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 Studio Shaft. From March Comes In Like A Lion to Puella Magi Madoka Magica, 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!
March Comes In Like A Lion
In March Comes In Like A Lion, we follow Rei, an elite shogi player whose living a rough life. He doesn’t take care of himself nor does he appreciate his folks pressuring him. After arriving in Tokyo, Rei meets Akari, Hinata, and Momo, a sister trio living with their grandfather. With Akari’s help, Rei embarks on a spiritual journey that’ll help him become a better human being.
This anime exhibits excellent handling of loneliness. Throughout the show, you’ll grow worrisome for Rei’s health and feel terrible for him when he’s alone. His terrible life demonstrates how hard people may have it, even if they’re incredibly talented. At the same time, this anime won’t appeal to everyone.
Seeing a character who’s depressed, socially anxious, and craves perfection may not sit right with folks. However, if you’re one who adores well-crafted coming-of-age tales, then this one’s right up your alley.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Magical girls aren’t a thing of the past. Many works like Sailor Moon still thrive today, possibly due to nostalgia though. Nonetheless, it’s an anime subgenre everyone can get into, especially diehard shonen fans. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a magical girl series with just enough dark elements to entertain all types of fans.
This show takes place amidst an encounter between Madoka, her friend Sayaka, and a strange creature named Kyubey. Kyubey offers these girls a chance to become magic-wielding beings and obtain one wish. Madoka and Sayaka accept Kyubey’s gift and get thrust into the world of magical girls. Little do they know of the complications that come with the task.
This anime contains gorgeous designs from its witch-like enemies to our girl’s superheroine attacks. Every magical girl in this show gets explored to a decent degree. Although their battles with the witches will excite you, the show’s psychological character studies will appeal to more people. This show helped put magical girl anime on the radar of many fans. Give it a watch if you’re looking for something extremely mature, dark, and fantastical.
The Monogatari franchise has opened the door for many diverse narratives to be told. Each story from this magical universe contains intriguing dialogue, entertaining characters, and engaging worlds. Owarimonogatri is simply another chapter of the Monogatari universe that delivered on fans’ expectations.
In it, we follow Ougi, a new transfer student at Naoetsu Private High School. A person named Suruga introduces Ougi to Koyomi, who happens to be a senior at this high school. Upon inspecting the school, Ougi discovers a classroom that shouldn’t exist. She teams up with Koyomi to unravel the truth behind this matter. This later unlocks a deep memory that Koyomi never knew existed.
This is a unique show with nice callbacks to past Monogatari entries. This series’s protagonist is the most mysterious of the bunch as she’s shrouded in mystery. Fans will love anticipating what she will do in the show as her unpredictable nature plays a huge part in keeping viewers’ interest high. The show also features some fun banter and humor that’s hard to ignore. With some stunning visuals and great storytelling, this is a must-watch entry to the Monogatari series.
Ef: A Tale of Memories
Ef: A Tale of Memories is an emotional experience from start to finish. It contains light humor and chooses to cover viewers in a layer of depression. Everything about this anime feels overly dramatic, mature, and deep. It’s a series that won’t appeal to everyone, but to those who adore romantic plots that intertwine.
In it, we examine two romantic relationships that form around Christmas. The first one delves into the romance between Miyako and Hiro. They develop a strong bond after Miyako gets into a bike accident. The second relationship examines a romance between Renji and Chihiro. The latter suffers from short-lived memory disability.
As one can expect, these characters’ relationships transform into something magical. The show dabbles into serious subjects like despair, memory loss, and heartache. If you’re looking for an anime with touching conversations and circumstances, check out Ef: A Tale of Memories.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
We all had those teachers we couldn’t stand in school. They’d get on our case for failing to complete homework or causing class disruptions due to trivial things. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei follows a high school teacher named Nozomu. His pessimism is absurd as the smallest misfortune can lead to him wanting to attempt suicide, even in front of his students.
Despite sounding depressing, this is a satirical slice-of-life comedy with characters who are as bonkers as their sensei. There’s one character who’d rather live at school than at home and another who likes showing up to class with multiple scars and injuries. This is a natural comedy that wishes to poke fun at strange folks found in Japanese society.
The situations our characters endure are well diverse and unpredictable. This helps the show feel refreshing and entertaining to watch. If you’re looking for something that’ll make you chuckle, this is a must-watch.
