One of the many ways to learn Japanese while being immensely entertained is by watching Japanese television shows such as anime in its original language. Here, we have compiled a list of some of the most famous Japanese cartoon shows that we are sure would be delightful educational material to upgrade your Japanese language skills.
- Top Japanese Cartoon Shows
- 1. Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん)
- 2. Doraemon (ドラえもん)
- 3. Kochira Katsushika-Ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所)
- 4. Sazae-san (サザエさん)
- 5. Chibi Maruko-chan (ちびまる子ちゃん)
- 6. GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎)
- 7. Tetsuwan-Atomu (鉄腕アトム)
- 8. Anpanman (アンパンマン)
- 9. Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō (しましまとらのしまじろう)
- 10. Futari wa Pretty Cure (ふたりはプリキュア)
- 11. Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ)
- 12. Pokémon (ポケモン)
- 13. Hana Kappa (はなかっぱ)
- 14. Dōbutsu no Mori (どうぶつの森)
- 15. Furusato Saisei: Nippon no Mukashi Banashi (ふるさと さいせい： にっぽん の むかし ばなし)
- 16. Tottoko Hamutaro Dechu (とっとこハム太郎でちゅ)
- 17. Tanoshii Moomin Ikka (たのしいムーミンいっか)
- 18. Ikkyū-san (休さん)
- 19. Naruto (ナルト)
- 20. Meitantei Conan (名探偵コナン)
- Top Japanese Cartoon Character Names
Top Japanese Cartoon Shows
Take a look at our Japanese cartoon list and pick your favourites to binge-watch.
1. Crayon Shin-chan (クレヨンしんちゃん)
This popular animated television adaptation of the Japanese manga series is beloved by both children and adults alike and consists of over 1000 television show episodes as well as 26 movies.
Written by Yoshito Usui, it revolves around a 5-year old boy named Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara and his relationship with his family members, friends, neighbours and his dog. Among his many quirky character traits and mischievous behaviour, he is widely known for his inappropriate use of language, tendency to pull down his pants and moon people and his enjoyment in pointing out his parent’s fallacies.
This popular Japanese cartoon show can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
2. Doraemon (ドラえもん)
Created by the late Fujiko Fujio, Doraemon is one of the most popular Japanese cartoons of all time. It tells the story of a robotic cat-shaped male without ears who travels back in time from the 22nd Century to help a young boy named Nobita Nobi (野比のび太,), a lazy, childish, and flawed elementary schooler who usually gets bad results at school and scolded at home. He also lacks athletic abilities.
Doraemon is known for his 4th-dimensional pocket that contains many interesting and fanciful things to help Nobita in his time of need.
This Japanese manga and anime movie/series can be quite inspirational and emotional, teaching viewers the power of friendship.
3. Kochira Katsushika-Ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所)
Popularly known simply as KochiKame (こち亀) or KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops, this Japanese anime television series tells the story of Kankichi “Ryo-san” Ryotsu, a middle-aged policeman in Japan, who always schemes to get rich by creating strategies or inventing new gadgets. He would be close to success only for things to turn sideways and that’s when he would call his colleagues for help. Eventually, his plans would be unsuccessful and would have to pay for the damages.
Apart from the endless gags, humour is also found in the blend of ordinary characters and the peculiar ones such as the wealthy Nakagawa or transsexual Ai Asato. Moreover, the fact that the lack of actual police work done by the characters makes the cartoon more bemusing and comical.
4. Sazae-san (サザエさん)
This national treasure of Japan is the longest-running animated tv series in the world. Although considered a children’s show, it can be enjoyed by adults as well as the story revolves around a large Japanese family who lives together in Tokyo.
It tells the story of the 20-something-year-old woman who resides with her family members including her husband, son, parents, and siblings, who are all named after fish. All characters have their own funny and unique personalities.
5. Chibi Maruko-chan (ちびまる子ちゃん)
The story centres around a 9-year old third-grader named Momoko “Maruko” Sakura and her family members such as her parents, grandparents and sister as recurring characters.
The plot can be as simple as Maruko’s friend learning to ride a bike or following her grandpa to a bathhouse. However, what makes this Japanese cartoon entertaining is how wild her imagination can be to make even the simplest plot more dramatic.
6. GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎)
GeGeGe no Kitarō (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎) is a Japanese drama that popularised Yōkai (妖怪), folklore creatures. The anime series started streaming in 2018.
This masterpiece tells the story of a half-human, a half-Yōkai boy called Kitarō, who is Ghost Tribe’s last survivor, and lives an adventurous life with other apparitions and strange creatures. He always tries to advocate peace between humans and Yōkai.
As the storylines often refer to traditional Japanese tales, they appeal to both adults and kids who are interested in learning about other folktales.
