The final episode, or arc, of a show, tends to be the hardest to write but can make or break the whole series. If a story ends on a note of dissatisfaction, the audience is left feeling the whiplash, as if they just wasted their time, and it sours the rest of the series as a whole. Like with food, a bad aftertaste makes the whole meal turn bad.
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This is even more true with anime, a medium that finds itself constant with canceled orunfinished shows, making your final moments all the harder to obtain. For the ones that do obtain it, only a select few end up actually meeting the mark, but the ones that do are nothing short of spectacular.
A Place Further Than the Universe
The simple story of a group of teenage girls traveling to Antarctica, at first glance A Place Further Than the Universe seems like your run-of-the-mill slice of life series. But as fans know, the show is far more than that, and in reality is a funny, heartfelt, and emotionally charged narrative about a group of friends helping one of them find her lost mother.
And the final episode leaves no stone unturned, with each of the four girls’ arcs coming to a satisfying close and the journey reaching its end goal with still time for an epilogue. It’s a heartwarming, bittersweet ending that leaves you wanting more, which is the best kind of ending, and also opens to the opportunity for possible future adventures.
A bizarre anime with an even more bizarre lead character, Assassination Classroom Follow a group of delinquent students as they are tasked with killing their teacher by the end of the school year or the world will end. While a story like that seems at first glance to be something of a write-off, the surreal humor and entertaining characters carry it. Before you realize it you are invested in the lives of the students of Class 3-E.
But all good things must come to an end, and the beauty of Assassination Classroom‘s finale is that while it’s telegraphed and told to you at the very start of the show, by the time you get to it, you are begging and pleading for a different outcome. It’s a fantastic reversal of expectations, and it ends up creating one of the most tearjerking final episodes in anime history.
Clannad After Story
While the first season of Clannad was a heartfelt, emotional ride, Clannad After Story turns that up to 11 as it explores everything after the “happily ever after” of most romance stories. With Tomoya and Nagisa officially together, the season explores their lives as a couple and the trials and tribulations that come along with it.
And what makes After Story uniquely satisfying in that regard is that the tragedy is genuinely tragic, having spent upwards of 40 episodes with these characters only to have life get in the way. And while the final episode manages to steer the ship back into happiness, it’s that initial gut punch that resonates the hardest.
One of the more famous anime endings out there, Code Geass‘ finale has to accomplish two things at once. Firstly, it has to end the war between Britannia and Japan in a way that feels natural and earned, and secondly, it has to wrap up the story of Lelouch Vi Brittania, who at this point was looking more like a villain than a hero.
What follows is one last plot twist that recontextualizes the entire series, and also ends the series on a beautifully satisfying note. Lelouch ends up not as a loathsome villain but as a tragic hero, one destined to be seen as a monster in the history books but as a selfless, maybe too kind for his own good person by those who did know him truly.
The story of Cowboy Bebop is almost like an epilogue to another story that we have yet to see, which is why the finale of the show is so different compared to other shows. While other shows pride themselves on big, climactic showdowns, Cowboy Bebop already had its climax – it was just before the show even began.
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Because of this, the finale of Bebop is this dreamlike, almost mournful affair. Spike’s past finally catches back up to him as he realizes that no matter what he does, it will follow him, and the now-iconic final shot of the episode speaks volumes and has left much to interpretation in fans’ minds since.
Widely regarded as one of the best romance Manga ever written, Fruits Basket received the anime adaptation it so deserved after its original one left something to be desired. With 63 episodes to flesh out its ensemble cast of characters, Fruits Basket‘s story of a cursed family that turns into their Zodiac animal after coming into contact with the opposite sex is both hilarious and tearjerking in good measure.
The ending explores the whereabouts of the entire cast after Tohru and Kyo, our lead couple, officially move in together, and it’s beautiful. Not a stone left unturned, and not a single dry eye in the audience after it is done.
This isn’t to dismiss the original 2003 adaptation in any which way – in a lot of ways that series is seen by fans as equal if not better – but the one thing almost every fan agrees with is that the ending to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is superior in almost every way.
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With a final fight and epilogue that spans 4 and a half episodes, it’s a massive ending to a massive story and feels suitably epic in a way not seen since Lord of the Rings. While the final fight is indeed awesome, it’s really the lengthy epilogue that seals the deal as one of anime’s greatest conclusions.
Monster is the story of Kenzo Tenma, a brilliant brain surgeon who saves the life of a young kid instead of the mayor of his city. This young kid, however, later grows up to be a serial killer obsessed with keeping his existence a secret, forcing Tenma to make difficult decisions to stop him.
With moral complexity on the same level as great, prestige television dramas likeBreaking Badand The Sopranos,Monster is one of the all-time great animated shows, and its ending is one of the finest in the business. The ambiguous nature of its ending, one that leaves you pondering its moral implications, is reminiscent of those shows as well and leaves a pit in your stomach, in a good way.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Unlike other shows, Evangelion has actually ended multiple times under different circumstances, and fans are constantly disagreeing on which one is better. Some prefer the experimental and more ambitious TV ending, while others prefer the more clear but darker and horrific movie version that followed with End of Evangelion. With the release of 3.0 + 1.0 and the revelation of it being a timeloop, the Rebuild of Evangelion series is also in contention for its more conclusive nature.
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That being said, no matter what ending audiences prefer, all of them have something in common – their impact. All of them leave you thinking for months afterward in one way or another, and no matter which one ends up as their favorite, fans can expect to debate their meanings till the end of time itself.
Taking the classic mecha anime structure on its head, Planet With’s The main protagonist would be the antagonist in any other show. However, his goal to stop the war that is coming to Earth is a noble one and over the course of 12 perfectly paced episodes, you see him achieve that goal.
While a lesser-known series, fans who have seen Planet With rank it among their favorites, and the ending is a big reason as to why. Its optimistic philosophy and message of triumphing over hate with love are all the more relevant in today’s world.
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