Top 30 Best Anime Of The 2000s (Series & Movies)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Ah, anime over the decades.
How times change, huh?
This offers a mix of genres to curate basically the quintessential ‘00s anime that every fan should check out. Let’s dive in!
30. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is a story of three individuals whose fate just won’t allow them to split up.
We have two legendary swordsmen, one a proper samurai, and the other a battle-tough troublemaker overflowing with talent.
And a female lead who somehow puts up with the two.
The end goal of the show is to find the samurai who smells like sunflowers. A task that seems like your typical find and retrieve quest, but soon becomes much more than that.
It’s all about the journey of these three travellers, the bonds they create, and the absolute mountain of bodies they seem to leave in their wake.
29. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Nobody can fault you for thinking this is just another slice of life anime at first glance. Because it is, but it also isn’t.
Slight spoiler warnings ahead!
The show plays off as a slice of life, but with the universal twist of the protagonist (Haruhi) basically being God and her friends being an alien, a time traveller, an esper, and one really unlucky guy.
This changes up the formula quite a bit. As not only are there heavy doses of the supernatural in each episode, but Haruhi is technically the antagonist as well!
Since everyone has to dance around her just so she won’t accidentally destroy the universe.
Oh yeah, she doesn’t know she’s God. Fun!
If you’re a fan of urban legends, folktales, and the supernatural, then the Monogatari series should be right up your alley.
With the presence of a lolly-looking vampire (formerly known as Shalltear) all kinds of weird spirits, curses, and people start showing up around our protagonist Arararagi.
It feels like a mix of a monster of the week show, and a slice of life show overlaid with beautiful scenery, good character writing, the right amount of crazy girlfriend action, and some mystery.
I don’t want to spoil what the various spirits are, so I’m just going to advise you to check this one out for yourself.
Be warned: the timeline is all over the place. If you need a watch order guide, this might help.
Among anime fans, I have often heard that no other anime tells a story as beautifully in 13 episodes as Baccano.
This is because not only is the overarching story brilliant, but it’s actually comprised of many smaller stories, interwoven towards a conclusion seemingly through pure chance.
A western influence is definitely visible in the show. That mafia/Godfather aesthetic oozes out of every scene.
To not give anything away (that would be a great disservice trust me) I’m just going to say that you should feel confused at first, as only then will you start to get this masterful writing by the final episodes.
Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the influence this show has on anime culture.
From the thousands of “believe it”-s to the battle tactics to invade area 51, Naruto has been a staple for years.
It was the underdog story of a boy who was ostracized, but kept his chin high and soared to the very top.
The world of the ninjas intrigued many for their hand signs. The amazing hand-to-hand combat and visual spectacle of their jutsu, it’s a sight to behold.
Even if you’ve never watched the show, you’ve seen the Gaara vs Lee fight. Or at least Sasuke getting choked, right?
It really depends on your browser history.
25. Death Note
I still stand by the opinion that Death Note was (and is) the best cat and mouse chase show to date.
Especially in the first part of the show, we’re presented with two geniuses at each other’s throats. Yet behaving as friends.
With the power of the Death Note, Light Yagami can kill off anyone if he knows their name.
His adversary, L, has the entire police force behind him. Plus a love for sweets and the true eye of a detective.
The back and forth of compiling evidence, deflection, pursuit, deceit… not to mention the really messed up dancing and foot rubs, but also a giant Shinigami with a love for apples, all makes it so beautiful.
It feels like you can’t help but binge Death Note in a single go.
24. Casshern Sins
If you want positive vibes and a fast-paced story, skip this one.
Casshern Sins is about as sad and depressing as Tumblr. And for the most part, it treads along the narrative path at the pace of a wounded animal.
This may sound like severe criticism. But it’s what gives the show its atmosphere.
You see, in this universe mankind has more or less died out. And immortal robots have taken over the Earth.
