The 2010s have been an eclectic decade for many corners of the world, including the anime industry. In the past ten years, trends have shifted more frequently than the entirety of the 90s-00s. From the major slice-of-life movement at the head of the decade, leading to the massive isekai and shounen blast at the tail end of it. In between saw the birth of dozens of new studios and prolific studios being hit by disasters. It?s been a rocky decade, with iconic years and very slow years, but overall more anime has been released in the past ten years than the thirty years that predated 2010. That in of itself make the 2010s an iconic year for anime. Here are the 100 best anime series of the decade. Note that this list only includes TV series, as films belong in film lists.
100. Attack on Titan (Tetsuro Araki, 2013)
One of the few anime that spiraled into a cultural revolution in anime. It didn?t take long for Attack on Titan?s success to take the entire world by storm, entering mainstream markets. For a plot that seems absurd on paper, the storytelling sure does make exhilarating moves through a dystopic world unlike any other.
99. Durarara!! (Takahiro Oomori, 2010)
Not many anime take the streets of Tokyo and give it the sense of life that Durarara!! gives Ikebukuro. While most anime are set in Tokyo, many use it as a mere backdrop. However, in this show Ikebukuro is present as a character of bohemian activity. There?s always a surprise around the corner and its number of characters give it almost a Game of Thrones esque touch, where there are so many stories to tell within this subtly fantastical world.
98. Guilty Crown (Tetsuro Araki, 2011)
Tetsuro Araki?s magum opus. The Death Note director, pulls out his most poignant piece of work to date. While Araki has been known to generate ?hype? scenes, he?s rarely tapped into the human psyche like he does with Guilty Crown. Though its fairly dividing amongst viewers, the main character Ouma Shu, does serve as a fresh reluctant protagonist who is afraid of making mistakes. And it?s that fair that causes him to make so many along the journey.
97. Space Dandy (Shingo Natsume, 2014)
A show that?s geared towards western fans (most specifically to Americans), Space Dandy has its hits and misses per episode, as it?s an episodic series. Every episode is widely different, so there?s something for everyone. But perhaps in its entirety, it make not be for many. Even so, for the production values and world building per episode, this anime serves as a worthy viewing.
96. Outbreak Company (Kei Oikawa, 2013)
An isekai at the very very tippy beginning of the massive trend, Outbreak Company serves as a guideline for a lot of new isekai in creating an entertaining series that doesn?t ever take itself too seriously. There?s genuine thought that comes into developing the relationship with our world and the fantasy world, including learning each other?s languages and political tensions within either world. On the surface it never looks like it, but this show actually services a lot of lessons in ways to make an isekai world feel fresh (and not like many of the now brain-dead isekai that?s being churned each month).
95. Kiznaiver (Hiroshi Kobayashi, 2016)
Studio Trigger?s standout anime. Hiroshi Kobayashi turned what was meant to be a battle anime, into a show about wounds and childhood trauma. For the most part, his direction helped a decent narrative transition from typical wacky Trigger action series to a thoughtful drama. There are many things wrong with Kiznaiver, but the strengths of the show really do come from its unique memorable cast of characters.
94. Sarazanmai (Kunihiko Ikuhara, 2019)
Kunihiko Ikuhara being Kunihiko Ikuhara. This anime may not be nearly one of his strongest, but it still serves as a noteworthy entry into his filmography. Sarazanmai, like many other Ikuhara works, has an obsession with the bounds between different people and sexual fetishes. It seems like every time Ikuhara makes an anime, it?s just him trying to articulate his own fetishes in a way that makes sense in his weird eclectic brain. For the show itself, it?s hard to describe it, but people come out of other people?s butt holes.
93. Last Period (Yoshiaki Iwasaki, 2018)
Like a surreal feuilletonist comedy, Last Period has a strong comedic structure for most of its run. Feuilletonist in its structure (Action -> Reaction/Action -> Therefore) and how it paces out trivial ?set up the scene before getting to what we need the audience to know? that other shows might have. However, as it continues to parody so many shows, it eventually ends up becoming one of the shows it parodies. But the first two-thirds of it are hilarious.
92. AnoHana (Tatsuyuki Nagai, 2011)
AnoHana is a show that forces you to shed a tear, or you?ll feel like an asshole. That?s basically the show?s premise at its barest bone. With that said, it does a fairly good job at setting up the characters and their broken relationship, so when it reaches its climatic resolution, the tugs do bring out some emotion. To this very day, I can still remember the beats to how the climax plays out. That?s gotta be worth something.
91. Etotama (Fumitoshi Oizaki, 2015)
Who would have ever thought that Etotama would be as much fun as it is. There?s not much to say about this anime other than the fact that it?s oddly charming and very entertaining. It balances out its 3D and 2D animated worlds very seamlessly, so you never second guess what the show?s trying to sell.
90. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Atusko Ishizuka, 2012)
A show about failure succeeds in talking about how much it sucks to fail in life. Thankfully its messages aren?t a simple ?get back up on your feet? sympathy that usually falls as flat as a hallmark card. Rather, it tells a pretty endearing story about the simple lives of the people that live in the same share house and how they support each other in their own broken ways.
89. Steins;Gate (Hiroshi Hamasaki, 2011)
This show needs no introduction. It?s a great die-repeat story without all the dying. A deliberate cat and mouse chase with time. Steins;Gate serves as a slow and patient moving thriller that slowly irks up to the top of the big ramp, like a rollercoaster. And once it reaches the top, everything spirals out of control for a disciplined, but intense ride.
88. The World God Only Knows (Shigehito Takayanagi, 2010)
The World God Only Knows walks on a tricky plot, but its delivery (in both manga and anime) make it a highly serviceable ride. It has some great characters and some great progression in its story and world. There are many harem anime out there, but very little like this one.
87. Kids on the Slope (Shinichiro Watanabe, 2012)
It doesn?t touch the same ground as other Watanabe works, but there?s a lot of sensibility in Kids on the Slope. When watching it, you can certainly tell it?s being directed by an A-grade filmmaker. What it make lack in strong story, it makes up for in delivery. Scenes that might?ve been surfaced as weak from other less talented directors, are made with a realistic touch that?s emblematic of real life experiences.
