How satisfying the ending is often influences our overall impression of the anime. A lousy show with a good end can be elevated to mediocre, while an excellent show with an appropriate ending can be considered brilliant.
This brings us back to the age-old question of what makes an anime good. Some believe the animation to be the deciding factor, while others vest that power in the story. While the discussion is never-ending, one thing that most people agree on is the importance of a satisfying ending. No matter how great the story or the animation is, a bad ending can completely ruin the experience. However, if correctly wrapped up, the anime can instantly shoot up the ranks of our personal favorites.
For example, imagine One Piece, a fan-favorite that has been going on forever now, ending on a bad note? Will its impact and impression drastically drop, or will the years of memorable episodes save the anime? The former is what is most likely to happen. In contrast, if the ending of One Piece were done beautifully, it would cement the anime’s place as a masterpiece.
With that said, let’s take a look at the top 10 anime with the most satisfying endings that have only served to increase the series’ popularity and rating. There will be minimum spoilers, so read at your own leisure.
10. A Place Further Than the Universe
- Number of Seasons: 1
- Year: 2008
- Watch it here: Netflix
A Place Further Than the Universe is a beautiful anime that follows the captivating journey of four girls in search of something great. With grand dreams and ambitions of their own, Mari, Hinata, and Yuzuki are spurred on by Shirase’s desire to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself 一 Antarctica.
The sense of adventure in the show was something we have rarely experienced in anime. From the beginning to the end, seeing the girls face problems, overcome them, and learn from their hardships was absolutely beautiful. The characters constantly experienced something new and memorable that would profoundly affect them in the future. These girls took their youth in their hands and decided to make the most of it.
A Place Further Than the Universe had the most cathartic and satisfying ending. After 12 excellent episodes, the final one was utterly refreshing. In fact, we have never seen a show stick the landing that well. However, since it is considered a teenage coming-of-age drama, A Place Further Than the Universe is often overlooked.
- Number of Seasons: 1
- Year: 1988
- Buy it here: Amazon
Gunbuster begins with Takaya Noriko, a 16-year-old girl determined to follow her missing father’s footsteps, Takaya Yuzo, a famous Admiral of the space fleet. So, despite her clumsiness and questionable talent as a pilot, she enters a training school. There, she runs into her polar opposite, the beautiful and talented Kazumi Amano, with who Noriko is made to work.
Despite being a typical “humans versus aliens” story, Gunbuster is unique because the anime clearly shows the lengths to which humanity will go to survive. Furthermore, importance is assigned to both character development and mecha fights. As a result, every single action is set up with real tension and high stakes while also carrying the emotional weight of the characterization and conflicts.
The pacing of Gunbuster is perfect, as it zips right along without any scene feeling unimportant. To tie it all up, the show’s climax, along with its ending, is incredibly powerful, with the final episode being nothing short of moving. The level of emotional catharsis and conflicting emotions are absolutely unmatched. Without a doubt, Gunbuster has a beautiful and satisfying ending.
8. Ping Pong The Animation
Ping Pong chronicles the lives of two boys, Makoto Tsukimoto and Yutaka Hoshino, and their experiences with table tennis. In just 11 episodes, we follow these two opposites through their high school sports careers. While the main story is about Makoto and Yutaka’s friendship, rivalry, and camaraderie, enough time is assigned to make the supporting characters shine.
Ping Pong utilizes the unordinary and implements it with finesse in just one season. Everything meshes wonderfully from start to finish, and each episode provides just the right amount of information. But, of course, what ties it all up is the absolutely satisfying ending that Ping Pong graces us with.
All the characters the audience followed closely for twelve episodes end up in unimaginable, but in hindsight, places that suit them. The fickle and ever-changing nature of life is spectacularly portrayed, especially during teenage. Finally, in 11 episodes, the characters reach the peak of their growth and end up finding their own road to happiness.
- Number of Seasons: 6
- Year: 2004
- Buy it here: Amazon
Major follows Goro Honda, a little boy whose admiration of his father and the sport itself leads to his desire to become a professional baseball player.
We follow Goro from a very young age as he goes through Little League, High School, Minor League, etc. Each season is a different phase of Honda’s life, complete with ups and downs. Despite being a sports anime, Major significantly focuses on character development and training rather than actual games. As the series progresses, it is very satisfying to witness the characters, each unique in their own right, grow physically and mentally.
While many tropes in Major can be considered stereotypical, it’s the meat of the story that the viewer enjoys. The realistic characters, relationships, and conflicts make Major heavily underrated and one of the best sports anime of all time. The satisfying ending only serves to elevate the anime as we see Goro grow up from a kid to an adult who has fulfilled his dreams of becoming a father.
6. Aria the Origination
- Number of Seasons: 2
- Year: 2008
- Watch it here: Crunchyroll
Aria The Origination follows the hardships and daily lives of three young girls (Akari Mizunashi, Alice Carroll, and Aika S. Granzchesta) who are doing their best to improve as tour gondoliers in Neo-Venezia. With the help of the three best Prima Undines in Neo-Venezia — Alicia Florence, Athena Glory, and Akira E. Ferrari — the young apprentices train hard and work to overcome any hurdle they encounter.