However, one day their immortality is taken from them. And their society falls to ruins as they contemplate whether there’s an iCloud heaven.
The show is very philosophical at times, with lots of symbolism, long silences, and an overall eerie nature. It really gets you immersed into this dark, dark world.
An anime to never forget.
23. Soul Eater
How does one describe Soul Eater?
Well imagine if Halloween was a show, but it was also somewhat funny.
The plot revolves around a high school where two-or-three people groups learn how to co-operate to produce a Death Scythe for the Shinigami.
Now I mention these groups of two (or three if you are the principle’s son) because in these groups, one person transforms into a weapon, while the other wields them.
It’ll make sense once you watch the show. But yes, it is odd.
And the end goal is to collect 99 evil souls plus one witch soul.
The setup of the world is definitely interesting. And although the plot isn’t extremely complex, there are more than enough subplots.
Plus excellent character writing that more than make up for it.
How far are you willing to go to uphold your own moral sense of right and wrong?
That’s the central question that Monster poses, as we watch the day-to-day life of a doctor Kenzou Tenma.
He’s a renowned brain surgeon, and as such, he saves lives. But also watches people die on the operating table every day.
But does everyone get a fair chance? Life, or death, is it really random?
And once a decision is made, can you atone for it in the future?
I’m posing a lot of question because that’s what this show is: an excellent thriller that will make you question everything.
21. Hell Girl
The best way to describe Hell Girl is a monster-of-the-week show where the monster wins.
In its universe, at midnight you can access a site. On that site you can send a hit on someone you hate.
And without fail, they will die at the hands of Hell Girl.
The catch is that your payment for her services is your soul.
Every episode features different people, their desires, their prejudices, their anger and revengefulness, with only Hell Girl being the constant.
So back to my opening line, who is really the monster here?
20. Sword of the Stranger
If you love samurai shows, then this movie has to be on your watch list.
It’s a tale of a young boy and his adorable pupper who have to resort to petty crimes to survive.
But suddenly they’re given the Aladdin treatment, and full-on assassins start pursuing them.
As you might have guessed, there’s more at play here than just petty crimes.
Fortunately they run into a ronin, who saves them from the assassins and becomes their bodyguard.
From there it’s an all-out adventure, as an even more dangerous swordsman is after them… lots of excitement in this one. Sword battle fans will dig it.
19. Summer Wars
Okay, just to give you a picture of the world of Summer Wars, imagine Zuckerberg, Bezos, and God made an alliance after watching some Digimon.
And now there’s an entire virtual world where you can go chill, buy stuff, and so on.
But trouble arises when a virus starts spreading through this giga-web. And all hell ensues.
How did the virus start?
Well you see, this boy who’s really good at math was pretending to be his crush’s fiancé for an old lady’s birthday, but then he got this cryptic e-mail… you know what, it’s better if you just watch it.
Trust me, Summer Wars is worth the time.
18. Ouran High School Host Club
Is Ouran High School Host Club a high school comedy? Yes.
But is it your run of the mill romcom? Definitely not.
The premise of the show is a little whacky, as in this particular high school there’s the “host club” where attractive boys cater to the female body, and make some paper.
Among the various oddly flamboyant men is a girl named Haruhi, who’s doing this undercover to pay off a debt.
And somehow she seems to have the most success with the ladies.
The comedy and satire in this show is a bit over the top, but seriously enjoyable too.
Okay, this one may seem odd considering the previous pick. As Toradora! Is just a high school romcom, but listen.
The show honestly doesn’t have any twists to the format. It’s just a bunch of high schoolers, all emotionally confused, vulnerable, and seeking affection intermingling with each other.
But with character writing as good as this show has, it doesn’t need much more than.
Believe me, you’ll get way too involved into the personal lives of these characters as they all seem so realistic and lovable. And the tearjerkers are intense as hell.
16. Welcome to the NHK
This show is all about the life, the struggles, and the development of a true hikikomori NEET.
