Boy what a year for anime. Some great stuff came out of 2017. Here’s my tribute to what I liked the best.
Before we get into the actual list, I wanted to highlight a few shows that didn’t make my Top 5 list but still deserved a spotlight in this list for their achievements. Here are some of those shows.
Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
Kyoto Saga pushes the reset button on the anime only ending of the original series and revived my love for it completely. Kyoto Saga brought Blue Exorcist back to solid standings, and with it, the return of characters I forgot I loved so much. Here’s hoping for more Blue Exorcist soon.
Land of the Lustrous
I finally marathoned this earlier this week, and now I completely understand the hype it’s been getting. Land of the Lustrous is beautiful, emotional, engaging and proved all of us CG anime haters wrong. This coming-of-age story in a fascinating world will do some good tugging at those heartstrings. While not quiiite complete enough to make my top 5, this is a real, wait for it, gem of a show (I’m sorry). Go watch it right now.
Yeah I know it’s definitely not from 2017, but on recommendation from a certain YouTube personality, I’ve watched most of it this year. Monster is a gritty 2004 thriller about a doctor trying to right his wrongs by killing a patient whose life he once saved, after discovering the terrible monster this patient was. It’s equal parts character drama and mystery/thriller, with some fantastic stories to tell about guilt and redemption. It’s really good. Go watch this right now too.
Biggest Disappointment of 2017: Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
A moment of silence for all the great characters ruthlessly murdered by this terrible wreck of a sequel. And no that’s not a spoiler, I don’t mean physical deaths (although there may be some of those), I mean the narrative disembowelment of all these wonderful characters from Bahamut: Genesis. Favaro, Kaiser, and crew are left as dissonant shells of their old selves, with inaction and inconsistent character decisions to keep them company. Oh and did I mention the plot is meandering and terrible, trying to make up conflicts and epic showdowns as it goes with no real weight or lasting impact? All this while trying to convince us there is some kind of tragic good in its terrible, stereotypical villain that our clueless main character is somehow in love with. Sigh, ok, rant over. Jeanne’s arc was pretty good for a while and Rita is still amazing. Beyond that, I never want to think about this show ever again. 10/10 not enough FAVAROOOOOOOOOO!!
Now that we’ve got that over with, let’s get to my list of favorites from this last year.
5. Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond
Everything about BBB & B made me smile from start to finish. Early worries I had about the departure of legendary director Rie Matsumodo were quickly squashed and I actually ended up grateful for the slower pacing and focus on secondary characters in season two. We got a plethora of uniquely Blood Blockade situations and I couldn’t be happier. Highlights include Leo trying to stop bacterial terrorism that is actually a single bacteria who is a terrorist, embarrassing Chain back from the brink of erasing herself from existence by showing Stephen her messy apartment, or K.K. trying to keep her son happy at parent’s day while trying to remote control battle drones. The many ridiculous adventures of Hellasalem’s lot this round were just as fantastic as the last. It also wins my favorite OP of the year, and we got some fantastic Nakamura sequences too. Everything I wanted about Blood Blockade’s zany stories and love for its messy, sometimes terrible, insanely human characters enthralled me just as much as the first time around.
4. My Hero Academia Season 2
The first season of My Hero Academia was pretty solid, sprinting to the finish line with an awesome finale that left me excited for more. Following shortly on its heels (loving the release schedule of the series so far btw, looking at you ATTACK ON TITAN), season two went full plus ultra and Texas Smashed its story wide open, showcasing MHA’s fantastic ensemble of characters in ways the first season barely explored. The tournament arc was non-stop go, full of heart-pounding action spectacle and emotional highs, fueled by engaging characters with unique and complex motivations. The perfect pinnacle of its experience, Episode 23, will go down in anime history as one of the all time greats (With more Nakamura goodness, we’re really spoiled this season). Stain’s arc pushed us outside the school for the first time as well and set the stage for some great conflicts to come. I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us next.
3. Owarimonogatari Second Season
We’ve finally made it. The end of Monogatari. Even if it’s not REALLY the end, this is a very definite capstone from where we started, a culmination of all the stories and characters that have been a part of Koyomi’s journey. My biggest concern going into this final arc was how could it possibly wrap up this sprawling narrative mess of broken people, experiences, and themes into one cohesive final story. Flawlessly, that’s how. I was left with a perfect feeling of closure and completeness that summed up the things I love about this insane series. It was a fantastic journey, and one I’ll not soon forget.
2. Attack on Titan Season 2
Four long years and Attack on Titan has finally returned in all its loud, visceral, titan punching glory. Having read the manga, I’ve known what was coming this season for years, but boy was it a hell of a ride to finally see animated. Season two delivers in every way without suffering from the pacing issues of the first, providing a thrilling experience from start to finish. The anime even manages to strengthen some of the source material, particularly with Ymir’s character arc (which is really, really good). From the fantastically underwhelming reveal of the armored and colossal titan’s identities, a great focus on its under-explored characters, and some jaw dropping action spectacles, Attack on Titan is back and I couldn’t be happier. And only six months until season three. Shinzo sasageyo!!!
1. Made in Abyss
Rarely does a medium capture the sense of awe and adventure like Made in Abyss does. This absolute masterpiece is filled to the brim with the wonder of exploration and a dark foreboding sense of danger that seamlessly envelop Reg and Riko’s journey into the abyss. The final few episodes pushed this show straight to the top of my list, portraying some of the most heart-wrenching (and gut-wrenching) moments I’ve ever experienced in anime, and we’ve only just started into the depths of the Abyss. Visually exquisite, bolstered by a fantastic musical score and touching narrative, Made in Abyss, like the Abyss itself, will give and then take in return, leaving you a different person as you descend and return from its depths.