The Best Anime Made By A-1 Pictures (Ranked)

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Founded in 2005, A-1 Pictures has climbed its way to notoriety as an anime studio by taking on as many projects as they could.

They also managed to score some of the animation industry’s biggest hits in the last ten years, including the hyper-successful Sword Art Online, the first season of The Seven Deadly Sins, and Fairy Tail.

This aggressive market strategy has made them one of the most well-known and prolific anime producers of our time, and they’ve been involved with countless seminal hits.

For this ranking, I chose to skip over some of the most obvious shows. So we’ll take a look at the best A-1 Pictures shows that shine a light on the studio’s best qualities.


12. Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens (2007)

Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens A-1 Pictures anime

Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Supernatural
Length: 13 Eps. + OVA

Kannagi isn’t a perfect show.

It’s a bit basic.

And like many other shows at the time, it tries a little bit too hard to replicate the charm of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

One of the things they have in common is a unique main character with a big personality who can take over any scene just by being there. Zange and Tsugumi are also charming characters that make the Kannagi varied.

Despite not deserving a Nobel Prize of Literature for its narrative, the show’s production value will keep you in aesthetic bliss all the way through.


11. Sound of the Sky (2010)

Sound of the Sky anime by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Slice of Life, Military
Length: 12 Eps. + OVAs

A-1 Pictures has worked on an almost endless list of shows. But few are as visually striking as Sound of the Sky.

The main reason is probably the show’s physical setting – the real-world Spanish town of Cuenca, which is known as Seize and located in the outskirts of Helvetia in the show.

The girls that make up the 1121st Platoon are also a pleasure to watch.

They each have their own issues and grow through interacting with one another throughout the show.


10. Working!! (2010)

Working!! 2010 anime screenshot

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Length: 39 Eps. + OVA

One of A-1 Pictures’ funniest & most relatable shows has to be Working!! (and its sequels), which tells the story of a family restaurant’s mismatched staff and their inter-personal struggles.

The show provides an interesting look at the surreal chaos that is working in the food industry – without the questionable hygienic practices.

If you’re in the mood to fall in love with a lovely cast and laugh at the absurdities of anime life, this gorgeous-looking show will do the trick.

I mean, who doesn’t love Poplar?


9. Darling in the Franxx (2018)

Darling in the Franxx by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Mecha, Sci-Fi, Romantic Drama
Length: 24 Eps.

Co-produced by Trigger and Cloverworks (when they were still part of A-1 Pictures), Darling in the Franxx is a unique take on the mecha genre with a story straight out of a YA novel.

It’s a story about teenagers finding themselves and rebelling against oppressive authorities in the name of love and freedom.

In a way, Darling in the Franxx can be seen as a re-telling of Gurren Lagann, where Spiral Power is replaced by guy & gal differentiation.

I’m not interested in spoiling the show for you – but the similarities are striking if you just pay a little attention as you watch.


8. Black Butler (2008)

Black Butler anime by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Action, Mystery, Comedy
Length: 46 Eps. + OVAs

A-1 Pictures is known for their aesthetically pleasing characters.

And the guys in Black Butler are not an exception.

This show is a homoerotic dream full of exciting plot twists and deep storylines that’ll make you think while you admire the show’s incredible production value.

Animation is nice and fluid, and you’ll enjoy learning about each character’s hidden depths.

The soundtrack is a definite highlight too, adding to the show’s atmosphere and intensifying the emotional impact of the actions on screen.


7. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (2011)

Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day / A-1 Pictures anime

Genre: Slice of Life, Drama
Length: 11 Eps.

Most shows take a while to really hit you.

Nut Anohana will have you tearing up from the halfway mark right up until the end.

The characters the show makes you fall in love with during the first few episodes must all deal with their repressed feelings and guilt about losing their friend Menma back when they were children.

They’re given a chance to interact with their long-lost friend when she appears to the main character as a ghost.

