KBD's Top Ten Best Anime of 2017 (And The Top Five Worst)
If the last couple years in the anime realm have taught me one thing, it's that one needs a strong wallet to be able to gather up as much of it as possible. 2017 was yet another stellar year for the anime industry, with returning series like My Hero Academia and KonoSuba earning legendary statuses by one-upping their previous seasons, and newcomers wowing viewers with their unique stories, memorable characters, and vivid animation. After much pondering and looking over the list of well-over 70 series I watched in the year (which, let's be real, is still just under half of what was released), my best-of list was finally decided upon with the series that made a mark on me as both a journalist and a hardcore fan of the genre.
But first, if we are to show the absolute best the anime had to offer in 2017, we should first look at the terrible blemishes that we were forced to gaze at in-between the really good stuff. Here are five anime that deserve to be flushed down the commode, never to be seen by human eyes again:
5. The Reflection
Oh Studio Deen! Sometimes you bless us with your brilliance like in the British comedy-styled KonoSuba and even the Wes Anderson-like Neo Yokio. But then you make us wince with a ghastly groan with a series like The Reflection. This superhero collaboration with Stan Lee and Mushishi director Hiroshi Nagahama not only was dull to watch, it sometimes was a bit nauseating to see in motion. Looking more like a Newgrounds cartoon than a big anime with huge support behind it, the tale of humans becoming heroes and villains via a mysterious event could be almost seen as a terrible rip-off of My Hero Academia. Perhaps Stan Lee should ease off of creating anything new and stick to making cameos in Marvel movies for the time being...
4. Black Clover
Here's some advice, Studio Pierrot: if a manga is deemed one of the worst of the year via the San Diego Comic Con committee, don't take it as a challenge to see if you can make it better. Black Clover is a prime example of how to do a shonen series wrong in every way. Plucking elements from other popular anime series, the end result was a Frankenstein monster that spent more time literally screaming its head off instead of actually terrorizing the competition. Unoriginal, boring, and only slightly okay to look at, Black Clover was the "next big shonen" show that the collective audience pointed and laughed at until it buried its head in the sand with embarrassment. Anime industry: just stop trying to make this a thing, and move your attention towards a much better series.
3. JUNI TAISEN : Zodiac War
A battle between characters based on the zodiac animals should be exciting to watch, but JUNI TAISEN found itself suffering through a pathway of predictability and eye-rolling character development. Thanks to the episodes practically giving away the outcome of its combatants, there was little room for surprising its audience (save for the first couple deaths). It also didn't help that its ending was one of the most trivial and groan-inducing conclusions to grace our screening, taking away any sort of meaning JUNI TAISEN was attempting to convey in its pea-sized brain. It might've been pretty to look at from time-to-time, but Zodiac War lacked the smarts or personality to stand out against many of the other big dogs of the season.
2. Masamune-kun's Revenge
SILVER LINK should've had a surefire hit with Masamune-kun's Revenge. Taking the story of a guy whose heart was broken as a kid and getting justice over her selfish ways should have been a fun spectacle. Instead it took its protagonist, and made him the most hatable anime character of 2017. It reached nasty levels of cynicism, lacking any sort of conscience, and -- worst of all -- never took the time to give viewers a solid conclusion and instead going the "read the manga to see how it ends" route. If there was one anime this year that truly gave its viewers the finger, it was Masamune-kun's Revenge.
1. Seven Mortal Sins
Sometimes you walk into a series knowing it's going to be complete shit, and instead be greeted with a fun time and something to laugh at. Seven Mortal Sins was not that show, trying too hard to be serious without any sort of tongue-in-cheek self-awareness whilst flaunting fan-service that censored roughly 75% of the actual series. It's one thing to take a concept like Paradise Lost and make it a bit pervy, but I'm pretty sure there's actual porn on the internet that uses that classic story in much cleverer ways. If you want a series that's smart with its fan-service, stick with High School DxD or Keijo!!!!!!!!, and get the Hell away from Seven Mortal Sins as best as you can!
Now that we've gotten the worst out of the way, let's take a look at the series that shined the brightest out of the entire industry. Here are our Top Ten Anime of 2017:
10. Anonymous Noise
Take note, anime industry: Anonymous Noise is how you do a series built on the backbone of rock 'n' roll right! The tale of Nino and her chance meetup with two long-lost friends pushes her into the spotlight as the new frontwoman for the band In NO Hurry to Shout;. While it had the usual shojo tropes here and there, the series as a whole brought forth an emotional roller coaster that was both fun and heartbreaking to watch at times. Of course, it helped that it had the most hard-rocking and badass in-anime band since NANA's Black Stones, with songs that could've easily found itself on a Titus Andronicus or bloodthirsty butchers record. Throw up your devil horns and get a packet of tissues ready, because Anonymous Noise will play hard and wild with your feelings every step of the way!
9. Alice & Zoroku
Alice & Zoroku was one tricky pony to pin down. One half of the series focused on the young magical girl Sana trying to have a new life with old man Zoroku and his granddaughter Sanae. The other half is a acid trip-styled adventure with Sana trapping another girl who's similar to her in a fight for normalcy. Together, it was a show that encapsulated a glowing beauty, humanistic tension, and strong moral lesson on how it's okay to be a little strange in today's society. (The tie-ins to Carl's Jr. and Snickers are still laughably inappropriate, though!) If Alice & Zoroku failed to touch your heart, then you are indeed an individual that's into crooked stuff!
