Top 10 Films I Viewed in 2021

2021 was one full of video games for me, personally. Working full-time for KeenGamer for a large majority of the year meant I didn’t have too much time to really focus on anything else, outside of perhaps attending Twitch streams or setting aside time to watch films with friends. In part because of the latter, as well as my annual March of the Movies block, I saw over 100 films during the course of 2021, which allows me to be able to comprise a list of the best of the best. Who doesn’t love a good Top 10?

For those who didn’t register the title of the post, this is a Top 10 of the films I viewed during the course of 2021, not films specifically released in 2021. Frankly, I don’t think I could even list ten films I watched that released in 2021… Nevertheless, there will be a (yeah, singular) film from 2021 on this list, so I suppose that counts for something.

I will also note that I’ve made individual posts or reviews for most of the films that will be listed here, so this will be pretty to-the-point. Should people want to know more, I’ll link to the place where more of my stupid words are available in a non-stupid fashion.

Continue reading “Top 10 Films I Viewed in 2021”

Top 10 Films I Viewed in 2020

Video games boiled down to what I reviewed for my main job. Anime was, outside of December, practically nonexistent. Football remained steady, but the output of football-related content on the blog was, well, out of bounds. When all else plundered, films continued to pile up in 2020, and while reviews weren’t plentiful outside the 2020 March of the Movies, it still remained an enjoyable splurge back into the blogspace. In general, films remained a constant in a changing 2020 for me personally. 100 films (including comedy specials and shorts) were viewed by me in 2020—10 of those are bound to be good, right?

Continue reading “Top 10 Films I Viewed in 2020”

Top 10 Best Anime I Viewed in 2017


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. Continue reading “Top 10 Best Anime I Viewed in 2017”

Top 10 Best Original Anime


A lot of the time when we think of our favorite anime, more likely than not, they weren’t originally anime. Now-a-days it seems like more and more anime are adapted from a source material, whether it be manga, light novel, or even visual novel. While anime isn’t by any means the only medium to do this, its rise in popularity over the last twenty years or so has demanded that more and more series be created to compensate for the demand, causing an influx of new stories being adapted into TV form. While the term “Original” can also relate to the freshness of ideas presented within a work, the emphasis here is simply the best anime series that weren’t adapted from other works. Put literally, the best original anime ideas.

As always, note that this is a list of my own favorites that I feel are the best from what I consider objectively (or subjectively) qualified. I would recommend the series that make this list on the basis that I think they’re good-quality works and are remarkably strong in most departments, but I would be lying if enjoyment didn’t play a role in their placement, as well. This list is also not all-inclusive, as I have not seen every original anime ever. Based on the three-hundred-something series under my belt, these are the ten best original anime within that swamp of completed anime.

#10: Mawaru Penguindrum

penguindrum 1

(My full thoughts.)

This is the third time I’ve spoken about Mawaru Penguindrum at length, so I’ll keep this spot relatively short.

More notable for his involvement in Revolutionary Girl UtenaMawaru Penguindrum is Kunihiko Ikuhara’s second full-fledged project, exhibiting a lot of the symbolic whimsy that the former series made famous. It’s expressive, colorful, and jam-packed with dark subject matter that make the series a little unhinged, resulting in some tensely thematic situations. It manages to capture the imagination of the viewer’s expectations and molds it into an, albeit somewhat confusing, adventure of magnanimous proportions.

There’s some repugnant aura of overexertion that somewhat overshadows the series’s efforts, though this ultimately lies on the individual’s tastes. Characters play within the plot beautifully, and with enough flair to keep even the most confused individual paying attention, many may not even care that the entire series flew over their head. It’s a riveting specimen of Ikuhara’s strengths as a storyteller and director, one that shouldn’t be ignored by anyone who adored Utena.

#9: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica

madoka magica

(My full thoughts.)

Going from one colorful series laden with ultra-dark subject matter to another. Irony at work.

Unlike the last series, I probably won’t need to convince many to give this one a shot, as anyone who was interested has already watched it. The popularity behind this series is astounding, with over 310,000 users interacting with this series in some way on MyAnimeList. People seem to really enjoy two things: magical girls and the reversal of expectations.

