Please note that this is not a Top 10 Best Anime of 2017 list. Rather, this is a list of the best anime I watched in 2017, as in it doesn’t have to have aired in 2017 to make it, only that I had to have finished (a majority of) it in 2017.
Last year, I detailed my so-called “Anime renaissance” with the statement that I watched a whole lot more anime in 2016 than 2015. In 2017, it didn’t feel like I watched that much anime, yet according to MALGraph, I watched way more anime this year than last year; I even rivaled anime viewed in 2014, which was probably my most active year in the medium. What’s also notable is that I watched quite a bit of good anime this year. Lots of titles that boosted my average rating per anime, though I may have become more selective in my old age. Without further delay, the ten best anime I viewed this year.
NANA is an anime that was recommended to me by a friend many years ago. Upon the time of my latest Summer of Anime, where I concocted the idea that people were going to choose the anime I viewed during it (Never again), I took recommendations from her, and sure enough, this title popped up again. The incredibly high average rating for this show on MAL was enough to get me interested, but the episode count scared me (as most over 25 episodes do). By her request, I watched it, and ended up adding a new favorite character to my MAL profile because of it.
In hindsight, the thing that sticks out with this series most is how angsty it becomes later on. In some way, that “ruined” a lot of the experience for me, as I feel dramas rely way too much on what two people assume for one another instead of actively communicating their feelings—stubbornly realistic as that may be. Still, I found the ending to be heartwarming, despite how much it may disappoint people with its open-endedness. And the characters—oh, the characters—how lovingly close they are, and how effectively they coddle the human spirit. Interrelatedness and the quest for identity, two sweet spots this anime hits without any sort of psychological babble.
It may be a bit overlong, but the positive aspects make it a near-immediate recommendation as top-tier Shoujo fare.
#9: Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199
Should anyone actually click the links to my full thoughts on these series, you’ll notice many of the anime on this list will be from my latest Summer of Anime. There were a lot—a lot—of misses in that span, but a few really solid hits, as well. Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199 is a remake of sorts of a classic anime under the same name (sans 2199). The original version was released in 1974, the year my mother was born. Despite not living anywhere close to that time, I could feel the retro vibes coming through as each episode played out, giving me a time capsule sense of combining old with new. While this held little towards my actual thoughts on the show, it was a neat feeling to have.
Much like with NANA, the ending is impaired by some interesting use of emotional feedback. Much unlike with NANA, it only lasted about an episode or two, compared to NANA’s five million. Almost appropriately retro is Yamato’s use of THE POWER OF EMOTIONS!!!, and how it manages to save the day at the every end. Some deus ex machinas and erroneous use of logic is to be expected with old fiction, though the nice outweighed the eye rolls here.
It was really intriguing to follow the Yamato and those on-board it. The motivations of characters and the camaraderie they have among them is captivating as someone who’s used to really dumb garbage like Renai Boukon or ReLIFE. Themes of anti-war and sacrifice are well-presented and always seem to have emotional weight behind them, whether for the sake of the sacrificer themselves or those that sacrifice effects. An emphasis on death and revenge and all that intertwines with one’s moral structure, resulting in unpredictability (though predictable overall) in that character’s voice. And if I’m being honest, it’s just nice to see a space opera in modern times. Those visuals are pretty cool.
#8: Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou
Oh, look: a series I wrote my thoughts on yesterday. It’s almost like this was guaranteed a spot on the list for weeks now. Huehue.
Keeping this fairly short, as I’ve already dedicated two whole posts to this anime, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is a nice little foray into the world of metaphorical presentation. The setting, the characters and their mindsets, their attire, and the direction of the series is all meant to convey something, a message for those willing to peer into the rabbit hole.
Now, if this was all it is, it likely wouldn’t be on this list. In addition, it provides two very likable characters with wonderful chemistry to face the brunt of the reality they’re faced with: they’re the only two people on the planet. Exploring the ravaged world, finding scraps and re-learning the things that make life living is the ultimate empathetic device, and they do it masterfully. Well recommended for those who want something a little more than fun and pleasure, though I’m willing to acknowledge that the series can be dreadfully dull.
#7: Samurai Champloo
You may be thinking to yourself, “Fuck, Kapodaco. How many 7.5’s did you give out this year?” You’re going to be seeing a few more.