8. Saga of Tanya the Evil
One shrewd Japanese salaryman finds himself trapped in the body of a girl growing up in a World War I-like era. Facing off against all of the Allied Nations and the deity known as Being X, Tanya von Degurechaff became the face of true wickedness in the anime world of 2017. A sort of anti-Izetta the Last Witch, Saga of Tanya the Evil showed why bad guys have all the fun, as we somewhat cheered on the little terror to see how far she can reach the sun before her feathers melt off. Exciting, clever, and despicably enjoyable every step of the way, the tale of a monster trapped in a tiny girl's body was the most sinister of guilty pleasures we could've ever asked for!
7. Konohana Kitan
A series about cute fox girls running a hot springs inn will easily sound the "fan-service" alarm for those just reading about it. Instead, Lerche (Monster Musume, Assassination Classroom) once again surprises its viewers with Konohana Kitan's heartwarming tale of its hotel workers aiding its spiritual customers with the right amount of charm and fluffy goodness. Its out-of-nowhere twists will have you bawling your eyes out in some cases, whereas others will give you a warm feeling that'll stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. Beautiful on the eyes and touching to the soul, Konohana Kitan was the place most anime fans could only dream of checking into.
6. The Ancient Magus' Bride
Not since Spice & Wolf has there been a fantasy series that's wowed me quite like The Ancient Magus' Bride. A magical tale about a Sleigh Beggy girl and her skull-headed groom-to-be is the closest thing we've gotten to a Guillermo Del Toro-created anime. Brimming with spellbinding animation, strong character development, and a heartfelt story about finding your place in a world that once shunned you, The Ancient Magus' Bride embraced its viewers with wonderment usually reserved for the most classic of fairy tales. While we may not know yet how this adaptation will end (hence why it's a bit lower on the list), needless to say our moments we've had thus far with Chise and Elias will be treasured for years to come.
5. Interviews With Monster Girls
If there ever was a strong analogy for treating students with disabilities with as much equality as any regular classmate, then Interviews With Monster Girls showcased it with the utmost care and creativity. What began as a cutesy anime comedy about three Demi-Humans and the teacher studying their traits transformed itself into the most beautiful and humanistic take on respecting people with minor differences. It even dove deep into creatively going into the theories on how a Dullahan consumes food or why a vampire drinks blood, presenting unique ideas about monster lore in a light that made even the most faux of sciences sound legitimately true! Adorable, hilarious, and filled with more heart than you can even imagine, Interviews With Monster Girls grabbed you by the feels and gleefully sunk its teeth into your spirit.
4. Little Witch Academia
Studio Trigger's short film Little Witch Academia was given a full-blown expansion in 2017, with a series that easily made it one of the most talked-about anime of the year. The tale of Akko and her adventures around Luna Nova Magical Academy was chock filled with personality, visual beauty, and a story that viewers of all ages can fully enjoy. Its imaginative majesty is one that any lover of animation should behold, with Akko's can-do attitude as a normal girl surrounded by powerful students giving way to relatable situations and outside-the-box results. (Or, if Sucy is involved, she's just given a couple of mushrooms for her troubles.) With magic around every corner, Little Witch Academia became the thing we needed most to fill the hole that J.K. Rowling left us when she put an end to Mr. Potter's wizardry.
Little Witch Academia can be viewed on Netflix
3. Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Leave it to the anime industry to present the most real romantic comedy for this internet-crazed generation. Recovery of an MMO Junkie was one of the most relatable stories of 2017, with the story of a reclusive online gamer addict and her chance meeting with her online partner in real-life bringing together a silly and hearty good time for viewers everywhere. Yes, it can very Sleepless in Seattle-ish at times (what rom-com isn't these days?), but its means of character development and funny internal dialogue perfectly captured what it's like for twenty & thirty-somethings to even attempt to date these days. Fortunately it's all presented via a fun house-styled mirror, with Recovery of an MMO Junkie making it easier for us to laugh at our current dating troubles, albeit with maybe a tear or two for some of its more hilariously soul-crushing realizations.
2. Girls' Last Tour
What happens when the war is over, and there's really nothing left to your surroundings? Girls' Last Tour took that hypothetical to the extreme, with the post-apocalyptic story of two lone female soldiers Chito and Yuuri wandering through the world in their German tractor bike. They chat about the most nonsensical of things, only to be greeted with new discoveries and unexpected dangers every step of the way. It's hard to even talk about this series without spoiling some of its best moments, but let's just say that its moé-looking visual style does contrast a lot with the goings-on between the two women. Girls' Last Tour truly wowed me from start-to-finish, with some scenes that both haunted and warmed this reviewer up many times over. Here's hoping that we'll see Chito and Yuuri again one day soon...
Girls' Last Tour can be viewed on Amazon Prime. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
1. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid
Not often is there an anime that made me feel a tad empty inside when it finished its run. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid was one such show, bringing together a fantasy element into a sitcom-like premise that resulted in the most anticipated half-hour of my winter week. The tale of the lovesick maid dragon Tohru and Miss Kobayashi had my heart and funny bone in check practically every second of its runtime, delivering huge laughs, beautiful family moments, and some of the most gorgeous animation you could find on any television screen. Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid had Kyoto Animation back on its A-game, brimming with a level of originality and goodness that you couldn't find anywhere else in 2017. Now let's poke original manga creator Coolkyoushinja hard enough to churn out new chapters quicker so we can get another season ASAP!
Any anime we might've missed this time around? Comment below with your favorites, and tell us why they stood out on your best-of 2017 list!