The Japanese genre of tokusatsu television isn't the only media to feature heroic teams that fight crime and fend off world-shaking monsters. Anime, too, has its own take that's equally flashy and innovative.
Related: What Is Tokusatsu TV? Explained
Sentai anime (sentai means "squadron" or "task force") typically falls under the superhero genre of anime. But instead of one main hero, it involves numerous heroes who act as a team unit.
Normally, sentai series stick to color-coded character designs, but some have spun their own way to use clearly distinguished costume designs without the usual one-color-one-character approach.
In the early years of sentai, the general idea was to have one main hero squad versus different villains or threats across episodes or seasons. Nowadays, sentai anime has evolved in fresh directions.
From classic anime series that are still worth watching to modern anime series with new twists, here are the best sentai anime series.
8. Takoyaki Mantoman
Takoyaki Mantoman is a child-friendly anime series about a group of "caped Takoyaki men" who fight crime and save the day.
This anime series was one of the most unique of its era, especially for its art style and character designs. In line with its child-friendliness, the villains in Takoyaki Mantoman are often ridiculous and totally non-threatening, but that's part of the fun.
Takoyaki Mantoman was based on a 1990 children's picture book and was animated by Studio Pierrot. It may not be as badass as other animes on this list, but it was one of the series that many kids enjoyed.
One of the most classic anime series—and arguably one of the best animes of all time—is Yu Yu Hakusho, which was adapted from Yoshihiro Togashi's manga of the same name.
Yu Yu Hakusho centers on the character of Yusuke Urameshi and his adventures as an Underworld Detective.
At first, the story starts like a typical shonen series: one hero fights various monsters that have blended in with the human realm. As the story progresses, he gains teammates in Kazuma Kuwabara, Kurama, and Hiei, which completes the squad and makes it qualify as sentai.
This team-based conceit was most fully explored in the Black Chapter Saga, with the group facing Sensui as he threatens to open a tunnel that connects the human realm with the world of monsters.
Want a newly modern twist on the usual sentai anime plot? Then you need to watch Love After World Domination! This series features all the elements of a typical sentai series, with a heavy romantic lean.
But this isn't your ordinary love story—it's the surprising romance between the top two fighters from opposing sides in a war.
In Love After World Domination, Fudo Aikawa (the hero known as Red Gelato) and Desumi Magahara (the villain known as Reaper Princess) need to balance their relationship with their missions, resulting in a uniquely fresh take on the sentai anime genre.
5. Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato
Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato is an anime adaptation of a manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Hiroshi Kawamoto, which features solid plots inspired by mythological names and figures.
The story centers on a boy named Shurato and his best friend Gai, who are both transported to a parallel world. There, Shurato discovers that he's the reincarnation of an ancient god-king.
With their fellow reincarnations—collectively known as the Eight Legions—they're all tasked with protecting the land and its leader, Lady Vishnu, from the sinister Asura Gods.
Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato has so much to offer viewers, including the creative and fun powers and character designs that are based on mythical creatures and their descriptions.
Combining magical girl anime with mecha anime is already a strange idea, but it works really well in Magic Knight Rayearth. Throw in elements of sentai anime and you get a series that's even more awesome.
From the color-coded magical girls to their respectively color-coded mecha-type entities called Rune Gods, Magic Knight Rayearth clearly has heavy influence from previous sentai series.
The plot follows three teenage girls who are magically taken to a foreign world, Cephiro. There, they have to save the land from destruction by saving its Pillar (Princess Emeraude) from her abductor (Zagato).
3. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon will always be among the greatest shojo anime series of all time, primarily for being one of the most iconic series to take off in the West and help usher in anime as a mainstream medium.
Sailor Moon features a group of girls who are bestowed with magical powers and can transform into their individual Sailor Soldier outfits. It's a heavy mix of magical girl anime and sentai anime.
The series centers on Usagi Tsukino (Serena Tsukino in the first English dub) and her all-girls group of Sailor Soldiers who fight off evil forces to save the Earth from destruction.
2. Voltes V
Voltes V wasn't the first of its class, but it's still one of the best of its kind. It's a perfect mix of mecha and sentai genres, featuring the giant Voltes V robot that's co-piloted by five heroic individuals.
Voltes V is actually comprised of five separate machines that "volt in" together to form the massive, complete robot.
The Voltes Team includes the three Goh brothers—Kenichi piloting the Volt Crewzer head, Daijiro the Volt Panzer torso, and Hiyoshi the Volt Frigate legs—as well as Ippei Mine in the Volt Bomber arms and Megumi Oka in the Volt Lander feet.
Together, they are Earth's ultimate defense against the invading Boazanian Army led by the Gohs' half-brother, Prince Heinel.
Some don't consider My Hero Academia to be a sentai anime, but even among naysayers it's clear that it's heavily inspired by sentai.
This anime series is filled with dozens of superheroes who fight criminal supervillains, with the main characters being aspiring hero-students who attend a school that trains up future superheroes.
Unlike most sentai series, which feature one central squad of main heroes, My Hero Academia includes numerous groups and squads across varying arcs. They're all just collectively known as Pro Heroes.
My Hero Academia is so popular because it creatively spins the usual superhero stories in new ways, resulting in a sentai-inspired anime series that's truly one of a kind.