If there’s anything the year 2017 proves for otaku, it’s that anime just keeps getting better and better. Animation quality and storytelling are becoming all the more surprising for fans, all thanks to innovation in the field. However, there can’t be a year without anime to share with veterans and newcomers alike. Here’s the What’s A Geek! team and our highlights for the year 2017 in anime.
2017 in Anime
The year 2017 has been full of twists and turns for the casual and full-on otaku, especially with the continuous expansion of various media to base anime on. Entire stories continue to captivate viewers, be it an anime exclusive, a work based on a manga, a light novel, or even a game. In fact, this year’s highlights have made a mark In the hearts of fans not just because of animation quality, but because of the IP’s overall impact as well.
Kuzu no Honkai
Anime and media often give us a way to experience things we’d never dreamed of. Other times they make us feel things that seem way too real. In fact, Kuzu no Honkai from Winter 2017 gives the latter: the universal pain of unrequited love.
The complex love polygon between protagonists Hanabi, Mugi and the rest continues to tread a fine line between determined purpose and wild ecstasy. It defines the lengths people will go for their heart’s desire, despite the protests of their own conscience. No matter how outwardly despicable each character is, they are all driven by thoughts and feelings we can all sympathize with. That’s the kicker of the series.
At one point in our lives, we were all Hanabi, Mugi, Ecchan, and maybe even Akane-sensei. This series shattered the bright expectations of romance and made us reflect on the darker mirrors that love can make us do. The production value reminded us of this from special effects to the effective use of music. The show tackled intimacy that was both raw and awkward. These scenes were not for the titillation of the audience but a manifestation of the drive and hesitation that love can create in all humans.
This is not a happy story. This isn’t for everyone’s taste or morals. It is an exploration of a common human condition that befalls us all, through the lens of a high school anime couple who can’t get what they want. It’s easily the most melancholic anime of the year and a must watch for all.
Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon
Kyoto Animation, fondly known as KyoAni, knocks another stellar adaptation out of the park this 2017. Miss Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon brings a touch of magical realism to its world. In short, Japanese programmer Kobayashi finds herself employing a maid who happens to also be a powerful dragon. Ordinary life is turned upside down as Tohru and her dragon ilk enter Kobayashi’s life and the world. However, there’s more to this anime than just hijinks, fish-out-of-water comedy, and low hanging fruit.
At the heart of the anime is a story of family and what people make of it. Kobayashi is a regular office lady and an intense maid otaku. Although Tohru practically imposed her maid services, the generally introverted Kobayashi gradually embraces both her and younger dragon Kanna. The show depicts how life can subtly change as we all accept different kinds of people into our lives. It’s a cherry on top that this is a fantasy slice of life that covers the lives of adults, a demographic I feel are underserved in this genre of anime.
Kyoto Animation kicked the quality of the show into overdrive. Tohru’s boundless eagerness, Kanna’s childlike wonder, and Kobayashi’s calculated frankness added complex layers to all their interactions, with both regular people and dragon-kin. Even if some of the side characters were sometimes generic tropes, they were written with such enthusiasm that it’s hard not to sit back and enjoy the ride. KyoAni put such care into every scene, whether it’s an island-shaking battle or the simple preparation of breakfast. KyoAni deftly balanced hilarious comedy with moving moments of self-realization. The earworm that was its opening song perfectly encapsulated what it’s like to experience life with Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. Don’t miss out on this fantastic interpretation of modern relationships rarely handled so well.
For the most part, romantic comedies are an easy genre to get into. Audiences often treat these anime as nice changes in pace from the heavier shows of each season. Creators just need to strike that balance of heart-tugging romance and giggling comedy and it’s off to the races. Tsurezure Children is basically a pure distillation of the entire genre in a relatively easy to digest package.
Based on an online 4-koma manga, Tsurezure Children breaks from traditional rom-com and it features several different high school couples. Over the course of twelve minutes, each episode follows the stories of four couples, in various stages of their relationships. Most are struggling with the first confession and some are already deep in their dating life. It covers several familiar tropes but the crisp voice acting and simple yet exaggerated animation make it enjoyable to watch. The show touches anyone who has struggled with the awkwardness of first loves and young infatuation.
