Sunrise Studio is amongst the highest tier of anime producers today and has been around since the 70s. The Studio has been producing anime since the time when anime was not even that popular across the world. From good old grandiose space operas like ‘Planetes’ and ‘Cowboy Bebop‘, to the modern golden raunchy comedies like ‘Gintama‘, Sunrise has some of the most popular anime titles under its belt today.
Second to Ghibli, Sunrise is also one of the biggest anime studios in Japan with over 220 employees and most of all, they’ve produced more than 100 anime by now with a lot of them being really good and the others being a little below average. So, we have decided to run you down a list of some of their best anime shows, out of which you’ll sure as hell find a lot of Mecha and also quite a few space-centric series as well. Don’t be surprised if you find a lot of old unknown names of the 80s and 90s because some of their best works are surprisingly still unknown to the world. With that said, here’s the list of top Sunrise anime of all time:
14. Inuyasha (2000-2004)
‘Inuyasha’ is amongst the big guns of the anime world and every anime fan has heard of it. The initial run of ‘Inuyasha’ had lasted for 8 long years and even then, it was later followed by another conclusive season and four films. It tells the story of a young girl named Kagome who gets transported to a parallel Feudal Japan after falling inside a well. To her surprise, she also possesses a rare gem that holds immense power and if it falls in the wrong hands, the world she’s in could be destroyed completely. When this gem is smashed and broken down into many different pieces scattered all over the world. Kagome must unite with half-demon Inuyasha to find all the missing pieces of the gem before it reaches evil forces who want to misuse it. What follows is a story full of adventure, betrayal, politics and also some interspecies romance.
13. Tiger and Bunny (2011)
One of the best Mecha creations of the Studio, ‘Tiger and Bunny’ was a big critical and commercial success. The series became so popular in Japan that even action figures of its characters were later released. It is set in a city known as Sternbuild where all superheroes aspire to be crowned as the “King of Heroes”. Wild Tiger is another one of these superheroes who seems to be past his best days but when he teams up with a rookie named Barnaby “Bunny” Brooks, a new sense of hope comes into his life. Though the two have a lot of arguments, they slowly defeat every opponent and make their way to the top. But in the end, do they have what it takes to be crowned as the King of all Heroes?
12. Good Luck Girl! (2012)
‘Good Luck Girl!’ is an example of how outrageously amazing an anime can be. Anyone who loves slapstick comedies like ‘Beelzebub‘ and ‘Kore wa Zombie‘ will surely enjoy this one as well. Apart from all the situational comedy that it manages to offer, the visuals and sound effects amplify the whole experience, making it even more hilarious. It not only has a lot of humor but also teaches its viewers a thing or two about respecting the ones around you instead of being selfish.
Pretty much every comic situation that is thrown at you in ‘Good Luck Girl!’ is unique and will make you wonder how the creators even managed to come up with it. And with a runtime of only 13 episodes, even if you don’t really enjoy it that much, you won’t regret wasting too much of your time on it. If you’re still reluctant about watching it, then just give its first few episodes a shot. I can assure you that you will not turn back once you start watching it.
11. Love Live! The School Idol Movie (2015)
‘Long Live! The School Idol Movie’ takes place after the events of the second season of the anime series and follows the lives of nine school girls who aspire to be music idols someday. This movie serves as a conclusion to the entire series where the upcoming “idols” are all in their third year of high school and are trying to deal with all the complications that are coming their way as they turn into adults.
The entire franchise is pretty simple and never really offers any thought-provoking ideas or exaggerated drama. It’s all about good music and a lighthearted tone that makes it the perfect show for a lazy Sunday afternoon. ‘Long Live! The School Idol Movie’ is not for everyone but if you’ve always enjoyed music anime like ‘K-On!‘ that explore the struggles of girl high school bands, then this slice-of-life anime will be a good time killer for you.
10. Outlaw Star (1998)
‘Outlaw Star’ is one of the space anime that I was referring to earlier in the article. It is packed with some of the stunning visuals you’ll ever see. Strangely enough, its plot is very similar to that of Shinichiro Watanabe’s ‘Cowboy Bebop‘ which is another masterpiece created by Sunrise. ‘Outlaw Star’ is about an aspiring pilot named Gene Starwind who goes on odd missions with his 11-year-old partner James Hawking.
To keep their head above water, they take on another mission that involves escorting a gorgeous woman who always carries a strange suitcase with her. But their lives take a turn when she tells them that she is an outlaw who is being hunted down for hiding a young girl. And before they even know it, multiple gangs start chasing them in this game of cat and mouse across galaxies.
9. Code Geass: Lelouch of Rebellion (2006-2007)
‘Code Geass‘ is not just one of the best anime made by Sunrise Studio but it is also amongst the top-ranked anime series out there. It has received several awards including the “best anime” at the International Anime Fair. Its franchise includes a manga, light novels, OVAs and even video games. If you’re new to the world of anime, then ‘Code Geass‘ is is the perfect gateway show for you.
