Sometimes you just want to watch a show that seems like it will never end, a time-vampire, if you will. Everyone remembers the show Dragon Ball, and with all its sequels, it seemed to continue on into oblivion, but what about those other shows that felt like an animated Energizer Bunny that keeps going and going and going? This is by no means a comprehensive list, but here’s eight of some of the longest running anime shows of all time. Did we miss your favorite? Know of an even longer one? Let us know in the comments!
Lupin III Part II
Lupin III Part II is the shortest series on this list, coming in at just 155 episodes that were originally aired from 1977-1980. This specific show is actually a part of a larger meta-series called Lupin III and follows the exploits of Arsene Lupin III, a grandson of the thief of the same name from a series of novels by Maurice LeBlanc. This version of Lupin III is notably lighter in tone than its predecessor and is known for its humorous nature. Two feature films came out during its production, most notably The Castle of Cagliostro, which was directed and co-written by Hayao Myazaki of Studio Ghibli fame.
Dr. Slump Arale-Chan
Not many people know about Dr. Slump despite the fact that it shares its creator with the Dragon Ball series and is responsible for the trajectory of Akira Toriyama’s career. The story follows the adventures of a small robot girl named Arale Norimaki, whose naivety creates much of the action and humor for which the series is known. Arale-Chan is one of its anime adaptations and lasted for 243 episodes in a run from 1981-1986. Although the series has been relatively unknown in America, Arale does appear during the Red Ribbon saga of the original Dragon Ball manga and its subsequent anime, as well as making background cameos in later Dragon Ball series.
Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunso)
Sgt. Frog is a comedy anime series that follows the misadventures of Sgt. Keroro and his squad of anthropomorphic alien frogs as they attempt to take over the Earth. Due to the Sgt.’s incompetence, the team is often thwarted by the Hinata family, with whom the squad lives. This series is full of pop-culture references and gags, to the point that nearly every episode is in some way a parody. For instance, the Sgt. himself is addicted to Gundam models, which he often buys (instead of paying for his Earth invasion) with the allowance he gets from doing chores for the Hinatas. Coming in at 358 episodes, Sgt. Frog is well worth the watch solely based on the merit of its writing.
Bleach is a part of a larger tradition of shonen manga and anime, a genre typically geared towards young and teen boys. These shows often feature a lot of action and adventure, as well as “coming of age” stories catered to its audience. Bleach centers on Ichigo Kurosaki, a young man who obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper and is tasked with guarding the world of the living as well as act as a Grim Reaper for the souls of the dead. Filled with fast-paced action and interesting characters, Bleach is perfect for fans of the action-adventure genre. The Bleach manga is still in production today, but the original anime run from 2004-2012 ended with an impressive 366 episodes.
After Dragon Ball Z, Naruto was the first huge anime hit for the US. Following the adventures of a young ninja wanting to become the next Hokage, Naruto also belongs to the popular Shonen genre. Naruto: Shippuden acts as the sequel to the original Naruto, depicting the titular character as a young adult. Although new episodes are coming out, at the time of this article, Naruto: Shippuden sits as 446 episodes. Believe it!
Some part of me feels like One Piece will never actually end. With the first episode airing in 1999, One Piece now sits at 732 episodes and has no end in sight. One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a man who accidentally ate a fruit that gave him the power of elasticity at the cost of his ability to swim. Despite this flaw, he captains a band of pirates in search of the legendary item known only as the “One Piece” so as to become the next Pirate King. The anime follows the manga, which is still in production, so you can expect more One Piece for quite some time, albeit with a ton of filler as well.
Case Closed (Detective Conan in Japan) is a series about Detective Jimmy Kudo, who is transformed into a kid during one of his investigations. Throughout these cases, Jimmy not only has to solve the mystery, he must also struggle with being taken seriously due to his appearance as a child. Currently standing at 803 episodes (and growing), Case Closed may very well break the 1,000 mark, which is understandable considering it began airing in 1996. If you’re waiting patiently on the next season of Sherlock, Case Closed could be that mystery fix you need, and trust us, there is plenty of it.
Sazae-san began as a manga in 1946 and continued to produce material until 1974. In 1969, the series was picked up as an animated show, which still airs a new episode every Sunday. The series follows Sazae, a young Japanese woman that endeavors to be her own person rather than conform to the norm. At first, this was very controversial, as Sazae was a feminist and did not support the traditional patriarchal Japanese household. Sazae San was, and still is, an attempt to demonstrate the modern Japanese household. Despite being very different from the rest of the shows on the list, this anime has remained popular from its inception and currently boasts 7332 episodes, holding the Guinness Book of World Records record for longest animated series. At 7332, I would venture to say that Sazae-san will be holding its title for quite some time.