Anime

Google reveals top anime by year – Pokemon, Cowboy Bebop, Clannad, more

by Brent Koepp
The Pokemon Company / Studio Ghibli

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A fan has compiled the top anime by year based on Google searches, and though it includes shows such as Pokemon and Cowboy Bebop, the results might surprise you.

Anime became mainstream in Japan in the 1980s thanks to big hitters like Dragon Ball, Studio Ghibli, Akira, and Gundam. It started gaining popularity in the West in the 1990s.

Now, a dedicated enthusiast has released a list of the top anime by year, showing just which ones ranked over others in terms of Google searches.

The Pokemon Company
Pokemon continues to be one of the top searched animes on Google.

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Top anime shows by year

While anime was somewhat popular in the 1960s in Japan, it didn’t hit the mainstream until roughly the early 1980s. In which, according to J List Blog, Urusei Yatsura was the top series in 1981. It follows the story of a man and an alien, who believes she’s his wife after he accidentally asks her to marry him.

The decade also saw shows such as Fist of the North Star and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam peak at the top in terms of popularity, with people taking a great interest in aliens and the supernatural.

It was in 1986, however, that Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki’s hit movie Castle in the Sky proved to be a huge hit with fans. It follows the story of orphaned girl Sheeta as she searches for the fabled city Laputa.

Studio Ghibli
The 1986 film was wildly popular in Japan.

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In the 1990s, Sailor Moon arrived, a show that proves to be just as popular even to this day. The halfway point of the decade saw Neon Genesis Evangelion rise in popularity, and Martian Successor Nadesico the year after that.

Pokemon graced our screens in 1997, and it was a move by Nintendo that proved to be a giant success for the company as the franchise is now the largest in the entire world. Cowboy Bebop ranked top the year after.

Then, in 2006, slice of life anime Toradora! stole fans’ hearts as it followed the story of Ryuuji Takasu as his high school rearrangements placed him in a class with his best friend and secret crush. Clannad was top in 2007, and critically acclaimed movie A Silent Voice in 2016.

Kyoto Animation
The Kyoto Animation-created film took on mature subjects such as bullying and deafness.

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Lastly, 2018 proved incredibly popular for anime Violet Evergarden, as it centered around the story of a soldier as she tried to reintegrate with society following a devastating war.

While 2019 wasn’t mentioned, it’s hard not to imagine it being Demon Slayer as the show about a boy who avenges his family after they’re brutally slain by monsters was the breakout hit of the year and blew up in popularity.