Posted by AidanAK47 on 29 January 2018 with categories: Yearly Summaries

Another year and another tick down on the death counter but it certainly has been a pretty good year for anime. We had some stinkers, some major disappointments but there were certainly shows that will be remembered and even some that will be touted as being the best of the best.

The other writers and I have decided that the choices for this list will be based on majority vote between the five of us. You can complain that your own preferred show didn’t make the final list but there is a very good chance that it was nominated and slowly knocked out as we tallied the votes together. Also, do take note that we haven’t seen everything this year had to offer so there are anime that have slipped under the radar. It is only our opinion and thus is nothing ironclad nor is it contractually binding. You may like something that we hate and that is perfectly fine (provided it’s not Eromanga Sensei because bloody hell…).

Each writer has taken it upon himself to write a section about the winners but keep in mind that just because someone wrote it, does not mean they specifically nominated it. Down below, you will see each of the writer’s ballot for their own top ten choices. With that being said, let’s put Star Crossed Blog’s final stamp on the anime year of 2017.

The Worst

Worst Show

Hand Shakers

Mario: I’m not at all exaggerating when I consider that encountering a total wreck like Hand Shakers is as rare as running across any modern classic. For Hand Shakers to be a product that goes wrong in almost every department, with its rage-inducing visual mess with fisheye lens, random camera zoom, distracting CG that moves on different frame rate than the 2D models, incompetent writing filled with of illogical leaps, INCEST, terrible treatment to the female cast, the consistently one-dimensional outlandish characters, and softcore porno sounding OST. Given the main theme of the show is about meshing connections, it’s rather remarkable how the presentation is this constant battle between all the elements of the show trying to intertwine with each other. Hand Shakers is also a glaring example of how an anime studio pushed way too hard on showing off their “signature’ style without considering if it fits the material to the point where it becomes a gimmick (Shaft, beware!). The saddest thing is that its failure doesn’t come from a lack of care, as I can see real effort were put into it, but to make a show this terrible is no small feat. Hand Shakers redefines what we perceive as bad, and maybe THAT is how it will be remembered for years to come.

Runner-ups: Berserk (2017) – For poorly adapting of one of the most acclaimed manga.  Eromanga Sensei For the exact opposite reason of Berserk (2017), where there was solid production values for a show that represents everything that is wrong about modern anime, which makes it even more painful to watch than forgettable fluffs.

 

Biggest Disappointment

Seikaisuru Kado

Lenlo: It’s difficult to write this category, because for all of its faults, I still enjoyed Seikaisuru Kado. The problem is that it could have been so much more. For the first half of its run, Kado did a great job of setting up its characters and running with the theme of “alien contact changing our world”. The CGI, while not beautiful like Houseki no Kuni, was used inventively to simulate 3D shapes in creating interesting scenes. However, in a single episode, it plummeted from being an intriguing sci-fiction to an unmitigated disaster of a shounen. Plot threads got abandoned, dialogue was thrown out the window in favor of flashy combat and the philosophizing was pointless. Because of its fantastic start and subsequent disgusting end, Seikaisuru Kado is the most disappointing and soul-crushing anime of 2017. It only beats out Berserk (2017) because no one expected anything from that trainwreck in the first place.

Runner-up: Berserk (2017)

Worst First Episode

Hand Shakers

Aidan: The three episode guideline can be a decently fair way to judge what a viewer is getting into but Hand Shakers has one of those first episodes that just spells disaster from the get-go. You can tell there is at least passion in its production but sadly that passion is directed at something trying to hit all demographics and managing to alienate all of them. CGI chains so jarring that it’s like someones first college 3D modeling work pushed into a 2D environment. Visuals of rainbow vomit with terrible direction. A introductory story with uninteresting characters, creepy subtext and very little context to what it is even about coupled with truly insulting fanservice like gravity defying boobs of jello. It is a wonder upon creating this first episode that the production didn’t just fold the project then and there as when you end your first episode with a woman moaning while being constricted by chains, one would think you would reconsider your life choices. All I know is that I had to put this episode on mute for a time in fear that people may think I was watching a porno.

