Once again, it’s that time of the year when every anime fan enters their favorites into the online version of a cock-fighting contest.
2017 is coming to an end and while it was a pretty awful time for the world, it was a great time for pop culture. Movies. Video Games. Anime. The bad may have made up the majority, but the good were plenty to the point that I actually had trouble deciding how I was going to structure this list. Do I make a generic top list encompassing the fifteen or so anime I had fun with like most of my colleagues are doing? Do I do some faux-award show? Am I going to have to make a separate list for the many good anime video games? And after some thinking, I said “screw it”. We’re doing something different this year to celebrate being a weeb. We’re going to have an un-ranked top list to celebrate both the anime series, the anime movies, and the anime video games. Because as far as I’m concerned, excluding the impact of 2B’s ass on the anime community will be doing a great disservice to the world, and I don’t want to make a separate list for it.
Here’s how the top list works this year: I’ll have a few categories and list every fictional anime-based product that belongs to it in my mind along with the token descriptions regarding why I enjoy them. All categories are positive, but despite the amount of anime that I enjoyed this year, it’s still going to be a short list. Only the stuff I think is at least decent will get their own entries while the anime I think are just okay will be thrown into the runner-ups category at the very bottom. There is no real order to this list aside from the categories going from good to better to even better and so on and so forth (until the end where I list all the runner-ups), although the anime products I put in each category are roughly arranged by
ascending descending rank order. Stuff like Cuphead and Shape of Water aren’t allowed because they either have no ties to anime or said ties are too loose to take into consideration. Sequels are not allowed unless they’re an improvement on the original.
And of course, I have to actually have seen the anime or played the game for it to qualify. Never watched Land of the Lustrous, nor do I care to. I haven’t played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 nor Nioh despite owning both, so they’re unfortunately disqualified for consideration even though I believe when people say they’re both great. Also, Your Name is not on this list because I watched it last year. Yeah, I didn’t rank it amongst my favorites for 2016 back then and I really should have because it would easily have been my #1 anime for that year. But as of now, I feel like the constant overwhelming praise the film gets now has caused that ship to sail, so just know that I think it’s a really good anime and if you haven’t got an opinion on it yet, you should.
Think that’s enough of the buildup. Let’s get started.
NiER: Automata is definitely a game I never expected to get as big as it did upon learning of its existence. And truthfully, some of the praise can feel pretty selective to me. It had gameplay issues from its repetitive combat, hit-and-miss graphics, insipid side quest objectives, and for god’s sake Yoko Taro you better not make me play through the same story twice but as a different character in your next game. But its unique take on existentialism through the eyes of machines that have lived way too long for their own good really fascinates me as someone who enjoys tales about defining yourself in a world where all the old definitions of living have been stripped away. It’s a weird but ultimately fun game that defines the words “flawed masterpiece” in both good and bad ways, and the fact that I’m still thinking about it long after finishing the game really shows how much of an impact it had on me.
Super Mario Odyssey
As a big fan of Mario platformers as well as one of those people who think the plumber has gotten a bit stale since the first Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Odyssey was just the breath of fresh air the franchise needed and I’m so happy the game met the high expectations set for it. It’s not a very challenging entry and the plot is about par-for-the-course with a few funny twists, but Odyssey avoids the traps Breath of the Wild made with its “gameplay over story” focus by tightening the scope, brightening up the tone, and making even the act of moving throughout the many different settings a joy to behold. Controlling Mario in 3D has always been fun, and having him take over many different creatures with their own fun controls combined with the spectacular set pieces makes for a very fresh experience. I’m not insane enough to bother collecting all those damn moons, but I do engage with the post-game stuff at times, and it’s cool how Odyssey engages me to continuing playing after finishing the story. Solid B/B+ game right here.
A Silent Voice
While I wasn’t too impressed with the movie at first, multiple rewatches have shown just how amazingly dense and emotionally complex A Silent Voice is, both as a character study and as art in general. As someone who grew up in a world where bullying is not as black-and-white as a lot of fictional products make it seem, A Silent Voice really did a good job at getting me hooked on the psychology of its characters and why they acted the way they did, whilst exemplifying just how hard redemption for the past can be. And of course, the animation is phenomenal in how it looks to how it plays into the film’s very communication themes. I do think a few of the subplots and characters could have been handled better and it should be clear from the category I put it in that I don’t exactly worship the movie. But it’s definitely very good and I’m looking forward to watching it several more times in the future.
I’ve been playing the Yakuza games since 2016 and I’ve enjoyed them a fair amount, but I never really considered them to be more than solidly designed, but bloated beat-em-ups with fun minigames, hilarious sidequests, and cutscenes that go on for way longer than they should. Then Yakuza 0 arrived with its streamlined (by comparison) gameplay, story, and laughs and the series has suddenly become the Fast & Furious of the Japanese video game world. This game is just pure camp from start to finish, never failing to thrill me or make me sad whenever it wanted me to – and the fact that I can feel all this whilst slamming a guy’s face in with a car door before singing “24 Cinderella” at a bar just adds to the strangely awesome quality. Yakuza Kiwami, unfortunately, is not quite as thrilling or replayable, but hopefully Yakuza 6 isn’t as bad as people say and Yakuza Kiwami 2 comes here soon.
