Image Source: TVアニメ“Re:CREATORS”公式 on Twitter
As the year comes to a close, it’s time for the big one. Here are Anime Now!’s picks for the best five anime series of 2017.
The Best Anime of 2016
There’s only one rule. So that we got the full experience the anime had to offer, the series must have ended sometime in 2017.
Image source: TVアニメ”Re:CREATORS”公式 on Twitter
Genre: Modern Fantasy, Fighting, Psychological
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Famous characters from anime, manga, games, and novels suddenly begin appearing in our world. At their center is the mysterious “Military Uniform Princess.” She has brought these fictional characters into the real world for revenge against our reality itself—or as she calls it, the “World of Gods.” Some join her, others oppose her, but no matter which side they choose, each of these people, torn from their worlds, faces the question: what would you do if you could meet your creator?
Why You Should Watch It: Re:Creators is a brilliant thought experiment that plays its concept completely straight. What happens when a magical girl comes to a world far less innocent than her own and her attacks actually do collateral damage? What do you do when a reality twisting, psychopathic serial killer is on the loose? How does the government react when a giant robot far beyond our technology appears in a field? Questions like these are treated seriously and followed to their logical conclusions.
What Re:Creators is Really About
While there is plenty of awesome-looking fighting action to be sure, the core of the series is the idea of these creations meeting their creators—or in their eyes, their gods. Each fictional character has a complicated relationship with their creator and is likewise used to explore a different aspect of the relationship between man and god.
The series is also about what it means to be an artistic creator—the responsibilities you have to your work and the way people interact with it. The anime also delves deep into the craft of writing and the various philosophies behind it. In the end, the anime is a message for and about anyone out there who has ever created a work of art all their own.
Watch It If You Like: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Black Lagoon, Aldnoah.Zero
Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike
Honorable Mentions: Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, Interviews with Monster Girls, The Saga of Tanya the Evil
Image source: TVアニメ「サクラダリセット」公式 on Twitter
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In the rural town of Sakurada, half the population possesses superpowers, most of which defy the laws of physics. One such superpowered individual, Kei Asai, has the power to retain his photographic memory through anything. His companion, Haruki Misora has the ability to “reset” the state of the universe to that of a previously “saved” point. While this reset ability also resets people’s memories, Kei alone is able to retain his knowledge and use it to alter the course of events to come. Together, the two set out to solve the various problems they encounter in Sakurada.
Time Travel and Superheroes Mix in the First Two Episodes of Sagrada Reset
Why You Should Watch It: Sagrada Reset is an intensely cerebral series with complex characters facing unique and seemingly impossible situations. At its heart the series is about people working together and pooling their abilities to accomplish more than the sum of their parts. The primary protagonists, Kei and Haruki are both equally complex and fascinating characters in their own right, but, while perhaps not as multi-faceted as them, pretty much every character serves as a piece to a larger puzzle while simultaneously playing a part in the various individual episodes.
The series is primarily episodic, with Kei and Haruki solving various problems across two or three episodes, but there remains the overarching plot that involves the death of a former schoolmate. The series manages to organically balance both the individual issues at hand and the greater story in the background to make for a complete solid story that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.
Watch It If You Like: Classroom of the Elite, Steins:Gate
Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike, AnimeLab (AU)
Honorable Mentions: Re:Creators, INUYASHIKI LAST HERO
Image source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter
Welcome to the Ballroom
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Tatara Fujita is a junior high school student who doesn’t have any hobbies and doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. But, one day a dancer saves him from bullies. After being coaxed into a free dance lesson and watching a DVD of a professional ballroom dance competition, Tatara decides he, too, wants to become a professional ballroom dancer. But, the path isn’t that easy as he faces many trials and tribulations.
Why You Should Watch It: One of the things the anime and manga industries need more of are non-common sports series. Welcome to the Ballroom does an excellent job of filling that hole since we don’t think of ballroom dance as a major or highly popular sport. And the series presents the sport as something that’s entertaining to watch but filled with its own unique drama and hardships.
How Welcome to the Ballroom Drags You into the World of Dance in Just One Episode
Where the series really shines, though, is in the character interactions. Since the sport of ballroom dance is a pair competition it forces the main character, Tatara, into confrontations with his dance partners as well as his rivals. This leads to some heated arguments between Tatara and those around him. And they’re not minor squabbles either, as they range from dance styles, philosophies, to even some very real fights about not understanding each other. But, in those arguments we see Tatara grow and develop as a person and as a dancer.
Watch it if You Like: Yuri on Ice, Haikyu!!, the 1996 movie and its 2004 re-make Shall We Dance?, Sports Dance competitions
Where You Can Watch it: Welcome to the Ballroom is streaming on Amazon Anime Strike.
Honorable Mentions: ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept., Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler, and MAGICAL CIRCLE GURU-GURU
Image source: tsukigakirei_tv on Twitter
Genre: Romance, School Life, Slice of Life, Drama, Comedy
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Tsukigakirei is a very simple love story centering junior high school (grade nine) students Mizuno Akane and Azumi Kotarou, along with their friends, classmates, and fellow club members. Both Akane and Kotaro are quite shy and quiet. Yet they have deep commitment to their interests and can be passionate in private. Along the way, of course, there are explorations of other students and teachers, including other couples.
Tsukigakirei Is the Best Representation of Japanese School Life I Have Seen in Anime
Why You Should Watch It: Honestly, the primary reason to watch Tsukigakirei is its authenticity. No matter what the genre of the series, a lot of anime, perhaps even most, takes place in Japanese schools. That said, anime is generally well within the realm of fiction (with very rare exceptions) and often has very fantastical elements. Even slice-of-life and romance anime can often give a warped depiction. Tsukigakirei doesn’t. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to be in a Japanese school, this is the best way to get a realistic answer outside of a student exchange program.
Watch It If You Like: Blue Spring Ride, Strobe Light
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Image Source: ＴＶアニメ「ネト充のススメ」公式 on Twitter
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Online Gaming
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Moriko Morioka quits her office job after years of good work at her company, unable to take the pressure. Now, she spends her life out-of-work, cooping up in her apartment all day playing her new favorite online game, Fruits de Mer. In this world, Moriko becomes Hayashi, a timid male character. As Hayashi, Moriko meets Lily, a cute female character who helps guide her through the game.
At the beginning of the series, Moriko is not only unskilled at social interactions–she hates it. But as she continues to talk with her online game friends, she is able to gain more self-confidence that she can use in the new world, leading to new opportunities for her just waiting around the corner.
MMO Junkie Is More about Forging Interpersonal Relationships than Online Games
Why You Should Watch It: While anime like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon have actual battle scenes, Recovery of an MMO Junkie has barely at all. Instead, this anime is more of a story of the emotional growth of a regular woman who has lost faith in society. It’s extremely clear to see the way she grows, both in appearance and personality. From ugly duckling to gorgeous swan, we’re able to see the transformation of Moriko as she begins to grow little by little. And, it’s honestly touching to see this occur.
I think Moriko is a character that many anime fans can relate to. While we don’t know her work situation very clearly, it’s clear that Moriko has become an outcast in the real world as an unemployed shut-in. Even interacting with the clerk at the convenience store becomes a harrowing task. Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a light-hearted, touching tale of growth using an online game as a vehicle.
Watch It If You Like: And You Thought There Is Never A Girl Online?, .hack//Roots
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
The Rest of the Best of 2017
The Best Anime OVAs and Specials of 2017
The Best Short-Form Anime of 2017
The Best Live-Action Anime Film Adaptations of 2017
The Top 10 Anime Songs of 2017
The Top 5 Merch of 2017
The Top 5 Anime Food of 2017