When you think "anime," you probably think Japan. And you wouldn't be wrong, given that Japan produces most of the anime in the world—and most anime purists claim that only Japanese animated series and movies can be considered "anime" at all.
But Japan's style of animation has grown so popular as to influence the rest of the world, and we're now seeing all kinds of non-Japanese anime from various regions of the world.
In some cases, Western animation studios are creating their own anime-influenced works. In other cases, Western producers are collaborating with Japanese artists. Whatever the case, one thing is clear: Japan's monopoly on anime is loosening.
Want to see how good non-Japanese anime can be? Check out these excellent anime series from China, Korea, the Philippines, and even the United States of America!
14. Dr. Stone (2019–Present)
For many, Dr. Stone is actually a Japanese anime—and that technically isn't wrong—so you may be wondering why it's on this list.
While the source manga series is written by Riichiro Inagaki, it's actually illustrated by a South Korean manhwa-turned-manga artist named Mu-jik Park (under the pen name Boichi). That gives the art style of Dr. Stone a subtle but unique twist.
The story of Dr. Stone centers on Senku Ishigami, a 15-year-old genius who's suddenly revived and finds himself in a world where all humankind was turned into stone statues 3,700 years ago. Now he's on a mission to find a cure and bring humanity back.
Dr. Stone is said to be an isekai anime in disguise because its plot involves humanity being transported 3,700 years into the future due to the time lapse. Senku now finds himself in a foreign world where all technological advancements have been wiped out.
13. Rakshasa Street (2016)
While Chinese fantasy movies and TV shows have been popular for a while, Chinese anime series have been much rarer. If you've never seen one before, then Rakshasa Street should be top of your list.
Rakshasa Street is an anime series from China that features a girl who accidentally enters Requiem Street, a place where spirits, ghosts, and other supernatural beings gather and co-exist with humans. But not all humans. Only those humans who have guardian spirits.
You'll notice a few similarities between Rakshasa Street and other high-profile Japanese anime series. For example, there are characters that feel similar to the shinigami of Bleach and the shamans of Shaman King. But there's plenty that's unique to it as well.
Ignoring the resemblances, Rakshasa Street is quite thrilling and action-packed (but also has a touch of ecchi to it). The graphics and animations are good, and the story is worth following.
12. Castlevania (2017–2021)
The blood-filled Castlevania anime series is based on the Japanese video game franchise of the same name, but is actually produced by an American animation studio called Frederator Studios.
Castlevania follows the story of Trevor Belmont and his struggle to survive and defend his nation from Dracula and his troops. The entire series incorporates characters and elements from three of the games: Dracula's Curse, Curse of Darkness, and Symphony of the Night.
This is a must-watch series for any anime fan, but especially those who have enjoyed the likes of Hellsing, Servamp, and Seraph of the End. The great story will keep you hooked, and the animation, art style, and fight scenes in Castlevania will not disappoint.
11. Trese (2021)
Trese is an anime series based on a Filipino comic series of the same name written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo. The anime series is produced by BASE Entertainment, a production company based in Singapore and Indonesia.
The story features mythical monsters and ghouls that coexist with human beings, and the main character is a late-20s woman named Alexandra Trese who's tasked with investigating supernatural incidents that occur throughout her community.
You should consider watching Trese if you want to experience new flavors of monsters, creatures, and mythologies. It's rare for any media work in the West to take inspiration from the Philippines, and Trese is a great example of that rich culture.
10. Blood of Zeus (2020)
Blood of Zeus is an anime series that's written and produced by Powerhouse Animation Studios (which is based in Austin, Texas) in collaboration with both Mua Film and Hanho Heung-Up (which are South Korean animation studios) for the animation.
The plot of Blood of Zeus takes a lot of inspiration from the stories of Greek mythology: tension between gods and humans, infidelity and its rippling consequences, bitterness and resentment all around. But all of that is distilled into a thrilling story centered on a fictional hero.
That hero is Heron, one of the sons of Zeus who battles against demons. While many of the characters in Blood of Zeus are actual Greek mythological figures, the stories are uniquely original and make Blood of Zeus a breath of fresh air as far as anime series go.
9. Dota: Dragon's Blood (2021–Present)
Dota: Dragon's Blood is an epic fantasy anime series based on the popular video game Dota 2. It's produced as a collaboration between Studio Mir (based in South Korea) and Kaiju Boulevard (based in the US) with animation done by Production Reve (based in South Korea).
It follows the story of the Dragon Knight Davion who slays dragons to maintain peace and keep the people safe. But when his soul is forcibly merged with the soul of an Elder Dragon, Davion has no choice but to hunt down Terrorblade, a demon who collects dragon souls.
