Well the new decade is almost upon us, and now that anime has gotten more mainstream than ever, that means a lot more people are participating in “best of the decade” projects than the small handful of bloggers that were doing this anime thing back when the 00s concluded. I’ve thought quite a bit about how I wanted to go about doing my own take on the whole “best anime of the decade” fad. I’ve thought about covering the worst and the best. I thought about highlighting all of the big anime over the last ten years and giving you my impressions of them. I thought about doing categories like Funimation is doing at the moment (and the less said about that, the better). Finally, a lot of people made a good case that I should just keep it personal, because it’s more interesting that way. So when I highlight anime of the decade, I should mean the anime I liked from this decade. Because let’s be honest, corporate-made lists are boring as fuck.
But even if I just focused on the anime I like, how would I go about doing that? Despite my general attitude towards the medium, I am a big anime fan and have liked quite a lot of anime from this last decade alone. I think people underestimate how much you can actually enjoy when you limit your enjoyment to only one or two series a season. Yes there’s quite a number of people capable of enjoying more than that, but when you do, things tend to get fucking convoluted when it comes time to summarizing your thoughts on anime as a whole. I’ve seen Noble’s Twitch livestream where he was collecting data for his “best waifu of the decade” list and holy shit things got overwhelming just by looking at the waifus from 2010, a year that most people have forgotten by now. Being selective is a good thing guys. It allows you to pare things down easier when you do recommendations or just explain your taste in general.
And even when being selective, I’ve got almost fifty anime from this decade that I liked quite a bit. That’s my personal favorites plus any anime I’d consider pretty good, but not to the point that I’d rewatch it instantly. Like my personal favorites are 9/10 or 10/10 anime, and anything I would score an 8/10 is still pretty good, but not something I necessarily love. And for this list, the minimum requirement to be recognized by me is to be an 8/10 anime. So sorry Doctor Stone and Panty & Stocking and the Konosuba movie and Penguin Highway, but you guys only managed to get a 7/10 from me. Also, I’m sorry for all of you ecchi-lovers out there who praise Monster Musume and Highschool DxD as classics, but I have never scored an ecchi anime any higher than a 7/10 in my mind. I love the cosplay and the jokes and all, but when it comes to the actual anime, I never need to watch them more than once.
So if I have almost fifty anime I really liked from this decade, does that mean I’m going to highlight all of them? Yes, but I’m only giving detailed descriptions to my personal favorites of the decade, not too dissimilar from the original version of my favorite Youtuber list (which just got a big update btw. Check it out if you’re curious). Everything else is just getting some quick acknowledgements because when you get down to it, my personal favorites are the ones I’m passionate about the most, so it makes sense that they’ll get special treatment. As such, I’m going to go through all of the anime series I would give an 8/10 if I still used MAL first, then we’ll go through another section that I’ll detail later, and finally I’ll give some deep dives into my favorite anime of all-time from this decade.
As for what you can expect from this list in general, well I’ve said before that my taste in anime is very narrow, but there are always exceptions to the rule. I find a lot of anime to be bad, but I do like quite a few that are popular, and I run into the occasional hidden gem that most people aren’t big on but I enjoy for esoteric reasons. So I’m hoping that anyone who reads this will end up liking that I gave attention to some of your favorites while not getting pissy that I really did not enjoy an anime you personally thought was amazing (*cough* Shin Sekai Yori *cough*). Also, if you’ve never heard of some of these anime I’m going to highlight or didn’t give them enough of a chance when they originally aired, hopefully my list will get you interested in checking them out.
With all of that said, let’s start off by highlighting the “8/10” anime from this decade, also known as the runner-ups.
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan sure has gone through a lot of phases regarding its popularity, hasn’t it? It started off with really strong international appeal that was somewhat countered by very vocal backlash. Then it quieted down due with its sequel season due to the long wait. Then its third season picked things back up to the point that it achieved incredible critical acclaim. And now hype is strong for the fourth and what’s most likely going to be the final season. But yeah, if you want an anime that captures the spirit of Game of Thrones back when that was good, I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Bones has had many failed anime since their very creation, but Noragami was definitely not one of them. Underneath the shonen cliches was a surprisingly interesting story regarding Shinto Gods and how they’re perceived in modern times combined with beautiful animation and fight choreography that should have made the series have way more long-lasting appeal than it ended up with. But yeah, if you’re a fan of Bones, this is definitely one of their better shows.
Of course. Can’t have a top list without mentioning one of the biggest anime of the decade, can we? The international appeal this series has gotten as of late is insane, but I personally think it’s somewhat justified since I was one of those who followed Demon Slayer weekly from the start and really enjoyed my time with it despite its shonen formula thanks to its beautiful visual metaphors, strong character writing, and well-choreographed fight scenes. Overrated? Well it’s in the runner-up section for a reason, but I really enjoy it all the same.
I will say that this is the only Shonen Jump anime you’ll see on this list, runner-up or otherwise. Hunter x Hunter is considered by many to be the king of shonen let alone Shonen Jump, but I’m not personally crazy about that series. And then there’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and The Promised Neverland, but they both belong to the mind-battle shonen genre, which I think says enough if you’ve been following me for a while.
Kind of funny how Aggretsuko seems to be everywhere I look now despite not being that popular of an anime. But I guess that speaks to how many people can actually relate to Retsuko and all of the issues she has to deal with whether it be her job, her love life, or venting out her frustrations with some recreational activities. It’s not like we’re starved for shows like this given the existence of Regular Show and Bojack Horseman, but Retsuko’s life is still unique enough so that it’s more than just a Japanese version of those kinds of series, and I’m looking forward to when she returns.
Kill la Kill
All these years later and Kill la Kill is still one of the most fun anime out there. There aren’t many shows that can just go all-out bananas with its storytelling and still be engaging like this show can. So many hilarious moments. So many great parodies and tributes. The characters are all delightful whilst being incredibly perverted. If you’re looking for an anime that perfectly captures everything fun about this medium, I couldn’t recommend Kill la Kill enough.
And when I say Psycho-Pass, I’m just referring to the first season. It was very well-crafted in terms of world-building and storytelling, even if some moments go a bit too far with prioritizing ideas over narrative. But at least it never goes nearly as far as the sequels which, to put it lightly, just throw ideas out there hoping something will stick. It’s kind of like watching a good Netflix series. Really strong debut, but then you just had to keep on going. Still, that debut by itself is something highly recommended.
One of the most epic manga of all-time finally getting the adaptation it rightfully deserves. I believe the original story was written by the guy who made Planetes, and I can kind of see that given the slow pace and huge attention to detail in regards to the world-building and character relationships. Watching Thorfinn and his desire for revenge to the point that he’s willing to work for his father’s murderer is really fascinating, and the portrayal of viking culture as a brutal pack of savages with their own moral code really breathes a lot of life into this setting. Definitely lives up to its reputation. If they adapt later arcs in the future, it could potentially be a favorite. But as of now, it’s just a really solid show.
