🔖 8 min read

When we need to concentrate, it’s nice to have some background noise to help us out. Whether we’re enjoying a quiet weekend at a café watching the world go by or listening to our favourite lo-fi sounds and jams on headphones, we’re helped along by these stimulants and get even more engaged. Or the task at hand is so mind-numbingly dull that we need stimulation to get through it. Why not put on some anime and get some motivation while you work or study?

Anime is a great way to fill in the blanks between periods of boredom and interest, just as music may become background white noise or be in an environment where others are working creates an artificial social pressure to keep churning out numbers. These are the top picks if you need anime to watch while you work or study.

1. Naruto

All these programmes have a few common elements. Classic shounen-type anime with basic narratives and light-hearted banter dominates this list, as these shows are mostly filled with filler episodes that don’t demand your attention. Atop this list is Naruto and his rise to power and prominence among his peers as Hokage.

Uzumaki Naruto, one of the most recognisable faces in the world of Shonen Anime, has his own bust in the Anime Hall of Fame. When most people in the early 2000s watched anime, they did it with Naruto, the show’s protagonist and goofball, as a constant companion. With the original Naruto anime series beginning in 2007 and its sequel, Naruto Shippuden ending in 2017, it’s a 720-episode ride filled with filler episodes irrelevant to the main plot, all featuring the fun and wacky ensemble of Naruto characters you love.

All these episodes make for a perfect non-committal way to relive your childhood as you crunch those numbers on your overtime shift. Oh, to watch that Pain and Hinata arc all over again.

2. Pokemon

YouTube video

Talk about nostalgia. Pokemon is the king in that department, with memories fueling and pushing this gargantuan franchise forward. Over the past couple of years, Pokemon fans have been treated to a buffet of its lovable pocket monsters with the releases of Pokemon games Scarlet and Violet, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Pokemon Legends: Arceus, and Pokemon Unite. Likewise, the competitive Pokemon scene has remained the same, with Pokemon Showdown and games featuring its Pokemon cards. Heck, even Pokemon Go is still a thing. The formula has not gone stale up until this day.

Just recently, the protagonist of the entire Pokemon anime, Ash, finally became the world champion. In a 25-year journey that began in the late 90s, it’s unbelievable how his journey only culminated only this year, with easter eggs such as callbacks to all the friends he made the way, such as Brock and Misty, spread around the episode. Make sure to catch ’em all as you work or study – all 1,221 episodes – to find out how he did it.

3. One Piece

YouTube video

Luffy and his crew’s pursuit of the fabled One Piece is another anime that begs the question, “When will this end?” and belongs on our list. The most efficient way to get into the series with its various lengthy, drawn-out, and highly detailed plot arcs strewn across its 1000-and-counting episodes is to binge it in the background. One Piece is one of those shows that gets better the more time you put into it, but in today’s fast-paced world, it’s a huge order to try to catch up to the ongoing journey.

Its fans were treated just a few months ago to the movie One Piece Film: Red, an instalment to the franchise that is canon. It’s a welcoming fanbase that respects anyone who takes the time to join Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and the rest of the unique cast of One Piece’s characters, with fans adoring the show, all immersed in its subreddit. Nothing like a filler list of all its episodes to get you through a long day.

4. Dragon Ball

YouTube video

Dragon Ball Z is one of the all-time favourites in the medium, although it suffers from the age-old issue of filler episodes. You know what that means: why not have it as white noise! Nothing like some 3-episode-long Kamehameha charges. Chalk the series up as another one of those simple action-adventure journeys with a never-ending cast of likeable characters is sure to make you smile and reminisce.

The sheer volume of material based on it is staggering, including spinoffs like Dragon Ball Super. Video games (Dragon Ball Super Broly, Dragon Ball Heroes), trading card games (Dragon Ball Kakarot, Dragon Ball Fighterz), amusement parks, and live-action films are all also based on the Dragon Ball franchise.

Like One Piece fans, those of the Dragon Ball franchise have had a feast of late, with a new film named Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero debuting in theatres this past June. Dragon Ball has taken the globe by storm and is unstoppable as the most essential Japanese series ever. Enjoy all its 800 episodes and a handful of movies as you take on the challenges of everyday life.

5. Death Note

YouTube video

Another quality of the anime in this list is its high-quality voice acting, which allows you to multitask. Death Note has this in addition to its compelling tale, superb storytelling, and unique characters. The dubbed version has fantastic performances from the English voice cast, particularly in L, Light, Misa, and Ryuk. While there is a fair amount of talking, it serves as an explanatory device, with Light often narrating what he plans to do next.

As a result of its immense success, Death Note has been adapted into Western English and is currently accessible on Netflix. As one the first of its kind that rose to popularity, this film sparked fan animosity against adaptations like it since it was so drastically different from the source material; it turned into what was essentially a B-movie version of the excellent Death Note anime. Despite specific issues, the 37 episodes tell a compelling narrative of an antihero who lives in plain sight that’s great to binge, too, if it takes too much of your attention while working.

6. Bleach

YouTube video

File Bleach into the “nostalgic shounen classic with too many fillers” category on this list. Not to knock on the show: it was one of the big three of shounen, along with Naruto and One Piece. Bleach, however, is an anime that, like these other two series, can only be watched if you have nothing better to do with your time or if you want to push yourself to watch all 366 episodes.

