Longest Running Anime Series

Katrina

Katrina

27 May 2021

Female character in anime, list of longest running anime series

Anime has been around for a long time. Some of them, literally. Several anime series has more than a thousand episodes to their names. This resulted in some of the longest-running shows ever. If you’re looking for some good anime shows to watch or just want to fill your curiosity, then you’ve come to the right place. From old-time favorites like Doraemon to today’s top shows like Naruto, read on to find out more about the longest-running anime series!

First, what is anime?

Anime refers to traditional and digital animation from Japan. Simply put, these are animated television shows or films that feature Japanese characters and culture. Often, the industry adapts these anime series from popular manga series. Mangas are Japanese comic books.

Western animation focuses on movement. Meanwhile, anime focuses on detailed settings and camera effects. Character design in anime is also distinct. Most characters have big, expressive eyes and colorful hair.

Today, anime is popular among all kinds of people from all over the world. There is a vast genre selection. Plus, Netflix provides accessibility these days. People can easily find a show perfect for them. In fact, you’ll probably find one that you’ll want to watch from the list of longest-running anime series below!

Table of Contents

Sazae-san - 7,701 episodes

Original run: October 5, 1969 – February 21, 1974
Episode runtime: 7 minutes

Sazae-san, longest running anime series
Image from The Guardian

Recognized by the Guinness World Records, this anime holds the world record for the longest-running animated TV series. The show is about a mother named Sazae-san and her family life.

While the popular genres of anime today center on fantasy and sci-fi, the longest anime series is simply a family drama. It showcases the everyday problems of ordinary people.

Nintama Rantaro - 2,245 episodes

Original run: April 10, 1993 – present
Episode runtime: 10 minutes

Nintama Rantaro, longest running anime
Image from Pash Plus

Nintama Rantaro is a Japanese anime series adapted from Sobe Amako’s manga series, Rakudai Ninja Rantaro. The show is about the adventures of three ninja students: Rantarou, Shinbei, and Kirimaru. The English title of the show is Rantaro the Ninja Boy. You can find this series on Amazon.

Ojarumaru - 1868 episodes

Original run: October 5, 1998 – present
Episode runtime: 10 minutes

Ojarumaru, longest running anime

The third longest-running anime series is Ojamaru. In English, the title is Prince Mackaroo. The anime features Ojarumaru Sakanoue, a five-year-old prince from the Heian era. After a time-warp accident, he suddenly finds himself in modern-day Japan.

In 1999, the Japan Media Arts Festival rewarded the series with the “Excellence Award” for animation.

Catch the Special Edition of Okarumaru on Amazon.

Oyako Club - 1818 episodes

Original run: October 3, 1994 – March 30, 2013
Episode runtime: 5 minutes

親子クラブ, Oyako Club, Anime

Another slice-of-life series is Oyako Club. The anime is about Rompa and Lun, two aliens who end up joining a human family. The series focuses on the touching relationship between the aliens and the humans.

Doraemon - 1787 episodes

Original run: April 2, 1979 – March 18, 2005
Episode runtime: 11 minutes

Doraemon, Anime series

The fifth longest-running anime is about Doraemon, an earless robotic cat from the 22nd century. He travels back in time to help Nobita Nobi, a boy who is often bullied by his classmates.

To this day, Doraemon is one of the most popular anime of all time. In fact, Japan’s Foreign Ministry even appointed Doraemon as the first “anime ambassador” in March 2008. Time Asia magazine also called Doraemon the “Asian Hero” in a 2002 feature.

The original Doraemon premiered in 1972. However, it ended with only 26 episodes in 1973. A remake of the series also began in 2005 and is currently ongoing.

Sore Ike! Anpanman - 1491 episodes

Original run: October 3, 1988 – Present
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Soreike Anpanman, anime series

Sore Ike! Anpanman, or “Anpanman, Go!” is one of the longest-running anime that continues to air to this day. This anime is a comedy popular with children. It stars a superhero named Anpanman, whose head is an “anpan.” An “anpan” is a red bean paste-filled bread. The story focuses on his adventures as he fights his mortal enemy.

