10 Nostalgic Anime Series Gen Z Kids Grew Up Watching In The 2000s That Will Send You On A Feels Trip

Nostalgic anime series from the 2000s

Nostalgic anime from the 2000s
Image adapted from (clockwise from top-left):
IMDb, Shakugan no Shana Fandom, Netflix, IMDb

The year is 2006. You’ve finished all of your homework and you’re supposed to be in bed. But being the rebellious kid that you are, you sneak out to the living room and switch on the TV – it’s the late-night anime segment, and you can’t miss that.

Remember when bedazzling everything was a thing? Growing up in the 2000s was weird – it was a mix of clashing cultures and odd things such as Furbies and Crazy Frog going viral. But no matter how weird the 00s were, we still miss those wacky years and the nostalgic anime we watched when we came back from school.

1. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (2000 – 2004)

Image credit: IMDb

Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is centred on Yugi Mutou, a timid and lonely high school student who completes an ancient Egyptian Millennium Puzzle. Yugi awakens the spirit of the nameless Egyptian Pharaoh that resides in the Millennium Puzzle. As a result, the Pharaoh can possess Yugi’s body at will.

Image credit: Yu-Gi-Oh! Fandom

The Pharaoh is brilliant at playing all sorts of games, including the Duel Monsters card game that’s invented by the wealthy archaeologist Pegasus J. Crawford. He often wagers in high-stake situations with heavy penalties, such as the loser suffering from disturbing illusions. The Pharaoh helps Yugi defeat the villains who threaten him and his friends, including Yugi’s rival, Seto Kaiba.

Image credit: IMDb

When Pegasus uses another Millennium Item – the Millennium Eye – to steal and trap the soul of Yugi’s grandfather, Yugi and his friends join Pegasus’ Duelist Kingdom tournament to defeat him.

Image credit: IMDb

The Yu-Gi-Oh! anime franchise has spawned multiple sequels which continue to support the real-life Yu-Gi-Oh! card game. With plenty of new cards, new metas, crossover movies, and video games, it is one of the most popular anime franchises that double as promotional material for real-life entertainment products.

Image credit: IMDb

We’re sure that you’ve spent afternoons watching the episodes after school, spending your pocket money on the booster packs, and praying for that elusive ultra-rare Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. Every kid who watched Yu-gi-oh! wanted to own a Duel Disk, but it was only released as a toy in the USA. Instead, we used rubber bands to strap the cards to our wrists for that dramatic draw.

Image credit: IMDb

Yu-gi-oh! Duel Monsters is actually the second adaptation of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga. The first adaptation was released in 1998 and it had a darker tone, which is more faithful to the source material. It focused less on the Duel Monsters card game, and more on the shadow games that Yugi plays to punish the villains for their sins – fans refer to the first adaptation as Season 0.


Available on: (select countries), Netflix (select countries), Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crunchyroll

2. Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood (2003 – 2004 / 2009 – 2010)

Image credit: Fullmetal Alchemist Fandom

Edward and Alphonse Elric are a famous pair of alchemists from the country of Amestris, which resembles a steampunk late 19th-century Britain.

Edward is known as the Fullmetal Alchemist – a young, talented State Alchemist with a prosthetic automail arm and leg. He travels around the country with his younger brother, who always seems to be in a large suit of armour.

Image credit: Netflix

The Elric brothers hide a dark secret – when they were younger, they attempted human transmutation to resurrect their late mother out of longing and desperation.

Human transmutation is a taboo in alchemy and the brothers learn it the hard way – Edward is left maimed and Alphonse loses his entire body. To bring his brother back, Edward transferred his soul into an empty suit of armour, but this costs Edward his right arm.

Alphonse in the original Fullmetal Alchemist
Image credit: IMDb

Together, the Elric brothers travel across the country in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful tool in alchemy that’s only heard of in legends, in hopes of regaining their bodies.

The first adaptation, Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) has been around for a longer time, but the second adaptation, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009) is the more faithful one. The latter is an almost 1:1 adaptation of the manga.

Image credit: Netflix

Whether you watched the original or Brotherhood while you were growing up, you’ll remember the moving tale of the brothers as they seek atonement for their mistake. The series also had some of the most unforgettable moments in anime, such as the chimaera scene and Colonel Hughes in the phone booth. No spoilers here, but we encourage you to watch them for yourself!

Image adapted from: icanthinkofusername via Imgur

For many of us, the Fullmetal Alchemist series was our first introduction to more mature and heavy themes in the shows we watched while we were growing up, and it taught us many values and morals.


Available on: Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix (both adaptations)

3. Mobile Suit Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny (2002 – 2005)

Image credit: Gundam Fandom

Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED/Destiny is set in an alternative timeline known as the Cosmic Era. In the far future, science has evolved to enable humanity to explore the far reaches of outer space. Genetic engineering has also created a new breed of superhumans, known as the Coordinators.