If you don’t dabble in anime lingo, that means he’s not employed or doing anything, and he spends the entire day in his apartment.
I personally loved the psychological journey this show presents. Because it stayed true to life and didn’t make it a linear progression where one never takes a step backwards.
It’s a messy process with lots of errors and lots of work along the way, so much so that by the end, you feel for the protagonists just as much as the people around him.
In the world of Steamboy, we’re presented with an alternative history of 19th century England.
Here a scientist invents a new means for powering giant machines.
If the Industrial Revolution has taught me anything, it’s that this exact scenario is a terrible thing.
And so it was.
And it’s now the duty of this inventor’s son to make sure that this invention doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Ultimately, a pretty good adventure story. The world in Steamboy is pure steam-punk goodness and the world building is honestly top notch.
14. Lovely Complex
This is a love story of two underdogs of the human species: short kings and tall queens.
The male lead Atsushi is shorter than the average male, and has had no luck sliding into the DMs of any gal.
Our female lead Risa faces the same kind of rejection, because she’s taller than the average female.
So they form a dynamic duo, as only they can understand the pain of the other.
And we get into a way more optimistic Scum’s Wish scenario.
The road is bumpy. And bad things are bound to happen.
But the chemistry that these two share makes for a thrilling experience.
13. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
The cyber punk universe of Ghost in the Shell has always been on the radar for avid sci-fi fans.
Stand Alone Complex, which came out in 2003, probably stood out the most for its amazing detail and killer overarching plot.
It’s a primarily episodic show where a team of cops specialized in virtual crime crack case after case.
They’re called Section 9, and at their core stands Major Motoko Kusanagi: a cyborg badass who does her job by the books and demands respect.
Personally, this series gives off major Psycho Pass vibes. Which is the best thing you could say about a show in this genre.
12. Fate/Stay Night
The Fate franchise has been a major player in the anime community for a while now. And for good reason.
In Fate/Stay Night, we’re given a battle royale scenario where seven magicians are chosen to fight for the Holy Grail, which can grant you any wish.
So you already know that the combat in this show is top notch… not quite as flashy as some modern shows, but definitely gripping and well-choreographed.
On top of that we get a very lovable duo of Shirou and Saber who get some enjoyable progression throughout the run. And a soundtrack that’s gorgeous, to say the least.
11. Eureka Seven
I’m going to start with an observation:
Rarely do you see such a soft color pallet in a mecha show.
This is because Eureka Seven is primarily a coming of age story, where the progression of our main character/narrator Renton is in focus, alongside the rest of the cast.
And the cast is pretty spectacular.
The first ~13 episodes take their time to really flesh out the entire cast, so the narrative grip that takes hold is likely to grab you tight.
10. Howl’s Moving Castle
I honestly have a hard time explaining why this movie is as good as it is.
Because it’s a mixture of so many things. You get it when you see it, you know?
It was produced by Miyazaki so you already know that the world is going to be beautiful. It’s designed with a mix of European culture, some steam-punk technology, and studio Ghibli’s signature art style.
The story follows a girl named Sophie who gets cursed and turned into an old lady. But she finds the original Bird Person, and he (the bird guy) has this amazing moving castle.
It’s a tough one to describe, other than memorable and magical. If you’ve never seen it, definitely put this on your to-do list.
9. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
At one point or another, you’ve probably fantasized about traveling through time.
Well this show, as the name might suggest, takes you on one hell of a time travel journey.
It stays true to the time travel formula: that even the smallest changes in the past can (and usually will) severely change the future.
But this anime stands out for its beautiful character writing, which is really recognizable quite quickly.
The personal development of our MC, coupled with a visually stunning world, some nice overarching plot points and a decent soundtrack, all really make this 2000s anime show a must-watch.
8. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
When a franchise as big and as loved as Cowboy Bebop makes a movie, you already know you’re in for a treat.
The best way to describe the movie is “just more of what you already like”.
