Only shows that ended this year count for this list. I didn’t watch Kekkai Sensen, Death Parade or Gatchaman Crowds, so those won’t be on here. With that said, here we go!
10. Tokyo Ghoul √A
The story in √A is horrendous. It’s all over the place. Things happen with little explanation, and whole characters get ignored and replaced. Why is it on the list? Aesthetic. The atmosphere of this season is sublime. Multiple scenes so beautiful that they can make me cry even without any dialogue. Music so touching it reaches to the depths of my soul. Directing like this is a rarity beyond all else, and something I want to see more of in anime.
Thematically and symbolically, √A is great as well. Kaneki’s character growth is amazing. And a lot of the symbolism is very cool as well. I felt like a lot of √A went over some people’s heads.
The last episode of this season takes that to it’s ultimate extreme. Without spoiling anything, it has an intense dearth of dialogue or action. It’s hugely calming, especially coming after an “action” series. I understand why a lot of people hate this show, but for me, the one positive was stronger than the negatives.
Shimoneta is very clever for a comedy anime. And by that, I mean it’s 1984 but told through anime troupes. To summarize, it’s thematic structure is based around one phrase. “Porn doesn’t create perverts, it only excites them.”
The lengths that the show was censored, and the craziness of the general reaction to it’s narrative, proves it’s point even more. So, what’s the problem with this show? It’s not fucking funny. As impressed as I was with it’s themes and characters, along with it’s great sense of catharsis, the jokes just don’t work. While a lot of the situations are funny, the puns are just awful. The first 3 episodes of this series consist only of it’s puns, and it really hurts the overall quality.
8. Fukkatsu no F
I’m a long time DBZ fan, like a lot of people in the anime community, and this movie is all DBZ-fanservice. It has far and away the best dialogue of any DBZ work, having some lines that are flat out brilliant. It features incredible fight scenes, especially for Toei standards. Beerus and Whis work off each other so well, and Goku and Vegeta are back to remind everyone that they are the original shonen rivalry.
My main problem with the film is the amount of plot convenience. Two scenes in particular were ridiculous in how contrived they were. The use of CGI was poor and very noticeable. But other than that, this movie succeeded at exactly what it wanted to be. Tons of fun for DBZ noobs and long time fans.
Danmachi was the most surprising show of the year. It taught me that you can’t judge a show just because it “looks generic” or something of the like. I’ll admit I wasn’t totally hooked on Danmachi for the first 3 episodes, but once I realized the appeal and strength of the show, I was obsessed.
For one, while some of the characters are rather 1-note, it’s ensemble cast is generally very likable. Special mention to Bestia Hestia, who managed to perfectly nail the line between sexual, helpful, and adorable. Then of course, there is Bell. Bell is very powerful. However, he’s strong because of his hard work, dedication, and care for others. Moreover, he’s surrounded by people stronger than him. Finally, Danmachi has style and personality. It radiates with passion and care, which supports it’s themes even more. It’s slick, and has really well drawn and distinct character designs. Episode 8 is runner up for episode of the year, as it combines everything I love about the show into one. If I had to think of a complaint, it would be the weak start.
6. Non Non Biyori Repeat
It hurts me putting this show so low. I’ll tell you right now, NNB is not only in my top 15 anime, but the first 9/10+ on the list. A strong 9.25, actually. Enough about how good the next 5 will be, lets get to how fucking good this one is. Remember how I said that some scenes in √A are calming as hell? Well, NNBR is like that for it’s whole run. I never stop smiling while watching this one.
It’s not just relaxing, don’t get me wrong. The character interactions are an absolute treat, replicating childhood wonder and optimism perfectly. The country setting elevates the soothing nature of the show to a new height, to a level of near transcendence. The comedy is some of the best of the year, with the Ruler episode being the funniest episode of the year. However, the best episode of this show, and the one most telling of it’s true quality, is episode 4. Flatty-San. Because I don’t want to beat a dead horse, seeing how I’ve already written about this episode at length, along with there being another post on TAY and one on ANN about it, I’ll just say that it’s something truly special.
Non Non Biyori is the one anime I feel like I could watch forever. The first season was the pinnacle of Slice of Life for me, and I thought it could not be beat. But of course, its second season came around this year and proved me wrong. Cheers to the possible third season being even better than this.
5. One Punch Man
One Punch Man succeeds so well at everything I can’t even describe it. It has a large, likable, unique cast of well designed characters who all have their own powers, and fits them all into 12 episodes. It changes it’s formula just enough every episode or two as to not bore the audience. Even if you disagree with all of that, there is one element of this show that is undeniable...