86. Pokemon: Sun & Moon (Daiki Tomiyasu, 2016)
The first Pokemon series to have as much heart as the 1997 anime, only this time it has a narrative plot line that makes much more coherent sense! Ash is teamed up with the best supporting cast since Misty and Brock; it also sees the return of Misty and Brock together. Sun & Moon does what many of its predecessors should?ve done, and that is give Ash a personality. Here he?s the same pokemon loving kid, but he?s also wacky and as a very childlike sense of humor. Mallow, Lily, Lana, Kaki, and Sophocles are also intense fun to watch on their own excursions.
85. Harukana Receive (Toshiyuki Kubooka, 2018)
I honestly did not expect Harukana Receive to be as good as it was. It?s no Citizen Kane, but for a show that?s merely about beach volleyball in Okinawa, it does a great job in capturing some poignant moments which are then supported by an amazing score from Rasmus Faber. Claire Thomas is also the first American character in an anime that doesn?t feel deliberately out of place in the world, and that?s a plus.
84. Is The Order a Rabbit? ( Hiroyuki Hashimoto, 2014)
A charming show, with many likeable characters. Despite its look as a simplistic moe show, there?s a good amount of rather startling comedy in the show. Based off a town in France, called Colmar, the show brings to life a colorful world where you can forget your problems.
83. Robotics;Notes (Kazuya Nomura, 2012)
A fun adventure story, surrounding teens who?ve messed with science they shouldn?t have. At times it feels very Spielberg-esque, with a group of kids gathering to work together against a conspiracy that has the world at stake. This Amblin-narrative territory it crosses makes for a ride that?s both entertainment and, at times, poignant.
82. The [email protected]: Cinderella Girls (Noriko Takao, 2015)
One of the few idol shows that don?t feel?well, awful. Cinderella Girls packs a hard sell, by putting the game?s most popular characters as side characters who don?t appear too often in the show. However, the B-list cast strikes up several interesting arcs that follow subjects which haven?t been touched in other often happy-go-lucky idol anime. It looks at the industry and debates on marketability vs integrity; of course the show vows towards the latter. But it isn?t entirely ignorant, it?s completely aware that integrity needs to sell.
81. Haiyore! Nyaruko-san (Tsuyoshi Nagasawa, 2012)
This show is pure genius slap-stick comedy. Most of its jokes land, with a cast that is outrageous as the cast of It?s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It?s a show that never takes itself too seriously, so the moments that deliver some extra character depth do feel quite impactful and refreshing when they do happen.
80. Grancrest Senki (Shinichi Omata, 2018)
The closest thing in anime to Game of Thrones. Most anime tend to stumble when touching the topic of politics; it always feels cheap and unrealistic. Grancrest Senki may not have schemes that are as elaborate and epic as the ones in Game of Thrones or House of Cards, but there are moments where the narrative pushes itself to a scale that can be shocking at first. The rules it sets up, make sense for this world. To add onto that, Shinichi Omata does give it some extra grace, with his unique eye for cinematography.
79. Oreimo (Hiroyuki Kanbe, 2010)
Controversial and a head turner, at the debate table. Oreimo or otherwise known as My Little Sister Can?t Be This Cute, may not have the same technical influences that say Stanley Kubrick?s Barry Lyndon. But it does have cultural significance that has prevailed through the decade, even though it came out at the very beginning of it. There aren?t many critical aspects to praise Oreimo for, besides that its cast of characters are enjoyable to watch and it genuinely is a lot of fun to watch.
78. Engaged to the Unidentified (Yoshiyuki Fujiwara, 2014)
Engaged to the Unidentified serves as an enjoyable watch, as a comedy that walks along the borders before falling into surrealist territory. It never does in the end, but the slapstick elements of this show is bound to keep its audience engaged, heh.
77. Mob Psycho 100 (Yuzuru Tachikawa, 2016)
Mob Psycho 100 is a weird colorful show that could?ve easily failed, but thanks to its sure direction its steadily stands as one of the more commercially successful releases of the decade. Its aesthetic is unique and its animation is top class; one of the few truly deserving to be in its popularity tier
76. Occultic;Nine (Kyouhei Ishiguro, 2016)
Kyouhei Ishiguro is a highly underrated director, who has repeated shown to be able to capture the cinematic moment in a scene even if the source material can be weak. The frenetic nature of Occultic;Nine seems chaotic at first, but in a more concentrated viewing of it, it?s easy to tell that its fast cutting is very deliberate and technical (like an overwhelming guitar solo). There?s also plenty of visual beauty in the show as well, enhancing the supernatural underworld that the characters have found themselves thrown into.
75. Fune wo Amu (Toshimasa Kuroyanagi, 2016)
One of the most mature anime of the decade, the story is fairly simple: a man is trying to write a new dictionary for the Japanese language. He?s not about to revolutionize the perception or interpretation of word meanings, he?s literally just trying to create another dictionary (like Webster vs. Oxford). Rather what pushes the show forward are the experiences of being a simple adult in the world.
74. Kokoro Connect (Shin Oonuma, 2012)
Kimi no na wa before Kimi no na wa. Kokoro Connect certainly isn?t the first body swap narrative, not even close. But it?s one of the few body swap stories to focus on the psychological toll and strain such a phenomenon can place onto a group of people. Perhaps the response that the characters in this anime give are the closest to reality of any other body swap story. Less shock factor, more trying to find out how to practically live with what can be even regarded as a sickness. It tests the limits of trust and friendships, and that?s something more body swap stories can look into.
73. Mushishi Zoku Shou (Hiroshi Nagahama, 2014)
There?s only one way to really describe Mushishi: meditation in anime form.
72. ReLIFE (Satoru Kosaka, 2015)
A refreshing example that even if you don?t have the means for great production values, a powerful story can make up for it. In a technical sense, ReLIFE is extremely weak, perhaps due to a lack of resources. But in a narrative sense, this was one of the best romantic-comedies among any anime or film media. It?s a powerful story that really illuminates on a feeling one has when they reach adulthood: the desire to become a kid again.
