Anime and manga alike have been through some drastic changes over the last 20 years, yet some enduring series from 2001 have built and maintained foundational legacies around the world. Others may have been somewhat left behind over time, such as Rave Master and Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, yet there are a few 2001 anime whose legacies are still talked about among fans, two full decades later.
Fruits Basket is a shojo fantasy manga series about a young girl named Tohru Honda and her relationship with specific members of the Sohma family, who are burdened with the Zodiac curse. When embraced by the opposite sex, certain members of the Sohma family can transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Throughout the anime, Tohru learns about the pain and suffering the curse caused in the Sohma household, and alleviates that trauma through her optimistic and helpful presence.
The Fruits Basket manga was still being written when the original 2001 anime first aired. Thus, the latter's storyline underwent quite a few changes that didn’t match the manga, such as Akito’s personality and how Tohru discovers Kyo’s true Zodiac transformation. Even so, the 2001 version of Fruits Basket is memorable for its strong character relationships and emotional scenes. The franchise recently rebooted the anime with a more true-to-manga adaptation while there have been announcements of a spin-off prequel story involving Tohru’s parents, titled Kyо̄ko to Katsuya no Monogatari (Kyо̄ko and Katsuya's Story). The Fruits Basket hype remains strong 20 years later.
Another 2001 series that got its own reboot is the popular Shaman King. Protagonist Asakura Yoh dreams of becoming the Shaman King so he can have the ability to change the world using the Great Spirit’s power. Yet to achieve this dream, he must win the Shaman Fight tournament by defeating several other powerful shamans who have similar desires to him. Thus, the series focuses on Yoh's adventures and journey in becoming the next Shaman King.
The legacy of Shaman King comes from the creative mindset of Hiroyuki Takei, who incorporated shamanism — a topic never fully explored in manga at the time — and produced characters from diverse cultural backgrounds and beliefs. Though the series is popular in Japan, many international critics found the storyline a bit too predictable. Even so, the franchise produced multiple sequels, spin-off manga series, and a successful anime reboot in 2021.
Hellsing is a dark fantasy manga series created by Kohta Hirano that focuses on a secret company known as Hellsing Organization, led by Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing. Sir Integra works alongside the Hellsing family butler, Walter C. Dornez, and the most powerful vampire, Alucard -- who swore loyalty to the Hellsing family -- to stop any vampires and supernatural enemies that threaten England. Soon after a series of incidents, the Hellsing Organization must stop a Nazi group known as Millennium, which plans to revive Nazi Germany and kill Alucard.
Considered a beloved fantasy series among anime and manga fans, Hellsing showcased some great action sequences and an engaging story about vampires. Aside from the 13-episode anime, the franchise also produced a 10-episode OVA that followed the manga’s storyline more closely as well as two spin-off manga series titled Crossfire and Hellsing: The Dawn.
Beyblade is a manga series created by Takao Aoki, and also has its personalized line of spinning top toys. The first anime within the franchise focused on a young boy named Tyson Granger, who loves Beyblade and competes in tournaments. The story follows Tyson’s journey as he befriends other fellow Beyblade enthusiasts and aims to become the Beyblade World Champion.
The Beyblade franchise led to two additional anime series based on the manga -- Beyblade V-Force, and Beyblade G-Revolution -- and a sequel manga entitled Beyblade Rising. After the original series ended, the anime continued with several spin-off series, including the recent Beyblade Burst, which is on its sixth season. Furthermore, the Beyblade toy gained a cult following as fans bought them to collect as souvenirs. Beyblade is one of the most successful toy-based franchises alongside Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!, both of which garnered worldwide success over trading cards and video games.
The Prince of Tennis
The Prince of Tennis sports manga, created by Takeshi Konomi, centers on a 12-year-old tennis prodigy named Echizen Ryoma. He joins the tennis team at Seishun Academy and defeats many upperclassmen, earning him a spot in the intra-school ranking matches. Seishun Academy’s ultimate goal is to win the National Middle School Tennis Championship, but faces many talented rival opponents along the way. The storyline focuses on Ryoma as he befriends many other tennis players and learns to master his style of tennis.
The original anime aired from 2001-2005 with a total of 178 episodes, with the franchise also producing several original video animations (OVA), musicals, films, video games and live-action dramas. The Prince of Tennis is one of the most successful anime and manga franchises and is a cornerstone of the sports genre, paving the way for other popular titles like Haikyuu!! and Free!