Lesser websites might wait until the end of the 2010s to do their Best of the Decade retrospectives, but we don’t have that kind of patience. Instead, we thought it might be fun to do a midterm grade of sorts and choose our best shows from the past 5 years. Applying rules similar to our annual Top 10 list, we got some pretty interesting results. What did we pick for #1? Was it Oreimo? OniAi? Rio: Rainbow Gate? Will half the GLORIO staff’s undying love for Nichijou and the other half hating it finally cause us to murder each other? Take a look, and let us know what your list would be.
Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Manga Adaptation by Madhouse
Director: Hiroshi Koujina
Air Date: October 2, 2011 – September 23, 2014 (148 Episodes)
colons: I miss everyone in Hunter. I want to know what happens next, dammit. Not content to just wait for new episodes that aren’t going to arrive, though, I have started a rewatch recently, and I can confirm that it is as excellent as I remember it. Fast, charming, funny, sad. Fast. There is no status quo, no arcs without consequence. The characters feel like humans, and when things happen to them, they matter. If you’re gonna watch Hunter, watch it slowly; you’ll miss it when it’s gone.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken
Manga Adaptation by David Production
Directors: Naokatsu Tsuda, Kenichi Suzuki
Phantom Blood/Battle Tendency: October 5, 2012 – April 5, 2013 (26 Episodes)
Stardust Crusaders: April 4, 2014 – June 19, 2015 (48 episodes)
Euri: Back when I was in university, I’d just about written off JoJo. I was part of an anime society who had a generally awful taste in shows, though it was how I was first introduced to this franchise by way of the not-so-great OVAs. I mean, they were fine and all, but the society kept voting it in for rewatches. Outside of a copy of the so-bad-it-was-never-released film adaptation of Phantom Blood showing up on the Internet, I was done with JoJo. That is, of course, until they announced that Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency would be getting the anime treatment. These two shows, Battle Tendency in particular, are responsible for rejuvenating my interest in this franchise, and I don’t doubt that this is the case for many other people, too. The colourful characters, nonsensical plot and ridiculous fight scenes are certainly the main draw, but you can’t take away what David Production has done for JoJo. They’ve done a terrific job with the first three parts so far, and I’m wholly confident that they will do a good job with Diamond Is Unbreakable in April next year.
Anime Original by Bones
Directors: Shinichiro Watanabe, Shingo Natsume
Air Date: January 4, 2014 – September 27, 2014 (26 Episodes)
Zigg: Space Dandy is proof. It’s proof that art doesn’t have to be staid and boring, and that arthouse anime doesn’t have to be dreary musings on life and existence, hidden away in low budget films and obscure OVAs. It’s proof that unleashing the creativity of some of the most talented people in your industry can have astonishing results. It’s proof that so much anime is a joyless collection of tropes and adverts compared to this vibrant blast of colour and life. It’s proof that you can be profound and pervy, funny and sad, silly and serious, all at the same time. It’s proof that it’s possible to marry anime to the soul of serial and the cool of pulp. But most of all, it’s a reminder that it’s possible to make truly great, classic shows up to this very day. It’s proof that anime is more alive than ever before. In space. Baby.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Manga Adaptation by Dogakobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki
Air Date: July 6, 2014 – September 21, 2014 (12 Episodes)
Artemis: It’s notoriously difficult for me to find anime comedies I can really get behind, and doubly so for high school romcoms. They’re a dime a dozen almost every single anime season, and I’ve come to expect that most of them will involve heavy amounts of lazy slapstick humour and cheap fanservice, with maybe one or two decent one-liners along the way if I’m lucky. So when I say that I find Nozaki-kun to be not only smart and innovative but also genuinely, gut-bustingly funny, I want people to appreciate what a huge compliment I’m paying the series. I’m not exaggerating for effect either – my stomach was literally hurting during a couple of scenes because I was laughing so hard. There’s no way I can explain the jokes in a way that does them justice, but what I will say is that I’ve not been so impressed by the overall writing and cast of any show in a long time. Truly, a standout piece of work – and nary a stray panty shot to be seen.
Light Novel Adaptation by Ufotable
Director: Ei Aoki
Air Date: October 1, 2011 – June 23, 2012 (25 Episodes)
Iro: I’ve been disillusioned (zing) with the Fate franchise’s myriad cheap spinoffs lately, but UFOtable’s second foray into the crazed works of Kinoko Nasu and Type-Moon still holds up. Fate/Zero was one of Gen Urobuchi’s big works before Madoka sent him spinning off into mainstream anime stardom, and his usual gruesome, dark tendencies show themselves plainly, making a strong contrast between F/Z and the more straightforwardly wish-fulfillment Fate/Stay Night. With some of the best-acted characters in recent memory and incredible action set-pieces, Fate/Zero will be remembered as one of the best urban fantasy anime for years.
