One thing I’d like to make really clear is that this is not my list of best anime from 2017. That will come out in a few weeks time and will also include the results of the reader poll, so for the time being, I’m going to give some of my other top 5’s from 2017. This list, as the title suggests, is all about those shows I literally expected nothing of (other than to maybe be terrible) and then I ended up having a surprisingly good time watching them. I think it is nice sometimes that things can take you by surprise.
On that note though, I’d love it if you would share your list of shows from 2017 that you expected not to like but ended up being at least okay if not outright enjoyable.
Please Note: There will be spoilers below.
Honourable mentions in this list go to Gamers and Anime-Gataris.
Number 5: In Another World With My Smartphone
Okay, this had to make the list for the simple reason that a show with that bad of a title has no right to actually be semi-decent. Not good. Certainly not a refreshingly brilliant light to shine on all isekai anime based on light novels. This is a typical self-aware comedy, but for the most part I found it kind of amusing and it surprised even me that I was still watching it at the end of the season, and actually kind of open to the idea that maybe more of this story wouldn’t be that bad.
Number 4: Princess Principal
This show I actually really enjoyed. It isn’t just an okay show that wasn’t as bad as it might have been, it is a genuinely good show. So why is it on the list? Because when I looked at the art for this anime before it aired I dismissed it as another group of moe girls in some school club that may or may not have spying involved. Instead what I got was a fairly thrilling and fun story with some competent characterisation that genuinely made me look forward to each new episode. Meanwhile, it also had one of the better opening themes of the year.
Number 3: The Royal Tutor
I definitely did not go into this one expecting very much but then the titular tutor, Heine, totally won me over. His straight man approach to everything and his interactions with each of the Princes were genuinely fun to watch and I liked that his background remained fairly enigmatic until the end. Even then, there’s definitely more to the story but we were given enough. Most of the Princes also weren’t as annoying as they originally could have been and all managed to become more than just one note joke characters as they each went through a fairly reasonable character arc throughout the series.
Number 2: Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Yeah, I read that title and could almost feel the ey-roll starting already. Then the first episode happened and I realised that even this well and truly overdone story of misunderstandings and romance could actually be interesting enough when the characters are actually fairly relatable. Possibly it is the older age of the characters in this story to a lot of other anime with similar ideas in it, but I found Morioka a fantastic character to follow and I genuinely wanted her to get a happy ending. That isn’t to say the show is all that good. It’s just significantly better than what you might expect from it. It also has a pretty fantastic opening theme which seems to go a long way to buying some good will from your audience so more shows should actually try and remember that.
Number 1: Spiritpact
Please watch the first episode of this show. Realise how incredibly bad this series might have been. That first episode is an outright train wreck and needs to be scrapped and started over. Episodes 2 and 3 aren’t a huge amount better but start to show promise. By the end of this series it is amazing how far the characters and story have come and really this ended up being a show I genuinely looked forward to watching. I’d have done a rewatch but sitting through that first episode again scares me. Still, for ten episodes this show packs in more development for its characters and for the storyline than some shows manage in 24 and once you get over the initial episodes, the pacing settles really well.
And there you go, my top 5 surprisingly good shows from 2017. Next week I’ll tackle my top 5 disappointments (shows I went in wanting to be good and then found I was left high and dry). Please feel free to share your thoughts on shows that you thought were going to be dreadful but then surprised you in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
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