It doesn’t break any new grounds. But certainly does live up to the anime series.
General overview: a terrorist acquires a biochemical weapon that can wipe out a lot of people. So the biggest bounty ever gets set on his head.
The gang can’t resist a bounty that big, and do their usual investigation routine, only to stumble upon an even deeper conspiracy…
7. 5 Centimetres per Second
This movie is a story of two childhood friends, and how life (as well as love) might not always be fair.
As the title suggests, it shows the protagonists drifting away as life forces them to live in different places, do different things, and meet different people.
They try to hold onto the past. But as the distance gets bigger, the strain of fate becomes thinner.
It’s a truly beautiful story. And if you’ve ever been in a long-distance relationship or had a close friend move away, you’ll feel these character’s struggles on so many levels.
Mushishi is a series set around two principles: help and healing.
In this world, Japan is very secluded from the West.
And the story usually takes place in rural villages.
Here we see dozens of people troubled by their mushi, something like a spirit that latches onto your very nature, and the negative emotions you might be having.
Our MC goes from one person to the next in an episodic format, helping them overcome whatever is holding them back. It’s really quite captivating once you get into it.
Also the art style is just…peculiar.
FLCL is like a coming of age story, but with a lot of other aspects intertwined.
We have Naota, the protagonist, a boy who seriously lacks individuality and seems to live on the coattails of his brother.
Naota desperately wants to be like his cool baseball-playing brother, so he trains.
But then he gets hit with a Vespa, and now his forehead can be used as a gateway by intergalactic robots. Also, the woman driving the Vespa is from outer space.
See? I told you there was a lot more mixed in than just a coming of age story!
4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Although the original Fullmetal Alchemist series would have easily qualified for this list (it aired in 2003) I decided to give this spot to the later reimagined, polished, and prolonged Brotherhood.
The show hardly needs any introduction. It has been hailed as one of the best animated shows to date.
With an interesting concept like alchemy, a very gritty world, some amazing fight scenes, and a lovable mostly-metal duo, what’s there not to love?
Also, major props for the antagonists here.
Rarely has the bad guy scared and intrigued me as much as the homunculus, and Father probably even gave me daddy issues somehow.
3. Code Geass
The story of Code Geass is definitely an underdog story.
The only difference is that an entire country is an underdog.
Or in other words, it’s all about that glorious revolution. At the head of this bloody battle is Lelouch, an anti-hero given just the right amount of OP for the story to be gripping as hell.
With his Geass, he can give a command to anyone that he makes eye contact with. That’s it.
No brain washed zombie force, but rather a master tactician and lots of plot twists.
Add to that the very realistic rivalry he has with his former best friend, two well-written babes at his side, an overall awesome cast, and a cool ass cape, and you get an amazing show.
2. Spirited Away
If there’s one thing Studio Ghibli has always managed to capture at its purest, its childhood innocence.
The sense of wonder and adventure seems to seep out of most of their work, most notably My Neighbour Totoro and Spirited Away.
In the latter movie, we follow a young girl name Chihiro as she steps over into the spirit world by accident.
The bulk of the movie is just her living and working alongside different spirits, basically in the hopes that she’ll get back to her own world.
There’s no big action sequence or anything like that. Just an atmospheric experience full of wonder and creativity.
1. Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann is such a good mech show that even if you don’t like mechs, you will probably enjoy the series.
We get to see an all-out battle between humans, forced to live underground, and the Beastmen, the new cool kids on the block.
But what really sells the show to me is its brilliant character writing.
We have Kamina, the loudmouth with so much charisma that he could start his own religion.
Simon, the lovable good guy protagonist who gets an amazing glow-up in the later part of the series.
And Yoko, a badass sniper chick who 100% needs her own show.
So again, there are lots of mech transformations and inspirational yelling. But it’s really such a unique show that you have to watch to “get”.
For any anime fan, this one’s worth it.