The end of 2019 rings in a new decade. That means that the year end lists for best of will be chalked full of best of the decade. Yet, when we sit back and judge the best of anything for the past decade, what criteria are we using? We could just do readers choice. But that will end up leaving recent shows at the advantage (popularity bias). Ultimately there isn’t a solid set of criteria we could use to give you a truly unbiased list.
So instead, we won’t pretend it’s the best shows of the last decade, because we said so. Instead we will simply provide you our staff’s picks for the best anime of the past decade that we think you should watch. Disagree with our list? Great! Comment below and give us some additional recommendations. We have some free time going into the new year and are always looking for new things to watch.
Anime can have personal meaning to the person who is watching and recommending it. They may be recommending it because the story speaks to them, versus it having the best animation quality. Or perhaps the musical score its outstanding instead. But there are always those with very dull story lines but the animation is just outstanding. So with our list below, we will give you our reason we picked this as our best anime of the decade, and what it meant to each of our staff members.
So here are the rules. The anime had to have at least 1 season air within the timeframe of 2010-2019. They could have been subbed or dubbed, of any genre. We had a tough time narrowing down our list. However, we managed to give you our top six of the decade.
Best Anime Of The Decade
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Hunter X Hunter, based on the manga of the same name, was first animated in 1999. However, it was redone in 2011 in a version that most fans of the source material praised. Gon is a young boy who dreams of following in his father’s footsteps to become a Hunter. But first he must pass the notoriously difficult and dangerous Hunter Qualification Exam. Throughout his journey, Gon overcomes many obstacles, while making new friends along the way!
So why did we pick Hunter x Hunter? The story. As we watch Gon and his friends Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio in their journey, we grow up with them. The sheer number of characters we meet and the fleshing out of their back stories is a massive feat. By the time we see Gon make his dream goal come true, we are left ultimately conflicted on who the real enemies are. Very few anime ever got me on the edge of my seat. Even fewer had me emotional at any given scene, but Gon and Killua managed to make that happen.
This is why we feel that Hunter x Hunter deserves a spot in the best anime of the decade.
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
“People die when they are killed”. This famous line will forever leave Shiro Emiya on the list of “characters who have said the stupidest and most obvious fact out loud”. However, don’t let that deter you from watching the Fate series of anime. Animated by ufotable, Fate/Stay has among the BEST animation quality of anything out there. The studio is famous for its ability to mix 2D animation and 3D CGI into gorgeous scenes. The Fate series can be a bit complex to dive into but we recommend starting with Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works.
Fuyuki City—a city surrounded by the ocean and the mountains becomes the setting for an age-old ritual. To realize the mythical Holy Grail, which is said to grant any wish from its possessor, seven masters are given seven heroic spirits chosen by the Grail… Each master will enter into a contract with their assigned servants and battle the other masters and servants to the death until only one pair remains… This is the “Holy Grail War.”
ufotable helps propel the Fate series into our best anime of the decade list for its animation quality.
My Hero Academia
You too can be a hero. Forget Marvel or the Avengers. I was hooked on My Hero Academia the moment I finished the first volume of the manga. The story about a boy, born without a quirk, who wanted to become a hero. It is super heroes and high school but it is so much more. The depth of character building we get beyond the main characters is a rare treat in a large ensemble cast. Whether you love the hot head, Bakugo. Or perhaps you more into the caring and level headed Kirishima. How about the class genius, Yaoyorozu. The show just has an immense amount of heart and energy you just can’t look away from it.
Izuku has dreamt of being a hero all his life—a lofty goal for anyone, but especially challenging for a kid with no superpowers. That’s right, in a world where eighty percent of the population has some kind of super-powered “quirk,” Izuku was unlucky enough to be born completely normal. But that’s not enough to stop him from enrolling in one of the world’s most prestigious hero academies.
My Hero Academia makes our list of best anime of the decade for its story, the animation and its characters. We cannot help but fall in love with all of them and want to watch them fight the villains and win. It is everything the super hero genre should be.
Sword Art Online
What would happen if one day MMORPs became full dive VR games? What would happen if you died in the game, it also killed you the real world? First, not to fear, thats just not a possibility with current technology. Yet, VR has come a long way and Facebook has already announced an upcoming beta in 2020 for a VR world you can go into with their Oculus VR set. So the question remains how far are we from a full dive VR world? Sword Art Online explores this quite well. To make things interesting, the story puts some real stakes down but making it life or death in the game.
The series made our best anime of the decade list due to the animation and soundtrack for the series. The studio behind it, A-1 Pictures, did an outstanding job of taking in-game musical tracks during boss fights and upping the ante for the viewer.
In the near future, a Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) called Sword Art Online has been released where players control their avatars with their bodies using a piece of technology called: Nerve Gear. One day, players discover they cannot log out, as the game creator is holding them captive unless they reach the 100th floor of the game’s tower and defeat the final boss. However, if they die in the game, they die in real life. Their struggle for survival starts now.
Assiah, the realm of humans, and Gehenna, the realm of demons. Normally, these two dimensions would never intersect, but the demons are now intruding on the material world.
Blue Exorcist had a very interesting take on the supernatural. The son of Satan, being trained to be an exorcist, and ultimately destroy Satan. His twin brother, a much better exorcist then Rin, struggles to protect him after their father is no longer able to do so. Another beautifully animated piece, the series had a 6 year break before the next season came out. When Kyoto Saga did come out, we remembered exactly why we fell in love with the series. It also has a pretty killer soundtrack and a lot of heart.
Blue Exorcist rounds out our list of top six best anime of the decade for its unique take on the supernatural and for the struggle of discovery that Rin Okumura takes throughout the series.
The story follows a teenage girl named Lucy Heartfilla who is determined to join the notorious magical Fairy Tail Guild. During a daring rescue, she encounters Natsu who is part of the guild and eventually offers her a place. They become teammates performing various missions for the Fairy Tail Guild. Be prepared for an action-packed adventure!
Fairy Tail ran for 328 episodes, several films over a period of 10 years. Over those years, we grew to love our rag tag group of wizards and their struggles. From Lucy’s dedication to her friends, and Natsu’s everlasting desire belong, we spent the entire decade on a journey with the guild. There were plenty of filler episodes and arcs. But still, we couldn’t get enough of Natsu and Grey battling it out as the best of friends. And in the end, Natsu finds the family he has already desired.
Fairy Tail makes our best anime of the decade list for being with us the entire decade and taking us on a journey of family, friends, discovery and magic.