10 Best Pokémon Anime Series, Ranked

Now that Ash Ketchum’s Pokémon journey is officially over, there’s never been a better time to look back at the anime and rank the best Pokémon series. The Pokémon anime has evolved a lot over the years, both in the main series featuring Ash and in the various side projects that have been animated. It’s gone from adventure to action to comedy and back again, but fans stuck with it throughout it all. That’s not to say there haven’t been some fan favorites, of course.

Though each season and series brings something new to the world of Pokémon, some stories naturally stood out more than others. With 25 years of content to go through, ranking these ten Pokémon series was no easy task, but in the end, the seasons and miniseries listed below are those that really left an impression in the minds of fans.



10 Pokémon Evolutions (2021)

Charizard and Leon in Pokemon Evolutions.

Pokémon Evolutions serves as a spiritual successor to Pokémon Generations and animates specific scenes or concepts directly from the video games. There are eight episodes in all, each one dedicating itself to one of the Pokémon regions at the time. Many of these episodes, like “The Champion” which focuses on Sword and Shield‘s Leon, give unique character perspectives which help intensify and amplify significant moments in the franchise. The beautiful animation complimented by what is a unique storytelling method for Pokémon also helps propel it to being among the best Pokémon series.

9 Twilight Wings (2020)

John with a corviknight in Pokemon Twilight Wings.

Pokémon Twilight Wings is the perfect anime for fans of the Pokémon Sword & Shield games to watch. Eight episodes in all, the first seven serve as a prequel to the story seen in the Sword & Shield games. The final episode itself takes place after the main story and shows what Leon is up to after he loses his position as the champion. These episodes add a deeper layer to the story of the Galar region and help show different sides of various characters like Leon, Chairman Rose, and Oleana. Despite its short run time, it’s still one of the best Pokémon series to date.

8 Pokémon: XY (2013-2016)

Ash with Pikachu standing on his shoulder in Pokemon XY.

Pokémon XY saw an influx of returning fans for the anime series, even though many Pokémon fans weren’t in love with the Pokémon X & Y video games. Its action and compelling plotlines made it instantly rank among the best Pokémon series out there. The series saw a retool of tone, making it more action-focused and taking on a more traditional shonen anime format. Ash generally has a new major rival with each series, and for XY, one of his new rivals was a fan-favorite trainer named Alain, one of the strongest Pokémon trainers in the anime, whose ace Pokémon is a Charizard that can mega evolve. Alain held a significant impact on the series and was the only anime original character alongside Ash to later appear in the Masters Eight Tournament.

7 Advanced Generation (2002-2006)

Pokemon: Advanced Generation Cast, including Brock, Ash, May, and Max.

Pokémon: Advanced Generation was a great next step for the Pokémon series, as it pushed Ash’s journey forward into the Hoenn region, shaking up the main cast of characters for the first time by having Ash say goodbye to Misty and bringing in May and Max. This series was one of the most compelling for Ash’s character development, and he grew far less arrogant and into a more humble Pokémon trainer. The battles Ash undergoes are some of his most memorable, like Ash’s rematch against Brandon at the Battle Pyramid. The important lessons that Ash learned in this series flowed very well into the next series, too, which certainly aided it when it comes to naming the best Pokémon series.

6 Journeys (2019-2022)

Ash becoming the Monarch in Pokemon Journeys.

Pokémon Journeys gave way to one of the most exciting events that the anime franchise has ever seen–the Masters Eight Tournament. This tournament saw a champion from each region compete as they fought to win and become the Monarch. Even those who usually only play the video games jumped in to watch, since the tournament featured so many prominent characters from the games. With this being the series that gave Ash his title as World Champion, it would be difficult for Journeys not to rank as one of the best Pokémon series.

Aside from the Masters Eight, Journeys saw Ash traveling the world, encountering numerous Legendary Pokémon and building one of his greatest Pokémon teams of all time. It broke from the gym formula for good, and as a result was quite the breath of fresh air.

5 Hisuian Snow (2022)

Alec with a shiny Zorua in Pokemon Hisuian Snow.

Pokémon Hisuian Snow is a three-episode miniseries focusing on the Hisui region featured in Pokémon Legends: Arceus. This vibrant and colorful anime series is one of the best that’s been made for Pokémon, and does an excellent job of adding lore and story to the world players are familiar with, like the Alpha Pokémon.

The miniseries does a great job of showing the struggle between Pokémon and humans, and how difficult it is for the two to coexist, something that is portrayed throughout the game as well. It’s also the only chance for fans to see some of the best Hisuian Pokémon forms from Legends: Arceus in animated form. Even taking into account its short runtime, Hisuian Snow deserves to be considered one of the best Pokémon cartoons.

4 The Original Series (1997-2002)

Ash flying on Charizard in Pokemon.

It’s difficult to top the original Pokémon series that started it all. “The Original Series” is generally defined as all the seasons set in the Kanto and Johto regions. There is nothing quite like experiencing the Indigo League and seeing Pokémon for the first time, and it’s still one of the best Pokémon series ever. Whether a fan is new or not, the Indigo League is a perfect starting point for any Pokémon fan. It introduces the world of Pokémon well, features many of the series’ most iconic characters and Pokémon like Ash’s Charizard, and is overall one of the most passionate and faithful projects made for the franchise.

3 Diamond & Pearl (2006-2010)

Brock, Pikachu, Ash, Dawn, and Piplup in Pokemon.

The Pokémon Diamond & Pearl era has long been held as arguably the best of Ash’s series. The battles of Diamond & Pearl were some of the most interesting the series has had with far more tactics and strategy in play. The story is one of the best laid out and has plenty of foreshadowing and details throughout that build up to significant moments later in the series. Many of Ash’s Pokémon have more of a presence in the storyline as well, such as Ash’s Chimchar and its relationship with its former trainer and Ash’s rival, Paul. Even Brock finally gets some attention before his exit, which elevates Diamond & Pearl to the top of the best Pokémon series of all time.

2 Pokémon Generations (2016)

Blue challenging the Elite Four in Pokemon Generations.

Pokémon Generations is an 18-episode miniseries that animates various major events from throughout the Pokémon video game series. Created as a 20th anniversary project, it isn’t as narrative-driven as a regular anime series, but rather makes a nice tribute to the Pokémon games which act as the backbone of the franchise. The animation is gorgeous, and has a higher quality than even many of the official Pokémon films. Fans of the video games and the broader franchise should check it out, if only to see some of the coolest Pokémon rivals such as Blue, N, and Barry in action in one of the best Pokémon series.

1 Pokémon Origins (2013)

Mega Charizard X, which changes Charizard's color palette to black and blue, and Red in Pokemon Origins.

Pokémon Origins is the anime series that fans had been asking to have for years. This four-episode anime covers the major events of the original Kanto video games. It’s a trip down memory lane for classic video game fans, and has excellent battles and great characterization of Red and Blue. While the anime was able to showcase iconic moments from the original video games, it also brought in new concepts, like the fan-favorite Mega Evolution, as seen when Red’s Charizard mega evolves for the first time in its battle against Mewtwo. Many fans believe this is one of the best Pokémon anime projects ever, and giving it a watch will instantly explain why.

There are many other seasons of the anime and smaller miniseries projects out there that are worth mentioning, but these ten rank as the very best. Even those who aren’t big fans of Ash Ketchum can find something on this list they’ll enjoy, and many of these miniseries are specially designed to appeal to fans of the games. Anyone with a love of Pokémon owes it to themselves to check out any of these best Pokémon anime series that they may not be familiar with.

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