These 25 Anime Shows Have CHANGED The Industry In One Way Or Another

black lagoon anime wallpaper
Written by Theo J Ellis

People are sensitive so I know this answer will hurt a lot of people’s feelings. But I don’t care.

After all – the anime shows I’ll mention in this post are based on RESULTS, not opinions. So put your feelings to the side and approach this from an objective point of view.

And you’ll see these shows have had the biggest impact on the industry more than anything else, as of 2019.

Let’s get to it.


Anime Shows That Changed The Industry:


1. Dragon Ball Z

dragon ball z anime frieza broly and cell

Say what you want about DBZ. Claim it’s this, it’s that or whatever it is people say.

But the reality is DBZ is one of the BIGGEST and most legendary anime to change the industry. It’s one of the reasons the anime industry shot off like a rocket in the 1990’s.

ALL your favorite Shounen series were inspired by DBZ. Including Naruto and One Piece.

That’s just facts.

Not to mention DBZ is a billion dollar franchise, pouring money into the industry for more than 2 decades now.


2. Death Note

death note ryuk light and L lawliet

Have you ever heard of an anime so much that you feel “tempted” into watching it?

That describes Death Note for me (not watched yet). But besides that, the influence this anime has is unbelievable.

You’d have to be stupid to even debate how important this series is to the anime industries success.

Even in 2018!

Netflix wouldn’t have been so interested in Death Note otherwise.

And on sites like MAL – Death Note is one of the TOP shows, consistently in the charts.


3. Sword Art Online

sword art online characters wallpaper

You might hate it. You might love it.

You might be a sheep like a lot of SAO haters I see jumping on the bandwagon. Even though it’s rated almost 8/10 on average.

But in the end it doesn’t matter. Sword Art Online’s success speaks for itself.

There’s no comparable anime as successful as SAO. To argue this point would mean you’re childish and not looking at the stats.

There’s a reason SAO dominated DVD sales back in 2017 (one example).

Not to mention SAO is one of the pioneers when it comes to showcasing future tech (VR, AR) in Japanese anime.

Other anime have done it, but NOT as good as SAO.

The series is putting a LOT of money into the industry, let’s clap it up for that.

Related: 6 Emotional Life Lessons To Be Learned From Sword Art Online


4. Akira

akira anime classic

Most anime fans of today have NO idea what this anime is.

And to be honest… I don’t either. Meaning I haven’t watched it. There aren’t many anime I’ve watched after the 1980’s period.

But being in the industry myself I know about the history, and which animes were critical in creating the industry as we know it.

Akira is one of those anime. We wouldn’t be here without it.


5. Love Live School Idol Project

love live school idol project anime wallpaper

That’s right – this cutesy, funny, energetic and fun series has changed the industry in a pretty big way.

The anime is the definition of idol culture (a culture prominent in Japan). And since its release, its made “Idol” culture cool outside of Japan for those who’ve watched Love Live.

And even in 2019 – Love Live is still going strong with its “alternative” series: Love Live Sunshine.


6. Neon Genesis Evangelion

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This anime isn’t just influential and wildly successful, it’s the pioneer of MECHA as we know it.

Sure there are shows like Gundam and what not, but come on. That has nothing on Neon Genesis.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the DBZ of the Mecha genre, and it’s dumb to even debate it.

Even in 2019!


7. Steins Gate

steins gate makise anime

Look – I don’t like this series. I’m not a fan in the slightest, and you’ll never hear me recommend it.

But that doesn’t mean I’m immature enough to ignore how important Steins Gate is to the industry.

There’s almost no anime within the same genre as Steins Gate that’s done so well, attracted so many fans, and paved the way forward for the industry’s success.

Related: The Most Memorable Quotes From Steins Gate That Will Make You Think


8. Naruto

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Similar to Death Note, I haven’t watched the Naruto series. It’s too damn long and I have no idea when I’ll have the time to watch it.

That being said, Naruto’s success is even MORE impressive than Dragon Ball Z.

In fact Naruto even sells more than DBZ, depending on what it is we’re talking about. And has a larger following.

To ignore Naruto’s influence would be criminal.


9. Code Geass

code geass anime lelouch screenshot

Code Geass changed the anime industry, and has a MAJOR influence on it.