This popularity should also be indicative of its quality, as while I found the characters somewhat dull, the story is something intriguing in and of itself. Pacing and mood are two tremendous factors to this series’s psychologically-twisting nature. It takes an established trope surrounding the magical girl genre and turns it into something far more sinister, something a young girl couldn’t possibly manage to combat on her own. It speaks to the true manner of responsibility and pressure one within a position of power undertakes to keep an entire world safe from harm.

This alone makes this series a recommended watch, even if only for the sake of watching something truly unique within the medium. Not only is the series popular, but it’s nearly universally acclaimed. Its thought-provoking message and ability to capture the spirit of the magical girl and turn it into a new light speaks volumes for the commitment of the series to its quality. Now if only the characters didn’t feel so dispensable…

#8: Neon Genesis Evangelion


(My full thoughts.)

* * * CLASSIC ALERT * * *

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the greatest series of all time and it’s non-negotiable. Any opposing opinions can click the [x] tab on their browser, for they are wrong and should feel ashamed. This is why this series is listed at #8.

Almost in the same dimension as Madoka MagicaNeon Genesis Evangelion is credited for adding some psychological mindfuckery to the Mecha genre, imposing dark subject matter and the weight of world-threatening conflicts upon three young teenagers. This torrid mix of trying to handle traumatic experiences while also trying to mature into their own identities gives this series a multilayered take on the Mecha genre. It handles these themes with precision and clarity, though struggle at times to convey them due to the low budget this series had towards animation cost.

There’s an air of mystery to this series due slightly to what had to be muddled down to stay within the budget, resulting in an ultra-confusing last two episodes. It made the resulting sequel movies all the more essential in realizing what the hell even happened. Some noted it as trying to be “Too deep for you,” though I feel it’s more just the series being conservative and open-ended for the sake of conserving their reserves. Plus, it certainly becomes all the more memorable when the series ends on an acid trip dream sequence that seemingly makes zero sense.

Even if animation is somewhat of a struggle to sit through, and individual plotpoints somewhat repeat for the sake of establishing the monotony of responsibility, it remains an all time great series, original or not. Its impact on Japan is evident enough of its popularity.

#7: Cowboy Bebop

cowboy bebop

(My full thoughts.)

It has style, it has pizzazz, it has the atmosphere; Cowboy Bebop was the gateway to anime for many young enthusiasts. Full of memorable misadventures, subtle character development, and a rambunctious crew of lovable kooks, the series is a classic in every sense of the word. Popularity is one thing, its impact is something that I’ve even noticed in my lifetime. Whenever I think of Cowboy Bebop, I think of Toonami. The two seem inseparable to me.

The series sticks out with its style of storytelling, using an episodic approach to bring the crew together and give them further depth as their pasts come back to haunt them. Or hungry killer leftovers try to digest everything. If this doesn’t seem cool enough, add in some future-setting environments and a number of small hints as to the foundation of the galaxies that they explore and the people along the way. In a sense, Cowboy Bebop is a series about surviving in life, however one can see fit. There will be good and bad times aplenty, with enough spice to keep things interesting, so long as one keeps an adventurous attitude.

While I don’t consider the series a classic, I can appreciate what this series did in dispelling negative stereotypes associated with anime for a good while. It’s a good enough series on its own, but it came out at a time when anime wasn’t quite as “mainstream” as it is now, a time when anime was simply seen as something a little different. Cowboy Bebop proved that anime is different, and it could assimilate into something that can be universally accepted. Most of all, it is super quotable.

See you, space cowboy.

#6: Tsuritama

tsuritama 1

(My full thoughts.)

This is where my artsy-fartsy side comes out.

What is Tsuritama? An anime about fishing? Ducks? Secret agents? Aliens? What does it all mean? Why is this even an anime, and why is it on this list above Evangelion? Because it’s great, that’s why. With all the fuss about showing what anime truly is, Tsuritama is a nice, laid-back series about swimming through life at one’s preferred speed, while getting past the anxieties that hamper one along the way. It’s just told in the most bizarre way possible.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Evangelion’s ending incarnate cranked up to 11/10. It’s a silly little series full of eccentric characters and light on seriousness. Drama is involved, but not to the extent that would make this tiring to watch. It’s fairly easy-going, with a clear moral message hidden behind some articulate symbolic messaging. Tsuritama is pretty tame compared to the rest of the entries on here, and that’s part of what I like so much about it. It doesn’t try to do more than it has to.

