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

Christine Rivas
24.8k votes 5k voters 102.9k 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 2,377 VOTES
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. 

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#14 of 970 on The Best Anime Series of All Time #1 of 100 on The Best Old School Anime From 1999 and Before #86 of 300 on The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time #20 of 319 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time

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2 2,087 VOTES
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."

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#28 of 970 on The Best Anime Series of All Time #60 of 319 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time #47 of 159 on The Best Anime on Crunchyroll #50 of 292 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time

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3 1,816 VOTES
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. 

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#8 of 970 on The Best Anime Series of All Time #15 of 319 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time #10 of 292 on The 100+ Best Anime Intros of All Time #5 of 211 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

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4 1,483 VOTES
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

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#34 of 970 on The Best Anime Series of All Time #47 of 319 on The Best English Dubbed Anime of All Time #53 of 159 on The Best Anime on Crunchyroll #17 of 211 on The Best Adult Anime of All Time

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