Hey there, Never-too-late-for-anything-kun here.
And after 20 days of endless, near-syndromic-and-pathetic levels of procrastination, I remembered that I started writing something. And here I am, I just needed to sit down for 2 hours and write this.
And… so here’s my Favorite Anime from 2017 (Top 10 + Honorable Mentions). Unlike last year, there are no rules this time- it aired in 2017, and I watched it, it’s considered. Wait there’s one, I didn’t include films- because I don’t want to.
And now there’s enough ‘ands’ starting each paragraph, let’s move on…
Attack on Titan S2
Attack on Titan came back after 4 years with another season of this action thriller with an equal, if not better, polish in its cinematic production. The tensed, apprehensive atmosphere from last atmosphere were nicely relayed to this season (although the feeling seemed a bit dulled for me since I read the manga, but that’s my fault and a very unfair counterpoint to make… but I’m still making it). The opening isn’t as hype as the last two, but the choral, cavernous ending was fantastic. Characters like Ymir and Historia had really beautifully presented character stories. The anime also took the liberty to place some juicy foreshadowing that the manga readers could pick up on, and I really liked that. I enjoyed this season of Attack on Titan as much as its first season, except I got bothered by the CG horses a bit too much. It will be interesting how the staff will handle the third season because it gets dialogue-heavy in the next arc.
I want to keep this anime in my honorable mentions at least, because I am a huge apologist for raunchy, wacky comedy. I am not sure whether I got desensitized to the comedy or whether the comedy itself got redundant, but I still remember some good jokes from the second season.
Land of Lustrous
The sparkling jewel hairs and vibrant backgrounds really flipped my expectations, visually- and I keep repeating this because the grand visuals had a great contribution to skewing my thoughts on the anime to a positive light. This show stands out and so does its characters and setting. I look forward to a second season.
Tsuki ga Kire
The art style of this show reminded me of Hourou Musuko (which is a really good anime), and I liked that light toned color scheme. The script of the anime also complemented the sunny feel of the visuals, but it was also impressively grounded and it rarely stepped out to present its melodrama in a over-blown way. In the end, it was a nice, bittersweet story about the romance between two awkward middle schoolers. Sure, the credits rolled in and the story beyond their middle school years became a bit contrived and artificial- but I don’t mind it because the anime, for the most part, didn’t ever aggrandize its plot’s scheme to any grander form than it is. It’s always nice to come across such a straightforward slice-of-life romance now and again.
10. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid had one of the most memorable character casts from last year for me. It is a light hearted comedy with an inclination towards vibrantly drawn moe shenanigans, but the show had plenty of moments where it went past expectations and delivered concrete character interactions backed up with substantial character narratives (especially between Kobayashi, Tooru and Kanna). Of course, not all characters have substantial writing to them, like Quetzalcoatl and Fafnir- but that’s maybe because they are just silly little showpieces to spice up the anime’s entertainment value.
9. ACCA: 13
ACCA is a unique show with a kind of a surgical pacing and it stays faithful to its patient narrative throughout its run time. The animation was sub-par in some cuts, but the color palette and the character designs are pleasant on the eyes yet they are memorable. I liked that the show didn’t pull many left hooks but it kept a steady accumulation on buildup and released the tension as elegantly in the last episode. The show’s soundtrack is one of my favorites from last year; and it also had the best sandwich bread in anime. My only complaint of the show is the character writing is kind of dry, but they, as a cast, act like cogs in the machine, of what is known as the plot, efficiently enough to make it engaging.
8. Natsume’s Book of Friends S6
This season of Natsume’s Book of Friends is probably my second favorite season since the first one, partly because of the apparent steepness in its plot progression at the tail end of the season. And partly because the sweet, breezy sentimentality felt specially fresh again with Kitamoto and Nishimura’s flashback (which is one of my favorite episodes in anime from last year). Watching this show has always been this pleasant mix of catharsis and entertainment- and the balance couldn’t be more noticeable this season.
7. Gintama. Porori-hen
After a rather washed-out saga of the Battle of Rakuyo, Gintama came back last fall donning its laurels one last time before the Silver Soul Arc. The ridiculous and gross comedy flaunted its mosaics (well, there weren’t really that many mosaic-ed scenes) once again, and characters of the massive cast, also known as the orchestrated cogs of this unforgettable, yet warm goof-machine, came back after a really long time. It is impressive how the comedy hasn’t really gotten stale after so many episodes and the (sort of) formulaic sentimental endings haven’t tired me. It’s strange, maybe I will always look at this show through my rose-tinted glasses of endless bias. But I can’t deny it, Gintama has its own place in my appreciation of comedy.
