What is Big 3 Anime? The Big 3 Anime explained!

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Getting into anime without some sort of comprehensive guide can be daunting. However, it’s relatively straightforward to start with the biggest titles in anime, specifically the “Big 3.”

As you may know, Shonen is the largest and most well-developed fiction genre in Japanese manga. These action-oriented stories are primarily aimed at young men but reach a much wider audience. Some of the most popular anime are rich in action and meticulous in world-building, character development, and other elements. The anime world has three dominant titles that are central to the genre.

 

The Big 3 Anime explained

The term “Big 3” in anime refers to the three most popular anime and manga series within the Shonen genre: One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach. These series have achieved immense success in sales, popularity, and overall quality. Despite Naruto and Bleach having concluded, they continue to serve as blueprints for newer anime.

One significant reason for their success is that they all emerged from the same generation. It’s rare for three influential pieces of fiction to be released around the same time. One Piece debuted in 1997, followed by Naruto in 1999, and Bleach in 2001. This synchronicity is why earlier titles like Dragon Ball are not considered part of the Big 3.

Nowadays, several titles vie to become the “new Big 3” or even form a “Big 4.” However, the stories that have earned this title are also credited for their longevity, which fosters world-building and character development. Thus, series like Jujutsu Kaisen and Chainsaw Man are still far from attaining the status of the very best.

Even the Big 3 have experienced a decline in momentum. While One Piece continues to deliver high-quality storytelling despite its long run, Naruto and Bleach have lost some of their charm due to lackluster endings. Nonetheless, when we think of “good anime,” the Big 3 still come to mind immediately. Here’s a brief breakdown of these three titles.

One Piece is the oldest among the Big 3. Written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, it is praised for its vast world, complex history, and incredible character development. The first chapter was released in 1997, followed by the anime adaptation in 1999. It tells the story of Luffy, a rookie pirate aiming to become the King of the Pirates, but the story goes far beyond this simple ambition.

Naruto has become almost synonymous with shonen anime. Created by Masashi Kishimoto, it was first serialized in 1999 and adapted into an anime in 2002. During the late ’90s, Naruto and One Piece were in constant competition for the top spot in sales, gaining immense popularity in Japan and the West. It follows Naruto, a young ninja aspiring to become the Hokage of his village.

Two years after Naruto, Bleach emerged, illustrated and created by Tite Kubo. Known for its brilliant narrative and fantastic art style, Bleach quickly joined the ranks of the Big 3. It is one of the best-selling manga of all time, with many fans preferring the physical format over the anime adaptation that premiered in 2004. The story follows Ichigo, who is born with the powers of a Soul Reaper.

Each of these titles is unique, and it’s hard to imagine them being surpassed. As new manga emerge, influenced by these titles, we will likely see a rise in quality. However, we will always remember the three titles that forever changed the history of shonen manga and anime.