Japan is one of the world’s largest animation producing countries in the world, and has created a huge number of fans both in Japan and abroad. There are an endless amount of themes, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, action adventure to romance, and are for kids and adults alike. In current society, it’s not just the charming and cool characters that attract fans worldwide, but also the storylines and world views of each show. While some anime are set in foreign countries or made up places, there are many that are set in the Tokyo area of Japan. Let’s dive into some of our favorite anime that take place in Tokyo!
10. Love Live! (ラブライブ！)
Love Live! is an idol anime that has made a big splash in Japan. Otonokizaka Academy, located between Akihabara, Kanda and Jimbocho, is in danger of being closed down, and Honoka Kōsaka, a second year student, and her group of 9 students stand up to this crisis by becoming idols. Their goal is to make their school famous throughout the world. Many original songs have been made for this anime and are now very popular. The show’s fan base has expanded not only through the release of CDs but also through their live performances.
9. Captain Tsubasa (キャプテン翼)
Captain Tsubasa is a sports anime that follows the journey of a young soccer player. This series showed everyone just how amazing soccer can be, and triggered a soccer boom throughout Japan when it was made into an anime in the 1980’s. The first stage is Nankatsu City (南葛市), a fictional town in Shizuoka prefecture. It is not a city in Tokyo, however, the town is said to be named after Minami Katsushika High School (南葛飾高校), where Yoichi Takahashi, the creator of Captain Tsubasa, graduated from. In Nankatsu City, the main character Tsubasa Ōzora gradually develops his soccer skills and starts to make a name for himself. His competitive play and breathtaking shots continue to capture the hearts of many readers and viewers throughout the world.
8. City Hunter (シティーハンター)
City Hunter is somewhat of an older anime that takes place in Tokyo. It is a very popular show that not only has comedic scenes but also more serious scenes that touch the hearts of readers. One of the main characters, Ryo Saeba, is a talented assassin in Shinjuku, but has one big weakness; attractive women. His partner, Kaori Makimura, serves as his partner, and the two of them work together to wipe out the bad guys that plague Shinjuku. City Hunter is also very famous overseas, so much that a live-action movie was even made in France.
7. Tokyo Ghoul (東京喰種トーキョーグール)
Tokyo Ghoul is a popular anime set in Tokyo, where the city is infested with ghouls that need to eat human flesh to continue to survive. The protagonist, Ken Kaneki, is an 18-year-old university student. One day, he is suddenly attacked and nearly killed by a ghoul named Rize. However, Rize is also seriously injured in a fatal accident at the scene. Miraculously, Ken survives by having some of Rize’s internal organs transplanted into his body at a nearby hospital. As a result of the transplant, he becomes a half-ghoul, which means he is now a part of the ghoul world. This story portrays the pain of becoming something new and abnormal unexpectedly, and the struggle to protect the world.
6. One Punch man (ワンパンマン)
One of the most popular gag action anime is One-Punch Man. Saitama is the strongest hero in history, and has become so powerful that he can defeat any evil villain with a single punch. Three years prior to where the current plot of the show takes place, Saitama was having a hard time finding a job. However, he decided to become a hero when he saved a boy from a mysterious person that was running rampant in the city. After three years of strict and rigorous hero training, he obtained the power to defeat any villain with just one punch. However, now that he has become too strong, he has gradually lost his passion for fighting. While the show does contain lots of hilarious gags, the elaborate battle scenes are very entertaining and fun to watch.
5. Death Note (デスノート)
If only writing someone’s name in a notebook would lead to that person’s death… Death Note is a very popular suspense driven anime where tactics, psychological warfare, and brain games are intertwined into a well thought out plot and engaging storyline. The main character, Light Yagami, is a high school genius whose father is a police detective. One day, he picks up a mysterious black notebook on his high school grounds, but it turns out to be a notebook dropped from another realm by Duke, the Reaper. In this notebook, one can cause the death of another person by simply writing their name in the notebook. After figuring out the power that the notebook holds, Light writes the names of criminals into the Death Note in order to bring what he believes is justice. However, his “justice” gradually turns into madness.
