Japanese Animation or (as it’s affectionately known in the US) “Anime” is a style of animation that has taken the US by storm. Known for exaggerated features (such as big eyes, oddly colored hair, etc) popular anime movies portray fantastic stories (usually about some supernatural power) that is not just beautiful to watch but also entertaining. Check out the 25 most influential Japanese anime in the US.
Yu Yu Hakusho
A Japanese manga series that was adapted into an animated series in 1990; Yu Yu Hakusho revolved around the story of a teenage delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi who got struck and killed by a car as he sought to save the life of a child. After he was revived, he was appointed as an Underworld Detective to investigate the cases of demons and apparitions on Earth.
Berserk was aired in 1997 and was centered on the life of an orphaned mercenary warrior named Guts, who called himself the Black Swordsman as he served the Band of the Hawk. This is an intense anime filled with great action and some colorful scenes which may not be appropriate for children.
An anime television series that was released in 1982, Super Dimension Fortress Macross featured a love triangle among its major characters plastered against the backdrop of battles that existed between aliens and humans. When it was shown in the US, it was titled Robotech instead. It rose to fame because of Linn Minmay, the pop star idol in the show, along with transforming air fighter units called Valkyries.
Code Geass was a Japanese anime series that was directed by Goro Taniguchi and written by Ichiro Okouchi. The story was set in the alternate future and revolved around a former prince named Lelouch Lamperouge who obtained the Geass power and used it to destroy the Holy Britannian Empire.
Elfen Lied was a Japanese manga series that was created by Lynn Okamoto. Its story revolved around the interactions, emotions, similarities and differences between human beings and the Diclonii. Diclonii was a mutant species that resembled humans in build but had two horns and vectors. The anime series centered on the protagonist named Lucy, who sought revenge after being rejected by humans.
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Dragon Quest was a Nintendo game that was adapted into an anime series in 1989. It had a total of 43 episodes, was supervised by Horii and had characters that were similar to the original Dragon Quest game. The first 13 episodes of this anime series was translated into English and was released in North America.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
An anime television series that was based on the manga series Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex revolved around the story of the members of a team called Public Security Section 9. This anime series was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama and was first aired in Japan in 2002. It was released in other parts of the world a year after. Its lead character, Agent Motoko Kusanagi turned heads because of her beauty and fighting skills, which was crucial to the appeal of the series.
A manga series that was written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara, Mushishi was adapted into an anime television series in 2005 and featured some ubiquitous creatures called Mushi. These characters had supernatural powers and were described as beings that were purer than any normal living thing. The main character in the story, Ginko, was among the few who possessed the ability to interact with the divine Mushis.
Future Boy Conan
Future Boy Conan was first aired in Japan and China in 1978 with the official title Conan, The Boy in the Future. The story was set in 2008, the time when human kind was already in the face of extinction. Its story revolved around a devastating war that was fought by two nations armed with ultra-magnetic weapons. This war resulted in a series of earthquakes and other massive movements that eventually devastated the earth until everyone else died except for three survivors, including Conan.
A Japanese manga series that was created by Katsura Hoshino, D Gray-Man revolved around the story of Allen Walker, a boy who was a member of the Exorcists—an organization that made use of an ancient substance called Innocence to fight the Millennium Earl and Akuma, its demonic army.
Serial Experiments Lain
Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura, Serial Experiments Lain was first aired in Tokyo, Japan in 1998 and was derived from a play station game with the same title. This contemporary Japanese anime series tackled philosophical concepts such as identity, communication and reality and focused on the story of a teenage girl named Lain Iwakura, who was introduced to the Internet. She was bound to a path which took her into the network of her own thoughts following her discovery of “The God in the Wired.”
A Japanese hard science fiction manga created by Makoto Yukimura, Planetes was adapted from a Japanese hard science fiction television series that was broadcast sometime between 2003 and 2004. The story of Planetes revolved around a team of space debris collectors that boarded the Toy Box debris ship in the year 2075 to prevent the destruction of earth satellites.
