Sunday, December 24, 2017

On the ninth day of aniblogging I give to thee: My favorite shows of 2017

I never aim to have a "top ten list" or anything like that, I just count up how many books/shows/etc I liked the most and go from there. And, since I'm bad at numbering these, let's just go alphabetically from the top!

ACCA 13: I'm not sure when this show about a possible "coup" going on in a quiet country of 13 districts really grabbed me but by the end it was one of my favorite shows from the winter 2017 season. I grew really attached to the characters and really intrigued by the coup itself, it ends up almost being "well we think there SHOULD be a coup so I guess there IS a coup?" Which is pretty amusing. Also, I would 100% visit an ACCA 13 themed cafe because the show consistently had such great food, I love that 2017 was the year of stories secretly turning out to be about food. I'm delighted that I've been able to review the first volume of the original manga over at The OASG and I should continue covering the series until Yen Press finishes releasing it!

Kabukibu: This show, about a group of high schoolers who try to form their own, amateur, kabuki club, would never have been a super popular show but between the fact it aired in the spring season (aka one of the fuller seasons) AND it was behind the double paywall of Anime Strike it never stood a chance. It's a shame since I liked how plain-speaking the characters were and the story actually made me care more about kabuki than I ever have! I'd love a license, I'd love a sequel, I'd love a license of the original light novel, really I just want to have it in my hands!

Land of the Lustruous: This was one of my truly most-surprising favorites of the year since I had already tried the LandLust manga a couple of times and it just did not work for me at all. I'm not sure why the anime managed to grab me instead, the story and characters are exactly the same and the presentation isn't terribly different either, I think the pace just somehow worked better for me in the anime instead. I'm planning on checking out the original manga once again now that the show is over and I'm hoping for a second season of this lovingly crafted show. For me this is far and away the best all CGI anime we've had so far, both in terms of character design and the ambitiousness of what CGI allowed the animators to do more easily than 2D animation (like, extremely long cuts with a constantly moving camera which would have taken a lot of time to animate and correct by hand). More please!

Made in Abyss: Before this show aired I was warned that the manga went to some disturbing depths and this story certainly toes the line visually at times (ie, you can totally tell the original creator has A Thing for making his child characters get naked more frequently than reasonable and yeah it squicks me out). But this dark adventure tale, of two kids going into the depths of the unknown on what they know to be a one-way trip, really grabbed me and I was so emotionally invested in Riko, Reg, and later Nanachi. I'm happy to hear that a second season was greenlit after the surprising success of this season and if it takes the studio a bit of extra time to make it (since their slate is packed for 2018 already) that's fine, I can wait!

Ms. Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: Perhaps the lightest fare on my list, I just thought this show was cute. Well, except for the scenes where the big-boobed dragon sort of bullies the small child with her boobs a lot, seriously anime writers you totally could've rewritten those bits a bit more because that certainly didn't serve any purpose. But beyond that, it was a cute show about characters learning to open up to each other, form new relationships, and just view their world differently. I'm honestly not too interested in the manga for this title, I'm just not a fan of the art, but I also felt like this season ended in a good place so if this is all we ever get of animated Dragon Maid then I'll be fine with that!

My Hero Academia (season two): I only really got into MHA at the end of the first season so I was totally ready for the second season and holy heck, that was good. MHA juggles a large cast and makes them all feel unique and worth rooting for. The manga-ka is really skilled at taking what seems like really basic special abilities and making them just perfectly fit into the superhuman ethos and the quiet backstory about how this current world of superpowers came to be is also really cool! I can't wait for season 3 and I've already started reading all of the volumes that my library has, Pluuus Ultra!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie: Aside from having one of the catchiest opening songs of the entire year, this show made me smile every week as it chronicled the adventures of Moriko, a new NEET who has had enough of the corporate life and decides to re-immerse herself in an MMO. She makes real friendships in the game, some going beyond just "friendship" and the show is never judgemental for Moriko choosing to be a NEET or for her valuing her online relationships so much. One might wonder how Moriko has so much money to continue living on her own but ehh, let's not bring too much reality into the wonderful internet life! 

Show Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Since I don't include split-cour shows on my best of, end of year lists it has taken nearly two years for Rakugo to appear on this list but it really does deserve this spot. With the second cour Rakugo became a truly multi-generational story about the art of storytelling in Japan and it was worth every episode. I do have some qualms with the story, namely how by focusing so much on Yakumo and how he was so influential in this fictional world of rakugo that the story erased real-world women who were starting to come up in the ranks of rakugo during this story (ironically enough, very close to when Yakumo tells his story to Yotaro and Konatsu). I also have a strong quibble about part of the ending but I have heard that it potentially reads a little differently in the manga and I'm already reading the manga from my library. Expect a post, or perhaps a Manga in Your Ears episode, once the manga has finished being released here in the US comparing the two iterations since the two mediums really approach the storytelling performances differently. Regardless, this character-driven story gave my emotions a full workout and I would love for this anime to be licensed for a home video release! 

Tsukigakirei: I'm not precisely sure why this quiet story of middle school romance made my list but one thing I did love about the series was how the characters existed outside of their relationship. They had hobbies, sports, responsibilities, they felt a heck of a lot more real and "relatable" than many a high school romantic drama has for me (ahem, looking at you Just Because!). Unlike many series on this list, I don't have a burning urge to own this series on home release but that's because I'm not sure how much re-watch value this series will have for me. So I'll just wait and see how this series ages for me!

And I also have a very special runner-up: Anime-gataris. There is still at least one more episode for this show still to air (well, as of posting, "has aired and I haven't had a chance to see") and honestly, I don't know if it's going to stick the landing or not (I'm assuming LandLust will which is why I included it). So far it's been a crazy ride, starting out being an anime about an anime club forming and doing anime club things and then it shifted into being this ridiculously over the top, multi-layered parody of basically everything and anything anime. It's a trip and I really do recommend that all of my friends who are into meta-humor anime to check it out, I just have no clue right now if it'll end well or not but if it does then yeah it probably deserves a place on this list.