Toonami’s been around for quite some time. And at this point it has become iconic as a way to expose yourself to new anime, especially in English.
It’s how a lot of anime fans really got their start – by watching Dragon Ball as a kid and then wondering what other shows are out there. Enter Toonami in the 2000s and the rest is history…
I still get nostalgia whenever I see TOM and hear his cool voice, and then I think back to the days when I’d wait for the block to come on whenever I’d get home from school.
If you’re ever trying to get your friend to give anime a shot, odds are you’re going to show them a show that’s aired on Toonami.
And yes, there’s a lot of them, and a lot of quality ones at that.
In fact there’s so many quality shows that I decided to put together this massive list of the best anime that Toonami has ever showcased.
I had to start out with one of the classics.
Inuyasha’s famous for the titular character, the awesome wolf spirit, and actually having an engaging love plot between the characters.
It made this an amazing jumping on point to anime for people who are interested in more than just action in their shows, offering beautiful visuals and character designs along the way.
FLCL is one of those shows that I don’t really see being talked about much anymore these days.
Which is a shame, because it’s a really fun anime.
Gainax is known as one of the greats in the industry, and it’s not hard to see why.
The engaging character design of Haruko, and a classic coming of age story with Naota is a great recipe for a classic.
28. Sailor Moon
Almost every anime fan has at least heard of Sailor Moon.
And anyone who’s watched it has their favorite character among the Sailor Scouts. (Mine’s Sailor Mercury)
There’s something very special about this show – especially since despite its general demographic towards girls, it really did manage to resonate with so many people of all types.
There’s so much to love here:
A catchy theme song, iconic transformation sequences, boasting flashy visuals, and a fun story about schoolgirls by day/superheroes by night.
Sailor Moon is a blast.
27. Zatch Bell!
Zatch Bell, or Konjiki no Gash Bell, was always a personal favorite of mine growing up.
During my early teens I found out that the Japanese version fully finished the story.
So what other choice did I have than to binge the entire thing?
Strangely enough, this is actually the show that got me into JoJo’s after learning about how similar the premise of the spirits were to Stands.
Honestly, the interesting premise about a group of little spirits that are powered by mystical books granted to chosen users was plenty to sell me on this blast of an action comedy.
26. The Prince of Tennis
The show that kickstarted a lot of people’s interests into sports anime, mine included.
Prince of Tennis is full of fun special moves that you can find in action anime.
It’s also full of a fun story about a tennis prodigy learning that he still has a lot of room to grow in the world of tennis, and it’s a fun ride to see him master the new techniques.
This is one of the best gateways into the sports anime genre too.
So if you want to dip your toes in without going too ridiculous, Prince of Tennis is a great place to start.
It’d be hard to believe any anime fan if they told you that they haven’t watched at least one episode of this behemoth of a franchise…
Or at least played one of the games.
I know there were plenty of kids who would sing passionately along to the theme whenever it would come on – and even dream about becoming a master themselves one day.
But beyond that, let’s be entirely honest:
Who doesn’t love the visual spectacle of watching Pokémon fights?
Yeah, this is definitely a notable entry from Toonami’s massive lineup.
24. Soul Eater
There’s not many shows that can really claim as unique of a style as Soul Eater has.
It’s probably one of the first things that you notice about this series.
The second thing you’d notice would be the cast of quirky and really fun to watch characters, each of which having an awesome character design, welcoming a lot of anime fans into the more bizarre shows it has to offer.
Definitely give it a try if you haven’t already.
In the playground wars of kids arguing whether Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh was better, I was one of the few who enjoyed the story of Duel Monsters more.
Yugi’s journey is brilliant to watch, as he works to come to terms with his inner Pharoah so he can grow into a respectable duelist.
It was all so engaging to me.
I always love stories about young people who eventually learn to grow out of the shadows of those that they initially idolize.
And surprisingly, Yu-Gi-Oh! is one of those anime.
22. Assassination Classroom
Here’s a series with an incredibly unique concept for a show, where it’s all about learning how to kill in the best and most unexpected way.
After all, our students have to kill their teacher to pass.
I think the biggest draw of this anime (other than characters which are always my favorite) is seeing all the shenanigans that the students get up to while trying to fulfill their curriculum.
21. Hunter x Hunter
Hunter x Hunter is among the greats when it comes to interesting worlds with even more interesting magic systems.
And truly, it’s a must-watch if you haven’t already.
I put off getting into this show for a while since I was taking my time catching up to a few other long-running shows.
But once I saw the first episode on Toonami, it piqued my interest enough to come back each week.
It’s still one of the greats to this day.
