough of these heavy hitters! Join Ashley as we count down our picks for the anime that took the world by storm, including series such as "One Piece", "Jujutsu Kaisen", "Bleach" and more!

Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean

Top 30 Most Popular Anime On The Plane

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we are counting down our picks for the Top 30 Most Popular Anime on The Planet.

For this list, we’re looking at anime past and present that still remain very much in the spotlight. Whether their sales numbers are through the roof of their never far from otaku discourse, these are the building blocks of the modern anime scene. Did we miss a key contender? Let us know in the comments!

#30: “Steins;Gate” (2011)

Great sci-fi comes and goes, but there will be only one time-traveling conundrum that continues to stir our soul! Maybe it’s the uncanny valley combination real-world physics and the fact messages can be sent to the past via microwave, maybe it’s the tonal shift between slice of life fun and sweeping tragedy, to maybe it’s the quirky cast that sold the whole thing, especially when it comes to self-proclaimed mad scientist Okabe, who’s chunibyo-ness is only matched by his raw emotional depth. Not enough good things can be said about this series, and trust us, there’s been many a discussion over its lifetime!

#29: “Crayon Shin-chan” (1992-)

Still going strong despite being a squiggly ball of mischief, Shin-chan’s antics blur any and all lines between endearing, inappropriate and hilarious, and that’s what makes him so damn entertaining. Whether it’s trying to impress every woman he comes across, mooning everyone in sight, parodying all forms of media, or making fresh hell for his family, the light-hearted nature of this rapid-fire collection of shorts has made it a juggernaut in Japan, one that isn’t likely to stop anytime soon if its titanic episode count is anything to go by.

#28: “Beyblade” franchise (2001-)

That’s right, they’re still letting it rip all these years on. For those of us that grew up with the OG blade breakers, this anime centered around spinning tops that contained magical beasts was the best kind of crazy. The tournaments, the bit-beasts, the dub, it was pure early 2000s cheese. And yet, it’s still going. Only now we’ve got next-gen Beyblade Battle graphics, a rotating cast of leads who range from meh to epic, and lest we forget, we now know Moses was also a Beyblader. May the epic silliness long continue!

#27: “Chainsaw Man” (2022)

The hype was well and truly real, though few could have expected the directions this hack and slice thrill ride would take them. Going from someone with nothing to live for all the way to a demon hybrid made of chainsaw blades, Denji eagerly accepts his new live as a weapon for the Public Safety Division, where he not only has to contend with monsters of every shape and size, but deal with his own muddling views on humanity – made all the worse by the presence of the ominous Makima in his life!

#26: “Spy x Family” (2021-22)

Turns out espionage and comedy go hand in hand, if the Forgers are anything to go by. In order to maintain their secret double lives as a spy and an assassin, Loid and Yor find themselves in a marriage of convenience, with neither realizing the other works for the enemy nation. And to throw even more chaos into the mix, their adopted daughter Anya happens to be a telepath. Put all this together and you’ve got a series that knows how to lean into the warmth of this peculiar family dynamic, as well as its hilarious exploits. Though that’s usually down to Anya turning what would be a national security emergency into another exciting adventure with her lethal parents!

#25: “Doraemon” (1973-)

Over in the west, this blue cat robot may not mean much, but Doraremon has been a staple of Japanese childhoods for decades now, and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll be leaving anyone’s side anytime soon. Sent from the future to educate and befriend a depressed child, the series is a medley of educational vignettes with an emphasis on emotional well-being. Doraemon’s lessons and friendship has been broadcast for so long that he’s now a generational icon that’s become part of many a family’s lives, and for that we salute him!

#24: “Hunter x Hunter” (2011-14)

Just goes to show what an impact this thing made on account that even though there’s been no word of any kind of follow-up, and don’t even get us started on the manga, fans are still chomping at the bit for more of this gloriously rich, layered shonen superstar. Focusing on the likes of Gon and company as their endeavor to become hunters, find Gon’s missing father, as well as content with the threat of evil Nen users, as well as an invasion of carnivorous beast-hybrids, the world-building and battles that this series has put forth is so monumental that nothing can shake it from its perch.