Seven years before the events of the anime, the Holy Empire of Britania had taken over Japan using technologically advanced mobile suits called Knightmare Frames. Now, the people of Japan live in a small area known as Area 11 as second-class citizens while the Britanians live in luxurious settlements that they’ve stolen from humans. One day, a young boy named Lelouch receives extraordinary powers that might just help him in bringing down the Empire that has taken over Japan. He sets out on an adventurous journey to make the nation free from the rule of the Britanians by slowly destroying everything that they have created over the years.
8. Space Runaway Ideon (1980-1981)
‘Space Runaway Ideon’ is one of the lesser-known titles of the studio but it is responsible for paving the way for other darker anime of its kind, like ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion‘. It starts off with humans exploring the surface of a far-off planet called Solo. This is when they suddenly run into the ruins of an ancient civilization where they find a robot called Ideon. They soon come to the realization that they are not alone on the planet and that human-like creatures from another planet are also looking for something on Solo. A violent battle ensues between the two species and before it’s too late, the humans of Earth must find the secrets that the Ideon holds.
7. Planetes (2003-2004)
I believe ‘Planetes’ is one anime that came out at the wrong time. If it were to be released today, it would do so much better than it did back in the day. If you have seen ‘Love, Death and Robots‘, you’ll probably remember that one episode that explores the problems faced by an astronaut in space. Well, ‘Planetes’ is actually an entire series of 26 episodes that revolves around the same concept. A space team known as the Technora’s Debris Collecting section is given the responsibility of cleaning up floating space junk but during this underpaid job that is assigned to them, they face far more serious problems than they could’ve ever imagined.
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6. City Hunter (1987-1988)
‘City Hunter’ is a cult mystery series that is known to feature some of the best voice acting of all time. It is set in the year 1980 where Ryo Saeba, a super cool and good looking gun, solves mysteries and serves justice on the streets of Tokyo along with his beautiful and badass partner, Kaori Makimura. After the popularity of this show, Sunrise released several special episodes and even a movie adaptation of it.
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5. Daily Lives of High School Boys (2012)
Fast-paced and witty, ‘The Daily Lives of High School Boys’ is a short yet memorable anime that is probably not known to many. This high school comedy is about the misadventures of three young boys named Tadakuni, Yoshitake Tanaka and Hidenori Tabata, who always manage to find a way to land themselves in trouble. The best thing about this anime is that it keeps things crisp, hilarious and does not outstay its welcome. Its runtime of 12 episodes is enough to make you laugh out loud over the ridiculous antics of the three boys without getting sick of it.
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4. Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (2015-2016)
The ‘Gundam’ franchise has been here since the early 90s and is known to be one of the most popular Mecha series. If there’s one genre that Studio Sunrise has completely mastered, it would be Mecha and no other studio can do it better than them. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans’ is one of the newer versions of the Gundam series that is raw, dark and intentionally graphic as it emphasizes on the ugly side of a war. Even compared to other versions of the ‘Gundam’ franchise, this one has a much darker tone which is complemented by its stunning soundtracks. Mecha fan or not, ‘Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans’ should be right at the top of your summer anime watch list.
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3. Banner of the Stars (2000)
Amid a huge intergalactic war, Princess Lafiel and her bodyguard Jinto Lynn, both act as ambassadors of the Imperial Army. From ugly politics to dirty mind games, they face all kinds of complications as they try to make their way through this never-ending conflict. ‘Banner of the Stars’ is the sequel to ‘Crest of the Stars’ and what makes it better than its predecessor is how it brings in a lot more character development and battles to the story.
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2. Gintama (2011-2012)
‘Gintama‘ is the king of situational comedy in the world of anime. While most anime shows struggle to diminish the boundaries between what is considered to be funny in Japan compared to the West, ‘Gintama’ very subtly makes the use of parody to poke fun at other popular anime and also uses references from the pop culture. It has its own share of serious arcs as well that have violent samurai action and also some heartbreaking moments. But for the most part of it, ‘Gintama’ serves as the prime example of how an anime can absolutely nail the comedy genre and make it appealing to viewers across the world.
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1. Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999)
If there is one anime that is capable of rivaling ‘Dragon Ball Z’s‘ popularity in the west, then it’s certainly this one. After creating this perfect gateway anime, Shinichiro Watanabe completely altered the history of anime with ‘Cowboy Bebop’. It defies the standard formula used by most anime and features a three-dimensional story that explores themes of existentialism and loneliness. Oh, and also, it has the best upbeat jazzy soundtracks that augment the whole retro feel of the anime. If you still have not seen this anime, then without further ado, you should check it out on Funimation.
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