You may be thinking to yourself, “We’re only on #7 and this is the third anime from your stupid SoA to make the list. Did you even watch any anime you liked without being forced to?” Not really.
You may be thinking to yourself, “By the way, isn’t Samurai Champloo just Cowboy Bebop except with samurai?” Yeah, basically. Which is why it’s pretty good.
Finally, you may be thinking to yourself, “Are you actually going to say anything about the anime, or are you gonna keep quoting me?” Nah, I just thought of the joke and rolled with it. That’s all, folks.
#6: Boku no Hero Academia (Season Two)
What the FUCK?!
Hold the god damn phone, you hypocritical cunt. This is a s-h-o-u-n-e-n anime! When have you ever expressed anything but dismay and disgust towards a shounen anime, huh?! Are you trying to tell me, your dedicated viewer, that shounen anime are actually capable of being interesting, non-cringey forms of art and that you’re actually just a little dipshit baby for mocking them all because you’re a self-absorbed piece of shit?! Jesus fucking Christ. I don’t even know what to say anymore. Not only am I unsubscribing, but I’m going to tell all of my friends and family to never support you for as long as you continue to put out content, you flip-flopping politician, you scum. I am—I am personally scarred by your praise for a… a shounen! Fucking hell. What happened to the old you, the you that was inclusive and critically sharp? I miss that you, the you that would piss on Naruto’s corpse for being an overhyped, overrated pile of bloody vomit. You wouldn’t even think of trying something like Black Clover; why? Because it’s a stupid, repetitive, ugly shounen, AND YET! Boku no Hero Academia, the most popular shounen in the last few years, is on your top 10 best anime list. I-I’m just, I’m done, y’know? I’m done with your bullshit. You’re a fucking disgrace to the critic’s name. I hope you drown.
#5: Demi-chan wa Ki—
So, Boku no Hero Academia‘s second season turned out to not only be uproariously entertaining, but actually pretty insightful. It presents all that it needs to do with the most vital aspect of most shounen series: character development. Let’s face it: Boku no Hero Academia’s story isn’t anything to writehome about. Sure, it involves some worldly philosophy on heroism, but the core aspect of it is the focus on altruism and being that help that others need to fulfill a happy and safe life. And then there’s Deku, who’s the template for “Weak character who eventually becomes strong through hard work and determination.” It’s not that it does anything new, but it does all that’s expected of it and overwhelms it through pure earnestness and attention to detail. It’s likely the best shounen series I’ve seen in years, though I don’t partake in shounen very often, and one should absolutely give it a watch.
#5: Demi-chan wa Kataritai
While everyone was clamoring for their new dragon waifu in Kobayashi-san, I became enamored with not one, not two, not three, but four different potential monster waifus in Demi-chan wa Kataritai. (Note: I have not seen Monster Musume.)
I was taken completely by surprise by how much I adored this anime. The moment it ended, I immediately added its manga source to my PTR with the mindset of “NEED MOAR CONTENT!!!” Humorous aside: I did end up reading up to the scanlation end, only to re-read everything that was already shown in the anime, save for a bonus chapter about a new character with a ghostly spirit (which kind of sucked). Whether the cute characters, their relationship with their teacher—who cannot control his interest in studying them—or the way it all meshes together, Demi-chan almost makes it onto my favorites list by pure enjoyment alone.
Though I’ll say this, too: I relate to the male lead in this anime a lot more than most male leads. My fascination with humanity, as apathetic as it sounds, comes through studying their behavior and analyzing them as though they are animals. That isn’t to say I treat them that way, but from the outside looking in, watching how people behave in various situations, trying to figure out what makes them do the things they do and why they cherish what they do, brings out the armchair psychologist in me like no tomorrow. I adore predicting and calculating the behavior and decisions of the people around me as I constantly push and pull them through manipulative wording… okay, I’m making myself sound like a sociopath, so I’ll stop there. I just like the point-blank aspect of “studying” these girls as both teenagers developing into young adults and as the mythical creatures they belong to.
And the anime is immensely sweet. That always helps. Wholesome on top of informative.
