A Decade of Anime 2017

Anime of the Decade

Here we go and 2017 was the very first year I covered a whole year of seasonal anime on the blog. It was a big year but more than just watching lots of anime I was actively working to watch anime outside of my comfort zone. That meant there were a few odd titles that cropped up in my watch lists and some of them ended up being well worth the watch.

Some notable titles that didn’t make my final list include KADO (if only this one had ended as well as it began because that ending should be noted as one of the worst anime endings ever), WorldEnd, Princess Principal, Land of the Lustrous and Recovery of an MMO Junkie. Depending on your tastes in anime, all of these titles offer fairly good viewing but still didn’t manage to make the list.

The Rules:

No. 1: No sequels of any kind.

No. 2: Only one anime from each season which gave me 4 picks from each year.

No. 3: Other than 2019 anime, no matter how brilliant an anime was if I hadn’t rewatched it since it aired then it didn’t make the list. If I don’t like it enough to watch it more than once then it doesn’t deserve to be on an anime of the decade list.

Incidentally these anime are not the technical best anime of their seasons but are the ones I would pick if I could only watch one anime from that season. They are anime I loved, for whatever reason, and felt deserved to be remembered.

Best anime 2017 edition

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ACCA

ACCA

With its jazzy introduction, striking character designs and a plot that is woven throughout its entire run-time, ACCA was an anime that got my attention early in its season and held it all the way through. While not as thrilling as some anime and certainly light on action preferring instead to progress the plot through subtle character interactions and world build through food and clothing, ACCA still ended up being great fun full of colourful characters.

Of course the best thing about it is a very conclusive ending. The character lives go on but the central plot has been resolved in a satisfying manner and the point that needed to be made is made.

Where ACCA may fall down a bit is that it is a slow burn with small pieces of the puzzle gradually coming together. It isn’t a style of story telling for everyone and the more subtle characterisation isn’t overly attention grabbing though for those who stick around you will be rewarded with characters who have quite a lot of personality and depth bubbling away under relatively sedate exteriors. Honestly, I just really enjoyed this anime and could do with one like it each year.

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Sagrada Reset

Sagrada

Okay, I probably do need to defend this choice. This was an anime dropped by a lot of reviewers and I know my early episode reviews (particularly in the middle of the first cour) were not exactly flattering of this incredibly slow paced and awkward little story.

Actually I was downright critical by the end of the first cour and ready to drop the show. However, given I did make it to the end of the 24 episodes while this was airing I came to the conclusion even then that Sagrada Reset had an amazingly well structured narrative. You just don’t realise it until you watch the end of the series and see how every little piece does come together and even the seemingly most random and pointless conversation or object actually does have some purpose.

On rewatch, identifying all these little points along the way is actually very satisfying and while the stilted dialogue and very stilted characters are still a little hard to take, there’s definitely some merit to this one.

Ultimately, Sagrada Reset has flawed execution of what was a fairly ambitious narrative. While it does at times try to be cleverer than it is and it certainly could have presented the entire package with more enticing characters and visuals, having now watched this more than once

I do feel its an anime that will do better outside of seasonal viewing only it more or less vanished from discussion before it was even done airing. While there were certainly better anime in 2017, Sagrada Reset is one that has drawn me back numerous times since and despite my initial negative reaction to it I’m now in a place where on reflection I can say I’m very glad I watched it.



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Made in Abyss

Abyss

There’s only one thing that stops me declaring Made in Abyss a masterpiece but it is a pretty bit thing. Largely it is that this season that aired in 2017 feels like a prologue to a story we still haven’t gotten to see. It is adventurous and fun with some fairly tense and dark moments as well as quite a dose of the grotesque, sharply contrasting with the pretty cute character designs, and yet the narrative really does feel like we are still just getting started when the anime comes to an end. Although these episodes have done a brilliant job of making you want to uncover the secrets in the abyss so some excellent points there.

