The amount of great anime in the world that people should definitely watch at least once includes 175 separate series, but that's almost a camouflage for the far more impressive number of separate episodes or movies that have to be seen to have fully watched all 175 of those franchises. That number is now over 8,000, the same number that made Vegeta crush his scouter in despair after looking at Goku who had returned from snake way.
If even Vegeta is afraid of numbers exceeding 8,000, how must it feel for us normal humans? 8,000 and still growing! The amount of great anime in this world is truly the most impressive mountain of human accomplishment ever piled together. Tackling it all at once seems pretty daunting, but there's nothing to fear. It's still well within watchable within a normal human lifetime. It's still only 133 days straight of viewing entertainment.
What may be more impressive is that the top 20 shows account for 3,000 of those 8,000 shows. So just by watching the top 20 series of anime in full, you'd be nearly halfway done with the whole chore.
There is very little space between #1 and #20 in my rankings. I feel like anyone in there could be jumbled up to any other number and they would still have a good case on their side. So you're less looking at numbers 1-20 and more looking at 20 #1's. That's just how great all of them are.
Anime has given us 8,000 reasons to be happy to be born, but all those '+' signs next to my rankings mean there will likely be another 8,000 reasons to be happy before this is all done. One Piece, Fairy Tail, Naruto, Pretty Cure, Dragon Ball, all the big guns are showing no sign of slowing down. If only a Bleach anime sequel were announced, everyone's favorite shows would be assembled once more. Anime is in a very bright patch recently. Inevitably, these super famous, super long shows will have to end somewhere, but at least not this year, and likely not in 2016 either. 2015 is super amazing to have 24 shows worth watching simultaneously this summer. I doubt any other season has had this much fun stuff to see at once. To be treated to Fate/Unlimited Blade Works and then right after that Fate/Kaleid Liner is pretty much heaven on Earth. And then the Heaven's Feel movie will come down from on high and we'll be back in paradise again before we even left it. Owarimonogatari is going to deliver a satisfying ending to Bakemonogatari starting this fall, something we've been waiting for ever since the ghost stories began almost a decade ago.
Anime fans have been spoiled rotten, in this year, and all the years previous to now all the way back to 2000. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when anime just wasn't that big a deal. There were a few hits, every now and then, like Dragon Ball and Ranma 1/2, but you would be lucky to find one new good show a year for all the decades since anime began until 2000. Then stuff like One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Pretty Cure, Key works, Nanoha, Higurashi, Da Capo, everything started coming out at once, and it's just never slowed down since.
In 2015 alone, never mind sequels to previous great works, we've been blessed with Joukamachi no Dandelion, Hibike! Euphonium, Sore ga Seiyuu, Kyoukai no Rinne and Gate. The fall season hasn't even started yet. It's even possible that Charlotte could climb back into the rankings. So we're probably looking at seven great new shows this year alone. How many great new shows were there in 1994? The answer is 0. How about 1978? 0. 1985? 1! Touch. That's the kind of anime the generation before ours had to rely on to get through their days. And now we're getting 7 new shows a year. (In 2014 we got 16!!!!!)
Even if Hillary wins the next election, the economy tanks, and our Olympic athletes flub it up in Rio de Janeiro, we'll still have anime. Anime is eternal, invincible, and as the numbers show, more and more ubiquitous than ever before. We're in anime's golden age, which translates to humanity's golden age, in a very direct and literal fashion.