Anime, a style of animation that originated in Japan, has become a global phenomenon, attracting fans from all corners of the world. What makes anime so special? It’s not just cartoons for kids; it’s a whole universe of stories that can appeal to anyone, regardless of age. Anime brings to life a variety of tales, from epic adventures and fantasy worlds to heartfelt dramas and even everyday life stories, all wrapped up in a distinct and colorful art style. From thrilling adventures to heartwarming tales, anime offers a diverse range of genres to explore. This article highlights ten masterpiece anime series that are a must-watch for both newcomers and seasoned fans alike.
One of the coolest things about anime is how different it is from typical Western cartoons. The characters in anime are expressive, and the backgrounds are often like paintings. Plus, the stories can be really deep and complex, exploring themes like friendship, love, courage, and sometimes even darker stuff like loss and struggle. This isn’t just entertainment; it’s art that makes you think and feel.
Anime isn’t limited to one type of story, either. There’s something for everyone. Love action-packed adventures? There’s an anime for that. Would you prefer something that makes you laugh? There’s plenty of that, too. Even if you’re into romance, mystery, or science fiction, anime has got you covered. It’s this variety that has helped anime gain fans from all sorts of backgrounds and interests.
In this article, we’re going to dive into ten Masterpiece anime series that are absolute must-watches. These aren’t just any shows; they’re considered masterpieces in the world of anime. So, whether you’re new to anime or a seasoned fan, get ready to explore some of the best that anime has to offer!
Popularity of Anime Series in the Last Decade
The popularity of anime has seen a remarkable surge in the last decade, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries to become a global phenomenon. Several factors have contributed to this rise in popularity:
- Increased Accessibility: One of the biggest factors is the increased accessibility of anime outside Japan. With the advent of streaming services like Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation, and Amazon Prime, a vast array of anime titles have become easily accessible to audiences worldwide. These platforms often provide subtitles and dubbed versions in multiple languages, making anime more approachable for non-Japanese speakers.
- Internet and Social Media: The Internet and social media have played a crucial role in the spread of anime culture. Online communities, forums, and social media platforms have allowed fans to share their favorite shows, discuss theories, create fan art, and even organize events. This has helped build a global community of anime enthusiasts.
- Cultural Exchange: Anime has been a significant cultural export for Japan and has sparked interest in Japanese culture around the world. Fans not only enjoy the stories but also get intrigued by the cultural aspects, leading to an increased interest in the Japanese language, food, and traditions.
- Diverse Content: Anime covers a wide range of genres, appealing to various age groups and interests. From action, adventure, and fantasy to romance, horror, and science fiction, anime offers something for everyone. This diversity has attracted a broad audience, including those who might not typically be interested in animation.
10 Masterpiece Anime Series to Watch
1) Clannad: After Story:
“Clannad: After Story” is a profoundly moving and beautifully crafted anime that delves deep into themes of family, love, and redemption. It stands as a sequel to “Clannad,” the first season, and it’s highly recommended to watch this initial series to fully appreciate the depth and emotional impact of “After Story.”
The narrative of “Clannad: After Story” picks up where the first season left off, following the lives of Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa. The first season, “Clannad,” sets the stage by introducing us to these characters and their unique circumstances. It explores their high school life, their growing relationships, and the various challenges they face. This foundation is crucial as it establishes the emotional connections and backstories that “After Story” builds upon.
In “Clannad: After Story,” the story transitions from the high school setting to the challenges and realities of adult life. The series excels in portraying the complexities of adulthood, including work, family, and the trials that life can unexpectedly throw at us. It’s a journey that sees Tomoya and Nagisa navigate the ups and downs of their relationship, their dreams, and the harsh realities they encounter.
What sets “Clannad: After Story” apart is its remarkable ability to blend everyday life with profound emotional depth. The series doesn’t shy away from exploring heavy themes such as loss, grief, and the struggle to find one’s purpose. It handles these themes with a delicate balance of realism and sensitivity, making the characters’ experiences relatable and deeply moving.
2) Fullmetal Alchemist
“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is an anime that has garnered widespread acclaim for its intricate storytelling, well-developed characters, and profound thematic depth. From the very first episode, the series draws viewers into a richly constructed world where alchemy is not just a mystical art but a well-established science with its own rules and consequences.
The story revolves around two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric, who embark on a quest to find the Philosopher’s Stone, a powerful alchemical artifact that they believe holds the key to recovering what they lost in a failed alchemical ritual. This quest sets the stage for a sprawling adventure that is as much about the external journey across a complex and politically charged world as it is about the internal journey of the characters grappling with themes of loss, guilt, redemption, and the nature of humanity.
One of the most striking aspects of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is its ability to weave a narrative that is both epic in scope and deeply personal. The series explores a vast array of characters, each with their own motivations, backstories, and moral complexities. This rich character tapestry adds layers to the narrative, making the world of “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” feel incredibly real and lived-in.
The Elric brothers themselves are a study of resilience and determination. Edward, the elder brother, is fiery and headstrong, yet deeply caring and protective of his younger brother. Alphonse, whose soul is bound to a suit of armor, displays a gentle and thoughtful nature. Their relationship is the emotional core of the series, driving much of the plot and providing a poignant commentary on the bonds of family and the sacrifices we make for those we love.
3) Hunter x Hunter (2011)
“Hunter x Hunter” (2011) is a highly popular anime series that gained attention due to its intricate plot and unique blend of adventure, action, and emotional depth. The series is a reboot of the original 1999 anime and is more faithful to Yoshihiro Togashi’s manga.
The story of “Hunter x Hunter” revolves around a young boy named Gon Freecss, who discovers that his father, whom he thought was dead, is actually a legendary hunter—a title given to elite members of humanity who are skilled in tracking down secret treasures, rare beasts, or even other individuals. Learning this, Gon decides to become a hunter himself to find his father and understand why he chose his profession over being with his son.
The 2011 version of “Hunter x Hunter” boasts modern, fluid animation that brings its dynamic action sequences to life. The art style remains faithful to the manga and enhances the storytelling. The soundtrack, composed by Yoshihisa Hirano, adds to the emotional and dramatic moments of the series, elevating the overall viewing experience.
“Psycho-Pass” is a thought-provoking and intense anime series set in a dystopian future where Japan is governed by the Sibyl System, a sophisticated network that continuously assesses the mental states of its citizens. This system measures a person’s likelihood of committing crimes, quantifying it as their “psycho-pass.”
The animation, produced by Production I.G., is of high quality, with a dark and atmospheric art style that complements the show’s tone.
The series is known for its mature content, including graphic violence and complex themes. It’s geared towards an adult audience, offering a more serious and contemplative look at a possible future society.
5) Your Lie in April
“Your Lie in April” (known in Japanese as “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso”) is a deeply moving and visually stunning anime series that combines elements of drama, romance, and music. Released in 2014, it is based on the manga series written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa.
The story revolves around a young piano prodigy named Kousei Arima, who loses his ability to hear the sound of his piano after the traumatic death of his mother. Living in a monochrome world without music, Kousei’s life takes a dramatic turn when he meets a vibrant and free-spirited violinist named Kaori Miyazono. Kaori’s unorthodox playing style and joyful approach to life rekindle Kousei’s passion for music and open his heart to the possibility of love and emotional expression.
6) Made in Abyss
“Made in Abyss” is a captivating and visually stunning anime series that first aired in 2017. It has garnered acclaim for its unique storytelling approach and the way it juxtaposes its innocent art style with more mature and sometimes disturbing themes.
The story of “Made in Abyss” revolves around a young girl named Riko, who lives in the town of Orth on the edge of the Abyss, a colossal, unexplored pit and cave system. The Abyss holds artifacts and remnants of a civilization long gone, attracting cave raiders who descend to uncover its mysteries. Riko dreams of becoming a legendary cave raider like her mother and uncovering the secrets of the Abyss. Her life changes when she meets Reg, a mysterious robot boy with no memories of his past. Together, they embark on a perilous journey into the depths of the Abyss to find Riko’s mother and learn the truth about the Abyss.
7) Attack on Titan
“Attack on Titan” is a highly influential and popular anime series that first aired in 2013. Based on the manga by Hajime Isayama, the series is set in a world where humanity resides within enormous walled cities to protect themselves from the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures who devour humans seemingly without reason. The story is known for its intense action, complex characters, and a dark, immersive plot that explores themes of survival, freedom, and the moral ambiguity of war.
8) Steins; Gate
Originally airing in 2011, the series is based on a visual novel of the same name and is part of the larger “Science Adventure” series. “Steins; Gate” stands out for its scientific approach to time travel, its complex narrative, and the emotional depth of its characters.
The story of “Steins and Gate” revolves around Rintarou Okabe and his friends Mayuri Shiina and Itaru “Daru” Hashida. They run a makeshift laboratory in Akihabara, where they inadvertently discover a method of sending messages to the past. This method involves a microwave and a mobile phone, which they dub the “Phone Microwave.” Their experiments with time manipulation soon spiral out of control, leading to unforeseen and often dire consequences.
9) Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
“Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba” is a highly popular anime series that began airing in 2019. Based on the manga series written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotouge, it quickly gained a massive following for its compelling story
The story centers around Tanjiro Kamado, a kind-hearted and hardworking boy who lives in the mountains with his family. His life changes tragically when his family is slaughter by demons. Despite her transformation, Nezuko retains some human emotions and thoughts. Tanjiro becomes a demon slayer to avenge his family and seek a cure to turn his sister back into a human.
“Monster” is an anime series based on the manga of the same name by Naoki Urasawa. First aired in 2004, it is a psychological thriller that stands out for its mature storytelling, deep character development, and exploration of complex moral dilemmas.
The story of “Monster” revolves around Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant Japanese neurosurgeon working in Germany. His life takes a dramatic turn when he decides to save the life of a young boy, Johan Liebert. This decision leads to drastic changes in his career and personal life.
The narrative follows Dr. Tenma as he embarks on a journey across Germany and Eastern Europe, both to find Johan and to confront the moral consequences of his past decision. As he delves deeper into Johan’s past and psyche, he encounters various characters affected by Johan’s malevolence and unravels a complex web of mysteries.
Platforms on which you can watch these Masterpiece Anime Series
People can stream these masterpiece anime series on various platforms, such as Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation, and Amazon Prime. Each platform offers a wide selection of anime with different subscription models to suit viewers’ preferences.
Q: Are these Masterpiece anime series suitable for all ages?
While many anime are family-friendly, some contain mature themes. It’s important to check the rating and content description before watching.
Q: Do I need to watch anime in Japanese with subtitles?
Most anime is available in both Japanese with subtitles and dubbed in other languages.
Q: Can I watch these anime if I’m new to the genre?
Absolutely! These anime are great starting points for newcomers, offering a glimpse into the best the genre has to offer.
Q: Are English dubs available for these anime?
Yes, many of these anime series have English-dubbed versions, making them accessible to a wider audience.
Anime continues to be a powerful medium for storytelling. These ten masterpiece anime series are a testament to their diversity and depth. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the genre, these titles are must-watches that offer something for everyone.
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