Visually, this one is a work of art and the design of characters, creatures, and settings are truly spectacular. Work in some brilliant sound design and you have an anime that sets the right tone with sound and visuals more or less every scene and it is amazing what a difference that can make to immersion within a story. Honestly, Made in Abyss is just good and if it actually ended it would be one of those unmissable anime titles.

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Girls’ Last Tour

best anime 2017

The year that was 2017 closed out with this quiet gem of an anime, Girls’ Last Tour. This was an anime of contrasts. Cute female characters against the bleak end of the world setting. The upbeat opening song which included the girls dancing and even dabbing and then episodes where they declared things like making friends with hopelessness. The girls have no destination and merely travel looking for whatever they can find in order to keep eating and living. As they have no goal there’s no arrival at the end and the story is broken more into half-episode stories where the girls find or interact with something new and then they move on.

This one snuck up on me as I did not expect it to have the impact it did. Ten minutes watching the girls make music with tins and raindrops was actually truly wonderful because of how the visuals, sound and characters interact. More dangerous situation where the girls faced crumbling infrastructure or came across other survivors added a bit of variety into what was essentially a two girl story. While Girls’ Last Tour isn’t a perfect anime, it is one full of amazing moments that are each worth watching. If you missed this anime in 2017 you definitely need to give it a shot.

Anime of the Decade

2017 is done and I have two years left before I’ve covered the whole decade. However, before we get to 2018, let me know what your picks from 2017 were.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Check out my favourite anime from each year over the last decade:

Top 5 Anime I’d Love To Play If They Were An RPG

Tuesday's Top 5

It is fairly accepted these days that games inspire movies, TV shows, and anime and a lot of these aren’t great. It also is fairly well accepted that popular shows and franchises might get a game spin-off but usually these are pretty much pandering to fans of the source and while some of these games are actually quite fun they aren’t exactly wowing hard core gamers. That said, there are some anime I watch and I just think how much fun it would be to play a game version of them. Now, some of them probably already have a game out but this is my list of anime that I thought have concepts that would make for an excellent gaming experience while watching.

I’d love to know which anime you think you’d enjoy as a game so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Soul Eater

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve put Soul Eater on this list. I mean, when you think about it, the story is made for being an RPG. Enrol at DWMA and design your meister/weapon combo. Complete missions to rise up the ranks and get good grades and help defend the school from threats. It would be an awesome RPG. Add in some factions and secret organisations within the school and you’ve got the makings of a really awesome game.

Now there are already Soul Eater games out there by the looks, but they seem mostly like battle focused games rather than an RPG experience. Maybe I’m wrong and one exists, but if it does, I’d love to know because I would definitely play it.

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Number 4: Bungo Stray Dogs

As much as I find the narrative in the anime quite messy and unfocused, that would actually kind of work in an RPG. I don’t know about you, but when I play Skyrim I pretty much avoid anything that is a main mission quest while I meander about completing as many side quests and plots as I can. Mostly because at some point in an RPG, if you follow the main storyline you usually get to a point where you can’t go back to some of the other missions. So I like to get as many of those done before advancing the plot as I can. In Bungo Stray Dogs case, this means you can get distracted by as many petty investigations or conflicts with other organisations as you like and if you forget what the main mission was, that’s okay, I’m pretty sure no-one who only watches the anime knows what the end goal is anyway.

Now this one does have a game as well, but I haven’t really looked into it. Still, there’s certainly a lot about this anime that would work well in a game.

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Number 3: Madoka Magica

Create a character and choose to take Kyuubey’s deal. Learn what kind of a magical girl you became based on the wish you chose and the character you designed and then fight off witches, deal with other magical girls, and decide what to do about Kyuubey. This could be an awesome gaming experience. Not to mention the visuals. Madoka Magica aesthetics in a game world would be utterly amazing.

madoka

Now there are plenty of Madoka games out there but most of them seem intent on supporting the narrative in the anime rather than being their own kind of gaming experience. Let’s just take the concept and create an original RPG experience around it and then we would have a truly amazing game to play.

