Amazing Shows From Japan: 15 of the Best Anime… Ever

The world of anime has brought us some bizarre, over-the-top, and absolutely awesome entertainment. Here are 15 amazing shows from Japan.

15 Amazing Shows From Japan
Source: Toho Animation

Growing up in Australia there was an old show called CheezTV. If you were under 15 anywhere in the country, you were probably up in the mornings before school getting introduced to this whole new world of TV from The Land Of The Rising Sun thanks to this show. And then something amazing happened – Cartoon Network launched Toonami, their bold venture in exposing the Western world to a lot of the animation that no one else had seen before, and our worlds were never the same.

And now fast forward to our age of streaming, we have apps and services like Crunchyroll, Viz, AnimeLab and even Netflix all pushing hard on making the best and worst of what anime has to offer available internationally. Unlike much Western animation which tends to be a bit more sheer entertainment, anime isn’t afraid to dive right into the deepest and darkest corners of the human heart to explore some big topics. I remember being a 10 year old kid watching Digimon for the first time and hearing one of the characters talk about a friend who had committed suicide and another about his parents’ divorce – you just wouldn’t even hear of themes that real from Spongebob or Scooby.

I’ve had a number of animes I’ve become a fan of over the last few decades, and then I married someone who is waaaay more into anime than even I had been before. Anime is a very frequent genre in our household when it’s time to unwind, and to help you sift through a lot of the weird and whacky, I would like to submit to you a group of the best. Here are 15 amazing shows from Japan.

All shows listed herein are properties of their respective owners. I’ll also mention whether it’s better to watch in English (dubbed) or Japanese (subbed). Also also, viewer discretion is advised – ensure to keep the age of the audience in mind when picking shows.

Also also also, these aren’t in any particular order, except for the final two in the list which are definitely a first and second place.

Unfortunately not counted:

Avatar and The Dragon Prince – great shows from the same creators, but produced in the West

Tales of Vesperia/Tales of Berseria – these are games, but one of the closest things I’ve come to to playing an anime. Vivid anime cutscenes and in-game graphics, great writing, memorable characters and enjoyable stories to boot. Be warned though, they’re almost 50 hours long even trying your hardest.

The Final Fantasy XIII Series – especially the brilliant Final Fantasy XIII-2, which has become one of my favourite games ever. No, I’m not kidding. These games got a lot of hate but I think if you drink the Haterade you’re missing out. Whilst not 2D sprites style or anything like that, each character in the cast is 110% anime trope, and the stories actually take some pretty heavy and true-to-life turns.

Final Fantasy XV – once again, this is a game, although it did also have a movie in the form of Kingsglaive. This is a Road Trip With The Boys done in the best way possible through a fantasy kingdom with a lot of anime influence as well, just less than the XIII series.

Power Rangers/Super Sentai – awesome, but only really for the martial arts and tributes to Godzilla as you get older. Officially I don’t think people in their 30s like me are allowed to like them any more.

Worth mentioning:

These are some I’ve watched enough of but I’m not necessarily a super fan of these, just worth a mention:

07 Ghost, Fairy Tail, Naruto/Boruto, Fire Force, Pokemon, Monster Rancher, Log Horizon, Inuyasha

And without further adieu, here are the 15:

The Shape of Voice/A Silent Voice

15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Dubbed

This was a movie we watched this year and it took us by full surprise. A depressed boy is thinking of ending it all (yes, heavy start, but you’re in the world of anime my friends) and is tying off all his loose ends before going through with it. One of these is to make amends with a girl he used to bully when he was a kid because she was deaf. When she forgives him instantly and wants to befriend him even after all he did to hurt her, he completely reevaluates his life and discovers the world of friendship which has eluded him for many years.

A really beautiful story about forgiveness, depression, growing up, and finding healing. Make sure you’re ready to go on an emotional ride. As an aside, if those feelings are real to you, have a look at 6 Things That Helped Me Get Through Depression And Anxiety.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00/Wing

15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Subbed

The Mobile Suit Gundam franchise is one of the largest franchises in Japanese history. When I went to Japan in 2014, I was amazed to find entire buildings in multiple cities dedicated to the various shows.

Gundam Wing was one of the shows on Toonami that I got introduced to at a younger age. From the 1980s, the animation is stellar, the mecha battles are still incredible, and the acting is very well done. It explores the question “If there were no pilots in airplanes or mechanical war machines, would there still be war?”. When battles become just about the actual world leaders who have a disagreement, what happens to everyone else? Really good stuff.

In a similar vein is Gundam 00, a more recent iteration following a crew called Celestial Being who insert themselves into every conflict to try to prevent war from ever breaking out. The movie, Awakening of a Trailblazer, is still one of the most well animated things I’ve ever seen in my life, and is absolutely gorgeous on Bluray/Digital with a big TV.

Your Name

15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Dubbed

Wrote about this one a while ago, but it’s still amazing. I must admit I cried twice… and I must admit I’ve cried twice in most subsequent viewings of this movie.