But in a way, saying goodbye for the second time isn’t easier than the first time around.

Anohana tackles loss and survivor’s guilt but shows how friendship and community can help us manage these very human feelings.


6. Erased (2016)

Erased anime by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Sci-Fi
Length: 12 Eps.

Everyone loves a good time travel story.

And Erased weaves one into a fantastic mystery thriller where a 27-year-old man is given a chance to save one of his friends from being murdered when they were children.

The limitations of a child’s body (and credibility) will force protagonist Satoru to think outside of the box and make the most of his child-like resources to protect his friend Kayo.

It has some heartwarming moments, and others are full of despair – but Erased is a wild ride from beginning to end.


5. The iDOLM@STER (2011)

The iDOLM@STER anime screenshot

Genre: Music, Comedy, Drama
Length: 25 Eps. + OVAs

The iDOLM@STER managed to set itself apart by filling the 765 Production Studio with some of the best-designed girls you could ask for.

They’re all perfect in their role, and often have some hidden depths you’ll enjoy finding out as the show progresses.

The show’s production was also superb.

It’s hard to find a noticeable drop of quality in any aspect, and both music and animation are top-of-the-line.

If you’re a sucker for a bit of workplace drama and intense competition between aspiring artists, you’ll love this show.


4. Kaguya-sama: Love is War (2019)

Kaguya-sama: Love is War by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 24 Eps.

I’ve yet to meet somebody who doesn’t enjoy an occasional episode of Kaguya-sama: Love is War.

The laid-back student council setting will be familiar to lovers of Slice of Life, while people who loved Death Note and Code Geass can entertain themselves watching Miyuki and Kaguya do battle with their wits as they try to make the other confess their love first.

This romantic battle of the minds also serves as the vehicle to present the rest of the charming cast – including Chika Fujiwara, the cutest third wheel to ever live.


3. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic (2013)

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic A-1 Pictures anime

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Length: 50 Eps.

Can somebody ask A-1 Pictures when we’re getting Magi 3rd Season? Anyone? No?

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and its second season, The Kingdom of Magic, make up one of the best shounen to be animated in the last ten years.

The way it brings together the exotic appeal of One Thousand and One Nights stories with an exciting shounen story and a cast of remarkably charming characters is incredible.

I loved hearing about Ali Baba and Sindbad when my aunt read the book for me as a child. But this is more exciting.

A-1 also does a better animation job than my childhood imagination ever could.


2. Your Lie in April (2014)

Your Lie in April anime screenshot

Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Length: 22 Eps.

Imagine falling madly in love with someone throughout a couple of months only to experience the most heart-wrenching separation you could think of.

Better yet, just watch Your Lie in April.

This show tackles themes most anime tends to shy away from.

Disease, anxiety, expectations – the show’s relentless treatment of its main characters contrasts with their stunning musical performances, reminding us that life is made of both the good and the bad.

If you thought having watched Clannad: After Story had galvanized you against anime-induced tears, prepare to cry as a 16-wheeler of emotions runs over your heart.


1. Space Brothers (2012)

Space Brothers anime by A-1 Pictures

Genre: Sci-Fi, Slice of Life, Comedy
Length: 99 Eps. + OVA

Many people want to become astronauts during their childhood, but only a select few go through with it – subjecting themselves to rigorous training and studying like there was no tomorrow.

Mutta and his brother Hibito were among the young dreamers reaching for the stars, but only the latter made it first.

After losing his job, Mutta is given a chance to catch up with his brother when chosen by JAXA (Japanese NASA) for their astronaut recruiting program.

This show will be a big hit with anyone who has a relatively same-aged sibling with whom they’ve shared dreams and more than some light competition.

Something that sets Space Brothers apart from other media pieces is the staggering amount of detail and accuracy found in the show’s environments and JAXA’s astronaut training.

A-1 did a great job of staying faithful to the manga and including all of these fine details.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.