Anime Underground The 24 Best Anime That Isn't Based On A Manga Series  

Christine Rivas
1.7k votes 342 voters 5.0k views 24 items Embed

List Rules Vote up the greatest original anime that isn't inspired from a manga version.

While many of the best anime series are based on popular manga, some of them are entirely original. Believe it or not, some of the best anime have nothing to do with manga at all, and some even got a manga adaptation after they were aired or while they were in production. There is a shocking amount of shows that were first conceived as anime or adaptations of light novels. 

Compiled here are the very best non-manga-based anime that you need to add to your watchlist as soon as possible. Some of them are classics that you might have watched and re-watched many times before, while others are a bit more unknown. You may be surprised to see your favorite show on this list - check it out below and vote up the best original anime series. 

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Cowboy Bebop


Cowboy Bebop is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 24 Best Anime That Isn't Based On A Manga Series
Photo:  Sunrise

Cowboy Bebop is often considered one of the greatest anime ever made, and you'd be surprised to find out that the story is an original one. The anime is comprised of 26 episodes that are set in the year 2071. When you start the series, you think you're getting a show about a bounty hunter crew aboard the Bebop spaceship, but what you're actually getting is a philosophical exploration of concepts like ennui and existentialism. 

Also Ranked

#15 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#58 on The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made

#2 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

#28 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

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Samurai Champloo


Samurai Champloo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 24 Best Anime That Isn't Based On A Manga Series
Photo:  Funimation

Samurai Champloo ran for 26 episodes through 2004. It's set in an alternate version of the Edo era that has hip hop. Yes, you read that right. It's similar to Cowboy Bebop: both are original, critically acclaimed, and action-based. The story begins with a woman named Fuu, who is saved from abusive samurai by Mugen and Jin. Mugen and Jin end up fighting each other and get into trouble after their fight kills the magistrate's son. Once Fuu saves them, they go with her to find "the samurai that smells of sunflowers."

Also Ranked

#26 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#5 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

#52 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

#14 on The Best Adventure Anime of All Time

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100 18

Code Geass


Code Geass is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 24 Best Anime That Isn't Based On A Manga Series
Photo:  Funimation

Code Geass is set in an alternate historical timeline where a prince gains a power called Geass and decides to use it to annihilate the Holy Brittanian Empire, an oppressive superpower. The show eventually became a light novel and manga series, but the anime came first. 

Also Ranked

#10 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#7 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

#13 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

#44 on The Best Action Anime of All Time

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Psycho-Pass


Psycho-Pass is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 24 Best Anime That Isn't Based On A Manga Series
Photo:  Funimation

Psycho-Pass takes place in a dystopia where Big Brother is always watching. The Psycho-Pass manga came out less than a month after the series premiere of the anime, and the light novel series began not long after that. The story follows the Public Safety Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division, specifically protagonists Akane and Shinya. The show is reminiscent of the movies Minority Report and Blade Runner

Also Ranked

#36 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#15 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

#36 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

#17 on The Best Action Anime of All Time

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