The word anime — pronounced “ah-knee-may” — is an abbreviation of the word animation. In Japan, the word is used to refer to all animation. However, outside of Japan, it has become the catch-all term for animation from Japan.
Because all things anime tend to be lumped together, it’s tempting to think of anime as a genre. It isn’t, at least no more than animation itself is a genre, but rather a description of how the material is produced. Anime shows, like books or movies, fall into any number of existing genres: comedy, drama, sci-fi, action-adventure, horror and so on.
For decades, anime was produced by and for Japan — a local product, with a distinct look-and-feel to not just the artwork but the storytelling, the themes, and the concepts. Over the last forty years, it has become an international phenomenon, attracting millions of fans and being translated into many languages.
Here is our list of Top 10 anime classics that everyone should watch.
Jungle Taitei (Kimba the White Lion)
So, what characteristics actually make up a classic anime? Is it their popularity throughout the years? Or maybe rather how old they are? Well sure, those things play a huge part in the equation, but the most important duty anime classics have is to leave a footprint in the world of anime, allowing it to continue to evolve in the future. One classic anime that nailed this task is Jungle Taitei (Kimba the White Lion) (aka Jungle Emperor Leo). The story is based around the tragic story of a little lion cub named Leo who loses his parents at a young age and is forced to grow up without family, but there is no need for fret because Leo soon meets new friends who care for him as family… Yes, I know, deja vu right? The plot of the story is a bit similar to Disney’s famous Lion King. Well if serving as some sort of inspiration for a Disney movie isn’t a huge footprint on the world of anime, then I don’t know what is!
Koukaku Kidoutai (Ghost in the Shell)
Based on the manga of the same title, this sci-fi anime set in a technologically advanced world, was a huge box office hit in Japan and is now considered a true classic anime by fans throughout the world. It even inspired the Wachowskis in their creation of the hit Hollywood film The Matrix. Also classic is the OST of Stand Alone Complex, composed by prolific musical genius Yoko Kanno.
Shinseiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Evangelion is an apocalyptic anime is set in a futuristic Tokyo fifteen years after a worldwide cataclysm. It is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed anime series of the ’90s and its legacy and massive franchise still have an accelerating momentum worldwide. They are still releasing movies that retell and continue the story of the emotional mecha masterpiece.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
Sailor Moon is one of the most iconic magical girl anime in the history of anime. It gave birth to cute transformation sequences and tons of memorable catchphrases that little girls from all around the world copied over and over again. Some would even go as far to say that Sailor Moon is their childhood. This classic anime helped ease Japanese animation into the hearts of Western audiences, making it more mainstream and relatable for generations to come.
Son Goku is one of the most famous martial arts fighters in the world of anime. Known for his naivety and super strong body, he sets on a quest to find the seven wish-granting Dragon Balls. The sequels Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT are also famous and have been broadcast throughout the world, and both have a massive fan base that continues to grow to this day. This classic anime has also spawned several Western adaptations, including a (rather unfortunate) Hollywood live action movie.