20. Hellsing Ultimate
Anime series about vampires are always a fun time.
And Hellsing is definitely one of the best shows showcasing that.
With Castlevania having really kickstarted my love of vampire stories in recent years, Hellsing scratched the perfect itch I needed while I was waiting between seasons.
19. Michiko and Hatchin
There’s something heartwarming about stories following a mother and their adopted child.
Especially when the mother character is an absolute badass.
I’d actually never heard about this gem until I heard advertisements for it playing on Toonami late at night and I’m so happy about it.
This one mixes some of my favorite character designs and settings in anime, and a fun on the run crime story too.
So this is a must watch if you haven’t had the opportunity to check it out.
18. Rurouni Kenshin
Just your classic wanderer story about an assassin atoning for his crimes during a war.
And Rurouni Kenshin lives and breathes a lot of the spirit of many samurai movies about noble travelers.
It makes great use of beautiful depictions of the Japanese countryside, as well as some of the best samurai tropes.
So it’s easy to understand why it’s in among the top 100 most read manga series in Japan.
17. Attack on Titan
It’s hard to make yourself an iconic show in the modern day.
A lot of the unique ideas have been done, or are still going… but Attack on Titan was a sensation when it came out.
You were either part of the experience of watching it when it was new, or when it finally came back after its long hiatus between season one and two.
No matter your opinions on it, it’s hard to deny just how huge this show really is.
16. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
If there’s one word to describe JJBA, it’s memes.
I mean let’s be completely honest…
We all know at least one JoJo meme out there, it’s a treasure trove of them.
But beyond the meta comedy surrounding the show, there’s a lot to genuinely love here:
A wide cast of characters that shifts with each part, plenty of beautiful landscapes to explore, and several unique stories.
Odds are that if you don’t like one part of Jojo’s you’ll probably enjoy another one.
15. Gurren Lagann
Fight the power, never let people tell you that you can’t follow your dreams.
The story of Simon is one that constantly tugs the heartstrings.
Following his life from a shy boy who loves little more than to dig, into a man who is willing to do whatever he can to protect the world no matter the odds is inspiring and amazing start to finish.
14. Kill la Kill
If fighting the power is Gurren Lagann’s MO, then Kill la Kill’s is “don’t lose your way”.
You have to keep your eyes on what you believe in.
You can’t be side tracked by power and let it rule you.
Ryuko and Satsuki’s rivalry is personally one of my favorites in anime, which is helped by striking visuals whenever they clash, and amazing music too.
And just to prevent any angry fanboys:
I like Kill la Kill and Gurren Lagann equally, but I saw Kill la Kill first, which is why it’s placed here in my ranking.
I’d meant to watch Megalobox for a while after I heard its premise.
And as a huge fan of Hajime no Ippo it was practically required for me to check it out.
It wasn’t until I was lounging around one night and I saw an episode of it come up on Toonami… that’s when I finally got into it.
And the classic 90s-esque style of animation really is a big draw.
I’m not one who particularly has much nostalgia for 90s anime, as I only really got into it in the 2010s.
But this series really does nail the style in one of the best ways possible – which makes it feel like a classic re-animated in the modern day.
12. Space Dandy
This is one of the shows that was actually released in English first, despite it still being a dub over the original Japanese audio – which also makes this show particularly unique.
Its release on Toonami is the first time that I got to see one of Watanabe’s masterpieces while airing, rather than far after it had finished its run.
And let me say it was well worth the watch.
11. My Hero Academia
Few shows manage to make almost every single character design an absolute hit.
Between the heroes and the villains, My Hero Academia has style.
It’s not just the characters that look good either.
The fight scenes are also a spectacle to watch, managing to show off all the heroes and villains powers in creative & fun ways to always keep every episode engaging.
10. One Punch Man
One Punch Man is all about the impact of being a hero, and what that really means to the individual.
Saitama got into the business just to have fun – but with insane power comes insane responsibility.
That’s a responsibility that he has to start taking into consideration, as he starts to see the world being attacked by bigger and bigger threats.
The interesting thing about One Punch Man is that it’s not really about whether or not he’ll win the fight. But rather what kind of impact that leaves, and how people react to it.
9. Dragon Ball Z
You’ve never seen shounen without at least hearing about Dragon Ball Z, the granddaddy of the modern shounen.
Everyone knows about Super Saiyans and Ultra Instinct.
And we all know the screaming sequences that last for an entire season.
But DBZ’s impact is fondly remembered for a reason.
It has a great cast of characters, and an iconic world that every fan remembers fondly.
Though I do wish Goku wasn’t the be-all end-all of the story… but with that said, I do think everyone at least had a moment to shine.