As one of the top anime shows in Japan, Anpanman stars in plenty of merchandise, such as clothes, toys, and even snacks. Anpanman inspired another anime series called One-Punch Man. The popular k-pop group BTS also featured the superhero in their track, “Anpanman.”

Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi - 1471 episodes

Original run: January 7, 1976 – September 3, 1994
Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi, anime series

Manga Nippon Mukashi Banashi, or “Japanese Folklore Tales,” is another one of Japan’s longest-running anime series. Each episode features a different Japanese folk tale. A different creative staff is also behind every episode.

You can find this anime series on Amazon.

Hoka Hoka Kazoku - 1428 episodes

Original run: October 1, 1976 – March 31, 1982
Episode runtime: 5 minutes

Hoka Hoka Kazoku is an anime about the daily lives of a family in modern Japan. This anime series doesn’t follow a strict plot. It is mostly an educational take on the slice-of-life genre.

Kirin Ashita no Calendar - 1306 episodes

Original run: January 1, 1980 – October 6, 1984
Episode runtime: 5 minutes

Another one of the longest-running anime series is Kirin Ashita no Calendar, or “Kirin Tomorrow’s Calendar.” The show features a cat and a mouse that teach children about historical events in a stage play format. People know little about the show because it is actually a partially lost anime series. Producers of the show never aired it again. Today, only the intro of the show has survived.

Chibi Maruko-chan - 1203 episodes

Original run: January 8, 1995 – present
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Chibi Maruko-chan

The tenth longest running anime series is Chibi Maruko-chan. In English, the title is “Little Maruko-chan.” This anime series is based on a shoujo manga series of the same name. A shoujo manga is a term for Japanese comics with teenage girls as their target demographic. Like most shoujo manga, the series features a young girl and her daily life as a troublemaker in suburban Japan.

Chibi Maruko-chan originally aired from 1990 to 1992. It had 142 episodes. A second series debuted later on in 1995. It gained popularity and led to adaptations in games, films, and other merchandise.

Pokémon - 1148 episodes

Original run: April 1, 1997 – present
Episode runtime: 20 minutes

Pokémon, anime series
Image from LaptrinhX

In anime, Pokémon is a household name that is popular even in the West. The title is an abbreviation from an English translation of the original title, “Pocket Monsters.” Pokémon is one of the longest-running anime series that you’ll frequently find in other lists like “top anime shows” or “best anime series.”

Pokemon is about a boy named Ash Ketchum and his journey in fulfilling his dreams of becoming a Pokémon master. His first Pokémon, Pikachu, is a popular icon in both Japanese and Western media. It has even branched out to the video game industry on different consoles.

To this day, Pokémon continues to air with a fresh set of characters and newly added Pokémon that both old fans and new ones can enjoy.

Crayon Shin-chan - 1077 episodes

Original run: April 13, 1992 – Present
Episode runtime: 20 minutes

Crayon Shin-chan, anime series
Image from OtaQuest

Crayon Shin-chan is about a five-year-old boy named Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara and his family. As a shameless troublemaker, Shin gets into all kinds of shenanigans. The episodes center on how he and his friends solve the problems he often causes himself.

Because of the show’s popularity in Japan and other countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan, filmmakers have also produced several feature-length films throughout the years. The latest one came out in 2020, and fans can expect another release in 2021.

Dubbed versions of the show are also available for different countries. Some examples include German, Indonesian, and Spanish dubs.

Sekai Monoshiri Ryoko - 1006 episodes

Original run: October 1, 1971 – December 31, 1974
Episode runtime: 5 minutes

Sekai Monoshiri Ryoko is popular among those who love to watch educational shows. In English, the title directly translates to “The Instructive Trip Around the World.” This longest-running anime series comprises short documentaries about different places around the world. With its short episode runtime, this anime aired from Monday through Saturday.

