10 Must Watch Anime Classics

10 Must Watch Anime Classics

Anime has become a global phenomenon over the years, with a huge fan base that has grown in size and diversity. The genre has gone through significant changes over the years, with classics that have been created along the way. This post will look at 10 of the best anime that have become classics and must-watch for any anime fan. Keep in mind this is a list curated by AnimeAfar based on our expert opinions.

Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z is an iconic anime series that has played a major role in shaping the industry. It first aired in Japan in 1989, and was adapted from the Dragon Ball manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. The series ran for a total of 291 episodes and concluded in 1996. Dragon Ball Z has since been dubbed in multiple languages and aired worldwide, gaining a massive following among fans of the genre. Its continued popularity has led to the creation of several spin-offs, movies, video games, and merchandise.

Dragon Ball Z is a must-watch classic anime due to its overwhelming popularity and impact on the genre. It is a highly regarded series that has been praised for its well-written characters, engaging plot, and high-energy action scenes. The anime follows the adventures of Goku, a Saiyan warrior, and his friends as they fight to protect Earth from various villains, including the powerful alien Frieza and the androids created by the evil Dr. Gero. The series has been credited with popularizing the concept of the “power-up,” where characters undergo a transformation to increase their strength and abilities, which has since become a common trope in anime.

One notable aspect of Dragon Ball Z’s popularity is the fervent fan base it has cultivated over the years. Fans have created a thriving community around the anime, with numerous fan sites, forums, and social media groups dedicated to discussing and sharing content related to the series. The show has also inspired countless fan art, cosplay, and fan fiction, as well as numerous parodies and memes. One of the most notable examples of fan involvement was the international campaign to revive the series in the early 2010s. Fans of the series rallied together on social media, demanding that the show be brought back for a new season. Their efforts paid off, with the announcement of Dragon Ball Super in 2015, a direct continuation of the Dragon Ball Z story.

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon, originally known as Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi. It was first serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997, and later adapted into an anime series that aired from 1992 to 1997. Sailor Moon follows the story of Usagi Tsukino, a young girl who transforms into a magical heroine called Sailor Moon to fight evil and protect the world from destruction.

Sailor Moon’s popularity is undeniable and has spanned across generations. The series has been dubbed in numerous languages, broadcasted in many countries, and has been adapted into movies, musicals, video games, and merchandise. Sailor Moon is considered a cultural phenomenon in Japan and has influenced many other shōjo anime and manga series. It is credited for reviving the shōjo genre and introducing it to a wider audience.

One notable story involving Sailor Moon fans is the impact it had on LGBTQ+ representation in anime. The series featured strong female characters and same-sex relationships, which was rare at the time of its release. This resonated with many LGBTQ+ viewers, who saw themselves reflected in the characters and their struggles. Sailor Moon became an important symbol of acceptance and representation for the community, and its impact is still felt today. In fact, there are many fan groups and events dedicated to celebrating the series and its influence.


Naruto is a classic anime series that first aired in 2002 and is still beloved by fans worldwide. It was adapted from a manga of the same name by Masashi Kishimoto. The story follows the adventures of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who dreams of becoming Hokage, the leader of his village. The series is set in a fictional world inspired by Japanese mythology, where ninjas use various techniques, including chakra and jutsu, to fight against their enemies.

Naruto gained immense popularity, and it is still regarded as one of the most successful and influential anime series of all time. The anime’s popularity can be attributed to its engaging plot, dynamic characters, and excellent animation. It has a dedicated fan base worldwide, with merchandise, video games, and cosplay events based on the series being prevalent in the anime community.

One of the most notable stories involving fans of Naruto is the Naruto run. It is a running style that imitates the protagonist’s running posture, with arms stretched behind the back and the body leaned forward. It became a popular trend, with fans imitating the Naruto run in various events, including marathons and cosplay contests. Additionally, Naruto has inspired many fan-made videos, fan art, and fan fiction, showcasing the dedication and love of its fan base.


Bleach is a classic anime that deserves a spot on any must-watch list. The show premiered in 2004 and quickly became a fan favorite. It is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. The anime follows the story of a high school student named Ichigo Kurosaki who gains the powers of a Soul Reaper, a guardian of the afterlife, after encountering a wounded Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki. Bleach features an exciting mix of action, adventure, and supernatural elements that has captured the hearts of anime fans around the world.

