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When superhero comics start to get old, anime is there to help keep things fresh. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 superhero anime.
For this list, we’ll be looking at anime starring superheroes or superhero-adjacent characters, particularly ones that brought something new to the superhero genre as a whole.
Subscribe to WatchMojo—Ranking Pop Culture Since 2006
#10: “Batman Ninja” (2018)
This CG-animated anime takes Batman out of Gotham and into Edo-period Japan, where his rogues gallery have become feudal lords which he must defeat in order to stop history from being changed. If you’ve ever wondered how a Batman Isekai would play out then look no further, and let's be honest, who wouldn’t want to see Batman decked out Ninja and Samurai gear? Batman Ninja is a whole lot of fun, blending Japanese history, awesome character designs, and Batman lore to make for an exciting, action-packed anime.
#9: “Astro Fighter Sunred” (2008-10)
If you’re looking for a good shakeup of the usual superhero/super-villain dynamic, then this is the anime for you. In this on-going battle of good versus evil, there is Sunred, the ally of justice, and the evil organization Florsheim, a group of villains led by General Vamp. The twist with Astro Fighter Sunred is that while Sunred is a hero of justice, he’s got the personality of a villain, acting rude, crass and violent, while the villains of Florsheim are polite and have gentle demeanors. It’s an interesting contrast that makes for a great comedic spin on the superhero genre.
#8: “Heroman” (2010)
What would happen if your favorite action hero came to life and became a real superhero? You’d get Heroman an anime created and written by superhero comics legend Stan Lee. Heroman is the perfect childhood fantasy superhero story, combining wish-fulfillment with with classic super heroics and elements of anime like Gigantor to make for an all around unique series. Heroman might not be everyone’s favorite Stan Lee creation, but it definitely deserves a watch if your in the mood for an untraditional take on superheroes.
#7: “Gatchaman Crowds” (2013)
The original Gatchaman, known as Battle of the Planets in America, was more of a space-faring adventure anime than a superhero one, but the 2015 series, Gatchaman Crowds took things in a different direction. These Gatchaman were heroes from all walks of life who came together to face Berg Katze, an alien who leaves destroyed planets in his wake and has set his sights on Earth. Using special suits that manifest their spiritual energy as superpowers, the Gatchaman must work together to protect Earth in one of the most exciting, well-written and visually interesting superhero anime out there.
#6: “Samurai Flamenco” (2013-14)
Warning, this anime will surprise you at every turn, since it starts out a lot like Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass and quickly escalates into something much crazier and delightfully off-the-rails. The series followed Masayoshi Hazama, a male model who decided to become like the tokusatsu-styled superheroes he idolized as a kid, his fantasies soon become reality as supernatural beings show up and make the struggle between good and evil very, very real. For a insanely written and wonderfully unpredictable superhero anime, look no further than Samurai Flamenco.
#5: “Kinnikuman” Franchise (1983-)
Though it’s not quite as well-known as other Shonen Jump franchises, Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada’s Kinnikuman is an equally epic, long-spanning tale that should pique the interest of both superhero and pro-wrestling fans. The first saga followed Suguru Kinniku, a superhero from the planet Kinniku who must fight in a wrestling competition to maintain his royal status. Things only get more ridiculous and over-the-top from there, as the series eventually followed Suguru’s equally as cowardly son, Kid Muscle.
#4: “Tiger & Bunny” (2011)
For a good buddy cop superhero story, this is a great series to check out, following the titular characters, a veteran hero and a rookie hero, as they compete on a superhero reality show that follows their crime-fighting exploits and dishes out points for stopping villains and saving civilians. These heroes are also sponsored by various real-world companies, a decision that both made the reality show elements seem more realistic and helped to pay for the series’ production. The best part of Tiger & Bunny is its unique superhero world, but its overarching story and interesting characters also make this a must watch.
#3: "Sailor Moon" Franchise (1991-)
Fighting evil by moonlight, winning love by daylight, never running from a real fight, she is the one named Sailor Moon, the pretty guardian of justice and easily the most well-known magical girl anime protagonist of all time. And like any magical girl, Sailor Moon is a superhero by any other name, using her magical abilities to ward off evil, doing so with the help of her friends and allies, the Sailor Guardians. A trend setter of the genre, it’s absolutely no wonder that it inspired so many anime that followed.
#2: “One-Punch Man” (2015-)
The best part of One-Punch Man is that it’s a satire of both superhero comics and Shonen manga, parodying characters like Superman and playing with popular battle anime tropes to make for a brilliant and action-packed love letter to both genres. The series follows Saitama, a superhero-for-fun who doesn’t actually have that much of it due to the fact that he is so immensely powerful that all of his opponents are obliterated in a single punch. But don’t let the premise fool you, this setup is far from boring, as the series finds ways to make every fight as exciting and interesting as possible, and the same goes for the plot.
#1: “My Hero Academia” (2016-)
Let’s be honest, the superhero genre was growing a bit stale, but My Hero Academia gave it the breath of fresh air it so desperately needed. The series follows Izuku Midoriya, a non-powered individual who wanted nothing more than to be a hero like his idol, All-Might. Fortunately, All-Might chooses to pass his power down to Izuku, allowing him to attend UA academy in order to become a hero along with a cast of interesting, deep, layered side-characters that each provide their own unique spin on the superhero genre.