Before the list proper starts, Friendly Reminder that I am currently running a Fan-Art Contest themed around my Top Ten Games of the Year, with 35 Steem in Prizes. Feel free to check it out here if you're interested: https://steempeak.com/ccc/@dlstudios/reminder-of-my-video-game-fan-art-competition-febuary-1st-deadline-35-steem-in-prizes
You know, I picked a really good year to start actively watching anime again. Despite shows that left me very disappointed, like One Punch Man Season 2, there were so many great shows this year. I'd watched about eighteen shows I enjoyed this year, and I feel anything from my number fourteen and up could have had a chance to make my top ten in most other years, or at least had a shot.
A show I should mention that isn't part of those eighteen, but also didn't make my worst, was Kaguya-Sama. I felt the joke ran dry quick, but since it's got a pretty popular fan base I think it should at least be mentioned as to why it didn't make my list or even an honorable mention.
A quick list of the shows that didn't make the cut: W'Z, Senryuu Shoujo, JoshiKausei, Astra Lost in Space, Demon Slayer, Psycho-Pass Season 3, Bungou Stray Dogs Season 3, Cop Craft
I was one of the harsher critics of Demon Slayer, and the things that bothered me about the show got to me more than other people (I will never be able to take the smelling thing seriously), and I think it's a show carried mostly by fantastic visuals.
As usual, this list is not at all objective, and simply my personal favorites with all Bias included. Now on with the list.
It was a pretty close call between this and Copcraft to make my number ten spot, but I had to give it to RobiHachi. It's kind of odd because I don't know if this show even has much rewatch value to it. It's just this wonderfully bizarre adventure where a lovable rogue with no luck and a sheltered rich boy go off on a quest to a tourist trap on the other side of the universe.
The main antagonist is chasing after them because he really, really wants to fuck Robby. He claims it's about the debt he's owed, but it becomes clear fast that it's about his libido. He gets involved in a robot/human civil war, battles in a Colosseum, and all kinds of other extravagant events all because he really wants the dick.
The lead characters have a life-sized model replica of a giant robot from an old anime, complete with mustache and a speaker that plays its own theme music, and this is just kind of another thing about their journey. It's not even that big a part of it, it's just kind of there.
It's a dumb show, but it just kind of makes me happy. I care about the characters, I want to see them reach their destination even though it's clear it's just a scam, and it's just a fun ride beginning to end. You don't always have to produce something great to win me over, sometimes you just have to be goofy, absurd, and fun. I'm honestly wondering if this should have been bumped up to 9.
9.) Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 5
For the worst Jojo series to be released so far, it's still Jojo's. Yes, the plot ends up being kind of stupid with some deaths that ended up being meaningless. The whole 'Mystery' of the bosses' identity amounts to nothing, and Giorno is barely a presence in the show he's supposed to be the main character of. But in Jojo fashion, the show manages to put so much energy and passion behind everything it does you still get swept along for the ride.
Yeah, it's not nearly as good a ride as the other parts, but Mista never fails to have an excellent fight, and Bruno is driven and a wonderful leader (Really he should have been the shows Jojo) so despite the story being kind of dumb, I still want to see him succeed.
It's got all the great and unique fights between stands you'd come to expect after part four as well, so despite the many flaws I still find myself enjoying it. I can't wait for part 6.
8.) Vinland Saga
I struggled with the placement of Vinland Saga. Part of me thinks it should be higher considering the unique premise of making the guy who killed Thor, thus starting Throfinn on his quest for revenge, the lead character. The story was utterly fascinating, but there was one big problem.
The most interesting thing about this entire show so far is the story of Askladd, but that's over now. What we have are many different story threads that just... aren't that interesting or unique by comparison. It's a show I loved that just doesn't leave me excited to see what's next, and it's kind of hard to quantify how I feel about that.
7.) Fruits Basket (2019)
This is partly Nostalgia because I remember Fruits Basket from back in the day and I enjoyed it. I love seeing it with the improved animation, filling in more details, and overall being a much better show that is continuing the story past where the first one ended. It's great to see a reboot that is an active improvement in just about every way.
6.) Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru
...The show about a girl getting into Strength Training to lose a bit of weight is one of the best shows of the year. If I am judging purely on the comedy, I think this is arguably the funniest show of the year, with some good competition with RobiHachi. But it's not the comedy that ranks this show so high.
I actually came away caring about this stupid and innocuous goal that our lead character has. It's not grand, it's not even that important in the context of the world they live in, but she is just a great and fun character. The whole cast is, and despite how ridiculous the show gets everyone manages to come across as pretty realistic. They feel like actual characters, and they are all likable in their own ways. I don't care that the goal is so miniscule, when you see that little bit at the end where she weights herself and gets that happy and goofy grin on her face, I just felt happy.
