10 Best Seinen Anime Of All Time, Ranked
While the shounen anime genre tends to grab mainstream attention, there are plenty of series in the seinen demographic worth noting. Several of these series use their genre to shed some of the anime tropes popularized by shounen and go in different – and sometimes even more ambitious – directions.
Ranker’s voting community has compiled a top 10 list of their favorite seinen anime. Unsurprisingly, the list includes revered genre classics like Berserk and Samurai Champloobut there is still an impressive degree of variety.
ten One-punch man
The ONE Writer One-punch man The webcomic enjoyed an explosive rise to fame, being adapted into manga with the help of world-class artist Yusuke Murata and finally into anime. Although 2019’s Season 2 showed a drop in quality on the animation front, Season 1 offered anime fans some of the most exceptional animation work in the medium thanks to veteran studio Madhouse.
In addition to its amazing action, One-punch man is acclaimed for its subversive premise and satire on the shounen and superhero genres. It features a colorful cast of characters and an all-powerful protagonist who misses being the strongest in the world, while adding a healthy dose of clever wit. Ironically, it became one of the best superhero anime doing it.
9 Psycho Pass
The original anime from Production IG Psycho Pass is both a psychological thriller and a cyberpunk series. And while the last two seasons have dwindled in quality from the original, Season 1 has been incredibly well received. Psycho Pass wears its genre influences on its sleeve, perhaps the most obvious being the classic Ridley Scott film blade runner.
It is set in a sci-fi dystopia where a tyrannical government rules over its population by unwittingly scanning them with sensors that measure their likelihood of criminality. Season 1, in particular, was praised for its interesting character dynamics and tantalizing mystery at the heart of the story.
8 Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
the Code Geass is an anime original IP from studio Sunrise that tells a sci-fi story set in an alternate history. It follows the titular Prince Lelouch who is gifted with the “power of kings” and helps lead a rebellion in Japan against the increasingly hostile and encroaching British Holy Empire.
This dynamic mecha-action anime has won critical acclaim for its broad appeal, touching base among said action fans, intriguing characters, and high-octane storytelling. Given the premise, the series raises questions about the greed of power-drunk authority figures who oppress the world and the generations that follow them.
7 cowboy bebop
The anime original cowboy bebop was a landmark series for the genre as a whole. Its compelling style and thought-provoking depth made it a juggernaut in the 90s that contributed to anime’s influence on the international stage. While Netflix unsurprisingly missed the mark on the acclaimed anime with a live-action adaptation, the source material continues to stand the test of time.
cowboy bebop follows Spike, Jet and co. as bounty hunters in a mostly episodic series taking jobs across the galaxy in a dystopian sci-fi future where humanity had finally peaked in its degradation of the earth due to corporate greed. Its acid-jazz stylistic influence helps complete the immersive character arcs of each of the crew members as they explore themes of loneliness, letting go of the past, existentialism and more with impressive tact. Many fans would agree that it is among the best anime available to watch, even over 20 years later.
6 Samurai Champloo
Like his work on the revered cowboy bebopby director Shinichiro Watanabe Samurai Champloo is another classic anime original. While the former was a mix of sci-fi and jazz-inspired Western genres, the latter is Japanese historical fiction fueled by hip-hop. Samurai Champloo follows a pair of ronin named Jin and Mugen who find themselves in the service of a former tea waitress named Fuu.
They’re tasked with helping him find a mysterious samurai who “smells like sunflowers” in a countryside adventure that mirrors be bopepisodic structure. And like bebop, Champloo shares its strengths in writing compassionate and emotionally resonant characters. The show was arguably ahead of its time, as it tackled various themes of social inequality and persecution, as well as the acceptance of death. It is another must-see anime of a season.
5 Parasite: The Maxim
Another adaptation of Madhouse, Parasite is an entertaining sci-fi horror anime based on the manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki. It’s a simple premise executed well thanks to its context, as the story revolves around a high school student whose right hand is infected by an alien parasite with a hostile spirit of its own.
Parasite touches on a light human philosophy in its themes, as Izumi’s Parasite debates it on the inherent nature of humanity. It’s a good thematic vehicle for the ensuing madness, as Izumi finds himself battling other parasites who get better and better and disguise themselves as manipulative humans.
Originally based on a visual novel video game, Steins;Door easily became a modern anime classic in 2011. The anime cleverly hides as an almost slice-of-life story, but unfolds forcefully as an anxiety-inducing drama and gripping sci-fi thriller. However, even with the explosive revelations that Steins;Door drops, it never loses its intimate scope as it tells an emotional, character-driven story.
The story centers on Okabe Rintaro, a self-proclaimed narcissistic “mad scientist” and his group of friends who accidentally discover time travel technology. But as the story unfolds and a sinister conspiracy with exponentially high stakes grows, so does Okabe.
The anime adaptation of Madhouse by writer Naoki Urasawa Freak is one of the few anime that, on paper, could easily translate into a major live-action series if the likes of HBO got their hands on the property. The story is a thrilling crime drama about a Japanese doctor working in Germany named Kenzo Tenma, whose life is consumed when a former patient he saved returns to haunt the country as an elusive serial killer.
The Madhouse anime received acclaim for its flawless execution and faithfulness to the source material. Its sprawling 74-episode series is filled with tense drama and gripping plot reveals that would have been a great source of inspiration for the likes of real detective.
2 Vinland Saga
2019 has been a very busy year for major anime releases with the likes of The attack of the Titans and demon slayerbut Vinland Saga still stands out as a rich and compelling historical drama. Vinland Saga begins Thorfinn on a bloody and visionary quest for revenge, but the trail of corpses and the life he throws away forces him to wake up to reality the hard way.
His father was killed by the Viking pirate Askeladd, leading to the boy joining his crew for a chance to duel and kill him in return. The series, however, excels when it expands beyond Thorfinn in the supporting cast, as everyone has a compelling story and unique motivations in life. It’s one of the most introspective modern anime, but it’s also not without its exhilarating Viking-themed action. Where the Story Ends makes the upcoming second season one of the most anticipated anime of 2022.
It’s a dark entry, as manga author Kentaro Miura sadly passed away last year. Nonetheless, he leaves behind a revered legacy in the form of Berserk, one of the greatest dark fantasy manga ever written and illustrated. The story of Guts, Casca and co. is surrounded by dense, fantastical world-building, but it mostly focuses on the main cast and how they navigate it in a similar vein to Andrej Sapkowski. the witcher novels.
Berserk has received a few anime adaptations, however, the 90s series is perhaps the strongest. While much of the first two arcs had to be condensed with its limited runtime of 25 episodes, it’s a relentless, tragic, and gripping watch about recovering from intense trauma and learning to let go of the people enter again.
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