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The 15 Best Anime From Kyoto Animation, Ranked

Updated October 23, 2019 5.3k votes 1.1k voters 15.3k views15 items

Since it was established in 1981, Kyoto Animation has been one of the most renowned anime studios in the business. They're known for a wide range of genres, including comedy anime like Nichijou and Lucky Star, dramatic and emotional series like CLANNAD and A Silent Voice, as well as slice-of-life and school club anime like Free!, Hyouka, and more. No matter what genre they're working on, the animation quality is always top-notch.

On July 18th 2019, Kyoto Animation was targeted in an arson attack that took 36 people's lives and caused severe injury for many others. According to the BBC, this tragedy was "one of Japan's worst mass casualty incidents since World War Two." Not only was there a profound loss of life and of talent, but much of their hard work was also destroyed in the fire as well. Despite these losses and the unimaginable pain that the survivors must be feeling, the company is working to rebuild and continue producing anime in the years to come. Numerous fundraisers were set up to support the victims and their families, and to help the company rebuild.

Let's appreciate the best Kyoto Animation anime as the artistic legacy of those who lost their lives. Hopefully, the company will be able to bounce back and continue making strides in the industry for years to come.

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  • A Silent Voice is one of Kyoto Animation's most emotionally intense works, featuring topics like bullying, ableism, and suicidal ideation. When Shouko Nishimiya, a young deaf girl, transfers into Shouya Ishida's elementary school class, he begins bullying her because she's deaf. This not only makes Shouko miserable, it also backfires on Shouya, causing him to be ostracized and eventually feel so much guilt that he wants to take his own life. When Shouko and Shouya meet again, he gets the chance to make up for what he did - but the healing process is far from easy. This beautiful movie will probably leave you in tears, but in a good way.

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  • Violet Evergarden is perhaps one of the most visually stunning entries in the Kyoto Animation canon - even if the plot doesn't grab you, you'll still be able to appreciate the aesthetics. The story follows the titular character, a former child soldier who is trying to reintegrate into society now that the war is over. She decides to start working as an Auto Memories Doll - a person whose job is to write letters commissioned by people who need help getting their true feelings across through words. She hopes that through this work, she'll be able to understand what her former major meant when he told her that he loved her. 

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  • 3

    Hyouka

    Houtarou Oreki has no desire to join the Classics Club - his life philosophy is that the less energy he has to expend on anything, the better off he is. He gets dragged into it anyway when his sister pushes him into it - and then his fellow club member Eru Chitanda desperately wants to keep him around. Why does she want him there so badly? Because the club's actual purpose lies in solving mysteries, not studying the classics. As lazy as Houtarou is, he's also scary-smart, and is a necessary asset for achieving the club's goals.

    As Houtarou grows closer to the members of his club and begins to feel a sense of accomplishment, he starts to question his philosophy and begins to put more effort into his life. 

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  • Mirai Kuriyama is the last surviving member of a clan of spirit warriors who can use their blood as weapons to fight against dangerous creatures called Youmu. Her exceptional but somewhat distasteful powers keep her on the margins of Spirit Warrior society, which impacts her confidence. She eventually forges a bond with Akihito Kanbara, a half-human half-youmu hybrid who she first tries to destroy before ultimately becoming his friend. But as the two are patching up their differences and forming a bond, the threats from other youmu are becoming more and more onerous, and more difficult for the Spirit Warriors to handle.

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