There are a lot of TV shows out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest, and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to anime animated by Kyoto Animation. From Clannad + After Story to Lucky Star, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Clannad + After Story
This is a romance anime with impact. It contains phenomenal characters, a compelling narrative, and excellent drama. Alongside a touching soundtrack and gorgeous visuals, Clannad and its sequel After Story are crowning achievements for Kyoto Animation.
The story’s about a teenager named Tomoya. He loves living a mundane life, but this all changes when he meets Nagisa. Nagisa asks Tomoya for help in refreshing their school’s drama club. What starts off as a simple notoriety task develops into something touching a beautiful by the first season’s conclusion. After Story only escalates everything further for a grand and memorable finish.
Many of Tomoya’s potential love interests receive excellent development and chances to shine. Our characters get roped into many amusing situations that’ll leave viewers laughing. Some circumstances may hit close to home, especially for those who lived with funny parents or enjoyed meeting people in their neighborhood. Give this anime a watch if you’re looking for something realistic.
A Silent Voice
A Silent Voice is a remarkable anime. It contains enough varied scenes that’ll make you laugh, tear up, and smile. With its excellent commentary on bullying and redemption, this is a must-watch anime for those who’ve endured bullying or picked on someone before.
In it, we follow Shouya. He’s an elementary school bully who picks on his classmate Shouko because she’s deaf. His cruel stunts and jokes entice Shouoko to transfer schools. This event eats Shouya up inside, all the way into his high school years. Wanting to make amends for his actions, Shouya promises to apologize to Shouko for his past behavior.
This anime knows how to build up its drama elements well. You’ll feel enamored and pleased with Shouya’s determination to make things right with Shouko. The scenes between them are heartwarming and will convince anyone why bullying is a terrible practice. If you’re looking for stunning work that’s sure to get you in your feelings, check out A Silent Voice.
Despite being a phenomenal piece of art, not many people know about Violet Evergarden. It’s a shame given how great its storytelling, characters, and world are. This anime’s visuals are marvelous and will make you question its authenticity. The story takes place in a futuristic world where robots and humans live and work in unison.
We examine our protagonist Violet’s life. She’s a former army veteran who lost her arms in war and required robotic limbs. She embarks on a quest to discover what her dying Major meant when he said he loved her. This anime set the bar for Netflix-produced works and deserves more people’s attention.
If you’re looking for another story that follows a character learning what it means to love and be loved, give this one a shot.
You can read our thoughts on Violet Evergarden in our full-season review here!
The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya was a fun series. It featured an excellent cast of goofy and fun characters who’d get into all types of mischief. It had some sci-fi elements to help it feel fresh compared to other slice-of-life works. However, it’s a series that’s beloved for its colorful cast more than everything. What the original series lacked, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya covered with elegance.
This anime plays more into the show’s sci-fi components and crafts a deeper work. It explores themes like loss and gives viewers a greater psychoanalysis of Haruhi’s intellect, powers, and emotions. Like the show, we follow Kyon. He’s attending a Christmas-themed outing with Haruhi and the other S.O.S. Brigade members.
The next day, Kyon awakens in a world where Haruhi is nowhere to be found. Not only that but everyone else has altered personalities and doesn’t remember him. Despite receiving an opportunity to be ridden of Haruhi, Kyon learns that he needs her more than she needs him. If you weren’t a fan of the silly adventures Haruhi and her friends endured in the original show, this one will surely get you excited.
Nichijou: My Ordinary Life
Nichijou is a comical high school anime. Our cast gets into all types of mischief from fighting deers to freaking out over embarrassing drawings. It’s a cozy series that will you make you feel warm inside. Nichijou follows three friends named Mio, Yuuko, and Mai. These three get into all types of wacky scenarios while attending school and hanging out.
The anime can feel slightly supernatural though. This is because it features a talking cat named Sakamoto and a robot caretaker named Nano. These characters react in the most humorous fashion possible. It doesn’t contain a complex plot nor does it want to be taken seriously. If you head into this anime expecting highly nonsensical situations and resolutions, you’ll adore it.
