Netflix’s 20 Top Animated TV Shows

20. Gurren Lagann

Gainax was a studio that was constantly at the edge of disaster and success, right up until the release of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Gainax had been on the verge of collapse until Neon Genesis Evangelion was released. In the years that followed, Gainax needed another boon. Hiroyuki’s television directorial debut was a “hot-blooded”, “unconventional,” super robot anime that served as a spiritual successor for previous works such as Gunbuster, and Evangelion. With its boundless charisma, meteoric stakes, and absurd spectacles that make you laugh in the face of your sensibility, Gurren gave Gainax another cult favorite and was the launchpad to Trigger, the studio’s successor. Imaishi and his co. made the most of Gurren’s success and revealed the truth about their lives to the entire world. Toussaint Egan

19. Trollhunters

This beloved adventure story is one of the last performances by Anton Yelchin before his tragic death in 2016. Yelchin plays the role of a young man chosen to become the Trollhunter. This magical hero fights evil trolls and protects all the world. Guillermo del Toro ( Hellboy), Marc Guggenheim( Arrow_) are the creators of this series. It has a great pedigree for sci-fi stories and is a result of their collaboration. This series is bright and high-stakes with beautiful animation, well-rounded characters, and plenty of action to keep both children and adults entertained. Trent Moore

18. Death Note

Light Yagami, a bored honors student, has a god complex. This only escalates when he finds a Shinigami (or god of death) notebook that can kill anyone who is named in it. He’s not the only character morally compromised. Even L, the antagonist, is not above deception no matter how many small cakes he eats. It’s the Shinigami community who is most charming, especially when Death Notice begins unraveling. –Sarra Sedghi

17. Disenchantment

While Netflix’s disenchantment may not be a revival, it is the first venture by Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons, and Futurama). It has its faults, and it is not a great Popular TV Show; however, I can’t help but feel it represents something positive despite all the retreading past successes: an iconic TV creator choosing to push forward in a few different ways and chart new territory. Disenchantment is Groening’s big narrative swings in the new era. Without spoiling, Dreamland’s status quo has been significantly altered by the end of its first run. Does it reinvent the serialized narrative format? Groening’s work is not being rewritten, but Groening’s writing team’s fresh perspective on these types of plot developments pushes Groening’s work in compelling ways. –Graham Tischler

16. Devilman Crybaby

Go, Nagai, to put it mildly, is a man with a reputation. He is known for being the creator of “Super Robo”, a subgenre of mecha that was used in the creation of Mazinger Z. His works also push taboos, which led to the shift of anime from a child-oriented industry to more sexually-charged content. Devilman is a good example. Masaaki Yuasa’s modern reprise of Akira Fudo’s “love story” is just as violent as Nagai’s original manga. It’s as risky and ominous as the Luciferian beauty that Berserk’s Griffith and the apocalyptic solitude of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Devilman Crybaby is a series that has been praised for its quality and will continue to be great. –Toussaint Eagan

15. Your Lie In April

This anime features 22 episodes and is filled with musical talent from junior high. Although shonen is billed, it shares more similarities with josei. Director KyoheiIshiguro’s adaptation from Naoshi Arakawa manga doesn’t pull any of the heart-wrenching punches. The film’s sweeping classical music, performed both by Kosei Arima, the traumatized piano player, and Kaori Miyazono the free-spirited violinist, only enhances the mood. The original score by Masaru Yokoyama is also a great hit. Keep a stash of tissues handy for this one, especially when the finale is approaching. –John Maher

14. The Magic School Bus

Welcome to the “90s Kids Will Remember” section of this list. If you are a Millennial (or a parent), you may be familiar with Ms. Frizzle, the quirky schoolteacher who shrinks her bus so it fits through a paper cut and propels it into outer space to teach her students all about the scientific wonders in the universe. Although The Magic School Bus Rides Again has been updated by Netflix, and Kate McKinnon plays the role of Ms. Frizzle there is no denying the charm of Joanna Cole’s children’s books. Best. Field trip. Ever. –Matt Brennan

13. One-Punch Man

One-Punch Man’s baseball park madness is amazing, even by the standards of superheroes. A 25-year old college-graduate saves a little boy with rosy cheeks from the clutches of a lobster-man monster. He gives up his search for a job as a salaried worker and dedicates himself to a three-year training program to become a hero. His hair naturally falls out. Saitama, the world’s strongest superhero, has a Jim Lee-esque body and face. He is also gifted with the incredible ability to defeat all enemies with one punch. Apart from its excellent animation and fight scenes courtesy of Madhouse, the crux of One-Punch Man is the series’ commitment as a superhero show. It’s a comedy of absurd serial escalation with every otherworldly opponent being quickly smashed to bits by Saitama’s indifference. Toussaint Egan

