These days, anime typically seem to have 12 episodes per season and in the past 26 episodes was typical for many anime series. Shows with higher episode counts are rarer, but they are out there. Although really long anime with more than 100 or even 200 episodes technically count as "more than 40 episodes," we will limit this list to titles that actually fall into the 40+ episode ballpark. Since we're assuming you aren't looking for 1000-episode shows in this case. With that clarification, let's check out some awesome 40 episode anime.
10. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (64 Episodes)
This is the newest adaptation of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, one that much more faithfully sticks to the story of the graphic novel series than the first try. However, that doesn't mean the original series isn't also worth watching. That being said, Brotherhood is darker in tone and more fleshed out. It also benefits from newer technology and so is better animated.
FMA tells the story of two brothers who learn the art of alchemy at a young age. Their father is a famous and talented alchemist, but he's largely absent from their childhood. Alchemy is the art of equivalent exchange. If you want to transmute a metal sword, you need an equivalent amount of matter to make it. However, human transmutation is taboo since it's not as simple as collecting the chemicals needed to make a life. The two boys learn this the hard way when they try human transmutation for themselves. Edward loses an arm and a leg, and his brother Alphonse loses his entire body, but Edward manages to bind his soul to a suit of armor at the last minute.
The two boys make it their life's mission to find the legendary "Philosopher's Stone," which they believe will allow them to get back what they have lost. In order to gain access to more information, Edward joins the army as a State Alchemist. This puts them on a collision course with various power players as well as world-shaking secrets linked to the philosopher's stone and the foundation of alchemy.
We don't want to spoil a single thing about the story, just know that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood offers amazing animation, characters, and storylines set in one of the most interesting worlds in fiction.
9. Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex (52 Episodes)
There have been a few adaptations of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga, but none have ever really done justice to either the art style or tone of the graphic novels. The mid-'90s film by Mamoru Oshii was a little over-serious and bleak in tone, at least in my view. Even though it is (quite rightly) considered an anime classic.
Stand Alone Complex is, in my view, the best anime adaptation of Ghost in the Shell yet, still better than the recent CG show SAC_2045 or GiTS Arise.
Set in the future, where humans are highly cyberized, Stand Alone Complex follows Section 9 - A special task team within the government specializing in pursuing weird cases involving hackers, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. Like the A-Team, each member of Section 9 specializes in a particular area. They are lead in the field by Major Motoko Kusanagi. She's a soldier with a full-body prosthesis and one of the most deadly people alive.
While Stand Alone Complex follows a case-of-the-week format, there is also an over-arching plot involving a master hacker and a few juicy conspiracies. The show is never boring, still looks great, and even its early-2000s CG elements work better than many used in modern anime. This is an essential watch for any anime fan.
8. Log Horizon (50 Episodes & Counting)
While Sword Art Online became the darling of the trapped-in-a-videogame genre in 2012, a mere year earlier, Log Horizon took a much less flashy approach to it all. Yet, looking back over both series, we can't help but feel that Log Horizon is the meatier, more substantial show. With a measured tone that's more appealing to older viewers, Log Horizon doesn't get the acclaim it deserves.
With the release of the 12th expansion for the popular MMO Elder Tales, 30 000 players suddenly find themselves transported into the game as their avatars. They have no idea of why this happens, and it leads to understandable chaos and panic.
One of the best parts of this show is the main plotline, where a strategic mastermind player known as Shiroe brings together other able players and builds a thriving society of players, who also find a way to coexist with the "people of the land."
This leaves two main challenges. The first is making a viable life in this new world. After all, for all anyone knows, this will be their new reality forever. The second challenge is finding a way back home.
Shiroe has to quietly pursue the underlying mysteries of the world while also keeping up with the politics and his responsibilities as a world leader. It's pretty robust for what seems to only be an average isekai on the service.
7. Re-Zero (62 Episodes)
- Year: 2016-2021
- Where to Stream: Netflix, Crunchyroll, Anime Planet, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video & Funimation
While Re-Zero is still an ongoing series, it's already achieved a reputation as a must-watch program. This is an isekai, which means it has to do with someone from our world being pulled into another world. These days isekai anime tend to be safe power fantasies, but Re-Zero is anything but. The main character Natsuki doesn't have any special powers, except that when he dies, he's reset back to an earlier time. This puts him in a position to make different choices to see if he can avoid death for himself and those he cares about. Unfortunately, he feels the agonizing pain of each death, and that takes a psychological toll on him.
What's worse, the world that he finds himself in is particularly cruel, brutal, and unforgiving. There are also powerful supernatural beings pulling strings from beyond the veil. Perhaps most importantly is the Witch Satella, who apparently has something to do with Natsuki's presence in this world and his "blessing" that lets him leap back in time and try again. Something he calls "return by death." This show is not for those who lack a strong stomach and have a good tolerance for some really depressing storylines, but that just makes the short moments of victory all the sweeter.
6. Code Geass (50 Episodes)
Code Geass is one of my all-time favorite shows, and that's not a niche opinion. It's going to come up in recommended anime lists all the time. It's hard to say exactly what makes Code Geass so good, but a large part of it is certainly the main character, Lelouch. Like Light Yagami from Death Note, Lelouch isn't really a hero. Instead, he's a genius with very flexible morals and a crusade to conduct. He's the exiled son of the Brittanian Emperor. The ruler of a cast European empire that exists in this alternate timeline to the one we know.