Bleach’s popularity can be attributed to its dynamic and well-developed characters, intricate plot, and engaging action sequences. The show has a large and dedicated fan base, and it has inspired numerous spin-offs, video games, and merchandise. Bleach has also been praised for its music, animation, and voice acting, all of which help to create a captivating and immersive viewing experience.

One notable story involving fans of Bleach is the infamous “Save Bleach” campaign, which began in 2012 after the anime was cancelled due to low ratings. Fans of the show launched a social media campaign to bring back the anime, using the hashtag #SaveBleach. The campaign gained widespread attention and support from fans around the world, and it ultimately led to the announcement of a new anime adaptation that will cover the final arc of the manga. This campaign is a testament to the passionate and dedicated fan base that Bleach has cultivated over the years.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist is a classic anime that has captured the hearts of viewers worldwide. This anime first aired in 2003 and is based on the manga series of the same name by Hiromu Arakawa. The story follows two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who attempt to bring their deceased mother back to life through alchemy. This results in a tragic accident that leaves Edward without an arm and a leg and Alphonse without his entire body. The brothers then set out on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, which they believe can restore their bodies.

Fullmetal Alchemist has become one of the most beloved anime series of all time. It has won numerous awards and accolades for its excellent storytelling, character development, and animation. The anime has been praised for its ability to blend humor and heart-wrenching drama seamlessly. The show also tackles complex themes such as war, morality, and the consequences of power. Its popularity has resulted in the creation of multiple adaptations, including a movie, video games, and a live-action film.

One notable story involving fans of Fullmetal Alchemist is the “Fullmetal Alchemist Challenge” that took place on social media. Fans from all over the world shared their art, cosplay, and other creative works inspired by the series, using the hashtag #FMACHALLENGE. The challenge gained a massive following, and even the creator of the series, Hiromu Arakawa, participated by sharing her artwork. The challenge was a testament to the impact that Fullmetal Alchemist has had on its fans and the creativity it has inspired.

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is one of the most popular and iconic anime of all time. It was first aired in 1998 and ran for only one season of 26 episodes, but it has left a lasting impression on anime fans worldwide. The series was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and produced by Sunrise Studio. It is set in the year 2071 and follows a group of bounty hunters, known as “cowboys,” as they travel through space in pursuit of the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals.

Cowboy Bebop’s popularity stems from its unique blend of different genres such as sci-fi, action, drama, and even a touch of humor. It has a distinctive visual style, and the music composed by Yoko Kanno is unforgettable, often cited as one of the best anime soundtracks of all time. The characters are well-developed, and each one has a distinct personality that fans can easily connect with. Cowboy Bebop’s storylines are both complex and intriguing, and the plot twists keep the viewers engaged until the very end.

The anime has won numerous awards, including the Seiun Award for Best Media in 2000, and the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Original Video Animation in 2006. Cowboy Bebop also gained a cult following, and its fans organized conventions, cosplay events, and even a live-action movie adaptation in development. One of the most notable stories involving fans is the song “Tank!” from the series’ opening credits, which has become an internet meme and is often used in parodies and remixes. Cowboy Bebop’s impact on the anime industry and pop culture cannot be overstated, making it a must-watch classic anime.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion, also known as Evangelion, is a classic anime series that premiered in Japan in 1995. Created by Hideaki Anno, the series tells the story of a teenage boy named Shinji Ikari who is recruited by his father to pilot a giant bio-machine called an “Evangelion” in order to protect the world from mysterious beings known as Angels. The series is known for its unique and complex storyline, exploring themes of depression, trauma, and the nature of existence.

Despite facing initial criticism for its controversial ending, Neon Genesis Evangelion quickly gained a massive following and has become a must-watch classic anime for many fans. The series has been praised for its complex characters, gripping storyline, and stunning animation. It has also inspired numerous spin-off manga, video games, and even a recent Netflix adaptation.

Notably, the series has also been the subject of controversy and discussion among fans due to its dark and often surreal themes. Some fans have interpreted the series as a commentary on the struggles of adolescence and the effects of trauma, while others have criticized its depiction of mental illness and sexual themes. Nevertheless, Neon Genesis Evangelion remains a highly influential and important work in the anime industry, and a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring the darker side of anime storytelling.