12. Violet Evergarden

Violet Evergarden’s success is all about the future. Violet is a former child soldier, who survived the war and lost both of her arms. She must face the future and can’t help but look backward. Ghostwriting is her day job. She is constantly haunted by PTSD-fuelled echoes from her past. She longs for her superior officer, who (we believe?) she was. died. She struggles with her prosthetic hands and with all of her friends. Many anime, including the titles on this list, focus on the conflict in wartime. Rarely, one focus fully on peace and the conflicts that follow. Violet Evergarden argues that these aftereffects can be overcome. This is a compelling and important argument. Eric Vilas Boas

11. Legend of Korra

They had high expectations when Avatar creators Bryan Konietzko & Michael Dante DiMartino announced Legend of Korra, a sequel series that would be set some 70 years after the events of their original show. Despite some bumps along the way Legend of Korra delivered on these high expectations. They created a series of captivating stories that combined the imagination and whimsy of Hayao Miyazaki’s with the complex political intrigue you might see in an episode of Game of Thrones. The show featured a female protagonist, a sassy teenage girl who must save her world while also going through the all-too-familiar adolescent journey of discovering her inner self. –Mark Rozeman

10. The Dragon Prince

After having already hit the post-Avatar the Last Airbender jackpot with Lauren Montgomery’s Voltron: Legendary Defender and Joaquim Donos Santos, Netflix reached into the AtLA creative pool to tap Aaron Ehasz (AtLA chief writer) and Jack De Sena (“lead voice actor”) for The Dragon Prince. The series’ first season was warm-hearted and beautifully designed. It also featured dragons, elves, and classically European magic, which helped to attract viewers not familiar with the AtLA brand. It still gives Avatar lovers a taste of Ehasz’s Four Nations magic. The series’ first season focuses on a familiar trio of young warriors/students in elemental power/heirs-to-the-throne (and their adorable strange pet) who embark on a dangerous quest. The series builds on Atla’s progressive ethos and includes a biracial, mixed royal family, a badass ASL-speaking lady general, an awkward goth teenager witch as one of its kinda-villains. These details have, not incidentally, earned the series some of Tumblr’s most coveted fandom real estate. The first season of the Dragon Prince is only nine episodes in length and ends with our heroes just getting started. However, if this is how the draconic prologue should look like, then next season will be great. Alexis Gunderson

9. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Although the original Shera: Princess of Power cartoon of the 1980s may have reversed the gender ratio, it didn’t change the world. It was still a tie-in show for toys, and when the merchandise didn’t sell She Ra took the reins. This is part of what makes the revival so unique. Noelle Stevenson, the showrunner, took elements that made Shera so great–butt-kicking girls’ power, an LGBTQ subtext anan deep female relationships-–into the 21st Century with all the resources available at DreamWorks, Netflix, and DreamWorks. Shera and PrincesShera Power are beautifully animated and thematically confident products that are equally open to taking on action sets and dealing with the dark conflicts in its characters’ their. While the reality hasn’t been changed by the revival, it has given us plenty to admire in flawed and beautiful women. Eric Vilas Boas

8. Voltron: Legendary Defender

Although you may not be capable of teaching an old dog new tricks you can teach it with a series about robot transformations and an intergalactic fight against fascism. As long as the right people are in charge. Eight seasons of Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender were released quickly. The series’ relentlessly new take felt more like an animated reincarnation rather than a cash grab. Joaquim and Lauren Dos Santos, who is best known for their work on Avatar and its sequel The Legend of Korra, brought along writers from both series to infuse Voltron with empathy and imagination. This allowed the show’s true complexity to be found in its interpersonal relationships. Every set piece and amazing logline is resolved by the character’s personal development, whether the Paladins are fighting an enormous space worm/manta ray that projects optical illusions to lure its prey or navigating a white hole. Voltron pulp is rich in political subtext and personal relevance. Jacob Oller

7. Aggretsuko

Many viewers believe that small, cute animals with big eyes are the best way to describe “anime”. Rako, who directed a series of animated Japanese shorts called Aggretsuko and launched a Western remake to be a Netflix original series, clearly understood this. This workplace musical comedy stars Retsuko, an anthropomorphic red panda aged 25 who works as an accountant for a trading company. She quietly displays the righteous power and anger of women. Retsuko vents at night at her local karaoke club, where she sings, and screams, death metal. This show is truly original and has a satisfying, character-driven story. –John Maher

6. Inuyasha

Inuyasha for me is a reminder of simpler times. When anime had to have fun battles and funny dialogue. This was the Demon Slayer show we used to love, and the one we would watch over and over again on Adult Swim. It’s the show we grew up watching, even though it’s not in sequential order. But that doesn’t matter much considering Inuyasha has long arcs, lots of filler, and long arcs. It’s a solid show that holds up well and is a good choice for group watching. Take a shot whenever Kagome or Inuyasha shout at each other, take one shot when a beautiful woman turns into a demon-like bug, and take one shot every single time Inuyasha misunderstands how respectable humans behave. It has 200 episodes and 4 feature-length films. This show is great for keeping you entertained and easy to dip into. Austin Jones