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Number 2: Made in Abyss

A little less fighting and a lot more exploration and survival, Made in Abyss would be a truly amazing and horrific gaming experience. How far into the Abyss do you dare explore. How long before you die? I could see this one being comparable to Dark Souls in terms of being unforgiving to those who travel in unwary and die and yet it would be such a glorious experience. Not to mention, despite having a similar difficulty to Dark Souls, visually this one would be bright and cute in direct contrast to the horror of the situation. Fantastic.

Create your own orphan character being trained to explore the abyss and then after the briefest of tutorials, let’s just throw them down the hole and see how far they can get. I would absolutely love to play this though I suspect rage quitting would definitely become a thing.

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Number 1: Darker Than Black

It is probably an obvious choice for me, and there is a game of it already, but I’d love to see this in a blockbuster game release. Massive world to explore, Contractors and factions to join, work with, bring down, mysteries to uncover, it could just be such an immersive gaming experience. I could certainly see us travelling about Carmen Sandiego style, stealthily infiltrating buildings and ferreting out intelligence, and when things go sideways unleashing amazing attack and fighting for survival.

It would be such a great game and because of the range of Contractor abilities it would have almost limitless replay value as you try with different characters and abilities to complete missions. I know I’d have a lot of fun with it and I’m pretty sure it could have wide appeal.

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So those are my picks for anime I’d love to see made into games, or made into a specific game that I’d like to play. What are some of your choices for anime that would make great RPGs?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Made in Abyss Season 1 Series Review: Adventure Calls

abyss1

Overview:

Riko is an orphan training to be a cave raider as the city she lives in is built around Abyss, a mysterious giant hole in the ground. The Abyss holds many secrets, including fantastical creatures, a curse, and possibly Riko’s mother.

Review:

The spirit of adventure is something that a lot of stories are built around. You have your random ‘hero’, put some insurmountable something in front of them and let them have at it. One advantage most of those stories have over Made in Abyss is they usually finish with either the hero triumphantly returning, dying heroically, or surrendering the challenge in some moral statement that they will then hit you over the head with during the epilogue. Made in Abyss isn’t finished from a narrative point of view (hence the second season announcement) and that makes it difficult to really talk about at the moment. Mostly because if this is it then I would have to say it is deeply unsatisfying.

I really was disappointed when I didn’t get to watch it while this was streaming. I read so many reviews where people talked about how good it was so when I did sign up for HiDive I was very happy to see I had gained access to this series. And there is a lot to like about it. However, despite its many positives, there’s also a few elements that just kind of rubbed me the wrong way throughout the series. And then of course it seems to end just as the journey threatens to get interesting. So, backing up, I’m going to look at this in a fairly logical manner.

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Where Made in Abyss shines is the setting. You wouldn’t think you could make exploring a hole in the ground this visually impressive, but apparently with a bit of fantastical imagination you really, really can. From the different level designs, to the impressive array of creatures Riko and her acquired partner Reg encounter, the setting is never dull. That is the best thing about this adventure story. The place they are exploring is interesting. Improbably and unrealistic (given the whole curse thing), but interesting. And I’ll take interesting over realistic most days when it comes to fantasy settings so I really did enjoy the world building that was going on in this.

This interesting setting is further enhanced by the actual quality of the visuals and the direction. There’s been a lot of thought put into how to present this world and the shot types, use of colours, and just the general style of this anime all bring out the best of this world. Throw in good music and sound design and you really have an immersive world for your audience just to lose themselves in.

Unfortunately, the story and characters haven’t fared quite so well. It isn’t that either are particularly poorly done, but the story is slow to get going and then incomplete and the characters are… Well, they are interesting in pieces but on the whole they are kind of dull (and I know I just annoyed a lot of people by saying that).

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Riko is probably my biggest issue with the show. Early on she is insufferably smug (before they begin their descent). While she has some skills, she’s still a beginner and she really doesn’t have enough actual talent to back up her towering opinion of herself. With the discovery of Reg, she immediately decides he is going to help her descend to the bottom of Abyss in search of her mother going against every rule she’s been taught. Because, why follow rules that seem to only be in place to stop you from committing suicide?