There’s a groove to it that really speaks to me, and I’m sure it’d speak to others, too. With animation taking center stage, it shows a good amount of sunshine in a compressed attempt to convey that the world is better when you express yourself. Friendship, family, and independent reliability. Keys to a better life.

#5: Kyousou Giga

Kyousou Giga 5

(My full thoughts.)

Speaking of artsy-fartsy, this is probably the worst offender outside Mawaru Penguindrum. Much like the previous spot, and others before that, Kyousou Giga is pretty efficiently stylized in its own universe. More than anything else, Kyousou Giga is an anime that has an astoundingly creative world to explore.

I feel I’m going to get redundant the more I go on like this, so I’ll try and keep my perspective on similar strengths fresh. The focus of this anime specifically is family, the bond of being wanted and wanting to help your loved ones in times of need. This helping of emotional depth, combined with the vividness of the world and animation present, keeps Kyousou Giga incredibly engaging through each episode, as the audience finds out more about the family dynamic of the female lead.

This may seem somewhat troubling, but the series packs so much punch that I can’t even remember a lot of what happened within. There’s just so much to take in and try and memorize that it ultimately slips out in spurts. On the bright side, all the more reason to rewatch the show, and relive the moments that made watching it the first time all the more invigorating. For the longest time, a single shot of this anime’s background was my Twitter banner. That was no mistake.

#4: Kill la Kill

kill la kill

(My old review.)

Studio Trigger’s response to Gainax’s Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. It makes it all the more special seeing as both series were spearheaded by Studio Trigger’s founder: Hiroyuki Imaishi.

I won’t go and say this series surpassed its predecessor (Hint, hint), but it did a damn good job of holding its own as an anime classic. My love for Kill la Kill runs deep, with the same type of enthusiasm Imaishi is known for putting into his works. Its clear, concise, and bursting with emotional outbursts and proclamations. Sheer insanity awaits whoever watches this series. And that’s what makes it so tremendously entertaining.

Every aspect of this series checks out, whether character, story, animation, and even humor. Kill la Kill has a knack of incorporating both serious and non-serious into a unique blend of a product for all viewers. Violently chaotic, sexually stimulating, rambunctiously humorous; Kill la Kill seems to embody the spirit of adventure and outright emotional “badassery.” It pumps you up, it drags you down, it punches a hole through your stomach and insults your weak intestinal fortitude. The series is an absolute treat and the pinnacle of Studio Trigger’s madness.

#3: Shirobako

shirobako 1

(My full thoughts.)

And next we have a series that’s not like that at all!

What makes Shirobako exciting, worth caring for, and altogether great is how grounded in reality it is, rather than through animated theatrics. They say truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, the truth can be a wonderful outlet for emotional feedback.

The making of anime as an anime is probably among the most meta premises ever. Shirobako is more than that, however, as it highlights the feelings of motivation and ambition and finding one’s place in this crazy world. It’s a coming-of-age story for the more adult crowd, as the concept is usually aimed at kids transitioning into teenagers. For that, it’s a fresh perspective that doesn’t sugarcoat the drive one needs to have in order to survive in the real world, especially in a cutthroat industry such as television.

It doesn’t have the sort of hook that many others try to embellish early on. Slow-going and constantly building, the world of Shirobako becomes more splendid as time rolls on. Characters get more depth, and their experiences are shown to us on a day-to-day basis as we grow with them. It’s very easy to empathize seeing as I’m twenty-three and still huddled within my own fruitless ambitions, so anyone else fascinated with a slice of life on the more modern and adult spectrum, Shirobako is sure to please, assuming one isn’t expecting all the tropes that come with the standard anime crop.

#2: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

gurren lagann

(My full thoughts.)