Runner-up: Dynamic Chord

 

Worst Character

Sieg (Fate/Apocrypha)

Aidan: Truth be told, Sieg by himself is not what many would consider to be a worst character. When one considers the worst character, they think of the annoying ones, the kind who make you forcible cringe and hate every moment spent watching them. Sieg is not one of those characters, but his crimes are far more serious. For Sieg has no personality, his character arc is predictable from beginning to end and he is made the main protagonist of Fate/Apocrypha by any means necessary. The plot bends over backwards for him and even goes as far to kill off more interesting and developed characters for the sole purpose of pushing him more into the spotlight. In a series with an interesting cast that just begs for development, Sieg steals screen time away by showing him going on dates and pondering just what the hell is his point in even being there. He is essentially like the director’s son whom the director wants to show off and everyone on the production team has to go along with it despite no one wanting him to be there. His very existence brings down the story as a whole and even every moment he’s on screen kills the small amount of entertainment that one can glean from this show. He is by very definition, proof of how a self-insert character can ruin a story in its entirety.

Runner-up: Shindo and Saraka (Seikaisuru Kado) – For betraying their own character arcs during the disastrous final act while being terrible at their jobs and being terrible people.

 

General Categories

Best First Episode

Made in Abyss

Wooper: Given the frightening nature of this series’ titular abyss, its first order of business was to create a sense of mystery and wonder about its central chasm, and on this front, it succeeded completely. Between the show’s lush, verdant backgrounds, scary monster designs, and sunlit views of the city surrounding the rim of the abyss, this premiere was beautifully produced and directed. The script was packed with tantalizing bits of information about this new world with mentions of valuable relics and a ranking system, based on a series of brightly colored whistles, for cave delvers, really wet my appetite for future episodes. The burgeoning sense of camaraderie between Riko and Reg was a lot of fun to watch, and it foreshadowed a bond that would keep them moving on their journey, even through the depths of hell. Above all else, Kevin Penkin’s score elevated this first episode to masterful heights with two achingly beautiful insert songs that immediately sold me on the allure of the abyss. With all of these elements working in total harmony, Kinema Citrus created half an hour of TV that is rivaled by few other episodes this year, whether they be premieres, finales, or anything in between.

Runner-up: Little Witch Academia

 

Best Single Episode

Made in Abyss Episode 13

Spoilers ahead.

HelghastKillzone: Made in consultation with the original manga author, Made in Abyss takes the uncommon path of having a double-length finale and uses every single minute of it well. From the horrific backstory of Nanachi’s journey into the abyss, the sick experiments of Bondrewd, the destruction of Mitty and its final uplifting sequence, the entire episode was just filled to the brim with powerful emotional moments. The first season of Made in Abyss could have never told a complete story as it ends just before its defining arc in the fifth layer but the ending creatively-made recap set to Kevin Penkin’s “Tomorrow was the perfect way to conclude this remarkable show.

Runner-up: Rakugo Shinjuu Episode 11

 

Most Pleasant Surprise

Made in Abyss

Aidan: I will pull out my hipster glasses and say that in my preview that I indeed did predict that Made in Abyss would be something quite good. I will admit that I underestimated just how good it would be. What was a pretty good manga was elevated by gorgeous background art, magnificent direction and an otherworldly soundtrack composed by an Australian composer, which heightens every scene it plays in. I held off on reading the manga to freshly experience the anime is on a whole other level of entertainment. With a sequel on the way (whether it’s a new season, OVA or movie is still up for debate), I am more than excited to delve once again into the depths of the abyss and see what wonders and horrors lie within it’s expanse. I expected Made in Abyss to be a good show but it surprised me by being a great one.

Runner-up: Houseki no Kuni

 

Best Studio

Orange

Lenlo: This was a tough pick. Both studios did a fantastic job this year with MAPPA making Garo: The Vanishing Line, Inuyashiki, Kakegurui and Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul and would be considered a healthy list for any year. However, MAPPA has been here around since 2012 and even then, was created by Madhouse veterans. Orange, however, has long been a background studio where they did work on other people’s anime in mostly CGI graphics. This year marked their first solo-production in the name of Houseki no Kuni. A strong and beautiful first production, Orange managed to take CGI, a medium riddled with mediocre series like Berserk, Hand Shakers and arguably Kemono Friends, and give it a new face. They took a CGI anime and made it a strong contender for our anime of the year. As a first outing in solo productions, others and I here think that alone deserves some recognition. Well done Orange, you earned it.

Runner-up: Studio MAPPA

 

Best OP

Imawa no Shinigami (Rakugo Shinjuu Season 2)

Wooper: Consider the nervous, anguished expressions of Rakugo’s main players at the start of its second theme. As their faces flash across the screen, a clock ticks in time with Hayashibara Megumi’s lilting, elusive vocal melody, and finally, it falls silent as the show’s most looming presence turns and disappears into the flames of hell and that’s just the first twenty seconds. The song title for this OP literally means “The Reaper’s Dying Moments,” and its accompanying visuals are just as obsessed with mortality as you would expect. Here we have shots of the series’ chief character throwing himself from a cliff, submerging himself beneath the waves after refusing his apprentice’s hand, turning his back on his friends and acquaintances before they shatter into hundreds of black fragments, and finally, a candle’s flame being extinguished. The real killer, however, is the moment just before the candle scene, when Yakumo’s oldest friend pulls back his coat to reveal a hollow skeleton, and those same nervous faces from the start play in reverse. That’s when you realize that they were all looking directly at him, and witnessing the emptiness and self-destruction that would eventually lead to his tragic death.

