Top Ten Anime of 2017

That fabled time has come once again. With four full seasons of anime on the books, it’s time to mark out the true all-stars, the cream of the crop, the shows we just might remember in spite of our recency-mad fandom culture. I normally preface posts like this with a glib assurance that rankings don’t really matter, art deserves to be engaged with in a manner more meaningful than relative evaluation, and thus this whole ordeal is a hopeless exercise. That all remains true, but at the end of a year that’s offered plenty of things to be cynical about in the real world, I’d rather end this introduction on a note of honest positivity. Rankings aren’t bad things. Not only are they fun to read, but to people who actually haven’t spent countless hours poring over the year’s better and worse selections, rankings can genuinely help point people in useful directions. On top of that, simply celebrating the shows I love is one of my favorite things about criticism, and what’s a better venue for pure celebration than a list of my recent favorites? So let’s put the critical knives aside, and appreciate how good some cartoons can be. Here’s my Top 10 Anime of 2017!

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Fall 2017 – Week 12 in Review

And so it ends. This really wasn’t much of a week in anime, considering a third of my airing shows have already finished, but it still seems worth it to stop by and turn the lights out. Even taken as the season’s conclusion, this was a pretty weird one; not only are Just Because! and Love Live lingering into the year’s final days, but March comes in like a lion isn’t concluding at all, and Land of the Lustrous was only able to offer a light thematic bookend. This was an extremely good season, but it seems that it’ll be ending very quietly; no anthemic finales, and not all that much finality in general. But hey, if all these great shows want to end with slow dignity instead of dramatic fanfare, I suppose they’ve earned that right.

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Fall 2017 – Week 11 in Review

Another of our beloved contenders set sail this week, with MMO Junkie ending on a kinda mediocre but still relatively charming OVA episode. Outside of that, the fall season continued to offer nothing but hits this week, with Sunshine managing its second strong episode in a row while all the season’s more stable contenders maintained their usual sheen. I have to admire March comes in like a lion for its confidence in continuously interrupting its excellent Hina arc with diversions that all turn out to be satisfying enough to warrant messing with the narrative structure. March’s choices don’t at all feel like the way this story “should” be told, but at this point, the embellishments feel like expert saxophone solos threaded into a confident jazz standard. Meanwhile, Lustrous continues to surprise in new ways, while Just Because! keeps up its awkward-as-hell consistency once again. It is so very nice when the anime is good. Let’s GET TO IT!

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Fall 2017 – Week 10 in Review

It feels like all of these great shows are now just jostling to remind me exactly how great they are, right before the season ends and we’re all left in the winter void. March comes in like a lion rose to a dramatic crescendo, Land of the Lustrous had one of its most visually jaw-dropping episodes yet, and even Love Live Sunshine managed to shake off its recent woes and deliver a strong performance. With Recovery of an MMO Junkie already taking its bow, we’re really in the final days now – and with the end of the year prompting me to write way too many final lists, I’m getting even more reminders of how good this season is. Considering Land of the Lustrous is likely to be one of my future go-to gateway shows, I can’t really complain about all this anime ending strong. Let’s instead celebrate it while it’s here, and run this week’s episodes down!

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Fall 2017 – Week 9 in Review

Land of the Lustrous is so good you guys what is up with that. I mean, the other anime I’m watching are good too, but seriously, Land of the Lustrous. I think it actually might be on anime of the year trajectory at this point, particularly if we hit any real payoff of its big threads by the end of this season. Aside from that, hey, guess it’s time for the Week in Review! The season’s holding pretty steady at this point, with most shows either moving towards or formally transitioning into their final act. Love Live is still messing around in side arcs, but I actually appreciate that in a structural sense, since I don’t think the show really improves by focusing on the drama of the Love Live itself. MMO Junkie had a criminally adorable episode, and Just Because stayed as well-observed as ever. Look, I don’t know how many ways I can say “this season is phenomenal and we should cherish it while it lasts.” Let’s get right on with it and RUN THESE SHOWS DOWN!