This is a teenage love story, with a twist (or a couple actually). It’s about a young man and woman who wake up every second day in each other’s bodies. Initially they have to learn how to live as the other person, but slowly they begin to fall in love with the person whose life they’re inhabiting as they learn how all the people around them see that person.

Very well done, well deserving of the awards it received, and a sci-fi twist that will blow your mind.


15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Subbed

This one is in the super new category, coming out only a few months ago and only finishing recently. This is a bit like those animes about characters who get sucked into a game or a digital world – think Log Horizon or Sword Art Online – but with a twist: some people in the game world are real.

This is kind of like Mortal Instruments whereby the only real things left on Earth are a giant city that floats outside the earth’s orbit, and a giant mobile city known as Deca-Dence which is also a weapon where gamers and some real humans are involved in hunting different monsters and finding out how their world hangs together under a system of control. Really enjoyed the ideas in this one.


15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Subbed

Okay after all those serious ones, it’s time for a comedy. I find that animes that say they’re comedies aren’t always that funny, relying on a lot of repeated tropes and hoping you’ll find it funny that that guy gets nervous around that girl who also gets nervous. Instead, Wagnaria takes tropes like that and turns it into a girl who feels the uncontrollable urge to punch men in the face when they get to close, a girl who lives in a staff room, and the rest of the crazy teenagers who make up the daily life at the restaurant they work at.

This is really, really funny, and also super charming. If you want a comedy that’s actually funny, this one is worth a watch. The first opening will tell you everything you need to know about whether or not you’ll find it funny.

March Comes Like A Lion

15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Subbed

This one is a blend of comedy and super, super heavy themes. This one follows a depressed boy who is a professional Shogi (Japanese chess) player and meets a small family of three sisters who take him in as one of their own. A journey through the deepest aspects of what loneliness and depression are like, the story is absolutely full of hope, warmth, and humour. The animation style is also very distinct. It also has an explanation of how to play the game Shogi sung by cats! Nyan-nyan-nya-nyan-nyan-nya-nyan-Sho-GI!

Also, what a soundtrack. If you love the piano, wait til you see what they do with it in this show.


15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Dubbed

Another surprising movie, this one is about a young boy who becomes frustrated that his parents are having another baby, and he’s feeling left out. One day, the family dog appears to him in human form, followed by a teenage version of his new baby sister, in a journey through acceptance in his family.

Really cute, this movie is the true essence of Slice of Life anime.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K

15 Amazing Shows from Japan

Best watched: Dubbed for Season 1, then Subbed for the rest

Alright, now this is a comedy. Kusuo Saiki is a 16 year old with pink hair and phenomenal psychic powers, but it doesn’t always go to plan. It’s really hard to explain this one, but if you like to laugh, this is awesome.

Funimation did an absolutely spectacular version of dubbing the first season, but unfortunately didn’t get the rights to any of the rest. Still funny in Japanese, but the English dub is very, very well done, and does a masterful job of translating jokes that are funny in Japanese to also make them funny in English.

Nendo, the idiot Ramen lover; Teruhashi, the perfect pretty girl who knows she’s perfect but can’t get the one boy she actually likes; and Haido, the class rep who is always at 11, are particular highlights.

Digimon Adventure 02

Best watched: Dubbed

Okay, I didn’t really want to list too many kid-targeted anime here, as I want to appeal to an audience of people who are actually old enough to read through people’s blogs. But I couldn’t really get around it, mainly for the fact that season two of the original Digimon is one of the reasons I stuck around with anime. Of course it features the over-the-top transformations and was designed to sell a new kids toy every week, but the characters and themes were very memorable, even to this day.

Advent Children Complete (Final Fantasy VII)

Best watched: Subbed

Back in movie territory, this was the first sequel to the original Final Fantasy VII game that took the world by storm. Extremely well animated, the story follows Cloud Strife after the defeat of the alien spawned Sephiroth. Great soundtrack, good action, and a memorable story of a man trying to accept his mistakes, this is sheer over-the-top fan service at its best.

Speed Racer

Best watched: Dubbed

I needed to put this on here. Speed Racer may not have aged that well, and it’s really terrible lip syncing and stupidly fast dialogue aside, this was the king alongside Astro Boy back in the day. But I’ve gotta give the edge to Speed for getting anime on the radar of Western society before many other shows even got close. That, and the animation for 1967 is amazing. It actually looks better than a lot of modern shows even now. And that’s saying something. Rewatching some of it again recently on AnimeLab has given me a new appreciation for just how good this show was, and still is.

Speed Racer is about a boy who wants to be a racer under a mechanic father who doesn’t want him to be a racer, with a brother who went missing racing. It’s just… great. Also the Dexter’s Laboratory tribute to Speed Racer is one of the best things Cartoon Network ever did.

Fumoffu/Full Metal Panic

Best watched: Subbed

The funniest anime around. Not even close. Well okay, maybe Saiki is close.

