Iconic Japanese anime series to watch at home


20 iconic Japanese anime series to watch when you’re bored at home
Iconic Japanese anime series
Image adapted from (left to right): Ufotable, Wit Studio, Gainax and Tatsunoko Production

You’ve tried every other stay-at-home fad, such as whisking up that Dalgona coffee drink and trying out those ab workouts to quell your boredom.

But if cabin fever’s still getting to you, it’s a great time to finally catch up on some iconic anime series that you’ve been putting off. We’ve created a list of much-loved anime shows for first-time watchers – be it shonen or slice-of-life, there’s a perfect anime for everyone.


1. One-Punch Man (2015 – 2019)


one punch man iconic japanese anime series
Image credit: IMDb

Saitama is One-Punch Man – he wins all of his fights with literally just one punch. He’s finally achieved his dream of being a superhero, but there’s a problem with that – he’s far too strong, and he no longer gets a thrill from fights. Unsatisfied and bored, this hero-for-fun’s search for a formidable opponent leads him to unknowingly save lives on multiple occasions.

This satirical webcomic-turned-anime has been a hit because of its premise that ‘the good guy always wins’ gets boring, even for the protagonist himself.

one punch man
Image credit: IMDb

One-Punch Man is also blessed with great animation and soundtrack music, and action scenes that pack just as much punch as the comedy.

It also pokes fun at several other well-known animes, so look out for those easter eggs. After all, One-Punch Man (wanpanman in Japanese) began as a play on the Japanese children’s superhero Anpanman.

Genre: Action, comedy, shonen
Length: 2 seasons, 12 episodes each
Available on: Netflix


2. Tokyo Ghoul (2014 – 2018)


tokyo ghoul anime
Image credit: IMDb

In an alternate reality, humans coexist with ghouls – beings that can only survive by consuming human flesh but look exactly like human beings. These ghouls live hidden amongst society, evading the public eye while forming their own society of sorts.

Ken Kaneki was a quiet and lonely student, only having one real friend and often sticking to himself. All of this changed after an encounter with Rize Kamishiro, a seemingly innocent and seductive lady, who turned out to be a binge-eating ghoul – and he was going to be her next meal. A freak accident saves Kaneki, who is then taken to the hospital.

He wakes up to realise that he underwent a surgery that implanted parts of Rize in him, turning him into a hungry ghoul. Plunged against his will into a scary world of flesh-eating creatures, Kaneki struggles to cling on to the remnants of his humanity whilst trying to stay alive.

This anime spent a lot of its budget on amazing fight scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat, with a banging soundtrack to boot. Kaneki’s teetering psychological state will have you questioning how you’d react if you’d met a similar fate.

Genre: Horror, action, thriller, shonen
Length: 3 seasons
Available on: Netflix


3. Attack on Titan (2013 – present)


attack on titan iconic japanese anime series
Image credit: IMDb

For a century, humanity has been terrorised by Titans – mindless giants that feast on human flesh. These Titans don’t seem to consume humans for any reason other than for pleasure. To protect themselves, humanity has constructed 3 gigantic walls to keep the Titans out. Their civilisation flourishes on the inside of the walls, but little is known about the outside.

Everything changed the day when the Colossal Titan, who even towers above the walls the humans have built, breaches a hole in the outermost wall, allowing the Titans in to carry out a bloody rampage.

shingeki no kyojin iconic japanese anime series
Image credit: IMDb

The story’s protagonist is 10-year old Eren Jaeger. After witnessing the death of his mother in the hands (and jaws) of a grinning Titan, he swore to take revenge by killing all of the Titans. Together with his closest friends, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlet, Eren enlists in the military to join the fight to recapture humanity’s lost territories – and to win the freedom that it desires.

Alternatively called Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人), Attack on Titan is a multi-award winning manga-turned-anime. It has been praised for its thrilling storyline, grandiose music, and beautifully-drawn action.

Genre: Action, thriller, dystopian, shonen
Length: 3 seasons; 25 episodes, 12 episodes, 22 episodes respectively
Available on: Netflix


4. My Hero Academia (2016 – present)


my hero academia
Image credit: IMDb

In a world where almost everyone has Quirks, or superpowers, of their own, it’s a real bummer to be born without one yourself. Izuku Midoriya was not born without a Quirk of his own, but he still dreams to be a superhero.

Things change for Midoriya when he is scouted by All Might, the greatest superhero in Japan. He is enrolled in U.A. High School, a prestigious training academy for heroes-to-be. There, he embarks on a journey to become the hero of his dreams.

My Hero Academia, also a very popular manga in Japan, is also known as Boku no Hiro Akademia (僕のヒーローアカデミア). The series also features characters that seem to be inspired by the superheroes of western culture, and show an interesting parallel between them.

