25 Japanese Anime Series That Had a Great Influence in US

Anime is a style of animation that has taken the US by storm.

Known for exaggerated features (Big eyes, oddly colored hair, giant robots, etc), anime portray fantastic stories that is not just beautiful to watch but also entertaining.

Check out these 25 most influential Japanese anime in the US.

1. Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho is a Japanese manga series that was adapted into an animated series in 1990.

Yu Yu Hakusho revolved around the story of a teenage delinquent named Yusuke Urameshi who got struck and killed by a car as he sought to save the life of a child.

After he was revived, he was appointed as an Underworld Detective to investigate the cases of demons and apparitions on Earth.

2. Berserk


Berserk was aired in 1997 and was centered on the life of an orphaned mercenary warrior named Guts, who called himself the Black Swordsman as he served the Band of the Hawk.

This is an intense anime filled with great action and some colorful scenes which may not be appropriate for children.

3. Robotech


An anime television series that was released in 1982, Super Dimension Fortress Macross featured a love triangle among its major characters plastered against the backdrop of battles that existed between aliens and humans.

When it was shown in the US, it was titled Robotech instead.

It rose to fame because of Linn Minmay, the pop star idol in the show, along with transforming air fighter units called Valkyries.

4. Code Geass


The story of Code Geass was set in the alternate future and revolved around a former prince named Lelouch Lamperouge who obtained the Geass power and used it to destroy the Holy Britannian Empire.

5. Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied’s story revolved around the interactions, emotions, similarities and differences between human beings and the Diclonii.

Diclonii was a mutant species that resembled humans in build but had two horns and vectors.

The anime series centered on the protagonist named Lucy, who sought revenge after being rejected by humans.

6. Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest was a Nintendo game that was adapted into an anime series in 1989.

It had a total of 43 episodes, was supervised by Horii and had characters that were similar to the original Dragon Quest game.

The first 13 episodes of this anime series was translated into English and was released in North America.

7. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

An anime television series that was based on the manga series Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex revolved around the story of the members of a team called Public Security Section 9.

This anime series was written and directed by Kenji Kamiyama and was first aired in Japan in 2002.

It was released in other parts of the world a year after. Its lead character, Agent Motoko Kusanagi turned heads because of her beauty and fighting skills, which was crucial to the appeal of the series.

8. Mushishi


A manga series that was written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara, Mushishi was adapted into an anime television series in 2005 and featured some ubiquitous creatures called Mushi.

These characters had supernatural powers and were described as beings that were purer than any normal living thing.

The main character in the story, Ginko, was among the few who possessed the ability to interact with the divine Mushis.

9. Pokemon

pokemon epic

Pokemon is a long running Japanese anime series, which has been adapted from the international famous video game as a part of the franchise.

The anime follows the adventures of the series’ main protagonist Ash Ketchum and his friends Pikachu.

10. D Gray-Man

D Gray-Man

D Gray-Man revolved around the story of Allen Walker, a boy who was a member of the Exorcists—an organization that made use of an ancient substance called Innocence to fight the Millennium Earl and Akuma, its demonic army.

11. Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain was first aired in Tokyo, Japan in 1998 and was derived from a play station game with the same title.

This contemporary Japanese anime series tackled philosophical concepts such as identity, communication and reality and focused on the story of a teenage girl named Lain Iwakura, who was introduced to the Internet.

She was bound to a path which took her into the network of her own thoughts following her discovery of “The God in the Wired”

12. Planetes


A Japanese hard science fiction manga created by Makoto Yukimura, Planetes was adapted from a Japanese hard science fiction television series that was broadcast sometime between 2003 and 2004.

The story of Planetes revolved around a team of space debris collectors that boarded the Toy Box debris ship in the year 2075 to prevent the destruction of earth satellites.

13. Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

Gundam Wing was an animated series that was based on the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime.

The story revolved around the war between planet Earth and its colonies in space. The pilots in this series were more closely allied to each other compared to those in Gundam.