Detective Conan: Case Closed - 1006 episodes

Original run: January 8, 1996 – present
Episode runtime: 30 minutes

Detective Conan: Case Closed, anime series

Unlike most of the longest-running anime series on this list, Detective Conan isn’t slice-of-life. Instead, it is a mystery thriller story that features a detective named Shinichi Kudo, who is poisoned and turned into a child. He then takes on the pseudonym Conan Edogawa and accompanies his childhood friend and her private detective father on their cases.

Writer Gosho Aoyama takes inspiration from popular icons such as Arsene Lupin, Sherlock Holmes, and Akira Kurosawa. Detective Conan is popular overseas, especially in North America, where Funimation licensed the series for broadcast.

One Piece - 974 episodes

Original run: October 20, 1999 – present
Episode runtime: 22 minutes

one piece anime

One Piece is an adventure fantasy story that features Monkey D. Luffy as its main character. The story follows Monkey D. Luffy and his adventures with his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates.

Like some of the other longest-running anime, One Piece is currently ongoing, and its franchise is going strong with different merchandise, video games, and feature films. The original manga is equally popular and holds the Guinness World Record for “the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author.”

Kotowaza House - 773 episodes

Original run: April 4, 1987 – September 28, 1994
Episode runtime: 5 minutes

Kotowaza House is another one of the longest-running anime series. The show features Peter, a salaryman with an unhealthy lifestyle. Kotowaza House is a public service “proverb-of-the-week” anime. It aims to encourage audiences to live healthily, as the characters of the show also encourage Peter to change his ways.

Asa Da Yo! Kaishain - 744 episodes

Original run: April 4, 2019 – March 29, 2019
Episode runtime: around 1 minute

Asa Da Yo! Kaishain, anime series

Among the other longest-running anime series, Asa Da Yo! Kaishain has the shortest runtime. In around 44 seconds, each episode follows the lives of employed shellfish characters with strange personalities. The title in English translates to “Clamployee.”

Shima Shima Tora no Shimajiro - 726 episodes

Original run: December 13, 1993 – March 31, 2008
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Shima Shima Tora no Shimajiro, anime series
Image from Netflix

Next on this list of anime is another slice-of-life anime: Shima Shima Tora no Shimajiro. In English, the title is “Striped Island Tiger Shimajiro.” This anime is comedic, with children as the target audience. The story follows the adventures of a young tiger named Shimajiro, and his friends. His companions include Mimirin the rabbit, Torippii the parrot boy, and Ramurin the sheep girl.

This anime is also educational for children as it teaches them important life lessons. This includes topics like making friends, saying sorry, and resolving fights.

Hanakappa - 599 episodes

Original run: March 29, 2010 – present
Episode duration: 12 – 24 minutes

Hanakappa, anime series

Despite being a much more recent anime show, Hanakappa is one of the longest-running anime series ever. This kids’ comedy focuses on the life of a young kappa named Hanna Kappa. A kappa, or “river-boy,” is a mythical creature from Japanese folklore. While some legends depict the kappa as a frightening demon or imp, this kids’ show features kappas as cute creatures with flowers on their heads.

Naruto Shippuden - 500 episodes

Original run: February 15, 2007 – March 23, 2017
Episode runtime: 20 minutes

Longest Running Anime: Naruto Shippuden
Image from OSU

Naruto Shippuden follows the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja who aspires to be the leader of his village. In the show, Naruto and his friends face off a mysterious organization of rogue ninjas. This anime is a mix of adventure, fantasy, comedy, and martial arts.

Naruto Shippuden is a sequel to the original Naruto series that premiered in October 2002. It ended in February 2007. It had 220 episodes. Popular in the West, an English dub of this anime series aired in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Gintama - 369 episodes

Original run: April 4, 2006 – October 7, 2018
Episode runtime: N/A

Gintama, anime series

Also known as “Gin Tama,” Gintama is an anime series that focuses on the story of Gintoki Sakata. Gintoki is a freelance samurai who lives in historical Japan. In this world, aliens have invaded the country and banned all samurais. The plot follows the crazy shenanigans that Gintoki and his gang get up to as they do odd jobs to make ends meet.

