Trying to narrow down the best anime episodes of all time is kind of like picking out a needle in a haystack. Anime is a lustrous medium full of some of the best stories ever told, with art that has inspired millions of people around the globe since the start of the 20th century.
This is why we turned to Reddit to find some opinions on all different kinds of anime episodes from fans on the internet. Some of the greatest episodes of all time are tear-jerkers and some are just plain out-of-this-world awesome with their nerve-wracking fights. If there is one thing that most can agree on, it’s what makes an anime episode great.
‘Attack on Titan’ (2013)
Season 3, Episode 17: “Hero”
Attack on Titan is one of the most critically acclaimed animes of all time and even has some of the highest-rated television episodes on IMDb. The series premiered in 2013 and quickly gained a diehard international fanbase due to its incredible storyline, dark themes, and breathtaking action sequences.
The Season 3 episode, ‘Hero,’ is described as being one of the greatest anime episodes of all time. U/-Space-Dementia- describes it perfectly, saying: “It’s hard to choose only one episode when you have so many bangers, but ‘Hero’ is just my favorite.” The episode continued to explore the fallout of the attack that was underway on Wall Maria. What makes it so great though is the complexity of the Beast Titan’s rising human emotions and the seriousness of the new attack that ends in the death of Armin.
‘Hunter x Hunter’ (2014)
Episode 126: “Zero x and x Rose”
Hunter x Hunter focuses on a boy named Gon, who discovers that his long-lost father is actually a world-renowned “Hunter.” A Hunter is a professional who specializes in treasure hunting and seeking out the lawless. Gon leaves to find his father and become a Hunter himself.
Episode 126 finds Gon participating in one of the coolest fights in anime. The entire fight brought up some interesting philosophical points for many fans, regarding war and human nature. It also showed a different side to Mereum, and ensured that no matter how much he grew as an individual, he would always be an antagonist.
‘Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2’ (2008)
Episode 25: “Re;”
Code Geass is set in an alternate timeline, where an exiled prince named Lelouch, obtains the “power of absolute obedience” from a mysterious woman. Using this supernatural power called Geass, the prince leads a rebellion against the rule of the Holy Britannian Empire, commanding a series of mecha battles.
In Season 2, the episode ‘Re;’ is known by many as one of the best final anime episodes. As u/DeathTheKid262 puts it, “No better finale exists. My mind will never change.” R2 takes place a year after the events in the first season with the Black Knights’ coup d’état failing and Lelouch being captured. The series’ final episode is one for the books with lots of twists, backstabbing, and Lelouch’s final plan: the Zero Requiem.
Episode 12: “Tsubasa Cat Part 2”
The Bakemonogatari anime series follows the plot of the light novels that it comes from, called Monogatari. It chronicles the life of a high school boy named Koyomi, who after being bitten by a vampire was able to return to being human. Unfortunately, some vampire traits remain inside him.
Episode 12 is especially loved because of its heartfelt scenes and its interesting look at love. While many animes focus on fated encounters, Bakemonogatari prescribes the idea that people in love are just in the right place at the right time. The “starry night” scene has everything coming together perfectly under the constellations, the music, and the mood.
‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’ (2011)
Episode 10: “I Won’t Rely on Anyone Anymore”
Madoka Magica follows a group of middle school girls who make supernatural contracts to become magical girls. Led by the protagonist, Madoka Kaname, the girls battle supernatural enemies known as “witches” as they come to terms with the anguish of their new roles in life.
The episode, “I Won’t Rely on Anyone Anymore,” centers on the character of Homura and the mystery that surrounds her origin and her behaviors. It shows multiple different versions of Homura’s timelines, each one flawed and sometimes heartbreaking.
Season 1, Episode 4: “An Alchemist’s Anguish”
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is full of tear-jerking episodes, strife, and masterful storytelling. It follows the Elric brothers, abandoned by their father as children, who later lose their mother to illness. Her death is the catalyst for them getting into alchemy, as they try to resurrect her and fail terribly.
In the episode titled, ‘An Alchemist’s Anguish,’ the Elric brothers meet a man named Shou Tucker. He is a leading researcher in the field of chimeras and has much to teach Ed and Al about alchemy and the horrific cruelty that often accompanies it. The episode is especially dark as it deals with a man so far gone into his depression that he willingly destroys his 5-year-old daughter.
‘Violet Evergarden’ (2018)
Episode 10: “Loved Ones Will Always Watch Over You”
Violet Evergarden is one of the most beautiful and heartwarming animated movies that you can watch right now on Netflix. It follows a former soldier named Violet, while she tutors at a private women’s academy. Her life is not all that it seems though, as she still grieves for the only person that has ever truly made her happy.
Episode 10 is especially sad because Violet is unable to fix the new “Doll” that comes her way. In Violet’s assignment, things are shrouded in secrecy as she must help a widowed mother in need of the Auto Memory Doll service for her daughter, Ann. Ann does not get better though, and in a rare moment of Violet’s ever-present emotionless face, she comes close to crying. As u/Mission-Pineapple339 put its, “Even considering the episode by itself and not as part of a series, it still tells an amazing story.”
‘Clannad: After Story’ (2009)
Episode 18: “The Ends of the Earth”
Clannad: After Story is based on the popular visual novel. The anime was released four years after Clannad mesmerized video game players and is a coming-of-age story that follows a high-schooler throughout his adolescence up to adulthood.
Clannad: After Story begins with Tomoya as he finally completes high school and starts his life with Nagisa after he finally professes his love for her. Episode 18 is considered one of the great anime episodes because of its heart-wrenching story surrounding the déjà vu that Tomoya experiences and the way that he interacts with little Ushio towards the end of the episode.
‘Death Note’ (2007)
Episode 25: ‘Silence’
Death Note is one of the most popular animes of all time and is also considered one of the best. It completely changed the way that Western audiences watch anime and gave way to the popularity of anime that boomed in the early 2000s. U/Zephyr_v1 on Reddit says, “Death Note has a ton of masterpiece episodes, but 25 is legit [one of] the best episodes I have ever seen in any media, period.”
The complexity and high stakes in this cat-and-mouse mystery are what kept viewers so enthralled. The anime struggles with morality and themes of justice and righteousness until the very end. Episode 25 forever changed fans though, when the power struggle between Light Yagami and the gloomy detective, L, finally came to a head. In this gut-punch of an episode, L is finally killed by Kira.
‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’ (2019)
Season 1, Episode 19: “Hinokami”
Demon Slayer is the ninth best-selling manga series of all time, as well as one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time with sales revenue of $8.75 billion. Suffice it to say, anime fans really adore Tanjiro’s demon-slaying.
Episode 19 gave fans a glimpse into the family struggles of Demon Slayer’s characters. There were flashbacks to Tanjiro and Nezuko’s childhood, as well as their lost family appearing in ghost form to encourage them. The episode was incredibly emotional and stunningly fluid in action and storytelling.
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