The 10 Best Japanese Anime Series of All Time -- Released on DVD

Feb 15, 2006

The Bottom Line Anime isn't just on film. Enjoy my list of the 10 best anime television shows to come out in a DVD format.

Sorry.. No Sailor-Moon or DragonBall Z on my list. You won't be finding any Pokemon on here either. Instead, I have a listing of 10 of the best anime televisions shows that you can now find in DVD format. It is an eclectic mix of humorous and dark shows, but all of them have one quality in common: they are all very entertaining. If you don't already own any of them, it is time to go out and either purchase these, or find a good video rental store where you can catch up on some of the episodes.


You could best describe this anime as a satire, as the main character Excel Excel works for someone who wants to take over the world. It is a very humorous tale of Excel and her group called "ACROSS" that is working for an evil overlord who has terrible intentions for the world. The problem that they have, is that this team is completely unable to get their act together, and they seem like a bumbling group of James Bond bad-guys. They always get close to accomplishing their goals, but fall short in ironic twists and turns, as one man is able to put a stop to their plans. This is one of those shows, where if you aren't laughing at the end of an episode, you really aren't a fan of anime. The writing is very clever, the characters are just deep enough to make you care about them, but it is presented in a whimsical way that keeps you wanting to watch the next episode. The story uses the bad-guys as the protagonists in a switch of things, and keeps it interesting by never actually letting them succeed on their missions. Think of this as a Naked Gun or Hot Shots American movie, where everything about anime is poked fun at, but in which the story stays strong enough to be worth watching.

Witch Hunter Robin

When one of the Witch Hunters working for a group called STNJ is killed, the main character Robin is brought in from Italy to work as a replacement. The intent of this group is to find and destroy witches, but unlike the other divisions, this particular Japanese Division works to capture and detain these witches to find out just what makes them tick. Not an easy task to say the least, it will put all of the characters in constant danger for the duration of the shows. Robin is a 16 year old girl, who is very likable, and you find yourself really caring about what she is going through. She hasn't quite mastered her powers either, and she has to deal with being "thrown into the fire" so to speak, right from the very start. The show is great at developing its characters, and making them so interesting that they jump off the screen. Some have complained that the stories don't stand up to its own characters, but I think that With Hunter Robin is still quite an interesting series. What puts this one over the top, is how well it appeals in a visual sense. It is definitely worth giving a chance, and you may really enjoy this one.


In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of God hovering above? At least it is true, that man has no control, even over his own will. That is the opening that you get to enjoy as each episode of Berserk gets underway. You have to decide for yourself the answers to these questions, but I think that the story tries to lead you in one direction as it plays out through many episodes. The main character is known as "Guts", and if you are a reader of Stephen King, you would compare him to the Gunslinger from his Dark Towers series. He looks like he has been through a war, with altered body parts (and missing ones), and he is always carrying around an arsenal of weaponry. The story of Berserk covers his younger days, as a fighter in a group called "The Band of the Hawk", working under his tutor Griffith. War is raging and this group is succeeding at every turn. It is a battle of good against evil from the start, but not everything is explained the best that it could be. It is a series that really makes you think, but you could also get confused and dislike it for that very same reason.


The main character (Kagome) is a 15 year old girl, who lives at an old Japanese shrine. Her story is an odd and involved one, that involves being the reincarnation of a defender of an old artifact. Through the series, she is able to go back in time, and aids a half-demon in putting back together the pieces of an orb. Inu-Yasha is the demon that Kagome must work with to regain the powerful jewel that she has broken by accident. Demons all over the place want the pieces, and the two of them must work together to fight them off and recover all of the pieces. Kagome can sense where they are, so she is vital to Inu-Yasha, but they both have differing agendas as to why they want to piece it back together. There is a lot of action and demon slaying in the series, and it is an interesting premise for a story. The reluctant main character discovers many things about her origin, and the story stretches across a lot of generations as it really starts to unfold. Picking up companions along the way, this duo won't be fighting things alone, but it still isn't going to be easy. They are constantly facing challenges, and what makes it interesting, is that you never know what is going to come next.

Fist of The North Star

This is an older anime that I really got into when my friend purchased the whole series back when it was on video-tape. It is an interesting concept, that takes place after an obvious nuclear war has taken place. A lot of the world is a desert now, and it is a struggle for people to survive. Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning, as those in power take on the weaker as slaves to work for them. The main character Ken, is in search for his rival (Shin) who has taken his girlfriend from him. At one point Ken and Shin were friends, with Ken destined to take over as sole heir of the martial art Hokuto Shinken. Shin betrays him, and leaves Ken near death. The problem for Ken is that his girl Rein only has a short time left to live, so time is very important in his quest to find her. This is a violent show, and is done in a lot of flashbacks at the beginning, showing how Ken ended up where he is. I really liked Fist of The North Star, and it is always going to be one of the greats in my opinion, because it got me interested in the genre.