The series comprises four seasons. The first started in 2006. The last ended in 2018. Live-action films, animated films, and video games have also been produced.

Bleach - 366 episodes

Original run: October 5, 2004 – March 27, 2012
Episode runtime: 20 minutes

Bleach anime

Stylized as “BLEACH,” Bleach is one of the longest-running anime series from the supernatural genre. The story follows Ichigo Kurosaki. He becomes a Soul Reaper after taking another Soul Reaper’s powers. His classmates accompany him as he fulfills his duties of protecting humans from evil spirits.

Bleach is also popular internationally, especially in the Philippines, Spain, and France.

Fairy Tail - 328 episodes

Original run: October 12, 2009 – September 29, 2019
Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Fairy Tail, anime series

Relatively younger than most anime shows on this list, Fairy Tail still secures a spot as one of the longest-running anime series ever. This adventure fantasy is about a wizard named Natsu Dragneel. The story follows his adventures with his companions, Lucy, Happy, Gray Fullbuster, Ezra, Wendy, and Carla.

The anime series has three seasons. The franchise also has several spin-off mangas and animated feature films. Because of its genre, the show is popular among young boys. This is especially true in North America.

Dragon Ball Z - 291 episodes

Original run: April 26, 1989 – January 31, 1996
Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Dragon Ball Z, anime series

Commonly abbreviated as “DBZ,” Dragon Ball Z is a sequel to the equally popular anime series, Dragon Ball. This sequel continues with the same main character’s story. An adult now, Son Goku continues to protect Earth. This series is popular for its creative mix of adventure, fantasy, and martial arts.

Today, many see Son Goku as a cultural icon. In fact, you’ll find most fans continue to cosplay as their favorite Dragon Ball Z character. This is likely because of their unique designs.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters - 224 episodes

Original run: April 18, 2000 – September 29, 2004
Episode runtime: 20 minutes

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, anime series

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is one of the most popular anime series today despite airing for only four years. While it is far from the longest or oldest anime, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a favorite for its unique plot and distinct character design. The story revolves around Yugi Muto. He becomes entangled in the life of a Pharaoh spirit who ends up in his body. Throughout the series, he competes in a game called Duel Monsters.

Later on, the card game from the show became a collectible card game. In 2009, the Guinness World Records named it as the top-selling trading card game in the world.

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! - 203 episodes

Original run: October 7, 2006 – September 25, 2010
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, anime series

Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is one of the longest-running anime series. The main character of the story is Tsunayoshi Sawada who seems to be the most ordinary out of all the ordinary. Until suddenly, he discovers that he is next in line to become the Vongola family’s mafia boss. The story follows his training under Reborn, an infant hitman who is tasked to help him become stronger.

Some also simplify the title to just “Reborn!” Aside from the anime series, producers also adapted the original manga into video games, light novels, and other merchandise.

Sailor Moon - 200 episodes

Original run: March 7, 1992 – February 8, 1997
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

sailor moon, anime series

Sailor Moon is a shoujo anime series. The popular series focuses on Usagi Tsukino or Sailor Moon and her adventures to save the world with other Sailor Soldiers. The story appeals to younger audiences, especially girls, because of its romantic storyline and coming-of-age themes.

The anime was extremely successful in the United States and Southeast Asia, with dubs in different languages. Today, the anime continues to be well-loved. Usagi and the other Sailor Soldiers are often popular choices for cosplays.

Astro Boy - 193 episodes

Original run: January 1, 1963 – December 31, 1966
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

astro boy, anime series

Astro Boy is one of the oldest among the longest-running anime series on this list. Another translation for the title is “Mighty Atom.” After the death of his own son, Umataro Tenma creates an android boy with human emotions. This android is Astro Boy. The plot revolves around Astro’s adventures as he tries to become a normal boy.

The original manga by Osamu Tezuka dates back to the 1950s. It is one of the best-selling manga series of all time. Many credit Tezuka and Astro Boy for their influence on the success of both manga and anime. This popular franchise also branched out into collectible figures, clothes, trading cards, and food products.