7. Tetsuwan-Atomu (鉄腕アトム)
The late Osamu Tezuka, who is dubbed the Father of Manga (マンガの父) and the Godfather of Manga (マンガの教父) created this Japanese masterpiece in 1952 and is one of the most popular and successful anime and manga franchises worldwide. Also referred to as Astro Boy, this manga has been adapted for anime series thrice.
It is a science fiction series that tells the story of a time when robots and humans. When Dr Tenma loses his son in a car crash, he builds a robot named Astro to replace his deceased son. However, when he realises that the android he has built would never be able to replace his son, he sells Astro to a circus where he was later found and adopted by Professor Ochanomizu. His kindness towards the android inspires Astro to use his power to fight evil such as aliens and other robots.
He is a robotic hero with 100,000 horsepower that kids look up to.
8. Anpanman (アンパンマン)
This beloved Japanese children’s cartoon is so popular that it has inspired many works such as the song “Anpanman” by BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), a seven-member Kpop boy band, the famous anime series One-Punch Man, a handful of museums dedicated to the titular character across Japan and many merchandises.
The story revolves around Anpanman, a superhero who has anpan (a red bean paste filled pastry) for a head. Whenever his head gets damaged, Uncle Jam, whom he lives with and owns a bakery, always replaces it for him.
Anpanman protects people and fights the main antagonist Baikinman, an evil anthropomorphic germ. He also teaches children not to do bad things, to be kind to others and that justice always wins.
9. Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō (しましまとらのしまじろう)
This slice of life anime series for kids, particularly preschoolers, revolves around a tiger in kindergarten called Shimajiro who resides with his sister and parents on Challenge Island. The show is educational for kids as it teaches about sharing, good manners, making friends and other life lessons.
As the language used is made to be easily understandable, this Japanese cartoon show is perfect for those who want to learn Japanese.
10. Futari wa Pretty Cure (ふたりはプリキュア)
Futari wa Pretty Cure, also commonly known as Pretty Cure, is a Japanese anime series about magic, which has managed to captivate young girls in Japan.
It tells the story of two girls named Nagisa Misumi and Honoka Yukishiro, who are given the power of light to save the Realm of Light by the Garden of Light’s Mipple and Mepple. This action-pack cartoon also centres around both the girls’ lives including their personal drama, family and school.
11. Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ)
Yo-kai Watch is based on role-playing video games and toys and began airing as an anime tv series in January 2014 in Japan. The show was a huge success and boosted the franchise’s popularity further.
It tells the story of Keita Amano, an elementary school student as he goes on an adventure to collect yokai (spirits plaguing the Sakura New Town) with a spirit named Whisper.
Whisper fights other yokai whenever he is called upon by Keita using a watch and friendship medal. The moral that this cartoon series is trying to teach is that there is always a yokai behind every poor behaviour or negative action committed by humans.
12. Pokémon (ポケモン)
This worldwide popular Japanese anime series, also known as Pocket Monsters (ポケットモンスター), is based on a video game series.
It’s a story about Ash Ketchum (Satoshi in Japan) and his Pokemon named Pikachu who ventures on a journey to become a Pokemon master by defeating the most powerful trainers in the land, the Elite Four.
Now you may have watched the English version of the series when you were younger but have you ever tried watching it in its original language? What better way to learn Japanese while being thoroughly entertained?
13. Hana Kappa (はなかっぱ)
Based on the book series of the same name, the story focuses on the misadventures of a young Kappa (Japanese water spirit) named Hana Kappa. In this whimsical and cute cartoon, Kappa’s flowers bloom when they reach adulthood. However, the fear of not knowing which flower her buds will bloom into caused Hana Kappa to be anxious, so much so that she and her friends from her village headed toward different adventures. And during such adventures, different types of flowers would bloom on her head when she least expects them.
With lively colours and simple animation, Hana Kappa is very much loved by kids in Japan.
14. Dōbutsu no Mori (どうぶつの森)
Dōbutsu no Mori, also known as Animal Forest in English, is a beloved Japanese cartoon series based on a video game franchise. The story centres around Aya, a young girl who moves to a forest where animals are able to speak. While working for Tom Nook, she befriends her neighbours.
When she finds bottles containing messages that state something wonderful would occur during the winter festival provided that pine trees are planted in the village, she decides to do just that with the help of her friends.
15. Furusato Saisei: Nippon no Mukashi Banashi (ふるさと さいせい： にっぽん の むかし ばなし)
Also known as Hometown Rebuilding: Folktales from Japan, this Japanese anime television series, which consists of 258 episodes, shows different Japanese traditional stories. There are three tales shown per episode, narrated by professional voice actors in Japan. Moreover, each tale has strong morals that can be applied to your life.