#23: “One-Punch Man” (2015-19)

Who says superheroes have to be serious? Saitama may look goofy and unimpressive, but it just so happens he’s the strongest one alive. His ability to defeat nearly any opponent with just one punch earns him disbelief and occasionally admiration, as his attempts to turn pro lead to many intense and often funny battles. The series’ wonderful contrast between serious action and comedic moments is emphasized through superb animation and expertly crafted showdowns, and even with it being lulled into countless hiatuses, desire to see the world’s strongest man make a return has not slowed down since!

#22: “Sword Art Online” (2012-20)

You can hate on it all you want, but the original works still stands as one of the highest selling light novels of all time, something that seemed to translate to the first season of the anime upon release. Trapped inside a virtual video game world, players Kirito and Asuna have to traverse a gauntlet filled with enemy players, monsters and the occasional awkward love scene. Its immense polarization has only served to earn it more attention, which might explain how it’s landed itself multiple spin offs and sequels, with War for Underworld significantly raising the bar!

#21: “Code Geass” (2006-08)

As if Zero needs an introduction. Exiled from his home, Lelouch seeks to instigate a rebellion and take revenge on his father and his homeland. To accomplish this, he utilizes the mind-altering power of the Geass, as well as leading a rebellion as a masked vigilante. “Code Geass” casts a wide net and has a little something for everyone, including mecha fans, those who have a thing for psychological escalation, even a little bit of high school drama for the slice of life crowd. All helmed under one of the most complex and morally questionable leads, as Lelouch’s goals for peace take him to some frightening dark places.

#20: “Cowboy Bebop” (1998-99)

The Space Cowboy does not miss, and even long after that final “bang”, Spike is still making a name for himself as the slickest bounty hunter in the cosmos. It was honestly impossible for this not to become a mainstay in anime culture, from the sheer power of its score, to its character, performances, the noir influences, all the way down to nailing what many would describe as a pitch perfect finale, Spike is destined to continue to carry the weight of all anime fan’s expectations as one of the true GOATs.

#19: “Bleach” (2004-)

With sword in hand, this series carved a path for the golden age of shonen. Following a meeting with a Shinigami, Ichigo finds himself taking on the role as a supernatural protector, between the human world and the afterlife, only for things to get messy in the best possible way when the afterlife’s military forces come a calling. The show’s emphasis on youthful rebellion really strikes a chord with younger viewers, and it's great fight scenes and enormous cast of characters ensured that come the end of the first series, everyone had a favorite. While “Bleach” may have fallen off sharply in popularity towards its conclusion, its re-instigation via the Thousand Year Blood War has done wonders to recapture its magic.

#18: “Fullmetal Alchemist” franchise (2003-10)

You don’t get recognised as one of the greatest anime of all time without doing something right. When the original series exploded onto the scene, it captivated fans everywhere with the Elric brothers’ tale of redemption, the artistic portrayal of alchemy, as well as the characterisation of the fearsome Homonculi. Then along came Brotherhood and ramped everything up to eleven with a narrative much more akin to creator Hiromu Arakawa’s original work. It’s philosophical views and amazing action scenes have cemented It as a top-tier series that many anime lovers consider sacred.

#17: “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (1995-96)

One of the influential and critically acclaimed mecha anime of all time, “Evangelion” depicts the tribulations of Shinji Ikari as he is forced to battle alien invaders known as Angels, all the while battling his own insecurities and traumas. Combining psychological examinations of its fundamentally flawed characters with some excellent battles between Eva and Angels, for the longest time there was nothing else quite like it. Love it or hate, the series introduced a whole generation to the genre while also turning it on its head, and that’s even before the Rebuild-verse came along.

#16: “Fate/stay night” franchise (2006-)

What began as a visual novel is now a spider-web of fantastical, somewhat confusing and endlessly popular battle royales that continues to branch out even to this day. The “Fate” franchise follows a succession of powerful magi who engage in battle royales with one another using summoned spirits in order to attain the Holy Grail, which will grant them one wish. The series has had a huge number of sequels, spin-offs, and tie-ins across various media, and the anime have proved especially popular. UFOTABLE’s godly animation and wide variety of entry points has made it a very accessible, and therefore well-liked, franchise… and it doesn’t hurt that “Fate Grand Order” is one of the most popular apps around. It’s literally impossible for the hype to die down!