71. 3-gatsu no Lion (Kenjirou Okada, 2016)
It makes shogi look like boxing, but with the mind. 3-gatsu is a keyhole into a world that isn?t looked at much in or outside of Japan. But the true core of the story are the emotional hurdles each of the characters face, most of them created by walls they?ve set up themselves. It?s painful at times to watch, but its occasional glimmers of hope makes it worth the pain.
70. Yuri Kuma Arashi (Kunihiko Ikuhara, 2015)
Ikuhara being Ikuhara. Yuri Kuma is full of symbolism, to the point where it becomes excessive. Much of the symbolism put together may not string an overall meaning, if it does it probably only makes sense to Ikuhara. But the imagery and overall context of the show make it an essential viewing for arthouse anime fans.
69. Keijo!!!!!!!! (Hideya Takahashi, 2016)
!!!!!!!! don?t even dare @ me.
68. Kekkai Sensen (Rie Matsumoto, 2015)
Imagine New York, but on extreme mode. It?s takes all of NY?s chaotic character and gives it acid, creating a world that is far from our own. Though what brings this fantasy world to our level, isn?t the use of one of the most iconic cities in the world, but through its characters that have very human flaws (even if not all of them are human). Matsumoto is a landmark director, and her decision to add two original characters (that weren?t in the manga) to give the show more structural glue is a testament to her talent.
67. Amanchu (Junichi Satou, 2016)
Junichi Satou returns to work with mangaka Kozue Amano to repeat the God-tier beauty they created with Aria the Animation. The final product isn?t nearly as powerful as their first collaboration; it lacks the truly magical setting and celestial cast of characters. But on its own, Amanchu stands as a confident healing/slice-of-life show about scuba diving.
66. Sankarea (Shinichi Omata, 2012)
Omata?s first work outside of Studio Shaft, shows that his talents stem beyond collaborating with the likes of Akiyuki Shinbo. Sankarea may feel weird in its first viewing, it?s certainly a show that asks for a second one. It?s a visually amazing piece of work, and the heavy atmosphere that Omata is able to create for the show without saying much is admirable.
65. Shirobako (Tsutomu Mizushima, 2014)
An anime about making anime isn?t nearly as cinematic as you may assume it to be. Rather, in the case of Shirobako, Mizushima takes on the approach to display everything in a very real world level of story telling. Of course, there?s fictional elements spread across the story, but it?s a distinguished anime that?s meant to teach fans about how anime is made. The episodes never feel like straight-up lessons, everything is shown naturally in a story that progresses seamlessly.
64. Violet Evergarden (Haruka Fujita & Taichi Ishidate, 2018)
Kyoto Animation was hit by something unprecedented this year and it?ll never be forgotten. But the studio shouldn?t be remembered for the tragedy that struck it, it should be looked at for its iconic work. Violet Evergarden didn?t come up as strong as the hype surrounding it promised, but when the show hit its high notes it soared. There were many many beautiful moments sprinkled across this show (most likely thanks to the delicate touch of Haruka Fujita). With literally what may be the very best anime soundtrack ever recorded to date, Violet Evergarden is really only a few (very) weak episodes from crossing the territory to becoming a true epic.
63. Noragami (Koutarou Tamura, 2014)
The anime that ?saved Studio Bones?, but didn?t really. Noragami is one of the few action anime to trek beyond the basic shounen laws of gratuitous hype and toxic masculinity. Yato is one of the most interesting protagonists to an action anime in the decade, with his motivations being much more deep than he?s willing to show. It?s conflicted character drama like that that makes this show stand out from its less than stellar peers. Also that Bishamon arc.
62. Zombieland Saga (Munehisa Sakai, 2018)
It?s the absurdist comedy that Uma Musume wish it was, but could never reach. Zombieland Saga is a perfect title for the Zombieland 2 film, but instead it?s for the name of a show about zombie idols. The anime is very well aware of its premise and takes every opportunity to milk out illogical scenes of comedy.
61. Amagi Brilliant Park (Yasuhiro Takemoto, 2014)
I can?t describe how devastated I am to lose Yasuhiro Takemoto the way we did, he was one of KyoAni?s staple directors and a master of his craft. Amagi Brilliant Park?s first episode should sell you on how technical he is in delivering comedic cuts. His sense of fast editing to enhance a gag is done masterfully in many episodes. Also it doesn?t hurt that the protagonist is Kanye.
60. Tsuritama (Kenji Nakamura, 2012)
Tsuritama is that quirkly seaside town comedy that everyone needs. This show is immense fun, with a lot of personality thanks to Kenji Nakamura?s (Mononoke, Gatchaman Crowds, Kuuchuu Buranko) always eccentric approach to storytelling. The show feels like it?s almost a childlike fantasy, but touches on emotions and topics like anxiety in very interestingly unique ways.
59. Hinamatsuri (Kei Oikawa, 2018)
It?s rare for an anime as slapstick as Hinamatsuri to be as poignant of a anime it ended up being. For every nihilistic gag, was a moment of pure character study, displaying what was important to each member of the cast. An example is how it depicts homelessness in Japan, which is a problem in this country like it is in many others. It makes jokes out of homelessness, but never fails to regard them as merely gags. The moments where the anime highlights the humanity of homeless people are still some of the most memorable in all of the decade.
58. Love Live! Sunshine! (Kazuo Sakai, 2016)
The complete opposite side of the spectrum from [email protected], Love Live is a much more cinematic presentation of the idol world. It?s much less about how the industry works, and much more focused on the fantastical elements of the niche. What makes Sunshine! standout from its predecessor is how it tackles many of the problems that the first Love Live series had, such as how the very different personalities were able to jive with one another. And it also follows the idea that no matter how much you want to try to repeat the footsteps of those who came before you, it?ll never work out the same way twice. Aqours hits many more bumps than ??s ever did, but their strife made their journey much more satisfying than their predecessor?s. Too bad the film, Over the Rainbow, was absolute hot garbage; Italy deserved better.
57. Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (Shin Oonuma, 2012)
Dusk Maiden brought many surprises in its hauntingly sentimental delivery of a story of a boy who could speak to a ghost. Many interesting choices were made in what initially seems like a romantic comedy, such as an episode shot entirely from a POV of a main character. It?s choices like that which make this anime special.
