When we watch anime, we watch it for various reasons. Much like music, there is an anime for every emotion or event. Whether we wish to laugh, cry, or learn, anime is there to assist us when we need it most. This is especially the case when we are at our lowest, whether we are stressed out from exams and assignments or struggling with a relationship or even the passing of a loved one. Sometimes we need an anime to help us on our feet and propel us forward towards reaching the next day or achieving our long-forgotten goals. Anime can motivate us.
Below is a top 10 list of motivational anime that is based on both recommendations from the community as well as a few more eclectic or less talked about anime that we leave here for you to discover. These anime, in one way or another, will motivate you to carry on and sometimes go beyond your limits to achieve what you want. We hope you enjoy.
10. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2004– March 2005
Yukio "Koyuki" Tanaka was a 14-year-old lethargic student who got pushed around a lot. With no goals for the future, Koyuki wasn’t sure where he was going to end up until he crossed paths with a high schooler named Ryuusuke "Ray" Minami and his dog Beck. Ray introduces him to the guitar and soon enough Koyuki is filled with new purpose, jumping on to Ray’s new band with hopes of making it big.
From the popular studio, Madhouse, Beck is a slice of life and drama anime that seeks to take audiences through the mundane circumstance of its protagonist into a world thought unavailable to many of us. If you have ever wanted to take up and instrument or join a band but were never able to make that first step, this anime can provide a booster to motivate you to do so.
9. NHK ni Youkoso! (Welcome to the NHK)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2006 – December 2006
Tatsuhiro Satou is what you would call a Hikikomori, or a shut-in and a NEET (Not pursuing education, employment, or training). A recluse who cuts himself off from society and people. Tatsuhiro is kept in his cramped apartment by the conspiracy theories that run through his brain. A college drop-out with terrible social skills, things look bleak for Tatsuhiro until the unexpected arrival of Misaki Nakahara, a young woman who seeks to turn Tatsuhiro’s life around and bring him back into society. Can he do it?
Studio Gonzo brings you an anime which make-up consists of comedic, romantic, psychological, and dramatic elements. The inclusion on this list comes from the realism of its protagonists struggles with the expectations put upon him and his failure to meet these standards. This anime does not sugar coat the main challenges of the story yet provides levity and a supporting cast that all sort of stumble together to help him grow as a person. This anime is good for those who feel like they are stuck and need a little push to move forward.
8. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gurren Lagann)
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: April 2007– September 2007
The story follows two boys, Simon and Kamina, who remain trapped to live out their days, like all humans, in an underground colony. With no hope of reaching the sky that is out of their sights, they are forced to dig deeper and deeper to escape the frequent rumbling earthquakes and the beasts that live on the surface. Yet one day, they come across a strange machine they called “Lagann” and together, they fend off the attack of a beastman on their home and are left to explore the world above and survive greater threats.
Studio Gainax brings colourful mecha and adventure anime with unique animation and fantastic battles. This is a story of surviving while stumbling upon one’s true potential. It is perfect motivational anime for fans of mecha or those looking for a bit more sci-fi in their anime diet.
7. 3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes in Like a Lion)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: October 2016 – March 2017
Rei Kiriyama is a shogi prodigy. One of a very few who started right out of middle school. However, beneath the disciplined exterior is a spiral of trauma and anxiety from his past, his adoptive family, and the pressure to succeed at so young an age while living on his own in an empty Tokyo apartment. When such pressures become too much, he is supported by mentors at the Shogi Hall and a trio of neighbourly sisters: Akari, Hinata, and Momo Kawamoto, as well as their grandfather. Through his matches and relationships, Rei will seek to grow as a person, beyond his past, and the pressures of the present.
March Comes in Like a Lion can be described as a beautiful artistic representation of what it means to live while struggling with one’s own mental health and the extreme expectations we put on ourselves, yet it also showcases the great difference in how we are impacted by those who support us and those who scorn us as we seek to achieve greater things. This anime is for anyone who is or has struggled with their own self-worth and needs a reminder of the beauty in the world and people that surround them.
6. Kuroko no Basuke (Kuroko’s Basketball)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2012 – September 2012
We follow Tetsuya Kuroko and the Seirin High Basketball team as they work towards becoming the best basketball team in Japan. However, to get there, they will need to work together to defeat each of Kuroko’s former middle school teammates dubbed “The Generation of Miracles” where you served as a shadow sixth man. If they ever hope to achieve their goal they will need to work as a team to overcome every obstacle be it inside the court or outside of it.
Production I.G. brings an exhilarating slice of life, sports, anime that sees the value of teamwork even in the face of ever increasing challenges. Kuroko’s Basketball is very much a story of friendship. Whether it is action packed in-game moments or the comedic out of court back and fourths between teammates, Kuroko’s Basketball is an all around motivational tale for anyone in sports who has big goals and needs a spark to achieve them.
5. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jan. 2018 – Mar. 2018
Mari Tamaki has grown up always dreaming big but constantly held back by her fear of the goals she wishes to pursue. Now at the middle of high school, she doesn’t want to be a bystander in her life as her youth and spirit slip away, yet she does not know how to overcome her fear. Everything changes when she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa, the daughter of a missing Antarctic explorer who works tirelessly to join an exhibition and look for her mother in Antarctica. Inspired by Shirase’s determination, Mari seeks to join her, but how do the two expect to get to the other side of the world by themselves?
Kyoto Animation brings a light hearted and bubbly slice of life anime that takes girls in ordinary circumstance and thrusts them into an extraordinary world. This anime is for anyone who wants to follow others on a journey and simply be inspired by the realm of possibility in their own lives to achieve something as splendid.
4. Shokugeki no Souma (Food Wars!)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2015 – Sept. 2015
Souma Yukihira loves a couple of things: family, friends, and cooking. Raised by his father to work as a chef in the family diner, Souma aspires to be as great a chef as his father and take over the family business. One day, his father closes down shop and sets off to cook for restaurants around the world. While his father is away, Souma is sent to learn at Tootsuki Culinary Academy an incredibly competitive school where only the strong willed and rising culinary talent can survive. There, Souma will compete in shokugeki (food wars) and aim to take the top spot in the whole academy.
J.C. Staff brings an exciting and comedic slice of life, cooking anime that is ideal for anyone who has ever wanted to delve into the world of cooking or seek to bear witness to delicious anime food the likes of which no one has ever seen. Food Wars! gives everyone a taste of what it means to compete on a higher level doing what you love.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr. 2014 – Sept. 2014
In middle school, Shouyou Hinata, inspired by a volleyball game, revitalized his school’s team. Shouyou’s struggle to keep the team together while overcoming his short stature, was apparent during their first, and only, match in a tournament against Tobio Kageyama, “The King of the Court” and his teammates. Promising to himself to overcome his own short stature, he hopes to one day face off and defeat Tobio in a match. Unexpectedly, Shouyou will not have that chance as they end up on the same team at Karasuno High School. Can Shouyou and Tobio work together to achieve their goals?
From the same studio as Kuroko’s Basketball comes a more relatable anime for those who have ever felt less worthy of something because of parts of you that you cannot change. Haikyuu!! shows the physical limitations of its protagonist at the forefront and how he deals with it. Haikyuu!! exhibits challenges not just outside the team but within the team chemistry itself as is evident in its premise. Haikyuu!! is in the top three on this list for showing the intricacies of team building and overcoming one’s perceived limitations to prove yourself to those who doubt you.
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Oct. 2010 – Apr. 2011
When Moritaka Mashiro was a young boy, he aspired to be a mangaka (manga creator) like his uncle, the author of a popular gag manga series. However, when his uncle died from overwork, Moritaka, discouraged by his family, closed off the dream for good. Until one day Moritaka met a classmate, Akito Takagi, a writer interested in becoming a mangaka. Akito sought the artistic talents of Moritaka to work together to become serialized professional mangaka. A spark now reignited, Moritaka will work with Akito to achieve their goal and to keep a precious promise to a girl.
From the same creators as Death Note comes an anime that is nothing like Death Note. Bakuman is a slice of life, drama, comedy, and romance anime that effectively illustrates the perseverance, diligence, and wisdom that is needed to achieve one’s ultimate dream and how the work needed affects those around you. If you have a goal, this anime is for you. It might have made it to the top spot if it wasn’t for the next one on this list.
1. One Piece
- Episodes: 800+
- Aired: Oct. 1999 – Ongoing
One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a rubber man, and his crew called “The Straw Hat Pirates”. Together they sail the grand line, fighting monsters, pirates, and marines, in search of a great treasure called One Piece hidden by the legendary Pirate King Gol D. Roger. Through this journey, Luffy aims to achieve his goal of becoming the new King of the Pirates.
It should come as no surprise to find One Piece in the top spot. For almost 20 years, it has stood as a tale of adventure towards achieving our dreams and going beyond even our own expectations. One Piece shows that even if we may all have different goals, we can rely on each other to help us achieve our full potential. One Piece is for all of those who wish to find encouragement to discover one’s dream and seek more joy in the journey to achieve it.
Creating a diverse list of motivational anime is no simple task. No doubt, that there are many other anime deserving to be on this list which are not featured. It was our goal to feature anime that brought their own individual ways of motivating or inspiring an audience. We hope we have achieved that.
Please let us know in the comments below what you agree or disagree with on this list. What anime has pushed you out of your comfort zone or encouraged you to chase after long forgotten goals? We look forward to hearing from you.