K-On is the anime that popularized the whole cute girls doing cute things trope you’d see in much modern anime today. It features a remarkable female cast, who have diverse personalities. It delivers an upbeat view of life and tackles themes regarding friendship. The characters love participating in numerous activities regardless of whether it’s music-themed or not.
This show offers a nice stance on competition and music. You’ll adore the show’s soundtrack as it’ll help you get into the show’s mood. The anime spends enough of its runtime fleshing out our cast. There’s certain to be one character in this show that you can resonate with on a personal level. If you’re searching for a cozy anime to watch when you’re stressed, consider watching K-On.
This is one of Kyoto Animation’s bizarre works. Unlike its typical slice-of-life-oriented works, this one dabbles in mystery and suspense. It presents its characters with multiple cases to solve. Moreover, this show has our cast participating in various mundane activities to help lighten the mood and provide viewers with breathing room.
It knows when it’s the right time to pull back from its intensity. The anime can feel slow at times when it gets into its serious subjects, though. However, it uses its slower pacing to build tension between each mystery. Viewers will enjoy the anime’s characters the most as they’ll add to your enjoyment of this work. While the cases aren’t too mature or brutal, you’ll get a kick out of them.
Give this a watch if you’re looking for something thrilling from Kyoto Animaton’s catalog.
Hibike! Euphonium is another music anime by Kyoto Animation. This anime features more drama-heavy elements than K-On though. With its marvelous storytelling, beautiful animation, relatable characters, and alluring music, you’re in for a treat with this one. It follows Kumiko, a girl who wants to start her high school life fresh.
Unfortunately, remnants of her past crop up when she joins her school’s band. Not only is she stuck playing her trademark euphonium instrument, but she must play alongside a former friend named Kousaka. They’ve had bad blood since middle school, so it’s up to Kousaka to lead her new band to victory while fixing her relationship with Kousaka.
Tamako Market is a cozy romance anime. It follows Tamako. She helps her family out with their shop and meets a talking bird. The bird’s on the hunt for a bride for his country’s prince. He visits Tamako’s residence, dines on her family’s famed mochi, becomes overweight, and takes on the role of the family’s mascot.
While this is happening, Tamako’s friend Ooji spies on her from afar. He wants to utter the courage to tell Tamako he likes her, despite his father being a fierce rival for Tamako’s dad. Therefore, we examine the crazy shenanigans that ensue between Tamako, her family, and the others residing in this wacky town.
This anime showers viewers with a calm atmosphere. It utilizes its cutesy aesthetic to warm viewers’ hearts, making it a great series to watch whenever you’re feeling blue. Friendship, relaxation, and happiness await you in this 12-episode anime series.
Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid
While the first season was animated by Studio Gonzo, Kyoto Animation took charge of the series’s second season. Like season one, the second season includes wonderful suspense, comedy, and slice-of-life moments. With its fabulous plot, splendid character development, and compelling action sequences, this feels like an upgrade compared to the first.
The Second Raid includes more mental and physical hurdles to push our protagonists forward. They’ll endure many scenarios that’ll make them feel alienated and their new enemies will instill fear in the minds of their audience. Even Sousuke, who appeared comical in the first season, undergoes some severe development and asks himself meaningful questions throughout the narrative.
While the anime contains some CGI, it integrates it well. Full Metal Panic’s world also receives some beautiful developments in color and scope. If you enjoyed the anime’s first season, you’ll likely adore its second one.
Lucky Star is another cutesy anime series from Kyoto Animation. This one is more episodic than works like K-On and is more character-driven. It helped usher in a wave of moe-anime fans with its humor, charm, and wit. If you’re a fan of shows with simple storytelling and endless parodic humor, this is the anime for you.
This anime contains a consistent overarching theme of friendship though. Although our female protagonists Konata and Kagami have a strong rivalry, they learn to appreciate each other’s company. Although the girls look similar in design, they have diverse personalities that help them stand out. For example, Konata’s more laid-back about life whereas Kagami is more diligent about it.
Their clashing personalities make for some of Lucky Star’s best material. If you’re looking for a funny and adorable show to watch about school life and friendship, Lucky Star’s worth your time.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime animated by Kyoto Animation through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!