Remember that “(Hint, hint)”? Did you get it? Good job!

This is a nostalgia pick. This is a serious pick. This is a pick that will drill me straight to the heavens. To make this entry incredibly frank, just copy/paste what I said about Kill la Kill and place it here, except magnify it all by five.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the magnum opus of Imaishi’s career. Just go watch it, for Kamina’s sake.

#1: Dennou Coil

dennou coil 1

(My “full” thoughts.)

Among my five favorite anime, this is the only one that wasn’t adapted from something else. Dennou Coil is completely original, and damn did they hit it out of the park here. The sense of exploration, a world slightly adapted from our current technological limitations; there’s a magic here at work. Almost in the way Studio Ghibli makes most feel at ease and completely within the world it creates, Dennou Coil does the same with me. Except it’s not Studio Ghibli.

In terms of my body’s ability to tell me of true objective quality, all of the notes were struck by this series’s tune.

  • Kept me wanting more (Marathoning wasn’t a chore).
  • Allowed genuine emotional investment (Almost cried).
  • Destroyed me by the end (Left a gaping hole of relief upon finish).

It excels in every category. It keeps itself relatively free of clichés. It transcends the expectations of what an anime series can do. It’s the best case of an original anime story I’ve ever seen, and I’m glad I was able to see it.

Honorable mentions: Michiko to Hatchin, Hanasaku Iroha, Code Geass (S1)

Top 10 Best Anime I Viewed in 2016


Please note that this is notTop 10 Best Anime of 2016 list. I haven’t even watched enough anime from this year to meet the criteria for this list! Rather, this is a list of the best anime I watched in 2016, as in it doesn’t have to have aired in 2016 to make it, only that I had to have finished (a majority of) it in 2016.

2016 was a bit of an anime renaissance for me, as since 2012, I had been watching less and less total anime yearly up until now. With a little over sixty different titles firmly planted within my brain, I decided to pick out ten of the ones I felt topped all others in terms of objective quality and subjective enjoyment. While I include both criteria, this isn’t necessarily a be-all, know-all in terms of what I consider to be the best of the best, as this list is a personal one. Also note that every pick on this list will be anime I’ve already covered on my blog, so I will link my thoughts/reviews along with them.

#10: Michiko to Hatchin

michiko to hatchin 1

My score: 7/10
My full thoughts.

Looking back on the anime I viewed this year, I was slightly surprised as to how much I actually like this anime compared to most. If one were to ask me if Michiko to Hatchin would’ve made this list before last week, I probably would’ve said “No.” Turns out, I’ve seen a lot of mediocre titles this year, so Michiko to Hatchin makes it based on process of elimination. Don’t get me wrong, though. The anime is a good one.

While the premise of two polar opposites traveling together to a mutual goal isn’t far-fetched, the degree of chemistry between the main characters more than makes up for the story’s lack of originality. Not only that, but I really enjoyed the steady progression and the pacing of the journey they set upon, which feels like they’ve traveled a long way for a long time. The feeling of time passing and the two growing into their ending states is genuine and relatable, even in the most inopportune of times. I also really enjoyed the hostility and the cruelty of the outside world that suits the hard-nosed Michiko and proves difficult to manage for the young Hatchin. This kind of atmosphere makes for a creatively unfamiliar anime setting.

One of the few flaws here is the excess of side characters that appear only to cause empathy and drive random, one-episode plots that the characters have to go through as observers. Should the anime have focused less on these aspects, it probably would’ve fared better on this list. As it is now, however, is still a decent watch and definitely recommended for those looking for anime with a different cultural setting.

#9: Umi Monogatari: Anata ga Ite Kureta Koto

umi monogatari 1

My score: 7/10
My full thoughts.

I genuinely don’t understand the flak that this anime receives on most ani-databases. I went into this anime expecting cringey fun, but I left in a confused state of bliss. I liked the anime. A lot. A lot more than most, even. This anime is ranked within the 4,000’s on MyAnimeList!

