This year, it was surprisingly easy to throw together a top 5 anime list. You see, I only finished about 5 anime. As I will explain in tomorrow’s post, this has a lot to do with my shifting interests as a blogger. If you want opinions on the latest shows, there are plenty of other blogs and reviewing sites you can go to. Personally, I don’t think that I add much new to the discussion.
But oh well, this post is for anime, so here we go!
5. Noragami Aragoto
Noragami is one of those series that touches on a lot of interesting ideas, like the fading relevance of Shintoism in Japan, but never really ties them together. So while the series was always competently put together, it never truly struck a chord with me.
The second season was a significant step up from the first season because it builds its conflicts around the relationships between gods and humans. The Bishamon arc is all about communication and people withholding their personal problems because they don’t want to make problems for others, which ironically causes bigger problems for everyone. Not only is this a theme that I’m pretty sure everyone can relate with to some degree, it’s relevant to the god/human theme as well, because gods operate on a different level than humans. The second arc is about Yato deciding he wants to become someone who can serve humans, which is a nice way of tying all the story threads together.
Unfortunately, the anime ends with one of those accursed “read the manga” endings, so I guess I’ll have to read the manga to see how it all ends up.
4. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
appropriant ended up verbalising my thoughts on this anime better than I could, but Akagami no Shirayuki-hime really is a very relaxing anime to watch, and sometimes that’s all you need. I’m a big fan of the shojo aesthetic but not so much a fan of the SHENANIGANS, which is probably the big reason why Shirayuki-hime hit all my sweet spots with uncanny accuracy. While it was never the kind of show that challenged me, it never bored me either. And it never failed to put a smile on my face.
By the way, I don’t actually care that much about the two MCs, but Obi is awesome. I hope the side characters get more love in the second season. I’m hyped.
Aldnoah.Zero 2 ended up being rather unpopular with pretty much everyone except the Slaine-loving crowd on Tumblr. I enjoyed it, but holy crap, Slaine was an asshole. What the heck happened? He doesn’t even look good in those count clothes. Bring back the old Slaine, I say!
Anyway, I enjoyed this iteration of Aldnoah.Zero mostly because I love Lemrina so much. And also, there was so much delicious NTR at the end. This show really delivered what I wanted out of it.
On a more serious note, I think I ended up enjoying this series more than most anime fans because I spent more time engaging with it. I translated one of the novels and even wrote fanfiction (lol). As a result, I spent way more time thinking about this series than any of the others I watched this year. It’s not that I don’t see the flaws in the storytelling. I just ended up getting more out of the show because I put more into it.
I also had some really interesting discussions about this show with Karice, who is a bigger Aldnoah fan than I am and is quite knowledgeable about its production history. If nothing else, I hope you at least check out her post about Gen Urobuchi’s involvement in the series, which should clear up more than a few misconceptions about how Aldnoah was made (and how anime writing “works” in general). At any rate, it’s clear that all the staff put a lot of effort into making Aldnoah.Zero. It’s the kind of show that I appreciate more after rewatching it a few times. There’s a lot of nuance that I simply didn’t notice the first time around, especially with the visuals.
2. Sound! Euphonium
Hey guys, did you know that I used to play the oboe in my high school concert band? Yep, it’s true. I was the best oboist the school ever had in its entire history. (Also the only oboist, but that’s unimportant.) My history as a band nerd is one of the many reasons why Sound! Euphonium has a special place in my heart. But it’s not the only reason I love it so much.
At its heart, Eupho is a coming of age story, and its theme of finding purpose in a seemingly mundane activity resonated with me in a similar way Hyouka did, although not quite on such an intense personal level. Eupho is also an ensemble story; it’s a story about the band and the people who participate. While the focus of this season was mostly on Kumiko, many of the background characters were shown to be struggling with their own problems. This gave the impression that the band consists of people whose stories remain half-told, much like the bands I’ve been involved with in real life. There was no single character I identified with, but I was equally interested in them all.
Overall, Eupho is a nice show. It makes me nostalgic about high school. I’m looking forward to season 2 because the story we did get felt very much incomplete, and I heard the oboe girl will get attention next season.
(I also have a hot take on Kumiko x Reina, if you’re interested.)
1. Oregairu Zoku
There was never any doubt about what would top my list. Oregairu is one of my favourite series of all time, after all. I feel like I know it inside out at this stage.
Still, I was pretty burnt out on Oregairu after translating the light novels. I actually only got around to watching the second season earlier this month, but it was good stuff. In particular, I’d like to say that Hayama is the best guy and that he really needs more love and attention.
At the same time, I will have to admit that I’ve gotten everything I needed out of this series already. I’ve said everything I wanted to say. I do plan to read and summarise volume 12 for all the fans out there, but I am genuinely not all that interested in what happens next. I just hope that Watari’s subsequent projects don’t keep retreading the same characterisation and themes. I’d really like to see him try something new, something that isn’t entrenched in the point of view of the cynical loner. And no, Qualidea does not count as “something new”.
(On an unrelated note, it was a nice surprise to see my Oregairu fanfiction get a TV Tropes page this year! It seems that the story has had some lasting appeal, considering that I finished it over a year ago.)
A year-end favourite anime list is never complete without any mention of the top waifus and husbandos of the year. I don’t have Kai’s dedication to write 12 days of waifu posts, but you can nevertheless count on me to have strong opinions about waifus and husbandos.
My waifu of the year is Lemrina from Aldnoah.Zero, if it wasn’t clear enough already from all the gushing I’ve done so far. My runner-up waifu is Katou from Saekano, so give her a hand.
Katou really made the Saekano experience for me. She’s not a terribly complex character; honestly, she’s remains a cipher throughout the entire series, but hey, she’s cute. And she was memorable too. It was a genius idea to put a non-tropey character in a trope-y show, although I’m not sure I agree with the implication that Katou is what a “normal girl” would act like in the company of otaku stereotypes. Her flat characterisation works for the show and is the source of some great jokes, so I’m okay with it, though.
Also, beret!Katou > ponytail!Katou. Deal with it.
As for my husbando of the year, I spent more time pondering over this one. The Haikyuu! boys are cute, but for some reason I like the girls in that anime better, especially Yachi. Gosh, she’s cute. Thinking about husbandos only made me think about waifus, which made me feel slightly depressed about the state of bishonen/sports anime.
Then yesterday, the answer struck me like a thunderbolt.
I only started watching Shirobako yesterday, but I am fully confident in my decision.
What has been your favourite anime this year? Do you agree/disagree with my hot takes? Let me know in the comments!
Just remember: if I didn’t mention your favourite show, it’s probably because I was too lazy to watch it.