As the best anime series of all time prove, Japanese animation often works best in a television serial format. It allows for the freedom to fully develop characters and labyrinthine plots that can easily contain both comedy and tragedy if called for.

  1. "Cowboy Bebop." As the best anime series of all time, it takes strength from the sum of its varied parts. A motley group of bounty hunters jaunts across the galaxy, each person trying to escape their past, which keeps catching up with them. A smoky jazz and blues noir feel permeates the show, a nice contrast with the far future setting. Great animation detail, action, humor and drama define Cowboy Bebop.

  2. "Trigun." This best anime series is a steampunk western of sorts. Vash the Stampede is wanted for literally destroying a town. Two female insurance agents track him down and find the legendary outlaw to be a peace loving goofball half the time who can't control his destructive powers. They tag along with him as he searches for clues about his origin.

  3. "Wolf's Rain." Set in a post-apocalyptic future, this best anime series has elements of dark fantasy. Rich nobles and a pack of wolves that can turn into humans struggle against each other to find a mythical paradise, guided by a flower maiden. The characters are set up as an ensemble as opposed to leading and supporting.

  4. "Ergo Proxy." The future in this best anime series is one after an ecological disaster. In a domed city, humans and androids live together peacefully until some robots become self aware and murder people. These are connected to a mysterious new life form called a Proxy. A female detective is assigned to investigate. Dark and brooding, the show is defined by its dark, shadowy animation.

  5. "Hellsing." This is the best anime series of all time about vampires. The vampire Alucard works for a secretive branch of the British government, charged with fighting other vampires. An underground war develops between them and a neo-Nazi group bent on creating an army of vampires. Shadows, blood and angular transformations define the look. 

  6. "Samurai Champloo." Based during the Edo period, this best anime series showcases a rivalry between a brash, unconventional samurai and a conservative, introverted samurai. But they can't duel until they fulfill a debt, helping her find her lost samurai father, to a young waitress for saving their lives. They journey across Japan, always getting into some kind of trouble. A hip-hop soundtrack provides much of the humor and uniqueness.   

  7. "Shin-Chan" This may just be the funniest anime series of all time because of the English dubbing, which is completely different from the original Japanese. Shin is an irreverent toddler obsessed with bathroom humor. His family is equally crazy and hilarious. This show is crude humor at its finest and smartest. Much lik South Park, the deliberately simple animation style reinforces the comedy.

  8. "Naruto." Perhaps the best anime series about ninjas, it is certainly the most in-depth. Taking place in a modern Japan that didn't outgrow its feudal governmental structure, the show focuses on groups of young teens training to be ninjas. Naruto is a loudmouth orphan with a powerful force inside of him. The show is a great depiction of realistic teen life and of an endless array of interesting ninja abilities.

  9. "Great Teacher Onizuka." There's countless shows about high schools but this one is the best anime series of this type. Onizuka is a former motorcycle gang member who becomes a teacher. He teaches with the same intensity and short temper as he performed his gang activities. But his goal is to become the best teacher there ever was. Though immature and perverted, he does teach his students self confidence. 

  10. "Full Metal Panic!" This best anime series is a hodge-podge of different themes, including romance, comedy and mech robots. Sagara, a teenager who has been raised as a mech pilot is tasked with guarding a Japanes high school girl connected to a mysterious technology. Good action and conspiratorial plot lines mix with comedy as Sagara has to reconcile his military paranoia with high school life. 

-Stephen Lloyd