5.) Karakuri Circus
A lot of people seemed to a bit down on this show, but hear me out. The appeal of Karakuri Circus, at least for me, isn't all that different from Jojo's. Yes, there is a lot of dumb things about the show, but there is just so much passion and dedication behind everything that happens you kind of get swept up in the ride and all the problems kind of seem to stop mattering. There are a lot of excellent and creative fights, fun and vibrant cast, and a lot of legit emotional moments sprinkled throughout.
Karakuri Circus ended up being the best Jojo's anime coming out this year. (I mean it's not Jojo's Part 2, but I digress)
4.) Mob Psycho Season 2
This show has a lot of the same over the top spectacle of One Punch Man, but whereas One Punch Man worked mostly just as a parody, Mob Psycho as a show is a lot more solid. It's not playing with the idea that Mob is bored, but more that he is afraid of his own power, and since his powers are related to his emotions you kind of see Mob repressing his desires and feelings.
When he 'Explodes' what you get varies greatly based of whatever emotions are overwhelming Mob at the time, and it's even better because of how other people interact with him. These interactions aren't just well written, but they are core to the very nature of the show and Mob's abilities. Mob Psycho may end with this season, or it may get a third since there is apparently a bit more in the Manga, but honestly, this would be a great place to end it. Good stuff.
3.) The Promised Neverland
There is so little I can say about this show without spoiling everything great about it. Starting off the characters are all children in an orphanage, but you find out quickly that the truth is they are farming humans to feed to monsters, but they are taken care of this way because the more nurtured their minds the more delicious they are. The whole plot is three of the smartest kids are trying to find a way to survive and evade the eyes of Mother, the one running this orphanage.
There are times that the logic feels a bit stretched, but the show makes up for it with how clever it can be and just how tense the show feels at every given moment. Everything that happens feels calculated and like it was for a reason, so the entire run of the show is extremely engaging. I am excited about the next season, whenever it will be announced.
2.) Dr. Stone
I only heard of Dr. Stone for brief periods at a time, but anytime I did it was always high praise. And while I often find myself at odds with the overall opinion, just see my dislike of Shield Hero, I think I'm in the majority on this one in thinking this show is fantastic.
The big thing about Dr. Stone is it's not like any other show out right now. Despite their foe being extremely strong due to his sheer physical might, most of the show is about establishing science. The world has pretty much lost all its scientific knowledge, and our lead character is trying to recreate it from the stone age to be able to win the fight. Since he manages to give himself a lot of distance, most of the conflict isn't combat-focused. Creating antibiotics, improving the day to day life of a prehistoric village, this is the crux of the first season. And the whole show manages to keep a high level of tension.
A great cast, a lot of fantastic scenes, some great humor, and a lot of excitement for the coming season, it's clear why a lot of people love this show. I could see, in another year, this one taking the number one spot.
When I first finished this show, I didn't think there was going to be anything that would top it the entire year. Sure enough, that was the case, Dororo is just a fantastic show. It's appropriately violent given the themes and era the show is set in, and it has probably my favorite fights of the entire year. Not every fight is excellent, but most are and the final fight of the show is one of the most gripping and intense fights I have seen in a very long time.
There are issues in the latter half of the show where it feels like it's kind of meandering about a bit, but it does pick back up by the end. I saw that being where a lot of people started to tune out of this show, but I feel everything the show does well more than makes up for it.
There is a fantastic theme of 'The Path of Buddha', normally represented by the traveling Monk, and 'The Path of the Demon', represented by Hyakkimaru's Father, the one who traded his son to the Demons for power and prosperity. Hyakkimaru, while just in his cause to reclaim his body, is often at a crossroads between the to paths, teetering constantly ongoing to far down a path of violence. Just how far can he go to reclaim his body and remain human?
I just love this show, and honestly feel it should go down as an all-time great, and not just a great of this year. The way Hyakkimaru progresses as a character, the way you see him change as he recovers more of his body, and one of the most satisfying conclusions of any anime I have seen. I cannot recommend this show highly enough to anyone who isn't bothered by the violence.
And there you have it, my Top 10 Anime of the year. It's been a blast getting back into anime again after all this time. I fear I may have peaked on my return because of just how great this year ended up being. We had some fantastic reboots with Fruits Basket and Dororo, some amazing original shows, and far more good than bad that I got to watch. I can only hope for another year like this down the line, and I look forward to continuing to keep up with new releases in years to come.