56. Non Non Biyori (Shinya Kawatsura, 2013)
Slice of life at its very bare essence. Non Non Biyori has no plot, it just follows the everyday uneventful lives of several families that live in the deep inaka (Japanese countryside). It?s strength comes from its simplicity, finding where to spot appreciation for life in very mundane forms.
55. Shinsekai yori (Masashi Ishihama, 2013)
A dystopic sci-fi/fantasy series that can?t really be compared to anything else. It?s Tolkien meets Orwell. Ishihama is no stranger to composing some amazing shots, with his trademark of using flat compositions, which works really well with the depressing, yet beautiful, world of Shinsekai yori. It?s both a cautionary tale and a coming of age story, that asks the question on what it really means to be human; if its either a truly beautiful or ugly thing to be.
54. Flying Witch (Katsushi Sakurabi, 2016)
A slice of life fantasy show that brings magic to a very grounded depiction. Though Flying Witch features an world of witchcraft that exists behind most of our eyes, it?s very non-alien. Even the magical creatures of this world act very normal and don?t stand out in our world. Instead of going to Hogwarts, we go to hidden cafes in the woods, we watch someone literally mess around with the colors of Halong Bay, and see people (rather calmly) react to flying witches.
53. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Masahiru Watanabe, 2016)
Not all worlds can guarantee a world of happiness and prideful journeys, perhaps none truly do. Re:Zero asks the question, what if the other world isn?t actually better; or what if the other world is even worse? Time and time again, viewers are forced to watch Subaru trial and error his life and the lives of others. And no matter how much he succeeds, it begins to feel frivolous, as he?s bound to fail the next step soon enough. It?s a haunting world, that camouflages itself within quick fluttering moments of hope and happiness. And no matter what happens, Subaru will still stay as the self-loathing person he is. Changing the world around you doesn?t automatically change the kind of person you are.
52. Megalo Box (You Moriyama, 2018)
A boxing anime that stays far away from the exhausting toxic masculinity of a lot of other sports media. Megalo Box follows a rather sensitive character, Junk Dog, who knows he was born to be great. But he was born from nobody and under the veil of a glamorous metropolis, he himself appears to be nobody. It?s his sensitivity to this and a drive for him to follow a passion instinctively driven to his very core that brings him to the cusp of an underdog story. Acting nostalgic towards anime of earlier years (80s-90s), Megalo Box reminds us that anime stories can dream bigger than copying each other in the isekai genre.
51. Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (Yasuhiro Takemoto, 2017)
Another comedic gem from the late masterful Takemoto. Maid Dragon, like several anime on this list, follows a very peculiar plot. A dragon becomes a maid, simple as that. It?s the interactions between characters and small discoveries of the dragon world that make this anime such a shining bauble. The gags play out with the same level of intricate animation as Nichijou, but it works way better in this case thanks to all the narrative context behind each joke.
50. Eromanga Sensei (Ryouhei Takeshita, 2016)
Don?t @ me with this. Eromanga Sensei is electric with its animation and comedic spark. Each character is a shining spectrum on the color wheel, as they?re all sharply different but all equally memorable. Perhaps the subject matter may be somewhat questionable, but the final product of the anime is a dynamic and charismatic romantic-comedy.
49. The Perfect Insider (Mamoru Kanbe, 2015)
Emulating trademarks of Agatha Christie, The Perfect Insider is an intriguing mystery all the way. Less a ?who dunnit it?? and more a ?how did they do it?? type mystery plays out, as detectives and other experts try to figure out how the murder of Magata Shiki happened and where the culprit could have gone. After all, Magata Shiki was in a sealed room with no way in or out. The puzzle pieces given in fragments throughout the episodes, but of course the twist is almost impossible to guess it feels unfair. Perhaps, it is, but is life meant to be fair?
48. SSSS.GRIDMAN (Akira Amemiya, 2018)
America had Stranger Things, Japan has SSSS.GRIDMAN. Okay, they?re not very similar. But both highlight the nostalgia of a lost era. Stranger Things is towards a more general pop culture lens, while Gridman is mostly focused on the tokusatsu era (which also peaked around the 80s-90s). Despite being driven by nostalgia, Gridman feels very modern and fresh with its storytelling choices, especially with an ending that no viewer will see coming.
47. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Shinichi Omata, 2016)
Not many anime carry the same amount of subtlety of Rakugo. It pauses on little moments, giving the characters extra time to stay in their thoughts. For an anime about the art of verbal performance, not a lot of information is given through the dialogue. It?s the simple, but elegant, shots on character?s faces that highlight their thoughts and allows the viewers to put the pieces together. Not many anime have these special quiet moments any more, which is a shame, but it?s also why this anime feels so important in this decade.
46. Made in Abyss (Masayuki Kojima, 2017)
Taking place in an eerie Ghibli inspired world, Made in Abyss touches a lot of ground in its story. Many of it is hard to watch, as Riko serves a literal abyss to find out more about herself and her past. It?s a beautiful painting to searching within the darkest corners of ourselves to seek closure on whatever?s been lurking in the back of our minds. Sadly, the answer we so seek for said closure, may not always be the answer we want.
45. Joshiraku (Tsutomu Mizushima, 2012)
Slapstick comedy in the form of beautiful compositions and color arrangement, each character in Joshiraku can be tied to a specific color (blue, green, red, pink, and yellow). The anime follows five rakugo performers simply debating on different topics, only for those debates to quickly spiral out of control into madness. It?s a tour de force in slapstick humor.
44. Hanasaku Iroha (Masahiro Andou, 2011)
Remember when PA Works was on the cusp of building a solid in-house studio, tracing the steps of KyoAni? Well it hasn?t worked out too well for them yet. But at the studio?s peak in production values, Hanasaku Iroha came out and boy was it a powerful show. One of the most effective coming of age stories in the decade, the hopeful pathos of this anime still live on after eight years. From its beautiful imagery to its lovable protagonist, Ohana, Hanasaku Iroha brought a compassionate tale for all ages.
