2017 was a year that really, really sucked in the real world. It’s a damn good thing that the world of entertainment stepped up in a big way to provide us with a little reprieve however, and anime was no slouch in this regard, delivering one of the strongest years in a good while. This past year I had decided to (yet again) do something different with my end of the year awards.
My plan originally was to use my seasonal favorites articles as essentially a “tournament” of sorts, where the winners of the seasonal awards would move on to be the nominees for the end of the year awards, with the logic behind this being that if I felt a show wasn’t my favorite in its category in its season, how could they possibly be my favorite in its category for the year. Of course as the year went on I realized the inherent flaws in this particular system(in no small part because, shockingly, how you feel about a show can change over time), so I began crafting a new system around the medal grading system I used when I reviewed shows under this whole “Crunchyroller” gimmick.....thing....Under this new format my seasonal favorites articles will feature all the shows I’ve completed that season, meaning shows continuing into the next season won’t be graded until their season is finished(so for example, shows like The Ancient Magus’ Bride, GARO: Vanishing Line, and March comes in like a lion Season 2 won’t be in this article because they haven’t ended yet). The seasonal grading scale will comprise of 5 different medals.
Black medals are essentially a mark of shame and will be given to shows that for some damn reason I should have dropped, but still ended up finishing. Basically as a way to tell the show “Fuck you” for wasting my time(this will rarely be given out as I’ve gotten much better at just dropping shows that don’t work for me). Bronze medals will be given to shows that are heavily flawed, but with aspects to it that I still enjoyed enough to allow me to finish the show and not regret it. Silver medals will be given to shows I genuinely enjoyed watching, but didn’t necessarily love. These are basically shows that I absolutely liked watching, and will likely buy merch of if I ever come across it, but the shows themselves will likely eventually fade from my memory until they come up in conversation and my brain goes, “Oh yeah, I quite liked this one!”. Gold medals is the territory where we’re really talking now. These shows are the shows I just love, full out. I’ll always go to bat for these shows, and they will stick around in my memories for a long, long time. Finally the platinum medals, much like the black medals, aren’t going to be given out lightly. These go to the shows that get to me in a way that I will never in a million god damn years forget them. These shows can be groundbreaking works within their genre, they could affect me on a personal level, they could just be that damn well crafted, or they can have me do some stupid shit just because I had to see each new episode. Basically, if I give a show a platinum medal, you best tread carefully when talking about that show, because you’re walking on hallowed ground.
As for the end of the year article, like this one, it will simply feature the shows I finished that year and awarded gold or platinum medals to over the course of the year. Oh yeah, and one last thing, going forward I’m dropping the “must be on Crunchyroll” requirement, mainly due to two things that happened in the anime streaming world in the time between when I first began writing this article and now. Those being Anime Strike finally dying the death it deserved, and Netflix really ramping up their push for anime content.
So now that all that long winded stuff is out of the way, I present to you the 14 shows out of the 48 I finished in 2017 that I awarded gold or platinum medals to(behind the scenes, naturally). Needless to say, these are just in alphabetical order, not order of preference.
Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond
Oftentimes a change in directors between anime seasons tends to be a sign to brace for impact for fans of the series. However, this ended up being one of those rare occasions where the new season under a new director wasn’t just good, but, depending on who you asked, much better than the previous one. This season of Blood Blockade Battlefront let its extensive cast of colorful supernatural characters just roam freely in(mostly) episodic adventures that were nearly all just pure delights. This season of BBB was just right on the cusp of getting a platinum medal from me, but a small chunk of the episodes(we’re talking like 2-3 episodes at the most) not being as enjoyable as the rest of this season to me is what keeps this from obtaining those heights.
Yes, I’m counting this as anime. Fuck you. The first “season” of Netflix’s adaptation of Castlevania III(hopefully soon to be “adaptation of the Castlevania franchise” if they continue on to adapt other games) is all too brief, and that briefness is the largest reason for this being only a gold medal. I had an absolute blast with this pulpy horror action-adventure series. Sure there were some moments when you can notice the animation dip, but these moments are counteracted by several moments that made me audibly shout out, “Holy shit!”. If the second season is anywhere close to being as good, we are in for some very fun times ahead.
Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
So, cards on the table, despite the first season of this show not having a conclusive ending, it would have easily received a platinum medal if I was using this format back then. The reason this season is downgraded to a gold medal is quite honestly because of the shift forward in time. That made this season lose one of the most intriguing aspects the first season had, being an excellent period piece of the early/middle Showa period. This season gave us more of a late Showa period tale, and that’s basically the modern era, so it wasn’t as special, imo. This is still a great character drama, though, and as a whole I’d give the franchise a platinum medal in a heartbeat. Just when comparing the two halves individually, this is the weaker of the two, but only narrowly.
Konosuba Season 2
Konosuba somehow managed to be funnier in its second season. Hell, it was even better animated than the first season. However both of these things came with some sacrifices. The overall visual package took a step back to achieve the smoother animation, and the season wasn’t as grand in the scope of its adventures as the first. But considering Konosuba is first and foremost a comedy series, it was a worthy exchange.
Magical Circle Guru-Guru
Quite possibly the underdog series of the year, given its ratio of quality to popularity. This is the kind of show aimed at a young audience that everyone could conceivably enjoy. Honestly, though, after the Summer season this was merely on track to be a silver medal show for me. The second half of the show in the Fall season, however, completely changed that, as the show really stepped its game up as it increasingly added more heart to the show as it went on. This could have even been a platinum medal show if the breakneck pacing didn’t occasionally undermine the emotional efforts, though. The insane pace of the show allowed its comedy to be effective from start to finish, but the more dramatic moments sometimes didn’t get the proper room to breath that they deserved.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, the reason, the sole reason, this show didn’t platinum was because of the unsettling scenes the show has involving some of its younger cast members. Particularly some of the scenes with Kanna and her friend Riko and all but a small handful of scenes between Shouta and Lucoa. Those scenes aside, this was a phenomenal slice of life show that allowed KyoAni to break away from their typical style from the last few years. It certainly didn’t hurt that this show’s OP and ED were easily amongst the year’s best.
Owarimonogatari Second Season
So yeah, the Summer season was pretty dire for me in terms of upper tier shows. Since I didn’t see any of the widely beloved Anime Strike shows from that season(and for various reasons...still haven’t), it is the only season to not have a single platinum medal show for me. In fact, despite actually losing Anime of the Season in my Summer Favorites article, Owarimonogatari Second Season is the only Summer show on Crunchyroll I ended up even giving a gold medal to(the only other Summer gold medal winner here is Castlevania). And this isn’t even with me giving the show a boost for having watched all of Monogatari over the course of that season, either, because I’d give Monogatari as a whole a platinum. So this gold medal is just judging Owarimonogatari Second Season itself.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
I dunno how a 10(technically 11, because of how fast the 11th episode OVA was made legally available) episode show managed to change trajectory so fast with me, but during the first half of the show this was easily on track to platinum with me. Then during the first part of the second half, it just kinda...plateaued for me, and then the final stretch was just a roller coaster, just going up and down depending on the episode. At no point did I ever hate the show, but suffice to say the tenth episode(aka the finale) did some of the cliche bullshit in romances that tend to rustle my jimmies. Thankfully episode 11 managed to wash some of the bad taste out of my mouth.
Saga of Tanya the Evil
I will go to my grave adamant that the first episode of Tanya was the wrong way to go about things, as it completely set the wrong expectations for the show. I almost didn’t even watch the second episode, until I decided to do so on a “Fuck it, why not?” reasoning. This show was just pure dark comedy enjoyment. While the action was great, it was Tanya that kept me coming back each week. The reason why this show didn’t platinum despite all the love I showered upon it is honestly because of how it began and ended. I already covered the poor first episode choice, so regarding the ending, yes I know there’s the movie coming, but unless that movie finds its way onto Crunchyroll or another legal source, I’m probably not gonna be seeing it, so until an actual second season begins airing, my complaint about the open ending for this show stands for now.
