Little Witch Academia
After the runaway hit that was its crowdfunded OVA, Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia finally received a full season run on Netflix with everything fans have come to know and love. Recapping and expanding on the concepts introduced in previous specials, the series crafts a world and adventures fitting of the aspiring witch Atsuko “Akko” Kagari and her varied cast of classmates and friends. Brimming with imagination and gorgeous to look at, anime fans young and old can find something to love about this series and even more to look forward to in a second season.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie
Most viewers didn’t expect this show to offer as much depth and heart as it did. Built on the premise of NEET Morioka Moriko finding love through interactions in an MMO, the series quickly evolved into a tale of self improvement, overcoming anxiety and opening up her world to there people. This is all the better thanks to the lovable cast of characters which each manage to feel real and relatable, from the calm and understanding insights of love interest Yuta Sakurai to the comical plots and tricks of friend-turned-match maker Komare Koiwai. Fans of romance and slice of life shows will be hard pressed not to find something they like about this show and may very well list it among their all-time favorites by the end.
Kakegurui is very much an anime take on the world of gambling. Shown through the dealings of the enigmatic Yumeko Jabami, the world and its characters live by the inherent risks of gambling, reveling in its towering highs and crushing lows. Each new day brings a life altering gamble, and whether its a simple game of rock paper scissors or a Russian Roulette guessing game, there is always a life-changing risk waiting to come down on whoever isn’t smiled on by luck.
Of course, gambling isn’t the only draw of this show. Boasting crisp visuals and over-the-top story beats, the show brings all the insanity of anime into the fold for a special kind of chaos viewers won’t want to turn away from. It may be some time until we get a second season, but if this opening act was any indication, it’ll be well worth the wait.
This compelling series from the creator of Gantz poses a simple question with far reaching implications: What would happen if average people were granted super-human abilities? Set in the modern day, this plays out for the mild mannered Inuyashiki Ichiro and the hot-headed Shishigami Hiro, both of whom become cybernetic juggernauts after being struck by alien space crafts crashing to earth. Heartfelt, compassionate and brutally human, this series takes an honest look at how people’s reactions to gaining power can differ, offering scenarios as uplifting or depressing as they are complex and relatable. It’s well worth the hype its initial fanbase has built up around it and is more than worth watching all the way through its 11 episode run.
Attack on Titan (Season 2)
After years of anticipation, Attack on Titan finally saw its second season released. It didn’t disappoint either; returning to the daily struggles of Eren, Mikasa, Armin and the rest of the Survey Corps, the season offered the same level of action and intensity fans had come to expect with bone crunching titan battles and grizzly deaths for those unlucky enough to be eaten alive. At the same time though, it offered more variety and depth than its previous season, expanding on the world and its characters while also throwing its cast into new situations and scenarios. It was a triumphant return to form for the series to the animated medium, and a strong indicator that this behemoth of a show isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Turning the Isekai genre on its head, Re:Creators tells the tale of characters from anime and manga coming to the real world to meet, confront and even eliminate their creators. From Shonen heroes to diabolical killers, magical girls to mech pilots and everything in-between, most every genre is represented and sent into the fray to duke it out with one another, making for an action-packed thrill ride few other shows can compete with.
And yet past this chaotic concept, the show offers an interesting look at not only the creator’s impact on their characters but also the influence of fandom on the legacy and ideas a character holds. It’s an interesting reflection on anime and art in general, and well worth a look from anyone who enjoys a heady dive into the medium they love.
My Hero Academia (Season 2)
There are great Shonen shows, and then there’s My Hero Academia. After a generally well received first season, the second act charged out the gate at full force and never let up. Providing a deeper look at Izuku Midoriya, his classmates and the super-powered world around them, it offered a passionate and nuanced look at itself and the genre that shaped it, adding weight to the competitions and battles they found themselves in throughout the season. Add in the phenomenal soundtrack and animation and you’ve got one of the best shows to come to the genre, or even anime in general, in quite some time.
Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Boasting talent from the legendary Studio Ghibli, the newly formed Studio Ponoc had high expectations from fans for its debut film. Luckily, they didn’t disappoint with Mary and the Witch’s Flower, a charming tale of a young girl discovering a world of magic hidden just behind the world she knows. Steeped in the tenants of Ghibli’s direction and storytelling style (as well as being a dead-ringer in terms of its art style), the film is a comfortable fit for any who’ve enjoyed Ghibli films in the past, and shows promise that the studio’s style will live on through Ponoc for years to come.
March Comes in Like a Lion (Season 2)
An uplifting tale of finding meaning in life and one’s place in the world, this drama only improved in its second season. Once again following the daily life of professional Shogi player Kiriyama Rei, this season dives head-first into the trials and tribulations inherent in the competitive world around him. Along with glimpses of how he manages to keep himself afloat while dealing with all of the inherent stress, the show also delves into many areas where the first season fell short; side characters are given proper time and depth, and more than mere glimpses of hope for Rei to escape his isolation are given and even developed to satisfactory degrees. It’s one of the best examples of a second season done right.
Made in Abyss
No one saw this master class of animation coming, but that made it all the better when Made in Abyss proved itself to be the defining show of last year. Set in a world where a massive pit known as The Abyss holds untold riches and wonders within, the series follows the orphaned Riko and her robotic companion Reg as they venture down into the Abyss in search of Riko’s long lost mother. Along the way, they encounter a number of horrors and dangers, yet still must cling to life in order to accomplish the task which they very well may never return from.
Everything, from the enrapturing music to the haunting visuals, make this series stand out as a must watch for any fan of anime. If you watch nothing else from 2017, watch this show and see why it will still be a show people talk about 10 years on from now.
What were your top shows from 2017? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you’re looking for shows to watch if you liked any of the anime from this list, check out our recommendations for what to watch next after you finish Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia or Made in Abyss.