This had a total of 49 episodes and borrowed its storyline from another series entitled War and Peace.

14. Naruto


Naruto is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto.

The plot tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki, an adolescent ninja who constantly dreams of becoming the next Hokage (the leader in the ninja village).

15. Space Battleship Yamato

Space Battleship Yamato

A science fiction anime series that featured an eponymous space craft, Space Battleship Yamato is an English-dubbed series that was broadcast on North American and Australian televisions as Star Blazers.

It revolved around the story of a multinational teenage crew that journeyed through space to look for the planet Iscandar.

The antagonists in this story were aliens called Rajendora who prevented the crew from catching a glimpse of the planet that they were searching for.

16. Full Metal Alchemist

fullmetal-alchemist featured

Full-Metal Alchemist was a Japanese manga series that was styled after the European Industrial Revolution.

Its story was set in a fictional universe where alchemy was among the most advanced scientific techniques known.

The protagonists of the story, Edward and Alphonse Elric, were searching for the Philosopher’s Stone which was needed to restore their bodies following a failed attempt to revive their mother through alchemy.

17. Saint Seiya

Saint Seiya

Saint Seiya is a Japanese manga series that was adapted into an anime television series from 1986 to 1989.

The story revolved around mystical warriors called Saints who wore sacred armors called Cloths.

These Saints pledged to protect the reincarnation of Athena in her fight against the Olympian Gods who sought to gain rule over the Earth.

18. Last Exile

Last Exile

Last Exile is a Japanese animated television series that featured a production led by renowned director Koichi Chigira.

This featured a story that took place in the fictional world of Prester, where aerial vehicles dubbed as van ships were popular.

19. Samurai Champloo

samurai_champloo feature

Samurai Champloo is an anime production that took place during the Edo period, characterized by its anachronistic, hip-hop setting.

This television series was the first directorial effort of Japanese director Shiichiro Watanabe following the widely acclaimed Cowboy Bebop.

The story of this manga revolved around a swordsman Mugen and a brave young girl named Fuu who asked him to accompany her to Japan to find the “samurai who smelled like sunflowers”

20. Death Note

death note featured main

Death Note is a Japanese anime series that featured a high school student named Light Yagami, who discovered a supernatural notebook that was dropped on earth by the god of death Ryuk.

This notebook granted its user the ability to kill anyone he/she could identify.

21. Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North is a Japanese anime series that took place in a post-apocalyptic world that had destroyed by a nuclear war.

The story of this anime series revolved around Kenshiro the warrior, who was also the successor of a deadly martial art dubbed as Hokuto Shinken.

The protagonist of this story dedicated his life fighting against the ravagers who took advantage of the poor and the innocent.

22. One Piece


One Piece is a manga series that was skillfully written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda.

The first episode of this series was released on December 24, 1997 and was about the story of a young man named Monkey D. Luffy, whose body turned into rubber after accidentally gobbling up a Devil’s Fruit.

The story also revolved around the crew of pirates of Mr. Monkey Luffy called Straw Hat Pirates, who accompanied him as he explored the ocean in search of a treasure called One Piece.

23. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

First shown in 1998, Cowboy Bebop is considered to be a Japanese animation masterpiece. It premiered in Japan in 1998 and had a total of 26 episodes.

The anime was among the most influential animes shown in America because it tackled the philosophical concepts of existentialism, loneliness and nihilism. It was also adapted into two manga series.

24. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a story of a parliamentary organization that made efforts to fight against Angels through the use of giant humanoids they called Evangelions.

These Evangelions were piloted by a group of teenagers led by Shinji Ikari, the protagonist.

25. Dragon Ball Z


Dragon Ball Z is one of the most watched animes to have ever been shown in US.

This anime was inspired by the classic novel in China entitled Journey to the West, which was about the adventures of Son Goku as he trained in martial arts from his childhood until he reached adulthood.

He explored the world to search for the seven Dragon Balls which have the capacity to grant wishes through the help of a wish-granting dragon.