The Eccentric Family 2
The latest season in The Eccentric Family just further proves how magical and excellently written the franchise is. The cast is still one of the most complex collection of characters I’ve seen in fiction, and every time I get to see them is a treat. This new season managed to not only show new and unexpected sides to several characters, but also introduce a few new characters who immediately fit right in with the others. Frankly speaking, as long as this series keeps going and it continues to have Benten have a major role, it’ll keep getting platinum medals in the future.
Come on, if you know me, you knew this was happening. The little show that could. Shows that get me discussing them in depth with other viewers are always going to be favorites of mine, and that’s exactly what Kemono Friends did thanks to it slowly but surely allowing its world to tell its story for it. This isn’t even touching upon the clever meta storytelling that was going on thanks to the situation the Kemono Friends multimedia project found itself in after the mobile game everything was built around was shut down before the anime even came out. On top of that, having been fascinated with animation for as long as I can remember, and having first hand experience with trying to make 3D animations by myself, seeing a studio of just 10 or so people put together a full length anime series is just something that I must applaud. It also doesn’t hurt that Kemono Friends is literally the only show from 2017 that I watched more that once that year.
There is just something special in seeing a show go from enjoyable to memorable as you watch it episode to episode. That’s exactly what happened for me with Konohana Kitan. It started out as this completely unassuming little show about cute lesbian fox girls working at a massive hot springs inn, and starting with episode 4(though to be honest episode 3 was where it really began planting the seeds for what it would eventually become), the show just flips a switch and goes on an insane tear of quality episodes. From that point on, every episode left me with at least a sense of wonderment, if not reeling from an massively damaging attack to my feels. In addition, the show is legitimately one of the best yuri shows I’ve ever seen. Unlike most yuri shows that just do teases to bait the audience, all the yuri moments in Konohana Kitan feel natural and, more importantly, completely in character for the characters involved.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season
So, in the Fall 2016 season I was content to watch this show with the one week delay it had on its simulcast on Crunchyroll. That all changed with the changing of the seasons. From that point on, I had to watch this show each week. I had to stay up to date on the current events, because shit was getting real. What this meant was, for the entire god damn Winter 2017 season, staying up until the early hours of the morning to watch each new episode...on fucking Daisuki. As a result of each episode, I was too amped up to sleep right away, so I’d stay up for another 1 to 2 hours waiting for other people I knew were watching the show to see the latest episode so then I could spend another 30 minutes to an hour discussing the episode before finally tapping out because I needed to get some semblance of sleep for work later. This god damn show was such a must watch and discuss appointment for me that I willingly sacrificed sleep every Sunday for 3 months straight.
That alone is why this show is getting a platinum medal. Of course it’s also getting one because it was a god damn phenomenal show, but still.
I keep saying it, but only because it continues to be true. This show has ruined romance anime for me. This show is why something like Recovery of an MMO Junkie is only a gold medal show, because I’ve seen that romance anime can be done without all the, let’s be honest here, time-padding bullshit. I mean I wasn’t a fan of that stuff already, but having a show waltz up to literally every. Single. Dramatic. Cliche. And then do a spin move so vicious it broke the cliches’ ankles is suffice to say a real eyeopener, because it proves how completely unnecessary it all is. This is also one of the few damn shows I saw this year to actually have an ending! And it was easily one of the most satisfying! Like without the ending I’d probably still be debating internally whether or not this should have been given a gold or a platinum. That ending locked it in as an uncontested platinum.
So there you have it, my favorite anime series from last year. Sorry it took so long to get this admittedly really simple and to the point article together. It was just a god damn pain finding the time lately to finish it, but I wanted to get it out the door before I started doing any of my Winter 2018 first impressions articles. Due to the lateness of this one, it kinda feels pointless to ask for y’all to share your favorites in the comments down below, but screw it, if you want to share your favorites, feel free to do so. Until next time, here’s hoping for another phenomenal year of anime and possibly getting articles out on time for once.