Runner-up: The Other Side of the Wall (Princess Principal)

 

Best ED

Los! Los! Los! (Youjo Senki)

HelghastKillzone: For the sake of transparency, I personally went through every single anime ED that was released in 2017 and still chose “Los! Los! Los!” as my first choice. Despite only consisting of very pretty scrolling artwork from the light novel series, it is the song itself that propels itself above the competition. Sung by the voice actress of Tanya Degurechaff (Aoi Yuuki), it is extension of her utterly bloodthirsty character in musical form with lyrics that screams for war in all in horror and glory. With its rock instrumentality and frantic tempo, it fits perfectly with the tone of the show where the protagonist is very much the villain.

Runner-up: One More Night (Girls’ Last Tour)

 

Best Animation

Houseki no Kuni

Mario: Houseki no Kuni sure paints up an optimistic future of how to handle the CGI to its full effect. Not only the animation is consistently fluid, the fight sequences tune up its dynamic nature with smart shot angles and impressive choreography. There are many sequences (especially those involving Dia), where the camera tracks the character running across in seemingly one single continuous shot or how the alloy from Phos keeps shapeshifting into whatever weird things but never at once feel out of place with the tone of the show. Even the character movements are expressive with heaps of motions. I can’t even imagine how they could pull those off in traditional 2D hand-drawn animation so thumbs up for not only it rightfully deserves the top place in this category, it opens for more opportunity of how to use the CGI with style.

Runner-up: Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul

 

Best Background Art

Made in Abyss

Mario: The intriguing world-building has always been Made in Abyss’s strongest point. Its world building is unique, full of life, and has a true feeling behind it. It is both beautifully inviting and scary at the same time. The background art wonderfully displays those qualities with the great attention details to the settings: the city above the abyss where the kids live, and the abyss itself. The mysterious settings always draw you in and make you want to investigate. The visual motif of verticality is there and when you notice it, it exists everywhere, just like how the abyss shapes its world (remember the Abyss’s curse?). Each layer of the Abyss has a personality of its own, and while at first glance they look exactly like Ghibli’s worlds in term of gorgeous backgrounds, there’s a sense of danger lingering everywhere. Mysterious, deadly and yet attractive that you can’t take your eyes off, it’s a true definition of femme fatale if I’ve ever seen one.

Runner-up: Mahoutsukai no Yome

 

Best Soundtrack

Made in Abyss

Wooper: Most anime series tend to recycle a handful of tracks throughout their run, using them in nearly every episode to stretch their limited music budgets. Made in Abyss isn’t exempt from this problem, but its soundtrack was so good that I couldn’t bring myself to care. I already dropped Kevin Penkin’s name in the “Best First Episode” section of this post, but his superb work on this show merits another mention. This soundtrack was alternately alluring and terrifying, which perfectly captured both the wonder and the fear of traveling deeper into the unknown. And the use of insert songs, especially “Underground River” (featuring Raj Ramayya, who previously recorded for Wolf’s Rain and the Cowboy Bebop movie) sent shivers down my spine. The disconnect between Abyss’s thematic harshness and its cute character designs required a perfectly balanced tone, and Penkin’s soundtrack was instrumental in achieving that.

Runner-up: Houseki no Kuni

 

Best Voice Acting

Rakugo Shinjuu Season 2

Aidan: Don’t pretend to be surprised. With a category like best voice acting, Rakugo has it won before anything else even aired. Rakugo is a show whose very concept depends on the skill of the voice actors as they must perform as a performer whose only performing with their voice. Other shows would have a character on the sidelines whose purpose is to say something to confirm the quality of the performance. Rakugo has you watch the performance and judge it for yourself. To that a voice actor must be both a Rakugo performer and the character while purposely botching the performance for dramatic effect or improving based on the level of training the characters have had. This is a show so dependant on the quality of its voice acting that it is literally undub-able. That the voice actors not only managed to pull this off but do it so incredibly well is a feat not many can claim. I honestly wish I knew Japanese so I could experience it as intended.

