Top anime of the Century

Top 5 Best Anime In The 21st Century

As a graphic designer, I’m fascinated by anime, particularly some of the titles that have come out in the past couple of decades. They make, in my opinion, some of the best TV watching experiences you can find today. The dynamic animations, the color stories, the emotions, and the unique plots of the anime shows are undeniably fascinating, both from the perspective of an artist and a consumer of exceptional storytelling. With that in mind, here is my list for the top 5 best anime to come out in the 21st century.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Image of elric sitting on a chair looking annoyed

There’s no doubt about it that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the most popular anime to come out in recent memory. It’s a deep, multi-faceted series centering around the pseudoscience of alchemy, which in the world of this anime is all too real. The story begins when two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, attempt an alchemy experiment designed to bring their deceased mother back to life. Unsurprisingly, the experiment goes horribly wrong, and instead of bringing their mother back, Alphonse’ body disintegrates, and Edward loses one of his legs and sacrifices one of his arms to bind Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor. From there, the boys are aided by their neighbors, including a young bio-mechanical engineering prodigy who equips Edward with prosthetic limbs to replace the ones he lost. Edward and Alphonse train for many years until they are ready to set off on a new quest: restore their physical bodies by finding the Philosopher’s Stone. You can stream this incredible animated series on Hulu.

2. Attack On Titan (Shingeki No Kyojin)

An Army of Scout troops saluting in unison

Attack on Titan (also referred to by its Japanese name, Shingeki no Kyojin) is a science fiction anime based on a manga of the same title. It’s definitely at the top of the list of best anime of the 21st century for many fans of the genre. Attack on Titan is set centuries in the past, in an alternate timeline where humanity was nearly wiped out by a race of powerful, humanoid creatures called Titans. The humans who survived managed to protect themselves by building cities surrounded by impenetrable concentric walls. And so, they survive for a hundred years without incident, until one day a Titan manages to break through the outer wall. Spurred on by this incident, and the personal loss that resulted from it, our main character Eren Yeager enlists in an elite military group called the Survey Corps. Joined by his sister and his best friend, Eren is determined to go to war against the Titans and find a way to defeat them once and for all. Otherwise, humanity will be destroyed forever. You can watch this series in full on Tubi or Hulu.

3. My Hero Academia

The main cast of My Hero academia posing

Even if you haven’t watched My Hero Academia before, chances are you’ve heard of it or seen merchandise for it at Hot Topic or Target. This anime series premiered in 2016, and its popularity still endures today after 5 seasons. In My Hero Academia, you’ll meet Izuku Moridaya, a normal middle schooler in a world where 80% of the population has a superpower, AKA a “quirk.” Despite his lack of powers, Izuku has always dreamed of being a hero. He gets his chance to be just that when he meets All Might, a veteran hero who inexplicably names Izuku as his successor. From there, our main character attends UA High, a school that is famous for training new superheroes. With threats looming all around, Izuku learns what it really means to be a true hero, powers or no powers. You can stream My Hero Academia on Netflix.

4. Death Note

Light Yagami holding The death note

For many fans of anime, Death Note is one of the greatest Japanese animated series of all time. It’s based on a manga of the same name, which is also the inspiration behind an upcoming live action Netflix series created by the Duffer brothers of Stranger Things fame. This anime follows the catastrophic tale of Light Yagami, a 17-year-old student who is completely disillusioned with the pettiness and violence of the human world. It also follows Ryuk, a god of death who is bored with the sameness of his existence. To make life more interesting, Ryuk drops the Death Note into the physical realm. The Death Note is actually a book that contains rules about death. Light finds it and, upon reading it, decides to test to see if the book does what it says it does. He follows the first rule, which says that anyone whose name is written in the Death Note will die. The rule comes true, to his shock, after he writes a felon’s name inside and the felon suddenly drops dead. With his newfound power, Light, operating under the alias “Kira,” embarks on a quest to rid the world of people who do evil. He is pursued by a detective named L, with whom he must match wits in the ultimate “catch me if you can” story of good vs. evil and everything in between. You can watch Death Note for free on YouTube and Tubi.

5. Naruto

Might guy and other characters laughing at naruto

Naruto is another anime series that has made its way into mainstream consciousness. IGN even included it as number 38 in their list of the top 100 animated TV series of all time. At 20 years old, it’s already a classic, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it on this list. Minutes before Naruto Uzumaki was born, a giant demon called the Kyuubi attacked his hometown, the Hidden Leaf Village. To save everyone, the leader of the village - the Fourth Hokage - sacrificed his life and bound the demon inside Naruto’s infant body. Years later, Naruto is grown up and shunned by his fellow villagers because of the Kyuubi that still lives inside him. Yet he is irrepressible and still has dreams of becoming the Hokage one day. The series follows Naruto as he continues his life’s journey. You can watch this series on Tubi or Peacock. Which anime series of the 21st century is in your top 5 list? Shout out in the comments below.