Anime Year in Review: The Ten Best Shows of 2017

This year has been a strange one for me with anime (2017 has been a strange year in general, but let’s set that aside for now). I found my watch schedule dominated by sequels and second seasons, while some of my more highly anticipated shows (Welcome to the Ballroom, ACCA, Little Witch Academia) left me a bit cold, and other shows I initially enjoyed took a sharp nosedive (hey there, Rage of Bahamut). This list definitely reflects that, being split equally between sequels and nonsequels. That said, there was plenty this year for every kind of anime viewer (perhaps minus mecha fans) to enjoy—dragon maids, food-themed coup d’etats, dramatic sword boys, steampunk assassins, and small-town tourism, just to name a few.

But enough with the chatter—keep reading to see my favorite ten anime of 2017.

 

KONOSUBA -God’s blessing on this wonderful world! 2

My first sequel spot must go to KonoSuba, the fantasy comedy about an awful human being that gets reincarnated into an RPG-style fantasy world and does absolutely nothing of worth there. This show is just plain stupid and fun, making it easily my favorite entry in the burgeoning isekai genre. The characters are what make this show entertaining—Kazuma is a total POS and the show knows it, and Aqua deserves every single thing she gets. This show has a similar appeal for me as Osomatsu-san (the second season of which is continuing into 2018)—there’s something fantastic about watching terrible people get slapped in the face by karma.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

I didn’t think this meet cute between two thirty-ish video game nerds would be in my top ten this year, but here we are. Moriko Morioka is a thirty-year-old NEET by choice—she’s quit her soul-sucking corporate job and spends her days playing a fantasy MMO, where her handsome, sword-wielding hero makes an instant connection with a cute healer whose player is closer than she thinks. The main couple in this show are a pair of adorable dorks with the sweetest, most pure intentions, and the rest of the cast is full of supportive, wholesome characters. This is a feel-good show about good people getting to be happy—it made my heart feel squishy.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

This was one of my favorite shows last year, and the second season stuck the thematic landing that the first season set up. If offering less of a sweeping romance than the first season, its narrative of Yakumo’s attempt to drag rakugo with him to a bitter grave was just as compelling. Mangaka Haruko Kumota’s characters are complicated, interesting people that inspire hate and contempt as easily as love and affection. A fitting close to a prestige project that we were lucky to see this year—and don’t forget to support the manga!

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond carries on the story of Leonardo Watch, a member of a secret organization protecting the peace of Hellsalem’s Lot from extra-dimensional threats and general supernatural weirdness. I was a bit skeptical about this season because of the loss of director Rie Matsumoto, but this sequel has been heaps of good fun. Although it lacks the thematic and visual strength of the first season, the more episodic format and madcap adventures make the most of Yasuhiro Nightow’s crazy cast and worldbuilding in a way the first season didn’t quite manage. And while some characters, like Zapp, have been reduced to comic relief, others, like K.K., were revealed to have unexpected depths.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series

I’ve immensely enjoyed this reboot of a beloved franchise, that, as far as I’m concerned, more than does justice to the original. Kino’s Journey is an enigmatic title, more a series of fables than a cohesive show—the characters often act like allegorical constructs rather than human beings, and the logic of the world molds itself around the narrative, not the other way around. While this can be a little strange, the show pulls it off with a quiet dignity that makes credulity the price of admission. What I like most about Kino’s Journey is how uncomfortable some of the “morals” can be—it’s not willing to offer up answers to all the questions it raises, and that’s perfectly fine.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

The Eccentric Family 2

Here’s a sequel I never thought we’d be lucky enough to see, but I’m so very glad we did. Carrying on from the events of the first season, The Eccentric Family 2 follows a family of tanuki living in a modern Kyoto with a supernatural underbelly of transforming tanuki, flying tengu, and magical and non-magical humans. It was a pleasure to be a part of this world again, and this season had tons of little (and big) good things—sweetly awkward romance, plenty of musings about family, a brief but eventful trip to hell, and the satisfaction of someone finally knocking the grin of Benten’s smug face for five minutes.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

My Hero Academia Season 2

If you’ve been living under a rock, this blockbuster show is Weekly Shonen Jump’s answer to superheroes, following Izuku “Deku” Midoriya on his journey to become the number one hero like his idol, All Might. Although I of course loved the first season, this one got much more into the meat of the series and is vastly better for it. Animation studio Bones’s adaptation of this manga more than does it justice; they nailed every arc they took on this season, and did it with the polish and energy that this fantastic manga deserves. My Hero Academia is everything a shonen battle anime should be…and luckily we won’t have to wait long for the continuation.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

Land of the Lustrous

I don’t know that I can say I predicted a show about androgynous CG gem people becoming such a hit, but I’m so pleased Land of the Lustrous has taken off in such a big way. My greatest hesitation going in was that that Orange’s 3DCG approach was going to further distance viewers from characters that were already difficult to connect with emotionally—but I couldn’t possibly have been more wrong. Though the anime never quite attains the incredible composition of the striking manga art, it renders Haruko Ichikawa’s surreal vision with great life and pathos. Land of the Lustrous is gorgeous, absorbing, surprising emotionally resonant—not to be missed this year.

Missed it? Catch it on Anime Strike.

 

Made in Abyss

This dark fantasy, following two children on a near-suicidal adventure to reach the bottom of a vast and dangerous abyss, managed to make quite the splash this year despite its exile on Anime Strike. Almost cinematic in tone, Made in Abyss draws viewers in with a combination of high-stakes adventure, fascinating (and merciless) worldbuilding, and questionably-motivated characters. Engrossing, thoughtful, and emotionally exhausting—I am looking forward to (but also dreading) seeing more from this world.

Missed it? Catch it on Anime Strike.

 

March comes in like a lion

This much-asked-for adaptation of Chica Umino’s critically acclaimed shogi manga came out to perhaps a more quiet reception than one might expect, possibly because considerable fan energy was spent arguing over choice of studio to adapt it. Whether you love Shaft’s creative liberties or hate them (I am more in the love camp), the quality of source material came shining through. March comes in like a lion deals sensitively with Rei’s loneliness and depression, the difficulty he has opening up to the Kawamoto family, and his anxiety and paralysis surrounding his relationship with shogi. A moving, sometimes painful, but very worthwhile story that earned the spot as my favorite anime this year.

Missed it? Catch it on Crunchyroll.

 

And that’s it, folks! Didn’t see your favorite show from 2017 on here? Tell us your favorites from the year in the comments—or better yet, what you’re looking forward to in 2018!

Kelly Quinn Chiu is a children’s librarian and professional anime watcher. You can find her talking about manga and comics on Twitter.

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