Runner-up: Houseki no Kuni

 

Best Character

Tanya von Degurechaff (Youjo Senki)

HelghastKillzone: Tanya is what defines Youjo Senki through its portrayal of villainy as it follows a nine year girl journey as she ascends the ranks of the Imperial Army though bloodshed and maneuvering within its bureaucracy. What makes her so interesting is that her rather mundane ambitions of getting a cushy position clashes with her ideology of meritocracy and lands her in scenarios that throws her into harm’s way. Furthermore, her atrocities are all done in accordance with the rules and regulations that have been handed down to her making whatever she does quite legal, even if it is morally bankrupt. Also, seeing a loli butcher the Allied Forces in a pre-Nazi World War one context while being in a grudge match against Being X  is something that never gets old. In my personal opinion, Tanya exhibits all traits of the ideal military officer where she pushes her men to the breaking point of their abilities, has an forward-looking view on the doctrine of warfare and leads from the front. It’s true that she doesn’t care about lives of her subordinates other than keeping them alive for her own career advancement but then again, I wouldn’t expect anything from an officer other than delivering complete victory.

Runner-up: Phosphophyllite (Houseki no Kuni)

 

Best Cast

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl

Wooper: This film is, for my money, the best anime of 2017, so its excellence isn’t limited to just one or two categories. Even so, its roster of eccentric characters shines as perhaps the brightest aspect of the production. Borrowing heavily from the cast of Tatami Galaxy, with which the film shares a director (Masaaki Yuasa), Night is Short depicts a whirlwind evening wherein its two heroes stumble across a variety of colorful personalities, all of whom are in pursuit of something fleeting. Be it love, alcohol, youth, law and order, or rare pornographic photos, each of the players in this grand spectacle are single-minded in their desire, which makes them easy to understand, yet endlessly entertaining. The way that Yuasa threads his protagonists through this maze of conflicting passions and crazy subplots is downright dizzying, but the journey is worth every minute. The only criticism I have of the movie is largely down to the style of Morimi Tomihiko’s source novel, which revolves around a nameless protagonist who represents young adulthood more than he embodies a particular set of characteristics. Everything else about the film is rollicking good time, though, so do yourself a favor and look it up if you haven’t already.

Runner-up: The Eccentric Family Season 2

 

Genres

Best Comedy

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl

Mario: For the record, comedy had quite a quiet showing last year as I could only name a handful of shows that managed to tickle my belly (Romance anime, on the other hand, outperformed last year). But to say that, in any other year, I can still hand this award to this gem. It’s a feverish (pun intended!) non-stop crazy events after another in a span of a single night. The movie has tons of whimsical details (I’ll forever remember her Mom’s teaching of Friendship Punch), many absurd moments (the dance of the Sophists, anyone??), and many outright silly sequences (Johnnies!!) but the charms are always there. The guerilla theatre part is easily one of the most enjoyable moments of the year and the whirlwind of quirky set of characters keep popping in and out of picture make the whole experience sparkle with fun, laugh and joy. It’s certainly one hell of a night to remember.

Runner-up: Gamers! (for excellent build-up of misunderstanding comedy (x5 times) into a web of hilariously confusingly situations).

 

Best Action

Youjo Senki

Aidan: Shounen fans, I hope you’re satisfied with a runner up for My Hero Academia Season Two as many would deem that the more worthy nomination for best action. Alas, the votes tallied out like this and I will ask your forgiveness for those of us who couldn’t really find enough interesting about Hero Academia to continue into its second season (Myself a prime example). Take pride in that if this was a category for best fight animation that Hero Academia would take the gold easily. But this is best action and while Hero Academia is a fine Shounen, I must hand the award to Youjo Senki. With the various war scenes of ariel magic dogfighting to the intriguing mind battle between God and the main character with the alternative history of World War One. Youjo Senki just proved to be the far more stimulating show to watch. I personally would take watching a nihilist turn slowly into a dictator than a upstart transforming into a paragon of virtue. Even if Youjo Senki is a Isekai anime, it does at least show what can be done with the concept of Isekai when it isn’t used to as a delusional childish power fantasy.

Runner-up: My Hero Academia Season 2

 

Best Drama

Rakugo Shinjuu Season 2

Lenlo: It should be obvious that, considering how no one here really shuts up about it, we all love Rakugo Shinjuu. It’s a very rare kind of anime after all. There’s no world ending conflict, no magical powers or shounen tropes. It doesn’t take place in highschool, none of the main characters are children and there’s no one dimensional “I like you but can’t say it” plots. Rakugo Shinjuu is simple the life story of one old man, from childhood to death, and his love for an art form. It is, in one of the purest forms, a character drama. Most everything that occurs does so as a result of our characters decisions. However the best part of Rakugo Shinjuu of all, for me, are the stories. The art form this anime is centered around. Every time Yakumo or Yotaro take the stage, we are treated to some of the best voice acting I have ever heard. Each story is not only a joy to listen to, but relates directly with the plot in some way. Each was clearly chosen with care. Really I could spend all day exalting Rakugo for even with some issues at the end, sadly nothing is perfect, it stands head and shoulders above every other Drama this year.