4. Your Name (君の名は。)
“Your Name” is an animated film directed by Makoto Shinkai. The plot is based on a phenomenon in which a high school boy living in Tokyo and a high school girl living in the countryside of Nagano suddenly switch bodies and lives. The protagonists, Taki Tachibana and Mitsuha Miyamizu, return to normal the next day, but as time goes on they continue to swap bodies again and again. The two start to make use of this phenomenon to try to understand and fix the strange situation. Why are their bodies switching, and what is the truth behind this? This story of the connection between a high school boy and girl combined with the beautiful scenery of Tokyo and Nagano makes for a beautiful film. The soundtrack in “Your Name” is also extremely popular as it was done by the famous Japanese band the Radwimps.
3. Jujutsu Kaisen (呪術廻戦)
Jujutsu Kaisen is an action anime that is based around ancient Japanese yōkai. The main character, Yuji Itadori, is a physically gifted high school student who decides to join the occult club at his school. After he and his friends accidentally summon strange creatures to the school by fiddling with a cursed object, Itadori has to fight them off to save his friends. A sorcerer is drawn to the school as there is a big presence, and reveals to Itadori that the cursed object brings great power to whoever swallows it. In the midst of being attacked by strange creatures, he has no option but to swallow the object. Upon doing this, he becomes possessed by Sukuna, the king of curses, and his life is never the same again. After this incident, jujutsu sorcerer’s sentence Itadori to death by exorcism, but before that happens, he has to find and swallow the curse’s remaining fingers if he wants to stay alive.
2. Tokyo Revengers (東京リベンジャーズ)
Recently you may have heard of the anime Tokyo Revengers as it has gotten big all over the world. This unique show combines the world of teenage delinquents with time leaping. The protagonist, Takemichi Hanagaki, is a 26 year old part time worker. One day as he is watching the news, he sees a breaking news story of a woman who lost her life in a gang related accident. This woman happens to be his ex-girlfriend from junior high school, Hinata Tachibana. On his way home from his part-time job, he is pushed from behind in front of a moving train by someone on the train platform. Thinking his life is going to end, Takemichi surprisingly wakes up and finds himself back in his junior high school days. In that past world, he meets Hinata’s younger brother, Naoto, and discovers that he can travel back in time by touching his hand. He travels back and forth in time, trying to rewrite history and change the fate of his junior high school lover. This anime is quite a bit different from most anime and has an amazing storyline along with strong character building. This is a great watch for people who need a little bit of inspiration!
1. Demon Slayer (鬼滅の刃)
Demon Slayer is an extremely popular action based anime that blew up in Japan. The Demon Slayer film “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train” premiered in theaters in 2020 and quickly became the highest grossing film of the year. This was the first time a non Hollywood film had topped the annual box office! It also became the highest grossing film of all time in Japan. And all of this happened despite the COVID-19 situation. The plot of Demon Slayer goes back to the Taisho era. Tanjiro Kamado is the eldest son of a family of charcoal burners and lives a peaceful life with his family. One day, while Tanjiro is out of town selling charcoal, his family was brutally attacked and killed by a demon. Only his younger sister, Nezuko, survives, but she turns into a demon and suddenly attacks Tanjiro. He vows to avenge his family and get revenge on the demon, and sets out on a journey to find a way to return her to human form. This is a highly acclaimed anime with a very thought out story and beautiful animation that anyone can enjoy and appreciate.
If you like animation even in the slightest, we highly recommend checking out one of our anime tours in the Suginami area of Tokyo! With lots of animation companies and studios based in the area, it’s pretty much an anime heaven. Learn more about the history of anime while exploring the area on foot, head to a famous animation museum, and experience making your own animation all alongside an English speaking guide! It’s an experience you don’t want to miss.
▶Book here: The Secret of Anime Tour in Suginami area
Being the center of Japan, there are plenty of anime set in Tokyo. Our list consists of 10 of our favorites, but there are a lot more out there. Are there any that you added to your list? We hope you found something new and have the chance to enjoy seeing Tokyo through these anime!
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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education of Japan and got her Master’s degree in March, 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.
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