For whatever reason, the aspects that most anime within the same genre try to incorporate into their stories—magical girls, the power of friendship and family, the perspective of good and evil—works tremendously well in Umi Monogatari. One could say that this title is good at meeting the standards set by typical storytelling basics, which is amazing because most anime flub up on one or two aspects, at least.  It isn’t anything spectacular, but it does everything it tries to do in such a charming way that I can’t help but give it a decent score. It helps when I like the characters, too.

Clichés hamper the story quite a bit here, as would be expected from those going into it. I also didn’t care for the male love interest, who did all of absolutely nothing to earn any reason to be the object of affection for the female lead. I’m not sure he gets more than a few lines of dialogue the entire show. Somehow, Umi Monogatari manages to make these clichés tolerable at best, and even incorporates a smidgen of creativity within those clichés, which I thoroughly enjoyed. While the enveloping doubt of whether this anime is any good or not wreaks havoc in my mind, take it from me now, as of typing this at 11:49 A.M. Central U.S. Time on December 26th, 2016, that this anime is pretty good, and well worth the watch.

#8: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch (Season One)

code geass 1

My Score: 7/10
My full thoughts.

Fun fact: for the longest time, I refused to see this out of spite, due to a self-perceived imbalance of hype and quality regarding it. Ah, such is youth. I’ve learned since then that the passion of others shouldn’t drive you away from such things, but rather encourage you to check the subject out and craft your own opinion on it. Such is the case of Code Geass, one of a few beloved anime series I’ve had the pleasure of watching this year.

I do not think this series is perfect by any means, however the amount of dedication to concocting a formulated and efficient story of strategy and character drama is a tremendous draw to someone looking for something with a little more meat to chew on. I suppose the incorporation of the characters being in high school was a means of helping the audience ease into the political conflict. Still, the atmosphere and the pacing of the show was slow and unforgiving during this point, and a lot of characters here prove rather dull in the grand scheme of things.

Once the series starts rolling, it;s hard to take your eyes away. The final half of this series is pretty heavy-handed with all it tries to flesh out, providing a lot of different things to consider. I genuinely enjoy the effort to cover plotholes with every aspect of the story, whether it be Lelouch’s powers or C.C.’s origins. It makes it feel as though the story wants to be remembered as clean and stable. Of course, this could all be trampled within the second season, which I have yet to see. Pessimistic foretelling aside, Code Geass is a good view for anybody looking for something with a tad more thought behind the actions of its characters and ideals.

#7: Mawaru Penguindrum

penguindrum 1

My score: 7.5/10
My full thoughts.

There’s creativity in anime, and then there’s literal mindfucks. Ikuhara is a colorful madman and his stories are all the more entertaining for it. There are times when I feel he oversteps his bounds, but the fact that he’s willing to put so much enthusiasm and symbolism in his works at all shows how pretentious dedicated to his job he is, which is incredibly appreciated as a viewer.

Mawaru Penguindrum has a lot of what Ikuhara likes to do in his works, while also establishing things in a manner straightforward enough for most to understand. Keep in mind the “most,” as some are more than likely going to be lost at some point or another in this series. I certainly was, which was why I had to restart this anime from the beginning a few years after putting it on-hold sixteen episodes in. It’s unlike many other anime out there, aside from those already within Ikuhara’s library.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this anime to starting weebs, as it throws far too much at them. This is geared more towards, for lack of a better term, elitists who can appreciate the differences from standard anime and the symbolism of many different scenes shown within. It’s distinctive, absolutely, but whether or not it all makes any sense is up to you to decide. For me, it’s definitely enjoyable, but I wonder if everything’s really all there.

#6: Hanada Shounen-shi

hanada shounen-shi 3

My score: 7.5/10
My full thoughts.

I’m willing to admit outright that I don’t have a lot of older anime titles under my belt. Even so, I can definitely tell that Hanada Shounen-shi was going for the carefree, simplistic lifestyle and direction of older titles. More than that, though, the episodic nature of the show gives a sense of every day being an adventure, especially for the young hero Hanada, who has the ability to see spirits due to an accident prior to the show’s debut episode.