However, this creates a rift between the normal Earth-dwelling humans and the Coordinators. Resentment and prejudice grow, and the Coordinators have to flee into space colonies known as PLANTS. War breaks out between the races.

The Coordinators living in the PLANTS lack in numbers, but they counter the Naturals with their superior technology and create the Mobile Suits. This gives them the initial edge in the war.

Image credit: Hulu

With the war underway, the Earth Alliance struggles to catch up to the Coordinators’ superior technology, but it manages to build 5 Mobile Suits in secret on a neutral space colony. However, they’re discovered and the Coordinators attack the colony in an attempt to steal the new units.

In a cruel twist of fate, a young Coordinator named Kira Yamato becomes the pilot of the Alliance’s prototype Mobile Suit, the Strike Gundam. Forced to fight his own people to protect his friends from the colony, he unwittingly embroils himself in the interspace skirmish.

Image credit: Gundam Fandom

The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED series and its sequel, SEED Destiny, broke rating records in Japan and the international market. It revived the Gundam franchise and spread its popularity amongst the younger generation. It also appealed to the non-Gundam fans, something which the previous series in the franchise failed to do.


Available on: YouTube, Crunchyroll, Hulu

4. Beyblade (2001 – present)

Image credit: IMDb

“3, 2, 1 – let it rip!”

If you remember spending all of your allowance on buying metal-and-plastic spinning tops, you’ll know the hype that befuddles everyone else who doesn’t get it.

Image credit: Metal Fight Beyblade Caps via Tumblr

The original series was an adaptation of the manga and it was released in 2001. Although it was largely made to sell the Beyblade toys, it also featured entertaining battle scenes.

Image credit: IMDb

Almost every kid wanted to own the full set of Beys, and everyone showed off their decked out Bey Launchers. Regional competitions were even held, making it one of the most successful toy-anime franchises to date.

Image credit: Crunchyroll

Whether you grew up watching Tyson and Dragoon, or the later Metal Fight series that featured Gingka and Pegasus, Beyblade continues to fascinate generations of children with their battles, and constant demands for parents to buy the latest Beys for them.


Available on: DisneyNOW, Crunchyroll

5. D.Gray Man (2006 – 2008)

Image credit: IMDb

The hurt one feels when losing a loved one can be so immense that they will do anything to resurrect that person. The Millenium Earl knows this, and he exploits it – he’ll offer you a chance to bring a dead person back, but at a gut-wrenching cost.

Image credit: D.Gray Man Fandom

D.Gray Man follows the young Exorcist, Allen Walker. After accepting an offer from the Millenium Earl to resurrect his late guardian, Mana, which turns the latter into an Akuma – a mechanical weapon powered by human souls and Dark Matter – Allen vows to rid the world of Akuma and end The Earl of Millenium’s nefarious plans.

Allen joins the Black Order, an organisation of Exorcists. The Exorcists use Innocence, an ancient and holy substance that is the only known thing able to destroy and exorcise the souls from the wretched vessels.

Image credit: D.Gray Man Fandom

Innocence comes in a variety of forms, from mundane items such as a grandfather clock to weapons such as swords and guns. Allen wields a unique parasitic form of Innocence in his left arm that transforms when activated. He also has a cursed eye that can see the suffering of the souls trapped inside an Akuma.

Image credit: D.Gray Man Fandom

The Black Order and the Earl’s ultimate goal is to seek the Heart of Innocence – a piece of Innocence so powerful that it’ll ensure victory for either side.

Image credit: IMDb

For many millennials and zoomers, D. Gray Man was probably one of the first grown-up anime that we watched, and it discussed mature themes such as coping with the loss of loved ones and the grey shades of morality.

Available on: Hulu, Funimation

6. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006 – 2009)

Image credit: Netflix

Haruhi Suzumiya is an incredibly eccentric high school student who has little interest in other humans. Instead, she leads the SOS Brigade, a club that seeks out aliens, time travellers, and all sorts of paranormal phenomena.

She drags along Kyon, an unwilling member of the Brigade, and recruits 3 other members – Yuki Nagato, Mikuru Asahina, and Itsuki Koizumi. Together, the club investigates supernatural mysteries that Haruhi is obsessed with.

Image credit: Funimation

Unknown to Haruhi, the 3 new members are the very beings she seeks. The trio reveals to Kyon that they were actually sent by higher-ups to keep Haruhi entertained as it turns out that she is, in fact, a god. Haruhi possesses reality-altering powers that could potentially destroy and recreate the world if she wishes so, but she’s oblivious to her powers.

Image credit: IMDb

To prevent the known world from altering, the Brigade must humour Haruhi’s antics as much as possible, to prevent any possibility of her being bored enough to imagine another world and changing reality.

This light-hearted and fun anime made cultural waves in the 2000s, especially with the advent of anime communities on social media. Many have also parodied the dance that the SOS Brigade does at the end of the episode on YouTube, when it was still a new video sharing platform.