Runner-up: Kuzu no Honkai

 

Best Shorts

Tsurezure Children

Aidan: I will be the first to admit that I don’t watch most short styled anime but even I make a few exceptions when something truly special comes along. Tsurezure Children is one of those few exceptions because it did something in the fifteen minutes of it’s first episode that romance series take an entire season to accomplish. This show is a series about relationships, not love triangle that go nowhere. This short series deals with points of romance that most don’t even dare to thread and does so with a great sense of humor and the satisfying fluff of seeing couples learning to enjoy each other’s company. My only complaint is that is too short, and needs a season 2 and a season 3 please.

Runner-up: Blade Runner: Black Out 2022

 

Best Movie

The Night is Short, Walk on Girl

Mario: This one is a no brainer. I watched more shows than I have ever watched before in this year and I watched many good to great anime movies this year, but when it comes down to the best, Night is Short easily takes that slot. I even go so far to say that I consider it one of the best anime films of this decade so far. Everything that I come to love about pushing what anime medium can achieve: the wild but expressive visual style of Yuasa, the wild, messy writing style of Tomihiko that somehow come together neay in the end and the ultimate love for its magical-realism Kyoto settings (which I found to be my favorite city ever), everything from this screams “creative” and resonates to me on personal level. I can feel the love brimming through every second of the film, through every character and through every line they speak. Night is Short is another worthy addition to an already impressive body of works of legendary director Masaaki Yuasa.

Runner-up: Kimi no Na wa. (Your Name.)

 

Best OVA

Castlevania

Lenlo: Without a doubt, this is a contentious nomination. Made and directed by a Western studio and based on a Japanese IP, some wouldn’t even call Castlevania an anime. Well, they can stuff it. Castlevania manages to take the almost non-existent story of Konami’s game series and create a great narrative in just 4 episodes. The animation is stunning from Dracula’s fire to Belmonts fights. The voice-work of Richard Armitage as Belmont and Graham McTavish as Dracula grab me every time. There is even beauty in the brutality of Castlevania’s monsters, as they annihilate a town. Everything about the series was made with love and passion. It’s noticeable in every frame. So regardless of whether or not you think it to be anime, if you like the medium, I cannot help but recommend Castlevania to you. With Season 2 on the way with another 8 episodes coming out this summer, now is the perfect time to catch up.

Runner-up: Space Battleship Yamato 2202

 

 

Top 10 anime of the year

 

Here’s a link to our individual ballots, so you can see how we settled on these shows in this particular order. Let’s kick things off with a tie at 10th place:

  1. Kuzu no Honkai (Tie)

HelghastKillzone: High school romance anime tends to to the follow the trajectory of a couple’s journey that culminates into the all-encompassing kiss, but for Kuzu no Honkai, that is just the starting point. Packed to the brim with its spider web of relationships, sex, temptations, and adult drama, Kuzu no Honkai is the exact result what would happen if an anime romance got the HBO treatment. None of the characters are innocent as they all have aspects being scrummy in their quest of fulfilling their own selfish desires but there are some really interesting layers once the audience gets past their surface descriptions. With the exception of one certain individual, the entire cast felt as they were real people translated into animated form and then given a base plotline of  two teenagers using each other as a substitute for the one that they truly love. Studio Lerche does a excellent job of animating it by incorporating manga-style paneling and watercolor backgrounds in bringing the source material to life.

 

  1. Inuyashiki (Tie)

Lenlo: Inuyashiki was one of the more interesting beasts this year. Not set in high school, not a shounen or a moe, but a psychological drama about what it means to be human. It had its issues, plenty of bumps along the way, from questionable CGI to an out of left field ending. Yet in spite of these I can’t help but think on it fondly. The main characters, Inuyashiki and Hiro, play off of each other well. An old man with a new lease on life and a young man coming of age, struggling with his place in the world. One becoming a Hero, the other one of the most sympathetic and well written yet monstrous villains I have seen in a long time. When an anime manages a character that is simultaneously terrifying yet pitiable, you have to acknowledge it. The craft of these characters, sometimes at the expense of the rest of the cast, was phenomenal. So much so that even with a questionable ending I still left Inuyashiki satisfied. And it is because of this quality, pulled up in large part due to these characters, that Inuyashiki managed to squeak onto our top 10 list.

