The Best Anime Based On Visual Novels | TheReviewGeek Recommends

There’s a lot of anime 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 revenge. From classic romance narratives to those that’ll make your skin crawl, 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 is an incredible romance anime. It features great characters, a compelling narrative, and stellar drama. Accompanied by an emotional soundtrack and beautiful visuals from Kyoto Animation, this is one of those series everyone must watch. It follows Tomoya, a boy who adores living a bland lifestyle.

This all changes when he meets Nagisa, who seeks his help in revitalizing their school’s drama club. As he gets more acquainted with other students and people, Tomoya will learn that life’s worth living after all. This anime gives stellar development time to our protagonists and side characters as they tackle issues not different from our own.

It’s an emotional experience with an amazing payoff. While it’s the first season isn’t as grand as its second, it prepares viewers for the heavy-hitting content stored in After Story.

10 TV Shows & Anime Like Higurashi When They Cry_Feature Image

Higurashi When They Cry

Higurashi: When They Cry is an intense horror anime. This series doesn’t contain too much content from its source material but adapts the source material in a way that makes it feel freaky. This story is split into two seasons that serve different purposes. The first season serves as the anime’s question arc. It’ll shower you with many mysteries and tense predicaments that’ll make you shrivel in fear.

The second season provides viewers with the answers they seek. That said, the Higurashi When They Cry Kai isn’t as well-loved as the first season. It doesn’t contain as much tension and despair as the first, despite having better visuals and animation. Nonetheless, viewers will adore watching both seasons in unison.

If you’re searching for a wonderfully-written story about friendship that happens to be a horror series, check out Higurashi When They Cry.

Little Busters

Little Busters isn’t as discussed as much as it should. This anime was a visual novel created by Key, the same folks who brought you Clannad. It follows Riki, who joins a heroic group called the Little Busters led by Kyousuke. In their high school years, Kyousuke creates a baseball team but needs more recruits.

Riki’s tasked with recruiting more people to the club because it’ll be Kyousuke’s final school year. Meanwhile, someone finds a letter directed to the Little Busters. The writer wants them to discover the mysteries that reside in their world by completing various tasks. It’s up to Riki to help them complete these requests while recruiting folks to the team.

This is another anime that’ll leave you teary-eyed from its heavy-hitting emotional segments. It tackles similar themes of romance, family, and friendship. The characters form a strong bond with each other. Fans will enjoy seeing how they become closer as time flies by. This one will pleasantly surprise you with how well everything falls into place.

EF: A Tale of Memories

Ef: A Tale of Memories evokes emotional feelings from its audience. It contains little humor and chooses to engulf viewers in a barrel of sadness. Everything about this one feels dramatic, mature, and deep. By the show’s conclusion, you’ll be able to witness how all its storylines intertwine to form a heartbreaking piece.

This anime contains two narratives that highlight several relationships that occur around Christmas. The first one delves into the relationship between Miyako and Hiro. They form a tight bond after Miyako gets into a bike accident. The second one highlights a romance between Renji and Chihiro. The latter’s suffering from a short-lived memory disability.

These romances blossom into something magical and wholesome. The show dabbles into serious subjects like depression, memory loss, and heartbreak. If you’re looking for an anime with emotional dialogue and situations, check out Ef: A Tale of Memories.

Steins; Gate

Steins; Gate is a phenomenal sci-fi series. It includes some fun scientific mishaps involving research, time travel, and clever deductions. On that note, it features well-written mystery components that unravel gradually over time. It doesn’t feature the best pacing at the start, though. However, those who stick through it toward the end will enjoy the ride Steins; Gate delivers.

This show follows Rintarou, who enjoys being a scientist. With his friend’s assistance, he creates the Future Gadget Laboratory. With this, Rintarou hopes to make more technological innovations that’ll baffle other humans. One day, Rintarou attends another scientist’s conference on time travel and experiences something strange with the Phone Microwave contraption.

This catches the attention of a mysterious organization. Therefore, we examine Rintarou’s never-ending battle with himself as he attempts to minimize the damage he has caused with his invention. With some great twists, tension, and depth, Steins; Gate is a great sci-fi series to check out if you’re a fan of scientific shows.

