The Best MAPPA Anime Ranked

From the latter seasons of Attack on Titan to originals like Chainsaw Man, MAPPA has surely established itself among the most influential anime studios in recent times. Its reign on streaming platforms is evident from trending titles like the sophomore season of shounen anime Jujutsu Kaisen (or JJK as fans call it) which occupied a spot on Netflix India’s Top 10 lists for more than ten weeks.

Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 goes on to prove how far MAPPA has come with regard to the quality of animation and subversive narratives. But the Japanese studio had already established its supremacy before Jujutsu Kaisen. Here are some of MAPPA’s finest works that put it on the map. 

Vinland Saga

The lore of Vikings has been done to death in Hollywood with the notorious Norse viewers even getting revisionist treatments like the History Channel original Vikings and Robert Eggers' barbaric take on Hamlet, The Northman. It's only ironic that an anime still subverts this action subgenre like never before. Balancing blood-soaked action pieces with surprisingly profound moments of introspection, Vinland Saga's second season was produced and animated by MAPPA.

While its debut season stands out on its own, Vinland Saga season 2 spectacularly transformed its protagonist Thorfinn from a reckless vengeance-seeking teen to a meditative adult who tries his best to step away from bloodshed. With enough moments of inspirational pacifism and peace-evoking visuals of natural landscapes, Vinland Saga's second season offers some of MAPPA's most beautiful anime frames. But the dark overtones are still more than evident in goosebump-raising moments of violence, proving how the anime studio is not afraid to adapt some truly disturbing manga.

Attack On Titan

Just as the case was with Vinland Saga, Attack on Titan was initially produced by Wit Studio. It's only after season 3 that the baton was passed to MAPPA. The decision was clearly monumental in elevating Hajime Isayama's iconic manga to new visual heights. From animating the anime's watershed moment Rumbling to adding more details to the fast-paced group fight sequences in the final season, MAPPA's involvement did help in drastically improving the quality of Attack on Titan. As a dark fantasy anime, AoT lives up to its cult status with a socio-political arc that goes beyond just a mere battle between humans and Titans. Instead, Isayama's commentary on the futility of conflict ends up as an anime story for the ages.

Jujutsu Kaisen

With formulaic elements seen in previous light-hearted shounen anime like Naruto, Jujustu Kaisen could have been just another entry in its genre’s pantheon. Rather, the kinetic energy with which the show’s first two seasons transpired, Jujutsu Kaisen has turned into one of MAPPA’s most profitable properties. High-schooler Yuji Itadori’s adventures with the supernatural secret organisation Jujutsu Sorcerers make for a delightful coming-of-age arc. The anime benefits greatly from well-rounded characters like fan-favourite Satoru Gojo and equally impressive byproducts like the blockbuster theatrical release Jujutsu Kaisen 0.

Chainsaw Man

Walking in the footsteps of self-aware anime satires like One Punch Man, Chainsaw Man stands out with its excessive gore and hilariously absurd characters. The titular protagonist Denji is an amusing character study on his own. Unlike other MAPPA anime heroes, Denji isn’t driven by any lofty ambitions to become the greatest. Rather, his life goals are pretty simple, mostly being reduced to getting enough food for the day. As he gets involved with a group hellbent on eradicating monsters, Denji must rely on his blood-stained avatar to save the people of his city. Despite Denji’s naive humour being the talking point of the series, Chainsaw Man proves MAPPA animators’ expertise in framing grandiose fighting sequences (with extra showers of blood in this case).

Yuri!!! On Ice

Redefining sports anime tropes and shattering gender stereotypes, Yuri!!! On Ice delves into the intricacies of the figure skating world. Drawing critical acclaim for addressing anxiety and homosexuality in Japan, the MAPPA original was ahead of its time when it premiered in 2016. Matters get more interesting in this binge-worthy anime with the cutthroat competitions among the skaters, the glittery costumes and just the magical charm of walking on ice. Particular attention has been given to the skating sequences with Japanese figure skating legend Kenji Miyamoto choreographing and performing the routines himself. Yuri!!! On Ice’s impact can be seen with ice skaters performing to the show’s music during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Hell’s Paradise

A band of prisoners and the ninjas supervising them must survive on an island that isn’t what it looks like. Hell’s Paradise is quite a contrast within itself as it pairs a psychedelic colour palette with some truly grim character arcs. The island on which the story unfolds is adorned with multi-coloured flora and fauna while scenes in the Japanese mainland also highlight the architectural brilliance of Edo-period Japan. The ninja Gabimaru and his executioner Yamada Asaemon Sagiri also make for an incredible pair, each of the two warriors dealing with loneliness and loss as they head out to find the elixir of immortality. 

Kakegurui

Kakegurui is bound to make viewers curious from merely its outlandish premise. Set in a private school that is run by gambling games, the titular heroine makes her presence felt with her gambling addiction. Decoding the cheating tactics of her fellow students, Kakegurui ends up disrupting the social order of her elite academy. But don’t let the card games fool you as this Netflix-distributed MAPPA anime has some moments of relentless action once the cards have been folded. With scenes involving stabbed eyeballs and ripped fingernails, Kakegurui can be too bizarre for some but the ones who can stomach their fair share of the quintessential MAPPA gore and absurdity will be rewarded.

