We’ve all been there: we invest a huge amount of time into an anime series, only to have a terrible non-ending waiting for us. It might be a show that just fades out without any resolution because the original manga or light novels are still running, a series that the animators realized was not going to be successful commercially so they stopped trying, or a show that didn’t know what kind of story it wanted to tell in the first place. There are also sad times when they tried to set up a second season that never came.
Recently I watched Kanata no Astra, a sci-fi series about young people who attend “space camp” and end up fighting for survival in a universe full of political intrigue. The ending was outstanding, taking an extra 30 minutes to tie up all the story elements perfectly. So I asked J-List’s Twitter followers to give me their picks for the best and most satisfying anime endings in history, and here are some of the suggestions!
SPOILER ALERT. We won’t reveal any critical information in this post, you should be aware that you might encounter minor spoilers going forward.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
One of my favorite Sunrise anime series ever, Code Geass was amazing, telling a long and complex story of Japan under rule by a bizarre alternate version of Britania. The gorgeous ending — slightly open-ended — was a great payoff for fans. There was also some pretty good fanservice along the way, too.
What starts out as a goofy show about humans living underground, debating whether such a thing as “the sky” actually exists, ends up with the same people having spread out into the galaxy just a few years later. This is one of the best-structured anime series I’ve seen — it’s an anime about drills, and the story is basically one giant drill — and it has one of the most satisfying anime endings (though get your tissues ready). Row, row, fight da pawah!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Sometimes all you need is 12 episodes to tell a great story, and that’s the case of Madoka Magica. It’s nearly perfect, and — like Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions — in my opinion not always improved by adding more content afterward.
A true gem of an anime, because it shows how anime gets made. It follows the story of five girls who’ve come to Tokyo to join the anime industry, as assistant director, traditional animator, 3D animator, scriptwriter and voice actor. It’s wonderful watching each girl’s dreams unfold.
While I’m a fan of all Rumiko “The J.K. Rowling of Japan” Takahashi’s works, I will say that they’re sometimes so popular, her stories can occasionally, ah, overstay their welcome, and go on for longer than there is meaningful story to tell. Thankfully, Maison Ikkoku doesn’t have this problem. It’s the story of the crazy residents of an apartment in Tokyo and the lonely journey of a widow as she seeks to re-marry after the death of her husband, and is a perfectly crafted thing from start to finish, and one of the most satisfying anime endings ever.
Magic Kight Rayearth
Three girls are called from Tokyo to a magical world where every character and place name is taken from automobiles. Their task? To rescue Princess Emeraude from the evil Lord Zagato. How do they succeed? By killing her in the most beautiful way possible! I’m forever grateful to this anime, as it helped me raise my kids bilingually.
One of my favorite animes given my love for “surprise yuri” twists, Scum’s Wish has so many crisscrossing unrequited loves, it’s almost a parody of the genre. I found it a great story. It’s even better if you watch it with Spanish subtitles!
This was a strange anime: a high school girl receives mysterious letters from herself from 10 years in the future detailing the steps she should take to help keep a newly-transferred student from committing suicide. It’s a story about avoiding regret and helping others deal with pain.
The show that put Kyoto Animation on the map as Japan’s leading animation studio. It’s an outstanding anime adapted from a Key visual novel, and has one of the most satisfying endings you could ask for.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Like Kanon 2006 above, 2009’s FMA:B was a remake of a former 2003 series that fans felt just didn’t do justice to the original work. The newer anime is universally celebrated by pretty much all fans.
AnoHana: The Flower We Saw On That Day
The anime that made all fans around the world cry openly. It’s the story of the ghost of a girl who died many years ago, who comes back to hang out with her friends now that they’re in high school. It’s one of the best-executed anime series I can think of.
Your Lie in April
Another true masterpiece, KimiUso tells the story of a boy named Kosei who’s a genius at the piano, who encounters Kaori, equally good at the violin. Then she plays a big April Fool’s joke on him! No, really, I’m totally not lying! It’s one of the most beautiful shows you can watch, trust me.
Well, did we miss any anime with great endings that you think should have been included in the list? Tell us on Twitter!
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