 

  1. Eccentric Family 2

Mario:  For a year that had too many sequels from popular anime for their own good, I’m glad that our final top 10 (well, top 11) has only 2 continuous shows, and I’m more than happy to see that Eccentric Family 2 was among them. Appeared in only two ballots (a trend that you will see more of as we go down the list), it had some passionate votes in order to stand tall here at number 9. The second season maintains the spirits of the first, expanding a bit on the new setpieces, and on many addition cast. The new characters fit in with the old cast like a glove and many of them even steal the spotlight from the old cast. What surprises me the most about this second season, however, is how the show successfully develop its romance relationships, something that sorely lacked in the first season. For the cast this huge, it’s rather surprising that each of them has their own voice and their own significant to the story, and by the end, I have fond memories to almost all of them (except the twin, of course) – not a small feat to pull off at all. This is one of those shows that I’d be happy to watch anytime, I can never get tired of this colorful magical-realism Kyoto city and their adorable tanukis.

 

  1. Girls’ Last Tour

Aidan: So the world’s gone to hell, all man’s greatest achievements have been reduced to a vague memory and everyone’s gonna die but hey, that doesn’t mean you have to be so grim about it. Cute girls doing cute things has always been a genre that I found a hard time getting the appeal as it is almost a celebration in the mundanity of life. So for one such as I, who seeks escapism, such a thing is equal to drinking a glass of water when craving a soft drink. Girls Last Tour, however, takes the antics of the cute girls genre and places it in the bleakest setting it can manage. The result is two girls appreciating life and having fun when by all accounts they should be lamenting the really shitty hand that the world has given them. However, there is something rather thoughtful about these girls running around the ruins of a dead civilization, talking about the nature of life and troubles of the old world as though all the grand reasons people thought up for justifying life and killing each other are really just silly meaningless things. Life is just about enjoying life which these girls take every day to do. In that, I think it’s a lesson that no matter how terrible your circumstances, it’s good to learn to appreciate the simple joys of life.

 

  1. 3-gatsu no Lion

Wooper: Since our rule of thumb is “everything that aired in 2017 is fair game,” 3-gatsu’s nod here is for the conclusion of its first season, as well as the beginning of its second. That means a lot of really excellent character work from 2016 was excluded from consideration, but even during last year’s shogi-heavy stretches, this show nearly always found time to deepen its considerable cast of characters. 3-gatsu’s secret lies in its mix of drama and comedy, allowing it to explore themes of depression, family, and societal acceptance, all while remaining light enough to look forward to each week. Some viewers have mistaken its style as a clash of tones, but in truth, this series is more interested in depicting life as it truly is – blissful in one moment, and in the next, crushingly sad. Hinata’s bullying arc from season 2 was among the most emotionally punishing stories in anime this year, but while 3-gatsu goes dark every so often, the show is built on the belief that there’s good in everyone, even if it’s buried under physical or emotional pain. All it takes is for someone to reach out their hand, it argues, and another person’s sorrow can be lifted.

 

  1. Little Witch Academia

Mario: While the show itself never top the sparks from its first two OVAs,  Little Witch Academia the series still provides a lot of fun hijinks and some good character development from Akko and the cast. The overarching arc of Akko activating the magic words to turn back magic ties up well all the loose ends and gives a satisfying emotional closure, albeit at the expense of Croix and some hiccups in plot progression. I am admittedly not a fan of episodic character-focused approach, but for what it worth, LWA still provides heaps of fun times with some solid character growth, some tweaks on pop-culture references and a cartoonist exaggeration styles. Studio Trigger sure aims this show for its Western fanbase in this regard. This show also has a bouncy and expressive animation with lots of energy and some truly stand-out sequences, production-wise. Ultimately, Little Witch Academia is a beautifully-crafted show that brings magic to a level that’s larger than life with its imaginative world, a diverse cast of characters and a simple, yet heartfelt central message and a passionate treatment from Studio Trigger – A believing heart is truly your magic.

