Katekyo Hitman Reborn is a bit of an odd duck when it comes to big shounen anime of the 2000s. Many Japanese viewers remember it fondly and still follow its mangaka, Akira Amano, to this day. But since this mafia-themed action show never made its way to the West with an English dub, its international audience is limited. Not helping matters is Reborn’s bizarre pacing, which frontloads the series with lighthearted slice-of-life escapades rather than the exciting shounen battles and touching character moments that the series is best known for.
Today, we're here to present the best watch order for Katekyo Hitman Reborn. We skip irrelevant fluff and so-so filler to concentrate on what makes this underrated anime truly great—its unique take on shounen action from the point-of-view of a non-violent protagonist. Let’s jump right in with our dying will!
Daily Life Arc
- Watch: 1-9
- Recommended: 12-14
When Akira Amano first debuted Katekyo Hitman Reborn in 2004, she presented it as a slice-of-life gag series about Tsunayoshi Sawada, a hapless teenager whose life is turned upside down by a baby hitman named Reborn who tells him he’s the tenth-generation boss of the Vongola mafia family. Tsuna just wants a normal life, but Reborn forces him to get his butt in gear by shooting him with the “Dying Will” bullet—a weapon that invigorates Tsuna with the last regrets he felt before being shot and turns him into a raging underwear-clad powerhouse for five minutes.
The Daily Life arc is well-written, but it’s distressingly long. The manga dwells on this plot for around 60 chapters, which the anime shortens to 18 episodes and we’re going to chop down to 9. You’ll get to know the main cast and see their relationships develop before the first proper action arc throws their lives into chaos. We also recommend episodes 12 through 14, which have fun character interactions and further flesh out this group of friends into realistic human beings.
- Watch: 19-26
Now this is where things get serious. A mysterious school-aged criminal named Mukuro skulks into town with his gang and starts attacking Tsuna’s friends to bait the future mafia boss into confronting him. Supporting characters like Gokudera, Yamamoto, Hibari, and Bianchi get to show off their skills against the gang members, but Mukuro’s body possession powers eventually leave Tsuna as the last fighter standing.
We didn’t skip anything for this arc because all 7 of its episodes are packed with heart-pumping action and character development. Tsuna’s transformation with the Hyper Dying Will Bullet symbolizes his newfound resolve in the face of overwhelming odds and lets him keep his clothes on to boot. This is the arc that will sell you on the promise of Katekyo Hitman Reborn.
- Watch: 31, 34-37, 40-55, 57-65, 70
- Recommended: 28-30, 33, 66, 73
The Kokuyo arc showed some growing pains of a gag series reconfiguring itself into a battle shounen, but the Varia arc lays down the law by establishing a power system and a main goal. Dying Will flames are separated into seven colors, each one possessing different abilities and corresponding to a different member of a mafia boss’ team. In comes Xanxus, the disgruntled leader of the Vongola’s assassination team called the Varia, who challenges Tsuna for the right to be the next boss. Both teams face off in a makeshift tournament that’s more intense than anything they’ve faced before.
The Varia battles are some of the best in the entire series, and you really get to see deep into each character’s psyche as they fight for their lives. Tsuna’s pacifist philosophy clashes against Xanxus’ indignant rage in a way that makes both of them seem justified—something we don’t often see in classic good vs. evil shows. A few Daily Life episodes sneak in here, and we’ve recommended the best of them as a break from the constant action. Make sure to watch episode 70, though, since it sets up crucial events for the next arc.
Future Training Arc
- Watch: 74-83, 86-92, 94-96
We’re in for the long haul now! The Future arc is a massive storyline that takes up the entire rest of the anime and brings every character introduced so far into a multi-part journey to save the future from a genius tyrant named Byakuran. We’ll call this first part the Future Training arc, since it’s focused on bringing the main cast 10 years into the future and training them to use the new Box Animals that work as weapons with their Dying Will flames.
This arc can drag with episodes that don’t move the plot forward, so we snipped those out. Now you can enjoy the team’s exploits as they meet older versions of their friends and formulate a plan to take down an enemy they can’t even touch with their current skillset. Can they restore their peaceful life?
- Necessary: 68 episodes
- Recommended: 9 episodes
- Skipped: 20 episodes
Join us next time as we finish out the series, touch on its development process, and explain why we love it so much. Until then, what did you think of our overview? Have you ever tried to watch this anime? Do you disagree with our episode choices? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!