Two groups set the stage for this story as one of them wants to save the world, while the other one wants to end it. The first group is called the Dragons of Heaven, while the second is called the Dragons of Earth, and the main character of the show must choose which side he is going to join. It may seem like an easy decision to just join the group that could save the world, but it is not quite that simple. The trick here, is that you can't really just say that one side is good while the other is evil. The story puts a lot of thoughts in your mind that you must decide for yourself, and each episode builds upon the last one as you learn more and more about all of the characters. The fate of all human life lies in the balance, and the outcome of the battle between these two groups is what will decide it. The main character Kamui will be the ulimate decider in the conflict, and ultimately the future of mankind rests in his hands. This is a "fantasy" anime, and if that is your cup of tea, I think that you are really going to enjoy this one.


Everyone has head of Macross, even if they aren't quite sure of what it is/was. The American translation is "Robotech", and has made its mark through many, many shows, movies, and even comic books. The main characters changed throughout the different series that evolved or took place with this one, but the premise was combining man and machine to do battle with the evils. Their "vehicles" are really cool creations that could remind you of transformers as they change between three modes. What made them apear "cool" to me and many other viewers, were their abilities to fire of large amounts of missiles and guns, thus making them very deadly to their opposition. The stories didn't end up being all that strong, because the intent was to show of the technology, and "blow things up" so to speak. It did keep my attention though, and I really ended up liking it a lot. It led to spin-offs and films which built on the better parts of the story, and spiced it up for a whole new generation of fans to enjoy. This is a story of the pilots of those crafts, and the lives that they have to live to defend what they feel is right. It was interesting, action-packed, and kept my attention throuh every episode.


Who hasn't heard of the Transformers? The battle between a set of good robots and bad robots moves from their own planets to Earth, after the autobots and decepticons both crash land in the same general area. The robots here can change into anything you can think of, including semis, cars, planes, and tanks just to name a few. The allure and the big selling point here, was that toys could be created from just about any character that was put into the series. There were times when someone new seemed to be just thrown into the story so that they could make a toy, but it remained interesting for every episode that was created. The Autobots (the good guys) decide to befriend the human race, and the series became their attempts to defend all of us against the evil Decepticons. This is still a show that I can sit down and watch, despite having seen every episode multiple times, simply because I love seeing the robots change into cars and trucks and speed around the screen. The robots are each given their own personalities, and the draw here, is that they almost appear to have human emotions at times. There is a subtle element of humor beneath the surface that made the show even better, but this was one all about action.


Trigun is an action-adventure story about Vash, a man with a hidden past, who is worth 60 million dollars. He has bounty hunters on his trail on a daily basis, and he is continuously running for his life. He could be a member of the A-Team, because he is constantly trying to help others, but wants to do so without using extreme violence. He doesn't want to kill anyone, and if he can stop people from attacking him without hurting them in return, he is going to take that route each and every time. As we learn more about Vash, and as the episodes pass by, we find out what in his past made him the way he is now. This is another one of those animes that makes itself funny in between "battle" scenes, and it really works with the characters that they have here. The stories were very well written, and it made every aspect of Vash very interesting. You won't find many other shows where the 125 year old main character is so successful at fending off his foes. The show didn't last all that long, but in the brief time it was around, it has made me a fan.

Cowboy Bebop

On the opposite side of a show like Trigun, we have Cowboy Bebop, that is actually about four bounty hunters. Well four bounty hunters and their dog to be more precise. If you have ever seen the Robert Rodriguez series of films about the lone guitar player that shoots up bars, you will recognize some of the main story elements within this anime. You can picture the main characters in relation to Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek as well, and if you enjoyed those films, I think you will really enjoy this show as well. It is also a Seinfeld version of anime, in that the episodes don't really build on each other. There is new information presented to the audience, but it is basically the characters chasing after their prey, or it is them delving into something from their past. Each of the characters has a dark side, and the show takes the time to explore all 5 of them. (Yes, it explores the dog Ein as well). This was a great anime shown on Adult Swim for a while, and can be picked up on DVD just about anywhere Anime is sold.

Another List: 10 Best Anime Films of All Time

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