5. Castlevania

Paste has argued Netflix’s Castlevania was “the greatest videogame adaptation ever made”, but that is far less glowing praise than it deserves. Videogames have rarely been translated to television or film with any success, making Castlevania a bogus choice. It is amazing how high it can fly. The anime-style series is adapted from the Konami franchise by Warren Ellis, an award-winning comic writer. It was directed by Sam Deats, animated by Powerhouse Animation Studios, and features a Gothic orchestra that honors and deepens Castlevania. The series’ first five episodes establish the motivations and stakes of the characters and build slowly to the spectacularly explosive finale. The heart of the story is Graham McTavish, a tortured Dracula. He is the ultimate villain. Scott Russell

4. Big Mouth

Netflix’s animated series about puberty, created by Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg, Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, and Jay Mantzoukas, follows four friends as they go through their first stages of this difficult time in life. Jessi (Jessi Kell) starts menstruating at The Statue of Liberty. Jay (Jason Mantzoukas), concocts rococo ways of getting away with his pillow. It’s hilariously absurd (one episode’s credits roll over a lengthy description of Andrew’s father’s testicles; Nick (Kroll) awaits his first pubic hairs; Jessi (Jessi Klein) begins menstruating at the Statue of Liberty; Jay (Jason Mantzoukas) uses a perfect Seinfeld video to explain the blowjob “headrush” and the term “mons pubis”. The series, as implied by Charles Bradley’s “Changes” theme song, is much sweeter than first glance. Its purpose is to get past the humiliations of sex and to expose the normal yearnings underneath. This includes the desire for pleasure, touch, emotional connection, approval, confidence, intimacy, and love. As Andrew admits in the series premiere that “everything” is embarrassing–and this is not just for teens– Big Mouth creates a space where there are no questions that can’t be asked and no one answer that’s the same. This is the streaming version your sex-ed teacher uses to slip of paper. But the laughs aren’t sniggers. They’re hard-won empathic guffaws. –Matt Brennan

3. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Brotherhood has been deemed the best anime experience. It’s clear why. Brotherhood is a faithful adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular manga series. It deals with loss, grief, and war in mature and original ways that are ahead of its time in almost every aspect. The show’s pace is perfect, with well-crafted arcs that link into each other and support a larger global narrative on certain themes. Brotherhood is the perfect length. It never feels rushed and shows how flexible and adaptable the conventions in shounen anime are.

Brotherhood features a large cast of characters from different nationalities and ideologies. The show uses these forces to create factions, alliances, and foils that flow in multiple directions, mirroring the messy and chaotic nature of human relationships during wartime. The show’s emotional core centers around two alchemists, Ed and Alphonse. They are sponsored by the authoritarian Amestris military. This is not your typical military drama. Alphonse and Ed quickly discover how far Amestris’s authoritarianism can go.

Brotherhood shines in its sensitivity to every character’s struggles for their wants and dealing with their mistakes. Particular emphasis is placed on the plights and plights of women and minorities. Alphonse and Ed struggle with the aftermath of trying forbidden alchemy to save their mother. Their childhood friend Winry, who was an emergency midwife, is heroically portrayed later. The scar is a serial killer and brutal killer who was initially introduced. However, he is now one of the last indigenous Ishvalans. This ethnic group was expelled during colonial wars at the hands of Amestris. His odyssey rings more true as we move further into a post-terrorist world. This is why the series continues its success today: it avoids clichés to make compelling points about human consciousness. Austin Jones

2. Avatar: The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan’s awkward 2010 live-action adaptation is not to be ignored. This animated TV series combines the imagination of Hayao Miyazaki and some of the more quirky Cartoon Network originals with rich animation. The series follows the adventures of Avatar, a boy savior who can control all four elements (fire, water, and earth) and is full of political intrigue, personal growth, and endless challenges. The dangers of strange hybrid animals and spirits are not only for those who want power but also for the people who do. This one is one you will enjoy with your children or alone. Josh Jackson

1. Bojack Horseman

The ability of Netflix’s animated comedy to identify the character of the Zeitgeist and map some of the routes through it is at its heart. Its profound genius allows for a seamless transition from silver-tongued humor to pathos, almost imperceptibly. The cruelties of BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), a washed-up, alcoholic actor–or any other’s–are not forgiven by the series. It suggests that cruelties are now the dominant currency, the payola which secures Wall Street for those who will be damned and the White House for those who want it. In BoJack, the backdrop to the characters’ familiar foibles–their unthinking insults, their unspoken apologies, their selfish choices, self-doubt, self-flagellation–is the even more familiar crassness of lobbyists, donors and campaign managers; of studio heads, ambitious agents, stars on the make; of cable news anchors, dimwitted columnists, “Ryan Seacrest types”; of social order so inured to insincerity, whataboutism, political profiteering, an environmental collapse that being kicked in the stomach starts to feel like a gift. BoJack Horseman is defining series and a guide for how to survive it. –Matt Brennan