 

  1. Tsuki ga Kirei

Wooper: Only two of our five writers watched this little gem, but we both felt so strongly about it that it managed to land in the top 5. Tsuki ga Kirei is just that kind of show: quiet, understated, and if you’re on the same wavelength as its characters, shockingly powerful. Detailing the initiation and slow progression of an awkward first love, this series is a straightforward teenage romance with no supernatural gimmicks or outlandish personalities. What makes it special is its sense of authenticity where both romantic leads are anxious and self-conscious, and they struggle not only to be open with each other, but also to excel in their other responsibilities. Akane runs track, while Kotaro is a traditional dancer and aspiring novelist, and these parts of their lives bleed into their relationship in convincing ways, giving the show a lived-in sensation. Studio Feel reached for the stars with this series, and though its visual presentation is spotty, the story had me captivated from episode two and onward. I’m no industry expert, but if I had to guess, I’d say there won’t be another romance anime on this level for a long time.

 

  1. Youjo Senki

Aidan: As the Isekai genre creeps more and more into the anime sphere to show us bland nobodies who get transported to another world and shows everyone just how awesome they are, Youjo Senki is one of those shows that stops one from dismissing the entire genre altogether. Featuring an alternative history World War One featuring a business manager turned into little girl tyrant on a mission to spit in the face of god, this show is a truly entertaining ride from start to finish. Watching Tanya’s quest to find a safe stable job while being thwarted by god’s intervention or her own horrid miscalculations is always fun and coupled with the well down aerial dogfighting and sense of humor makes this a show I made sure to never miss an episode on. It does have the issue of being merely a start to a ongoing story, one I hope the film coming will remedy a bit, but for twelve episode Tanya’s exploits made for some damn fine entertainment.

 

  1. Houseki no Kuni

Aidan: I was late to getting to Houseki no Kuni and I fully admit to only completing the show recently but boy, what a ride it was. This was another of those manga that didn’t catch me but its anime adaption pulled me in hard. Displayed is the finest CGI to grace the animated medium in decades and hereby proves that good looking CGI anime can indeed exist. Topped with a setting and world that is fairly unique despite being distinctly alien, a large cast of characters, which none feel undeveloped nor uninteresting, it has a story that balances mystery, action, fantasy and comedy in a manner that is seamless. Phos makes for the perfect explorer of this land while undergoing her own compelling character arc. Truly, this is one of the few shows which I finish and find that I cannot think of any way to make it better as its only true flaw is that the story ended before the story could truly conclude or even get started. If you haven’t watched this show for one reason or another then I would highly recommend finding the time to run though it. You will be rewarded.

 

  1. Rakugo Shinjuu Season 2

Lenlo: I and others have already gushed about Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinju: Descending Stories plenty during these awards. You saw it earn best OP, for the hauntingly beautiful “Imawa no Shinigami”. You’ve read about the accomplished voice work of its cast, with Akira Ishida as Yakumo beating every other anime VA for the past two years. Finally, you saw it earn our vote for Best Drama, with Season 1 having a similar place last year. With all of these accolades, it would be strange for Rakugo to not appear near the top of this list. The characters are nuanced, the story is phenomenal and the camera work/direction conveys more than any side exposition character ever could. All of this and more has already been said about Rakugo, so at this point if you haven’t seen it, take the hint and watch it. You will not regret it.

 

  1. Made in Abyss

HelghastKillzone: When a majority of the writers on this site, in spite of our different tastes and watching habits, have voted this show as their second or best show of the year, it’s not hard to see what makes Made in Abyss so universally acclaimed. Whether it is the captivating landscapes, its impeccable world-building, the eldritch horrors found within its depths, or the God-tier soundtrack from Kevin Penkin, Studio Kinema Citrus does everything right in ascending the already-strong manga source material into being a classic anime. For beneath its veneer of impressive production values, its core journey to the bottom of the abyss is both deeply unsettling and gratifying by ratcheting up the tension and releasing it in the most visceral way possible. In an age where the trend of fantasy shows are little more than self-insert fanfiction, it is so refreshing to have an adventure story that stands alone on the merits of its own lore, atmosphere and story. For a show to leave its audience only wanting to venture deeper into hauntingly beautiful and terrifying mysteries of the abyss, it has earned its spot as the top anime of 2017.

14 Responses

  1. Avatar Hogart says:

    Having watched HeroAca 2, I’d easily say Houseki no Kuni is far more deserving of “Best Action”. I’ll have to watch Tanya to compare the two, but I daresay it would take a lot to top Kuni’s excellent production and direction of its action sequences. Many of them were also emotionally riveting to the point of being memorable, rather than just being sheer spectacle. By contrast I can barely recall any of the action from HeroAca2 aside from one sequence that had little actual action in it, just a lot of tension in an alley. Far less inventive and engaging than the stuff in Kuni.

