Characters from the anime Cowboy Bebop

The Best Anime on Netflix, Ranked

Netflix has so much good anime it’s BANANAS. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. There is absolutely no excuse for people to watch this trash when there are so many AMAZING titles out there! And I don’t just mean “excellent” titles, I mean PRESTIGE titles. I’m talking “greatest anime of all time” level stuff! So much good-good that I had to leave some amazing titles out of this list.

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So, a PSA before we begin: PLEASE watch Komi Can’t Communicate, Ouran High School Host Club and the oodles of other anime that didn’t make the cut. You could spit and hit a good anime on Netflix. It’s wild. At least they’re doing something right.

This is about to be one hell of a list.

15. Aggretsuko

Retsuko working at her desk. (Image: Netflix.)
(Netflix)

While Aggrestsuko is set in a modern day Japan populated by adorable talking animals, the series shows that day to day life is anything but cute. In order to blow off steam from her grueling office job, the soft spoken red panda Retsuko spends her nights at the karaoke bar singing heavy metal tunes. Throughout the series, Retsuko has to navigate annoying coworkers and her literally pig-headed superiors in order to find love, happiness, and above all else: a sustainable work/life balance.

14. Mononoke

The medicine seller smirks calmly in a hotel while two confused patrons look on in "Mononoke"
(Toei Animation)

Set in a folklore-soaked, technicolor feudal Japan, Mononoke is 50% horror, 50% noir thriller, 50% fantasy and 150% GOOD. The series follows a mysterious man named only the Medicine Seller, who travels from town to town peddling his wares. Herbs and roots? Nope. He sells medicine in order to rid people of their spiritual afflictions. With a habit of showing up exactly when the magic starts, the Medicine Seller uses his vast knowledge of the other side in order to ascertain what sort of no-good spirit is wreaking havoc in the places he visits.

13. Vinland Saga

Thorfinn wielding a knife while Vikings look on in "Vinland Saga"
(Wit Studio)

An anime about Vikings? The creators Vinland Saga struck gold! Or rather iron ore worthy of a master smithy! The tale begins in Iceland with a young boy named Thorfinn and his warrior father Thors. After Thors is murdered by a group of Vikings led by Welsh mercenary Askeladd, the formerly innocent now totally traumatized Thorfinn joins up with his father’s killers in order to someday be able to take revenge on Askeladd himself. What starts as a simple revenge story slowly but beautifully transforms into a gorgeous study of the cyclical nature of violence, and one man’s efforts to create a world of peace.

12. Violet Evergarden

A young woman stands in the sunlight looking like she's about to cry in "violet evergarden"
(Kyoto Animation)

Warning: watch this anime with a box of tissues, it will make you cry. Violet Evergarden is the story of the titular young girl named Violet, who formerly served as a child soldier in a devastating war. After the death of her commanding officer during the war’s final days, the emotionally stunted Violet struggles to find a place in the newly peaceful world. She takes a job as an “auto memory doll”, a letter writer that helps people put their feelings into words. As Violet begins to better understand the emotions of others in her new line of work, she slowly comes to terms with her own pain and trauma. I’m getting misty eyed writing about it .

11. Monster

Dr. Tenma leveling a gun at the camera while crouching in the rain from the anime "Monster"
(Madhouse)

Monster‘s protagonist Kenzo Tenma once had it all. He was a star surgeon in post-WWII Germany, and was about to be married to the beautiful and wealthy daughter of his hospital’s director. His life changed for good when he was forced to choose between performing surgery on an influential politician or a critically injured child. Against the hospital higher-up’s wishes, Tenma chose to save the kid and let the politician die. Good decision, right? Wrong. Aside from costing him his fiancé and his career, the kid ended up becoming the most vicious and prolific serial killer the world has ever seen. Falsely accused of the young man’s crimes, Tenma goes on the run in order to bring the real killer to justice.

10. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Dio Brando from the anime JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
(David Production)

What’s not to love about this show? It’s a beat-’em-up action romp with more than its fair share of homoerotic tension. It chronicles the adventures of the Joestar family, who are cursed to fight against the forces of an ancient, vampiric evil. What makes this show great? The muscles! The poses! The names that are weird classic rock references! The amazing battles! The meme-worthy villains and heroes! It’s iconic. It’s flamboyant. It’s the epitome of style.