Kill la Kill
Anime Original by Trigger
Director: Hiroyuki Imaishi
Air Date: October 3, 2013 – March 27, 2014 (24 Episodes)
Gee: From the ashes of Gainax, Kill la Kill proved that Trigger was doing more than just cashing in on its past. From its dynamic debut all the way until its passionate finale, Kill la Kill ran at a breakneck pace, continuously upping the ante and daring us to try and stop it. No matter how ridiculous things got, Trigger proved it had the Gainax talent for making you wholly buy into anything it threw at you. Ryuko and the rest of her motley cast of lunatics ended up being the best ensemble cast I’d seen in ages. In hindsight, Trigger has yet to match the same heights it reached with Kill la Kill (at least on TV anyway). Rather than see this as a betrayal, it only highlights just how uniquely good Kill la Kill managed to be. Coming in a year that was infamous for how dreadful it was for anime, it was the shining light we needed. While Trigger may not have saved anime, Kill la Kill is proof that if anyone could, it would be those glorious madmen.
Anime Original by Brains Base
Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara
Air Date: July 8, 2011 – December 23, 2011 (24 Episodes)
Jel: Penguindrum has all the makings of a cult classic. It’s a weird, disturbing, modern fairy tale told in the equal parts fascinating and alienating style of infamous director Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Yurikuma Arashi). It’s an ambitious fable painted with bright, surreal visuals that melt into dark insinuations of terrorism, incest, and abuse, making it a challenge to watch at times. But among all the abstract concepts and unsettling flashbacks is a relatable human story about family and self sacrifice that will leave you thinking long after the show has ended. If you’re willing to immerse yourself in Penguindrum’s method of storytelling you’ll be rewarded with one of the best, most unique examples of the medium.
My Ordinary Life
Manga Adaptation by Kyoto Animation
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara
Air Date: April 3, 2011 – September 25 2011 (26 Episodes)
Marlin: The truly good comedies have a staying power in ones mind, where just a single clip can bring you down a rabbit hole of jokes that you have to rip yourself away from to stop watching. This is Nichijou for me, more than any other comedy I can possibly think of. Sporting a colorful artstyle and the ridiculous level of animation that only a KyoAni production could bring to the table, Nichijou constantly keeps you coming back with kinetic and hilarious slapstick. While most comedy casts exist to set up and execute jokes, Nichijou let us see the girls grow over their first year, culminating in a great emotional payoff in the penultimate episode. Nothing is more typical of Nichijou than the absurd and roundabout way the girls show their feelings of affection for Mio as she’s feeling down and out. Certain members of the Glorio Crew hate this show with a passion, but I think it would be ridiculous to not recognize Nichijou for all the things it did right. In a time when another K-On! was all that was expected of Kyo-Ani, they put out one of the most stylistic shows in a decade. When slice of life lacked substance, Nichijou gave the mundane a touch of magic. The quality of this show makes it all the more tragic that its reception in Japan was so lackluster and its American distribution license was lost to Bandai Entertainment’s slapdash exit from the American anime market.
Space Battleship Yamato 2199
Uchuu Senkan Yamato 2199
Anime Original by Xebec
Directors: Akihiro Enomoto, Yutaka Izubuchi
Air Date: April 7, 2013 – September 29, 2013 (26 Episodes)
Timmy: There has been an increasing trend lately of companies digging up their old IPs to grab some quick nostalgia bucks. Unfortunately the effort said companies (coughbandaicough) put in to many of these projects that range from show remakes to new figure releases just hasn’t been up to par. Thankfully that wasn’t the case with Yamato, and this show ended up being an shining example of how a remake should be handled. Cut out the crap and flesh out the rest. (And sprinkle in lots of pretty space babes so you can sell lots of new figures.) I missed the show back when it aired in 2013, but boy did I regret doing so once I finally started it.
Space Santa Captain Okita and his merry crew will have you hooked from the get go as they embarke on an adventure of 3000 lifetimes to save their home. Plus that opening song is reallllly catchy. Hopefully the rest of the industry takes note because if you are going to go through the effort of digging something up this is how you do it.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
Anime Original by Shaft
Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Air Date: January 7, 2011 – April 21, 2011 (12 Episodes)
Aqua: Water is wet, grass is green, anime was a mistake: some truths are undeniable, and no matter how much we might have jokingly beat each other up about it, in the end we all knew which anime would take this precious award home before we even started voting. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is the definitive anime of the decade so far. A perfect blend of carefully measured plotting, splendid characterization, poignant tragedy and macabre artistic flair, every single aspect of Madoka Magica has been fine-tuned with love to stand the test of time, bringing about an unforgettable hybrid of classic tropes and fresh new ideas, of contemporary cynicism and mature hope, of the ruthless dissection of a genre beloved for its innocence and escapism and its eventual reincarnation into something timeless and empowering. Puella Magi Madoka Magica works on so many different levels, as a succinct, trailblazing fantasy series, as a startling allegory, or as a transcendental art piece laced with vision and symbolism, that it has become virtually impossible to avoid. But most of all, Madoka Magica was an experience — a four-month-long celebration of why we love anime that miraculously managed to unite the notoriously truculent anime fandom into a united force of jubilation, speculation, collective freaking out and a crapton of really lame memes. But I’d do everything to get these days back.
These shows just missed the cut but are also worth checking out:
- Ping Pong (2014)
- Shirobako (2015)
- Bunny Drop (2011)
- Durarara!! (2015)
- Steins;Gate (2011)