The end of 2019 is here and so is the end of the decade. The 2010s have been a monumental leap for anime, ushering the medium to millions of new fans via streaming and a new seasonal format. Gone are the ways of old bootleg DVDs and tapes, on-demand streaming and same day simulcast are here. Without a doubt, the decade has had much outstanding anime that consolidating it all into a single list would be very difficult.
Japanese anime site AniKore has a ranking feature that shows the top anime. Their algorithm in finding the top anime combines contributions from fans on popularity and critical reception. So now, we can find out which TV anime is considered the top among Japanese anime fans. One small restriction we have placed is that if multiple seasons of the anime appear on the list, they will be consolidated into the highest placing season (and will be mentioned as such). Additionally, we will also be counting when the year and season the anime first debuted. Try to guess what it is before getting old.
So, without further ado here are Japanese anime fans’ Top 20 TV anime of the decade (2010-2019):
20. Angel Beats!
Spring 2010, P.A. Works
Otonashi awakens only to learn he is dead. A rifle-toting girl named Yuri explains that they are in the afterlife, and Otonashi realizes the only thing he can remember about himself is his name. Yuri tells him that she leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and wages war against a girl named Tenshi. Unable to believe Yuri’s claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn’t go as he intended.
Otonashi decides to join the SSS and battle Tenshi, but he finds himself oddly drawn to her. While trying to regain his memories and understand Tenshi, he gradually unravels the mysteries of the afterlife.
Fall/Autumn 2013, P.A. Works
Long ago, all humans lived beneath the sea. However, some people preferred the surface and abandoned living underwater permanently. As a consequence, they were stripped of their god-given protection called “Ena” which allowed them to breathe underwater. Over time, the rift between the denizens of the sea and of the surface widened, although contact between the two peoples still existed.
Nagi no Asu kara follows the story of Hikari Sakishima and Manaka Mukaido, along with their childhood friends Chisaki Hiradaira and Kaname Isaki, who are forced to leave the sea and attend a school on the surface. There, the group also meets Tsumugu Kihara, a fellow student and fisherman who loves the sea.
Hikari and his friends’ lives are bound to change as they have to deal with the deep-seated hatred and discrimination between the people of sea and of the surface, the storms in their personal lives, as well as an impending tempest which may spell doom for all who dwell on the surface.
Winter 2015/2016, A-1 Pictures
When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. The detached, 29-year-old manga artist has taken advantage of this powerful yet mysterious phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many lives.
However, when he is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him, Satoru is sent back to the past once again, but this time to 1988, 18 years in the past. Soon, he realizes that the murder may be connected to the abduction and killing of one of his classmates, the solitary and mysterious Kayo Hinazuki, that took place when he was a child. This is his chance to make things right.
Boku dake ga Inai Machi follows Satoru in his mission to uncover what truly transpired 18 years ago and prevent the death of his classmate while protecting those he cares about in the present.
17. Sword Art Online
Summer 2012, A-1 Pictures
In the year 2022, virtual reality has progressed by leaps and bounds, and a massive online role-playing game called Sword Art Online (SAO) is launched. With the aid of “NerveGear” technology, players can control their avatars within the game using nothing but their own thoughts.
Kazuto Kirigaya, nicknamed “Kirito,” is among the lucky few enthusiasts who get their hands on the first shipment of the game. He logs in to find himself, with ten-thousand others, in the scenic and elaborate world of Aincrad, one full of fantastic medieval weapons and gruesome monsters. However, in a cruel turn of events, the players soon realize they cannot log out; the game’s creator has trapped them in his new world until they complete all one hundred levels of the game.
In order to escape Aincrad, Kirito will now have to interact and cooperate with his fellow players. Some are allies, while others are foes, like Asuna Yuuki, who commands the leading group attempting to escape from the ruthless game. To make matters worse, Sword Art Online is not all fun and games: if they die in Aincrad, they die in real life. Kirito must adapt to his new reality, fight for his survival, and hopefully break free from his virtual hell.
Spring 2013, Wit Studio
Centuries ago, mankind was slaughtered to near extinction by monstrous humanoid creatures called titans, forcing humans to hide in fear behind enormous concentric walls. What makes these giants truly terrifying is that their taste for human flesh is not born out of hunger but what appears to be out of pleasure. To ensure their survival, the remnants of humanity began living within defensive barriers, resulting in one hundred years without a single titan encounter. However, that fragile calm is soon shattered when a colossal titan manages to breach the supposedly impregnable outer wall, reigniting the fight for survival against the man-eating abominations.