So if you’ve never heard of this one, it’s about this fashion model who wants to become a superhero and basically fights common thugs on the streets with makeshift weapons and a sense of humor. Then his fantasies actually become real because remember this is a Japanese superhero show, and suddenly he’s living his dream. It’s not consistently great and the animation is honestly horrible, but if you’re looking for a well-written modern take on the sentai genre, fire this bad boy up on your Netflix account, assuming it’s still there. Might be off now. Haven’t checked.
Man, you never know what you’re going to get with an Ikuhara anime. And with Sarazanmai, he really shows how hilariously, yet cleverly perverted he can be with his visual metaphors and off-the-wall musicals. There’s been a lot of good interpretations about what this show is actually supposed to be about, and in my opinion, most of them are valid. Not the extreme ones of course, because this is anime. Not fan fiction.
Tiger & Bunny
Why the hell did this anime’s popularity die out to the point that hardly anyone knows it exists? It was pretty good with its superhero commercialization themes and a protagonist who had to balance being a parent along with his hero duties. Okay, the villains weren’t exactly the greatest and the ending was mediocre, but nobody is perfect, let alone the main duo. And the main duo was pretty awesome once you got to know them, let me tell you that.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Oh man, this show is what I wish anime action was more like instead of the shonen stuff that’s really popular. Not that I dislike shonen action or anything. In fact, it can be done well. But even when it is, I’m always wary of the cliches and pacing issues that are inherent to the shonen formula. Kabaneri on the other hand is just pure action exploitation that gives no fucks. Lots of dynamic action scenes. Lots of campy moments. And of course, the directing from the guy who made the Death Note and Highschool of the Dead anime adaptations really adds to the fun.
They recently had a movie sequel come out on Netflix and it’s really fun too. I hope more of this property comes out because it’s kind of like the last bastion for guys like me whose favorite genre is action/sex exploitation.
Tsuki ga Kirei
If you’re a romance fan and you missed out on this series, you need to rectify that mistake because it is incredibly sweet and mature whilst also allowing for some immature stuff in order to make it clear that yes, this is a romance series focused on teenagers. Like most good relationships, it’s a slow and steady burn with the ending being worth the journey because you wouldn’t be able to appreciate it as much if you didn’t go through those experiences together. Also has some horrible CG, but no romance is perfect, amirite?
Mob Psycho 100
Mob is just a delightful character in regards to his insecurities combined with his psychic powers, and his own show really does a good job at doing the whole Japanese Peter Park-esque schtick of him trying to live a normal life whilst dealing with all of the villains that come his way. Also, this anime has one of the most unique and artistic visual styles I’ve seen from Japanese animation. It’s directed by the guy who did the Death Parade anime, and when you combine that with Bones’ production values, you can bet the results are like sex for your eyes.
I know, right? Me liking an Osamu Tezuka adaptation? What is the world coming to? Well I’m not going to pretend that the storytelling doesn’t come off as somewhat dated, but Dororo has so much going for it to elevate its story about a man fighting to get his body back whilst dealing with the corruption of the kingdom he lives in from the chemistry of the leads to the moral dilemmas that accompany the journey. I will say though that the animation does get pretty terrible in the second half, which is a shame because I thought the story got more interesting then. Still if you want to understand what makes the God of Manga so influential, this remake is definitely something I’d recommend you check out.
Kind of an anime I respect more than I actually like. Maybe my opinion will change whenever I get to rewatching it, but while I appreciate the vast amount of animation talent put into this project about, well, a dandy guy in space, it had the unfortunate issue of releasing right after Rick and Morty cemented itself as the best space cartoon that tributes pop culture ever. And let’s be honest, given a choice, how many people would actually pick Space Dandy over Rick and Morty? It’s still a pretty good and visually ambitious anime that’s worth your time, don’t get me wrong. Starts off a bit eh, but it gets consistently better the further you get into it.
Lupin III: Part V
I’m honestly surprised at how fresh Lupin has managed to become this decade in spite of the many anime adaptations that have existed prior. I know the people who’ve actually watched it consider that Fujiko Mine spin-off to be the crown jewel of his career, but his recent series where he had to adapt to modern technology in order to continue his career speaks to me the most as someone who’s seen a lot of his stuff. He’s obviously going to win because he’s Lupin, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to watch him fight the power of Twitter.
Edit: Also this series should have been recognized as one of my all-time favorites during initial publishing. Read here for my full thoughts on the series.
Yes, I’m only referring to Season 2 with this entry. Not that I hate the first season or anything, but Oregairu really came into its own as a genuinely good anime rather than another slightly above average light novel adaptation with its sequel. Much better animation. Much better atmosphere. The drama and characterization were really good, even if some of it felt drawn out or the characters were making a big deal about nothing. There are no other light novel adaptations on this list because I’m generally not a fan of that niche, and yet I’m actually really looking forward to when the final season of this series airs in a few months.
It really is a shame that this anime didn’t get as popular outside of Japan as it did in Japan (and it was pretty popular in Japan), because this show was just so good in regards to gritty emotional storytelling and tragic characterization. Ash alone has got to be up there as one of my favorite anime protagonists of the decade mostly because his life sucks and the way he deals with that fact is just so human whilst also allowing him to kick ass. If that’s not what you want in a protag, I have no idea what to tell you.
I was never in orchestra growing up, and even I could relate to this anime really well. It’s really cool to see this anime blend in the harshness of orchestra with a bit of deconstruction on the moe stereotype that KyoAni is most famous for. There still are a few moments where the characters partake in standard slice-of-life sections, but ultimately this anime doesn’t shy away from the reality that you can’t always get what you want and sometimes there’s always going to be someone better than you. Also, the music scenes are absolutely phenomenal.
When this series first came out, it was a really good critique of post-war Japan whilst also showing the extent that people will go to in order to define themselves as the truth. Now that time has passed, its storytelling has aged somewhat, but overall I still think there’s a lot in this show worth unpacking. Although that final fight scene did look pretty ridiculous.
Hi Score Girl
Who would have thought a romance anime about kids who play video games would go on to be one of the most endearing things to come from this medium in the last decade or so? Sure the chances of cute girls actually falling in love with your Street Fighter skills is more unlikely than Demolition D coming back to Youtube, but a guy can dream. Especially when the main guy in question actually puts in the effort to improve himself.
