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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My Hero Academia, Volume 10 – Review

I’ve got another My Hero Academia manga review today, this time covering the fallout of the villains’ attack on Deku’s summer training. This volume’s density of exposition and table-arranging meant it didn’t really stand a chance of being as compelling as the last volume, but it certainly succeeded at expanding the scope and raising the stakes of Deku’s world. Now we just need stabby knife girl to actually get a major scene, and not just a footnote like at training camp. Seriously, they’ve been baiting her battle debut for like four volumes now. On with the stabbing!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

My Hero Academia, Season Two – Review

Today on ANN, I reviewed the second season of the always satisfying My Hero Academia! As I often mentioned while the season was actually running, it was a great relief to see My Hero Academia’s sequel pick up the pace of adaptation, and give the original’s arcs precisely the amount of screen time they needed. The adaptation even improved over the original at times, making it an altogether excellent take on a very good manga. BRING ON SEASON THREE!

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Summer 2017 – Week 13 in Review

At last, another season has come to an end. This one wasn’t a particularly auspicious season, but hey, it happens – sometimes the best shows are in genres I don’t really care for, sometimes I sleep on the wrong shows (sorry, Princess Principal), and sometimes there just aren’t that many things worth watching. Even if the airing catalog wasn’t very deep this time, I had a great time with My Hero Academia, Tsuredure Children, and Made in Abyss, and also found lots of time to watch a whole bunch of older anime. The backlog is basically an infinite yawning gulf of quality entertainment, and no matter how much I tear at it, my expanding genre palette just seems to make it broader and darker all the time. With a very promising season coming up, let’s take a few moments to say goodbye to summer’s final stalwarts. Starting with those lovable kids of Class 1-A, let’s run this week down!

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Summer 2017 – Week 12 in Review

With Tsuredure Children having already ended, there really wasn’t all that much anime to sift through this week. We’re entering the seasonal Dead Zone now, where our only comforts are the shows that started awkwardly late, a procession of extended goodbyes that can sometimes stumble all the way into the following season. I’m certainly ready for this unfortunate season to end, but now that we’re at the brink, it’s tough to think that I’ll no longer be getting new weekly installments of My Hero Academia. The show’s second season has been a revelation after the somewhat questionable first act, consistently elevating inherently great material and just generally demonstrating how fun a good shounen adventure can be. With JoJo Part Five nowhere in sight and Hunter x Hunter far in the rear view, my weeks will be cloudier for lacking a great punch-stuff story. Symphogear, please rescue us soon.

Anyway, enough lamenting. Let’s start with the dregs and run this week down!

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Summer 2017 – Week 11 in Review

It’s time again for the week in review! This week in anime was… acceptable, I guess? When you’re only really hanging any hopes on three shows, the caliber of your week is pretty easy to diagnose. And this particular week, all the things I’m caring about pulled off episodes that were reasonable, but not exceptional. On the plus side, Rick and Morty’s third season continued to impress, offering a replacement for interdimensional cable that easily eclipsed that tradition’s lukewarm reprise. And hey, we’re basically at the end of the season anyway. If this fart of a season wants to go quietly into the night, I won’t complain. Either way, let’s start with the anime frontrunners and run this week down!

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Why It Works: My Hero Academia’s Final Exams: Preliminary Report

Today on Why It Works, I jumped back to My Hero Academia for a pretty silly concept piece. My Hero Academia’s sturdy tactical foundations both make its action very satisfying and also make it a rewarding show to break down in a narrative sense, and today I spun that quasi-criticism into an after-action report. “Who would win in a fight, Goku or Naruto” is generally not the most illuminating genre of criticism, but My Hero Academia is actually constructed in such a way that it rewards such in-universe tactical discussions. I had fun with this piece, and I hope you enjoy it too!

My Hero Academia’s Final Exams: Preliminary Report

Summer 2017 – Week 10 in Review

Let’s strap in for the week in review! We’re nearing the end of the season now, but it doesn’t really feel like it, at least from my perspective. With My Hero Academia simply ending a fairly minor arc and Tsuredure Children sticking largely to self-contained skits, Made in Abyss is the only show providing me with all that much closure – and even there, this week’s episode felt more like the introduction to a new stage in Riko’s adventure than anything truly final. But climactic or not, this week’s Abyss was a stunner in all regards, the dramatic payoff to all these weeks of knowing fandom titters. So let’s start right there, and then ramble our way through this week’s choicest offerings!

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Summer 2017 – Week 9 in Review

The conclusion of Game of Thrones’ mini-season sadly means these week in review posts will be shrinking again. Fortunately, the shows I still have to talk about were pretty much all excellent this week, offering a varied sample of distinctive pleasures. My Hero Academia started off on an exciting new mini-arc, Made in Abyss constructed a “filler episode” that was more satisfying than plenty of its normal episodes, and Tsuredure Children kept up its endearing shenanigans. Really the only outlier was Classroom of the Elite, and we don’t talk about Classroom of the Elite. Let’s start down in the abyss and work our way up through this week in anime!

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Summer 2017 – Week 7 in Review

The anime was all very respectable this week, maintaining an even course without really offering any major highlights or disappointments. Made in Abyss arrived at a necessary training arc, though given this show’s generally speedy pacing, that “arc” may just take one more episode. My Hero Academia was in exposition mode, but it still managed to offer some fun moments with the class. And Classroom of the Elite finally got as dramatically indulgent as it’s apparently always wanted to, topping off a series of grim inter-class showdowns with the introduction of some actual mad scientists. I complained about the show’s super hammy musical cues when I reviewed its first episode, but as it turns out, those musical cues turned out to be the only element of that episode that would truly indicate the show’s nature. But let’s start in the fringes of the abyss, and run this week down!

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