I’ve made no secret of the fact that, more often than not, I dislike long anime shows. No doubt I’ve grown far pickier since I first started watching (back when I was happy to sit through some outright bad shows just because they were better than nothing at all). If I’m being honest though, I never had much patience for things like long-winded exposition, constant flashback scenes, and other assorted filler tricks to begin with. Neither does it help that I’m too easily irritated by wildly inconsistent production values; another fairly typical hallmark of longer anime titles.
Sometimes though, a long-running anime comes along that surprises me. Sometimes I’m taken aback by just how high-quality a 60+ episode title can be. Sometimes even I have to admit that, for all I can be extremely impatient, a few shows really are worth investing that much time (and yes, emotional commitment) into. Below are what I still consider now to be the absolute best of these.
Notes: I’ve gone with 60 episodes and over because a) I needed some kind of benchmark to work with, arbitrary as it may be, and b) that number takes things comfortably over two seasons of the 24-26 episode model, which used to be the trend before 11-13 episodes per season became the industry norm. I’ll be counting second seasons as long as they’re direct continuations rather than spinoffs, but I won’t be counting associated specials or OVAs – this is televised anime episodes only.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (64 episodes)
I’ve said more than once on this blog that the one type of anime I’m almost guaranteed to dislike is a long-running shounen series. This is at least in part because action/adventure just isn’t usually my thing – which just happens to be the genre that so many long-running shounen anime fall into. Brotherhood, however, is one of those rare beasts that somehow succeeds at everything it tries its hand at, including (but certainly not limited to) action and adventure. It also performs admirably whenever it dips its toes into some light-hearted comedy material, or when it tugs at the heartstrings with some well-placed drama or romance. At no time do these genres feel out of place or disharmonious, and despite being 64 episodes in length, not one of those episodes goes to waste. The frosting on top of the cake is that, quite apart from delivering a well-constructed, well-paced, and exciting story with a wonderful cast that both starts and finishes on a high note, Brotherhood does so while looking and sounding damn fabulous. There just aren’t that many corners being cut here in terms of production, and that’s quite a rarity for any show of this length.
Cardcaptor Sakura (70 episodes)
I’d normally be the first person to slam an anime for filler. I don’t tend to like it when anime shows start adding a bunch of stuff that wasn’t in the manga – not because I’m a ‘purist’ (in fact, I very rarely read any manga at all), but because whenever an anime starts throwing in random material, it almost always ends up seeming like nothing more than an convenient way of spinning more time and money out of a franchise. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of those rare exceptions where not only do I not mind the extra material (and there’s a lot of it), but said extras also actually work to bolster the narrative rather than drag it down with the usual weaker story arcs. The other thing I really appreciate about Cardcaptor Sakura is that it manages to function well both as a children’s series as well as one that adults can watch without feeling as though their intelligence is being insulted. I’m sure many CLAMP fans would agree that the studio often deals with some quite mature themes, but Cardcaptor Sakura holds a very special place in my heart for doing so in a way that’s sweetly as well as subtly consistent.
Natsume Yuujinchou (74 episodes)
Where Cardcaptor Sakura feels mostly like a children’s show that’s also designed to work well for adults, Natsume was clearly designed for older audiences but would probably be appropriate for at least older children. It’s an episodic and often very tranquil show, and one that just keeps the ball gradually rolling until you suddenly realise there’s a loveable, sympathetic, and fully-realised cast of both human and non-human characters right in front of you, as natural as can be. The joy of Natsume is that it never once seems like it’s trying too hard to earn the viewer’s attention, and yet it somehow also exists as an extremely poignant drama; the atmosphere is such that it rarely strays into melodramatic territory, but still manages to tug at the heartstrings – almost without the audience noticing – until they’re sitting there ready with the tissue box in front of them. And that’s an unusual thing for any series, let alone one that stretches out past a certain number of episodes.
