Hiyo, everyone! I watched lots of anime last year, so, now that 2017 is behind us, I thought I’d revisit them and choose a few favorites. That’s what I’m doing here! And, of course, I’ll write a bit about why I liked them. As a reminder, these are just my personal opinions, so it’s fine if we disagree. Also note that I haven’t seen every anime – not even all the popular ones – so I may have never experienced some of your favorites.
The criteria for this list are as follows:
- I must have watched all currently available seasons of the anime, beginning to end, in 2017.
- I must not have watched the anime before 2017.
- The anime does not need to have been released in 2017.
And that’s it! As usual, I’ll keep spoilers to a minimum, but will mention the premises of each anime. Without further ado, let’s get started!
5. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks offers the same setup as several of the other Fate/ titles; seven Masters (generally powerful mages) are bonded with seven Servants (heroes from throughout time) who fight each other to obtain the Holy Grail, which grants the wish of whoever obtains it. Each of the Servants has a specific “class” that describes them. (Saber, Archer, Caster, etc.) In Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks, we follow the story of Rin Tohsaka, a member of a prominent family of mages who has been raised to participate in the Grail War, and the story of Shirou Emiya, a man who finds himself accidentally caught up in the chaos. There are also a lot of other characters. Fate/ games tend to have large casts.
I enjoyed Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Bladeworks in large part because of the intricate story it wove and the way many of the characters developed. Certain characters here are forced to confront their own personal ideologies and determine whether their ideals truly hold up. The action scenes are captivating, the the animation and music are great. This anime kept me hooked from beginning to end.
Gamers! begins with the meeting of Keita Amano, an avid yet surprisingly talentless video game enthusiast, and Karen Tendo, one of the most popular girls at school – and, to Keita’s surprise, the president of the school’s Gaming Club. Karen invites Keita to join the club, and his response eventually leads to a small incident at school that draws in several other students. For the rest of the series, Gamers! follows those characters as they try to work out the relationships between them with gaming as a backdrop.
I went into Gamers! expecting a typical slice-of-life anime, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself completely hooked. I’m not entirely certain why I took such a liking to it, though I suspect it has something to do with the cast of relatable and compelling characters. For some reason, watching them flounder to navigate their love lives was a regular joy for me, and I found myself looking forward to each new episode. The biggest downside of Gamers!, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t really have a proper ending; it just kind of stops. While that was disappointing, I find myself more than willing to overlook it and instead cross my fingers for a second season!
Erased follows a man named Satoru Fajinuma who has a strange and inexplicable ability; he is occasionally pulled back in time so he can save people from dangers that would otherwise claim their lives. As of the beginning of the story, he has never been pulled too far back in time, but that all changes after his mother is murdered – and he finds himself back in elementary school. Now an adult who appears to be a child, Satoru quickly realizes that not only his mother’s life is at stake, and that he makes it his mission to prevent the disappearance of a girl in his class named Kayo Hinazuki and relive his life to the fullest in the process.
The concept of Erased (as well as its popularity) is what first caught my interest, but the emotions involved were what kept me watching – in fact, I binged the whole anime. xD Any form of media that takes me on such a wild emotional roller-coaster finds a place in my heart, and Erased certainly did that. It also has deep themes that make you think and is backed up by great music. If you haven’t seen Erased yet, I highly recommend you watch it.
2. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, I consider Avatar to be an anime. =p If you feel passionately about why I shouldn’t, I’d be happy to read your thoughts in the comments below!
The story of Avatar begins when a brother and sister duo, Sokka and Katara respectively, discover what appears to be a young boy frozen inside an iceberg. After being thawed out, the boy introduces himself as Aang and shows the siblings that he is an airbender – that is, he is able to manipulate air to his advantage. This is significant because all of the airbenders were thought to have been killed by the Fire Nation long ago. (There were originally peoples whose societies corresponded to each of the four classical elements; Earth, Water, Air, and Fire.) It is soon revealed that Aang is the Avatar – the one living person capable of wielding all four elements – and he, together with Sokka and Katara, go on a journey on which Aang is to master his powers so he can stand up to the tyrannical Fire Nation.
I was a little bit uncertain about Avatar at first; as a Nickelodeon show, I worried it would be too cartoony for my taste – and it certainly can be at times. But its moments of silliness are vastly outmatched by its deep worldbuilding, complex cast of intriguing characters, and running themes, some of which are darker than you might expect. Despite being over 60 episodes long, Avatar easily held my interest throughout, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in an adventure that varies between depth and the whimsical.
1. Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April follows the story of Kosei Arima, a boy who was a piano prodigy until the death of his mother, which mentally broke him and left him unable to hear his own music. One day, accompanying a friend on a date, he encounters a girl named Kaori Mayazono, a free-spirited violinist who reignites a spark of life in Kosei and (forcefully) inspires him to confront his past and learn to play the piano anew. Kosei also develops quite a crush on Kaori, which is problematic because she is dating one of his best friends – and because another of his friends has a crush on him.
What I loved most about Your Lie in April was how masterfully it drew out its characters’ deepest emotions and laid them bare in the form of music. I never expected to find myself so interested in a music-based anime, but Your Lie in April enthralled me from beginning to end. As the story progresses and a familiar theme reemerges, the emotional stakes only grow and grow; it was impossible for me not to get increasingly invested. Your Lie in April is absolutely wonderful. (As is its music, of course!)
What sort of anime did you guys watch in 2017? Do you have any recommendations? If you don’t watch anime, was there any other media you feel strongly about from that year? Please let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading, and have an ultra-fun day~