#15: “Jujutsu Kaisen” (2020-)

We’ve all waded through our fair share of modern shonen with a dark twist to them, but rare is the one that takes a supernatural premise, and polishes it to such a glorious sheen. Yuji’s induction into the world of curses and jujutsu sorcerers is exquisitely portrayed, from its power system, to the broadness of its characters, the morally gray overtones of the stay players, all the way to the ferocity and panache of its fights. There’s a reason why many consider this a successor to the throne of the big three.

#14: “Sailor Moon” franchise (1992-)

It was the first successful shoujo anime to hit the western mainstream, the titular character is considered to be one of the greatest female superheroes of all time, and has since acted as a benchmark for numerous other series that have followed in her footsteps. So yeah, Sailor Moon is a big deal! Her empowering example to young girls remains nothing short of inspirational, while the fight scenes and romantic elements could still be enjoyed by plenty of other demographics. It’s little surprise she and the rest of the Senshi came back for an encore twenty years later via Sailor Moon Crystal.

#13: “Detective Conan” (1996-)

With over a thousand episodes under its belt, over twenty movies, and zero signs of slowing down, there is only one truth, and it’s that Conan’s crime-solving exploits are likely going to outlive us all. Something of a national treasure, it’s maintained its place as the fourth highest-selling manga of all time for a fair while now with over 200 million copies sold. We’re not sure how many more crimes that the pint-sized detective can solve by this point, but given how there’s still no end in sight, the anime is bound to continue its steady stream of success.

#12: “My Hero Academia” (2016-)

In a world where everyone has superpowers, all it takes a powerless fanboy to change the tide, and become the next true Symbol of Piece Sweeping the globe by paying homage to all things caped crusader yet injecting some shonen goodness and an intriguing ongoing storyline about the nature of heroism; My Hero Academia has gone on to become an addictive series that explores what happens when heroes become the center of society, both the good and the ill. With Deku leading the charge as a lovable lead and a colossal cast of fellow heroes to back him up, this series continues to go from strength to strength.

#11: “Yu-Gi-Oh!” franchise (1998-2022)

It’s always time to duel! Spanning twenty years and counting, “Yu-Gi-Oh!” and its various sequels have pretty much retained the same formula when it comes to its cast participating in the Duel Monsters card game in increasingly dramatic circumstances. Themes of friendship, trips to the shadow realm, ridiculous hairstyles, you know the drill. The tie-in card game and various video games and other merchandise have helped make “Yu-Gi-Oh!” not just one of the most popular anime, but also one of the highest grossing media franchises ever, which is why it’s fair to say the Blue Eyes White Dragon is far from done.

#10: “Gundam” franchise (1979-)

The seminal mecha franchise, the “Gundam” series pioneered the genre by emphasizing more real world science behind the fantastical concept of giant mech suits and has been tremendously influential in anime as well as other forms of Japanese media, whilst choosing to shift it’s narrative towards war and all its ramifications. The word “Gundam” has become something of a byword for giant, piloted robots, and when the title of your franchise becomes synonymous with your genre, you know it’s popular. Zeta, Build Fighters, Witch from Mercury, Gundam remains unstoppable!

#9: “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure” (2012-22)

Spanning multiple generations of the Joestar family, this franchise is so deeply rooted within the anime fandom that you’d be hard pressed not to see the parodies and references that litter the internet. Aside from being pure meme material, the culture, scale, style and battles of each JoJo’s particular arc remain some of the most engrossing to date, ranging from the laughably absurd all the way to bitterly realistic. From Phantom Blood to Stone Ocean, it truly is an anthology of awesomeness that needs to be seen to be believed.

#8: “Attack on Titan” (2013-)

Like a bat out of hell, this series exploded onto the screen and hasn’t settled down since. Blending together visceral action, dark fantasy and mature elements that have continued to rattle fans over the years, humanity’s ongoing battle against the Titans has managed to carve itself a spot as a modern classic among anime lovers. With its curtain call almost upon us, if it pulls off the landing then it will go down as one of the all-time greats, where the only thing more devastating than its death scenes are the choices of its flawed cast.