After witnessing a horrific personal loss at the hands of the invading creatures, Eren Yeager dedicates his life to their eradication by enlisting into the Survey Corps, an elite military unit that combats the merciless humanoids outside the protection of the walls. Based on Hajime Isayama’s award-winning manga, Shingeki no Kyojin follows Eren, along with his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and his childhood friend Armin Arlert, as they join the brutal war against the titans and race to discover a way of defeating them before the last walls are breached.
Winter 2010/2011, Shaft
Madoka Kaname and Sayaka Miki are regular middle school girls with regular lives, but all that changes when they encounter Kyuubey, a cat-like magical familiar, and Homura Akemi, the new transfer student.
Kyuubey offers them a proposition: he will grant any one of their wishes and in exchange, they will each become a magical girl, gaining enough power to fulfill their dreams. However, Homura Akemi, a magical girl herself, urges them not to accept the offer, stating that everything is not what it seems.
A story of hope, despair, and friendship, Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica deals with the difficulties of being a magical girl and the price one has to pay to make a dream come true.
Spring 2016, White Fox
When Subaru Natsuki leaves the convenience store, the last thing he expects is to be wrenched from his everyday life and dropped into a fantasy world. Things aren’t looking good for the bewildered teenager; however, not long after his arrival, he is attacked by some thugs. Armed with only a bag of groceries and a now useless cell phone, he is quickly beaten to a pulp. Fortunately, a mysterious beauty named Satella, in hot pursuit after the one who stole her insignia, happens upon Subaru and saves him. In order to thank the honest and kindhearted girl, Subaru offers to help in her search, and later that night, he even finds the whereabouts of that which she seeks. But unbeknownst to them, a much darker force stalks the pair from the shadows, and just minutes after locating the insignia, Subaru and Satella are brutally murdered.
However, Subaru immediately reawakens to a familiar scene—confronted by the same group of thugs, meeting Satella all over again—the enigma deepens as history inexplicably repeats itself.
Fall/Autumn 2011, Madhouse
Chihaya Ayase, a strong-willed and tomboyish girl, grows up under the shadow of her older sister. With no dreams of her own, she is contented with her share in life till she meets Arata Wataya. The quiet transfer student in her elementary class introduces her to competitive karuta, a physically and mentally demanding card game inspired by the classic Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets. Captivated by Arata’s passion for the game and inspired by the possibility of becoming the best in Japan, Chihaya quickly falls in love with the world of karuta. Along with the prodigy Arata and her haughty but hard-working friend Taichi Mashima, she joins the local Shiranami Society. The trio spends their idyllic childhood days playing together, until circumstances split them up.
Now in high school, Chihaya has grown into a karuta freak. She aims to establish the Municipal Mizusawa High Competitive Karuta Club, setting her sights on the national championship at Omi Jingu. Reunited with the now indifferent Taichi, Chihaya’s dream of establishing a karuta team is only one step away from becoming true: she must bring together members with a passion for the game that matches her own.
Spring 2010, Kyoto Animation
It is the new year, which means that the senior members of the Light Music Club are now third-years, with Azusa Nakano being the only second-year. The seniors soon realize that Azusa will be the only member left once they graduate and decide to recruit new members. Despite trying many methods of attracting underclassmen—handing out fliers, bringing people into the clubroom, and performing at the welcoming ceremony—there are no signs of anyone that plans to join.
While heading to the clubroom, Azusa overhears Yui Hirasawa say that the club is fine with only five people and that they can do many fun things together. Changing her mind, she decides that they do not need to recruit any members for the time being.
K-On!! revolves around the members of the Light Music Club as they experience their daily high school life. From rehearsing for concerts to just messing around, they are ready to make their last year together an exciting one!
Spring 2011, A-1 Pictures
Jinta Yadomi is peacefully living as a recluse, spending his days away from school and playing video games at home instead. One hot summer day, his childhood friend, Meiko “Menma” Honma, appears and pesters him to grant a forgotten wish. He pays her no mind, which annoys her, but he doesn’t really care. After all, Menma already died years ago.
At first, Jinta thinks that he is merely hallucinating due to the summer heat, but he is later on convinced that what he sees truly is the ghost of Menma. Jinta and his group of childhood friends grew apart after her untimely death, but they are drawn together once more as they try to lay Menma’s spirit to rest. Re-living their pain and guilt, will they be able to find the strength to help not only Menma move on—but themselves as well?