I’m not familiar enough with the Gridman franchise to see how this compares to other entries, but based on this new anime alone, I have to say that this was definitely one of the stronger mecha series to come out from a decade where the genre is all but dead now. This is somewhat of a spoiler, but the series basically turns into a deep dive regarding dreams and living in a reality where you can do whatever you want, and the twist regarding the antagonist’s role in all of this really boosts the appeal of this show for me. Apparently it was too weird for international appeal, but it was a huge seller in Japan, and isn’t that all that matters?
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
One of the best anime dramas ever made? Well it’s definitely got a lot going for it. Artful direction. Masterful storytelling. Solid characterization. Steeped in Japanese culture. But given how much “great” anime I’m putting in the runner-ups section, I think it’s clear I have some pretty unique standards. I mean there’s a lot of anime I’m not even putting on this list that lots of people like because I just think they’re okay. Or I think they’re total shit.
And finally, an anime that is actually a personal favorite of mine, but because it’s a sequel to an anime that was already excellent in of itself, I’m putting it on here instead to save words.
Almost ten years later and Mushishi is still one of the most beautiful anime out there. Not necessarily beautiful animation-wise although it does look pretty good. But beautiful in its storytelling. Beautiful in its atmosphere. Beautiful in its view on nature. I will say, the stories get a little lacking near the end of its run, but overall Mushishi is just a beautiful series and I’m glad this sequel came out to remind me of that.
Alright, that’s all of the runner-up series I wanted to give quick highlights too. If I didn’t list anything on here, I either didn’t watch it or didn’t think it was all that great. At most, I’ll maybe have forgotten one or two series, but I looked at the anime charts for this list, so it’s unlikely that happened. Of course I wouldn’t forget about the existence of Steins;Gate or A Place Further Than The Universe. How could I when everyone else puts those shows on their lists?
I haven’t seen Beastars because Netflix hasn’t released it yet and I don’t care enough about the series to watch it using other means. Babylon hasn’t finished yet and it’s just getting exciting for me, so I can’t in good conscience even consider it for a spot on the honorable mentions as of right now. Also, there are quite a few anime from this decade on Netflix that I haven’t actually seen like Gundam Unicorn or Rikkakuma and Kaoru. There’s a limit to how much anime I can actually watch guys, and while some of the ones I haven’t seen might deserve to be on here, you’re also asking me to spend a lot more hours on this project. So please have respect for my sanity.
However, now we get into the second section of this post, as there’s one more thing we need to highlight before we get into showering love on my personal favorites of the decade, and that’s all of the anime movies I enjoyed. I thought about giving my favorite films of the decade some detailed descriptions like I’m going to for the series, but after some thinking, I decided to not put that much effort into the process because when people generally talk about great anime coming out within a set time frame, they’re generally talking about series.
Anime movies are getting more popular these days, but the fact that they’re harder to watch makes it really difficult for them to reach a wide audience. You’ve got to be as lucky as Your Name or part of a big franchise like Hero Academia to get the big viewing numbers, and it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. So all of my favorite anime films, as well as ones that I also think are good, are getting the short description treatment too.
Also keep in mind, this is limited to movies that I’m actually capable of seeing and have seen in the States. For example, I haven’t seen Yuasa’s latest movie Ride Your Wave because it didn’t get an official international release over here, and the same could be said for Shinkai’s latest Weathering With You, which comes out in a few weeks actually. Looking forward to that.
So real quick, let’s go through all of the movies I found incredibly enjoyable from this decade. And if you want to know what my personal favorites were from this selection, you can just glance at my favorite anime list here.
The Wind Rises
Got to start things off with a Miyazaki movie right? This movie didn’t leave much of an impression on me at first, but the more I watch it, the more I grow to like it. For those who’ve never seen the film, it’s about this guy who loves planes and grows up to work on them, only to realize that achieving his dream means making tools for war and introducing a relationship in his life that is both tragic and yet heartwarming. It’s a story meant to highlight the sacrifices people go through to accomplish what they want, and it’s something I think all of us can relate to.
Of course Your Name is going to be on this list. It’s the most internationally acclaimed anime ever made and the main reason why everyone’s eyes are on Makoto Shinkai these days. Between the beautiful visuals and the huge amount of Japanese culture integrated into its unusual take on long-distance relationships, this movie is like this generation’s My Sassy Girl. I love watching Shinkai grow as an anime figurehead over the years and this movie really showcases his evolving talents like no other.
Night is Short, Walk on Girl
God, this movie is just so fucking funny. Again, like Tatami Galaxy, I was kind of “meh” on it at first. But every time I’ve watched this film since, it has gotten consistently better with me. It’s such an unusual foreign take on the “drunk party night”-sub-genre of films, but it works so well to the point where the only real criticism I have is that it peaks one act too early. Don’t get me wrong, the entire runtime is great. But that act with all of the musical numbers and seemingly random plot points converging into one spot is just something you can’t top. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, then you’ve just got to see the film to find out. Lord knows I’m not spoiling anything and depriving you guys of the experience that I had when I showed this to my friends for the first time.
In This Corner of the World
If there was such a thing as perfect anime, In This Corner of the World would definitely be my go-to example for it. The animation and aesthetics are amazing, the story of this woman having to deal with the comedy and drama that comes with living in WWII-era Japan is like a Yasujiro Ozu movie, and the painstaking amount of detail in regards to replicating Japan during this time period is nothing short of astounding. Did you know the creators of this film actually researched what the actual weather was like during this time period so that they could portray it accurately? That is dedication to your craft. That is what I want to see from the world of animation.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Takahata’s final film before his death as well as his first film in god knows how many years. He may have been a perfectionist asshole, but at least he gave us one of the most visually striking pieces of work as a result of his mindset. The story itself is a decent take on the Kaguya-hime legend, but the animation is the main reason you should be watching this movie. You know how the movie, Hero, with Jet Li is used in film classes to depict artistic cinematography? Princess Kaguya is what animation classes should use to depict the potential of art in general.
A Silent Voice
Finally, a movie about bullying where the main protagonist is the bully, and showcases all of the insecurities and frustration he goes through in life as he tries to make up for the mistakes of his past. Of course, the animation provided by Kyoto Animation is fantastic, but what I really love about the visual style in this movie is how it embodies visual language, both in the sign language as well as just unspoken feelings in general. Of all the anime films to come out this decade, I think the themes of A Silent Voice are some of the most important for everybody to experience, especially if you’ve ever experienced toxicity in your life.
Lu Over The Wall
Yuasa’s other movie of the decade is an interesting one. Not quite as funny or uplifting as Night is Short, but still really good fun. It’s basically a mixture of music, introversion, and the differences between species all rolled into a colorful romp that like most of his other works, has to be seen to be believed. Kind of like a Disney film on acid. The story it conveys is pretty broad, but it’s presented in a way that’s both accessible and hilarious for all the family.