Phantom: Requiem of the Phantom

Deceit, madness, and bloodshed are several aspects that best describe Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom. This anime takes place in a world where assassinations have become the norm. A human weapon called Phantom is responsible for the constant murders and must abide by a company named Inferno’s orders.

After Phantom is caught murdering someone, a Japanese tourist almost stops Phantom and Inferno’s deadly activities. Phantom and Inferno’s leader Scythe Master capture and brainwash the tourist despite his attempts to escape. Inferno controls the tourist by giving him the name Zwei. Zwei must fight to survive in this godforsaken world without recollection of his memories.

The series focuses on Zwei’s relationship with Phantom, despite being captured by him. Viewers will adore Phantom and Zwei’s chemistry in this show. They receive great development over time, allowing viewers to grow attached to them. If you’re looking for wonderful assassin-like action and a love story will find Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom appealing.

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is a great reinterpretation of a route found in the original Fate/Stay Night game. It features mesmerizing visuals, great pacing, and a sharp tone comparison. Studio Ufotable is known for bringing fans jaw-dropping works of art with immaculate visuals and this anime’s no different.

It takes place during a massive battle royale called the Holy Grail War. Its participants are called Masters, who hone Heroic Spirits called Servants to fight for them in battle. In the fifth war, Rin Toosaka and her servant Archer, hope to obtain the Holy Grail by the end of it all. This grail grants its wielder any wish they want.

Unfortunately, Rin learns that her classmate Shirou and her servant Saber have entered the tournament. They form an alliance and plan to thwart every foe possible until they’re the last ones remaining. This anime offers stellar variety in tone, action, and characters. If you’re looking for a fabulously complex battle royale anime based on a well-beloved visual novel series, check this one out.

Kanon (2006)

Kanon is an underlooked Kyoto Animation production. It harbors a simplistic narrative no different from others works they helped animate. In it, we examine a male protagonist’s daily life and interactions with multiple females. These girls play a huge role in helping our protagonist shift his life around for the better.

The characters endure some emotionally brutal and joyful scenarios. The obstacles our cast must overcome feel coated in realism, and you’ll be amazed by how close they are to your own. This anime features some great character arcs that vary a lot. It’s a show that enjoys building upon its character’s relationships over time.

Meanwhile, the narrative drops new details about our characters that’ll intrigue you. While the show’s not as popular as Clannad, Haruhi Suzumiya, or other Kyoto Animation productions, it’s one you should check out.


Air revolves around Yukito and his search for a winged girl. Meanwhile, he enjoys creating puppet shows for strangers to make cash. One day, he meets a strange girl named Misuzu. After accepting her offer to stay with her, Yukito meets new people and establishes bonds with them. He learns of their different issues and delivers a helping hand.

This anime feels wholesome and astonishing. It contains beautiful animation and imagery that’ll tug at your heartstrings. This anime doesn’t spend much time on each of its characters’ routes like in the visual novel though. Some routes aren’t explored heavily enough, making some feel rushed. However, the narrative between Yukito and Misuzu is truly a sight to behold.

If you’re looking for a wonderful romantic work boasting an incredible cast, check out Air.

White Album 2

White Album 2 is a sequel season you can watch without having seen the original 2009 anime. This is a romance anime containing an entertaining love triangle dynamic that will keep you pulled into the show’s world. It follows Haruki, a student whose goal is to revive his high school’s light music club. He’ll run into two girls named Setsuna and Kazusa, who’ll make his life more exciting.

The characters play a substantial role in making you fall in love with the show. They have distinct and believable personalities that’ll help immerse you in the show’s environment. Our characters aren’t free of issues and will get roped into numerous dilemmas that’ll help them grow as individuals and friends.

The animation can feel subpar at times. While there are shots that look astonishing, oftentimes, you’ll come across moments where are characters’ movements appear jarring and janky. The anime often includes some repetitive still shots of its environment, which could bother viewers looking for a more lively time.

However, if you can overlook the show for its mixed animation, you’ll wind up enjoying what it delivers in other categories.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime through the years based on visual novels!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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