Bakuman (75 episodes)
If there’s one anime demographic and genre I tend to dislike more than any other, it’s a shounen battle series. Yet this is exactly what I perceive Bakuman to be; it’s just that people fight with their pens rather than with fists, swords, or superpowers. And I think Bakuman actually understands and plays this notion very well. It’s not a parody, but it is self-aware, and much of its good-natured humour and spirit is derived from these shounen-style friendships and rivalries. Unlike most anime stretch past a certain number of episodes however, there’s relatively little filler to be had, and the overarching storyline never loses its focus. While there are almost always other things going on in the background – romances and various other side-character subplots – these almost always bring some worthwhile material to the table while never outshining the main duo and their goals. Whatever its faults, Bakuman is an excellent blend of surprisingly realistic human drama and genuinely funny writing, placed alongside that same burning desire to succeed which shounen battle titles are so well known for to begin with.
Saiunkoku Monogatari (78 episodes)
Saiunkoku Monogatari is one of those incredibly rare (and quite possible only?) creatures that’s both a reverse-harem series as well as an intensely political one. It’s a tiny bit like Fushigi Yuugi in that it’s heavily inspired by historical China, and also in that there’s one main female character and a pretty large cast of pretty good-looking male characters. That’s where the similarities end however, since Saiunkoku Monogatari is not only far better-written and far better-looking (thank god for that last), but also just cannot even compare to Fushigi Yuugi in terms of maturity levels. It’s still a drama, but generally much more an actual political drama than anything else, complete with intricacies of court life and government, a highly intelligent and motivated lead, and a diverse cast whose lives do not in fact revolve entirely around their romantic feelings for her (if they have those feelings at all). Judging by the synopsis, you’d think Saiunkoku Monogatari would trade in plenty on romance and sex, and not be bothered by much else, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a complex and sophisticated series, and one that actually grows stronger rather than weaker as it progresses through all 78 episodes.
Question of the post: Is there a certain point at which an anime show will likely become too long for you to sit through? And if so, are there any exceptions to that rule that spring to mind?
24 thoughts on “5 Good Anime Over 60 Episodes”
Great list, Bakuman and Fullmetal are probably in my top favorite shows.
Cheers. I’m very fond of Bakuman, while Brotherhood definitely makes it right at the top of my all-time anime favourites as well.
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Very happy to see CCS on this list! Great picks!
Oh yes, CCS is still on my top 20 anime list of all time – I couldn’t possibly leave that one out!
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I’m extremely surprised that Natsume has so many episodes. Watching it season by season somehow makes it look far shorter.
I think I’d add Monster to such a list. What’s your opinion about it?
I agree, it’s a little strange sometimes realizing just how long Natsume Yuujinchou is. But those 13-episode seasons really add up.
I only tried watching Monster once and didn’t get very far – for whatever reason, it just didn’t click with me at all. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace at the time though; I’d like to try watching again at some point to see if I feel any differently.
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Nice list. I’d also put Shugo Chara and Bleach on the list of long anime I enjoy (and D Gray Man), but for the most part I prefer shorter anime.
I don’t think I’ve ever watched Shugo Chara actually, aside from seeing a few short clips here and there around the internet. Maybe I should give it a try sometime.
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Very child friendly so probably a little silly for most adults, but very cute.
Nothing wrong with that! I’ve found that there are plenty of titles out there that comfortably cater to kids and adults alike. 🙂
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Oh this was a terrific read! Natsume is something I love watching with each subsequent season as it comes out. They’ve almost caught up the manga so who knows if they will make their way to creating anymore for a while.
Did you know? Bakuman is actually very much an inspiration piece based on many real people. Characters are almost all based on real people who worked at Shonen Jump and made manga. The main two are modeled after the manga creators, EIji is Eiichiro Oda, and Aoko is the person from Sailor Moon and so on. I loved it being a manga about manga, The anime covered the entire story, but if you do read manga I recommend reading the content from season 3 at least since they trimmed a lot of stuff out for runtime. Lots of extra good bits to enjoy for yourself.
I know lots of 50 episode anime I could recommend here, but hardly any of them hit past that 60 mark haha. Thanks for the fun read and looking forward to the next one!