Maquia: A Promised Flower Blooms
It’s honestly impressive how Mari Okada’s directorial debut managed to incorporate a lot of interesting fictional lore into its emotional story of a son outgrowing his mother, when usually the problem with her anime is that she focuses too much on the emotions at the expense of the setting. And as someone who’s not getting any younger and has seen a lot throughout his lifetime, the feeling of time leaving you behind is something I relate to very much.
Liz and the Blue Bird
The other experimental Naoko Yamada movie about sound from this decade. It’s focused on conveying more common teenage insecurities through music, and I do like how it takes so many risks for a film based off a well-established series. Not that The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and Tamako Love Story weren’t doing some ambitious animation of their own, but Liz and the Blue Bird looks almost nothing like Sound Euphonium, right down to not having the series in its title name. And it really comes off all the better for it. I just love seeing these two girls figuring out what’s important in life with almost nothing but the visuals for support.
And finally, a movie so great it trended every time it was released in theaters…
God, I love Promare. It’s basically everything you could want from an action movie put into anime form from a colorful cast to a hilariously hypocritical villain to some of the best big-screen action that Trigger can provide. This film deserves to stand with current big-action star franchises like Fast and the Furious and John Wick as a shining example of the genre. And of course, who can forget all the bromance to the point that Ryan Higa’s song would fit perfectly among the movie’s soundtrack? If that doesn’t appeal to you, then nothing else I say about this movie will. Also, I’ve noticed it’s turned my female weeb friends into a danger not seen since Yuri on Ice. So beware if you have two X-chromosomes and you watch this movie.
And with that, those are all of the movies I wanted to spotlight as the best of this decade. I’m sure some people wanted me to include stuff like Wolf Children or those Kizumonogatari films on here, but you’re going to have to look at a different list for that. Seriously, this post is long enough as is and I haven’t even gotten to my all-time favorite anime series from this decade yet.
So let’s waste no time and get to discussing the true meat and potatoes of this post. For my favorite anime series of all-time, I’m going to be giving them some more in-depth descriptions and even highlighting some big scenes from these shows. Basically give you guys a true glance at what I look for in an anime and why I probably don’t like some of your own favorites.
As always, we’ve got to start off with a big critical darling…
The Tatami Galaxy
Yeah, let’s not pretend this anime wasn’t fucking amazing. I think if your list doesn’t have this series, you either didn’t watch it or weren’t really sure what it’s about. I should know, as I was in both camps before it became a personal favorite of mine. And I’ve watched it multiple times since then, only growing to appreciate its appeal more with each watch.
For those who don’t know, The Tatami Galaxy is a story about this college student trying to live the perfect school life by joining a club and confessing to this girl in the Engineering division, only to be foiled by his demonic best friend. However, he ends up caught in some sort of time loop where every time he fails to live the life he wants, he goes back to his first year of college and tries again from a different angle, not too dissimilar from Groundhog Day. And with each life he lives, you start to realize that maybe the way he sees campus life isn’t the truth. That maybe his demonic best friend is actually a figment of his imagination ala Fight Club. That in all actuality, the reason he can’t live his perfect college life is because of his own insecurities. I won’t confirm any of the theories I mentioned or spoil how it all turns out, but let’s just say the final revelations in the last two episodes is incredibly satisfying. I had a big smile on my face when the truth of everything was finally revealed.
And on top of that, the different lives this nameless protagonist lives is incredibly fun to watch as well. Seeing his expectations turned on him in hilariously demented ways, accompanies with Yuasa’s wild visual imagination makes for some interesting visual storytelling. Plus, if you pay enough attention, you’ll start seeing some hints regarding the true of this world the protagonist inhabits. It’s a really tightly constructed anime that’s both well-written and pretty funny. I love Johnny the cowboy and how he represents the protagonist’s libido. It cracks me up every time.
It’s a relatively simple story on the surface, but it has some really powerful messages that anyone going through life, assuming you’re not experiencing issues like bankruptcy or a fatal disease I mean, can relate to when you dig into it. Pretty much everyone who’s seen this show loves it, and for good reason. Plus, it has a wall of boobs. It makes sense in context, I promise.
Alright that’s enough praise for Tatami. Next up we’ve got…
You guys remember this series? It was pretty popular when it first came out, then just faded into obscurity like a lot of seasonal anime that don’t have memes made out of it tend to do. And out of all of the anime to come out this decade, I think Scum’s Wish is the one that affected me the most personally. Honestly, I’m really surprised I ended up loving this anime so much, because when I saw the premise before actually watching it, I thought to myself “this looks like one of those dramatic hentai manga like Nozoki Ana or anything written by Fuuga that I’m not really big into”. But then I got to that conversation between the girls in Episode 2 where they were discussing which of two guys was the best for her despite one of them obviously being an asshole and I ended up becoming a massive fan.
Scum’s Wish is pretty much one of those dramatic borderline hentai manga given an anime adaptation, but it’s more about how the romance that tends to be common towards those series is actually a self-destructive lie rather than a goal with a messy path. How pursuing someone for what you imagine them to be as opposed to what they actually are leads to nothing but heartbreak. How sometimes the best of people lose out to the worst of people in terms of getting a happy ending. There are so many heartbreaking messages about romance that I either relate to or agree with in this anime because I’ve lived through some of them, but despite all that, I love how the show acknowledges that no matter how destructive romance can be, happiness will come if you take things at your own pace. So there is technically a goal on this path, but you don’t actually see the goal because that’s not the point of Scum’s Wish.
This anime is meant to break your heart by showing these characters succumb to their temptations and ruining their lives because of it. Also, it has an amazing visual style with those split-screen close-ups and soft art choices. And I think the messages for this anime are incredibly powerful, especially when you look at the female teacher, Akane. I love how she only acts the way she does because she finds it fun, and how said fun inadvertently hurts and helps the main couple of this show up until she discovers someone who loves her in spite of her twisted nature. It’s a really risky yet really powerful look at how complicated romance can be, and not everything is as black and white as society makes it out to be.
Not only is this one of my favorite anime of all-time, it’s my favorite romance anime ever. Maybe even my personal pick for anime of the decade. It just really affected me, and the ending in particular actually managed to do the impossible and get me teary-eyed for a second. I won’t spoil it, but a lot of you guys are probably aware at what kind of romances I like. The Tsuki ga Kirei kind where the couple stays together in spite of those issues is good too and there’s nothing wrong with being idealistic in fiction, but let’s be honest guys: relationships are hard. And any anime that confronts that truth is going to get my vote over a shipping war show any day.