I really miss brats as main characters in stories. There’s something really charming about the main character being immature and learning from the different experiences happening around him. I love that sense of maturity and growth from those who obviously can’t handle the concept over a steady progression. In Hanada’s case, he’s a good-hearted kid, just stubborn and easily irritable, much like any kid. He holds the keys to how the story goes, and he rarely disappoints.

There’s a really great emphasis on acceptance in this anime, typically in the form of loss. Hanada Shounen-shi is usually a feel-good story within story arcs, with the occasional developmental episode focusing on those outside of the spirit realm. What I appreciate most about this series is how everyone feels alive, human, and entirely within their roles in society. Do you hate how goodie-goodie everyone is in anime now-a-days? I am. This anime has a good portion of people being snarky assholes and jokesters who enjoy beer, babes, and the material pleasures of life. Because a majority of people totally aren’t like that, right? And because they’re not, they’re automatically good people, yeah? More than anything, despite the fantasy elements attached, Hanada Shounen-shi feels real, which makes it a hell of a lot easier to empathize with.

#5: NHK ni Youkoso!

welcome to the nhk

My score: 8/10
My full thoughts.

Much like Hanada Shounen-shi, the protagonist to NHK ni Youkoso! is not your typical oblivious high school student. This anime focuses on NEET culture, and all that it entails. A wide variety of emotions exude from the situations that arise from this anime that it’s hard not to find the story so charming. Charmingly pitiful.

When one thinks of morals in anime, usually the trends are along the lines of “Don’t do bad. Believe in yourself. Friendship is good. Don’t ever choose a girl,” and the like. NHK ni Youkoso! offers a darker moral compass, as it shows the struggles that one deals with when they’ve become so wrapped up in their own deluded fantasies that they’ve become programmed to deny reality as they see fit. Such is the more extreme cases of NEEThood that the anime likes to embellish. The horrifying truth is that thousands, if not more suffer from this kind of lethargic, sometimes insane mindset that riddles them with a mix of guilt and self-loathing.

It’s dramatic, humorous, and somewhat sentimental. There’s a lot to love with this series and a lot more thought put forth to the nature of those with the mindset of our title character. At the end of the day, the viewer can make the experience all the more fulfilling by trying to place themselves within the lead’s shoes. While the show on its own is good enough, those fantastical fantasies give a sizzle to the metaphorical steak.

#4: Tsuritama

tsuritama 1

My score: 8/10
My full thoughts.

Why, yes. An anime about fishing and friendship. What makes you think this wouldn’t be within the Top 10?

While Ikuhara tries to hammer in every aesthetic mark of symbolism as humanly possible, Tsuritama has just enough to make this series feel both whimsically random and calculatingly intriguing. On the surface, a lot of what happens in the story makes zero sense and doesn’t manage to do anything for those looking for anything serious. Within the navy depths, crowded with fish and underwater specimens, there’s a story taking place here, one of traditional moral value and a little off-kilter humor to go along with it. A boy isn’t confident in himself, especially after moving from place to place all his life. What he needs is an alien to accompany him on a quest to catch fish. What?

I loved the creativity with visual cues and the absurdity of the progression of the plot. Sometimes it didn’t make sense while other times it didn’t seem warranted, but overall, the entertainment value for this show is sky-high. It has such a weird display of animation and running gags that I can’t help but find this anime adorable. Granted, the ending episodes strayed somewhat from this and became more of a typical “End it with a dramatic bang!” sort of deal, which is disappointing. Even so, the diversity of characters, situations, events, and an underlying structure to all of it makes Tsuritama both memorable and fantastic.

#3: Hyouge Mono

hyouge mono 4

My score: 8.5/10
My full thoughts.

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. Prepare yourself, kids.

Hyouge Mono is immensely likable, different, and incredibly unpredictable. Before last summer, I had never heard of it, nor have I ever seen or heard anyone make one mention of it. Ever. It was something that was completely new and unknown to me. It is also one of those rare “three-cours” that are spoken of only in myth. Truly, this was something that was going to take a lot of courage to go through with. I was feeling confident in myself, as I wanted something of a challenge during my Summer. I went in a man and came out an aestheticist.