10. Fate/Zero & Fate Zero Season 2
Fall/Autumn 2011 & Spring 2012, ufotable.
Fate/Zero Season 2 was placed 13th.
Fate/Zero Season 1 placed 10th.
With the promise of granting any wish, the omnipotent Holy Grail triggered three wars in the past, each too cruel and fierce to leave a victor. In spite of that, the wealthy Einzbern family is confident that the Fourth Holy Grail War will be different; namely, with a vessel of the Holy Grail now in their grasp. Solely for this reason, the much hated “Magus Killer” Kiritsugu Emiya is hired by the Einzberns, with marriage to their only daughter Irisviel as binding contract.
Kiritsugu now stands at the center of a cutthroat game of survival, facing off against six other participants, each armed with an ancient familiar, and fueled by unique desires and ideals. Accompanied by his own familiar, Saber, the notorious mercenary soon finds his greatest opponent in Kirei Kotomine, a priest who seeks salvation from the emptiness within himself in pursuit of Kiritsugu.
Based on the light novel written by Gen Urobuchi, Fate/Zero depicts the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War—10 years prior to Fate/stay night. Witness a battle royale in which no one is guaranteed to survive.
Summer 2013, Shaft
Apparitions, oddities, and gods continue to manifest around Koyomi Araragi and his close-knit group of friends: Tsubasa Hanekawa, the group’s modest genius; Shinobu Oshino, the resident doughnut-loving vampire; athletic deviant Suruga Kanbaru; bite-happy spirit Mayoi Hachikuji; Koyomi’s cutesy stalker Nadeko Sengoku; and Hitagi Senjogahara, the poignant tsundere.
Monogatari Series: Second Season revolves around these individuals and their struggle to overcome the darkness that is rapidly approaching. A new semester has begun and with graduation looming over Araragi, he must quickly decide the paths he will walk, as well as the relationships and friends that he’ll save. But as strange events begin to unfold, Araragi is nowhere to be found, and a vicious tiger apparition has appeared in his absence. Hanekawa has become its target, and she must fend for herself—or bow to the creature’s perspective on the feebleness of humanity.
Fall/Autumn 2014, White Fox
It all started in Kaminoyama High School, when five best friends—Aoi Miyamori, Ema Yasuhara, Midori Imai, Shizuka Sakaki, and Misa Toudou—discovered their collective love for all things anime and formed the animation club. After making their first amateur anime together and showcasing it at the culture festival, the group vow to pursue careers in the industry, aiming to one day work together and create their own mainstream show.
Two and a half years later, Aoi and Ema have managed to land jobs at the illustrious Musashino Animation production company. The others, however, are finding it difficult to get their dream jobs. Shizuka is feeling the weight of not being recognized as a capable voice actor, Misa has a secure yet unsatisfying career designing 3D models for a car company, and Midori is a university student intent on pursuing her dream as a story writer. These five girls will learn that the path to success is one with many diversions, but dreams can still be achieved through perseverance and a touch of eccentric creativity.
Fall/Autumn 2014, A-1 Pictures
Music accompanies the path of the human metronome, the prodigious pianist Kousei Arima. But after the passing of his mother, Saki Arima, Kousei falls into a downward spiral, rendering him unable to hear the sound of his own piano.
Two years later, Kousei still avoids the piano, leaving behind his admirers and rivals, and lives a colorless life alongside his friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari. However, everything changes when he meets a beautiful violinist, Kaori Miyazono, who stirs up his world and sets him on a journey to face music again.
Based on the manga series of the same name, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso approaches the story of Kousei’s recovery as he discovers that music is more than playing each note perfectly, and a single melody can bring in the fresh spring air of April.
Winter 2018/2019, Kyoto Animation
The Great War finally came to an end after four long years of conflict; fractured in two, the continent of Telesis slowly began to flourish once again. Caught up in the bloodshed was Violet Evergarden, a young girl raised for the sole purpose of decimating enemy lines. Hospitalized and maimed in a bloody skirmish during the War’s final leg, she was left with only words from the person she held dearest, but with no understanding of their meaning.