6. My Hero Academia S2
I had a feeling that this show will blossom into a really good shonen series (that’s why I put the rather slow paced first season in my top 10 last year). In terms of the setting and character development- this anime deserves the highest praise I can give. It was a treat to watch an interesting villain like Stain step into the limelight and cause the heroes and villains to reaffirm their ideologies. The art and animation still stayed at the top of its game throughout its run: that sakuga cut during the Deku and Todoroki match is unforgettable. The writing so far is solid, and I really look forward to more of this. If nothing else, this anime brings me back to liking shonen anime again.
5. Little Witch Academia
I have a soft spot for Trigger shows, because I tend to like shows with expressive animation and vibrant, simple character designs. Akko’s character animation is one of my favorite things in anime, and her character writing is pretty well rounded. Not all the episodes are gold, but they are charming in different forms. I had such a great time watching this, it never tired me. The story didn’t get overblown as quickly as most Trigger shows tend to be, and that made sense. I don’t know about the references- they were okay. But I loved the Gainax ending- so far, all of the Gainax-style endings I have watched have left me with my skin tingling, and this wasn’t an exception. Coming back to Akko, I found her character arc throughout the series pretty interesting and nuanced; and I am glad her development didn’t end up being overly derivative.
4. Made in Abyss
This Summer surprise was quite something. I loved the anime, it smells of adventure and sounds fantastical. Speaking of which… wait, I think I have gushed about the anime’s sound design in previous posts. Riko and Reg have a charming character dynamic from the get go and I am looking forward to more of their adventures. The story kind of plateaued in the middle but it picked up the tension and emotional stakes by the end to finally present the audience with a neatly cut story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this show, and it is a great anime to binge on.
3. Girls’ Last Tour
I loved the immaculately presented subtext of moe-(ness?) in the philopsophical and physical exploration of the two girls in a dystopian environment. It’s really tastefully done and, at the same time, doesn’t tangent into over-dramatic territory. On the contrary, the tone is pretty consistent throughout and stays focused in its episodic themes. The art direction is cool, there are some memorable shots of the demolished cityscape. It’s a unique little show with a lot of heart in its script.
These last two picks are really close when stacking them against each other, so I had a bit of a hard time ranking these two. But I chose the one with a more refined and completed story over another emotionally resonant ongoing one.
2. March Comes in Like a Lion (S1 & S2)
The second season of this series delivered my favorite anime episode of 2017- it’s a tonal masterpiece. And that is what I love about this series. While anime tends to be more immediate with its visual presentation, this show does it differently, it dares to indulge itself in visual metaphors. Of course, there are some cuts of animation where there seems to be no point in the said time-spending act of indulgence, but overall- the show holds together really well. Speaking of tone, the tonal whiplash is handled elegantly, as elegantly as its transforming color palette.
Rei’s character writing cemented itself solidly by the end of the first season, and Hina’s arc in the second season is phenomenal. Hina’s arc featured really sharp visual metaphors and the script, voice acting blossomed into full bloom in the first cour of the second season. I really adore this anime, and I am fully invested in the characters and the potential (and non-potential) drama. But that should be obvious, given that this is, so far, the only show I have done full episodic reviews on.
1. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
The story of Rakugo Shinju came to a really tasteful conclusion last Winter. It had faultless writing, just like the first season did. The voice acting of the cast is as intimate and riveting as always. But most important of all, the new character dynamics between this ‘next generation’ cast were just as engaging as the last cast was in the first season. There were some really powerful Rakugo scenes, particularly Konatsu and Yakumo’s “Shinigami” performance in that burning building episode.
Yakumo is my favorite anime character from last year. He is a near-perfect, true-to-life encapsulation of a person whose life changes because of an art form and the people involved with that. His obsession with death is rendered really empathetic in this season, and rather than seeing the death of a character being sad- it was a heart warming moment. It’s not just Yakumo, Konatsu and Yotarou get their own character exploration through rakugo. In the end, the anime was really about Rakugo. A josei drama about something larger than life? I can’t argue against that.
I feel like rewatching this already.
And that wraps up my year-end lists. It was really fun doing these lists, and then I just went out of it for no reason.
I was going to announce a blogging project, but I need to prepare some preliminary posts before I do that… I don’t trust myself to commit to it just because I announced it.
It’s past my bed-time, I need to stop typi-