Genre: Adventure, fantasy, shonen
Length: 4 seasons
Available on: Netflix


5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012-2019)


jojo's bizarre adventure iconic anime series
Image credit: IMDb

The series follows Jonathan Joestar and his descendants – Joseph and Jotaro Kujo – all of whom have names that can be shortened to the titular JoJo. Each arc of the series follows one of the JoJos as he battles vampires with his outlandish powers.

The appeal of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure doesn’t only come from the storyline. Instead, it comes from the gaudy colours, fiendishly funny jokes and unique character designs that make you wonder how anyone could’ve thought of that.

Hirohiko Araki, the writer and artist of the series, has such iconic work that he was invited to display his work at the Louvre. His constant references to American pop music and garish high fashion-like costume designs allude to his obsession with Western pop culture. The series has, in turn, spawned countless memes on the internet.

JoJo’s is a real bizarre treat to watch that will leave you cracking up.

Genre: Adventure, fantasy, shonen
Length: 5 seasons
Available on: Crunchyroll, Netflix


6. Haikyu!! (2014-present)


haikyu iconic anime series
Image credit: IMDb

Although Shoyo Hinata is short, he dreams of becoming a top volleyball player like the “Little Giant”, his favourite player.

After a defeat at the junior high school championships, Hinata strengthens his resolve to beat Tobio Kageyama, the star player of the team that had defeated his previously.

Much to Hinata’s disappointment, he discovers that he and Kageyama are on the same team in their new high school, and the two very quickly begin bickering. However, the Karasuno High School volleyball team needs both of their skills, and the two are forced to learn to work together as teammates to enter the Nationals.

The series has many fans for its sensational dramatisation of volleyball and has spawned a renewed interest in the sport.

Genre: Comedy, sports
Length: 4 seasons
Available on: Crunchyroll, Netflix


7. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)


neon genesis evangelion
Image credit: IMDb

It’s been 15 years since Earth was ravaged the Angels – powerful, giant alien beings with destructive powers. High school student Shinji lives in the futuristic and heavily fortified Tokyo-3.

He is enlisted by his father to join his organisation, NERV, to pilot the Evangelion – a massive semi-sentient bio-mecha that’s capable of fighting the Angels. However, piloting the Evangelion puts a huge strain on the psychological and physical state of the pilot. Shinji’s fragile psychological state quickly deteriorates.

neon genesis evangelion
Image credit: IMDb

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deeply psychological anime as much as it is a mecha-fighting show. It has become a cultural icon, and continues to have a large fan community despite the show being released 25 years ago.

If you want to find out where Hollywood’s Pacific Rim got its inspiration, check out this anime – its more hardcore older brother.

Genre: Mecha, science fiction, psychological thriller
Length: 26 episodes and 2 movies
Available on: Netflix


8. Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma (2015-present)


shokugeki food wars anime
Image credit: IMDb

Soma Yukihira hopes to take over the family restaurant from his father, Joichiro Yukihira, and surpass his skills. However, his father surprises him by closing down the restaurant and encourages Soma to enrol in Totsuki Culinary Academy.

Soma soon realises that Totsuki is an elite culinary school, where the graduation rate is less than 1%. Students engage in shokugeki, or food wars, to challenge each other and settle disputes. Soma isn’t one to back down from a challenge, and pits his cooking skills and ingenuity against his fellow students.

Food Wars! is known for the mouthwatering illustrations and dramatic, over-the-top food battle scenes and tasting reactions.

Genre: Comedy, cooking, slice of life
Length: 5 seasons
Available on: Crunchyroll, Netflix


9. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010)


fullmetal alchemist brotherhood
Image credit: Jppcouto

Edward and Alphonse Elric are an unlikely duo – a short blonde teen with a prosthetic arm and leg accompanied by a man towering over him in a full suit of armour. However, they hide a dark secret – they’d lost their bodies as a result of attempting to transmute their dead mother, a forbidden practice in alchemy.

fullmetal alchemist brotherhood
Image credit: IMDb

The failed human transmutation cost Edward an arm and a leg, while Alphonse lost his entire body and had to have his soul alchemically bound to a suit of armour.

The Elric Brothers are on a quest to search for the mythical Philosopher’s Stone – a powerful alchemy tool that’s said to be able to create something from nothing – to restore their bodies. To fund their travels, Edward joined the military and became a renowned State Alchemist, christened as the Fullmetal Alchemist for his metal prosthetic parts.

fullmetal alchemist brotherhood
Image credit: IMDb

The duo unknowingly gets themselves caught up into a conspiracy – one that may concern the entire country of Amestris.