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Fall 2017 – Week 8 in Review

Having honed an already-strong season down to a fine point, my experiences with this week’s anime were altogether pretty darn good. March comes in like a lion is perhaps the biggest surprise – I’d established fairly middle-of-the-road expectations for the show the first time around, but this time it’s consistently keeping up with the season’s top heavy hitters. And of course, both Just Because! and Land of the Lustrous have been great from the start and remained great, with only Just Because!’s production woes really pulling it down. We’re reaching the point where it’s time for me to settle on my favorite shows of the year, and the fall season will certainly be well-represented there. Could either Kemono Friends or Land of the Lustrous secure that top spot, marking a new dawn for CG anime? ONLY TIME WILL TELL! Alright let’s talk shows.

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Fall 2017 – Week 7 in Review

The anime was, uh, brief this week. Just Because!’s production woes finally flowered into an entire week off, while my persistent issues with neo-Kino’s Journey led to me finally dropping it. Outside of those missing contenders, things didn’t actually get that much better – I had issues with this week’s MMO Junkie, Love Live, and Juni Taisen, leaving it to just March and Lustrous to carry the banner. Fortunately, those two performed admirably, with Land of the Lustrous in particular continuing a pretty much unbroken streak of excellent episodes. With Kino out of the picture, it’s likely time to actually pick up Girls’ Last Tour, but that unfortunately has to come after actual work-related shows. Hopefully that’ll make it in by next week, and in the meantime, let’s run down this week’s unfortunately lackluster offerings!

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Fall 2017 – First Half in Review

Well, we’ve arrived at the halfway point again. 2017 feels likely to be remembered as a key year in humanity’s overall decline, but at least this fall season’s Japanese cartoons were pretty good. As usual, I’ll be doing my pointless mid-season rankings today, and jotting down some overall thoughts on the shows I’m watching so far. These rankings are always meaningless, but given there are a fair number of admittedly great shows I’m already not watching purely because of time constraints, you can rest assured that I’m solidly enjoying everything that actually makes this list. Side M, Girls’ Last Tour, Ancient Magus’ Bride… I’d be happy to keep up with any of those shows in a lighter season, and will hopefully find the time to swing back and pick them up later. As for now, I’ll try to be at least a little ruthless in breaking down where I think my active contenders stumble and soar. Let’s get right to the list!

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Fall 2017 – Week 5 in Review

Dear lord is the anime good you guys. The anime is so, so good. Even the shows I’ve been kinda so-so on, like Kino’s Journey and March comes in like a lion, turned in all-star performances this week. Last season’s emptiness seems to be getting paid back in full this season, as Fall 2017 is pretty much offering everything I want in anime. A thoughtful, subtly executed character drama? Just Because! A rambling, evocative thematic treatise? Kino’s Journey. An over-the-top but still character-focused action spectacle? Juni Taisen. And all those pillars are strongly bolstered by plenty of other shows, including TWO, that’s right, TWO actually funny comedies. We very rarely get seasons this good, and I’m doing my best to appreciate every minute of it. LET’S RUN THIS WEEK’S EPISODES DOWN!

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Fall 2017 – Week 4 in Review

The anime is just gonna keep being good, I guess! Fall 2017 continues to be one hell of a season, offering a wide variety of strong shows that so far haven’t really faltered at all. If anything, the fact that this season, and particularly its surprise hits, have been so consistently strong is prompting me to be a little harsher to shows I’d otherwise be happily accommodating. In this case, it means that I’m probably parting ways with The Ancient Magus’ Bride. The manga’s adaptation is perfectly “okay,” but “okay” is just not enough this season – I’m not getting anything out of the anime that I didn’t get out of the more tightly composed manga, and meanwhile, we’ve got stuff like MMO Junkie and Juni Taisen totally blowing me away every single week. I’m sorry Chise, but your adventures turned out to be late by exactly one season. Let’s set that sad parting aside and run the rest of this week down!

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