Available on: Netflix, Funimation

7. Ouran High School Host Club (2006)

Image credit: Ouran High School Host Club Fandom

Ouran High School is an elite academy for the ultra-wealthy. Haruhi Fujioka, however, is a middle-class student on a scholarship and finds it hard to fit in.

While looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi stumbles upon an abandoned music room, which is actually used as the club room for the Ouran Host Club. The Ouran Host Club is made up of 6 dashing-and-bored boys who gather to entertain female clients and serve tea.

Image credit: Ouran High School Host Club Fandom

While flustered, Haruhi accidentally knocks over a Renaissance-era vase which costs ¥8,000,000 – something Haruhi can never hope to repay. To settle her debt, the boys demand that Haruhi join the Host Club to run errands for them.

However, after discovering that Haruhi is a natural at entertaining the female guests and doesn’t need any training, they promote Haruhi to full-host status. But Haruhi’s short hair and androgynous face conceal an important fact – Haruhi is actually a girl.

Image credit: Ouran High School Host Club Fandom

Ouran High School Host Club has been described as a cornerstone of the fujoshi genre, which caters to fangirls who are into BL (boys’ love) ships.


Available on: Hulu, Funimation, Netflix (select regions)

8. Futari wa Pretty Cure (2004 – 2005)

Image credit: Pretty Cure Fandom

Middle school students Nagisa Megumi and Honoka Yukishiro were given the power to transform into magical girls, Cure Black and Cure White, by cute creatures from the Garden of Light. The girls can transform with their Card Communes – flip phone-shaped transformation devices.

The Cures search for the Prism Stones to restore the Garden of Light, which has been damaged by the evil forces of the Dark Zone.

Image credit: Pretty Cure Fandom

A long-running franchise, Pretty Cure has multiple adaptations spanning across different forms of media, including musicals, video games, and live-action dramas. Each series in the Pretty Cure franchise follows a group of teenage girls who transform into magical girls, known as the Pretty Cure. Gifted magical items and aided by fairies, the Cures fight against monsters and various evil villains who threaten Earth.

Image credit: IMDb

The Cures often have crossovers in the films, which bring together the different generations of magical girls. The 25th Pretty Cure film, Hugtto! PreCure Futari wa Pretty Cure: All Stars Memories (2018) was even awarded the Guinness World Records title for “Most Magical Warriors in an Anime Film”.


Available on: Amazon Prime, Crunchyroll

9. Bleach (2004 – 2012)

Image credit:

15-year-old high school student Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts. But on a fateful day, when a powerful Hollow threatens him, his sisters, and a mysterious sword-wielding girl named Rukia, he’s left without a choice but to become a shinigami (god of death) and save the day.

Image credit: Bleach Fandom

Hollows are monstrous ghosts that have to be slain and purified, or they’ll feed on other souls and cause havoc in the living world.

Image credit: Bleach Fandom

Suddenly bestowed with the heavy duties of a shinigami, Ichigo is initially reluctant to take on the mantle. He eventually begins to learn the ropes of his newfound powers and uses them to purify Hollows, as well as guide the souls of the departed to the afterlife.

Image credit: IMDb

Bleach is one of the most-watched anime series from the 2000s and a true shonen classic. It has been praised for not being a typical shonen anime. Instead, it has a good blend of comedy, classic fight scenes, and an elaborate plot with darker themes compared to other shonen anime series of its time.


Available on: Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll

10. Shakugan no Shana (2005 – 2012)

Image credit: Shakugan no Shana Fandom

High school student Yuji Sakai’s seemingly ordinary life ended in an instant – while on his way home, time suddenly freezes and blue flames engulf everyone around him. Watching in horror, Yuji witnesses a large monster appear and consume the flames and the people.

Just as the monster is about to attack Yuji, a girl with hair and eyes as red as fire appears and defeats the monster with her katana. She introduces herself as a Flame Haze, and that her sole purpose is to destroy monsters from the Crimson Realm, like the one she just slew.

Image credit: Shakugan no Shana Fandom

The girl informs Yuji that he is actually a Torch, a replacement being for the real Yuji who actually died some time ago. Eventually, he will also sputter out and disappear from existence and the memories of everyone who knew him.

However, Yuji is determined to live the remainder of his existence as meaningfully as he can. He befriends the girl and names her “Shana”, after her sword. He joins Shana on her fight to eradicate the Denizens of the Crimson Realm and restore balance to the world.

Image credit:: Shakugan no Shana Fandom

Shakugan no Shana is considered a classic in the 2000s anime lineup – how can we forget the iconic transformation scenes of Shana becoming a Flame Haze?


Available on: Funimation

00s Nostalgic anime series

Did we miss out on some of the nostalgic anime series you loved while growing up in the 2000s? We hope we took you on a good feels trip. If you’d like to read more anime titles from your younger years, check out our 90s anime series article. Peace out.

Ryan Chiong

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