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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Spring 2017 – Week 12 in Review

Things stayed at a pretty even keel for this week in anime, with my precious surviving shows offering neither stunning highlights nor frustrating failures. In The Eccentric Family’s case, the fact that this episode wasn’t a standout was itself kind of a disappointment – this was the final episode, after all, and so if this season had any pretensions of matching the original, now was the time. But overall, this week mostly just demonstrated that shows like Sakura Quest or Re:Creators have become very adept at maintaining their good-but-not-great dramatic ratios. With The Eccentric Family suffering a pretty meaningful decline from the first season, there’s nothing here that seems likely to claim the top spot of the year. Alright Kemono Friends, you’ve still got a chance!

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The Eccentric Family 2 – Episode 12

The Eccentric Family came to a relatively satisfying close this week. While this finale pretty much unavoidably lacked the perfectly threaded cohesion of the first season’s ending, it still offered fun individual scenes for almost the whole cast. Benten and Nidaime got to act like the bratty siblings they are, Yasaburo and Kaisei were adorable, and Yaichiro finally got the happiness he so richly deserves. Sail on, brave tanukis.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Spring 2017 – Week 11 in Review

The anime this week was… confusing. On the negative side, my two favorite shows of the season had pretty mediocre episodes. My Hero Academia was stuck in transition land, while The Eccentric Family decided to lean even more heavily into the same conflicts as the first season. On the positive side, basically everything below those shows had a terrific showing, with all of Sakura Quest, Re:Creators, and Tsuki ga Kirei pulling off some of their best episodes yet. I suppose that’s the advantage of watching this many streaming shows – even if the heavyweights momentarily stumble, there’s always something putting its best foot forward. Anyway, I’ve got a million words on Re:Creators this week, so let’s start at the opposite end and RUN THIS WEEK DOWN!

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The Eccentric Family 2 – Episode 9

Management: I apparently forgot to post this back when the review actually went up. Woops!

This week’s Eccentric Family was… well, not the best. This season has had a variety of small issues keeping it below the level of the original all along, and this episode both leaned into those problems and also just wasn’t that interesting structurally. A show of Eccentric Family’s length and pedigree can’t really afford lull episodes, so I wasn’t happy to see this one, but I don’t really see it becoming a trend, either. Ah well!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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The Eccentric Family 2 – Episode 11

Things got pretty wild in this week’s Eccentric Family, as secrets were revealed and battles were fought and dramatic declarations were made all up and down these twenty minutes. For all that, I found myself somewhat unsatisfied with how this season is resolving, but my article covers all that. This season of Eccentric Family definitely isn’t as strong as the first, but hey, Eccentric Family is Eccentric Family.

You can check out my full review over at ANN.

Why It Works: The Lonely Queen of The Eccentric Family

Today I finally dedicate an article to Benten, something long-time readers have presumably been waiting for all season. Look, My Hero Academia has been super good and fun to write about, I’ve been busy. I generally tend to favor the shows I’m not actively writing about for ANN over at Crunchyroll, but when it comes to general season-long topics like a character profile, Why It Works is a wonderful venue. Benten has certainly earned a spotlight article, and I hope this one does her justice. Please enjoy the piece!

Why It Works: The Lonely Queen of The Eccentric Family

Spring 2017 – Week 10 in Review

After a serious dip in general show quality, the anime returned to something of a neutral setting this week, lifted largely on the back of The Eccentric Family’s terrific performance. Sakura Quest, My Hero Academia, and Re:Creators were all just kinda middle-of-the-road, though their particular brands of middle-of-the-road all gave me unique things to talk about. So in terms of this particular article, I guess you guys once again get to reap the benefits of less than stellar cartoons. This season isn’t ending as well as it started, but basically none of them do – it’s a whole lot easier to make a great first episode than it is to make a consistently satisfying full season narrative. Let’s start out in the weeds of Manoyama and run this week down!

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The Eccentric Family 2 – Episode 10

The Eccentric Family recovered and then some, offering one of the strongest episodes of the season to date. Splitting its drama across virtually every member of the Shimogamo family, it conveyed the impossibility of living with as much grace as ever. We are very lucky to have a second season of this extraordinary show.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below.

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Spring 2017 – Week 9 in Review

I guess I should have stopped talking about the anime being good! The cosmos apparently did not appreciate my joy, and so this week in anime was pretty friggin’ bad. The Eccentric Family had easily its worst episode of the season, Sakura Quest kinda fell into its lazy sitcom mode, and Re:Creators took a couple of turns so disappointing that I felt tempted to drop the show altogether. Not really a good showing for what had looked like a pretty bulletproof season.

Still, My Hero Academia had a fucking amazing episode, and one bad week isn’t really enough to shake anything I’m watching. Plus I know you guys love to read through my suffering, so I guess at least one audience gets to benefit from this week’s disappointments. Let’s start with the good news and run this week down!

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