This year I watched 621 episodes/films of anime from 28 different sources, including 3 ongoing series, 20 new series and 5 sequels, prequels or films based on series I've already seen. As ususal, I will rank these series on what I thought was the best, based on a mixture of subjective and objective opinion.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS!


Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (2017).

This charming, feelgood series about a business woman who ends up adopting a lesbian dragon maid has some cute characters, and an inspired message on what constitutes as family. However, it was pretty light on plot and I felt the humour slowed down in the later episodes.


Yuri on Ice (2016).

I do admire the ambition of this skating series to promote a homosexual couple in Yuri and Viktor (especially a relationship where both parties are equals), the main cast are memorable, the animation is fine for the most part and it does the sports competition tropes well. However, the second half is mostly on a repetitive loop, and it needed more room to develop its cast.


Lull in the Sea (2013-14).

This series about several middle schoolers who live in the sea who move to the school on land, is a slow burn with the typical slice-of-life romance cliche's, but it still has some great world-building, believable characters dealing with their feelings, and the intrigue and drama that result from the devastating twist mid-series.


Snow White with the Red Hair (2015-16).

Despite an aimless end to season 2, this is one of the best romance series I have seen with two likeable leads (Herbalist Shirayuki and Prince Zen) with great chemistry. What I really admired was how both leads acted upon on their feelings, as well as how they both end up helping the other. The supporting cast is also charming, and whilst season two has its production issues, it does provide some intense drama and managed to turn a one-note villain from episode one into a fully-fleshed out character who learned from his mistakes.


Attack on Titan 2 (2017).

As much as I really wanted to put this in the top ten, knowing the twists this time around affected its ranking some. Regardless, it's a solid continuation of the series, expanding on the world and it's ensemble cast, upping the ante with its action, horror and suspense, and pulling off some of the most shocking twists of the series to date in surprising ways.


And now, THE TOP TEN!


10. Sweetness and Lightning (2016).

Pipping out AOT2 for its feelgood vibe, this warm and cute show has a charming cast with a cute dynamic between the widowed father Kohei, his daughter Tsumugi, and high schooler Kotori, as they learn how to cook various meals. The food is also tasty to look at and had me craving for some whenever I started the trek home after anime club.


9. Amagi Brilliant Park (2014-15).

The premise is kinda silly: a theme park that's inhabited by beings from a fantasy world need the help of characters that are named after Kanye West and 50 Cent to stay open. However, this fantasy/comedy from the creator of Full Metal Panic is still an entertaining series. Granted, I do think the show lacked some world building and character backstories, but with its wacky cast, engaging dramatic beats, quirky humour, and quality production values from Kyoto Animation, this series became one of my personal favourites. I even admired the educational value in seeing the constant work that goes into maintaining a theme park.


8. Love, Chunibyou and other Delusions, season one (2012-13).

“Reality be Rent. Synapse, break. Banishment, this world!”

Whilst the pointless season two ruins its ranking, this series about a high schooler Yuuta and Chunnibyou (delusional teen) Rikka is not only funny, but also a believable and cute romance story about accepting one for their flaws and being true to yourself. This series appealed to me on a personal level because of how relatable it was to my own childhood experiences. This was coupled with a likeable cast (and cute lead Rikka), and some great production values (again from Kyo-Ani).


7. Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heavens Door (2001).

A great stand alone action movie based on one of the greatest anime of all time, where the Bebop cross paths with a terrorist who intends to kill the people of Mars with a virus. It's got some great visuals and animation for something nearly 2 decades old, as well as some decent action and fight choreography, and a complex villain. I do have some nitpicks with the movie (Elektra's backstory needed some elaboration, and it's not really the best showcase of the cast), but its still worth the price of admission.


6. Mob Pyscho 100 (2016).

What happens when the creator of One Punch Man writes a story about a teenage esper? You get this ugly, but lively animated action/comedy about overpowered esper Mob as he deals with his overpowered abilities and finding meaning in his life. Whilst being funny and using some unique animation styles, there are deeper layers in its themes of individuality. Mob is a sympathetic character due to his insecurities as a person and his fears of what damage his powers could cause. However the MVP of the series has to be his con-artist friend Reigen, who despite being a phony, becomes an unlikely mentor to Mob and steals the show in the climatic fight. It leaves things open for a season two, but its definitely something to try at least once.


