Year-end best-of lists are highly subjective things. Let me just state that upfront as I suspect my list is going to look nothing like pretty much anyone else’s top 10 for 2017!
As usual, titles that finished airing (or finished airing for the foreseeable future) in 2017 were eligible for consideration. Click on the links below to view the previous seasonal write-ups for each show.
☆ TOP 10 ANIME:
#1. Ikemen Sengoku: Bromances Across Time (Ikemen Sengoku: Toki wo Kakeru ga Koi wa Hajimaranai) (12 episodes)
Aired Summer 2017
This is pretty surprising even to me. Yes this is reality; my chosen anime of the year is a short. And not just any short, but a full-on CGI one! Previously, I never would have imagined that a short format series could be a contender for my yearly top 10. Then I saw Ikemen Sengoku, which made impeccably good use of its limited runtime. It was the most entertaining Sengoku-period time slip story I have ever seen. It was also the best anime featuring Oda Nobunaga that I’ve seen, and there have been many.
The computer graphics were not especially high tech, but they were creatively used and all the tiny details in the warlords’ clothing, movements, and expressions were a delight to behold.
The show conveyed the guys’ personalities very succinctly and efficiently. The voice actors did an amazing job too. No matter the ridiculousness of the body proportions or absurdity of the situations, the seiyuu played it completely straight all the time.
My sister and I were both captivated by Ikemen Sengoku. We watched and rewatched and watched again. We laughed at the cuteness and the gags; we bonded over our shared experiences, including catching the latest episode at the airport once right before a Wednesday flight in August; and we argued over which end card was the most lewd. (For the record, I said Masamune’s, based on the English text; she asserted that Shingen’s was worst, based on the spoken Japanese.)
The craziness didn’t even stop there. The whole intent of this type of anime is to sell the related game and goods – and I was completely sold on the franchise. My sister and I collectively spent over a hundred dollars on IkeSen café drinks while we were in Tokyo. We each also downloaded the mobile game (something I’ve never been inclined to do before, in spite of all the game-adaptation anime I’ve seen over the years) and enjoyed it so much that we started throwing money at it. I have no regrets.
#2. Rage of Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL (Shingeki no Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL) (24 episodes)
Aired Spring 2017 to Summer 2017
Rage of Bahamut 2 dominated my rankings for almost half the year. So how did it end up ceding the top spot to IkeSen? The answer is that endings are important to me, and I felt that BahaSOUL sadly dropped the ball in its final stretch. Specifically, it was the meaningless deaths of 2 prominent and well-loved characters that troubled me the most. Well that, and the implication that everyone’s efforts and sacrifices were maybe all for nothing in the end.
Because it was so wildly enjoyable otherwise, though, it still manages to hang on to the number 2 spot against ACCA.
#3. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept (13-ku Kansatsu-ka) (12 episodes)
Aired Winter 2017
ACCA was ultimately more satisfying than BahaSOUL, but it was also more of a slow burn. Underlying the mundane absurdity of this political mystery anime, there was actually a lot of heart. ACCA ended up as my favourite series of the winter season, and also the show on this list that I would most recommend to a general audience, even those who may not share my eccentric taste in anime.
#4. RECOVERY OF AN MMO JUNKIE (Netojuu no Susume) (10 episodes + OVA)
Aired Autumn 2017
This was already finished airing when I wrote about it recently. The additional OVA episode presented a couple of comedic side stories. They were sweet and fun, even if they didn’t add much to the main story.
#5. STARMYU High School Star Musical Season 2 (12 episodes)
Aired Spring 2017
STARMYU 2 was an excellent follow-up to the first season. It was funny and entertaining, and it delivered on expectations and then some.
The weakest part was the ending. It is admirable to take heroic measures because “the show must go on,” but I believe there should be a limit to that, especially when physical injury (and the potential for long-term complications) is involved. (This actually applies to DREAM FESTIVAL! R as well.) So I have mixed feelings about its final message, but overall, it was pretty great.
#6. MADE IN ABYSS (13 episodes)
Aired Summer 2017
Unfortunately, I was somewhat bored during the middle section of MADE IN ABYSS. Also, the show occasionally made some uncomfortable choices that I had to struggle to not see as fetishistic fanservice; and obviously the story is not really over yet.
The things that worked, though, were phenomenally effective. Character-wise, I really felt for Nanachi and her plight; and I’ve already gone on at length about my fondness for Reg. Plot-wise, the last story arc was outstanding. It was sensitively-written, chillingly horrifying, and heart-wrenching. It broke me, but I’m glad I watched.
#7. Mobile Suit GUNDAM: IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS (Tekketsu no Orphans) (50 episodes)
Aired Autumn 2015 to Winter 2016, then Autumn 2016 to Winter 2017
The word-building and character-writing were really great. I appreciated the realistic, bittersweet ending too. Sure, the show had its ups and downs for me, but ultimately I would count it among my favourite GUNDAM series.