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing
Gundam Wing was an animated series that was based on the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime. It was created by Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino and revolved around the war between planet Earth and its colonies in space. The pilots in this series were more closely allied to each other compared to those in Gundam. This had a total of 49 episodes and borrowed its storyline from another series entitled War and Peace.
One of the most watched anime in the U.S., Naruto is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. The plot tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly dreams of becoming the next Hokage (the leader in the ninja village).
Space Battleship Yamato
A science fiction anime series that featured an eponymous space craft, Space Battleship Yamato is an English-dubbed series that was broadcast on North American and Australian televisions as Star Blazers. It revolved around the story of a multinational teenage crew that journeyed through space to look for the planet Iscandar. The antagonists in this story were aliens called Rajendora who prevented the crew from catching a glimpse of the planet that they were searching for.
Full Metal Alchemist
Full-Metal Alchemist was a Japanese manga series that was styled after the European Industrial Revolution. Its story was set in a fictional universe where alchemy was among the most advanced scientific techniques known. The protagonists of the story, Edward and Alphonse Elric, were searching for the Philosopher’s Stone which was needed to restore their bodies following a failed attempt to revive their mother through alchemy.
Saint Seiya is a Japanese manga series that was adapted into an anime television series from 1986 to 1989. The story revolved around mystical warriors called Saints who wore sacred armors called Cloths. These Saints pledged to protect the reincarnation of Athena in her fight against the Olympian Gods who sought to gain rule over the Earth.
Last Exile is a Japanese animated television series that featured a production led by renowned director Koichi Chigira. Last Exile featured a story that took place in the fictional world of Prester, where aerial vehicles dubbed as van ships were popular.
Samurai Champloo is an anime production that took place during the Edo period, characterized by its anachronistic, hip-hop setting. This television series was the first directorial effort of Japanese director Shiichiro Watanabe following the widely acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. The story of this manga revolved around a swordsman Mugen and a brave young girl named Fuu who asked him to accompany her to Japan to find the “samurai who smelled like sunflowers.”
Probably one of the most mind bending anime around; Death Note is a Japanese anime series that featured a high school student named Light Yagami, who discovered a supernatural notebook that was dropped on earth by the god of death Ryuk. This notebook granted its user the ability to kill anyone he/she could identify.
Fist of the North Star
Illustrated by Tetsuo Hara and written by Buronson, Fist of the North is a Japanese anime series that took place in a post-apocalyptic world that had destroyed by a nuclear war. The story of this anime series revolved around Kenshiro the warrior, who was also the successor of a deadly martial art dubbed as Hokuto Shinken. The protagonist of this story dedicated his life fighting against the ravagers who took advantage of the poor and the innocent.
One Piece is a manga series that was skillfully written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. The first episode of this series was released on December 24, 1997 and was about the story of a young man named Monkey D. Luffy, whose body turned into rubber after accidentally gobbling up a Devil’s Fruit. The story also revolved around the crew of pirates of Mr. Monkey Luffy called Straw Hat Pirates, who accompanied him as he explored the ocean in search of a treasure called One Piece.
First shown in 1998, Cowboy Bebop is considered to be a Japanese animation masterpiece. It premiered in Japan in 1998 and had a total of 26 episodes. The anime was among the most influential anime shown in America because it tackled the philosophical concepts of existentialism, loneliness and nihilism. It was also adapted into two manga series.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Created and owned by Gainax, Shin Seiki Evangelion, more commonly known as Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most popular anime of all time. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a story of a parliamentary organization that made efforts to fight against Angels through the use of giant humanoids they called Evangelions. These Evangelions were piloted by a group of teenagers led by Shinji Ikari, the protagonist
Dragon Ball Z
A Japanese manga series that was written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z is one of the most watched anime to have ever been shown in world television. This anime was inspired by the classic novel in China entitled Journey to the West, which was about the adventures of Son Goku as he trained in martial arts from his childhood until he reached adulthood. He explored the world to search for the seven Dragon Balls which have the capacity to grant wishes through the help of a wish-granting dragon.