In fact, that’s a big reason why the next anime I’m going to highlight is amazing as well…
Kids on the Slope
This anime is probably one of the most nostalgic for me because it was one of the few I truly loved once I started to watch anime on a more weekly basis. When I first started this blog, I remember that one of my first posts ever was a really positive review on Kids on the Slope. I loved its constant drama and how the characters always took action to move the plot forward. I loved the music and how the themes of jazz were incorporated into the story. Shinichiro Watanabe’s directing was incredible. The setting is amazing and really highlights just how different Japanese mannerisms and religion were back then compared to now. But what I loved the most was the main character Kaoru and how much I related to the guy and his growth.
When we’re first introduced to Kaoru, he’s basically an introverted prick who’s trying to impress this girl and doesn’t pay much attention to this big guy trying to befriend him. But when he starts to aggressively pursue her, he ends up hurting her in the process and ultimately gets rejected. Eventually, he accepts the big guy and jazz into his life, but the story doesn’t end there, and without spoiling anything, it’s just constant story bomb after story bomb for him and his friends. Not a second is wasted in depicting the characters’ insecurities and how it ties into the free-flowing chaos that is jazz. Whenever a character has a chance to act, they always do it. And a lot of the times, it doesn’t work out for them. But that’s life. It’s full of failures in addition to successes, and that’s what makes it so fun.
I really loved the scene when Kaoru ends up in a deep depression because of all the shit that happened to him to the point that he forces himself on a girl. This is probably a controversial opinion, but I love when main protagonists get pushed to their lowest point and end up taking it out sexually on females they’re close with, only to have it wreck both sides emotionally. I know it’s a terrible thing in real life, but in fiction, it’s one of the best methods of drama ever as long as it actually plays an important role in the character arc. And the aftermath of that scene with Kaoru ending his relationships and starting anew somewhere else was one of the best build-ups to the finale that I’ve seen in a drama show. Like, I’ve loved every ending to every anime Shinichiro Watanabe has been involved in. I think he wraps things up really well wrapping up all the major loose ends whilst leaving all the minor ones up in the air because who the fuck cares? You end the show on that high point. And it was no different with Kids on the Slope’s finale. It was beautiful.
Do I even need to explain the music scenes in this anime? Phenomenal recreations of classic jazz pieces and nobody talking over said music to explain what it means. Yes, that was a dig at Your Lie in April. I’m sorry okay, but I really disliked how aside from the final piece, everybody in that anime thought explaining the music was a good idea. But like I said, it’s the drama and the music is woven into said drama that makes this show great. It’s the same thing I liked about Scum’s Wish in that the characters just do their actions rather than dwell on them and let the consequences speak for themselves. And I like how a lot of said consequences aren’t positive, but they can be used for positive things later down the line. Kids on the Slope is a really well-written, really well-directed musical drama and I just couldn’t recommend it enough. Seriously, go watch it if you haven’t.
I’m also just going to say it right now since there have been three of them so far, yes a lot of my favorite anime of this past decade have mostly been from the noitamina slot. I don’t like a lot of noitamina anime in general, but when one of them gets my attention, I tend to really like them.
In fact, here’s another one…
Best Christmas anime of all-time, and I say that unironically with no shame whatsoever. Guilty Crown is a very interesting show all things considered. When it came out, it was panned widely as a massive disappointment, and yet a lot of people watched it for how much worse it could possibly get. Then it kind of faded into obscurity once Sword Art Online became the new popular thing to hate, and since then, it’s gained a cult fanbase of people who like it for how “bad” it was along with a bunch of people who genuinely thought it was a good anime. The common consensus with today’s anime critics is that it was a pretty bad series, which is a little strange considering how much they’ll ironically praise stuff like Eromanga Sensei or Assassin’s Pride. But Inori was pretty hot.
All I can do is question how you can possibly think an anime directed by the guy who made Death Note and High School of the Dead isn’t in on the joke when it comes to making anime that are both serious and hilarious. How can you guys say Re: Zero is a deconstructive masterpiece whilst not giving Guilty Crown the same treatment? It starts off a bit rough admittedly, but every time I watch this series, I finish it in like two days because it’s so easy to digest. For those who are scared of its reputation, it’s sort of like if Evangelion’s legacy was successfully recreated in a genuinely new IP. The show basically deconstructs what would happen if some loser kid joined a terrorist group fighting the evil government solely because he thought one of the female members was hot, and boy is it brutal what happens to Shu in this show.
He starts off as a whiny loser, then he gains confidence that ends up backfiring on him, then he finds out he was ironically the inspiration for another guy, then he turns into a fascist, and then he grows into a true hero, but in the process he loses everything he loves. And when you couple that with the excellent technicals and Araki’s dark sense of humor, you get one of the most visually engaging post-Eva shows that I honestly think exceeds the original’s legacy. Don’t get me wrong, the original Evangelion is regarded as a classic for a reason, but it also has a lot of things that have become dated in modern times to the point that I genuinely support what the reboot is doing more. Guilty Crown on the other hand is fast-paced, the supporting cast is really fun, and the main trio are some of the funniest dumb-as-fuck characters to ever exist in this medium.
This show goes places with its characters you wouldn’t believe. There’s a classy girl who falls so hard for a dude that when he becomes evil, she ends up sleeping with a bunch of thugs in order to get them on her side so she can be with her beloved. There’s a guy named Dan Eagleman who’s basically a giant American stereotype to the point that it ends up backfiring on him. There’s the forgettable male best friend whose forgettable nature ends giving him a complex to the point that he accidentally gets another important character killed. This show plays on the stereotypes of what you’d expect from a show of this nature in some really subtle ways.
And most of all, it’s just so fucking funny. I can’t stress enough how funny this show is. There’s this scene in the seventh episode where Shu has to block a bunch of missiles being fired at a cruise ship and for some reason, it creates a bunch of fireworks to liven up the dance party there with great orchestral music, and it just got me.
There aren’t really a lot of anime that make me laugh, as you can tell by the lack of comedy anime among my favorites, so go in this series with an open mind and ignore the hate it gets if you’re interested. It honestly gets a much worse reputation than it deserves, which I notice can be said for like a good chunk of my favorites. But hey, that’s what makes my list interesting compared to some others, right?
Ping Pong: The Animation
Still keeping this noitamina train moving with Yuasa’s adaptation of the Ping Pong manga. Similar to The Tatami Galaxy, it’s considered a masterpiece by those who actually watch it, but not that many people actually watched it. It aired in the same season that Haikyuu did and while that show obviously has strong mainstream appeal, Ping Pong is beloved mostly for a lot of the same reasons that I praised Kids on the Slope. It’s a really well-written, well-directed show about personal insecurities and how this cast of characters change over time whilst centering their lives around one specific thing (in this case, ping pong). Not a second of screen time is wasted. Every minute detail is given to fleshing out these characters and having them confront their problems. Ping Pong is more idealistic than Kids on the Slope for the record. It goes for more of a grounded, but still incredibly relatable story that’s always moving and I just love it.