Natsume is simply gorgeous, isn’t it? I have such a huge amount of love and respect for that show, particularly the first 4 seasons (although of course, the following seasons were great too and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more eventually).
I did know that some of Bakuman’s situations and characters were based on real life, yes, but I didn’t know any of the details. I think it really helped with the show’s realism in terms of the overall story. 🙂
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I very rarely watch past 2-cour worth of material, though multiple seasons have an advantage, here, over long-running shows; the break helps, and you’re sort of fond of the return. It’s like re-watching, only with new material (if that makes sense).
I absolutely adore Natsume and would be back, no questions asked, for a seventh season. I do find seasons 5 and 6 came with diminishing returns, but then they also hold some of the best episodes of the entire run (such as the Touko-centred episode).
You remind me that I still have to finish Card Captor Sakura. I think I have around 20 episodes left, and I should get to it before Clear Card hen starts next season. It’s such an adorable show, and definitely my favourite straightforward magical girl show. Not about fighting all the time.
I’ve always been curious about Fullmetal Alchemist, but I’ve clicked with none of the other shows that Arakawa was involved in, and since it’s a long-running show my motivation to get started has bottomed out.
I quit Bakuman after one season. It was fine, but I wasn’t motivated enough to come back for season two.
I’ve been interested in Saiunkoku Monogatari, and the interest is renewed everytime I hear about, but the episode count is a de-motivator.
As for shows others mentioned: I’ve seen one season of Shugo Chara, and I liked it a lot. It’s possible I’ll be back for more some time, but it’s no priority. The magical gimmick in this one actually ties in surprisingly well with themes of identity. I was curious and didn’t expect to last through an entire season, but here I am considering watching the next one.
Monster is also a show I’m interested in, but am frightened to tackle because of the episode count.
I did finish Hunter X Hunter (2011), which, IMO, deserves its reputation. I binged this one; interestingly, I think I wouldn’t have finished the show had I watched it on a weekly basis (I did watch the final few episodes on a weekly basis, but by then I was hooked.) There’s a rather routine training arc near the beginning, and I doubt I’d have finished that weekly. Similarly, there’s a trapped-in-a-game arc which I downright hated, and this where I’d have defnitely dropped the show.
Since I even consider 52 episodes long, I haven’t watched many shows over 60 episodes. I’ve watched plenty of first seasons of multi-seasonal shows, though (see Shugo Chara).
Yes, having a break of a season or two really helps to keep things fresh for long-running shows of any kind.
And I agree, for me these days, I’d consider anything over two cours plenty long enough, and anything over 50 episodes just long full stop. It’s difficult to find the motivation to start watching shows that I know are this length or over (even assuming I can find the time), and so an anime usually has to come highly recommended from several people I know and trust for me to go there. (Which reminds me that Hunter x Hunter is one such anime, and that I should really finally get around to trying that one out at some point.)
You’ve seen all of Saiunkoku Monogatari?
I AM JEALOUS OF YOU FOREVER.
The only collection I’ve ever seen on the market goes to maybe episode 39, and I’d love to see the rest of it. It is such a great show.
Inorite?? I was so desperate to see more because it was dropped from the market at such a high note/critical point in the series. I assume it was discontinued indefinitely as far as the official English subs were concerned? But I don’t really remember what the exact circumstances were around that.
If I don’t enjoy an anime, I’ll drop it at any point. However, if I really enjoy an anime, I’ll keep watching it till the very end. When I got to the last episode of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, I had to make an event out of it since I knew it was the last and thoroughly enjoyed that anime. Even then, I still screamed for more episodes!
Same here – I just don’t have the patience for waiting for an anime to become good. Either it’s compelling to me right from the start, or I won’t keep watching.
You know I keep hearing about Cardcaptor Sakura, so I’ll have to give that a shot, as well as a few others on these. Thanks!
You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy it!
Great idea for a post! I love Bakuman and FMA
Thank you for commenting, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post!