Everyone has their own opinion on what the best anime is. The best anime also change over time, as new series are introduced and older series fall out of favor.
In 2021, anime is more popular than ever. If you’re just getting started and want to know which series you should watch, this list of the top 10 best anime series will give you a great place to start!
These aren’t listed in any particular order, so consider choosing a title to watch based on the genre. Each of these does have English dubs as well as Japanese subtitles, so you can choose to watch the original as-is or opt for the English-friendly version.
The Best Anime Series of 2021
1. Demon Slayer (Kimetsu No Yaiba), a Shonen Anime Series
Largely hailed as one of the best anime of all time, Demon Slayer has been a hit in 2021. So popular is it that it had a massive movie release in major theaters all over the United States. With how few anime make it to theaters, this just goes to show how famous this anime is becoming.
It follows the story of Tanjiro Kamado, a teen who becomes a demon slayer after his family is brutally murdered. His sister is left as the only survivor. The twist to this story is that his sister, Nezuko, is now a demon who other slayers would like to put down.
Unlike other newly turned demons, however, she maintains her humanity as she fights alongside her brother. His goal? To find a cure.
You can currently watch Demon Slayer on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Funimation.
2. One Punch Man, the Best Anime Series for a Laugh
If you’re in the mood for an anime that makes fun of the typical superhero tropes, this is the best anime series for you. As a comedic series, it takes a look at some of the most common tropes, like mega-monsters coming into the city, and makes light of them.
The story follows Saitama, a young man who wants to be a hero. He sees a child in distress and steps in to help, but he’s unable to do as much as he wants. So, he starts training…and loses all of his hair. Now looking more like Master Roshi than an attractive young man, he’s able to defeat opponents with just a single punch.
With what some would say is minimal effort, he somehow became more powerful than any opponent. Watch as he looks for a reasonable opponent while growing bored with having no challenges because of his overwhelming strength.
Watch One Punch Man on Netflix, Hulu, Funimation, and Crunchyroll.
3. Cowboy Bebop, an Anime Making Its Own Genre
Cowboy Bebop is a science-fiction anime, but it’s not anything like Gundam or others in the genre. In fact, the anime tries to say that it’s creating a genre all of its own, and it’s not wrong.
Whether you like gun-slinging heroes or want to have a story of wayward bounty hunters looking to find where they belong, this is an anime that has it all.
The general story follows the male lead, Spike Spiegel, as well as Jet Black and Faye Valentine, as their lives collide while attempting to find answers. They work as bounty hunters to bring in cash. But each has their own distinct story, such as Spike trying to get back to his true love after fleeing the Syndicate or Jet looking for purpose after leaving a police force.
Cowboy Bebop is also seeing a kind of resurrection this year. Netflix released a live-action remake, and the anime is currently available across multiple platforms. Watch it on Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, Funimation, Adult Swim, and Prime Video.
4. My Hero Academia, a Story of Overcoming Differences
My Hero Academia is a popular anime following the middle school student Izuku Midoriya. The student has no magical superpowers, even though most people now have them naturally. Despite his supposed disability, he wants to become a hero. He receives a “Quirk” because of his determined attitude and ends up enrolling in a high school that is known for heroes in training.
It’s a story focused on your greatest strength: The family that will always be there for you. If you enjoy this series, you’ll also love that there are spin-offs and movies already available.
Watch My Hero Academia on Hulu, Netflix, Apple TV, Funimation, and Crunchyroll.
5. Fullmetal Alchemist, a Story of Loss
Japanese animation comes in many forms, but nothing is quite so captivating as a classic story of alchemy gone wrong. In Fullmetal Alchemist, two alchemist brothers, Alphonse and Edward Elric, search for the Philosopher’s Stone in hopes that they will be able to restore what they lost after trying to bring their mother back from the dead.
In this series, alchemy is practiced widely, so expect to see philosophical and proto-scientific traditions. There is plenty of drama, but there is also strong character-building action.
Watch Fullmetal Alchemist on Funimation, Netflix, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and HBO Max.
6. Death Note, a Psychological Thriller
Death Note is one of few TV shows that continues to be made over and over again because of how solid the storyline is. It has had movie releases in the United States multiple times. It has been remade by Japanese and American producers, among others.
In Death Note, Light Yagami finds the “Death Note,” a notebook that belongs to Shinigami Ryuk. Ryuk, a somewhat clever and mischievous demon, decides to allow Light to keep the Death Note, as a way of occupying and entertaining himself.
After all, immortality can become boring for a Shinigami. So dropping a Death Note into the human world with simple instructions is sure to liven things up.
When Light writes the name of a person in the book, they will die shortly thereafter. If he includes a manner of death, that will also occur. Knowing this, Light starts out with good intentions, but he soon becomes obsessed with his God-like power.
Light takes on the alias “Kira.” Kira, however, is being tracked by an elite Japanese task force and detective, “L,” who is just as clever and ready to take down this serial killer.
Watch Death Note on Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and many other streaming services. Fortunately, this anime is older and has traction across most platforms.
7. Violet Evergarden, a Post-War Reflection Piece
In Violet Evergarden, a solder detached from life enters the field of ghostwriting to try to better connect with her own feelings. In the war, Violet loses both of her arms. She has them replaced with advanced prosthetics and goes on to become an Auto Memory Doll.
Initially, she’s employed to assist a scientist’s wife, Mollie, with writing. Mollie is blind and cannot write herself. However, Violet goes on to work for many people needing her writing services.
A visually beautiful anime, this is one that takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster. Watch it on Netflix, the streaming service with exclusive streaming rights.
8. Jujutsu Kaisen, a Sports Anime
For older teens and adults who love sports anime, this is a good choice. Follow Yuji Itadori, a high school student, as he joins the Occult Research Club and unseals a cursed talisman that leads to him becoming possessed.
Jujutsu Kaisen is rated TV-MA for those 16+. It’s currently available streaming on Netflix.
9. Attack on Titan, a Violent War-Focused Anime
An anime that pushes the limits, Attack on Titan is a crowd favorite. It is set in a world where all of humanity lives in cities surrounded by tall walls. Why? Outside those walls, titans rule the land. Those titans will eat every last person given the chance.
The plot follows a young man, Eren Yeager, as he swears revenge against the Titans and seeks to go beyond the walls.
This series is so popular that there are multiple video games available for the title. And the series has not yet been completed.
Watch it now on Funimation, Crunchyroll, Hulu, or Netflix.
10. Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, a Studio Ghibli Anime
Produced by the ever-so-famous Studio Ghibli, Ronja the Robber’s Daughter is the studio’s first-ever animated series. This is a 26-episode series based on the 1981 fantasy novel by author Astrid Lindgren.
The story follows a band of woodland thieves as they handle interactions with rival groups and new, strange creatures.
This series is exclusively available on Amazon Prime.
These are our picks for the Top 10 best anime series of 2021, but there are a TON of other great series worth checking out as well! Whether you like Sci-Fi or slice of life anime, 2021 had something to offer everyone.
Let us know your favorite anime series in the comment section below!