43. White Album 2 (Masaomi Andou, 2013)
Weirdly enough, though the ?2? may suggest it, White Album 2 is not a sequel. If anything it can be regarded as a spin-off of a series that it really has almost no narrative ties to. The titling is unfortunate, because many may have turned away thinking it?s a sequel to an anime they haven?t seen (and frankly don?t need to). It also has nothing to do with ?White Album? by The Beatles, if you had any ideas about that. What is it though, is a surprisingly satisfying sleazy story of a love triangle where everyone makes the wrong decision. It?s not impossible to date someone, only to realize you love someone else. The problem stems from how do you move in a way without hurting yourself or the ones around you; you don?t.
42. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai (Souichi Masui, 2018)
In a world where a very rare disease occurs specifically to adolescents with deep mental issues. Though the ?rare disease? is literally found in just about every character introduced. Either Kamakura is a breeding ground for this disease, or it?s not so rare. But the drama that progresses from these teenagers having to deal with their own problems being forced onto their faces flows as smooth as water, thanks to the charismatic cast and the writing?s galvanizing dialogue.
41. Gamers! (Manabu Okamoto, 2017)
Gamers! is a monument in the romantic comedy genre, having constant twists and turns for the characters to make their lives just a living hell (for our entertainment). With misunderstanding after misunderstanding, it?s also fun to see what curveballs the anime has waiting around the corner. Along with that, the series spend much of its beginning to make sure you empathize with each of the main characters so that all of their antics are intense fun to witness. Some other shows may wait to deliver broader background for characters, but Gamers! wastes no time.
40. Chihayafuru (Morio Asaka, 2011)
It?s inspiring to see how an anime can turn perhaps one of the most boring sports in the world into such an intense marathon of swiping cards. With a large cast of colorful characters, all of whom could swipe through Tinder like it was nothing, Chihayafuru is one of the most effective sports anime to date. Not only does it put you at the edge of your seat, it never fails to give insight into the opponent?s perspective. You?ll always be rooting for the protagonist, but you?ll never not be sympathetic towards the people they play against. And because you know both sides of the board, it makes the games matter so much more.
39. Kuzu no Honkai (Masaomi Andou, 2017)
If sex is a primary focus in your anime, Masaomi Andou is your guy. Also the director of White Album 2, this guy just knows how to make something feel sleazy and dirty (in the most attractive way). The ED sequence for this show is a great testament to its strength, using a kaleidoscope to turn ?dirty? imagines into beautiful works of art with a symmetry that involves all the characters one way or another. As for the show?s story, there?s plenty to rave about. The depiction of sex is rather mature in this series than in others (Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo is a perfect example of how it?s pretty behind in examining sexual themes, especially with shows like Scum?s Wish or HBO?s euphoria already out and about). Also, the character Akane is a force of nature.
38. Urara Meirochou (Youhei Suzuki, 2017)
It has some of the most subtle world building for a fantasy anime this decade, camouflaging most of its exposition through the lens of a newcomer in town as she witnesses everything as its all brand new to her. One of the major trademarks of this show is its amazing use of flat compositing. Every shot is painted with such precision of color correction and framing, that the world feels like a grander organism off screen. In addition to that, the main cast of characters are a pleasant watch.
37. Space Patrol Luluco (Hiroyuki Imaishi, 2016)
?Why bother being normal?? is Hiroyuki Imaishi?s response to Kiznaiver (the normal one in the Trigger family). Imaishi is very proud of his insane and unapologetic artistic voice. He?s brash and loud, if you don?t like it then get hit with JUSTICE. Space Patrol Luluco follows Luluco, who wishes nothing more than to be normal, only to eventually discover through an amazing catharsis that what makes her Luluco is something unique to her alone. It?s amazing how much this show accomplishes though being a short series.
36. Your Lie in April (Kyouhei Ishiguro, 2014)
The dulcet pacing of Your Lie in April makes it a gorgeous melodic journey. It certainly has its flaws, but the melodic cathartic grace of Ishiguro?s direction makes this show one to remember. The classical pieces of music from the likes of Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc. are personified into dances of visual set pieces that mirror the character?s emotion (something that cannot be as properly done in manga form). With Ishiguro?s very cinematic influence, he?s able to make each musical moment a transcendental one for the characters. A less capable director may have just had the characters play music, with voice overs driving the emotion. While the voice overs are kept in this show, if you take them out the effect stays as powerful (if not even more).
35. Aku no Hana (Hiroshi Nagahama, 2013)
Hated just because a character had a uni-brow. Aku no Hana is not meant to please the eyes, it exists within an ugly faction of our own reality. The visual rotor-scoping creates an uncanny valley effect, which makes the viewer feel uncomfortable to stick with it. It?s a nice piece of direction from the very technical Nagahama. The score by Hideyuki Fukasawa is another thing to praise, feeling like the grimy scores of recent David Fincher films, a perfect aural experience to further unnerve the audience.
34. Yuru Yuri (Masahiko Oota, 2011)
Many shows want to be like Yuru Yuri, but not many shows ever can be Yuru Yuri. It?s a quirky, yet disciplined comedy that never really becomes too realistically outrageous but always manages to be brazen. They are many gags in this show that for some reason just never get old, whether it being Akari having no presence or someone just screaming ?Toshino Kyouko!? For all the gag comedy there is out there, it?s hard to contemplate how most of them aren?t better when there are so many notes to take from this anime.
33. Carole & Tuesday (Shinichirou Watanabe, 2019)
Watanabe has a knack for building worlds without having to provide extensive exposition. You can simply feel the atmosphere of his settings, as many of them tend to merge two genres together. This time around, Watanabe takes a sci-fi city on Mars (called Alba City, the name of the NY-styled Martian city in the Cowboy Bebop movie) and mixes it with an inspiring Cyndi Lauper-esque story of going to the big city for fame. At times the story does become too ambitious, complicating the narrative with antagonists like Donald Trump-inspired rhetoric and A.I. music (damn it Kizuna Ai), but it does help the world feel much larger than the two titular characters; and it makes their impact on the world feel much more significant. With Mocky as the anime?s music producer (referencing the likes of Beyonce and Tyler the Creator), it certainly makes for a musical hit.
32. Kaguya-sama: Love is War (Shinichi Omata, 2019)
A fireball of laughs is what this show is. It?s a humorous assault on its viewers, as each gag shoots and scores with such rigor that even the most lukewarm audience will find enjoyment from this. It?s never as serious as it plays itself out to be (that?s the intention), so watching the two main character?s Death Note-level schemes to force each other into confessing to one another is infectious. Omata?s direction also gives the show a special flare, breaking the mold from the story?s original manga panels to create something visually fresh each gag.
