10 Anime TV Shows That Changed the Genre Forever

In the world of anime, there are many series that are classics for a reason. These are the anime that helped define and refine the industry as a whole. Whether they were global hits, popular primarily in Japan, cult classics or mainstream hits, these animes still made their mark.

Some of these animes started trends that became genres in their own right. Even if a particular anime wasn’t the first of its kind or the first to tell a particular story, it still could have helped popularize it. Many of these anime series also helped define what people around the world think about anime, and many achieved milestones abroad.

Astro Boy (1963)


Osamu Tezuka is credited with creating the definitive anime and manga style AstroBoy is considered to be his trademark series. In a sci-fi series set in a future where advanced robots coexist alongside humans, Doctor Tenma creates a robotic boy in the image of his late son Tobio. Unfortunately, Dr. Tenma increasingly dislikes his creation, and Astro Boy is soon sold to a circus. Eventually, Astro is taken in by the kind-hearted Professor Ochanomizu, and soon begins using his robotic abilities as a force for good.

In addition to codifying anime as a genre, AstroBoy is attributed many firsts. It was one of the first anime series to market its characters, from action figures to trading cards. AstroBoy was also one of the first anime to receive syndication in the United States.

Sally the Witch (1966)

Sally the witch

Sally the witch is considered one of the first Magic Girl anime. Inspired by the American sitcom bewitchedSally is a magical princess from the kingdom of Astoria who travels to Earth and makes new friends. Sally must keep her magical powers a secret from her friends or she must return home. The series proved so popular that 20 years later a sequel was released, ending with a movie in which Sally becomes the queen of her magical kingdom.

Another early example of the magical girl genre is Himitsu no Akko-chan, or Akko-chan’s Mystery, in which a young girl can transform herself into anything she desires with the help of a magic mirror. Technically, however, Himitsu no Akko-chan came first as a manga Sally the witch first came out as an anime. Sally was so influential that an early name for “magic girls” was “majokko” or “little witches”.

Fist of the North Star (1984)

Fist of the North Star
Discotek media

Fist of the North Star is set in a world set after a nuclear war in the then-distant 1990s. Thieves roam the earth, attacking innocents. But soon the outlaws will find an enemy in Kenshiro, a man in search of his kidnapped fiancée and skilled in the Hokuto Shinken technique. By hitting the right pressure points, Kenshiro can obliterate any opponent in a matter of moments.

Fist of the North Star is considered a precursor to the modern Shonen series and an influence on his series. In particular, it is considered to be the archetypal Shonen fighting series. Kenshiro was also an influence on many later action heroes in anime, such as from Momotaro Sakigake!! Otokojuku and the titular hero of Toriko.

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Dragon Ball Z (1989)

Goku prepares for battle in Dragon Ball Z
Fuji TV

The dragon ball Franchise started with dragon balla manga and anime series loosely inspired by Journey to the West. Son Goku is a monkey-tailed boy who embarks on an adventure to find the seven powerful Dragon Balls that can be used to summon the wish-granting dragon Shenron. The series notably spawned various spin-offs Dragon Ball Zwhich focuses on Goku as an adult and his son Gohan.

The dragon ball The franchise helped codify what fans of fighting and tournament anime can expect. Goku himself is often touted as the benchmark for a Shonen hero, to the point that one measure of fictional characters’ strength is to wonder if they could defeat Goku in a fight. For many viewers around the world dragon ball and its spin-offs are often viewed as archetypal anime.

Sailor Moon (1992)

Sailor Moon
Namely media

Sailor Moon It stars Usagi Tsukino, a clumsy, graceful schoolgirl who rescues a mysterious cat with a crescent moon on its forehead. The cat Luna reveals that Usagi can transform into the heroine Sailor Moon who can fight the forces of darkness. She is soon joined by other girls who learn that they are the Sailor Guardians, each drawing powers from the planets. The girls are tasked with finding the moon princess and the powerful silver crystal, although both may already be in their midst. Additionally, Sailor Moon appears to have a mysterious guardian, Tuxedo Mask, who may be connected to the princess.

