Top 5 Anime Which Defined Everyone's Childhood
1998 to 2006 was a time period like no other in the history of anime. Toonami was rapidly popularizing the international spread of anime, internet sites for anime streaming were popping up everywhere and the Big 3 titles of anime (One Piece, Bleach and Naruto Shippuden) were busy climbing their way to the top of popularity charts everywhere. These were also the formative years of the newest generation of adults and have been responsible for shaping the childhood of billions of men and women today.
In this week's Top 5 list, we're talking a trip to nostalgia town and going over the Top 5 anime which defined everyone's childhood!
2. Dragon Ball Z
While the Beyblade franchise comprises of several different anime and has over 600 episodes among them all, it was the original trio of Beyblade, Beyblade V Force and Beyblade G Revolution which really set the stage for the rest of the franchise. Although the shows were originally designed with the intent to sell merchandise, the exact opposite happened; the merch is what made the anime shine above many other contenders in its time. The early 2000s were a time to behold, with every neighborhood sporting their own Beyblade competition as kids were eager to emulate the epic fights shown on screen.
The Beyblade was, for quite some time, a status symbol in many circles, outshined only by console games (DS or PSP) and later, Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The fall of Beyblade was rather insidious, as better and more appealing shows and trends eventually buried it. Kids begun to realise that metal bey's would always overpower their plastic counterparts and the anime begun to fall out of favour due to a rather forgettable plot. By the time 2005 rolled around, Beyblade fans were few and far between, and eventually the anime dwindled away into nothingness until its Metal Masters reboot in the early 2010s would breathe some more fresh air into the series.
Whatever the case, a quick look in any 2000s kid's bottom drawer will still reveal one or two dusty bey's lying around- a faint reminder of one of their first exposures to the world of anime.
Before Naruto Shippuden took the world by storm, there was Naruto- which followed the story of its entire cast when they were still young Genin. While Shippuden took a focus on the action and plot, the original show was more oriented around character development as a whole, but certainly didn't shy back from delivering great, skillfull action when the story called for it. Starting off with the now infamous Zabouza fight and heading into other pivotal plot points like the chunin exams and Sasuke's defection of Konoha, the original show was the perfect mixture of action and good plot.
Whatever the feats of Shippuden may be, no single minor villain in it can ever outshine the brilliance of Zabouza and Haku; a story so touching and tear-jerking that it instantly turned every kid into an absolute fan of the show. Naruto didn't need to sell merchandise to be popular; its story itself carried it all the way into everyone's living room at 9pm sharp. The only thing holding this entry back from being higher on this list was its airtime, which would often be either at most kid's bedtime, or immediately as soon as school would end. The anime was also littered with fillers, which would tend to limit interest in it to more patient audiences.
Nevertheless, we all remember that one classmate who had all the hand signs memorised and would run around during lunch like Naruto. Good times, indeed!
Say what you will about the absolute mess that this franchise has become today, but well until the end of the Diamond and Pearl era (circa 2010), Pokémon was loved by one and all. Reruns of the original 80 episodes still air on several Asian channels and continue to give the newer generations a taste of what the classical anime was like. Pokémon perhaps holds the most distinct honour on this list of having the most positive reception for all of its sequels. Unlike the other entries here, who have faced significant criticism for some of their reboots and/or sequels, Pokémon has chos to remain true to its formula for a large portion of its history- something that is perfectly fine in a show mainly directed towards younger audiences.
Another thing that Pokemon distinguished itself on was its stellar Nintendo games, which are still ranked in any top 10 list you can find on Gameboy and DS games. While our generation didn't have much of an opportunity to meddle with Red and Blue, we did grow up with great entries like Fire Red, Emerald, Platinum and later, Black 2 and White 2. Not only did the games allow kids to immerse themselves into the world of Pokémon, they offered so much more- the opportunity to trade and battle pokémon worldwide taught kids to play competitively and it gave all the introverted kids a chance to fit in when they'd show off their well-built teams.
Pokémon was, and remains to this day, a classic among every generation.
2. Dragon Ball Z
To be fair, this show ended in 1996- before many of us could even walk or talk. However, that certainly didn't stop Cartoon Network and Toonami from airing reruns of the show until its successor (Dragon Ball Z Kai) was announced in 2009. Z and Z kai are really the same show; the latter just touches up on the animation and trims out a lot of useless fillers. If it ain't broken, don't fix it right? Same deal here.
While DBZ isn't exactly known for its plot, what it does deliver in abundance is relentless action and great tension. Good thing kids aren't connoisseurs, because that's all an anime needs in order to hit the popularity jackpot. Dragon Ball Z must have hit it twice. Although the show was littered with the occasional brutal and gorey scene, it knew where to draw the line and never crossed into edgy territories in its storytelling. The show is surprisingly dark, but never takes itself too seriously to detract from the overall visual treat that it aims to be in the end.
Show anyone a picture of Shenron and even if they can't name the green dragon, they'll definitely point out how ubiquitous the character is in its TV appearances, even though it was never the central character of the show. That's how you know an anime has impacted the world. Dragon Ball Z never had any stellar console games or unique merchandise, but like Naruto it know how to tell a story right, which is why it's on the second spot on our list today, and that too by a narrow margin!
The one-hit wonder clenches the top spot on today's list by a very close call. The original 224 episode show ran from 2000 to 2006, and each season seemed to be made with the determination to outshine the last. For such a longstanding anime, the quality of its filler arcs never seemed to suffer (except maybe that arc with Zigfried 🙃) and the show maintained high rating throughout the course of its run, despite its English dub being heavily neutered by 4Kids.
Like Beyblade, YuGiOh was made massively popular due to its card game counterpart- but what is lesser known is that the card game was released before the anime's debut, at least in the form that Yu-Gi-Oh! is known today. Regardless of the order, neither the card game nor the show lagged behind when it came to the topic of popularity, with it being ranked as the Top Selling Card game by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009. Indeed, in the early 2000s, wherever there was a kid, a Yu-Gi-Oh! deck wouldn't be far off at all.
The franchise also released several games for consoles, and while none came close to the Pokémon games in terms of global impact, they did their share in spreading the popularity of the game worldwide. Even today, the franchise lives on through its 6th spinoff although none of them have come close to matching the overwhelming success of the original. What is on the rise, however, is the popularity of the card game- especially in the U.S.A, be it through the influence of Yugitubers or the quarantine.
YuGiOh takes the top spot in today's list! Catch us every week for news and articles on everything from anime reviews to product releases and everything in between! Live your passion with Adilsons!