31. Humanity Has Declined (Seiji Kishi, 2012)
Let?s face it, you?re not gonna get another anime with a loaf of bread committing suicide anytime soon. That alone makes Humanity Has Declined an essential watch. This surrealist comedy is doomful in its most underlining nature, but over all of that pessimism is a good amount of nihilism from the character who doesn?t name herself beyond ?Watashi? (I in Japanese). So a blend of pessimism and nihilism put together surprisingly serves as a hilarious watch, sprinkled with bits of social and political commentaries.
30. Kemono Friends (Tatsuki, 2017)
No one expected to show to actually be a masterpiece. From its inception, this project was meant to fail in every sense of the word. It was adapting a literally cancelled mobile game and had very limited financial resources. However, Tatsuki, a man from the fucking thirteenth floor brings all of the show?s weakness to design a stunning post-apocalyptic setting for what was meant to be a kid?s show. It?s Tatsuki?s excellent handling of nuance and subtlety that makes Kemono Friends such a moving watch, little details are sprinkled to paint depth into the world and characters without having to waste the time for exposition.
29. Girls und Panzer (Tsutomu Mizushima, 2012)
While in comparison to the franchise?s upgrade into a series of films, that have all been godlike masterpieces, the TV series of Girls und Panzer may not hold up as powerful. Even so, this anime has some of the most exhilarating action sequences that Fast & Furious can only dream of accomplishing the same amount of visual tension. From the intricate sound design and the design of its battle sequences, not much in any medium can really compare to the scale Girls und Panzer so often reaches.
28. Madoka Magica (Yukihiro Matsumoto, 2011)
Since its rise to ?modern classic? talks, many naysayers have tried to point out any flaws to the show they can. Of course, Madoka Magica may not be the Citizen Kane of anime, but it might be the Bicycle Thieves for magical girl shows. There?s no question in its influence on anime within the following eight years of the decade. Many shows have tried to recreate the shock factor of so many moments in this series, with many of them failing and falling onto the territory of being gratuitous. Being the anti-thesis to everything in its own genre, prior to it, Madoka Magica certainly deserves the hype.
27. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Ayumu Watanabe, 2018)
The premise of it may sound sleazy initially, but this is less a Lolita and more Lost in Translation. Basically, the show never walks the path into becoming a sordid exploitation anime that the plot may suggest. Instead it?s about a man having a mid-life crisis and a woman having a quarter-life crisis, who meet each other at the times of their lowest low. It?s a show about trying to follow your dreams no matter the challenges that face you, whether it be your age or a physical disadvantage. Otherwise, you?ll be forced to face an existential fear once the cloud of that dream begins to disappear.
26. Hibike! Euphonium (Tatsuya Ishihara, 2015)
Not many shows are as grounded as Euphonium. It starts slow, but once the wheels start turning it quickly becomes worth the investment. Particularly in season two, several moments of direction are stellar in how they capture so much pathos without any bit of dialogue (one scene that stands out is the bus ride on cue with Polovtsian Dances by Borodin). As the show progresses, the most it pushes its cinematic possibilities without ever having to sacrifice its distinctive realism.
25. Zankyou no Terror (Shinichiro Watanabe, 2014)
Drawing imagery and tension from a post-9/11 society, Zankyou no Terror attempts to develop a story about people?s loss of identity and freedom. It uses the fiery explosions across Tokyo to symbolize the frustation and implosion of the younger generations that have had their voices stripped from the actions of those older than them. Despite its premise and title, Terror has very little to do with the radical terrorism that has put strife in so many nations across the world. Instead, the violent acts are only towards the structures and pillars of ?the system?. No pedestrian ever gets killed in these attacks, and that?s a deliberate choice. These acts aren?t to put fear into people, it?s to make people listen.
24. Aria the Avvenire (Junichi Satou, 2015)
Aria the Animation/Natural/Origination will be some of the best and most magical works of animation to go down in history. Thankfully, Avvenire manages to stay on the same tier of the rest of its franchise to further develop a world that left off with all of its characters growing up and being forced to advance towards different paths. One of themes of the entire series is that everything moves in circles, life is just a cycle. What Akari is to Aika is what Alicia was to Akari; what Alicia was to Akari was what Akino was to Alicia. Though its the optimism of this world that bring together the idea that things need to end other things to begin. Avvenire shows what started after Akari?s story ended.
23. The Eccentric Family (Masayuki Yoshihara, 2013)
Setting itself in the already dynamic and colorful Kyoto, The Eccentric Family upgrades the iconic city into a modern romanticist fantasy. There?s never a dull moment with the mythical creatures of tanuki, tengu, and everything in between who secretly roam the alleyways of Kiyamachi and the shrines of Shimogamo. Kyoto may be known for its history and preserved culture, but it?s also dense with beautiful hidden bars and underground clubs that do whatever they claim they want to do (take it from someone who currently lives in this eclectic). The Eccentric Family wants to bring the spotlight to every corner of Kyoto, good and bad; doing so with its idiosyncratic characters.
22. Ping Pong the Animation (Masaaki Yuasa, 2014)
Masaaki Yuasa is a crazy dude, but oddly acts very unsuspecting in real life. One has to wonder where he gets his consistently fresh visual ideas from. Ping Pong is no exception, looking exceptionally different as each Yuasa work does. He must get bored of the same aesthetic and I have absolutely no qualms with that. This anime is powerful in how it follows characters who trek their way through the rather volatile world of ping pong; perhaps that suffocation comes from themselves rather than the game. Some have talent, some have pride, some are hungry, and others just play because they have nothing else for them anymore.
21. Bloom Into You (Makoto Katou, 2018)
When Makoto Katou was given Beautiful Bones to direct, he certainly proved that he was a capable director. The only problem was that the source material of Bones didn?t particularly fit his voice or it was just a less than stellar material. Thankfully, Bloom Into You came around to prove Katou?s capabilities. He gives the show?s key moments a sensual sensitivity that keeps the audience as engaged with the status quo as the main character, Yuu, is. Katou?s skillful eye for lighting adds to the numerous tense but intimate scenes spread out the show. It also features some of composer?s Michiru Oshima?s best work, which is always a plus.
