So, this is a brand new year-end category for GHG: the Best Anime/Animation of 2017!
Uh.. so why the inclusion of both Japanese and American (and whatever other countries’) animated series and full-length features in the same piece? Because we wanted to slow-roll the boom of Anime popularity such as the popularity of Anime Nendoroid Figures into the usual geektastic, Adult Swim/superhero-loving animation tastes of GodHatesGeeks. But no reason to get your Yuri On Ice underoos in a bunch, weebs; there’s plenty of great Japanime choices here to satisfy. ??? Tanoshimu!
1. Inuyashiki Last Hero (Season 1) – Not for the faint at heart… Inuyashiki might be the most mindfuck anime you’ll watch all year, with a stone cold villain you’ll never see coming. With his schoolboy looks, calm demeanor and passive aggressive charm, Hiro is, just the same, a heartless, savage MFer. Thankfully every “Terminator” story has some sort of polarity; here, disgruntled/disrespected/cancer-striken dad, Ichiro Inuyashiki, is arguably the year in anime’s most surprising, most compelling and most heartfelt hero. Throw in great character development (including a pair of Inuyashiki’s rivettingly written, brave children), moments of humble poignance, shocking humor, and stunning art and it’s my clearcut choice for 2017’s best. Hell, I would’ve balled my lil’ weebie eyes out had I not watched this at the gym via Amazon Prime. – 5/5
2. My Hero Academia (Season 2) – While I wasn’t as enamored with the first 6 or 7 episodes showcasing the students’ struggles at the U.A. Sports Festival as I was with My Hero‘s tremendous Season One (funny, seeing how I’m a big fan of “sportsball” in general), S02 scored plenty of points during the brilliant internships shortly thereafter; back, was plenty of focus on character and story (gotta love glimpses of All Might’s history via elder mentor Gran Torino) that helped MHA grandslam past all other Sh?nen during the class’s final exams. So f’n great. Throw in Stain, a compelling new villain supercharging the backdrop of every ep, Izuku Midoriya/Deku’s powerful transformation as a not-so-reliant individual, timeless origin pieces (see Ep 10: Shoto Todoroki), terrific dubs, and hypnotic music, and My Hero Academia was easily the most enjoyable “coming of age” anime of 2017. – 4.75/5
3. *TIE* Attack on Titan (Season 2) / Dragon Ball Super (Season 5) – Because I wanted to throw the two most popular, Hot Topic driven anime in my Top 3. All jokes aside, I enjoyed the tighter, more condensed — yet more action-packed — second season of Shingeki no kyojin more than the wide-scaled world-building of its inaugeral season. AoT‘s Season 2 felt akin to this past year’s GoT as each episode felt like a far more focused event; or, for more than just titans replacing zombies, The Walking Dead — when it hits on all cylinders. Blink, and you’ll miss many mind-blowing revelations (Mikasa, tu casa???) and answers to questions about the Titans and Scouts from Season 1 (how.. Shifty!). The only issue with the series is actually my own fault: I tortured my ears with dubs that delivered a bit too much high-pitched yelling and screaming, despite my complete understanding for all of the characters’ constant, utter torment.
(Continued…) The tie brings me to my most biased choice of 2017: no surprise here, Dragon Ball Super. While I love it for all the many reasons my man Matt explains down below, let’s be clear that Season 5 isn’t just an anime series; it’s the sci-fi UFC, the Sh?nen Royal Rumble, the supernatural G1 Climax. We(eb) religiously watch DBS for its incredible “Tournament of Power”, a Battle Royal between Alternate Universe heroes and villains culminated by one of the zaniest god-like figures of our time (Zen-Oh Chan!), horrified by the thought of any One Universe’s erasure from all existence, yet anamored with the wonder of a Super Saiyan growing Ultra Instinct to ultimately preservere! And while DBS loses a touch of the familial charm from previous seasons — and isn’t anywhere near the most intelligible, most eclectic, or most visually-appealing anime — I’d argue that Dragon Ball gives Naruto a run for its money as “most addicting”. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Saga of Tanya the Evil, Made in Abyss, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond, The Ancient Magus Bride, Castlevania, South Park, Re:CREATORS.