5. Welcome to the NHK (2006).

Satou is a Hikikomori who has remained shut inside his apartment for several years, believing the television station NHK is to blame. Then girl-next-door Megumi offers him to partake in a social experiment to cure his condition. Whilst he's reluctant at first and tries ignoring her, it starts a crazy journey where he's introduced into otaku culture, pyramid schemes, suicide cults and online gaming.

Whilst it suffers from the quality slippage that many Gonzo productions go through, this dark comedy tackles the brutal reality of Japanese society and consumer culture, with characters who are messed up to some degree. A lot of the issues addressed are very relatable, but it also has a lot of heart, and has a cautiously positive message that things can get better if you start acting on your problems.


4. Death Billiards/Parade (2013-15).

When you die, you'll visit a bar known as Quindecim with no memory of how you got there. There, a bartender will ask you to play a game for your life. Said games are used to judge your soul, whilst bartender Decim and his nameless assistant will observe as judges.

Whilst I felt the show needed more episodes to explore the subject of human nature under stressful circumstances, this is still a solid story told in 12 episodes (and the 2013 OVA). The games themselves are intense with some tragic circumstances, and the production values and visuals are amazing to see. It even gives the two leads decent enough character arcs, as the question of whether Quindecim's methods of judgement are correct.


3. Fate/Zero (2011-12).

Whilst Unlimited Blade Works left me cold with its poor underutilisation of Saber and everything being all about Archer and Shirou in the second half, this prequel from the creator of Magica Madoka is a darker take on the Holy Grail War.


Unlike UBW, Zero's lead Kiritsugu is a grey protagonist, who will kill, lie and cheat just to have his wish of World peace fulfilled. Most of the other masters and servants are memorable to some extent including manly warrior Rider/Iskander, the charismatic Gilgamesh, or the psychopathic duo of Ryounsuke and Caster. Add some great production values from Ufotable, and a dark ending (where almost everyone ends up dying, betrayed, turned evil, gone insane or have had their very ideals crushed) and you have a solid groundwork for the Fate series in general. What prevents me from putting it higher however is how it relies on references from other sources to fully understand why certain things are happening.


2. My Hero Academia (2016-17).

PLUS ULTRA!

Hands down my favourite new series for the year, even if it's unfinished status prevents it from the top spot. The concept of a world where most of the population has a superpower has been done before (see Tiger and Bunny), but it's still explored with great detail and world-building. Izuku is an endearing lead who you want to see succeed despite the odds being stacked against him. The rest of the cast, including the heroic All Might and the second coming of Vegeta in Bakugo, are all memorable in their own right and have their own unique powers that have strengths and weaknesses. Also, it has some of the best action sequences ever animated, with meaning and characterisation (Tite Kubo, take notes), and also having a great tournament arc that HAS AN ACTUAL WINNER (Masashi Kishimoto, take notes).


But what is number one? Without further ado, it's...



1. Ushio and Tora (2015-16).

After having your face shredded by one of the most metal OP's I have heard, you're treated to an innocent enough start: teenager Ushio finds a monster in his basement, sealed by a spear-like object. However, the two are forced to work together and use the spear to combat the monstrous creatures who threaten Ushio's friends. As they learn how to become a team, they gain more allies and soon confront one of the most devious villains in anime history: the Hakumen No Mono. What I really like about this show is how it builds its world, and how plot points and characters introduced early in the series become important in later episodes. I also liked the character development from both leads, and the climatic fight remains one of the most epic I have seen in recent memory.

Admittedly, there are flaws (particularly several events happening offscreen between seasons). However, this had the most complete story out of anything I saw this year, hence earning the #1 spot.

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Surprised? Stunned? A psychic who totally saw this coming? Let me know what you think.