Kyoto Animation is one of the most critically-acclaimed animation studios in Japan. It has an extensive list of fantastic anime films and television series.
Following a tragic arson attack in 2019, 36 Kyoto Animation staff members lost their lives and the company suffered significant setbacks. However, the studio is still going strong, and this list will commemorate some of the best Kyoto Animation films and TV series. If you are looking for a new anime to binge, definitely give one of these a try.
1. A Silent Voice (Koe no Katachi)
Based on the manga of the same name, A Silent Voice is a 2016 anime film about bullying, love, and suicide. Although overshadowed when it was released the same year as Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name), A Silent Voice was well received. It currently holds a 94% freshness rating and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story follows Shoya Ishida, an elementary school bully who tries to relieve his boredom by getting into trouble and picking on others. Enter Shoko Nishimiya, a deaf girl who becomes the target for Shoya’s bullying. The torment gets so bad that Shoko changes schools. However, Shoya’s friends ostracize him, and the bully becomes the bullied.
Fast forward a few years later, and Shoya is now a high school student. He tracks Shoko down and apologizes for what he did before, but will she accept his apology? Can the two former classmates heal each other’s wounds? A Silent Voice is artful in its imagery and unapologetic in its serious story. The film tackles issues not often highlighted in the anime medium.
Genres: Coming-of-age, drama, romance
2. Clannad After Story
Directed by Tatsuya Ishihara, Clannad After Story is the sequel to the Clannad anime, based on a visual novel of the same name. The anime follows Tomoya and Nagisa after they graduate from college and have to build a life together as adults.
After Story is recommended more often than the original Clannad anime due to its more severe plot and mature themes. Although Clannad was a great romance anime in its own right, it is easily comparable to other high school romance anime. On the other hand, Clannad After Story addresses marital problems, alcoholism, forgiving neglectful parents, and dealing with loss.
One of the best and saddest romance animes of all time.
Like many titles on this list, Clannad After Story has a fantastic soundtrack. However, its most impressive point is the mixture of genres the series encapsulates. If you want your heartstrings tugged and are looking for an anime to make you cry, Clannad After Story is for you. It currently has an 8.6/10 rating on IMDb and is one of the best and saddest romance animes of all time.
Genres: Coming-of-age, drama, romance, science fiction, supernatural
3. Tamako Love Story
Compared to other mature titles from Kyoto Animation, Tamako Love Story is considered lighthearted. Nevertheless, it’s still one of my favorite anime romance films. It’s a silly and cute film about a young romance between childhood friends.
It follows Mochizo and Tamako, two high school students who have lived across the street from each other all their lives. As the children of rival mochi (rice cake) shop owners, both children know the tools of their father’s trade. However, Tamako is much more interested in making mochi, whereas Mochizo dreams of going to film school in Tokyo.
When Mochizo decides to go to university in Tokyo, time runs out for the two childhood friends to tell each other how they really feel. Tamako Love Story has a light, yet enjoyable plot that will remind you of childhood crushes from your early years.
Genres: Comedy, romance, slice-of-life
4. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
One of the most beloved titles from Kyoto Animation, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, provides an exciting twist on the typical slice-of-life high school romance genre. The anime manages to mix in elements of comedy, science fiction, and the supernatural.
The main character, Haruhi, is an energetic and free-spirited high school girl who despises the boredom of regular life. As a result, she creates the SOS Brigade. It’s a school club whose sole purpose is to discover aliens, time travelers, and espers.
This eccentric girl may hold the keys to the entire universe.
The protagonist, Kyon, is one of the only high school boys brave enough to approach Haruhi and question her about her wild personality. As a result, he is roped into her SOS Brigade and unwillingly taken on adventures alongside Haruhi. However, little does Kyon know, this eccentric girl may hold the keys to the entire universe.
The anime has also spawned a full-length anime film, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, and multiple video games.
Genres: Comedy, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, slice-of-life
5. Violet Evergarden
Directed by Taichi Ishidate (Air, Clannad, K-ON), Violet Evergarden is an original anime series about a young girl named Violet caught up in the fires of war. Possessing superhuman-like speed, instincts, and strength, Violet was used as a weapon by the military.
In Violet Evergarden’s world, people hire professional writers called Auto Memory Dolls to write letters. The anime follows Violet as she tries to find a career and rebuild her life after the war is over. To understand her captain’s last words, Violet begins her new job as a Memory Doll and tries to put others’ emotions into her own words.
Violet Evergarden has vibrant graphics, masterful cinematography, and one of the best anime soundtracks.
Genre(s): Coming-of-age, drama
Want to see more?
Kyoto Animation Studios has released many more films and series, and you can view the full list of their work on their website. To help the company recover from the tragic arson attack they suffered in 2019, add a few of their titles to your watch list and consider purchasing the DVDs and blu-rays of your favorite anime from their library.
Let us know your favorite anime from Kyoto Animation in the comments below!