If you want to get insights into the Japanese fascinating cultural heritage and be enraptured by the traditional tales, this cartoon is perfect for you.
Folktales are a classic way of spreading culture and life lessons to children, and for a look at the traditional tales of Japan, this show is perfect.
16. Tottoko Hamutaro Dechu (とっとこハム太郎でちゅ)
A re-air of the original Hamtaro episodes in 2011, Tottoko Hamutaro Dechu centres around a pet hamster named Hamtaro and his fascinating adventures with his hamster friends in their neighbourhood. Their group is called Ham-hams and each of them resembles the personalities of their owners. Join them in their journey of creating shenanigans, trying to deal with disagreements and even helping their owners with their problems.
Your heart will fill with warmth by the touching messages that the show conveys.
17. Tanoshii Moomin Ikka (たのしいムーミンいっか)
Based on the Finnish author Tove Marika Jansson’s children’s story books and comics, Tanoshii Moomin Ikka tells the story of a hippo-like troll family in Moomin Valley. With a touch of magic, peculiar adventures and fun settings, this three-year long-running Japanese cartoon will take you through the passing of three seasons and introduce you to a fantasy world full of wonders and entertainment.
18. Ikkyū-san (休さん)
Based on the early life of Ikkyū (1394–1481), a Japanese Zen Buddhist monk, Ikkyū-san was one of the most beloved cartoon series in the 1970s and 1980s across Asia by people of all ages.
This Japanese historical comedy anime show tells the story of a young Ikkyū – who is known for his signature pose (sitting cross-legged and putting two of his index fingers on his head) when he concentrates – when he was training to be a monk and how his impish nature and comic adventures would even baffle his instructors.
19. Naruto (ナルト)
Nauto is one of the most popular Japanese manga and anime series of all time. The manga is written by Masashi Kishimoto and the television series is now one of the longest-running and beloved shows and is the fourth best-selling manga series in history with 250 million copies being sold worldwide in 46 countries.
It tells the story of Naruto Uzumaki – a young ninja who has had his fair share of pain – who strives to be accepted and recognized by his peers and dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village.
The story, though entertaining and wonderfully written, is actually very inspirational and emotional at times. There were times when we couldn’t help but relate to some parts, characters and sayings.
20. Meitantei Conan (名探偵コナン)
Also known as Case Closed by many, Meitantei Conan is a detective television anime series with over 1,000 episodes and is one of the most beloved cartoons in Japan.
It tells the story of a genius detective named Shinichi Kudo who is turned into a kid after being fed an experimental drug forcefully because he witnessed something he should not have. He then changed his name to Conan Edogawa and starts living with his friend from childhood Ran Mori and her father Kogoro Mori, a private detective.
Conan helps the police solve cases while trying to take down the Black Organization, who is responsible for his change, and finding ways to get back to his original self.
Top Japanese Cartoon Character Names
You may have heard of popular Japanese cartoon character names such as Doraemon or Naruto. Well, here is a list of some of our favourite and most popular Japanese characters in anime.
1. Doraemon (ドラえもん)
Doraemon’s helpful nature and his 4th-dimensional magical pocket that contains many interesting inventions have earned him to be one of the beloved cartoon characters in Asia. He has even been dubbed as the official Anime Ambassador of Japan.
2. Naruto (ナルト)
Naruto has become one of anime fans’ favourite anime characters worldwide. His story continues to inspire his fans to never give up. His resilience and determination have managed to capture the hearts and souls of people of all ages across the globe.
3. Shin-chan (しんちゃん)
Shinnosuke “Shin” Nohara – a five-year-old kindergartner is popularly known for his frankness and mischief. His tendency of using the wrong phrases, such as saying “Welcome back” (おかえりなさい) instead of “I am home” (ただいま) and bizarre actions that cause his parents and tutors much annoyance, are some of the many reasons he is a fan-favourite Japanese cartoon character.
4. Kankichi “Ryo-san” Ryotsu (かんきち「りょうさん」りょうつ)
Next on our list is KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops’ Kankichi “Ryo-san” Ryotsu. This middle-aged name who strives for richness and success has managed to capture the attention of many people in Asia with his constant unsuccessful yet comical plans and schemes.
5. Pikachū (ピカチュウ)
Who doesn’t love this adorable little pokemon? He is so famous that Warner Bros. Pictures released the first-ever live-action Pokémon film, called Pokémon Detective Pikachu in 2019, starring Ryan Reynolds as the voice of the titular character. Pikachū has fans all over the world belonging to various age groups.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! We hope our Japanese cartoon list helps you in choosing the best and most entertaining television series to enjoy!
Until next time, sayonara for now!