The usual tropes you see in sports anime like the senpais and the team-building exercises are still in this show, but they’re mostly kept in the background. Instead, we spend a vast majority of the screentime on these two boys, Peco and Smile, and how a confrontation with this really good Chinese player causes them to go on different paths in order to face him and the other high-level competition that’s sure to be at the upcoming tournament. What’s fascinating about these two isn’t just how different they are personality-wise, but how they use their personalities to approach the sport of ping pong. Throw in some Yuasa visual metaphors to symbolize their internal struggle and you’ve got a pretty fascinating character study masquerading as a shonen sports anime.
It also has a really bitching opening theme too. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
I’ve seen quite a few sports anime before and after this series, and virtually none of them have ever matched this series in terms of quality. Obviously a lot of that has to do with belonging to Shonen Jump, where the stories are long and the pacing is generally abysmal. But even the more dramatic sports shows that don’t belong to the shonen genre that I’ve seen haven’t matched Ping Pong’s status either. And I guess that’s a curse of me watching this series. It set the bar from what I expect for sports anime so anything less just gets written off as a disappointment. Well, it wouldn’t be a personal favorite if it didn’t ruin other lesser anime for me, right?
Flower of Evil
Oh wow. Finally something that’s not a noitamina anime. Instead we get that one anime that certain people use as ammo against critics when they say that they can’t be trusted. Yeah, this adaptation did have some problems and the fact that we’re most likely not going to see any more of this show is a real bummer. But I honestly think that we got was really good.
This was another anime that I remember really being excited to watch as it came out each week. Sometimes there would be episodes where not a lot happens, but Flower of Evil has this weird ability to make it so that each 22-minute episode feels like ten minutes to me. Every time that creepy ending theme song would play to signal the end, I’d check the clock and go “what, it’s over already?”. Obviously that doesn’t apply to a majority of people and it’d be kind of weak to praise the anime on something so subjective, so let’s get into what else I liked about this anime adaptation.
Basically, it’s another series centered around teenage insecurities that’s done in a pretty unique way. It goes about it through this very weird love triangle between this nerd who wants to confess his feelings to this cute shy girl, the cute shy girl who is a little more messed up than she appears to be, and this psychotic bitch who is not sweet on the inside but a lot more complicated than she appears to be. And through her interactions with the other two, we get to see that a lot of kids, as well as humans in general, have some pretty dark sides within them. Some people are better at controlling these dark sides than others, but ultimately it’s always growing in us, waiting to sprout.
It’s really cool to see an anime use a love triangle to explore this stuff, because generally love triangles are meant to bring pain to the viewer in both intentional and unintentional ways. I’ve made it clear myself that I’m not a fan of them because I find them to be contrived to the point of pained annoyance. And it’s definitely painful to see where these three characters end up in life, but in my case, it’s in a good way. Also, when the rotoscoped visual style is working, the emotional scenes are just so good. I loved that episode where the main character Kasuga makes it clear that he doesn’t think he’s good enough for the nice girl even when she expresses how much she wants to be with him, and the result is a very uncomfortable car ride for the three back home.
And before people ask, no I haven’t read the manga beyond what the anime covered. I do know a bit about what happens after and I really like the art, but I’m not really much of a manga fan so I never bothered to delve deep into it. Maybe I’ll do so one day, but whatever. Anime-wise, I thought this show was a real trip. And honestly, despite the ending being a bit sudden, I don’t feel like I need to see more. I think the anime stands on its own fine as a first season that never got a sequel. I still like it, but I’m ready to move on to something new.
Wouldn’t be a proper best list without one Ikuhara anime getting recognized, now would it? Well, maybe it would because Ikuhara is only a cult name nowadays, lost forever amongst the sea of shonen and isekai that make up today’s mainstream. When Penguindrum first came out, it was regarded alongside Steins;Gate and Madoka Magica as one of the best anime of 2011. However, as time went on and the Anitubers became huge, Anohana ended up becoming recognized as the third critical darling from that “bountiful” year and Penguindrum just faded into obscurity.
And don’t get me wrong, the show isn’t exactly something I would call a masterpiece. It can get a little far up its own ass and the storytelling can be a little fragmented. But it’s still a really enjoyable show about confronting fate, how you can’t run away from the past, and a whole lot of other shit that was dissected a long time ago back when this anime was relevant. Oh, and the penguins are cute too.
Honestly, Penguindrum is a show I prefer to watch rather than actually talk about because there are a ton of angles you can approach the series at regarding its perverted weirdness, not too dissimilar from shows like Utena and Sarazanmai. Not to mention, I haven’t seen the whole show in a while, so my memory is a bit hazy regarding the actual details of what happened in the plot. But if I were to explain why I like it the most out of Ikuhara’s resume, it mostly has to do with how it’s both easy to follow whilst still being chalk full of the complicated ambiguities that come with having a story centered around something as nebulous as fate. Obviously, you’ve got perverted and flat-out weird takes on shoujo tropes along with some theatrical recreations of classic movie scenes that are just really fun to watch, but you’ve also got the characters genuinely struggling with their insecurities as more is revealed about them and the wacky personalities we saw on the surface slowly get peeled back to expose a darker side to them.
And seriously, this show can get very dark in spite of the bright visuals. One of the big draws of the show to me is Ringo, one of the main female characters of the show. Without spoiling anything, what she goes through can be very disturbing, and not just the scenes were some creep is trying to have his way with her. Once you figure out who she really is and what lengths she would go to have a happy family again, you really start to feel for her and she really grows as a character as a result of having the truth slammed into her face. Then of course, there’s Kanbe, the ruder brother of the main male duo. To put it lightly, he’s a bit of a dick. But it’s only when you watch further that you realize just how much of a dick he actually is, and what the death of his little sister that kickstarts the main plot of this show actually means to him.
The show is just full of betraying expectations and deconstructing character archetypes whilst also commenting on some pretty heavy subject matter in a cartoonish, yet surprisingly mature manner, and that’s just what makes up the surface level appeal of Penguindrum. Dig in further and you’ll probably uncover stuff like how humanity requires chaos to function or that the Illuminati Trilogy is a goddamn lie. It can be hard to follow at times, but the overall package is very ambitious and very enjoyable. I really liked how Penguindrum turned out and to me, it’s Ikuhara’s magnum opus.
Terror in Resonance
I love Terror in Resonance. I really do. For those who’ve never watched it, it’s an intensely directed thriller centered on the corruption of Japan’s youth and the issues the country faces as a whole. The plot is centered on these two boys who decide to go around committing terrorist acts in Japan that mysteriously do not kill anybody. The tagline for this anime is something along the lines of “pull the trigger on the world” and it’s basically this cat-and-mouse game centered on this detective trying to figure out what these two are planning, the two boys struggling with their emotions whilst carrying out their plans, and these two girls who interfere with their plans – one an innocent victim in the proceedings and the other a mysterious figure from their past who’s looking to settle a score.