#4: Made in Abyss
Thus, the terrain of 7.5 has been combed. Now, we shall head into deeper chasms, filled with the more appropriately-suitable treasures of recommendation.
Picking Made in Abyss during my seasonal anime round-up, much like Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, was done with the gut feeling that it would be a worthwhile watch. I could feel the quality exuding from its artwork, synopsis, and hype surrounding it. That didn’t stop me from holding off from it for a little while, but word of mouth from fellow peers had me do something that, deep down, I wanted to do all along.
Initially, I was pessimistic. There was lost potential in developing the environment in which these characters grow up in, along with pacing issues that felt as though I were playing a semi-shitty JRPG. As it continues, things begin to clear a path that would lead straight into the true essence of adventure and finding one’s place in the world. If Made in Abyss is recommendable for one thing, it’s the atmosphere of adventure, which so strikingly compels me to continue despite what otherwise would lead me to endure it.
Characters (outside of best girl, Bunny-chan) are somewhat weak, with Arigato, Mr. Roboto being among the least-interesting male leads in a good anime I’ve seen in a while. While it’s somewhat unpopular to say, I quite like the female lead, despite her lack of usefulness in later episodes and her talkative nature. She, at least, has a nature. Though one could argue that the characters aren’t hugely important in comparison to the state of adventure and danger present for them, Bunny-chan shines as an example of this anime’s ability to develop, which gives life to those who play a more prominent role. Potential plays a little part in this anime’s rating, but much of it is also raw emotional value, such that it excited me in ways many don’t. That, in itself, is recommendable.
#3: Aria the Natural/Origination
Score(s): 8/10 and 8.5/10
This is somewhat cheating as two anime take up one spot, but I feel these two series are similar enough to warrant a single spot, especially considering they would just come one right after the other on the list if I were to separate them, which would be redundant.
Remember that friend I mentioned above with NANA? She also recommended this series. While the episode count was daunting, the entire experience proved pretty worthwhile, and two of her three recommendations ended up on my best list of 2017. Here’s to you, Sango.
Now, recommending this series is tricky, as it’s one of those rare cases where people have to really “get it” to receive enjoyment out of it. It’s one of those “pure” slice-of-life flicks, where characters get along monotonously with life and overcome small trials and personal conundrums to pass the time. Very slow, very tranquil, with not a lot of drama or… anything, really. It’s almost like Seinfeld, except not at all. It’s a show about nothing, where things kind of just happen because they can. And also like Seinfeld, it takes a little while to get its groove on.
The two specific series I picked are the ‘Aria’ series’s second and third seasons. Its first is okay, but not worth mentioning on this countdown. Natural is also simply okay for about half of its stretch, before going full-on emotional mode to close itself out. Origination is like a combination of the first and second season, with a lot of slow-going things and emotional moments to tie you over. It’s the best of both worlds, like a series that finally knows exactly what it’s doing and knows how to do it well. A master chef, painter, singer, or otherwise. Natural and Origination both are very pleasant experience that are so sugary sweet and wholesome that I can’t help but be charmed by them. I’d watch this with my fucking kids.
Getting past the niche requirements, Aria is the whole package: simple, but effective story, characters, and genre-bending. Some light moral messaging and self-determination also aid in fighting off pointlessness amid the monotony, which makes itself known through a decent portion of the series (my kids would likely fall asleep to it). Fifty-plus episodes is going a little far, but when the series wants to be impactful, it’ll do so without you even knowing it. Suddenly, I loved the series. About as quickly as a light switch. Still not sure how or when it happened.
#2: Berserk (Original)
#1: Shinsekai yori
When I was noting down potential entries to make this list, I came upon this title. I immediately jotted it down and put a “(Duh)” note right next to it. Nothing comes close.
Made my favorites list. ✔
Came within half a point of a 10/10. ✔
Fills me with awe every time I see its image or am reminded of it. ✔
Makes me speak in a super-pretentious manner. ✔
Go watch it. Everyone. This is the type of content anime (and storytelling in general) lives for. The amount of creativity and absolutely riveting manner of storytelling presents not just standard entertainment, but a message for humanity to devour. It has a point, and a point well made. Intricate, delicate, and fascinating to an almost obscene degree.
A surefire recommendation.
The rating for these titles and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.