Hidamari Sketch is a fun slice-of-life anime with lighthearted comedy. Viewers follow a young girl named Yuno who is passionate about art. She’s known for being a lonely person. However, when she gets the chance to attend Yamabuki Arts High School, she’ll find herself moving into the Hidamari Apartment complex.
Here, Yuno meets three people named Miyako, Hiro, and Sae. These three have differing personalities and plan to make Yuno’s time at Yamabuki more engaging and fun. This is another cute girl doing adorable things type of show. You’ll watch Yuno develop a strong bond with her new friends and see how they’ll change her for the better.
The anime includes some witty banter, jokes, and deadpan humor. Fans who’ve grown up with a similar friend group will appreciate this tale a lot. Fans that love crafting artwork and sharing it with the world will admire Yuno’s artistic passion and endeavors. If you want a cozy slice-of-life anime with some great humor, check out Hidamari Sketch.
Imagine tossing the classic Romeo and Juliet tale in a blender and adding in some crude humor. You’ll wind up concocting something like Nisekoi. This anime offers some enjoyable twists, humor, and characters. It follows Rauku, a boy born into a mafia gang who must maintain a relationship with a rival group leader’s daughter, Chitoge.
This will help establish peace between the two clashing mafias. However, Raku’s task won’t be a simple one. He’ll encounter many amusing girls who’ll catch his eye, one in particular who he had a crush on when he was younger. It’s up to Raku to hold down his relationship with Chitoge all while defeating any romantic affection he has for the girls who enter his life.
The relationship wars in this series will keep you engaged. The story’s plot plummets occasionally due to clichés and our couples feeling less genuine, though. However, if you’re a fan of romantic comedies, Nisekoi has you covered.
Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregototsukai
This anime evokes a strong resemblance to murder-mystery shows. In it, our protagonist Iria is taken to a mysterious mansion on an isolated island due to a strange disease. To pass the time, Iria invites several people to reside in the mansion with her. From a skilled fortune-teller to a famous artist, all these people have striking personalities and talents.
Everything bodes well for our group until one of them ends up biting the bucket. The killer leaves behind zero clues and the tension in the mansion significantly rises. One character plans to bring the perpetrator to justice before they commit more heinous acts. This anime takes a while to get the ball rolling with its messages and characterization.
This is a logic-battle-heavy anime, but the culprit is easy to distinguish amongst the group we’re given. However, it’s the culprit’s murderous methods and reasons for killing, that will keep viewers hooked on the show. Some attempts stray away from realism, so those looking for an authentic experience may not enjoy what this anime offers. However, if you’re looking for an anime that’ll keep you on your toes, I’d recommend this one.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Revolutionary Girl Utena’s another obscure work from Studio Shaft. It’s not as highly discussed amongst mainstream anime watchers, but those who value the classics, know what this one holds. It paved the way for much female-oriented anime series like Kill La Kill and features a slightly episodic structure with engaging subplots.
The series’s subplots tie into the anime’s overarching narrative well. Its animation can feel jarring for some people, despite being a late 90s work. This is due to the show repeating many of its sequences and cutting corners in areas where it shouldn’t. This show contains some fabulous action sequences though. Each fight holds value and meaning.
Although they may not look as immaculate as anime fights shown today, you’ll adore the emotional baggage each harbor. If you’re looking for a retro anime series that bares a striking resemblance to Kill La Kill, Revolutionary Girl Utena is worth checking out.
And Yet The Town Moves
And Yet The Town Moves is one of Shaft’s underrated works. This anime contains enjoyable comedy, likable characters, and a cheerful setting. It’s not talked about as much, despite being overly quirky with its writing. It takes place at the Seaside Cafe, a place that struggles to get customers due to its poor service.
When the cafe catches wind of a popular maid trend, they start hiring maids in hopes of gaining traction. This is where our protagonist Hitori comes into the fray. She’s a high schooler who has trouble balancing her school, work, and family life. With the help of her friends and family, Hitori must navigate her way passed the strange hurdles life throws at her.
Hitori also has a strong admiration for solving mysteries. This adds a layer of nuance to the story, allowing its writers to place her in many unique scenarios that should entertain you. With its quick mysteries, clever puns, and fluid animation, And Yet The Town Moves is a delightful slice of anime series worth watching.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime from Studio Shaft 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!