One Punch Man is insanely visually impressive for a low-budget TV anime, far surpassing shows like UBW and Fate Zero. While NNB and √A have a better atmosphere, this series blows them out of the water in animation fluidity, and sense of HYPE. The soundtrack consists of one song that gets remixed a bunch of times, and it NAILS IT! Episode 9 was so good that I didn’t think anything could beat it. It was exciting, funny, and had buckets of heart and even some legitimate emotion. Then the last episode came around. Magical is the only word I can use to describe it. Just magical.
4. Naruto: The Last
Naruto: The Last was my goodbye to a series more important to me than pretty much any other anime. It emotionally manipulated the fuck out of people like me, really really long time Naruto fans, but I don’t even care. I have no qualms admitting that I cried a lot watching this film.
Not to say that the only positive of the film was nostalgia, as it’s filled with things to like. Being consistently hilarious is a plus. Having easily the best (sans OPM) fight scenes of the year is another. The soundtrack being pure, unfiltered, divine beauty is quite nice as well. The Last is a much better fan service vehicle than Fukkatsu no F, for a series that means more to me than DBZ. While the personal connection is subjective, I do believe that this film is amazing, and deserves to at least be on the list. Though, being this high is because of my own bias.
3. Your Lie in April
I’ve written TONS about this one. More than any other show on this list. 3000+ words, while not as much as TTGL, is enough for me to not want to repeat myself. Thus, this entry will be shorter. Shigatsu is a psychological masterpiece with multi-layered dialogue and symbols, and, not to be hyperbolic, but possibly the best ending I’ve seen in fiction. My only flaw is the comedy, which gets in the way more than helps.
2. Parasyte - The Maxim -
Figuring out the top 2 of this list was painful. They could easily switch back and forth forever. In the end, Parasyte lost the battle because of it’s one flaw, which I will get to momentarily. Why is Parasyte not just one of my favorite anime of the year, but one of my top 5 anime of all time? Because everything. Parasyte is a slow, small story about very few characters. The few characters it does have, are all well developed. It’s no exadderation to say that Parasyte’s characters are some of the best in the medium.
Character development isn’t all it has. Parasyte is the only work of art to make me to seriously think about eating meat and how we treat not just animals, but each other. While many have tried, Parasyte struck a cord with me because of how respectfully it treats it’s audience. It presents it’s themes like it’s talking to a thoughtful adult, rather then treating it’s audience like small children. It has a very small scale, and keeps that scale throughout the whole narrative. The music, while controversial, I really enjoyed. The opening and ending songs are both incredible, and are some of my favorites from the year.
Now we get to the flaw in Parasyte: The directing. Parasyte has brutally flat directing. Scenes that should be seriously intense are made much less poignant. The directing isn’t that bad, but it’s not good by any stretch. And in a show this good, it stands out like a sore thumb. It’s the first 10/10 on the list, and damn, does it deserve it.
Nothing I say can properly describe how good Shirobako is. It’s ensemble cast is far and away the most relatable group of characters in anime. Parasyte’s cast is more well written, but not nearly as relatable. Miyamori Aoi, the protagonist, has a stunning inner struggle about the nature of passion that hit me right in the face. Because I will continue to mention what this show means TO ME, I need to clear something up. Obviously, it’s all my experience. What this show means to me might not matter to you in the slightest. To people similar to me, it might. This applies to any other time on the list in which I mention something being “relatable” or “hitting me right in the face”
The personal shit is just the tip of the iceberg. The animation of Shirobako is consistent and crisp. The character designs are moe, while still being respectable. Up there with FMA in design, even though it’s very different. The soundtrack, even though it sounds like freeware visual novel shit from the late 90s, still fits really well. The insane production value is twice as effective when watching the show teaches you how tough it is to make anime.
The entire second half, which aired this year, is a non-stop emotional thrill-ride. The last two episodes have such high hype levels I thought I was going to explode. The fight with Boros, Last Stardust and the battle against the Minotaur don’t come close to some of these scenes. The ending managed to be completely satisfying, far more so than 9/10 shows I watch, yet still leave me begging for more. Here’s my MAL, Twitter, and VNDB. It’s Fullmetal Ghoul, and that’s all for today...
Favorite Fight: Saitama vs. Boros
Favorite Episode: Shigatsu 22
Favorite Video Game: Undertale
Favorite OP: HERO!
Favorite ED: Shimoneta
Favorite Character: Izumi Shinichi
Least Favorite Anime (that I finished): UBW
Least Favorite Anime (Dropped): Ore Mono or The * War