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

Christine Rivas
16.7k votes 3.2k voters 62.6k views 24 items

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. 

1 1,578 VOTES

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

#5 on Anime You Wish Was Streaming on Netflix

#48 on The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made

#15 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#4 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

1,405 173
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2 1,442 VOTES

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

#27 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#44 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

#10 on 25+ Anime With Great Rewatch Value

#24 on The Best Action Anime of All Time

1,265 177
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3 1,169 VOTES

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

#2 on Anime You Wish Was Streaming on Netflix

#11 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#19 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

#45 on The Best Action Anime of All Time

959 210
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4 827 VOTES

Death Parade


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

Death Parade isn't based on an anime, but the original concept came from a short film called Death Billiards. The concept of this anime is simple: when you dies, you're sent to one of many weird bars run by arbiters, who also serve as bartenders. There, you have to play a Death Game which will tell you more about your situation. The results of your Death Game will determine how and where you spend your life after death. 

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#65 on The Best Anime Series of All Time

#15 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

#72 on The Best Adventure Anime of All Time

#44 on The Best Supernatural Anime

698 129
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