As someone who adores romance tales where the main couple can’t be together due to character circumstances/personality problems because of how much that resembles my reality, Scum’s Wish not only gave me what I wanted, but exceeded expectations with some of the ballsiest writing I’ve ever seen in a romance anime. You know how the guy who made this show got his start with White Album 2? Scum’s Wish is basically the evolution of that I didn’t know I wanted, mixing elements of love triangle dramas, NTR hentai, and Makoto Shinkai-esque heartbreak stories into a visually fantastic tale about what it means to truly be in love and the lengths that people can go through to get what they want, even if they know they can never have it.
I’ve heard that this show has gotten extremely controversial because of how it doesn’t represent other people’s realities very well, but I don’t think the exaggerations Scum’s Wish used to tell its story from Akane being the devil to the stupid shoujo-ai humor are deal breakers in any way. This show is my favorite anime series of the year and probably my favorite romance series of all-time.
Pretend like you didn’t see this one coming. I’ll admit I was incredibly worried about the latest installment of Danganronpa. The mixed reception from the fanbase combined with Danganronpa 3 using up what seemed to be the last of the franchise’s ideas made it seem like V3 would be a franchise obligation akin to the latest Bourne movie rather than a sequel that needed to exist. And the game definitely did frustrate me at points with what seemed to be a hackneyed method to continue the story combined with how it was re-using a few too many elements from previous installments. But by the time I reached the end, I felt a feeling of euphoria that even surpasses my favorite video game of the year (which should also be incredibly obvious to anyone who pays attention to me).
V3 is not only the breath of fresh air that the series needed, I think it might be my favorite Danganronpa game ever. The way it tests the limits of truths and lies (which is a way more relatable/interesting theme than hope and despair) combined with the post-modern analysis of what fiction can mean to people makes it story to be one of the most creatively ambitious tales of any medium I’ve ever seen. Throw in the hilarious black humor and deconstructive characters stereotypes that made the franchise my definitive series, and how could I not put V3 on this list? I absolutely love the Danganronpa franchise and while I’m not really sure how you can continue after this game, I was proven wrong before and hopefully I’ll be proven wrong again.
There was a lot of hype for this game and deep down inside, I was worried I wasn’t going to enjoy this new Persona game as much as 3 and 4. So you can imagine how happy I was that Persona 5 not only met those expectations, it surpassed them in ways I could have never foreseen. What else can I really say about this game that I and everyone else hasn’t said already? The gameplay was a huge improvement over the last few games. The characters are well-developed and I love how they’re all rebels fighting against society. The visuals and style are just amazing. The music is fantastic. And that’s not even getting into the story and the many political/social metaphors contained within it concerning the problems Japan faces as a country and what can be done to solve them.
Despite needing around a hundred hours to beat, the game absorbed me for the majority of its run, apart from one or two moments. I admit to feeling some burn out towards the game at the moment, but that’s only because I played it three times over the course of this year and watched many LPs of it. Danganronpa may be my “defining” series so to speak, but the modern-day Persona games are what I consider to be near-perfection, at least in terms of anime video games. Persona 5 is without a doubt my favorite game of the year, and no I don’t want to hear anymore about that shitty translation controversy. Instead, I’m just going to look forward to the anime and pray to god that A-1 doesn’t screw it up.
In This Corner of the World
I’ve had to think really hard about my feelings on In This Corner of the World after watching it several times whether I truly loved it enough to make a certain declaration. And after much mulling over, I’m going to have say that yes: In This Corner of the World is now my favorite anime ever. I love everything about this film. The animation. The characters. The humor. The drama. And especially the story. It is one of the best takes on war and the power of positive thinking that I’ve ever seen in my life, and it all combines into such a magical package that gets 10/10s from me no matter what part of the film I look at.
While nothing is ever perfect, I just can’t find myself to deny that I like everything about this movie. The only think I can say that entrances me this much is Saturday Night Fever. Considering Saturday Night Fever is as close to perfection as a movie has gotten with me, that’s speaks volumes regarding how much I love In This Corner of the World. An amazing anime from start to finish, and to the few of you who keep up with me on my personal Twitter account, yes this was the A+ anime I was referring to.
- My Hero Academia S2 (probably the best of the runner-ups)
- Breath of the Wild (too much gameplay/world-building, not enough story)
- Made in Abyss (see Breath of the Wild except without gameplay)
- Gravity Rush 2 (fun gameplay and characters isn’t going to make me overlook that the plot has ADD)
- Lu Over the Wall/Night Is Short Walk on Girl (the individual moments and visual style may be neat, but where’s the story that’s gonna draw me back?)
- Tsuki ga Kirei (not ambitious enough to be a favorite)
- The Dragon Dentist (that was more fun than I thought it’d be)
- The Reflection: Wave One (did people really hate this? I thought it was alright)
- Blame! (see Made in Abyss except with better world-building and worse characterization/animation)
- Tokyo Ghoul (I don’t understand the large amount of love this decent franchise gets)
- Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (okay, it grew on me. shut up)
- Doki Doki Literature Club (unlike most gamers, I value replayability and the first two hours not boring my brains out)