Parasyte is a show that has stayed with me for years.
It has a story filled with horror, plus lots of soul-crushing moments and amazing fights.
The story of Shinichi’s growth is so impactful, as he has to come to terms with living with an alien parasite that was initially trying to kill him, but is now working with him to fight others.
It’s an incredibly mature show that actually manages to modernize a manga that was made back in the 90s.
And among all the other great things that it has going for it, it also has one of the most sincere and real romances between two young adults growing up in a terrifying world.
7. Samurai 7
Based off of the legendary movie of the “Seven Samurai”, Samurai 7 takes a lot of beats from the original movie – and then turns them up to 11 on the anime dial.
Filled with crazy fight scenes that pay homage to its roots, Samurai 7 is a great ride for anyone who loves a good samurai story.
It’s a classic visual spectacle.
6. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Ah, Ghost in the Shell: SAC.
There is just so much to say about this as a series.
It takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk future where AI have been created, and people are questioning whether they should be considered alive or not.
It also has some of the most insightful questions asked and answered in a way that’s perfectly complemented by an amazing voice cast in both English and Japanese.
If you want something to watch with great depth, this is a brilliant anime to start with.
5. Samurai Champloo
This is still my go-to Samurai show for sure.
Samurai Champloo is another one of Watanabe’s greats.
It offers fluid animation, a great core trio of characters, and one helluva theme song.
The first time you get to go through any of Watanabe’s shows is really a magical thing.
And I advise anyone with even a remote interest in Samurai to watch this show.
4. Cowboy Bebop
Ahh, Cowboy Bebop. One of the greats of anime sci-fi.
This anime follows a story about discovering (and coming to terms with) your past.
But it’s wrapped in such an eloquent package that it’s really hard not to love this show.
Spike Spiegel is one of my all-time favorite anime protagonists, and fights in one of the smoothest and coolest ways I’ve ever seen with his use of Jeet Kune Do.
I’m so happy that Toonami reruns this classic so much that I was able to start watching it, which of course led me to binging the entire thing the same night I saw the first episode.
What can I say?
I’m weak, and sometimes I just don’t want to wait weekly when the show is an absolute banger like this.
3. Mob Psycho 100
For the next top 3 we’ve got some anime that I can’t quite order in any fair way.
So feel free to re-adjust any of these in your head to better suit your preference.
And Mob Psycho could just as easily take #2 or #1 for me – it just depends on my mood.
Mob Psycho is beautiful, plus its story is exceedingly real and relatable, despite the crazy nonsense that happens.
Anyone who has wanted to improve their life can relate to Mob.
Anyone who wants to be relied on, even if you have to put on a mask to do it, can relate to Regan. The list goes on and on.
It’s not just the characters that are great either – even though that’s always my first go to in a show I love.
But the visuals are also insane.
Colors everywhere, fluid animation decorates every frame, and some of the most visually interesting depictions of psychic powers that I’ve ever seen period.
2. One Piece
One Piece has to be my favorite long-running series.
I started off as a kid watching the horrible 4kids dub and still loving the show.
It’s one of the main reasons why I love pirates as much as I do.
Eventually though, Toonami picked up the series, and showed me that it was soo much better than I already thought it was.
We get epic stories of pirates traveling the world in search for the legendary treasure, and on the way they have to fight people with crazy powers, and get wrapped up in political intrigue, war, and of course, friendship.
One Piece is a world that I just want a visual tour of.
Every island is so unique and fun, with all sorts of interesting lore hidden in every corner, please Oda I’m begging!
A lot of people give the show a lot of flak for being as long as it is. But honestly it couldn’t be as special as it is without that length.
One Piece is at its best when it takes its time and lets the viewer sink into the world.
Going along with the Straw Hats on their journey is the best part of the show.
And I constantly want more, no matter how much I watch.
1. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is just about perfect.
It’s a package that’s entirely complete in every aspect.
The characters? Deep.
The animation? Silky smooth.
The story? Intriguing and philosophical.
Is there anything that this show does bad?
Yes, well only kind of.
The beginning of the show is a little rushed… but that’s only because the first anime series “Fullmetal Alchemist” (no Brotherhood) did the beginning part of the story perfectly by itself.
But considering that anime is out there for you to watch as well, it’s not much of a problem.
Seriously, this show is just about flawless.
And best of all, it’s finished.
If you want a show that you know is fully concluded, has a tight storyline, and a deep world that sucks you in and makes you beg for every little detail, then FMA:B is perfect.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times:
If you haven’t seen it then go watch this show. You owe it to yourself.