What I like the most about this show is how it really captures the feeling of being a disaffected youth thrown into a crazy world that’s simply unfair, as well as how there are multiple angles you can go about that status in life. However, the more you strive for change, the more you put your life at risk. And honestly, despite the technical pacifism, I don’t see how you can look at the action of these teenage terrorists and not think they’re going to die by the end. I mean they’re endangering people’s lives all in the name of sending a message to strike back against Japan’s own government.
It’s pretty easy to see where the show is going to go after a few episodes, but the ride is pretty intense. There’s this one scene in the anime’s opening episodes where the girl, Lisa, is riding with one of the boys on a motorcycle and she feels free for the first time in a while. It’s a hauntingly beautiful scene that really showcases Watanabe’s skill as a director, and I just love how he can pull off visual characterization like that in this series without the characters themselves ever acknowledging it. And as expected from a show directed by him, the ending is freaking amazing. Like you thought the way the kids were treated in Promised Neverland was haunting? You ain’t seen nothing till you’ve seen this series.
Yeah there’s a few plotholes that the haters love to rub in my face, but this is fucking anime guys. Shonen series are always going to be long. It’s okay to like lolis as long as they’re fictional and you don’t mind being called weird for it. And anime is never going to be realistic. I mean the show started off with the two teenagers breaking into a warehouse and stealing an EMP bomb. You’ve pretty much thrown away any pretense of realism when you do that.
It’s an incredibly beautiful series that definitely deserved more attention than it ended up getting. Which is weird, because it was pretty popular and critically acclaimed when it came out alongside Tokyo Ghoul and Aldnoah Zero, but for some reason those two overtook it in attention and it faded into this series that is loved by people who actually watch it, but said people are kind of hard to find nowadays. Not as hard to find as people who still say with no hesitation that Aldnoah Zero wasn’t a waste of time, but I digress. Next anime.
Now I’m going to bet that a lot of you have never even heard of this anime before. It was a noitamina show directed by the guy who made series like Red Velvet and Valvrave the Liberator, and when it came out, nobody was watching it and the ones who did were kind of iffy on some of the decisions the show made. Honestly, the show could have stood to be eight episodes long or maybe just a movie rather than eleven episodes long, but nothing is perfect, right? As for what we got, well who doesn’t love stories about some dude trying to seduce a widow, only to get cucked by the ghost of her husband?
Natsuyuki Rendezvous, to put it lightly, is an animated J-drama about a guy named Hazuki trying to win the heart of a flower shop owner he works with, but her former husband has come back as a ghost that only Hazuki can see and can’t move on from her, so he interferes with the relationship. This leads to said husband eventually tricking Hazuki into taking over his body whilst Hazuki gets trapped in a fantasy wonderland. From then on, the husband interacts with his former wife through Hazuki and learns how much things have changed for her since his death whilst Hazuki interacts with the spiritual world and learns to grow more confident in himself, unaware of what the husband is doing.
It’s a very unusual take on the whole josei genre, but again, similar to my other favorites, what makes it stand out as a personal favorite is the really well-written characterization of this trio who are very selfish and use said selfishness to further their own personal goals whilst learning about what really matters in life in the process. And the animation in this show is just great. It was produced by Dogakobo, who as far as I’m aware, hasn’t really done any josei adaptations since this one. Yeah the slice-of-life stuff probably sells, and this show bombed in viewership and ratings, so I guess I would stick to what works as well. But seriously, just look at the Thumbelina fantasy scenes when Hazuki is having inner turmoil and try telling me it’s not a great example of what animation can accomplish as a medium.
Again, I think the reason this didn’t catch on with a lot of other people is timing (the shows people liked that season weren’t big draws, but anime also wasn’t that mainstream back then) along with having a premise that didn’t jive with a lot of people because they like their romances more lively and the characters to be less asshole-ish. For example, a lot of people like that Recovery of an MMO Junkie anime because they find it relatable and cute. My taste in romance obviously does not skew towards that direction, especially if it’s animated, because I could just watch a J-drama if I wanted some intense romance. Natsuyuki Rendezvous is special in that it takes advantage of its’ premise, its’ characters’ personalities, and the very medium it was produced to make a truly special show, and that’s why I remember it long after everyone has forgotten it.
This is a superhero show Bones released about a few months before My Hero Academia became the big hit that it is now. It’s basically an anime version of Watchmen in that it’s a world where being an anime character is considered a superpower, and said anime characters are living in a fictionalized version of historical Japanese events from the 60s and 70s (right down to a lot of the major superpowers being tributes/parodies of the anime tropes from those decades like Astro Boy or Getter Robo), either serving the corrupt government or fighting them from the shadows. It even jumps around multiple perspectives as well as multiple points in time just like Watchmen did. And when it comes to some seething commentary on Japan’s crimes from a historical standpoint as well as what superheroes meant to people growing up in that time period, Concrete Revolutio is one of the most well-written, well-realized products to tackle that subject.
I love Jiro’s character as this suave badass who grows up to be a hard-ass in the future and how we slowly learn of what caused him to become that way through his interactions with these other superheroes. And almost all of the superheroes are really well-written regarding their individual philosophies and how that factors into the big picture. I remember Earth-chan, who’s an Astro Boy-tribute rather than a big meme in this anime, and how she basically sees good v.s. evil as a black and white thing to the point that she doesn’t realize her actions ultimately do little to solve anything. Like if you crush one gang selling drugs, another one is just going to take its place. But Earth-chan just never takes that into consideration, which causes her to clash with a former criminal who’s trying to reform, but Earth-chan doesn’t believe he can because he betrayed her trust once already.
And there’s also a lot of parallels to Japanese history through these heroes’ interactions. I can’t recall what specific event is portrayed in the second episode with the ghost boy and the roach girl who grows to be a giant roach in the future, but I know it was some famous forest extermination of some kind. Honestly, this show was meant for a very Japanese audience, because normal people who aren’t familiar with all of this history won’t get the significance of that two-parter focusing on the kaiju and why it’s acting as a figurehead for Japanese protests. It’s a very ambitious show that doesn’t hold your hand, and even as someone who hasn’t really read a Japanese history book, I could follow what was going on fairly well.
Ultimately, this is a story about Jiro and how his world becomes challenged from all these perspectives in his life from the magical girl who’s got a crush on him to a villain who looks and acts like Zero from Code Geass, causing him to become rogue in the future. And the results are amazing. This is the kind of anime genre deconstruction that I wish Re: Creators had been.