20. Tamako Market (Naoko Yamada, 2013)
Naoko Yamada is a treasure to cinema. Her recent works (A Silent Voice and Liz and the Blue Bird) have demonstrated her key position in the world of modern arthouse cinema; especially being a diverse voice for the anime industry. However, before her iconic films, she began in the TV world and Tamako Market was one of her first directorial pieces. While it may not hold up as many of the refined and astute as what she?s gone to do, there are still plenty of merits to be found within this charming anime. Particularly, being a full-on comedy, the anime shows Yamada?s capabilities with visual humor. Some of Yamada?s cinematic influence still flows into this show, particularly with her obsession with film cameras and western music. One scene that properly displays this is the sequence that plays ?Un Lieu De Recontre?, a French New Wave-esque song that can fall into films like Clo From 5 to 7 or Masculin Fminin.
19. Kill la Kill (Hiroyuki Imaishi, 2013)
For all the hype that goes behind most shounen anime, none of them have been able to match Kill la Kill?s masterful depiction of power. Each fight has beats hitting at all the fitting moments, giving the conflicts emotional context and impact. One of the best examples is of the epic fight sequence between Matoi and Satsuki at episode three. Early on, the anime isn?t afraid to display what it?s capable of. It illustrates the raw power of its characters by showing that amount of damage they can cause by simple taps. Surprisingly enough, for all the unapologetic violence that happens in this show it still manages to fit in a good number of character arcs that really flesh out a more emotional journey.
18. The Tatami Galaxy (Masaaki Yuasa, 2010)
An anime about growing up, but not wanting to grow up. Taking place in the spiraling city of Kyoto, Watashi has to fight his way through time and space to attempt to escape the sealed off world he?s stuck in. The only problem is that the way for him to move forwards is to make a progressive choice in his life; something that deep down inside terrifies him. It?s a fitting story for anyone who felt lost on what their next ?step? would be during in college. Even if there are obvious potential steps for us to take, actually walking down a path means to escape the comfort of what little remnants of ignorance are left.
17. Yuru Camp (Yoshiaki Kyougoku, 2018)
There are plenty of feel good slice of life shows that came out this decade, but not many of them were able to match the cozy feeling brought by Yuru Camp. Honestly, beyond the anime?s extensive attention to detail in creating a pleasant camping environment, the show?s key strength is its comedic edge. Its sense of humor is never campy ( ?) nor too mean, there?s a perfect balance of bite in the gags. Coupled with Japan?s naturally beautiful scenery, Yuru Camp?s five main characters have this seductive quality that makes their adventures feel like an essential viewing.
16. Kyousougiga (Rie Matsumoto, 2013)
It must mean something when so many anime depict Kyoto as a city that?s completely off the rails. Kyousougiga, much like Eccentric Family and Tatami Galaxy, paints Kyoto as a gorgeous mess. Rie Matsumoto?s fanatic, yet meticulous, direction shines the best here. There?s something about her talent that allows her to situation chaotic sequences against some of the most bitter vignettes of this decade. Kyousougiga is more of an experience than something to spend days picking apart to figure out its deeper meanings; the experience alone is well worth this insane ride.
15. Lupin the Third: Fujiko Mine (Sayo Yamamoto, 2012)
Lupin the Third is frequently fun, but rarely is it ever such a sympathetic masterpiece. The always vigorous Sayo Yamamoto gives one of anime?s most iconic characters and elevates her from being a symbol to a real human character. Fujiko Mine is more than just her sex appeal, though that is an important piece to her identity that she fully embraces, inside is the workings of a human mind. A mind that has ideals shaped from past experiences that haunt her. Sex and theft are simply ways of distracting her from a history she hasn?t developed the courage to confront yet. When she does get her catharsis, she mostly maintains herself as she has always been, but with even more confidence in knowing that she loves who she has become.
14. New Game (Yoshiyuki Fujiwara, 2016)
From your neighborhood gods at Dogakobo, comes a very special anime about passion and the trail-error path towards climbing the ladder towards your dream. Unfortunately, reality may not be as optimistic as New Game may exhibit it to be. But the journey and difficulties the characters face, in order to battle their own existential crisis (which eventually comes to light) is as inspiring as it is entertaining.
13. Just Because (Atsushi Kobayashi, 2017)
A show that brilliantly captures the pace of our real world, Just Because has no grand plot or ideology it wants to pass on. It?s an anime that is simply photographing the lull of life. Even if all the characters may be facing their own inner complications, the world on the outside is negligent to the relatively trivial problems there people are facing. It perfectly balances character tension with its humdrum setting of Kamakura, to rival experiences we?ve had in real life. This show is a genuine slice of life, as it doesn?t try to wrap up its storytelling with any gaudy cosmetics.
12. Flip Flappers (Kiyotaka Oshiyama, 2016)
Not many directors this decade have matched the potent imagination of Oshiyama. Flip Flappers not just imagines one magical world, it illustrates a different world for each episode. Each world is structured as an allegory to the character?s state of minds. This gives the show a constant turning wheel of fresh entertainment and makes its next story beats always unpredictable, delivering several satisfying twists through the way.
11. Nagi no Asukara (Toshiya Shinohara, 2013)
On the bottom layers of the show, it highlights a marginalized society and builds a fantasy world that has racism and apartheid built into it; separating people between worlds that are extremely difficult to move between. Though on the surface level isn?t some conventional Oscar bait storyline. The world of Nagi no Asukara is meticulously designed and has a long of rules that stay consistent. It also boasts an amazing cast of characters whom all elevate the drama of the tale to another level, especially in its second half which takes the proportions to a standard not reached by many other shows.
10. Hyouka (Yasuhiro Takemoto, 2012)
Takemoto?s masterpiece; Hyouka touches a visual and emotional grade that is a rarity in anime. Oreki and Chitanda have such chemistry, even when going on about the most mundane conversation topics, there?s a charm that hangs over the two that is irresistible. With Takemoto?s strong understanding of the characters, he?s able to provide some amazing imagery to emulate each of the character?s emotions so that we can always see how they?re feeling instead of hearing about it. The use of classical pieces from the likes of Bach and Faur give the show a timeless feeling; even though it was made eight years ago it still lives on as if it was freshly out of the oven.