Recovering from her wounds, Violet starts a new life working at CH Postal Services after a falling out with her new intended guardian family. There, she witnesses by pure chance the work of an “Auto Memory Doll,” amanuenses that transcribe people’s thoughts and feelings into words on paper. Moved by the notion, Violet begins work as an Auto Memory Doll, a trade that will take her on an adventure, one that will reshape the lives of her clients and hopefully lead to self-discovery.
Winter 2016/2017, Nut
Tanya Degurechaff is a young soldier infamous for predatorial-like ruthlessness and an uncanny, tactical aptitude, earning her the nickname of the “Devil of the Rhine.” Underneath her innocuous appearance, however, lies the soul of a man who challenged Being X, the self-proclaimed God, to a battle of wits—which resulted in him being reincarnated as a little girl into a world of magical warfare. Hellbent on defiance, Tanya resolves to ascend the ranks of her country’s military as it slowly plunges into world war, with only Being X proving to be the strongest obstacle in recreating the peaceful life she once knew. But her perceptive actions and combat initiative have an unintended side effect: propelling the mighty Empire into becoming one of the most powerful nations in mankind’s history.
4. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! Season 2 (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! Season 2)
Winter 2016/2017, Studio Deen
When Kazuma Satou died, he was given two choices: pass on to heaven or be revived in a fantasy world. After choosing the new world, the goddess Aqua tasked him with defeating the Demon King, and let him choose any weapon to aid him. Unfortunately, Kazuma chose to bring Aqua herself and has regretted the decision ever since then.
Not only is he stuck with a useless deity turned party archpriest, the pair also has to make enough money for living expenses. To add to their problems, their group continued to grow as more problematic adventurers joined their ranks. Their token spellcaster, Megumin, is an explosion magic specialist who can only cast one spell once per day and refuses to learn anything else. There is also their stalwart crusader, Lalatina “Darkness” Dustiness Ford, a helpless masochist who makes Kazuma look pure in comparison.
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 continues to follow Kazuma and the rest of his party through countless more adventures as they struggle to earn money and have to deal with one another’s problematic personalities. However, things rarely go as planned, and they are often sidetracked by their own idiotic tendencies.
Summer 2017, Kinema Citrus
The Abyss—a gaping chasm stretching down into the depths of the earth, filled with mysterious creatures and relics from a time long past. How did it come to be? What lies at the bottom? Countless brave individuals, known as Divers, have sought to solve these mysteries of the Abyss, fearlessly descending into its darkest realms. The best and bravest of the Divers, the White Whistles, are hailed as legends by those who remain on the surface.
Riko, daughter of the missing White Whistle Lyza the Annihilator, aspires to become like her mother and explore the furthest reaches of the Abyss. However, just a novice Red Whistle herself, she is only permitted to roam its most upper layer. Even so, Riko has a chance encounter with a mysterious robot with the appearance of an ordinary young boy. She comes to name him Reg, and he has no recollection of the events preceding his discovery. Certain that the technology to create Reg must come from deep within the Abyss, the two decide to venture forth into the chasm to recover his memories and see the bottom of the great pit with their own eyes. However, they know not of the harsh reality that is the true existence of the Abyss.
Spring 2011, White Fox
The self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe rents out a room in a rickety old building in Akihabara, where he indulges himself in his hobby of inventing prospective “future gadgets” with fellow lab members: Mayuri Shiina, his air-headed childhood friend, and Hashida Itaru, a perverted hacker nicknamed “Daru.” The three pass the time by tinkering with their most promising contraption yet, a machine dubbed the “Phone Microwave,” which performs the strange function of morphing bananas into piles of green gel.
Though miraculous in itself, the phenomenon doesn’t provide anything concrete in Okabe’s search for a scientific breakthrough; that is, until the lab members are spurred into action by a string of mysterious happenings before stumbling upon an unexpected success—the Phone Microwave can send emails to the past, altering the flow of history.
Adapted from the critically acclaimed visual novel by 5pb. and Nitroplus, Steins;Gate takes Okabe through the depths of scientific theory and practicality. Forced across the diverging threads of past and present, Okabe must shoulder the burdens that come with holding the key to the realm of time.
And in first place….
Winter 2017/2018, Madhouse
Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own.
Spurred by her mother’s disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase’s resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great.
Were all your favourites on the top 20 list? Were you able to guess what the top 3 were?
Here are some basic statistics regarding the distribution of the top 20:
Which year had the most top 20 anime?:
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Which season had the most top 20 anime?:
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Which animation studio had the most top 20 anime?:
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