Due to the nature of the show, Tsurezure Children is understandably be hit or miss for some. There is no clear indication of who are the primary couples as the show progresses. As such, wading through the stories can be a chore, if they are not to one’s taste. Nevertheless, Tsurezure Children is a very enjoyable experience that clocks in at less than three hours in total. What the show lacks in depth, it more than makes up in its variety, its romantic pureness, and earnestness in its heart-warming and heart-breaking moments.
Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season
Getting into Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season means having to watch the first season, but it’s a ride worth getting into. Boku no Hero Academia is set against the backdrop of a world where most of the population received powers called “quirks.” Unlike the world of the X-Men, however, Academia‘s society has accepted the role of these superpowers.
The series follows the story of young Izuku Midoriya who dreams of one day becoming a great hero like his idol All Might, despite not having powers. One day, he meets All Might and in a twist of fate, his life changes forever.
In the spirit of thrilling shounen series, Academia‘s story follows a series of “arcs” and a healthy cast of characters. The second season follows up on the first by further developing the numerous characters they introduced. In fact, the depth that goes into story development is remarkably integrated seamlessly with sheer shounen action.
Cast members such as Ochaco and Todoroki, Iida, and Bakugou and Yaoyorozu all get the highlights in the Sports Fest arc, the Stain arc, and the Exam arc, respectively. However, fans of the series also get a taste of awesome fight scenes courtesy of Studio Bones. This is the same studio responsible for One Punch Man and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Its soundtrack remained a compelling part of what made its gripping narrative and thrilling fight scenes a treat to behold. Combined together, Academia will leave the casual viewer with a nostalgic feeling of how we looked at superheroes as kids. The anime shows how the word “superhero” carries a sense of justice and nobility with it.
There’s always something about watching historical fiction set in a steampunk version of London. It’s fast-paced, intriguing, and also somehow always politically-inclined. This is also true for Princess Principal, which is all of that, and… can we say lolis? Let’s say lolis (even if not all of them are).
Princess Principal doesn’t just give you steampunk Victorian London, however. It’s a spy action series set in an alternate England divided between a monarchy and a commonwealth government, both sides trying to win a cold war. Your protagonists are four young women in an elite boarding school, one of whom is an actual Princess, fourth in line to the throne. The series thrusts you into the thick of things, starting you off with Case 13 and jumps forwards and backwards as they introduce you to the many characters: Ange, the orphan and genius spy, Princess, who wants to become Queen and unite England, Beatrice, the Princess’s loyal servant, Dorothy, the eldest and defacto leader, and Chise, a spy from Japan who eventually joins the group.
As mentioned earlier, the series doesn’t tell you their story chronologically– instead, it takes you forwards and backwards in time, showing you the stories and motivations of each main character in 12 episodes. The overarching plot is still, of course, felt and dealt with towards the end, but the series lets you get yourself attached emotionally to each girl in the story. There are intense moments where the team runs across London to apprehend traitors to the Republic, and lighthearted moments where you see the girls actually being girls their age. There is also a fight scene on top of a moving train. This is definitely one of the series from 2017 that you should watch.
Battle Girl High School
This anime wasn’t originally going to be on this list, but after watching all 12 episodes and playing the mobile game it was based on, it deserves at least a mention. You have to forgive the rushed animation, first and foremost, it doesn’t do the girls any justice, but the BGHS anime is a great watch, even just for the story.
The series takes place in a fictional future where aliens called Irous have attacked Earth and humans were forced to live in space colonies. A group of young girls, blessed with amazing abilities by the Holy Tree, are sent out to fight the Irous and take back the Earth. Fast forward several years later, we are introduced to the current 19 Hoshimori students from Shinjugamine High School– the very group of girls who fight the aliens and protect the earth. However, one of them has a dark secret. Misaki, the mysterious girl who appeared suddenly, is strong and calculating, and even knows the weakness of new types of Irous the current girls have not faced before. The series focuses on this new girl and her story, and how she fits into the Hoshimori class.
While the plot seems reused, the delivery of the story takes you on a fun ride, all the way to the revelation as to who Misaki really is. Give this series a chance. Watch it on HIDIVE!
An Exciting 2018 Ahead
If there’s anything the year 2017 in anime proves, it’s how anime can keep producing such compelling narratives despite the genre. People talk of tropes in popular anime genres such as rom-com that get “repetitive.” However, producers still manage to make stories that persist in the hearts of viewers.