They do try and justify Riko’s relentless drive to the bottom of the Abyss with the whole back story reveal from her birth, but to be honest it doesn’t paint her in any better light. She’s a weak girl, relying on Reg’s strength to protect her, as she tries to accomplish a journey she has no business being on and the very vague motivation of meeting her mother (who might not even be there or might be dead) and she learns mid-journey that might not be the reason she feels compelled to travel anyway. Don’t let that deter you Riko. Just keep plunging headlong down a hole. It kind of made the more horrific moments of some of the final episodes less horrific because really it just seemed like Riko had asked for such a thing to happen to her (though Mitty’s story was pretty horrific no matter how you view it).

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Reg doesn’t escape criticism though given he chooses to put up with Riko’s selfishness and even seems to actively encourage it, though he seems to get little out of it. The whole get his memories back motive seems paper thin in most episodes given he doesn’t really seem to care except in tiny snatches where I guess even the writers realised that if Reg had any independent thought he would have left Riko already. As useful and strong as he is, and immune from the curse apparently, Reg’s lack of action in most situations makes you wonder what his purpose is other than elevator and designated crier on most occasions.

But even the characters are functional. Okay, they have a very singular motivation that doesn’t seem sufficient to warrant what they do to achieve it, but otherwise they work well enough and the general relationship between the two work (assuming you are happy believing Reg is a doormat). Then we have the story itself.

Admittedly, the story isn’t finished, so the lack of finale isn’t a problem at this point. What is more of a problem are things like the compass Riko has that gets built up to be important, and then gets washed away and forgotten. It never does anything of consequence. Her mother’s weapon? Get’s used once, by Reg, and then is lost the next time they even try to think about using it. They introduce devices and elements into this story that just seem to be distractions. It doesn’t help that a lot of the early episodes are explaining features of the setting in the upper levels of Abyss, that we then leave and from what we understand of the story, won’t be returning to. So much time is chewed up in developing that marvelous setting that it leaves little room for real plot development.

What that means is things become fairly straight forward in that Riko and Reg descend to a new level. We get a brief tour guide of the features of the level, usually courtesy of Riko, before something attacks them. They might meet people on the level who usually start off looking scary and like they are going to hinder the journey but then they will continue to let the two kids descend into the depths. I know I questioned Riko and Reg’s motivation but I really need to question the motives of every adult in existence in this story. What are they thinking?

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Toward the very end of the series we get an introduced subplot back on the surface about some improbably disease that is killing people on their birthday, but this is kind of introduced and then put to the side. There’s also Nanachi and Mitty’s story which I’m certain will become important to Reg and Riko as they descend to level 5. However, neither of these points have played any significance in the plot so far. They are set up for future developments that hopefully will do something with them.

I think that while I liked this as an introduction, I feel this is a story I’d have liked have been dropped into the middle of. When Riko and Reg were already a fair way down and we could have learned how they got there over time. I think less explanations about the Abyss and more just letting viewers be a little bemused and astonished by the mystery of the place, might have made it an even better setting and wouldn’t have devoured so much screen time that could have developed character or plot elements.

That doesn’t mean this was bad. It was thoroughly enjoyable. What it does mean though, is that I took quite a few breaks between episodes when watching this because I seldom felt compelled to move on to the next episode. While watching it was enjoyable enough, but there was no sense of haste or need to see what happened next. And without an ending, I probably wouldn’t recommend this series as a must watch. There’s too much still left to be revealed and too much that could go severely wrong with the plot so I’d prefer to wait and see how it develops before I’d firmly throw a recommendation behind this. Still, if you want a bit of a fantasy/adventure fix and you don’t mind a lot of set up, this was a good watch and for all my issues with it, most of these are things that could probably be overcome with more time for the story and characters to find their way.

Let me know what you thought of the series.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James