The end of the year is nigh, so we here at RABUJOI thought we’d give you some “Best of” lists, starting with the 10 best anime we watched in 2017. Mind you, these aren’t simply the ten shows that gained the highest scores, though that is part of the equation. Rather, these are the ten shows we enjoyed the most and would/will likely watch again, and highly recommend to all.
Despite its conventional, non-flashy visuals and the uneven strength of its arcs, Sagrada Reset earns a place on this list for being so damned ambitious, memorable, and weird. It starred a couple of characters who always hid their emotions behind wooden exteriors, and yet it worked. The idea of an entire town of ability users, full of mysteries as to how a peaceful balance was struck, the attempts by some parties to destroy the magical place, and an increasingly fascinating web of world rules and creative use of ability combos kept be tuning in.
Nobody ever expected or even thought much of Inuyashiki Ichirou. But when he and Shishigami Hiro are crushed by aliens and given new robotic bodies capable of flight, miraculous healing, and terrifying destruction, Ichirou not only becomes a hero, but the only hero who can save his family, Japan, and the world Hiro’s adolescense-fueled rampages. Often dark, brutal, and cruel, Inuyashiki is balanced by some welcome moments of comedy as Ichirou discovers and tries out his numerous powers, as well as the emotional impact of Hiro’s tortured, conflicted soul, as well as Ichirou’s restored bond with his daughter Mari.
Two girls in a ruined world. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, and the audience is along for the ride as those girls trundle through a seemingly endless three-dimensional labyrinth of roads, tracks, ramps, stairs, underground passages, platforms, elevators, and structures, each time discovering something new. Chito and Yuuri couldn’t be more different in personality, but there’s no doubt they’re both glad the other is by their side for their adventures. Moments of friendship, comfort, and life cut through the gloom.
Like Sagrada Reset, ACCA marched to the beat of its own drum, and was unlike nothing else that aired this year. Focusing on a mid-level bureaucrat with a pretty cushy life who has a mysterious past that plunges him and his sister into the heart of a royal coup attempt, ACCA had both a compelling narrative, likable, rootable characters, a wonderfully-realized world composed of countries with very specific themes, plenty of intrigue, and a surprisingly understated yet effective finale. And the food…the loving depiction of food and drink gave even Food Wars a run for its money.
I didn’t know I wanted to return to the world of Spring Comes In Like a Lion until I found myself there. Rei is a little older and lot more confident and less self-hating in the second season, and it’s a good thing too, because the person enduring the most conflict this time is Hina, enduring a bullying campaign simply for doing what was right defending her friend. Hina saved Rei last season, now it’s his turn, and it’s never not a delight to behold.
Continuing the theme of “Weird but Good”, Land of the Lustrous may be the best example of the year. Androgynous anthropomorphic gems fighting aliens from the moon with designs drawn heavily from Hindu iconography seeking to use them for “decoration”? Weird. But more than the awesome 3DCGI execution of those battles and their shimmering participants is the character development of the show’s protagonist Phos, who has grown into one of my favorite characters of the year.
I haven’t seen a school romance as good as Tsuki ga Kirei in a good long time. When it came along and told the slow-burn story of Akane and Kotarou became an item, it was a crisp breath of fresh air. It keeps things simple, keeps things real, and doesn’t skimp on all the resonant little non-verbal gestures and expressions that really bring the characters to life. The show also makes good use of the LINE app that’s apparently become the go-to communication tool for kids of this age.
The first season of SGRS was truly great anime, but as it took place mostly in the past, we can almost look at it as a prologue for the second season, which is outstanding. Put together, it’s a sprawling, epic tale of several generations of storytellers fighting against a world increasingly indifferent to their craft, while wrestling with their own various personal demons. It’s about women’s empowerment in what had been an all-men’s world for centuries. It’s about brotherhood, familial love, romantic love, lust, and one spellbinding rakugo performance after another, usually accompanied by a top-notch jazzy soundtrack.
“Endstory” is pretty self-explanatory; in another epic chronicle that started with Araragi Koyomi’s eventful Spring Break in late March of 2006 (covered in the excellent film trilogy Kizumonogatari), it’s hard to believe Owarimonogatari wraps the whole thing up just a year later, in March of 2007 (the Kanbaru Suruga-centric Hanamonogatari takes place a month later). But enough about the timeline; Owari 2 is a fantastic conclusion to the mega-arc that takes Araragi literally to Hell and back, ascends Hachikuji Mayoi to godlike status, filling a longtime hole in the city’s spiritual tapestry, and finally reveals the mystery of who/what the Loki-like “Oshino Ougi” is. Araragi and Hitagi even get to spend time together as lovers. It has pretty much anything a Monogatari junkie like myself could ask for, and leads me to hope this isn’t really the end, since there’s a lot more Nisio Isin material to work with.
Made in Abyss came out of nowhere to become one of the best animes of this century. That sounds like hyperbole, the century ain’t that old, and it really is that damn good. Imagine a Ghibli movie spread over nearly five hours with unique character designs that, while cutesy, avoid being annoyingly so; a intricately-detailed and truly awesome setting, ominous mysteries, terrifying monsters, ample mortal peril, tremendous music and sound design, and some really top-notch performances from the two leads. Abyss will pull you in, grab your heartstrings, kick your adrenaline gland, and blow your mind. And it’s not over yet; though a date has not been set, a second season is on the way. Even if it had ended at one, however, the twelve episodes we got unquestionably comprised the very best of 2017.