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Sixteen of the Best Completely Original Anime

Put away your novels and video games, we're heading into unknown territory here. These 16 anime are not based on anything -- they're 100% original.

by Littoface
Aug 8, 4:04 AM | 33,552 views

The Top 5 Best Original Anime Based On Ratings

Out of the last 10 anime you've watched, how many are based on an external source? Chances are, the answer is most, or even all of them. Many anime today are based on another medium, from visual novels, to manga, to video games.

Where are all the original anime?

Right here!

Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)

MAL rating: 8.93 | Ranked: #13

Spirited Away
Many Studio Ghibli films are adaptations of books (usually Western ones, surprisingly). Howl's Moving Castle was based on a book by Diana Wynne Jones. The Secret World of Arrietty was based on The Borrowers by Mary Norton. But Spirited Away is a Ghibli original. It's so original, in fact, that it was written without a script (famed director Miyazaki tends to make up his movies as he goes along). Instead of a book, the movie was inspired by the 10-year-old daughter of Miyazaki's friend, as well as some personal experiences.

Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children)

MAL rating: 8.85 | Ranked: #17

Wolf Children
So far it seems like anime movies are more likely to be original than their serial counterparts. Wolf Children is another heartwarming, magical ride of an anime film. Manga, novels, and other books followed only after the release and subsequent success of the movie.

Code Geass

MAL rating: 8.84 | Ranked: #18

Code Geass
Eagle-eyed readers may notice that there is a manga for this series, but this is one of those rare cases where the anime came first. The anime was created in collaboration between Ichiro Okouchi and Gorou Taniguchi, with character designs from CLAMP. The result is a critically-acclaimed anime set in an alternate Europe. Politics, mechs, and a touch of the supernatural make a winning formula.

Cowboy Bebop

MAL rating: 8.83 | Ranked: #21

Cowboy Bebop
This classic space Western is living proof that original anime series can make it big. Cowboy Bebop has reached a wide audience due to its mash-up of genres, a great cast of characters, and a brilliant soundtrack by Yoko Kanno. The series was developed by Shinichiro Watanabe and his team at the Sunrise studio, fresh from his Macross and Gundam contributions.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

MAL rating: 8.79 | Ranked: #26

Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann is the brainchild of Hiroyuki Imaishi (and once again, the manga came later). Imaishi had always wanted to work on a mecha series, and when he finally got the chance, he really took off with it. The anime was in production for quite a bit, as Imaishi and his teammates wrote the script and even researched how living underground would work. The result? Pure brilliance.

Other excellent original anime


MAL rating: 8.52 | Ranked: #96

Psycho Pass
Psycho-pass is a modern spiritual successor to the works of Mamoru Oshii, most famous as the creator of Ghost in the Shell. The series brought writer Gen Urobuchi on board, after his script for Magica Madoka impressed the director. After all, who better to write about the psychological exploitations of a dystopian society?

Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

MAL rating: 8.52 | Ranked: #93

Madoka Magica
Speaking of Madoka Magica, that's another original anime masterpiece. When coming up with the idea, producer Atsuhiro Iwakami wanted to make a magical girl anime with a wider appeal, and without the constraints of an existing source material. The result is perhaps one of the darkest takes on the genre, which has won praise from both many critics and fans. Call it a deconstruction of the magical girl genre, or don't. Either way, the series is bursting at the seams with symbolism.

Samurai Champloo

MAL rating: 8.50 | Ranked: #103

Samurai Champloo
Coming from the director of Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo is another odd mashup of genres. Whereas Bebop places a Western tale in outer space, Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan, which runs on hip hop beats. It's no surprise that both original series are beloved by many.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day)

MAL rating: 8.64 | Ranked: #51

Anohana the flower we saw that day
Although we tend to associate unusually long titles with light novels trying to get noticed AnoHana is an entirely original production. Directed by Tatsuyuki Nagai and written by Mari Okada, the series tells a poignant story. The production duo even followed this work up with another original anime with a similar feel to it, The Anthem of the Heart.

Eureka Seven

MAL rated: 8.20 | Ranked: #304

Eureka seven
There are six manga adaptations, one light novel, three video games, and a movie based on Eureka Seven, but the anime is the undisputed original. Production team Bones took one look at the mecha anime proposed to them by Bandai, and completely ignored it in favor of their own original work. The result is a homage to the 1980s and 90s, to music and culture, and to people's relationships both with other people, and with nature.

Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)

MAL rated: 8.27 | Ranked: #245

Zankyou no Terror
Zankyou no Terror is another great title from Cowboy Bebop's and Samurai Champloo's creator Watanabe. The series has a slightly different feel from the other two however, choosing to focus on a rag-tag team of.. terrorists. It's a far cry from a spaceship crew and a duo of Edo-era Samurai, but it's still a wild ride.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

MAL rated: #8.32 | Ranked: #211

Neon Genesis Evangalion
A number of classics are original anime, especially ones from a bit further back in the day. Airing in 1995, Evangelion was an original work from Anno Hidaeki and studio Gainax. The studio has gone on to back a number of other original anime, perhaps bolstered by their success here.

Kill la Kill

MAL rated: 8.24 | Ranked: #270

Kill La Kill
That's right, the insanity that is Kill la Kill is actually an original work from producer Otsuka Masahiko. The series is the first one from studio Trigger to be completely original, and the concept comes revolves around violence and fashion, two things that should go hand-in-hand more often, if you ask us.

Princess Tutu

MAL rated: 8.24 | Ranked: #274

Princess Tutu
Princess Tutu is an explosion of pink inside a fairy tale where characters dance instead of fighting. It's an odd mix of ballet and fable, but somehow, it works. The completely original anime was created by Ikuko Ito and has stolen many hearts over the years with its passionate storytelling.

Mawaru Penguindrum

MAL rated: 8.09 | Ranked: #423

Penguindrum is proof that original anime can be just as quirky and odd as those based on other media. The series was directed and co-written by Kunihiko Ikuhara, who is best known for the classic and genre-breaking Revolutionary Girl Utena -- another classic original anime. Penguindrum is a trippy adventure through themes of family and hope, and a worthy follow-up to Ikuhara's work on Utena.

Higashi no Eden (Eden of the East)

MAL rated: 8.06 | Ranked: #454

Eden of the East
This tale set in modern Japan was created by Kenji Kamiyama, who also wrote and directed Ghost in the Shell under Oshii. Without having to stick to an existing source, Kamiyama was free to create a completely unique world, praised for its intriguing story and characters.

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