Banana Fish

With a single season of 24 episodes, Banana Fish makes for a perfect binge. Despite a 2010s setting, the stylish action thriller has a retro 80s-inspired visual feel to it. At the same time, the premise is layered with the haunting realities of the early 2000s such as a mind-control conspiracy relating to the US-Iraq War. The central storyline involves a New York gang leader and a photojournalist’s attempts to decipher the mystery of a substance codenamed “Banana Fish”. As the unlikely duo gets closer to the truth, a brilliant political conspiracy unfurls that clearly makes this one of MAPPA’s most realistic animes.

Re-Main

Every once in a while, MAPPA produces an anime that is not about any high-stakes challenges or hyperviolent action. Re-Main is one such example, playing out as a feel-good story about regaining one’s identity. The hero in this case is the water polo champion Minato Kiyomizu who loses his memory after a coma that lasts for three years. Seeking to make up for the years that passed him by, Re-Main offers a feel-good viewing experience that can provide a relaxing break away from the usual hullabaloo of MAPPA originals.

Dorohedoro

Dorohedoro might be overshadowed by other MAPPA anime but this underrated gem on Netflix set the stage for comedic anime in the studio’s roster like the far more popular Chainsaw Man. Still, Dorohedoro holds its own ground while exploring a post-apocalyptic world dominated by sorcerers and mutant creatures. The titular hero is an amnesiac reptilian humanoid who seeks answers to undo a curse that turned him into a beast. Equipped with enough slapstick gags, deadpan humour, and genre parodies, Dorohedoro is worth checking out for its easygoing tonality. It just goes on to prove how willing MAPPA is to experiment with all sorts of manga, even the strange ones like Dorohedoro.

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  1. Vinland Saga

    Vinland Saga

    2019

    IMDB 8.8 (67k)

    #1

    For a thousand years, the Vikings have made quite a name and reputation for themselves as the strongest families with a thirst for violence. Thorfinn, the son of one of the Vikings' greatest warriors, spends his boyhood in a battlefield enhancing his skills in his adventure to redeem his most-desired revenge after his father was murdered.

  2. Attack on Titan

    Attack on Titan

    2013

    IMDB 9.0 (325k)

    #2

    After his hometown is destroyed and his mother is killed, young Eren Jaeger vows to cleanse the earth of the giant humanoid Titans that have brought humanity to the brink of extinction.

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  3. Jujutsu Kaisen

    Jujutsu Kaisen

    2020

    IMDB 8.6 (106k)

    #3

    A boy swallows a cursed talisman - the finger of a demon - and becomes cursed himself. He enters a shaman's school to be able to locate the demon's other body parts and thus exorcise himself.

  4. Chainsaw Man

    Chainsaw Man

    2022

    IMDB 8.4 (51k)

    #4

    Denji has a simple dream—to live a happy and peaceful life, spending time with a girl he likes. This is a far cry from reality, however, as Denji is forced by the yakuza into killing devils in order to pay off his crushing debts. Using his pet devil Pochita as a weapon, he is ready to do anything for a bit of cash.

  5. Yuri!!! on Ice

    Yuri!!! on Ice

    2016

    IMDB 8.3 (9k)

    #5

    Yuuri Katsuki carried all of Japan's hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Victor Nikiforov appears before him with Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Victor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

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  6. Hell's Paradise

    Hell's Paradise

    2023

    IMDB 8.2 (11k)

    #6

    Gabimaru reigns as the strongest and most ruthless assassin in his village. But now finds himself on death row—with only one way out: retrieve the Elixir of Life from a sinister island. Longing for freedom, he accepts the challenge. But with fellow convicts vying for the same prize and demonic beasts lurking, how will Gabimaru survive this harrowing quest?

  7. Kakegurui

    Kakegurui

    2017

    IMDB 7.1 (12k)

    #7

    Hyakkaou Private Academy. An institution for the privileged with a very peculiar curriculum. You see, when you're the sons and daughters of the wealthiest of the wealthy, it's not athletic prowess or book smarts that keep you ahead. It's reading your opponent, the art of the deal. What better way to hone those skills than with a rigorous curriculum of gambling? At Hyakkaou Private Academy, the winners live like kings, and the losers are put through the wringer. But when Yumeko Jabami enrolls, she's gonna teach these kids what a high roller really looks like!

  8. Banana Fish

    Banana Fish

    2018

    IMDB 8.2 (8k)

    #8

    Nature made Ash Lynx beautiful; nurture made him a cold ruthless killer. A runaway brought up as the adopted heir and sex toy of "Papa" Dino Golzine, Ash, now at the rebellious age of seventeen, forsakes the kingdom held out by the devil who raised him. But the hideous secret that drove Ash's older brother mad in Iraq has suddenly fallen into Papa's insatiably ambitious hands—and it's exactly the wrong time for Eiji Okamura, a pure-hearted young photographer from Japan, to make Ash Lynx's acquaintance.

  9. Re-Main

    Re-Main

    2021

    IMDB 7.1

    #9

    Minato is a boy who stopped playing water polo due to a certain incident in the winter of his third middle school year. He picks the sport back up again with a new team when he starts in high school, but the fledgling team runs into many problems.

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  10. Dorohedoro

    Dorohedoro

    2020

    IMDB 8.1 (11k)

    #10

    Amnesiac Caiman seeks to undo his lizard head curse by killing the sorcerer responsible, with his friend Nikaido's help. In the Hole, that's a threat.