Every episode in Aria the Origination is basically a one-shot, providing a glimpse at the utopian society of Neo-Venezia. Most episodes are character-driven with no antagonists and conflict, at least not external. However, there is no lack of emotional build-up as there are scenes that will make the audience cry one moment and laugh the next.
The creators basically took an episodic, slice-of-life show and managed to weave in an overarching coming-of-age narrative. It was truly a grand finale to a great anime with a definitive and satisfying ending that wrapped up almost all the loose ends.
5. Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April is a tragic but beautiful story that follows Kousei Arima. With piano as his whole life, he is destined for greatness. Unfortunately, unable to hear the music he plays one day, his goal becomes smaller. After meeting a young woman named Kaori Miyazono, who wishes to utilize his piano playing abilities, Arima regains what he lost long ago.
Undoubtedly, the ending of Your Lie in April broke us, but god, it was satisfying. The anime pulled off an incredibly shocking finale that left us speechless and sobbing uncontrollably. They did everything right, making it one of the most emotional and satisfying endings of all time.
4. Cowboy Bebop
The anime is set in 2071 when the space is full of bandits, people with dreams of a brighter future, and treasure seekers. With such people venturing into space, the Bebop crew is a bounty crew that enforces the law. Spike Spiegel, one of the Bebop members, works alongside his partner, Jet Black, to take down bounties. However, Spike’s past haunts him and inches closer than ever.
Filled with action and comedy, Cowboy Bebop is one of those shows that almost every generation can love. Left to face the Red Dragon Syndicate and his former ally, Vicious, Spike manages to win. However, the price proves to be a steep one as the series closes with Spike collapsing after saying, “You’re gonna carry that weight.” A chilling and beautiful resolution that many fans think back to even today.
The ending was pretty much perfect from a narrative standpoint. All the characters’ individual arcs were connected and wrapped up at the same time. With an emotionally damaging finale, the ending was highly satisfying, to say the least.
Steins;Gate tells the story of Okabe Rintaro, a self-proclaimed mad scientist, and his colleagues at the Future Gadget Laboratory, Hashida Itaru and Shiina Mayuri. Okabe spends his days indulging in his habit of inventing prospective “future gadgets,” the strangest of which is a “Phone Microwave” — a device that does nothing more than turn bananas into a green, jelly-like substance.
At least, that is what the trio thinks until they are spurred into action by a string of mysterious happenings. Their saving grace? The Phone Microwave can send emails to the past, altering the flow of history.
Steins;Gate is a very entertaining series that isn’t afraid to play around with various scientific concepts. It doesn’t get too bogged down in technicalities and instead focuses the better part of its energy on the characters and story, making it one of the best science fiction anime to appear in the last few years.
As a cherry on top, Steins;Gate has the perfect ending a series needs to be deemed satisfying. It explains a lot of things that happened and relates all the bits and pieces to each other.
By doing this, the finale gives a great sense of closure while still leaving the audience plenty to think about. With the original series, the OVA, and movie Steins;Gate somehow manages to have three perfect and satisfying endings.
2. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa’s manga of the same name. The anime is notorious for occupying the first rank on MyAnimeList for time immemorial and being deemed perfect.
The story revolves around the Elric brothers, who pay a terrible price for attempting human transmutation: the one forbidden act of alchemy. The older brother, Edward, loses his left leg, while the younger, his physical body. However, the former’s sacrifice of his right arm affixes Alphonse’s soul to a suit of armor.
Now a state alchemist, Edward seeks the Philosopher’s Stone, a mythical relic that allows an alchemist to overcome the Law of Equivalent Exchange with his younger brother. But, unfortunately, while they come closer to realizing the true nature of the elusive Philosopher’s Stone, the Elric brothers get caught up in a nationwide conspiracy with their humanity at stake.
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is excellent in every aspect and has very little, if anything, that can be called a flaw. The pacing is perfect, with just enough drama, action, and comedy. Finally, the last episode ties up all the loose ends and sets the characters on their paths into the future. It’s a satisfying ending that makes the previous 64 episodes feel worthwhile and elevates the series to a masterpiece.
1. Code Geass
Code Geass is set in an alternate reality in which Britain conquered the rest of America. Thus, the Holy Britannian Empire became the world’s largest superpower, covering 1/3 of the world. The story follows Lelouch Lamperouge, the eleventh prince of the Empire, who develops a hatred for the emperor of Britannia and the entire imperial establishment.
After an encounter with a mysterious young woman named C.C., Lelouch gains the power of Geass, granting him the ability to force anyone to do what he wishes. With this ability, Lelouch finally has enough power to begin his battle against the Britannian Empire.
While the plot seems generic enough, we are given something out of the ordinary through the use of this alternate reality setting. There are enough twists and turns involved to keep you on the edge of your seat. In addition, the pacing and the progression up to the conclusion are exceptionally brilliant.
In the last stretch of Code Geass, while everything seems to be going off the rails, Lelouch pulls it all together with a dramatic sacrifice. The finale feels so powerful mainly because the fans realize that the show had not lost its way, and everything that the audience saw and felt was for a reason. Truly, Code Geass has the most satisfying ending.