Lelouch and his sister are living in exile in the country formerly known as Japan, but now it is just a zone controlled by a colonial power. Looking to get back at his father for his perceived role in Lelouch's mother's death and his sister's blindness and paralysis, he aligns himself with rebel forces as a master strategist. He also obtains power from a mysterious woman, where he can make someone do anything once by making eye contact with them. All of this comes together in a deliciously Machiavellian way to offer a story with few if any "good guys" and plenty of tragedy.
5. Assassination Classroom (47 Episodes)
Assassination Classroom of one of the most imaginative anime I've ever seen. It has a truly quirky setup and offers intriguing mysteries that are dangled in front of your nose just long enough to keep you coming back over and over again.
The show starts with quite a doozy. A powerful creature destroys three-quarters of the moon. That creature then says that it will destroy the Earth in one year as well, but it's willing to give humans a chance. It wants to teach a high school class where it will teach regular subjects as well as the art of assassination. The children in the class are free to attempt to kill it. In fact, if any of them manage it, the government would pay them a massive reward.
The problem is that the creature seems to be perfect and invincible. Not only is it a genius, but its mysterious body also can't be damaged by anything the students come up with. To make things even weirder, "Koro-sensei" turns out to be an amazing teacher. He helps students through both personal and academic challenges. Yet the clock keeps counting down to doomsday. Assassination Classroom has a convoluted premise, but it never feels contrived, and it makes for some truly interesting on-screen situations.
4. Great Teacher Onizuka (43 Episodes)
This classic '90s anime is both funny and heartfelt. It tells the story of an ex-gang member who becomes a teacher. Mr. Onizuka isn't that smart, and his methods are very unorthodox, but he genuinely cares about his students and will do anything to help them solve their unique problems.
Episodes of the show generally revolve around Onizuka helping his students while the various people who don't like him try to sabotage him and get him fired. Not only is the episodic and overarching plot of Onizuka excellent, but the supporting cast is also hilarious, and the show has some great recurring gags. Such as Onizuka's repeated accidental destruction of the vice-principal's car. Personally, I also really appreciate the art style and '90s animation - it still has plenty of charm to go around.
3. Mobile Suit Gundam (43 Episodes)
This 1979 classic rewrote the "giant robot" genre of anime into something completely new. Traditionally, giant robot shows have had so-called "super" robots that were more like supernatural monsters than believable machines. With Gundam, we entered the "realistic" robot era of anime. Gundams are military machines. They are limited by size, weight, and the laws of physics. They have to operate in real military conditions and are affected by things like broken supply lines and mechanical failure. Yes, these are still science fiction machines, but Gundam made an effort to appear authentic and set off a phenomenon that's still going strong today.
As for the story itself, it follows the adventures of Amuro Ray. Caught up in a conflict between Earth and its offshoot colonies, Amuro is forced to flee his home along with other surviving children on the White Base - an experimental military ship with advanced Gundam mecha onboard. Through a series of unfortunate events, Amuro becomes the pilot for the RX-78 Gundam.
The white base is also now commanded by a young inexperienced commander. With a ship crewed by teenagers and children and an enemy that stands between them and safety, the realities of war are laid bare. Pretty heavy stuff for an anime, but every Gundam series since the original has kept the anti-war theme and doesn't shy away from its horrors. Mobile Suit Gundam remains a great show to watch even today.
2. Psycho-Pass (41 Episodes)
Imagine a world where you don't get punished or incarcerated for committing crimes. Instead, you can get nabbed for simply having a "criminal" mind and thinking criminal thoughts. In this world, that's made possible by the Sybil System, a bio-computer that can instantly assess someone's "psycho-pass" to determine if they are still in line with society's norms.
When a person's crime coefficient reaches a certain threshold, they are pursued by law enforcement. Then they are either arrested or, er, "decomposed." The task force that handles these cases consists of an inspector and a "latent" criminal enforcer.
This all seems to work well until a certain inspector starts to discover things about the system that throw doubts. Such as an evil, sadistic murderer who somehow gets a perfect psycho-pass and therefore is never targeted by the Sybil System. Follow the threads that explain these flaws in the system opens up a can of worms that powered this psychological thriller into the upper echelons of anime history.
1. Overlord (39 Episodes & Counting)
I'm cheating just a little with this one. Since it's one episode short of being a 40 episode anime, but Overlord is just so good. Besides, a fourth season has been confirmed, so it won't be long before the episode count shoots past 50.
Anyway, this is another isekai with a twist. The main character of the show is a guy who loves the MMORPG Yggdrasil. He's the leader of a guild that's developed quite a reputation among players. First of all, they only accept inhuman players. Our "hero," for example, is an undead who calls himself Momonga.
Over time his friends all play less and less. However, he doesn't want to abandon the game when it is announced that the servers will be shutting down, especially since he and his friends had spent years building their base and creating top-tier minions.
Deciding to remain online until the very last second, the clock hits midnight. Now Momonga finds that it has all become real. He really is an all-powerful undead overlord now. All of the minions in their great base have become self-aware and utterly loyal to him. Outside of their domain, however, he doesn't find the world of Yggdrasil. Instead, he finds a completely new world ripe for the tacking. Without meaning to, he sets out on an adventure of conquest, not knowing whether he will find others as powerful as him on the way.
Overlord has everything going for it. The story is interesting, and the characters, action scenes, and world design are all amazing. It even manages to avoid the problems that most isekai anime with wildly overpowered main characters. While Momonga is almost surely the strongest one on-screen at any time, if he ever loses the loyalty of his generals, they'd prove too much for him as a united front.
Drinking A Cool 40 (Episode Anime)
The pickings are slim when it comes to these mid-length series. Do you have any suggestions? Which 40 episode anime would you suggest to other fans? Let us know in the comments below!