Even if you've never played the game before, you'll enjoy this one. And if you've played Dota 2 before, what are you waiting for?
8. The Legend of Korra (2012–2014)
The Legend of Korra is the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender (both heavily influenced by Japanese anime) and was produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, with the actual animation done by Studio Mir (of South Korea) and Studio Pierrot (of Japan).
The story takes place in the same world of Avatar but 70 years in the future, with all kinds of technological and societal advancements but still founded on the same core premise where people can bend the four elements of nature: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.
Korra is the successor of Aang as Avatar, and she must learn to control her emotions and grow as a person to fulfill her destiny in bringing balance to the world—a world torn apart by social and political strife.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the best animated series ever made but The Legend of Korra feels a lot more like an anime, so that's the one we're highlighting. Both are definitely worth watching.
7. The Daily Life of the Immortal King (2020–Present)
The Daily Life of the Immortal King is based on a Chinese novel written by Kuxian, which was adapted into anime format by Haoliners Animation League, a Chinese animation studio.
The series follows the story of Wang Ling, who, despite being an overpowered character, just wants to live a normal life. However, his power won't let him—because he stands out so badly even when he controls his strength to an "average" level.
You'll find this series fun to watch, with the right amount of humor that's perfectly blended with lots of action and fantasy.
6. The King's Avatar (2017–Present)
The King's Avatar is an animated web series based on the web novel of the same name. It's produced by Tencent, the Chinese tech company that gave us well-known video games like Call of Duty: Mobile.
This series follows the story of an esports player who's kicked off his team after a dispute over marketing and promotion. Along with that, he's also forced to give up his game account—the best in the game.
Now, as he starts a brand new journey on his own, he's also building up a new character/avatar from scratch.
What makes this series pretty cool is its unique take on bringing the characters into the game with its narrative and great animation, without the isekai element typical in video game-inspired Japanese anime.
5. Noblesse (2020)
Noblesse was first released as a webtoon in 2007, with its first animated version produced by Studio Animal of South Korea. It was an OVA titled Noblesse: Beginning of Destruction.
Noblesse then got another OVA titled Noblesse: Awakening, and then a full-blown anime series, except this time produced by Production I.G., a Japanese animation studio.
Despite having a new team for the series, the art style and the character designs are still heavily based on the original webtoon, giving it a unique look and feel unlike most Japanese anime.
The main series follows Cadis Etrama Di Raizel, a vampire who wakes up from 820 years of sleep and enters the modern world.
4. Scissor Seven (2018–Present)
Scissor Seven is a Chinese anime series that features cartoonish artwork and animation, making it look more like a kids show. However, the series offers action-packed scenes along with a great amount of comedy.
Scissor Seven follows the story of Seven, a hairdresser who operates a barber shop. But that's just a front for his real role: he's actually an assassin who uses a pair of scissors as his main weapon.
And there's another twist on top of that: Seven lost his memories and doesn't remember that he's an assassin of high caliber—one who's much stronger than he appears to be at the start of the series.
3. Hitori no Shita: The Outcast (2016–2021)
Hitori no Shita: The Outcast is an anime series adapted from a Chinese webcomic. The anime, however, is a collaboration between Japanese and Chinese studios, including Haoliners Animation League.
It follows the story of Chou Soran, whose martial arts technique makes him a target for organizations who want it for themselves.
His encounters with the "outsiders" feature insanely animated and choreographed fight scenes, which seriously elevate the series.
2. Jackie Chan Adventures (2000–2005)
Jackie Chan Adventures is an American animated series produced by Sony Pictures Television, featuring a fictionalized version of Jackie Chan.
It follows his story as an archaeologist who unwillingly becomes a special agent under a secret organization called Section 13. The series also explores Chinese culture, featuring elements like talismans named after the 12 sacred animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Though there are thrilling fight scenes involving magic, dragons, and ninjas, it's all pretty light in terms of violence and blood.
What's even better is that the series isn't just a fictionalized take on Jackie Chan—the real Jackie Chan appears at the end of every episode, too!
1. Lookism (2022)
Lookism is an anime series adapted by South Korea's Studio Mir from a webtoon written and illustrated by Park Tae-Joon.
It follows the story of Park Hyung-Suk, a bullied high school student who wakes up one day with a new identity—in the body of Daniel Park.
Unlike other titles on this list, you'll find Lookism pretty engaging with its slice-of-life theme without the intensity of action-heavy series.
As the title suggests, the premise leans on topics of discrimination, differences, and inequalities, as the main character finds himself accepted when in his "perfect" identity while being hated in his "ugly" one.