It was an added bonus that part of it was set in Canada. It’s also remarkable that one of the main characters became a paraplegic in the middle of the story. And never before had I ever had the occasion to think, “This man deserves a harem” until I met Naze!
#8. Descending Stories: Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Sukeroku Futatabi-hen) (12 episodes)
Aired Winter 2017
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu‘s first season was the lead up to a foretold tragic event. The second season covered the aftermath of that tragedy, perfectly balancing the despairing feelings of the cast with interactions that showed love and forgiveness. Yotarou, with his endless generosity and open-heartedness, served as the physical embodiment of those values. I really enjoyed being immersed in their world and following the lives of these well-written characters.
That final episode twist, unfortunately, was too much for me. We already knew this was going to be a bittersweet story, and that characters we loved were going to die. It wasn’t necessary to sugarcoat the ending, especially not in such an awkward way. Usually, when a show has a crappy ending, it doesn’t cancel out the goodness of what came before it. This ending actually did, because its misguided reveal tainted the preceding events and forced you to see them in a new light.
By rights, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2 should have been much higher on this list. Instead, I was so turned off of the whole thing after seeing the last episode, that it is with reluctance that I’m placing it even at number 8.
#9. DREAM FESTIVAL! R (12 episodes)
Aired mid-Summer to mid-Autumn 2017
I thought DREAM FESTIVAL! was one of the lesser known idol franchises, so it was a bit of a surprise to see the anime get a sequel. You know, I didn’t realize how much I liked and missed these guys until I saw them again. I especially enjoyed the first half, with its extended focus on Yuuto and Keigo of KUROFUNE. The portrayal of Keigo’s personal insecurities, in spite of his flashy good looks and flamboyant stage presence, felt very real to me.
#10. INUYASHIKI LAST HERO (11 episodes)
Aired Autumn 2017
Although there was ultimately no real message to INUYASHIKI, it did provide an interesting and thought-provoking look at the (mostly) irresponsible use of great power and what consequences it would have on society and on the ones wielding that power.
☆ Best Recap Episode:
Re:CREATORS ep.13. As was usual for this anime, Meteora talked and talked. But this time, there was added snark to her deadpan exposition. She even pinpointed some of the show’s and characters’ flaws and made fun of them! In her narration, she humorously played up her own character, while resorting to nicknames for people that she couldn’t be bothered to remember the names of. It was really funny and I enjoyed it a lot more than any part of the actual show itself. Best recap episode ever.
☆ Favourite Seiyuu:
I enjoyed so many of his roles in 2017, most notably: Charioce XVII, the smokin’ hot evil sovereign from Rage of Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL; Eugene Sevenstark, Orga’s loyal and outspoken deputy in GUNDAM: IRON BLOODED ORPHANS; and of course, my favourite chibi warlord from my number one anime of the year, Takeda Shingen.
Umehara was responsible for breathing some life into a whole bunch of stoic, expressionless dudes during the fall season: Ushii from JUNI TAISEN, Ouni from Children of the Whales, TSUKIPRO‘s Dai, DYNAMIC CHORD‘s Shinobu, THE iDOLM@STER SideM‘s Kyouji, and SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD’s Date Masamune. In general, though, it was probably more fun to hear him voicing impassioned characters like hard-luck Shinsengumi member Nagakura Shinpachi in Chiruran ½ from earlier in the year.
Umehara has a great voice, I like his performance style, and I also tend to like the types of characters he gets to play, so I will definitely be paying attention to any shows I see his name in from now on.
☆ Anime Songs Top 9 Countdown:
It’s a tiny list for me this year! As usual, the songs are evaluated primarily on the music, not the accompanying visuals of the shows they’re associated with. And it’s the full songs, not the TV-size versions, that are being considered.
09. Kakuran Romantist, by Date Masamune(cv:Umehara Yuuichirou) (SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD ep.7 ED)
08. sh0ut, by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Tielle&Gemie (Re:CREATORS OP2)
07. Hoshi no furu machi, by Numakura Manami (Fuuka insert song)
06. Yes / No, by STAR☆CONCERTO (Ikemen Sengoku: Bromances Across Time OP)
05. Masayoshi-ron, by Uesugi Kenshin(cv:Toriumi Kousuke) (SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD ep.6 ED)
04. SunSunSunrise, by 9nine (THE REFLECTION ED)
03. gravityWall, by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Tielle&Gemie (Re:CREATORS OP1)
02. LET iT END, by SiM (Rage of Bahamut: VIRGIN SOUL OP1)
01. FEED THE FIRE, by coldrain (King’s Game The Animation OP)