#7: “Death Note” (2006-07)

The anime that struck gold. With but a single series, this now legendary title managed to establish itself as one of the smartest and most beautifully crafted examples of the occult detective genre ever put to both screen and paper. After finding himself in possession of a notebook capable of taking lives, genius sociopathic student Light Yagami vows to fix the world but cutting away those he views as rotten, only to find himself brought into conflict with an intellectual equal known as L. Both lead characters have had such a profound impact that there are still some who sees Light’s murderous actions as justified, while others still insist L is still the sexiest man alive. Go figure.

#6: Studio Ghibli Anime (1984-)

Hey, it’s not cheating it’s true – Ghibli’s body of work is timeless, not only offering glimpses into fantastical worlds with characters, obstacles and underlying themes that will mesmerize as well as move you, but also offer insight into every facet of Japanese culture, all through the prism of some of the most wonderous animation we’re likely to witness in our lifetimes. Spirited Away is as close to a masterpiece as you can get, Howl’s Moving Castle became beloved the world over, Princess Mononoke is the ultimate environmental flick complete with giant wolf, The Cat Returns, Whisper of the Heart, When Marine Was There – the list goes on! And now we’ve even got the Boy and the Heron to look forward to!

#5: “Pokémon” (1997-)

What started out as an innovative video game managed to turn itself into a miniature empire, one that spawned an anime series that somehow has found a way to keep going even to this day. Hoping to be the best like no one ever was, Ash Ketchum took the place of the player as he set out to become a Pokemon Master. While he hasn’t quite managed to achieve that title yet (or escape puberty for that matter) While it took him much longer than expected to achieve that, his adventures have still managed to earn him hundreds upon hundreds of episodes, numerous female sidekicks and pretty much the guarantee that sometimes quantity over quality can win the day. That, and a catchy rap.

#4: “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” (2019-)

In such a short amount of time, Demon Slayer has grown into a mega hit that absolutely no one saw coming. Propelled by it’s absolutely stunning anime adaptation by the masters at Ufotable, manga sales have been through the roof, surpassing even the latest volumes of One Piece. And to top that all off, the movie based on the “Mugen Train” arc not only became the highest grossing Anime movie of all time, but the highest grossing worldwide film of 2020. Even the Prime Minister of Japan is a fan! Doesn’t hurt that Tanjiro’s goal to save his sister from her demonic condition is packed with some of the most-daw-dropping examples of action choreography we’ve seen in an anime!

#3: “Naruto” franchise (2002-17)

It was saturated with filler episodes and gained infamy for a few narrative decisions. Yet through it all the knuckle-headed ninja persisted to give us a series that despite its flaws created a world filled with so many brilliant moments that fans were more than happy to push past its hurdles. Its manga remains a best seller, it managed to dish out a whole slew of original movies, and even got itself a sequel series that has surprisingly managed to capture some of the best parts of the original. Who would have guessed?

#2: “One Piece” (1999-)

It’s the best-selling manga of all time, only just entered the last third of its epic narrative saga, and somehow managed to blend batshit insane fight scenes with political poignant commentary. To say that this property is a masterpiece would be an understatement. Thankfully, the crazy quality of the work hasn’t only earned it a diehard set of loyalist fans who wait on each new chapter and episode like hungry wolves, but the way it bypassed all manner of shonen conventions has made it the gold standard for all adventure anime that have come after. It will be a truly sad day when Luffy has to hang up his hat.

#1: “Dragon Ball” franchise (1989-)

Redefining the west’s perspectives on how action and animation can go hand in hand, it’s fair to say that this series, especially in the case of Dragon Ball Z, was something of a revolution for many, opening the gateway to the wacky, wild and wonderful stories that could be found in anime. It’s impact certainly hasn’t been forgotten, which might explain why its sequel series, Dragon Ball Super, has managed to recapture the populace’s adoration of Goku and his friends as they take on the might of intergalactic combatants. Plus, we’re pretty sure that the Kamehameha is now ingrained into the human race’s psyche. How’s that for popular.