Much revered, Bleach’s manga is one of the most stylistic and well-drawn pieces available, with its mangaka Tite Kubo gaining plaudits for his meticulous attention to Bleach’s characters and their distinctive outfits. Whether it be Ichigo, Yuroichi, or even Nel, all these characters have unique looks pulled straight from the runway. The Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Also called Bleach TYBW) anime is currently airing. MyAnimeList users have given it the highest rating possible, and they aren’t just being nostalgic. The narrative is really legendary and was deserving of a similarly epic sequel.

7. Hunter X Hunter

YouTube video

There is continuing consensus that Hunter X Hunter is both an all-time great and a pinnacle of the Shounen anime genre. Hunter X Hunter has 148 episodes because it constantly presents fresh story arcs and skills that keep its viewers interested.

This production is unlike any other because of the outstanding and original ensemble cast. The Hunter X Hunter characters are unique in their own way, playfully designed in all shapes and sizes. You have the ambiguous court jester Hisoka, the kindergarten exchange students Gon and Killua, the cult-leader Chrollo, the strange alien-beetle-hybrid thing Meruem, Levi-ripoff Feitan, and the teenage crusader, Kurapika. If you haven’t seen Hunter X Hunter, you might be intrigued by these descriptions, and although they aren’t entirely telling of the kind of characters they are, you’ll realise that’s precisely how they look.

In Hunter X Hunter, there is a character for every fan to root for, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s beloved by everyone. Its characters and stories are perfect for a multi-day work-from-home background binge.

8. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

YouTube video

The Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure TV Series is certainly not for everyone. The subtleties of its brilliance can only be appreciated by those of a specific mental calibre. If you ever have the chance to flip through its manga pages, be prepared to be absolutely floored by Araki’s superb illustrations.

Unfortunately, not everyone can get through its initial 10 episodes, which can be tedious and a put-off to many with its slow pacing and averageness. Once one makes it through the first few episodes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, they have effectively passed the first stage of the fandom’s vetting process. The show really starts to live up to its moniker as a genuinely bizarre adventure with the entrance of Joseph Joestar in the second half.

Unfortunately, you’re hit with another roadblock, with part 3 being a very long and drawn-out episodic experience in a monster-of-the-week-style plot that can be, again, draggy. Unfortunately, you’re hit with another roadblock, with part 3 being a very long and drawn-out episodic experience in a monster-of-the-week-style plot that can be, again, draggy. But, like Dio, if you make it to the end of the road, you’ll be able to look back on the trip with a newfound appreciation for its little features. With almost 150 episodes now accessible on Netflix, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is undoubtedly the most unusual show you’ll ever partake in – an authentic out-of-body experience.

Stone Ocean, the most current instalment, is finished and available for viewing. Equally accessible is Golden Wind, the fifth and perhaps best-animated chapter in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Seeing how a part is broken up into 37 animated episodes, you can watch it to liven up a dull workday.

9. Detective Conan

Sherlock Holmes, Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, Conan Edogawa. This is a list of some of the world’s greatest fictional detectives. Unless you were raised on it, you probably haven’t seen the Detective Conan franchise, but if you have, you’ll likely agree that the anime series is among the finest detective shows ever. This is to be expected, given that the creator, Gosho Aoyama, was inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories.

What makes Detective Conan (Also known as Case Closed in the UK and USA) series great is its attention to detail and the unique solutions to all the mysteries Conan solves. There’s a reason Detective Conan’s ending only now, with its run beginning in 1994. Its staying power is also evident in the release of Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween, a franchise movie, this year. Aoyama’s attention to detail in the show’s locations and facts and his brilliant and thought-provoking explanations of how Conan solves some mysteries make it enjoyable for viewers of all ages.

This show is fantastic since it can be picked up at any time because of its structure, which has cases that last between one and three episodes. Watching a few mysteries packed within the 988 and counting episodes of the show on Netflix is a low-commitment way to pass the time while you’re busy with other things like work or school.

10. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

We round this list off with Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and its infamous fanbase. In case you aren’t aware, this fanbase is very loyal, deliberately rating rising shows such as the recent instalment to the Kaguya-Sama franchise from supplanting it as the #1 rated anime of all time. Although it’s then been passed by Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, there’s a reason it has such a committed fanbase.

Review-bombing aside, it’s one of the best, most well-rounded anime of all time. It has a touching story, multi-layered characters, and a banging soundtrack with replayable openings. The ensemble of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood characters are genuinely in the upper echelons of anime, with Edward, Alphonse, and the rest of the gang all fulfilling a role in the story. With the series on Netflix, all 65 episodes are available for viewing. It’s a long show by today’s standards, so we recommend fulfilling other tasks while watching it. You may want to rewatch again in your free time, though, lest its rabid fanbase attacks its inclusion on this list for not being good enough to be watched on its own.

Which of these anime do you want to watch in your following study or work session? No matter which you choose, all these are great options to keep you from falling asleep while burning the midnight oil.


About Lee O'Neill

A lover of old Japan from Heian to Edo, Lee is quite the geek when it comes to the customs and traditions of Japan and its people.