But beyond that – Code Geass made Mecha a “cool” genre. Because of how good the overall series is.

It was the “first” Mecha I’d ever watched. The strategy, tactics, clever plot and challenging story is a masterpiece.

Before watching Code Geass I wasn’t even interested in the Mecha genre at all. Which says a lot.

Many fans will tell you the same.


10. Full Metal Panic

full metal panic sousuke and kaname anime

I’d call this “Code Geass’s little brother” in the sense that it’s managed to keep Mecha alive as a genre, but it’s impact isn’t as “big” as Code Geass.

Think about it. In 2019 can you think of a NEW Mecha series worth speaking about, apart from FMP?

Forget about darling in the trash. That was a failure and a waste of potential.

FMP has been running consistently for years now, without slowing down. So the credit is well deserved.


11. Fairy Tail

fairy tail final series anime characters

I told you this answer would hurt some feelings, remember? Put your feelings aside and don’t fight the truth.

Fairy Tail, as controversial as it is, can’t be denied for how POPULAR and successful it’s become.

The manga itself is one of the best-selling of all time. And the franchise as a whole continues to rise up the ranks and fuel the industry’s growth.


12. My Hero Academia

izuku ochako and hatsume

Because of the over production of content in the 21st century, LESS anime become “masterpieces” or close to it these days. Even though a “masterpiece” is subjective.

But still – there are just too many anime and we’re drowning in content.

And yet – My Hero Academia smashed through the noise and is a killer example of a successful anime in recent years.

It hit 13 million sales earlier in 2018.

I can only imagine how many “non” fans have become anime fans because of this one series.

The anime is somehow accessible to the masses, and likable for its diverse set of characters. And unique approach to Superhero/Shounen anime.

Related: The 34 Most Meaningful Anime Quotes From My Hero Academia


13. One Piece

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I know I know – these types of anime are obvious. But they HAVE to be mentioned in a post like this.

One Piece is on another level in the anime industry. And as a franchise.

For example – It’s the #1 selling manga of all time, and in comic sales it’s even ahead of Spiderman in the US.

It’s also one of the only anime to still be airing non-stop for well over a decade, and still keep people interested.


14. Madoka Magica

madoka magica sayaka and madoka

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – at first sight this anime is cute, kawaii and “childish” judging by visuals.

And that’s in spite of it looking good. But the route the anime takes has literally changed the anime industry forever.

It’s the reason why so many copy cats (or “similar” attempts) have been made in the magical girl genre.

That’s why it’s as influential to the magical girl genre as DBZ is to the Shounen genre.


15. Kill La Kill

ryuko matoi scissor blade anime

It’s funny because when I first came across Kill La Kill – I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

This anime takes action and the supernatural, throws it in a pot of Ecchi, and then blends it all together. Finishing off with something we’ve NEVER seen before until Kill La Kill was produced by Studio Trigger.

For that reason – Kill La Kill changed what an “Ecchianime is capable of. Without turning into a fan-service obsessed anime that serves no real purpose.

And of course – its success is undeniable.

Related: The Ultimate List Of Kill La Kill Quotes You Need To See


16. Pokemon

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of the Pokemon TV series. I’ve watched it but it’s not that great.

But that didn’t stop the anime from becoming a powerhouse in the anime industry.

Along with shows like DBZ, Pokemon was one of the “few” that hit a home run in the 1990’s. Knocking the anime industry into an era of massive success and distribution.

Especially on a worldwide scale.

The franchise itself is one of the biggest on the PLANET.

There’s hardly an anime franchise that can even stand in the same room as Pokemon.

It’s THAT big.


17. One Punch Man

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One Punch Man is another anime of recent years to dominate the industry and make an impact.

It takes the mickey (as we say in the UK) out of Shounen series, and flips it on its head… making it into something we’ve never seen before.

It’s constantly ranking HIGH in the charts, despite only having ONE season to top it off.

I mean what anime do you know of with ONE season with these kinds of statistics after release?

It’s madness.


18. Bleach

ichigo kurosaki shikai mode

You know I had to mention it sooner or later.

Bleach is one of the “later” Shounen series to have dominated the industry, and attract a mass of fans worldwide.