As an anime fan for years, how many of these influential anime in US have you watched?


Top 5 Major Differences Between Anime and Cartoon

Anime is not cartoon

Ever since Japanese animation (also known as anime) crossed continents and became popular with generations of American viewers, there’s been hot contention about the differences between anime and cartoon.

How an anime is different from a regular cartoon? Here are the top 5 major differences

5. Different Terminology

While “anime” in Japan refers to all animated productions, English dictionaries define the word as Japanese style of motion picture animation.

The word anime is said to have been derived from the French term dessin animé while others claim that it was used as an abbreviation during the late 1970s.

The word “Japanimation” was also in vogue in the 70s and 80s and referred to anime produced in Japan.

Cartoon, on the other hand, was initially used as a model or study for a painting.

Derived from the word “karton” meaning strong or heavy paper, these were depicted by great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and gained appreciation in their own right.

Over the turn of the centuries, the term cartoon was distanced from its original meaning and used excessively to define a humor picture with a caption or a dialogue.

4. Different History

The first cartoon is said to have been produced in 1499.

It depicted the pope, the holy roman emperor and the kings of France and England playing a game of cards.

Since then, many humorists and satirists have been known to produce cartoon strips for the general audience.

Even today, one can find archives of old cartoon strips and newly published cartoon on the web.

Anime has a very recent history as compared to a cartoon.

In 1937 the United States of America was introduced to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs though the first anime to be released was Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors’ in Japan in 1945.

Since then, there has been no looking back and with each passing year, anime has become a profitable venture for many TV & film producers.

3. Different Subject Matter

Cartoons are usually intended to induce laughter; thus revolve around humorous concepts.

There are some cartoons in the market that are educational in nature whilst retaining their amusing qualities that are generally targeted towards toddlers and kids.

Anime don’t always follow a general concept.

Their stories can range from pirate attacks to humorous adventures to tales of samurai.

The majority of anime movies and shows differentiate themselves from their American counterparts by creating a plot that stays in place through out the entire series, showing viewers morals and a certain level of complexity.

In short, Anime is aimed at people with longer attention spans who like to see a plot unravel over multiple episodes.

2. Different Animation Techniques

Anime and cartoons both use traditional animation production processes of storyboarding, voice acting, character design and cel production.

Anime is often considered a form of limited animation i.e. common parts are re-used between frames instead of drawing each frame.

This fools the eye into thinking there is more movement than there is, and lowers production costs becase fewer frames need to be drawn.

Anime scenes place an emphasis on achieving three-dimensional views. Backgrounds depict the scenes’ atmosphere.

For example, anime often puts emphasis on changing seasons, as can be seen in numerous anime.

1. Different Visual Characteristics


Anime illustrations are known to be exaggerated as far as physical features are concerned.

Usually, one can differentiate anime from a cartoon by observing the physical traits of the characters.

Anime characters include “large eyes, big hair and elongated limbs” and “dramatically shaped speech bubbles, speed lines and onomatopoeic, exclamatory typography”

Cartoons, however, approximate reality a little more and carry traces of day-to-day life in them.

Striking resemblances to humans can be spotted in various cartoons.

However, cartoon characters are still caricatures, so they often diverge from reality.

Facial expressions for anime characters are often different in form than their counterparts in cartoon.

For example, Embarrassed or stressed characters produce a massive sweat-drop (which has become one of the most widely recognized motifs of conventional anime).

Characters that are shocked or surprised perform a “face fault”, in which they display an extremely exaggerated expression.

Angry characters may exhibit a “vein” or “stress mark” effect, where lines representing bulging veins will appear on their forehead.

Angry women will sometimes summon a mallet from nowhere and strike another character with it, mainly for comic relief.

Male characters will develop a bloody nose around their female love interests, typically to indicate arousal.

Characters who want to childishly taunt someone may pull an “akanbe” face by pulling an eyelid down with a finger to expose the red underside.

So, don’t call anime cartoon again, thank you guys.


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