Now as much as I praise this show, I should point out a lot of what I consider to be an all-time favorite is mainly seen in the first season, not unlike Psycho-Pass. The second season wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The animation and momentum took a big hit and it bites off more than it can chew in terms of what it wants to do, leading to a finale that has a great final message, but was obviously rushed. Not going to lie, it was a bit disappointing that the creators couldn’t come up with a suitable replacement for the first season’s Baccano-like time jumping as a storytelling mechanic (or just ditch the episodic format for a more streamlined story like I thought they’d do), plus it seems like everyone was betraying each other fifteen times apiece towards the end.
But similar to Eden of the East, I think the first season can stand on its own. And honestly, the second half had some really good moments as well. Didn’t think it was bad enough to sour my overall opinion of the show like Daredevil did with its later seasons. It was a very risky show and unfortunately the risk didn’t pay off as well as the creators hoped, because it bombed in both critical reception and popularity. Airing on the same day (not joking) as One-Punch Man’s first season obviously didn’t help, but to me, this is the best superhero thing to come from anime. Hopefully there’ll be a better one in the future.
March Comes In Like a Lion
If there’s anything that amazes me more than the quality of this show, it’s the overall reception to it. March Comes In Like a Lion isn’t exactly a huge hit in its home country. And outside of it, the series got dropped by a large number of people mostly due to its tone, whilst the ones who did stick with it loved it so much that it received critical acclaim as one of the best anime dramas of the year. Then when the second season came out as a massive improvement on what the first season had built up, it became recognized as one of the greatest anime dramas of all-time. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I worship the show that way, but yeah March Comes In Like a Lion is definitely an anime with some amazing highs.
The animation in this show is just phenomenal. Easily some of the best that Shaft has ever put into one of their TV series. There are some episodes where it’s not there and the show relies a bit too much on the studio’s usual visual shortcuts. But it gets really visually impressive during the intense moments of the story. For example, that arc in the second season focused on one of the main girls being bullied at school. When I saw that arc for the first time, I just went “holy hell Shaft, this is some of the best eye-candy I’ve seen in an anime. Where the hell did this come from?”.
In fact, the entirety of that arc was a masterful highlight in the show. The messages regarding what to do when you’re being bullied and how adults should handle those situations are just amazing and incredibly relatable, particularly if you’ve been a victim of bullying in your youth.
Overall, I just love watching the main character, Rei, go through his life. Fighting off depression. Winning games so that he can pay his rent. Struggling to decide whether to prioritize school or going pro. Dealing with the friendly people he hangs out with in the present as a sharp contrast to the bitter people from his past that re-enter his life at various points. And it’s not just him either. The show takes time to focus on a lot of the characters connected to our main protagonist and their own struggles, either through shogi or just the harshness of life in general. It kind of reminds me of Hikaru no Go in that sense, although there’s less of a focus on the game and more on the personal problems when you compare this series to that one. The author of the original manga is actually the same person who wrote Honey & Clover, which also had a very similar feeling if you replaced shogi with just college in general. Although while the number of relationships were smaller, I don’t think they ended up anywhere near as complicated as Honey & Clover eventually got.
I will admit, I think the cutesy slice-of-life sections are a bit meh and can go on for way too long at times. They’re not bad persay. They’re just not exactly what I’m watching this show for. I mean I get it’s to provide contrast and all. Constant angst for long periods of time does get weary, plus it’s nice to see that despite having a lot of internal problems, there’s a warm place for Rei to go to. It’s just that he doesn’t want to rely on the warmth said place provides.
Best anime drama of all-time? No, I definitely wouldn’t say that. But it is really goddamn good and worthy of your time if you’re looking for a beautiful depiction of internal torment set on an ambitious scale. Hopefully they make more some day. There’s over forty episodes of this show out already and it still feels like we didn’t get enough, which given how a lot of anime can’t even handle thirteen episodes, shows just how much I recommend March Comes In Like a Lion.
Now for the last one. Finally, we reached the end of this long project, and my last favorite anime series of the decade is…
Carole & Tuesday
Now this is a show that ended really recently, so I actually had to think for a bit whether it truly deserved to actually be amongst my personal favorites without giving it time to settle down. But at the end of the day, when I finished this show, I wanted to watch it again. That’s pretty much the only requirement I have when it comes to being a favorite of mine. If I like an anime so much that I want to see it again, then it gets recognized. And if I lose the desire to rewatch it in the future like I did with Made in Abyss, then so it goes.
Carole & Tuesday is one of Shinichiro Watanabe’s two-cour shows, so of course it’s going to be episodic storytelling that builds up to a bigger picture, although it’s not as episodic as his previous stuff (I know he wasn’t the main director for this show, but he had something to do with the creative process). It’s about these two girls whose names are in the title that are trying to make it in the competitive world of music with all of the drama that comes with that profession. Meanwhile in the background, a lot of political shit is happening centered on Tuesday’s mother, and said political shit ends up crossing over into these musicians’ lives because some of the characters they know are involved with the corruption that always accompanies stuff like that. The show isn’t really so much about Carole and Tuesday themselves as much as the world around them, and I enjoy that aspect greatly because all of these characters are just so interesting.
Their rival Angela is interesting. Their manager is interesting. The mysterious Tao is interesting. Carole and Tuesday are basically the heart that keeps these people going through more interesting drama happy with their own music, and while their music isn’t exactly the best compared to their competition, it’s unique and has a reason to exist. And obviously, the music in this anime is fucking fantastic. I’ve loved every song in this show and there are so many of them. I can barely remember an episode that didn’t have one musical number in it, and it’s always enhanced the experience.
By the way, can we take a moment to just appreciate the setting as well? Because I feel like not a lot of people actually give it enough attention. Simply, put I love this futuristic version of Mars where everything is similar to our world, but a little more technologically advanced. You’ve still got social media. You’ve still got guns. But now you’ve got really advanced holograms and life support systems. And it really adds a lot of life to Carole and Tuesday as a visual experience.
I mean what else can I say about the show? I love the themes. I love the music. And the ending is incredibly heartwarming whilst also leaving a lot to the imagination. Without spoiling anything, there’s this title card at the end that pulls the wool over your eyes in a way I found hilarious. Overall, I thought this anime was really delightful and deserves to be recognized amongst the greats. Shinichiro Watanabe really is one of the greatest anime auteurs in the industry at the moment. I hope he keeps making stuff forever. You agree Morty?
Alright, those are all of the anime of this decade that I wanted to highlight. Hoo boy, this was a long one. I haven’t even included like half of the really popular choices for a list like this and it’s still a hefty read.
Anyways, that’s all I’ve got to say regarding my favorite anime of the decade. Feel free to debate your personal faves, including ones I didn’t highlight on here like Katanagatari or Madoka Magica or whatever in the comments below and let’s look forward to a new decade of Japanese cartoons. Happy New Years by the way.