Full Metal Panic and its spin off season, Fumoffu, follow a mercenary who’s hired to protect a high school girl from an international threat. Only problem is, having been a mercenary all his life, he has no idea how to integrate into normal high school life. Hilarity ensues, and the cutest love story you’ve ever seen unfolds.

The main Full Metal Panic series also has a bit of the comedy in it, but the Fumoffu season is dedicated to it. The main series was also quite good, with the exception of the latest season (Invisible Victory)… I just didn’t really find it enjoyable at all. But, very funny. A note that the main season is muuuuch more violent and serious than the Fumoffu season, but is also quite excellent.

My Hero Academia

Best watched: Dubbed

A true surprise entry, especially for me. My wife and I saw how mega popular this show was a few years ago and tried to watch the first episode. We both didn’t find it that great, so we moved on. A few months ago, the EB Games store near our house relocated and reopened with a much larger store, and heaps of My Hero stuff. We realised we must have missed the boat with this show and decided to give it another go.


This show is actually incredible. I would almost put it as a solid number three spot, but I think as time goes on I’ll work out if that’s a valid assessment or not. This follows a high school student Izuku Midoria who wants to become a hero in a world where “quirks” (think X-Men’s mutations) have developed across 80% of the population. When he befriends the world’s greatest hero, All Might, he is able to begin his hero journey at a school full of memorable characters.

This show is funny. This show is action packed. This show has unreal animation, possibly the best I’ve ever seen in a series, especially consistently. This show has some amazing themes it explores, such as revenge, the danger of grudges, the journey for acceptance, the complexities of friendship over time… just a lot. If you got stuck on the first episode like us, push passed it and find a brilliant watch.

Also, All Might is a living meme and is now my alarm clock. For real.

Dragon Ball

Best watched: Dubbed, except for one scene involving Gohan

And now we reach a clear and distinct top two. Whilst the rest of the list is in assorted (or rather, unsorted) order, Dragon Ball is the clear king of the anime world.

Dragon Ball is fantastic. Originally a tale of martial arts and magic, it quickly evolves into a much more layered universe of aliens, foreign worlds, time travel, evil robots, enormous dragons, and a journey through decades and decades of the lives of its main characters. It really is a show that has it all. Great themes, not a single dud character, well acted, good humour, and many memorable moments.

Vegeta will forever be the greatest anime character of all time in my mind.

Here’s the optimal Dragon Ball watching experience:

  • Dragon Ball: The Path to Power and Mystic Adventure – these will get you up to speed on Goku and the original main characters much quicker than the very, very slow first half of the series.
  • Dragon Ball: Tienshinhan Saga onwards – Goku’s growing up, meeting more people, and growing much stronger. Enter the tonal shift that would launch Dragon Ball into absurb popularity in the form of King Piccolo and Piccolo Junior
  • Dragon Ball Z Kai – many people find it hard to watch the original English dub of Dragon Ball Z as the music and writing were very child-targeted. Kai is a redone version of Dragon Ball Z which moves way faster and features a completely rewritten and re-acted script. Unreal. Also throw in all of the movies in here besides Bio-Broly.
  • Dragon Ball GT Remastered – people didn’t like GT, but I am a huge fan. In its Remastered form with its original Japanese soundtrack, it is a thrilling and enjoyable watch. Bit by bit indeed I’ve fallen under its spell, and continue to do so more and more on every subsequent rewatch.
  • Dragon Ball Super… it’s grown on me much more than I originally thought. I still don’t like it anywhere near as much as the rest of the series, but it’s still Dragon Ball, which means it’s still good. I class Dragon Ball Super as a comedy more than an action show

I’ve already talked a lot about Dragon Ball, check out my Top 10 Dragon Ball Moments

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed/Seed Destiny

Best watched: Subbed

This is the best anime ever made. No contest. The soundtrack is perfect, epic, and still with me 17 years later. The characters are wonderful explorations of humanity. The themes tackled are layered and fairly explored. Also, giant fighting robots in space with the coolest designs ever. The Gundams from this one continue to be the highest selling collectibles from Japan every year, and it’s not hard to see why.

Gundam Seed and its sequel, Seed Destiny, follow two young friends who are separated by their race and meet again after several years, this time on the opposing side of a battlefield. Having a close friend appear as an enemy throws both of their notions of right and wrong into question, and what follows is a complex dive into the origins of all human conflict.

Why do we fight? Why do people destroy each other? The show goes through how generations of pain and instances of injustice become the motivation for much of humanity’s greatest evils – towards each other, and themselves. In a world where humanity can be genetically altered into superior versions of themselves, what new issues do we find?

Kira, Athrun, Lacus, Cagali, Muu, Shin, and a varied cast played by the highest profile voice actors in Japan take you on a wonderful adventure that you will not soon forget. This is the pinnacle of the most amazing shows from Japan, ever.

There you have it. 15 absolutely amazing shows from Japan. Writing about these makes me want to rewatch a lot of them, especially my number one pick.

How about you? What are some of your faves?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Walking the Shoreline

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading