What’s in a Masterpiece? A Compiled List of Anime Series I Consider Masterpieces.

It seems in this day and age everyone wants to know what everyone’s favorite anime is. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that there can only be one true “favorite” anime of all time, but if you are a die hard anime fan quite like myself, then you know it is no easy task just picking one favorite. Sometimes when you can’t quite narrow down your selection to one answer people will then reach for the “what’s your top ten anime of all time then?” question. Incidentally enough, this seems like a more plausible question for an otaku to answer but again, I digress, it really isn’t. I have actually went over this topic before a while back on my blog. There is no “real/true” way to narrow down your “top ten favorite anime of all time” simply because there are too many anime series that are consistently pumped out each year. The anime/otaku community is always evolving, always changing, and always coming out with new media for the consumer to enjoy. There is no way in hell that my “top ten favorite anime list of all time” is the same now as it was two, five, or even ten years ago.

What you can be sure of as an anime fan is what anime you might consider masterpieces. The definition of a masterpiece is “a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship.” I decided to ask some of you guys over on my Twitter your definition of a masterpiece. This is in the context of what criteria an anime might contain in order to be considered a masterpiece or in the generalization why someone might consider an anime series a masterpiece. Sam from A Nerdy Perspective claimed that impact on the viewer is important. That “if a series has amazing characters, stories, etc and it leaves me with the feeling of never being able to have that same amazing experience again with another show” then that anime is a masterpiece. Scott from Mech Anime Reviews felt the same way as Sam, saying “I don’t think it’s any criteria, but if a person finishes a show and they get the feeling of *I will never watch a series like this ever again,* then that show might be in the realm of masterpiece. Zenith from Infinite Zenith believes a masterpiece anime should have the ability to “dramatically change my world-view or personal beliefs by presenting thematic elements in a compelling and detailed manner or be sufficiently engaging and well written as to help me gain perspective on a problem relevant to me at the time of watching.” A few other people touched on the topic of story/character relatability and being able to watch something over and over again. It’s safe to assume that for an anime series to be considered a masterpiece it must impact the viewer in some way, shape, or form on a deeper level.

I definitely agree with all of my fellow companions. A masterpiece, to me, is a series that I relate to on a profound personal level, it sways me emotionally (ex. makes me laugh, cry, smile, feel disdain for certain characters, etc), adds to my ideology of world-views, and is compelling enough to keep me engaged/interested in the story, characters, the setting, and what is to come/happen in the series. An anime series doesn’t have to be completely flawless, it can have hiccups here and there, but as long as the story/characters are engaging enough then I am completely satisfied. I have stated this a few times on my blog before but when it comes to anime I am NOT the harshest critic out there. I tend to go a little easier on anime series and anime films. Don’t get me wrong…there are some anime out there that I dislike but my likes list outweighs my hate list. I’m trying to critic anime from a more general perspective as I continue to grow my blog, but I would much rather write about other analytical things than anime reviews and or shit on anime for the views. *cough cough*

Before we jump into today’s list if you want to read the post I mentioned above you can do so here: https://kawaiipaperpandas.com/2017/08/22/topic-tuesday-do-you-think-its-possible-to-narrow-down-anime-seriesmanga-to-a-favorite-top-ten/. I wrote this blog back in 2017, but I feel like the context is still relevant to this day. Also this list will be in no particular order and will not include films because I feel like anime movies are in their own category. I will just be listing all the anime I consider masterpieces as I see fit. So let’s do the damn thing!


1. March Comes in Like a Lion

What can I say about March Comes in Like a Lion that hasn’t already been said before? This show is a masterpiece. There is no doubt about that. This show is very similar in style to Nana and Honey & Clover (which are listed down below). I guess you can say the story-telling formula is almost identical in a way (with a lighter note on the romance). This is one anime series you cannot pass up. I highly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this show to watch it. Like seriously…drop what you are doing and go watch it. You can thank me later.


2. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is a slow-burner anime. The very first episode of this series is 45 mins long. I have noticed a trend of longer first episodes over the last couple of years. This can also be said of the new anime The Rising of the Shield Hero, which is currently airing as I write this. I feel like a lot of people passed up on this anime because the first episode was so long. That and this anime is also more historical based and it might not suit everyone’s taste. But I promise you this anime is oh so worth it! It’s got drama, it’s got history, and it even has a little bit of romance thrown into it. It is one I think (almost) everyone can enjoy.


3. Nana

The GOAT of all drama anime. I literally cannot describe in words how much Nana means to me. I finally got around to watching it a few years ago and I was kicking myself for not watching it sooner. That is one thing 2000’s anime does flawlessly; the portrayal of the human condition is perfection. This is one of the very few anime I consider to be faultless. It’s a shame that the manga will probably never be finished due to Ai Yazawa’s health. I still wish her all the best ❤


4. Honey and Clover

I actually just finished Honey and Clover a few days ago. I pretty much feel the same way about this series as I do Nana. While it started off a little crazy the ending of the anime left me a little bittersweet. I wish the ending was just a tad stronger/differently, but everything else was stupendous! The characters, their journeys together, the story-telling…everything was perfecto! If you enjoyed Nana as much as me I suggest checking out Honey and Clover as well!


5. Violet Evergarden

I don’t think I need to say much about Violet Evergarden considering I did a WHOLE episode by episode review of the series last year when it came out. My episode by episode reviews are quite long, but it gives you a lot of insight and how I was feeling while watching the show each week. If you want to check out those post you can start with episode one here: https://kawaiipaperpandas.com/2018/01/11/violet-evergarden-episode-1-first-impressions/.


6. Bungou Stray Dogs

Bungou is a new love of mine. I mean…how could you not love an anime that brings together kick ass anime characters based off of real life author’s and their respected works?! It is inevitably one of the most creative anime done in a very long time. The series as a whole is impeccable and the Dead Apple movie just adds to the repertoire of badassery. If I could give this series a higher score instead of just a measly 10 I would!


7. Land of the Lustrous

I’m probably a little bias when it comes to Land of the Lustrous. That’s probably due to me being a HUGE fan of the manga series. I literally recommend the manga to anyone who is looking for something new to read. This show is spectacular because of the fluid and beautiful use of CGI. I also wrote a very informative article on why Land of the Lustrous has set the standard for CGI use in anime. If you want to read that post you can do so here: https://kawaiipaperpandas.com/2018/08/30/why-orange-animation-studio-has-set-the-standard-for-cg-cgi-in-anime/.


8. Nagi no Asukara

Nagi no Asukara has been one of those anime series that resonated with me the moment I watched the very first episode. I actually watched this series on a whim one day when I was cruising through Hulu a few years back. More recently I found myself taking chances on anime I have never heard of and its been paying off! I wrote a blog post last week about Doukyuusei (which I also happened to watch randomly one night) and I couldn’t believe I missed out on this short film back when it was released in 2016Sometimes finding new anime series to watch by accident or while randomly scrolling through sites/streaming platforms can make your anime viewing experience that more pleasurable. Take a risk and watch that show!


9. Natsuyuki Rendezvous

This anime. I could write a novel on what this anime means to me if it really came down to it. I won’t do that right now though (cause who has time for that? Am I right? :P) This anime series scores okay on My Anime List at a 7.33 out of 10. Most of us would consider that fair to middlin in the anime realm. To me, this anime is a 10 out of 10. Natsuyuki Rendezvous shook me to my very core. I watched it during a dark time in my life. I was trying to overcome the death of a close friend, navigating why no one wanted to date me, and overall just unhappy with where I was at in life. I latched onto this series because I could relate to it on a personal level. There was so much hurt and anguish and pain that came from this series story that I relished in it. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Maybe one of these days I’ll sit down and write a blog post about it, but for now if you are struggling like I was then maybe watching this series will give you some sort of comfort or even help overcome what you are going through. Watch it.


10. Golden Kamuy

Welcome the newest member of the masterpiece club…Golden Kamuy! What pushes this series over the edge is the second season. My goodness! This anime is one hell of a ride. The voice actors, the characters, the shenanigans that ensue over the course of two seasons is impeccable! I cannot fathom a better crew than the kids in Golden Kamuy. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…Golden Kamuy has one of the BEST anime teams of all time. And no…you can’t change my mind! If you didn’t watch this in 2018 what the hell were you doing?! You are sleeping on some comedy gold! Also if you need another hilarious comedy anime to watch then check out Asobi Asobase. Another anime that is pure fucking comedy gold as well 😀


This post has been in the making for a long time. I’m glad I finally had time to sit down and write it. Of course there are tons of other anime series out there that I consider close to masterpieces. I probably could write multiple blogs on this topic. I know I want to write a film version of this at some point as well. Soon my pandas! I promise I’ll get something to you soon. What anime do YOU consider anime masterpieces? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments section down below! I will be posting a Top Ten Tuesday post on Tuesday and maybe something for Wednesday. Wednesday is my birthday and I think I am going to take some time off after that to enjoy some quality time with my friends. I’m sure you guys understand! Thank you for joining me today my pandas. I’ll catch you all on Tuesday! XOXO


Disclaimer: All imagery and photos come from searching for them on the internet. I have no claim or right to them. If I find any links I will always post them (this usually entails fan art or any other work affiliated with an artist).

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13 Comments

  1. It really is hard when they ask what is your favorite anything. But the moment that question is thrown at you something will pop into your mind and you’ll know that one definitely makes the list! 🤣
    Or maybe they asked because they just want recommendations because that’s what I got from this post! Awesome list. I haven’t seen them all but for sure I will…soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For me, I could list my top favorites in specific categories and genres. I feel like in order to give anime the proper care and attention they deserve they should be broken down that way. Not just simplified to a single top 10 list. I haven’t had anyone ask for recommendations in a while, but I would recommend all these anime that I listed lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nameing your favorites are hard. A toplist is superhard I think. I have my number one which has lasted me through out the since I saw it (Beelzebub if anyone by chance has missed it which I doubt 😂) though but that’s about it. I agree with you on Natsuyuki Rendevouz; it is a masterpiece. It has that special thing only a few anime has. I can see though how some people won’t find that extra in it. I don’t think everybody can relate fully to the story with the characters actually being mature adults and all. But I love it so so much. I haven’t seen most on this list actually but there are some of them on my tbw list. I should get to it. Right?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. UGHHH. I agree with the entries you’ve put on your list and the definitions of what it means to be a masterpiece certainly ring true for me as well. I enjoy historical anime and having Rakugo come out with two seasons was great. The writing behind the series was excellent and I came to love Yakumo a lot as a character. I should go back and finish watching Golden Kamuy for sure since I liked the dynamic between the two protagonists and the story line was interesting too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Season 2 of Golden Kamuy is incredible! We get a few more character’s backstories and the shit that happens is crazy funny. It also keeps you on the edge of your seat! We will be getting a season 3 for sure at some point and I can’t wait for that! Rakugo is amazing in it’s own right. There are a few little mishaps with the series, but it is near flawless.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. To me a masterpiece is something that, in spite of its flaws (because everything has its flaws) I don’t think I could have liked any more. A great post! You’ve definitely given me some ideas of what to watch next! Would you mind terribly if I write a similar blog post at some point? I’d love to list the shows that I feel are 10/10 masterpieces! Of course I’ll give credit where credit’s due!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A classic:

    Something that sets a standard that others follow or imitate.
    Something that breaks new ground & is the first good example of its kind.
    OTOH, classic cars are just old cars that have aged well.

    Natsuyuki and Violet really do it for me. Yet Violet is still a work in progress. It may get even better. Or decline.

    Rokka is my number one waifu. Not a youngster’s infatuation. She’s the real deal, the one you could be comfortable spending the rest of your life and growing old with.

    Nana would be at the very top if it hadn’t slowed so much in the middle only to have an abbreviated end after it got better again. Nana is still incomplete. Can’t get up to classic status quite yet.

    When I think of classic, I think of anime that turned my world around but it also has to be something that *stands the test of time*. Being too new makes it a “possible future classic” for me. Kotonoha no Niwa is IMHO, a classic. Other classic movies might be Ninja Scroll, Akira, Evangelion, Escaflowne, Vamp Slayer D. Won’t get into Myasaki. He has produced so many movies that are genuine classics it wouldn’t be fair. Shinkai’s more recent stuff needs to age a bit.

    How about Kara No Kyokai, the Monogatari franchise (altho it is not completed yet), Death Note, and FMA? Sailor Moon? Maybe RG Utena? I think Perfect Blue is a classic Hitchcockian thriller. (My wife hates it. Too many triggers.)

    By some definitions, Tenchi Muyo is a classic. In its day it was the best harem ever. It established tropes and standards that are still in use today.

    Certainly, Cowboy Bebop, GITS, Trigun, Samurai Champloo, and Rurouni Kenshin are classics. I think Gundam Wing is a classic too. How about Astro Boy?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oh… and Bloom into You will be considered a classic someday. Right now it is just an incredible anime that left me begging for more – but still knowing the ending was perfect.

    Like

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