9. KonoSuba (Takaomi Kanasaki, 2016)
The opposite side of the coin from Re:Zero: what if the isekai world didn?t have a sense of purpose and heroism, but instead had many similar bureaucratic workings of our own world? Kazuma is thrown into a world where he could?ve been a hero, but changing worlds doesn?t inherit make you one. For the most part, he stays as the same moral-lacking person he has always been; it doesn?t help that he?s tagged with three of seemingly the most problematic people in this new world. This leads to some of the best adventures ever in the sub-genre, even when all the adventures are in some way a frivolous joke on a grander scheme. KonoSuba is one of the most inspired shows in perhaps what is the second least inspired genre to ever hit anime (after battle shounen of course).
8. Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight (Tomohiro Furukawa, 2018)
A spectacle that carries both the aesthetic merit and narrative pizzazz to turn this anime into an instant classic. It?s theater performances, embedded into the show make it an engaging ride each episode. Furukawa is heavily influenced by his senpai, Kunihiko Ikuhara, and has taken many notes from Ikuhara (such as the cumulative fairy tale structure). But Furukawa is able to add their own spice into the old formula and create a story about pride and all those who seak it for their own reasons.
7. Katanagatari (Keitarou Motonaga, 2010)
Based on one of Nisio Issin?s most powerful works, Katanagatari follows the story of the humanization of two characters. It tells a modern lore that feels like it deserves to be as old and timeless as ?The Tale of The Princess Kaguya? or ?The Tale of Genji?. There?s something so innately momentous with the existence of this story, that it Issin doesn?t feel human at times. Surprisingly enough, director Motonaga (Date A Live, School Days, Conception) is able to pull off the story with some crafty choices that capture the feeling of Issin?s charismatic prose.
6. Koufuku Graffiti (Tatsuwa Naoyuki, 2015)
Perhaps the most underrated show on this list, Koufuku Graffiti is a masterpiece about a girl coping with the recent lost of her grandmother. It?s not until when Ryou meets Kirin that her life begins to walk on a slow path of letting go. Sadly this show has been derived to simply a show with ?food porn?. However, it?s clear with Naoyuki?s sure direction what is the true heart of this story. There are special points in the show where Ryou is alone in her apartment and thinking of her past with someone that was so important to her. Hopefully someday, people will eventually pick up this show again.
5. A Place Further Than the Universe (Atsuko Ishizuka, 2018)
On a personal level, this anime is a chef-d?oeuvre. Ishizuka tests her limits with her most color-balanced show to date, but also with a show that is so perfect that it?s hard to find any naysayers. It?s a series that is always true to its characters and never tries to steer away from them to create a false embellished mood. Traveling isn?t easy, traveling to Antarctica is especially difficult and the show doesn?t sugarcoat the experience. But the challenges are what make the adventure worth it, as it captures a feeling of satisfaction and vivacity that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was only able to capture in a teaser trailer. Films/shows about traveling often fall off the rails once the traveling gets going, because how do you make someone?s trip to another country dynamic and entertaining enough? Perhaps A Place Further Than the Universe has given us the best answers.
4. Houseki no Kuni (Takahiro Kyogoku, 2017)
Ferocious and funny at the same time, Houseki no Kuni balances out very conflicting tones in a class manner. Adapting on the most visually stunning manga, the anime?s able to capture a similar affect by primarily using 3D CG animation. The use of CG actually highlights the brittle bodies of the characters, making action sequences all the more tense. Using CG also allowed for some camera movements that would have been impossible (or impossibly difficult/time-consuming) to recreate in 2D animation. There?s a long take that lasts for several minutes, during a cat and mouse chase that is almost unheard of; all together in the decade there have probably been less than ten significant long take sequences in anime. Having both an amazing story and the technical feats, Houseki no Kuni is an essential watch.
3. K-On!! (Naoko Yamada, 2010)
Much more of a coming-of-age story than a story about a band. K-On!?s second season elevates the anime into the tier of masterpieces, following the limited time its characters have left to keep their happy status quo. As the episodes near the end, their panic towards changing times becomes increasingly evident. Yamada, finds this deeper crisis in the characters and uses that as the main driving force for drama, but doing so in accumulating dosages. The rising action across the show?s runtime only makes the ending so much more empathetic, as it reminds us of our own best years. To realize that this show is about finishing up those best years, towards an unpredictable future, makes K-On! actually one of the most bittersweet anime of the decade.
2. Mawaru Penguindrum (Kunihiko Ikuhara, 2011)
Ikuhara being Ikuhara, BUT this time he?s at his most powerful form since Revolutionary Gurl Utena; well he hadn?t made anything in the eleven years between Utena and Penguindrum. 2010s Ikuhara is no longer Utena or Sailor Moon Ikuhara, he?s found a relatively new voice and visual style; Penguindrum is the perfect monument to his modern storytelling. The anime walks a variety of sub-genres and isn?t bereft of notable symbolism, a lot of it alluding to the 1995 terrorist attacks on the Tokyo metro and destiny (an unlikely couple). There are other ideals sprinkled in the show, but ultimately it is about people from different walks of life who are trying to live a lie by rewriting what is fated for them. It?s magic-realism at some of its best, and Ikuhara is able to tie his illogical imagery with his most sympathetic characters to date.
1. The Monogatari Series (Tomoyuki Itamura, 2010s)
Airing throughout almost the entire decade (only Bake was released outside of the 2010s), The Monogatari Series has evolved into something of biblical proportions. Its scale, both emotionally and narratively, is unmatched by anything else this decade. Just about each installment in this franchise has been consistently potent, touching various topics and exploring a legion of characters. Following Araragi, who treks around a mythical world that lives between the boundaries of our reality, he?s put against and with some of the most memorable characters written in the entire decade. From the fractious Senjougahara to the brusque Hachikuji to the portentous Hanekawa to the apprehensive Nadeko to the inhospitable Kaiki to the candid Karen to the erratic Tsukihi to the ominous Ougi to the ? . You get the point.