The Big Three: Anime That Defined A Generation!

Anime. Who would’ve thought it would have this much mainstream popularity in this day and age, compared to being the underground ‘members-only’ niche medium it once was over 20 years ago. With it among the mainstream ranks; this medium has brought about a new generation of anime fans, and while that’s a great thing to a large majority of the anime community, there’s been some talk about the next wave of anime series that will sustain its mainstream dominance. In fact, there’s even a term for it; and that term is The Big Three. For many fans they’re aware of who the ‘Big Three’ are; they are three of the most popular, longest-running anime titles of their genre, and in the world. Whenever someone mentions ‘The Big Three’, they’re talking about Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece.

There will never be a ‘Big Three’ as popular as these three. Hands down.

In the 2000’s Shonen was all the rage, and in EVERY Shonen Jump magazine you’d see these three on the cover. Although Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakasho, and Rurouni Kenshin (which we like to call ‘The Gateway Three’, or ’90’s Big Three’) made their mark on anime’s rise to popularity, these three solidified themselves as mainstream mainstays due to their stories, their iconic characters, and also being the longest-running shows. During the early 2000’s anime wasn’t as widely accessible as it is now, so trying to get your hands on any type of merchandise of these three anime titles was easier said than done.

When Toonami came to town (we’re not even gonna mention the 4Kids One Piece dub even though the opening music slapped), the hype of seeing these shows along with new manga chapters in the weekly Shonen Jump magazines, was intensified. We all remember the ‘Naruto Takeover Marathon’ (Naruto Hundo) on Cartoon Network, as that’s how a majority of Naruto fans found the Orange ninja. From anime TV series, manga, video games, and movies; the ‘Big Three’ defined a generation of Shonen anime fans the world over. Even today the influence of the ‘Big Three’ is felt among the modern generation of anime fans, and contrary to popular belief, it has led to the rise of ‘The New Three’.

The success of ‘The Big Three’ paved the way for ‘The New Three’

For many fans; the ‘Big Three’ brought them into the anime community in the first place, and even led them to other shows of that genre as well. It doesn’t have to be just Shonen anime, as there could be a ‘Big Three’ of a particular genre or decade; say in our case, the 90’s. We know what our ‘Big Three’ are (as we aforementioned above) when we were growing up, but for some anime fans, it could be the three anime titles that made them become fans in the first place during their childhood; like Pokemon, Digimon, and Yu-Gi-Oh. For Mecha fans it could be Gundam, Gurren Lagann, and Evangelion. For Gen Z’ers it could be Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia, and Demon Slayer.

The ‘Big Three’ is synonymous with the most popular, longest-running, and most iconic anime franchises. Like Michael Jackson (no, not the dude who looks like him in Demon Slayer in the “Smooth Criminal” outfit from the music video); there will never be another ‘Big Three’ as popular, iconic, or generational defining as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. If you think about it a lot of fans have those three to thank due to their success, as they have led to the rise in popularity of ‘The New Three’. Every genre has a ‘Big Three’, every decade has a ‘Big Three’, and most of all, every fan has a ‘Big Three’ that got them into anime. Who knows what the future holds for ‘The Next Three’, but for now, ‘The Big Three’ will go down in history as the ones who brought anime to mainstream.

Until next post, stay nerdy! 😉

8 thoughts on “The Big Three: Anime That Defined A Generation!

  1. I remember back in my middle school days, despite my status as a non-anime fan (I was more concerned with seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs play hockey on schoolnights), Naruto was a big thing among my peers. I even slightly knew what a jutsu was 😂 Those were the days. Never really bought into One Piece or even Bleach, which I hardly knew about until high school, but not surprised given those ones were the biggest and longest running names out there.

    For me though, I do have sorta my own big 3, it would go along the lines of:

    – Digimon Adventure, on account of the first anime that I saw either dub or sub
    – Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was really the first original series I didn’t previously view on 4Kids (eugh 😵)
    – Little Witch Academia, a show which pretty much summarizes some of the themes which make up my personal ideology

    Liked by 1 person

    • Digimon Adventure is definitely one of our big 3 growing up, of course we were also into Sailor Moon and Yu-Gi-Oh during its Kids WB run. I guess when it comes down to it, we’re suckers for the classics. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • They aired on YTV in Canada as well after school! At least Digimon Adventure and Sailor Moon, to the best of my memory. It was quite a time to be introduced into anime if you were a youngster. I’ve heard blocks like Toonami and Adult Swim also had their own anime blocks with a lot of classics on the lineup too but that was beyond my scope even as a kid.

        Those were the days… Even now it’s nice to see people remember them in the form of AMVs and anime convention cosplays. If I run into a Digimon cosplayer, guaranteed my heart will be warmed up! 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My first anime was Naruto and it still stays my favourite one even today even though I have watched a lot of other magnificent works – Aot, deathnote, dragon ball (nostalgic piece), one piece (currently watching, loving it), grand blue(must watch comic anime )… the list goes on


    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s