1. Castlevania (Season 1) – I was quite surprised to hear that Netflix was making an animated series based on Konami’s hit video game. I was even more surprised that it was being penned by none other than Warren Ellis, one of my all time favorite comic book writers. Video game adaptations are usually pretty terrible and don’t capture the soul of what makes the game beloved by fans. Castlevania breaks this mold by keeping all the elements that make the game intriguing and even expounding on some of the story elements to explain the narrative better. (Check my review!) – 4.5/5
2. Made in Abyss (Season 1) – This is a show that is deceptive in its innocence with adorable character designs and a happy color scheme. There is darkness lurking underneath the surface. I don’t want to say much more but it’s definitely worth a watch. – 4/5
3. March Comes in Like a Lion (Season 1) – This slice-of-life anime is equal parts sad and life affirming. It’s a realistic look at the effects of depression on one’s life and how it also colors their interactions with everyone around them. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: The Ancient Magus Bride, Re:CREATORS, Kino’s Journey.
1. Samurai Jack (Season 5) – With all the shows that could be at the #1, Genndy Tartakovsky’s return to Samurai Jack steals the #1 spot for one reason: we have been waiting for this return since the day the show (originally) went off the air. Thankfully, fans received a beautifully written and drawn piece of art that no doubt touched the heart and soul. 5/5
2. Big Mouth (Season 1) – HOLY $*&% SHIT! If there was one cartoon this year that was a complete and utter surprise that just slapped you in the face with a whole buncha “what the hell was that?!”, it’s Netflix’s Big Mouth. The Nick Kroll and John Mulaney cartoon about kids going through puberty is an absolute laugh out loud riot. And luckily, we get a season 2 to look forward to! – 4.5/5
3. Rick and Morty (Season 3) – Ignore the uproar of the toxic fanbase, Rick and Morty Season 3 came out rung and once again, it made us think about our own place in the multiverse (or, is that just me overthinking things again?). Nevertheless, it was a great season and sadly, much like Game of Thrones, don’t expect the next season until 2019. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: BoJack Horseman, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Castlevania, Archer.
1. My Hero Academia (Season 2) – With its mix of awesome action/fight scenes and humor, My Hero Academia continues to be one of my favorite animes. Season 2 took things to the next level by adding a serious threat in the reveal of the story’s true antagonists, All For One and his League of Villains. All of the usual comic campiness that makes MHA so loveable is still present thoroughout the season but, without question, the most compelling part of this season has to be the Hero Killer arc. HO-LEE SHEIT what a twisted and captivating son of a bitch! With how light most of the series has been this was a perfect turning point to add some gravity to an already entertaining show. – 5/5
2. Attack on Titan (Season 2) – In Sh?nen anime it’s easy to focus on just action and battles, forsaking any character growth and relations. AoT flips the genre on its head and somehow manages to balance both of these aspects. The extreme attention to detail forces you to care about the story in order to truly enjoy all the destruction and excitement. And after 4 fuckin’ years of waiting for answers–unless you read the manga–we finally start to get some in Season 2: AoT shifts its focus toward secondary characters (their backstory and relationships) and offers more revelations about the world of Titans (including the Colossus and Armored Titan); we also start to understand what lead to them attacking, and question if they are really all that “bad” or just more victims of this crazy world. – 4.5/5
3. Dragon Ball Super (Season 5) – Yes, the start of the series was a bit rough–in terms of animation and retelling of the last 2 movies–but Season 5 of DBS has gotten it right. The Universe Survival Arc this year has been full of epic fight sequences and introduced some kick ass new characters. This is an anime that has been around for 20-years and is still getting people hyped for new episodes, still having the cheeky comedic relief of Akira Toriyama’s original. Beerus has been given much more growth as a character and provides much amusement in his back-and-forth with Champa throughout the tournament. Furthermore, the writers took the proper time to add interest to each universe so their erasures have impact (here’s looking at you lame-o Universe 2; we’ll still miss you). The magic of DBS makes you enjoy and invest in the ridiculous! – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: The Ancient Magus Bride, Made in Abyss, Inuyashiki Last Hero, Justice League Dark, Castlevania, Boruto: The Next Generations, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond.