9. Fate/Zero

Saber from the anime Fate/Zero
(Ufotable)

Seven sorcerers across Japan are summoning the spirits of heroes throughout history to battle each other in a contest to claim the Holy Grail! What a concept! This show does what Game of Thrones does so well, it makes you care about a lot of different characters who are then pitted against each other in a fight to the death. The heroes are valiant. The villains are abhorrent. The animation is stunning. And the combat sequences are some of the finest that anime has to offer. I’m STILL shaking from the battle between Kiritsugu and Kirei. One of the greatest fight scenes of all time.

8. Devilman Crybaby

Devilman surrounded by fire in the anime Devilman Crybaby
(Science SARU)

In a world overrun by devils, a shy, sweet boy becomes possessed by a powerful evil spirit and becomes an evil-slaying human/devil hybrid! A devilman! This series is a breathtaking tragedy in the true Shakespearean sense. The hero, Akira Fudo, is tasked with fighting a war against devil-kind, but it is a war that he cannot win. Be warned: this anime is absolutely stomach-turning and has some of the most horrifying demon attack sequences that I’ve ever seen. And yes, I’ve seen Berserk. If you can handle the gore, you will be rewarded with one of the most poignant and terrifying anime in recent memory.

7. Attack on Titan

The main characters from the anime Attack on Titan
(MAPPA)

This anime is world-famous for a reason: it’s just that good! A young boy loses everything at the hands of massive, flesh-eating humanoids called Titans, and vows to slay every single one on the planet. Attack on Titan is an action/horror title that is heavy on both. Lots of stunning fight sequences. Lots of nightmare-fuel “I just saw that guy get eaten alive” moments. Like Devilman Crybaby, this series is not for the faint of heart. However, if you can get past the horror, a sweeping geopolitical drama unfolds in which the true enemy is humanity itself.

6. Naruto

The main characters from the anime Naruto
(Pierrot)

Naruto is one of the Big Three, along with Bleach and One Piece, and may in fact be the best of all three. An outcast ninja child vows to become the greatest warrior in all of the land and then does it. However, the appeal of this show is not the main character, Naruto (he can get a little annoying sometimes), but the glorious cast of side characters who have some of the most thrilling and heart-wrenching arcs in anime history. Two words: Itachi Uchiha. Anyone who has seen this anime knows what I’m talking about.

5. Code Geass

Villetta Nu from Code Geass
(Sunrise)

Code Geass is an action-packed political drama about Lelouch, a young prodigy who gains a mysterious power that allows him to command human beings to do anything. There’s a catch: he can only use it on a particular person once. Lelouch uses this power on his quest to liberate occupied Japan from the clutches of the nefarious Britannian Empire. But he doesn’t just use his mystery power, he also uses giant robots. If you’re a fan of the Gundam series, this anime is for you.

4. Death Note

Light Yagami from the anime Death Note
(Madhouse)

This title is a true cerebral thriller. A bored boy genius named Light Yagami discovers a mysterious notebook and learns that any person whose name is written in that notebook will die. Light decides to use this power to purge the world of crime. Noble, right? The problem is, he also wants to become the God of this new world. After a string of unexplainable deaths, the police employ the help of their own boy genius, a young detective named L. The result is a game of mental chess played between the two boys, where the smallest mistake can lead to lethal consequences.

3. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

edward and al in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
(Aniplex of America)

After losing their mother to illness, Edward and Alphonse Elric decide to bring her back in a forbidden ritual that uses the magical art of alchemy. The spell backfires, causing Edward to lose his arm and leg. Meanwhile, Alphonse loses his entire body and his soul becomes trapped in a suit of armor. The two brothers embark on a quest to recover their missing parts and end up uncovering a massive government conspiracy. This anime has some of the finest fight sequences ever made and will have you hooked for its entire five-season run.

2. Neon Genesis Evangelion

eva unit 01 in Neon Genesis Evangelion
(Gainax)

The last two titles on this list cross the threshold from “entertainment” to “art.” Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most influential and critically acclaimed anime dramas of all time. A young boy named Shinji is tasked with piloting a massive biomechanical robot in order to defend the world from god-like extraterrestrial beings called “angels.” The result is a simultaneously gorgeous and horrifying dive into the human psyche and the secret nature of life itself—plus giant robot battles, we can’t forget that.

1. Cowboy Bebop

Spike from the anime Cowboy Bebop
(Sunrise)

Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime ever made. Its characters are nuanced, flawed, and effortlessly cool. Its animation is sublime. Its soundtrack is the greatest anime score ever recorded. It follows a loose-knit group of bounty hunters who are trying to survive in a godless solar system. The characters don’t have lofty goals or ambitions; they are simply trying to get by. Each of them is haunted by their past and unable to let go of things already long-lost This series will make you laugh, cry, and question everything.

(featured image: Sunrise)


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Author
Image of Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.