It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It’s slow at first. Very slow. It takes a while for things to kick in. When they do, though, the anime is an absolute blast to watch. It’s silly and fun, but serious in its political themes and wartime strategy. It has a lot of different themes going for it, whether character drama, political powers clashing, battles over land, honor and respect, and most importantly, aesthetics. The focus on aesthetics is a fascinating turn for the industry, and the humor that arises because of it is so ridiculous that it’s charming. A character will lay on their bed, dying of a wound to the chest, vocalizing their will and testament, only to have their most precious item be a wonderfully crafted, slightly torn old bowl that is practically useless. And when they speak of how wonderful it is, as the light shining from the window blankets the bowl’s craftsmanship, the eyes of the men in the room grow to the size of tennis rackets. Their lips quiver, their hands tighten, their faces cave into themselves. God help me, this is so stupid.

The amazing thing about this anime is that it perfectly blends that stupidity with genuinely likable and respectable characters, making the inevitability of death all the more heartbreaking. The triumphs of man for material pleasure is in full force here, and the changes made to structures and the value of various things changing from those who reside in power are interesting to keep note of. Hyouge Mono is also very good at poking fun at the recent trend of bigotry of humankind. Don’t agree with my political beliefs? Screw you. Don’t agree that black is the best color for this little bowl in the corner of my room? Screw you. It’s so strange how funny this is to me, but it is. The whole series is so whimsical in its approach to every aspect that it becomes all the more memorable for it. If only it was a little better paced when it started, or else this may have reached “Favorite” status.

#2: Shirobako

shirobako 1

My score: 9/10
My full thoughts.

What better way to appreciate anime than to watch an anime about making anime? Sounds riveting, don’t it? Luckily, it is. It’s absolutely vibrant in its execution, and not just in the way the anime is made, but with a sense of camaraderie with those who are employed to make that anime come to life. A quintessential love letter to the industry, in good times and bad, Shirobako is a wonderfully meta excuse to draw anime drawing anime.

The biggest strength here is character, as each of them has a specific role and personality partially due to it. The development of said characters is wonderful to watch from beginning to end, though admittedly not all receive equal treatment. Aside from this, characters are also uniquely written to be realistic in their situations, while retaining the entertainment required to be “characters” in a comedy/drama-ish kind of monstrosity. They have brains, heart, and girth the size of my Mt. Everest.

Something that is shown so prevalently in anime is passion; passion for whatever the situation calls for, though normally strength or determination. It’s become so widespread that this sense of passion has become second-nature to viewers, in that it may not feel as strong as it intends. Shirobako never has this problem, as the passion is brought forth at the most absolute precise of times. Rarely and surely, the motivation and upbeat charisma of the cast makes the show all the easier to cheer on, but only because they aren’t constantly throwing it in your face. One can’t be passionate all the time; it feels more special in small doses. Shirobako has all the right doses, like a good doctor. My heart is excited, but comfortable.

Much like the process of anime-making, Shirobako is a carefully crafted process of hard work and genuine love for the industry. I would tell anyone to go see this, but at this point, do I even need to?

#1: Dennou Coil

dennou coil 1

My score: 9.5/10
My “full” thoughts.

It takes a lot, it really does, to land on my “Favorite” list. Somehow, without any expectations, Dennou Coil managed to do just that without even trying.

In the spirit of remaining consistent, I still won’t say much about this anime, as infuriating as that may be to some. My only advice is to watch it. Immediately. There is a spirit of adventure, the charm of the characters, the trials of what life puts you through and the maturity to accept it that makes this series more than a simple “coming of age” story. It’s a magical, wonderful anime that is nearly flawless in my eyes, if not for a meandering couple of episodes near the halfway point. Any anime that can have me nearly in tears deserves as much praise as it can get from me subjectively.

I would definitely put this up there with any anime out there, whether it be movies from Studio Ghibli or top-rated anime such as Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood or Steins;Gate. It’s an accumulation of everything I want to find in a story (aside from a strong romance) and a good indication that the industry is still capable of making wonderful original stories. It’s without a doubt the best anime I saw this year and will likely hold its ground against competitors in the near future. Until then, Dennou Coil is a qualified masterpiece.

The rating for these titles and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.