Even though the anime has come to a “supposed” end, this legendary series lives on and is loved by millions.

It’s not the highest rated Shounen  (like My Hero Academia) but ratings are… overrated.

Success doesn’t lie.


19. Magic Knight Rayearth

magic knight rayearth hikaru umi fuu

You might not believe it if you’re a “teenage” anime fan, but this series is the reason Isekai is even popular.

It’s one of the most original anime, released in 1990’s to introduce Isekai to the industry. And for its time it did a good job of it.

Even in 2019 the Isekai concept in Magic Knight Rayearth feels better than “some” of what we’ve seen since then.

Related: How Anime Has Radically Evolved In The Past 57 Years


20. Fullmetal Alchemist

fullmetal alchemist anime characters

Fullmetal Alchemist is an innovative series that stands in its own lane.

There’s almost no comparison for how well FMA tells its story, pulls you into the world of alchemy, and highlights the dangers of doing things that “sound too good to be true”.

And the philosophical life lessons you can take from Fullmetal Alchemist is the special kind no other anime can offer.

Related: 30 Of The Best Fullmetal Alchemist Quotes That Will Add Meaning To Your Life


21. K-On

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The term “Moe” and “kawaii” was invented by K-On. Which means it was invented by Kyoto Animation.

K-On is the queen of this genre of anime shows and styles of characters.

Before K-On – there isn’t anything comparable for its new, fresh and modern style of animation.

It’s a trend-setter in the slice of life arena that many shows today have clearly taken inspiration from.


22. Food Wars

megumi and soma yukihira food wars

No matter how you look at it – there’s no anime like Food Wars that’s done so well.

it’s the only show that focuses on food battles, chefs, and approaches it with a “Shounen” style with memorable characters that stand out.

This is one of J.C Staff’s BEST anime shows they’ve ever created, and its success continues to climb.

Related: 6 Of The Greatest Anime Studios That Produce Jaw Dropping Shows


23. Gintama

gintoki and hijikata anime gintama e1546433319745

Gintama is the definition of “comedy” in the anime industry.

You can’t know about comedy anime without thinking of Gintama.

That’s true even if you haven’t watched it like me.

Even though it might be a parody that takes advantage of tropes and cliches in other shows… It’s originality and charm can’t be argued with.

And that’s in spite of the series running for well over a DECADE by now.


24. Kono Subarashii

kazuma freaking out konosuba

This is another comedy/parody series I’ve yet to watch. But even I know what the characters names are, and have seen short clips of it.

Opinions aside – Kono Subarashii is the only anime I ever see compared to Gintama for its style and humour.

The success of this franchise continues to grow, even though it’s a relatively new series. Released back in 2016.


25. Attack On Titan

attack on titan anime series cover

I don’t like this series that much, but I’m no fool. Attack On Titan is an unstoppable series that ain’t going nowhere.

I might be pushing it but even I’d say it’s a legendary series in its own right. Especially for anime that have been released since 2010 (judging by its success).

This anime is so big it makes me wonder why critics outside the industry still judge anime as “childish”.

Clearly anime is becoming a threat, and AOT is part of the reason.


Honorable Mentions:

  • Ghost In The Shell.
  • Re:Zero.
  • Studio Ghibli Movies.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho.
  • Violet Evergarden.
  • Clannad.
  • Black Lagoon.
  • Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa).
  • Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
  • Tokyo Ghoul.
  • Sailor Moon.
  • Slayers.

If you think some anime deserve mentioning, add them in the comments.


They Can Try, But Anime Will NEVER Be Banned: Here’s Why

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Domingo A Ruiz
Domingo A Ruiz

“Not to mention SAO is one of the pioneers when it comes to showcasing future tech (VR, AR) in Japanese anime. Other anime have done it, but NOT as good as SAO.” *cough*Ghost in the Shell*cough* I would advise against writing an article about anime that changed the industry, when you haven’t watched landmarks such as Akira and Death Note, and probably anything pre-DBZ. “Before K-On – there isn’t anything comparable for its new, fresh and modern style of animation. It’s a trend-setter in the slice of life arena that many shows today have clearly taken inspiration from.” The Melancholy… Read more »


Finally, a list of you that I can agree on.

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