1. Rick and Morty (Season 3) – What else could I put as the top spot? It’s the most intelligent animation we’ve seen in a while, scene for scene. From the titles and show — to scenes that are simultaneously a steady stream of pop culture references (while also being self-inclusive to its own generated worlds and concepts) — Rick and Morty establishes itself as a constantly cascading metaphor that makes it one of the most addictive shows airing today. The show’s popularity has blossomed into a legion of geeks so hardcore they forced McDonalds to bring back the Schezuan sauce from decades ago.. then showed up throwing tantrums if they missed the short-lived opportunity. – 5/5
2. My Hero Academia (Season 2) – Simply put, this is my favorite new Sh?nen to come along in a long time. It fits right up my alley of geekdom, blending brilliant animation and fantastic, easily-relatable characters with the concept of Superheros. While Season 1 introduced us to the characters and the world, Season 2 turns things up with even greater action sequences while nudging the characters all into their own paths. – 4.5/5
3. Dragon Ball Super (Season 5) – Yes, it’s a “meathead” show; no brains, and all brawn, and the stories pretty much write themselves. But despite that, DBS has an undeniable charm and magnetism to it. Super started out pretty rocky, getting a lot of hate from longtime fans. The humor and charm didn’t feel the same, the stakes didn’t feel the same, and it had some shoddy animation. But, nerds, has this show ever rebounded in recent months, delivering those moments in the way that only Dragon Ball can that exemplify strength, courage, tenacity, heart, friendship and selflessness all in single scenes that could make kids to grown men leap from their chair or almost weep. Almost. #longliveDBZ. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Samurai Jack, Castlevania, South Park.
1. Inuyashiki Last Hero (Season 1) – One of the most compelling shows I’ve watched this season, period. Gorgeous art, an amazing story, captivating characters and shout-outs to other anime make this a must-see if you have Amazon Prime. The bittersweet ending may have you in tears. – 5/5
2. Star vs. the Forces of Evil (Season 3) – You ever watch something and feel like it was made just for you? That’s this show. My friend has been trying to get me to watch for what seems like forever, and I grudgingly admit that he was right and it’s damn good. The creator was influenced by Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Buffy, and Scott Pilgrim, and it shows in everything from character design to how problems get solved. It has a special mix of comedy and drama and the characters are relatable despite Star’s situation. – 5/5
3. My Hero Academia (Season 2) – If you love superheroes and feel-good stories, this is the show for you! Season 2 brings us more development of side characters, more world-building, and an interesting new villain. This show is so fun, well-paced and I love it. – 4.75/5
Honorable Mentions: Coco, Little Witch Academia, We Bare Bears, The Ancient Magus Bride, Dragon Ball Super, Re:CREATORS, Castlevania, Boruto: The Next Generation.
1. Regular Show (Season 8) – Ending in January of last year, Regular Show’s absence has left a massive void in enjoyable material put out by Cartoon Network, and, with Adventure Time ending this year, Steven Universe will be the only series still holding it afloat. Quintel made the jump to TBS and is set to debut a new more adult-oriented series called Close Enough for the network sometime this year. While there’s no debut set, it pretty much looks to pick up where Regular Show left off, except that it’s centered on a 30-something married couple instead of a blue jay and a raccoon. As far as RS is concerned, it is silly, fun, and outrageous throughout. It will always be a personal favorite. – 5/5
2. BoJack Horseman (Season 4) – It is ridiculous how good Bojack Horseman is especially when you consider how conceited the main character is. There are so many layers to every character in the show, and yet each one feels so incredibly different — from the easily amused and forever happy Mr. Peanut Butter to Todd’s asexuality and his string of hijinks that never get old. The show explores the inner clockwork of what makes each of us tick and approaches it in a way that anyone can relate — whether they’re black, white, or polka dot or an entirely different species altogether — and wraps all of that in a blanket of dark humor with a pair of dingy bunny slippers covered in subtle wit. – 5/5
3. Samurai Jack (Season 5) – SJ’s resurrection is gloriously animated with a fucking fantastic musical score from non-NXT Superstar Tyler Bates. While the 10-episode return feels crazy short in retrospect, the charismatic animation is dripping with explosive style and smooth fluidity and a rogue’s gallery that is memorable as fuck. Samurai Jack is just cool as shit, so you might as well accept it and revisit it as soon as you can. – 5/5
Honorable Mentions: Dragon Ball Super, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, South Park, Bob’s Burgers, Big Mouth, The LEGO Batman Movie, Loving Vincent.
1. My Hero Academia (Season 2, Funimation/Crunchyroll)
2. Inuyashiki Last Hero (Season 1, Amazon)
3. *TIE* Samurai Jack (Season 5, Adult Swim) / Rick and Morty (Season 3, Adult Swim)
4. Castlevania (Season 1, Netflix)
5. Dragon Ball Super (Season 5, Funimation/Crunchyroll)
Honorable mentions: Attack on Titan, Made in Abyss, BoJack Horseman, Big Mouth, The Ancient Magus Bride, South Park, Re:CREATORS.
***GHG’s (U.S.) Animated Series of the Year***
-*TIE* Samurai Jack / Rick and Morty
***GHG’s (Japan) Anime Series of the Year***
–My Hero Academia