Top 5 All-Time Anime Shows

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As a representation of Japanese popular culture, anime has reached global popularity. Based on the illustrated novels known as manga, anime are produced in Japan and exported to the United States in English-language versions. The TV shows may be dubbed or subtitled, and appear on streaming websites and cable TV channels. The best anime challenge viewers with a unique visual style and sophisticated storytelling that far surpasses that of ordinary popular cartoon shows.

5 “Baccano!”

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Set in the Prohibition era of New York City, “Baccano!” relates the story of an alchemist battling for control of a powerful elixir of immortality with a menacing set of ruthless Italian gangsters. Inspired by Al Capone and the 1950s-era television series “The Untouchables,” author Ryohgo Narita wrote a series of prize-winning novellas that formed the basis of a 16-episode anime, which originally aired in 2007.

4 “Maison Ikkoku”

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Bustling, hip Tokyo of the 1980s provides the backdrop for this bittersweet comic romance set in a boardinghouse. The plot of “Maison Ikkoku” turns on the doomed romance of a poor student, Yusaku Godei, and his widowed landlady, Kyoko. The 15-volume manga series ran to 96 television anime episodes, which piloted on March 26, 1986.

3 “Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal”

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In this vivid and violent historical drama, samurai swordsman Hiko Seijuro rescues a young boy from a posse of bloodthirsty bandits and takes him on as an apprentice. Trained in all the physical and spiritual demands of the samurai, the young Himura Kenshin — also known as Rurouni, “the wanderer”—leaves his master to join a revolution against the Tokugawa, the imperial shogunate that ruled over 19th century Japan. “Rurouni Kenshin: Trust & Betrayal” was based on a portion of the manga series “Rurouni Kenshin,” which ran to well over 100 installments in Japan.

2 “Cowboy Bebop”

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In this tragic adventure series, a crew of bounty hunters matches wits with a rogue’s gallery of fugitives, terrorists and criminals. Flashbacks “Cowboy Bebop” describe the checkered past of hitman Spike Spiegel, former police officer Jet Black, the amnesiac grifter Faye Valentine, hacker Edward, and Ein, a supersmart, stranger-than-fiction Welsh Corgi. The series premiered in Japan on April 3, 1998, and ran just 26 episodes. The English adaptation quickly reached cult status after its release in the United States in 2001.

1 “Steins;Gate”

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In this time-twisting science fiction thriller, mad scientist Rintaro Okabe develops a microwave device that sends messages back in time. Along with his friend Itaru Hashida, Okabe employs the invention to foil the evil machinations of SERN, an organization bent on mastering its own time-travel device for the purpose of world domination. First released as a “visual novel” in 2009, “Steins;Gate” arrived video game platforms, then became a 24-minute anime series that began running in Japan in 2011. The Funimation company brought the series to North America in the same year, and the “Steins;Gate” feature-length movie opened in early 2013.

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