There are all sorts of villains in each story arc: energy-sapping demons, time-traveling villains from the future, a school run by heartbreaking witches, a haunted circus, and even evil Sailor Guardians. Sailor Moon revitalized the magic girl genre and blended it with the superhero genre. The series also helped popularize the shojo genre in the West and was even one of the first shojo anime to air in the United States. The series also saw a reboot Sailor Moon crystal.

Pokemon (1997)

Pokemon season 6

Pokemon, based on the video games of the same name, revolves around a little boy named Satoshi or Ash Ketchum who travels the world in hopes of becoming a Pokémon Master. Along the way, he and his Pikachu buddy make new friends, face off against new enemies, and meet and battle all sorts of Pokémon.

Pokemon is a definitive example of the “mons” or monster catching anime style, which includes: Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yo-Kai clockand myself Cardcaptor Sakura. especially the Pokemon Anime is considered a staple of the 1990s anime boom and the definitive shonen series. The long-running series was also credited with being one of the first anime series to become a mainstream success in the West.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

Posters of Neon Genesis Evangelion
TV Tokyo

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha series set in a world affected by the Second Impact, an event that has led to worldwide destruction. Years after the event, teenage Shinji Ikari is assigned to pilot a mecha called Evangelion.

Neon Genesis Evangelion changed many aspects of the anime industry. Although the series technically had a manga that predated the anime by about a year, it was created to promote the television series and not the other way around. Neon Genesis EvangelionThe popularity is attributed to inspirational anime productions not directly based on popular manga titles. It also helped bring darker themed anime into mainstream TV anime, while such stories were previously reserved for OVAs and home releases.

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Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Madman Entertainment/Aniplex/Crunchyroll/JNN (MBS, TBS, CBC)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica begins when Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki meet the mysterious feline Kyubey who offers them the chance to grant any wish. As payment, however, they must become magical girls and fight evil witches. Meanwhile, a mysterious new transfer student, Homura Akemi, turns out to be a magical girl with unclear motives, and she doesn’t want Madoka to sign a deal with Kyubey. However, the situation is not as clear-cut as it seems, especially as things like Homura’s situation and the witches’ origins come to light.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica isn’t the first series to take the magic girl genre into darker terrain, but it helped popularize the idea. The series is. He is also credited with not only popularizing anime in the 2010s but also bringing horror anime closer to viewers.

Sword Art Online (2012)

Aniplex of America

Sword Art Online centers around an RPG game of the same name that uses sensory helmets to let players interact in a virtual world. However, one day many players fall into the trap of the game. Your only escape is to win the game. However, players risk their lives trying to remove their helmets or dying in-game. Meanwhile, a young player and tester, Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya, falls in love with another in-game player, Asuna Yuuki. Soon, a plan comes to light aimed at capturing the minds of players with illegal experiments.

Sword Art Online is an example of the “Isekai” genre in which characters experience adventures in other worlds. Isekai stories have probably been around for years Origins in Japanese fairy talesbut Sword Art Online helped popularize the genre as a whole worldwide.

One Piece (1999)

Monkey D Luffy in One Piece (1999)
Fuji TV/Swimming for Adults

One piece is a long-running series about Monkey D. Luffy, who dreams of becoming a pirate like his hero “Red-Haired” Shanks. In fact, the title “One Piece” refers to a mysterious treasure bequeathed by “Pirate King” Gold Roger, the title of which Luffy would like to one day have. However, Luffy ate the mysterious fruit Gum-Gum Devil, which grants him the power to stretch like rubber, albeit at the expense of the ability to swim. Luckily, Luffy assembles an impressive pirate crew, the Straw Hats, which includes colorful characters like a talking skeleton and a shape-shifting reindeer.

Unfortunately, they must contend with other forces, including the world government. Additionally, Luffy and some of his allies aren’t the only ones with Devil Fruit powers. One pieceThe manga has become one of the best-selling manga in the world, even breaking world records. The anime would also prove to be a long-lived series.

Lindsay Lowe

Lindsay Lowe is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Lindsay Lowe joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: LindsayLowe@worldtimetodays.com.

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