Death Note

Death Note is one of the most unique and thrilling anime series of all time, and it’s definitely one that every anime fan should watch. This popular show is based on a manga series of the same name written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. It was first aired in Japan in 2006 and has since then gained a massive following worldwide. The series focuses on the story of Light Yagami, a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone whose name he writes in it. As he tries to create a utopian society, he’s hunted by a mysterious detective known as “L.”

Death Note has gained immense popularity due to its unique concept and engaging plot. It’s a psychological thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with every episode. The series’ popularity can be seen through its numerous adaptations, including a live-action movie and a TV drama. It has also been dubbed in several languages and has a global fanbase.

One notable story involving fans of the anime is the “Death Note Swatting” incident. In 2018, a 17-year-old boy in the United States was arrested for calling in a fake emergency call, claiming that he had killed his family with a knife and was going to commit suicide. He used the name and voice of Light Yagami from Death Note as a disguise. This dangerous incident is an extreme example of how deeply the show has impacted some viewers, but it’s a testament to its power and popularity. Overall, Death Note is an anime that should not be missed by any fan of the medium.

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is an anime series that has been captivating audiences since its debut in 2013. Created by Hajime Isayama, it is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by massive walls to protect themselves from giant humanoid creatures known as Titans who devour humans without reason. The story follows Eren Yeager, who vows to eliminate all Titans after witnessing the death of his mother. As the series progresses, it delves into complex themes such as politics, betrayal, and the human condition.

Attack on Titan has gained immense popularity since its release. Its unique storyline, complex characters, and stunning animation have garnered a massive following worldwide. The anime has won several awards, including the Tokyo Anime Award for Best TV Animation and the IGN People’s Choice Award for Best Anime Series. Attack on Titan has also inspired various spin-offs, manga adaptations, and video games.

Fans of Attack on Titan have shown their devotion to the series in numerous ways. From cosplay to fan art and even tattoo designs, the show has inspired a passionate community. One notable story involving fans of the anime is the “SnK Rain Project,” which was started by a group of fans who used social media to raise funds to donate raincoats to people in need. The raincoats were inspired by the iconic green cloak worn by the Survey Corps in the series, and the project gained significant attention from fans around the world. This is just one example of how Attack on Titan has not only entertained but also inspired its fans to do good in the world.

One Piece

One Piece is a popular Japanese anime series that started in 1999 and is still ongoing. The anime is based on the manga of the same name, created by Eiichiro Oda. The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a young boy whose body gains the properties of rubber after unintentionally eating a Devil Fruit. With his diverse crew of pirates, named the Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy explores the Grand Line in search of the world’s ultimate treasure known as “One Piece.”

One Piece is one of the most popular and successful anime series of all time. It has been running for over two decades and has captured the hearts of fans all around the world. The anime’s unique art style, engaging characters, and epic storytelling have made it a fan-favorite among anime lovers. One Piece has been dubbed in several languages, making it accessible to a wider audience. Additionally, the anime has been adapted into movies, video games, and merchandise, further cementing its popularity.

One notable story involving One Piece is the emotional response from fans to the Marineford Arc. This arc depicts the war between the Marines and the Whitebeard Pirates and is considered one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching arcs in the series. Fans were left in tears as they watched their favorite characters meet their end. The arc’s impact was so profound that it even caused some fans to take a break from the series. Despite its emotional weight, the Marineford Arc is regarded as one of the best story arcs in One Piece, further cementing the anime’s position as a must-watch classic.


In conclusion, anime has established itself as a major player in the entertainment industry, capturing the hearts of viewers from all over the world. The popularity of anime has only continued to grow with time, and there seems to be no end in sight. The ten classic anime discussed in this post have become must-watch shows for any fan, whether they are new to the genre or have been watching anime for years. Each of these anime has left a lasting impression on its viewers, and it is no surprise that they have become a significant part of the anime community. As anime continues to evolve and expand, it will be exciting to see what new classics will emerge in the years to come.

Larthian & Syanka

Afar Anime is a co-managed site operated by a husband and wife anime-loving team. Since an early age, they have both shared a love for all things anime. Some of their favorite titles include Naruto, Sailor Moon, and Hunter X Hunter. Post are published weekly and old articles are updated accordingly. If you are interested in collaborations, feel free to reach out at animeafar@gmail.com.

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