The anime series is a reboot of the 2003 series called Fullmetal Alchemist. The 2009 version is a more faithful adaptation of the manga. Set in a late 19th-century industrial-era England, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood unites both steampunk fans and fans of the ‘magic’ genre alike.

Genre: Adventure, science fiction
Length: 64 episodes
Available on: Netflix


10. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014-2015)


fate stay/night unlimited blade works
Image credit: IMDb

Every couple of years, seven magi are chosen as Masters to fight in a war for the Holy Grail, a wish-granting device. To aid them in the War, these Masters summon a powerful “Servant” each. These Servants are heroic spirits of lore, and are summoned into different classes – Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Berserker, and Assassin – based on their feats in their legends.

fate stay/night unlimited blade works
Image credit: IMDb

Emiya Shirou, a high school student, finds himself dragged into the Holy Grail War when he accidentally summons Saber. (Spoiler alert: It’s King Arthur.)

The series originated as a Japanese visual novel with multiple endings, based on the player’s choice. Similarly, there are three main storylines for the anime. We recommend watching Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works for the awesome fight scenes and hair-raising soundtrack, followed by the prequel, Fate/Zero.

Genre: Fantasy, action
Length: 26 episodes
Available on: Netflix


11. Code Geass (2006-2008)


code geass
Image credit: IMDb

In a parallel universe, Japan has been annexed by the powerful empire of Britannia with its mighty mecha army. The people of Japan suffered, while their invaders enjoyed living in the conquered land.

The series follows Lelouch, a prince of Britannia, who wants to exact revenge on his father, the Emperor, for the cold treatment of him and his sister after their mother was assassinated. Granted a mysterious power that forces people to act on his commands, the Geass, Lelouch uses his brilliance to carry out his plans and fuel Japan’s revolution through terrorist acts.

The story is about Lelouch’s descent into villainy, and how his once-noble motives become warped for his selfish reasons.

For viewers who like shows about military, politics, plot twists, and giant mecha robots fighting it out, Code Geass could be your new favourite anime.

Genre: Mecha, science fiction
Length: 2 seasons
Available on: Netflix


12. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (2011)


anohana iconic japanese anime
Image credit: IMDb

Menma, a sixth-grader, dies in an accident. This causes her group of friends to drift apart. Five years later, Menma’s ghost returns to haunt Jintan, her best friend. Menma has an unfulfilled wish, but she can’t remember what it was.

Jintan gathers the others in the group to help Menma, but the others accuse Jintan of being unable to get over Menma’s death, because only Jintan can see Menma’s ghost.

After proving her presence to the group, they work together to help Menma fulfil her wish. In the process of doing so, old wounds are reopened and feelings buried deep down are dragged to the surface.

Anohana is not just a simple story of the ghost of a girl trying to move on, but also about how the living handle the loss of a loved one. It’s a real tear-jerker, and we recommend this anime for you if you want something more sensitive and touching.

Genre: Coming of age, slice of life
Length: 11 episodes
Available on: Crunchyroll


13. Erased (2016)


erased iconic japanese anime series
Image credit: IMDb

Satoru Fujinuma has a peculiar ability to travel back in time to save the life of someone who’s about to die. When he discovers his mother’s dead body at home, he is transported 18 years back, which gives him the chance to save the lives of three elementary school classmates.

If you like the mystery and crime series, Erased will keep you on your tippy-toes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTOyQJuZuy4
Genre: Mystery, science fiction, thriller
Length: 12 episodes
Available on: Netflix


14. The Seven Deadly Sins (2014 – 2020)


seven deadly sins
Image credit: IMDb

After being framed for a coup of the Liones Kingdom, the Seven Deadly Sins – seven legendary knights – were disbanded and hunted down by the Holy Knights. In a turn of events, the kingdom is taken over by the Holy Knights themselves.

Elizabeth Liones, a princess from the kingdom, embarks on a quest to assemble the disbanded knights to help her retake the kingdom from the Holy Knights. With the help of Meliodas, the leader of the Deadly Sins, the knights fight against the adversaries that come their way.

Genre: Adventure, fantasy, shonen
Length: 3 seasons
Available on: Netflix


15. A Place Further Than The Universe (2018)


a place further than the universe
Image credit: IMDb

Shirase Kobuchizawa has been saving up to go on an expedition to Antarctica in search of her missing mother. Although she is ridiculed at school, she is determined to see the expedition through. Together with three other girls, they join an expedition to Antarctica and make the most of their youth.

A Place Further Than The Universe is a heartwarming series about youth that we recommend for first-time anime watchers – it’s not too wacky but it tugs at the heartstrings.

