Check out this list of the best summer anime from this year!
It’s that time of year again. The time where we take stock of all the anime from the past three months and decide which ones are the best. Here are my Top 5 anime from the Summer 2017 season.
(Note: Sequels are not eligible for this list. However, HeroAca season 2 and Owarimonogatari season 2 are some of the best experiences I’ve had with anime all year.)
5. Princess Principal
The only guarantee with Studio 3Hz is that you’re going to get something very, very different, be it coil-based sci-fi utopias (Dimension W), or Alice in Wonderland meets Madoka Magica (Flip Flappers).
This time, the studio has rolled out yet another exciting entry in the form of “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow meets R.O.D.” with Princess Principal.
There are very few spy thrillers in anime, but this one is definitely one of the best. Its engrossing episodic stories and gripping action are simply marvellous.
I’m still kind of shocked by how much detail they poured into the main cast of this series. Each of the girls on the spy team feels unique and fleshed out enough for me to care about them, and yet the spy atmosphere still keeps part of them shrouded in mystery.
As someone who generally doesn’t like steampunk, the aesthetics of this particular steampunk setting are very much to my liking. There’s something almost monolithic about the London cityscape as a whole that’s intensely gratifying.
Unfortunately, I’m still not a fan of the post-Victorian/Edwardian costume design. This is a very minute detail though. I’m also insanely happy that Yuki Kajiura is finally back to making interesting soundtracks again after a string of generic thriller OSTs, and her unique blend of dark jazz, orchestra, and electronics is perfect for this series.
There’s nothing too thematically deep with Princess Principal, and the ending does feel a bit rushed. But as a straightforward spy thriller, it’s definitely worth the thrill ride.
4. Tsurezure Children
The romcom genre has been seeing quite a bit of innovation over the past few years. Most notably, the focus on actual relationships instead of just the buildup to them has made for a much more interesting watch, and Tsurezure Children is a great example of this.
The series showcases an array of different couples at different points in their relationship and how each of them react in different situations. Tsurezure Children is about quirky relationship comedy in its purest form. The openness and honesty of its presentation of the different situations is incredibly refreshing.
Studio Gokumi does a great job of creating a charming and appealing visual aesthetic. The bright colors and insanely cute character designs layer the series in a rosy tinge that gives even the most awkward moments an upbeat feel.
There’s nothing particularly noteworthy on the soundtrack for this one. However, its competence at supporting the cutesy atmosphere is more than enough.
TV shorts have become a proving ground for new ideas that just wouldn’t work as a full-length series, and Tsurezure Children is definitely one of the best and worth checking out for romcom fans everywhere.
Imagine a world where the fictional creations of authors and directors can come to life and interact with us in our world. How would these characters react to the idea that they’re a work of fiction? How would they confront their creators about the events that happen in their stories?
Re:Creators attempts to provide a thrilling and intriguing answer to these kinds of questions. The meta commentary on storytelling easily captivates those like myself who want to understand how stories are created.
On top of that, the characters that the series creates aren’t just interesting in their relationships with their authors. Their relationships with each other and how the contradicting tones of each fictional work clash with each other in meaningful ways provide a ton of content to sink your teeth into.
This might also be the best series that studio TROYCA has worked on so far. (Unfortunately, that’s not exactly a huge accomplishment considering their past works). Sleek character designs, fantastic lighting and colour balance, and superb action make it an incredibly fun experience.
However, despite all that, there was this strange feeling about the presentation that I couldn’t shake off. I hesitate to describe it this way, but there was something about the animation that just felt kinda fake. Not enough grit or individuality to its overall presentation. There were moments where I felt like I was watching a big budget summer blockbuster made to generate revenue. This is hardly the atmosphere I’d want for an intellectual take on the nature of storytelling.
Fortunately, Hiroyuki Sawano has returned again for another high impact soundtrack. His work easily fills the series with enough life for me to overlook these criticisms.
The solid blend of action hype and deeper thematic elements in Re:Creators make it an amazing watch for all types of viewers and should definitely be on your shortlist of anime to watch this year.
2. Zaregoto Series: The Beheading Cycle
Whereas Re:Creators is good for a more general anime audience, the Zaregoto Series will most likely appeal to a much smaller audience seeking out eclectic arthouse projects.
This series adapts the novel series that NisiOisiN worked on before the critically-acclaimed Monogatari series, and you can very much see the roots of Monogatari in Zaregoto. Extensive use of wordplay, bizarre yet relatable characters, and a pursuit of intellectual depth that constantly rides the line between brilliant commentary and pretentious drivel are all present in Zaregoto.
Presenting a discussion on genius through the frame of a murder mystery seems like a no-brainer in hindsight. Yet the story never sacrifices its solid mystery elements in favour of philosophical rambling. Both elements are fascinating all the way through.
As if the story wasn’t weird enough, Shaft returns once again for another hyper-dense visual presentation. Every single shot, every set design, every moment of character blocking adds meaning to the story. Of course, it hardly tries to hide this fact either, as Shaft is prone to do.
Despite prevalent use of CG, the animation is almost always insanely gorgeous. There is some absolutely stellar character art and camerawork on display here. And, as if Princess Principal wasn’t enough, we’ve been graced with yet another fantastic Kajiura OST. This time, we get a more offbeat mystery vibe that can still carry an intense amount of emotional weight.
If you’re looking for something off the beaten path that still has a beating emotional heart to it, the Zaregoto Series is definitely right for you.
1. Made in Abyss
And of course we can’t finish this countdown without the biggest hit of the season. With one of the most vibrant and exciting fantasy settings in years, Made in Abyss will capture the hearts of adventure-lovers everywhere.
Everything feels so unique and fresh in a genre that has grown stale seven times over. Be it the wide variety of Lovecraftian creatures or the all-consuming massivity of the Abyss itself, the series exudes creativity at every moment.
Beneath its adventurous surface, however, lies depths and depths of dark and disturbing ideas. And, quite often, these idea go much further than most shows have the stomach to. Yet, the emotional core of its characters is never lost. Their determination is tested at every bend in every conceivable way imaginable, and they still rise to the challenge.
This series takes a tour of the entire emotional spectrum, from stoic inspiration to crushing agony to unbearable sorrow. It simply refuses to let up until it feels satisfied.
On top of that, the artwork of Kinema Citrus and Studio Inspired is simply astounding. From its lush greenery to its jagged mountains to its more exotic fungi dwelling deep in the Abyss, every single piece of background art feels entrancing and inspired. The character designs feel familiar, yet also unique and memorable, and the creature designs by Kou Yoshinari are absolutely terrifying. Everything about this world feels contiguous and alive, something that’s very hard to find even in a good fantasy series.
To round it all off, Kevin Penkin’s electronic/orchestral score matches up beautifully with this setting. Every sensation is heightened by the nuanced and spellbinding OST, giving the Abyss a sense of grandeur, excitement, and depth.
With its masterful storytelling and incredible animation, Made in Abyss is a solid contender for anime of the year. However, I caution you against taking this series lightly. Even at its happiest and calmest, anything can happen down in the Abyss. A graphic content warning should go without saying for this title. If your stomach can handle it, then brace yourself for the best dark fantasies in years.
Let us know what your favourites were from this season and check out our list from last season.