    And while I’m on my Kuni love-a-thon, I’m also surprised at how few people take mention of how stellar Kuni’s soundtrack work is. The soundtrack flows just like the editing from scene to scene, with some marvelous cueing. I think it’s very underrated in that regard, right down to the inspired choice of hand-picking Phos’s VA so their pre-recorded lines would give them extra inspiration for how to visually render Phos. Hell of a passion project.

    • SuperMario SuperMario says:

      To be honest, somehow I never considered Houseki as an action show (it’s genre-blending that it becomes its own genre). I’m totally with you regarding Houseki’s soundtrack (which I enjoyed more than MiA’s) and I fought hard to make it appear as a runner up (against Re:Creators), ditto on Phos’ voice as well ^^

      To HeroAca2 credits though, the fight between Bakugo and Uraraka and the fight between the kids and Hero Killer are both stellar. That show is not for me much but I understand why people regard it as the best action show last year (Well, not this site, it seems).

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      As with Mario, I never really considered Houseki an “action” anime. It had scenes of it sure, but that was never its appeal to me.

      My rational atleast behind Hero Aca was that action is its sole purpose. It has no other real reason to exist, and with Yutaka Nakamura on staff, it did that purpose well.

      You say it had little action, yet there was an entire tournament arc in the first half. Not stellar story I agree, yet the action worked quite well.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      That said, Phos’s VA was in contention for best VA I believe. However Akira Ishida as Yakumo ‘Bon’ Yuurakutie simply can’t be topped. The entire anime hinged on his performance and he knocked it out of the park.

  2. Avatar KTravlos says:

    I think in general this was a good summary. (I do have soft spot for the shows I reviewed (Altair, Shingeki no Bahamut, but they were C shows)

  3. Avatar Badesh says:

    Heh, i was absent from anime for a really long time (7 years?) and for me Shingeki No Bahamut is an anime that pulled out my love for that genre again.

    A great cast with classic characters (the likable bad-boy, the righteous knight, the evil king) – a very likable lead character (one of my personal favorite)

    It got a sensible and good take on teenage love that matured in the course of the show to a strong statement of what love can be & it had a good setting, not too convoluted so that it does what the medium anime does best: setting some key aspects of life in contrast by highlighting them and then tell a good story.

    It had good action, was funny & surprising. And it tackled the good old question what is right and what is evil in a way that is approachable. That was my anime of the year :)

    (the first season did absolutely nothing for me, i gave it a chance after the 2nd but it just seemed boring) – and i have to add i only houseki pulled me in so i probably have a specific taste and i’m not a connoisseur if i can call you guys this way ;)

    thank you for blogging this year guys!

  4. Avatar Niello says:

    Great year for anime which are an outstanding adaptation to their respective source materials.
    – Scum’s Wish
    – ACCA
    – Houseki no Kuni
    – Made in Abyss
    – Rakugou
    – Net-juu no Susume
    – Girl Last Tour

    • Avatar Niello says:

      …I am of course not acknowledging Altair and Berserk existence.

      • Avatar Lenlo says:

        A good choice. When writing the Kado blurb, I spent a good deal of time figuring out how to take a shot at Berserk. I sadly couldnt get it as biggest disappointment or worst show, so it didnt get its own blurb. But suffice to say if it had, I would have ripped into it.

        I am 99% sure I am the biggest Berserk fanboy on this site/staff and my was crushed by the anime.

        • Avatar Bokusen says:

          I feel you! I’m a huge fan of the Kino no Tabi novels & the first anime series, but the new series’ adaptation was so disappointing to me that I think I’ll never watch a Lerche series again, because just thinking about it fills me with rage & sadness now. Not that I’ve ever watched many to completion, now that I think about it, but still…
          It’s annoying when a long awaited sequel series doesn’t live up to your hopes, isn’t it? :(

  5. Avatar Ellen_R says:

    Hand Shakers is an amazing show.
    In the first five minutes, it has broadened my views of the genre. I never thought it was possible to mess up to this degree.

  6. Avatar mezzoguitar says:

    Made in Abyss over Rakugo Shinjuu? The latter had me amazed with every episode and eager to watch the next one every week. The former started off great and had some highlights near the end but a good half of the show starting with Ozen’s arc was so horribly slow-paced that it made me want to fall asleep. Felt like MiA could have worked better if it was 10 episodes long with the same content.

    • AidanAK47 AidanAK47 says:

      Completely disagree with Made in Abyss. I will give you that the middle part was on the weaker side but the best parts where in it’s second half.

      Funny enough I think your comment about MIA could have applied much more to Rakugo as it’s last episodes really were one overly long drawn out epilogue.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      I agree that the middle of Abyss was a drag, with the Ozen episodes being my least favorite. Everywhere you look, though, we seem to be in the minority.

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