Genre: Adventure, friendship
Length: 24 episodes
Available on: Netflix


16. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (2012-2013)


the pet girl of sakurasou anime series
Image credit: IMDb

Sakura Dormitory hosts the most problematic and eccentric students in a high school affiliated to Suimei University of the Arts. Sorata Kanda moves into Sakura Dormitory after he was kicked out of another dorm for taking in a stray cat.

He befriends Mashiro Shiina, a renowned artist. However, she’s dysfunctional in every other aspect of her life, and he is forced to become her caretaker.

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou talks about discovering oneself, and about the dreams and passions that we have. It’s also a social commentary on how society sees people through judgemental eyes, and that not everything in life is fair, but we still get by.

Genre: Romantic comedy, slice of life
Length: 24 episodes
Available on: Amazon Prime


17. Your Lie in April (2014-2015)


your lie in April
Image credit: IMDb

Kosei Arima is a piano prodigy, but he loses the will to play after his mother dies. The psychological trauma caused him to no longer hear the piano, even though his sense of hearing for all other sounds is fine.

Two years pass, and Kosei’s dull life is shaken up when he meets Kaori Miyazono, a free-spirited violinist. He quickly falls in love with her, but she seems to have taken a liking to Kosei’s friend instead.

Your Lie in April is a beautiful tale of star-crossed lovers bonded by music and will tug at your heartstrings. Prepare a box of tissues.

Genre: Romantic comedy, slice of life
Length: 22 episodes
Available on: Netflix


18. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (2019)


demon slayer iconic japanese anime series
Image credit: Hulu

Set in the Taisho-era, Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro Kamado, a young and kind-hearted boy. He sells charcoal to nearby villages and is the sole breadwinner for his family after his father died.

One fateful day, Tanjiro comes home to find his family slaughtered by the hands of a demon. His younger sister, Nezuko, has been turned into a demon herself, but she still showed some signs of humanity.

Although Tanjiro is overwhelmed with grief, he strengthens his resolve to become a Demon Slayer and find a way to save his sister, while also seeking revenge for his family.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is an action-packed anime with well-choreographed fight scenes. It has won multiple awards in 2019 and 2020 for its characters, action, and music.

Genre: Adventure, fantasy, shonen
Length: 26 episodes
Available on: Hulu


19. Death Note (2006-2007)


death note
Image credit: IMDb

The protagonist of Death Note isn’t a typical hero nor anti-hero. He’s a villain, and not many stories dare to feature a villain as the main character.

Gifted high school student Light Yagami discovers the Death Note – a supernatural notebook that claims to be able to kill anyone if their name is written in it. After he toys with the book, he realises that the Death Note’s power is real, and that he could do anything he wanted with it.

Light Yagami sets out on a crusade to “cleanse” the world of evil, and begins to see himself as a god. He falls deeper into an egomaniacal killing spree.

The police soon realise that there is a serial killer on the loose, and employ the help of L, a highly eccentric but brilliant detective, to catch him.

Death Note is an intense thriller that will leave you constantly amazed at the elaborate ploys that both Light Yagami and L come up with. It is essentially a big cat-and-mouse chase, but many lives are at stake.

Genre: Crime, mystery, thriller
Length: 37 episodes
Available on: Netflix


20. Naruto (2002 – 2017)


naruto shippudden
Image credit: Crunchyroll

Naruto Uzumaki is an upstart brat who dreams of becoming the Hokage, the strongest ninja in the Hidden Leaf Village.

However, his dream of becoming the Hokage has a sad reason behind it – Naruto never knew his parents while growing up, and everyone in the village seemed to avoid him. To gain the love and recognition that he never had, he believed the only way to do so was to become the strongest shinobi.

naruto shippuden
Image credit: IMDb

Unbeknownst to Naruto, he is the human host of the fearsome Nine-Tailed Fox that destroyed much of the village, which was why the villagers ostracised him. Despite that, Naruto’s outgoing personality, determination, and compassion wins hearts over, friend or foe alike.

naruto shippudden
Image credit: KazeKitsune

The series has two installations – Naruto (2002) and Naruto Shippuden (2007). Both of them follow the protagonist as he trains to achieve his dream, but we recommend just watching Shippuden if you’re particular about the animation quality.

The latest installation, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations is about Naruto’s son, Boruto, and how he tries to step out of living in his father’s shadow. It is still an ongoing series, and can be streamed on Crunchyroll.

Genre: Adventure, fantasy, shonen
Length: 2 series (Naruto and Naruto Shippuden), 220 and 500 episodes respectively
Available on: Netflix, Crunchyroll


Iconic Japanese anime series


Being productive is overrated – if you’re bored and stuck at home like us, binge-watching anime is a great way to deal with all of that pent-up stress. Stay home and stay safe, and don’t forget to crank up the volume when the opening theme songs play.

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