Prince of Tennis - 178 episodes

Original run: October 10, 2001 – March 23, 2005
Episode runtime: 22 minutes

Prince of Tennis, anime series

Sports fans often dub the Prince of Tennis one of the best anime series of all time. Set in Tokyo, this long-running anime series is about Ryoma Echizen. He is a tennis prodigy in middle school. Throughout the series, he navigates his dreams of becoming a successful tennis player. The story appeals to audiences because of its coming-of-age themes.

The Prince of Tennis franchise is incredibly successful. It has a radio show, soundtracks, and video games.

Inuyasha - 167 episodes

Original run: October 16, 2000 – September 13, 2004
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Inuyasha, anime series

This show is set in historical Japan. The heroine is Kagome Higurashi. At the beginning of the story, she falls into a well. She somehow finds herself transported from modern-day Tokyo to historical Japan. While there, she accidentally shatters a magical crystal. She then enlists the help of Inuyasha. Together, they collect the shards.

A second run of the anime series aired from 2009 to 2010. It ended with 26 episodes.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure - 152 episodes

Original run: October 6, 2012 – July 28, 2019
Episode runtime: 34 minutes

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, anime series

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a relatively recent series. Thus, you can easily find it streaming on Netflix. It’s a supernatural fantasy series that focuses on the Joestar family’s adventures throughout the 19th century to modern-day Japan.

Producers of the show have already announced the fifth season with no release date set yet. However, you can expect this series to climb up this list once it airs.

Hunter X Hunter - 148 episodes

Original run: October 2, 2011 – September 24, 2014
Episode runtime: 23 minutes

Hunter X Hunter, anime series

Hunter X Hunter is a fantasy adventure anime series that follows a spirited boy named Gon and his journey of becoming a hunter in order to find his father.

The original TV series first aired in 1999. Later on, the second adaptation aired in 2011. The franchise also includes animated films, audio albums, video games, and musicals.

Yu Yu Hakusho - 112 episodes

Original run: October 10, 1992 – January 7, 1995
Episode runtime: 24 minutes

Yu Yu Hakusho, anime series

Yu Yu Hakusho is about a delinquent named Yuusuke Urameshi who dies after saving a child from a car collision. His unexpected sacrifice took him to the spirit realm where they offered him another chance at life. However, to live again, he must fight and defend humans from evil spirits.

In English, the title translates to “Ghost Fighter.” The series also won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize for best anime twice. First in 1994, and once more in 1995.

Slam Dunk - 101 episodes

Original run: October 16, 1993 – March 23, 1996
Episode runtime: 23 minutes

Slam Dunk, anime series

Many know Slam Dunk as the ultimate sports anime. The series features the life of Hanamichi Sakuragi, a hot-tempered basketball player. With his towering height, he comes off scary to his peers. At the beginning of the show, he lies about playing basketball to impress a girl. Because of this, he gets roped into joining the basketball team.

The series aired and is currently airing in several Asian countries and Europe. The original manga is also the seventh best-selling manga series in history.

Hajime no Ippo - 75 episodes

Original run: October 4, 2000 – March 27, 2002
Episode runtime: 23 minutes

Hajime no Ippo, anime series

Hajime no Ippo is an action-comedy series. Makunouchi Ippo is often the victim of bullies until one day, a boxer named Takamura Mamoru saves him. Inspired, Ippo trains as a boxer and thus enters the world of boxing. In English, the title is “Fighting Spirit.”

After the first season, a second aired in 2009. In 2013, the last season also aired.

Honorable Mentions

There are a few more series that did not make the list but deserve a shout-out. This includes Monster, a crime mystery anime with 74 episodes.

Another anime series that falls close to some of the longest-running animes is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. This show has 64 episodes. It has a very dedicated fanbase too. Many claims that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the best anime of all time.

Beelzebub came close with 60 episodes. The popular sports anime Haikyuu!! trails behind with 50 episodes.