Evaluating animation is often trickier than other genres. After all, numerous of our earliest TV memories are tied to an animated series, short or memorable. Impermeable nostalgia is often difficult to penetrate with specific critical tools like reason, logic, and other objective criteria.
Some shows click. They hit at the proper time and capture a blossoming imagination. When it involves ranking animated series, you’re not just analyzing TV shows. You’re critiquing childhoods.
Of course, the animation is also among the more expansive TV subsets. However, dozens of various tones and designs that make comparisons often desire oranges and apples.
There are cartoons, short films, anime, short movies that became web series, adult-oriented animation, and short series. Moreover, that’s before digging into all the individual genres, like old-fashioned slapstick comedies.
With all that in mind, animation needs an extra-touch celebration. Animated series are often dismissed because numerous viewers see the medium as less substantial than anything wiped out live-action. Therefore, eliminating even the simplest of the bunch from discussions of TV’s elite programs.
That’s a damn shame, so to remind everyone of the genre’s extensive impact and utmost significance, the IndieWire staff has put together an inventory of the best 50 animated series of all.
Honed from an inventory of quite 100 programs, the below ranking still only illustrates a sliver of the storytelling diversity animation has captured over the last century—Hunt down what you’ve seen and remember fondly those you have.
Animation may be a genre for all ages and everyone’s story, regardless of when you’re ready to start watching.
Captain Tsubasa: the reference
In 1988, he arrived on the Five, a series that will tape ahead on his screen for an entire generation: Olive and Tom. How many kids will try with the pals the Derick brothers’ catapult, Ben Becker and Olivier Atton’s combined shot, falcon shot, Thomas Price’s one-hand stops, and dead leaf or support on a Pole to urge a ball to the Ed Warner? The cartoon’s previous version lasts only two seasons (primary championship and college championship) but remains the foremost influential football manga on television.
New versions are produced on the occasion of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups: the plot is about up around the junior world championship. The Japanese team participates and will see the beginnings of the professional career of Tsubasa. During this latest version, Olivier joins the Barca, where fictional players rub shoulders with real pros players, including the good Richard Dutruel.
The goal for Rudy: the anti-hero
When Goal for Rudy (Gambare Kickers in Japanese) arrives on the Cinq in 1986, the chain relies on Olive and Tom’s success and even allows himself to link the two series. Under the pretext that he wears a green jersey, the French doubles will stipulate that the hero has played for San Francis. This link doesn’t exist within the Japanese version.
The design is the same, but the scenario is significantly different. Rudy doesn’t win all his matches, doesn’t make all his technical gestures (he often wallows enough on his attempts), and his teammates aren’t warlike (special mention to the large plate of soup that is a defender).
Hurricanes: the fair-play series
Broadcast by M6, this British series created in 1993 takes us behind the scenes of a football club following Amanda’s adventures, a lass succeeding her father at the top of the Hurricanes. The female touch brought by Amanda is reflected in her team’s irreproachable attitude toward the sector.
Despite the continuous provocations of the Gordons, a team filled with Materazzi, good play and fair play are the sole means employed by the Hurricanes to win the matches. Interesting detail: each episode includes a brief sequence with different stars of the ball.
The Children of the World: the pedagogue
In 1994, on the occasion of the planet Cup, Canal + broadcasts Les Enfants du Mondial, a Japanese series recounting the main matches of the FIFA World Cup. Through Brian Thompson’s memories, a retired journalist, we were ready to discover the good games of all the ultimate stages (from the victory of Uruguay in 1930 to the last German coronation in 1990). And it has detailed portraits of the best players in history (Pele, Beckenbauer, Müller, Eusebio, Maradona, etc.) particularly.
The School of Champions
In 1992, the École des champions landed at the Club Dorothée. Benjamin Lefranc’s adventures resemble those of Olivier Atton: a young Frenchman arrives in the city of Genoa (in the Japanese version, he’s a young Japanese). He’s picked high by the San Podesta junior team and joins the small squad of Columbus. With a former professional player’s recommendation, the young Benjamin will take his team to the heights and become one of the country’s most fantastic hopefuls.
The series knows its little success but will be tainted with many controversies. It is presented as a Franco-Japanese production. The series is a Japanese production during which the French tried to intervene to bypass French shows’ quotas.
AB Productions sent an employee to Japan, but they already had drawings and scenarios made. Its presence still disrupted production, and France had to accept 49 episodes rather than the 52 planned.
To spend the manga in French production, the studios of AB celebrated traveling up the episodes and even created three last episodes from images of the primary ones.
Eleven for a cup: the pioneer
On the 1982 World Cup occasion, a series is made around the mascot of the competition: Zest (or Naranjito for the first version). Amid his friends Citronnet and Clémentine.
And their buddy robot, Yamatélé, Zest, tries to elucidate football’s principles when the villain Miellock seizes all the pictures of the archive of the planet Cup. Zest must travel to all the organizing countries to recover the archives and provide them to his little robot, who eats the reels and diffuses the pictures on his ventral screen.
This intrigue is a pretext for Onze for a cup to show the younger generations the history of the planet Cup.
Whistle: the modern Tsubasa
Manga available in France only in the original subtitled version, Whistle, tells the story of Sho Kazamatsuri. Later, thanks to his small size, he joins a minor team with whom he learns all the sport’s technical aspects step by step.
We could consider Valbuena, but Sho features a Bakayoko in each foot: he’s ready to assimilate gestures of very high class quickly. At the same time, he will miss the only control possible. Very realistic cartoon and each episode ends with a touch lesson on soccer.
Galactik Football: the superb series
Released in 2006 on France 2, this series combines football with fantasy and enjoys top-quality graphics. In a futuristic world, teams from different planets compete in the Galactik Football Cup, the sole competition to use their superpowers.
The series follows the Snow Kids course, a team composed of women and boys who must learn to master their faculties to hope to win the ultimate Cup. Each character is worked on (the narcoleptic guardian, the scientific advocate, the striker convinced of his destiny). And therefore, the presence of women on the team brings many possibilities within the relations between players.
Foot 2 street: the urban declination
Adapted from The Compagnie des Célestins by Stefano Benni, the cartoon foot 2 rue abandons the novel’s political side to deal only with the libertarian and playful aspect of street soccer. The series tells the Tag story with intense urban sound (Kool Shen and Akhenaton have participated in the soundtrack).
This young football fan arrives at a private school in Marseille. And he sets up an eleven together with his friends to participate in the primary street soccer World Cup.
All the codes that made Olive and Tom’s success are respected:
- The ultra-gifted player
- The romance within the lead,
- Twins who try incredible combinations
- And therefore, the not excellent player who is a -train.
Giant Killing: the last born
Manga released in 2010 in Japan, Giant Killing may be a real dive into the planet of football. Between the two-headed presidency that doesn’t agree on the policy to be administered.
The Ultras think they will influence the coach’s fate and the players’ egos to manage. The journalists who seek the controversy, the coaches’ personalities, which reflect on the sport of their team, and the screenwriters still need to remember everything.
The thread remains the return of an ancient glory within the coach’s skin during a club adrift. His methods upset the hierarchy but proved themselves in England. Here, he succeeded in beautiful courses within the Cup with a team of amateurs. The giant killing may be a kind of eye of the tiger version of football. Each player must acquire it to overcome the most crucial obstacle—a must-see.