With Demon Slayer Mugen Train grossing over $500 million worldwide by 2022 and every streaming platform boasting its own blend of anime, it’s safe to say that anime is an all-encompassing genre that appeals to many. We’ve listed must-watch classics and trending series worth keeping an eye on below, so those new to anime can quickly get into the genre and discover your preferences along the way.

A reminder: We’re just scratching the surface here and have kept only the absolute must-watches for this list. We’re aware the anime scene runs deep — this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The Classics

These series are non-negotiable if you’re interested in understanding some of the medium’s origins and titles that still have loyal fandoms around the world. 


Any article about classic anime is bound to mention Dragonball, one of the first series to receive worldwide recognition. The story revolves around Goku, a young boy who sets off on an adventure, loosely inspired by the Chinese 16th-century novel, Journey to the West. This is the predecessor to Dragonball Z, a more popular and contemporary iteration that sees the adult Goku defending Earth against monsters, aliens and androids. 

Hajime no Ippo 

Sports-themed anime is another popular genre, including the likes of Slam Dunk and Captain Tsubasa. One of the most successful and longest-running franchises out there is Hajime no Ippo. The story follows Ippo, a timid teenager who is saved from bullies by Takamura, an upcoming professional boxer. Ippo ends up taking the first step towards a career in boxing, joining the Kamogawa gym and slowly rising up the ranks in competition. Each episode sees him challenging opponents, always stronger than the last. What truly sets Hajime no Ippo apart is the depiction of the victories and losses and the kind of passion and dedication that will have you rooting for everyone involved. 

If you’re learning Japanese, we also recommend picking up the Hajime no Ippo manga. And read TW’s own Hajime no Ippo review before you start.

Cardcaptor Sakura 

The magical girl motif is a common one in shoujo anime, with one of the most recognizable titles being Cardcaptor Sakura. The journey begins when Sakura, a 10-year-old girl, accidentally releases powerful Clow Cards that have the potential to wreak havoc throughout the world. She becomes the Cardcaptor, and alongside her friends and Kero, a mystical bear-like creature with wings, sets off to recapture all the Clow Cards. 

The Millennials

Stemming from the golden age of Japanese anime in the late 1990s and early 2000s, these are some of the most explosively popular anime. 


Naruto is an incredibly well-known anime series about a young ninja, Naruto Uzumaki, from the Hidden Leaf Village. Born with the Nine-tailed Fox Demon sealed inside him, Naruto grows up as the village outcast. Despite his difficult childhood, he remains undeterred and still holds onto his big dream to become the Hokage, the village’s greatest ninja. The story explores themes of friendship, loyalty, perseverance and the pursuit of dreams.

Naruto’s adventures take him through intense battles, complex political intrigue and deep emotional turmoil. But cool ninjutsu and epic battles aside, it is the engaging characters and heartfelt storytelling of Naruto that has made this series one of the most enduring of all time. 

One Piece 

Don’t let the slightly goofy art style fool you, One Piece is one of the longest-running anime to date and has a global fanbase to show for it. The series revolves around Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates as they embark on an adventure to find the ultimate treasure, known as One Piece. Along their journey, they engage in thrilling battles and uncover deep mysteries. One Piece is best known for its incredible world-building. Eiichiro Oda’s ability to balance action, humor and emotion makes it an anime that can be enjoyed by everyone. 

Vampire Knight 

If you’re a fan of a novel series like Twilight, Vampire Knight could be your guilty anime pleasure. This hauntingly gothic anime features Yuki Cross, a young girl who attends Cross Academy, a school that secretly harbors both humans and vampires. Alongside her childhood friend Zero Kiryu, Yuki plays a school monitor role, ensuring there is a peaceful coexistence between the two species. However, dark secrets threaten to be revealed, linking Yuki’s forgotten past with the world of vampires. Expect supernatural elements, mystery and an intense love triangle that will titillate the senses. 

What’s Hot

Currently trending anime to watch so you too can hop on the hype train.

Jujutsu Kaisen 

Enter a world of curses and sorcery with Jujutsu Kaisen, a shounen anime series featuring high school student, Yuji Itadori. After ingesting a cursed finger, Yuji joins the Tokyo Metropolitan Jujutsu Technical High School, where he trains alongside other sorcerers to learn how to defeat curses and other powerful enemies. Yuji aside, you’ll also become acquainted with an exciting cast of characters, including the affable Satoru Gojo, often lauded as this generation’s Kakashi Hatake (Naruto). Jujutsu Kaisen is an action-packed shounen anime that showcases friendship triumphing over evil and themes of self-discovery. 

Chainsaw Man 

This anime is not for the faint of heart. Chainsaw Man takes you through the life of Denji, a young and impoverished devil hunter who merges with his demon dog, Pochita, to become Chainsaw Man. But beneath the already complex nature of devils, private hunters and Public Safety Devil Hunters, lies an even more convoluted world of powerful adversaries, treachery and the quest for redemption. While there are some quiet moments, expect jaw-dropping action and shock-value scenes.

Read our first impressions of this 2022 hit.

Oshi no Ko 

There have been many anime series about idols, but few have ventured as far as Oshi no Ko has with its portrayal of both the limelight and the darkness of the Japanese entertainment industry. This anime follows a doctor and his recently deceased patient who are both reborn as twins to Ai, a famous Japanese pop idol. After Ai is murdered, the twins continue to grow up while bearing the trauma, guilt and anger against the true perpetrator behind this. What starts off as a light-hearted series about pop music and cute girls, very rapidly descends into a thrilling plot about revenge and how far one is willing to go for fame.

If you love Oshi no Ko and the world of Japanese idols, we have more recommendations