The 2000s were a wild time for anime fans. While we hadn’t reached the simulcast era, we were still squarely in the digital era when fansubs were more readily available thanks to the growing availability of high-speed internet. While there were many duds in this era, there were also some amazing gems that have withstood the test of time to become all-time classics (many of which can be streamed on your favorite service).
1. Millennium Actress
Where to watch: YouTube
Before his death in 2010, director Satoshi Kon released some brilliant works throughout the 2000s, including this wonderful movie that covers the life of a famous actress in Japan from her early years to the final ones of her life.
More than just the story, Kon captured the imagination through his use of colors throughout this movie. While the beginning of the movie starts with a dull, drab palette that represents that era of film, the movie slowly moves towards brighter colors and grander scales as Millennium Actress continues to explore the heights of the industry from the perspective of one of its brightest stars.
2. Azumanga Daioh
Where to Watch: HIDIVE
While it’s not a series that I would recommend to anime beginners because of its distinctly Japanese sense of humor, Azumanga Daioh remains a staple of the comedy genre that managed to clue an entire generation of fans in on what slice-of-life comedy is capable of.
Taking place in an everyday Japanese high school, the series follows the antics of a homeroom taught by the wild Yukari Tanizaki and her equally wild students. While there have been many comedies released over the years in various countries, very few of them have managed to capture the frantic energy that came out of Azumanga Daioh.
3. Petite Princess Yucie
In this fantasy series based on the hit daughter-raising game Princess Maker, the main character is a seventeen-year-old girl named Yucie who is stuck in the body of a ten-year-old. One day, however, she is granted the opportunity (along with several other princesses) to compete for the Eternal Tiara, which is said to grant one wish to the person who can unite all the pieces.
While aimed at a younger audience, Petite Princess Yucie can best be described as a charming romp that families can enjoy together. Falling into the rare category of series that has very little objectionable content while still being entertaining for those of all ages, Yucie is a fun series worth seeking out and adding to your personal library.
4. Princess Tutu
Where to Watch: HIDIVE
This magical girl anime chooses fairy tales and ballet as their presentation weapons of choice. Princess Tutu is magical in every sense of the word. A young duck is turned into a girl tasked with the goal of helping a prince regain all of his lost emotions, one by one. In order to do this, she must transform into the mythical ballerina Princess Tutu.
Directed by Junichi Sato, there are few things that anyone can point to within this series that are genuine flaws. While the use of ballet as a means of combat may not appeal to everyone, there’s no denying that it’s an effective and creative use of the art form.
5. Chrono Crusade
Where to Watch: Funimation
Chrono Crusade is a bold action series that isn’t afraid to tackle the hard questions regarding western religion. The star of the series is Sister Rosette Christopher, who joined the order so that she could find her missing brother, Joshua. What follows is a journey that spans the entirety of the United States as Rosette and her demon partner Chrono seek answers to the questions haunting them.
Taking on a tough concept like religion is always going to be a risky venture. Chrono Crusade, however, manages to ask questions confidently and without hesitation. What’s really remarkable about this series, though, is that while it isn’t afraid to ask questions, it refuses to just hand the answers to the audience. Instead, it forces everyone watching to look within themselves for the answers – a brave thing to do back in the early part of this century.
During the 2000s, there were three series released by the studio Bee Train. Koichi Mashimo directed all of them and all of them followed the same theme of ‘Girls with Guns’. Of these three series, however, Madlax is the one that I most enjoy recommending to others.
Telling the most complete story, Madlax follows a mercenary working in the war-torn country of Gazth Sonika while on the other side of the world, in a more peaceful country, a young girl named Margaret struggles to remember her past. How are these two young girls connected? You’ll just have to seek this one out to find out.
7. Hell Girl
In this series from Studio DEEN, the main idea is that there is a special website that can only be accessed at midnight. On the website is a simple text box where you enter the name of the person who you want to be cursed.
After clicking the confirm button, a young girl named Ai Enma will visit you and lay out the terms of the contract (because there’s always a price). In this case, you’ll get the satisfaction of your enemy being sent to hell immediately to face eternal damnation, but you’ll also have to deal with the fact that no matter what you do in your life, you’ll also go to hell upon your eventual demise.A horror series for true horror and thriller fans.
8. Ouran High School Host Club
Based on the manga of the same name, this comedy series takes the parody hammer to the world of handsome young men who have entirely too much free time on their hands. The main character of this series is a poor high school girl named Haruhi who has earned a full scholarship to the elite Ouran High School.
Filled to the brim with rich young men and women who are being groomed for high society, Haruhi is more than a fish out of water. One day while looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi stumbles into a music room and discovers that the school has its very own host club. After accidentally breaking an expensive vase, she is forced to join them and become a host herself to pay back the debt.
Baccano is a special series that will turn your world upside down. With a story that spans literally hundreds of years and at least a dozen characters to keep track of, Baccano is a masterclass in multi-layered storytelling.
While the true story starts centuries earlier in the middle of the ocean, the bulk of this story is told in the early 1930s. Depending on which character you want to make your “main”, however, will determine which story you will consider the one that is most important. To be fair, they’re all important to the overall narrative, but which one you decide is the “main” one will depend entirely on the viewer.
So now you have a blast-from-the-past anime watchlist, where do you watch them? We’ve got you with our list of the best sites to watch anime