GLORIO Best Anime of the Decade 2010-2015

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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.

10_hunterxhunter

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.09_jojo

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken
Manga Adaptation by David Production
Directors: Naokatsu Tsuda, Kenichi Suzuki
Air Dates:
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.

08_spacedandy

Space Dandy

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.

07_nozaki

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.

06_fatezero

Fate/Zero

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.

05_KLK

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.

04_penguindrum

Penguindrum

Mawaru Penguindrum
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.
03_nichijou

Nichijou

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.

02_yamato

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.

01_madoka

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.

Honorable Mentions

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)
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37 thoughts on “GLORIO Best Anime of the Decade 2010-2015

  1. Overall a very good list. I might quibble with a couple of choices, EXCEPT for one glaring omission.

    No Hyouka?

    I would personally argue that Hyouka’s combination of spectacular artistry and subtly brilliant story-telling makes it the best anime ever made, but even if you think that’s over-the-top, surely it’s at least one of the ten best anime since 2010, right?

    Please tell me it was left off as an oversight or because it was never legally streamed/released in the US…

    • I agree with Iro’s comment in that I think we remember Hyouka for being better than it was because it finished so strong. If you go back and watch most of the first half it is painfully slow. That said, I personally voted for it and definitely think it belongs but not too many others did, so it was even close to making the list. Basically, YOU ARE ALL FIRED.

    • Hyouka was certainly a good show, but as Iro said its strength comes on the back-end. It’d certainly be in the talks for my 11 spot, but it wasn’t enough that I felt it needed to be on my list.

      • I don’t understand people who say Hyouka’s first half is boring. I understand this stuff is all subjective, but honestly, Hyouka’s master class in animation begins right in the very first episode. Not to mention the subtle character development which plays a key role in making the second half so good. Personally, I was enchanted from the very first frames.

        Heck, I’d argue that Penguindrum’s ridiculous second half should strike it from any “best of” lists, and that Kill la Kill’s combination of absurd fanservice and dime store philosophy makes pretty much the entirety of its run the kind of embarrassment that sometimes makes me ashamed to admit I’m an anime fan.

        But I guess that’s why we all love “best of” lists – so we can slap our foreheads and scream, “Sacre bleu, do you have bad taste!”

        • I completely agree with you on Kill la Kill. Penguindrum? Not so much.

          Hyouka’s animation and directing have always been phenomenal, and some of my favourite moments from that show did take place in its first half (Oreki figuring out that the newspaper guy was smoking, for one). But I understand where Iro, jel and Marlin are coming from. If we’d selected shows based on their artistic merits or production value alone, this list would have looked very differently. Besides, even then, Hyouka would still have been topped by another Kyoto Animation show that did everything it did, only better: Sound! Euphonium.

          • I promise to drop it after this, but I want to respond to the idea that Euphonium had better animation/production values than Hyouka. I could perhaps accept that about Nichijou, but absolutely not Euphonium. Sure, Euphonium is gorgeous, like pretty much much all modern Kyoto Animation shows, but I just think it’s hogwash to compare it to Hyouka artistically.

            By doing things like animating what people are thinking, Hyouka shows what animation can really do to differentiate itself from live action. The early (!) scenes of Chitanda’s Medusa-like hair enveloping Oreki, or in the coffee shop where the pendulum on the clock briefly turns into a heart when Oreki believes Chitanda is about to confess to him – there’s nothing anywhere in Euphonium that can compare to those beautiful flights of animated fancy.

            Heck, think about the “student” film within the show that Kyoto produced for Hyouka. As sheer bravado animation – making something deliberately look amateurish – that’s simply on another level altogether creatively. (And yes, I’m deliberately picking examples from the first half of the show!)

            Euphonium revels in its realism – perhaps making things more beautiful than “real,” but still real. I’m not saying that isn’t difficult to do, just that comparing it to the dizzying creativity of Hyouka strikes me as nuts – even if you preferred Euphonium overall.

            Hyouka and Nichijou actually show how animation can set itself apart from any other medium. Neither show would be the same if it were done in live action. Euphonium, on the other hand, pretty much would be.

        • Hyouka was always beautifully animated and the cast was always strong, but that first half’s pacing is slow as LA traffic. The show’s great failing is that the first half is still required viewing to enjoy the second, because the aforementioned subtle character development develops through the entire show.

        • Yeah, the discussion is the fun part. While I think the list is a pretty good representation of what would happen if you smashed all of our brains together, there’s plenty of choices as individuals that we disagree with and we’ve had quite a few of these debates internally amongst ourselves.

  2. Pretty sure I wouldn’t put any of these bar Madoka in my top ten for the past 5 years (though I ain’t seen Fate/Zero, so maybe that’d qualify).

  3. Hmmm, let’s see… Psycho-Pass and Shinsekai Yori instantly spring to mind, the second season of Mushishi, Gin no Saji, and if we’re allowing films then Wolf Children too.

    • We decided not to include movies since it’s kind of tough to compare directly with TV shows. Same with our annual list too. I think we did have a vote for Psycho-Pass in there somewhere and I’d bet Aqua would back you up on Shinsekai Yori.

    • Shinsekai yori is a great concept full of flawed execution in my opinion. Same with Psycho-Pass really. Obviously anything we say is subjective, but that’s why I didn’t include those two.

      Wolf Children certainly is a masterpiece, but just as the Emmys are separate from the Oscars, I feel a comparison of the two formats would be unwise.

    • Mushishi definitely deserved my vote, but we wanted to count full series, not individual seasons, and since the first season of that did not air in this decade, it was ineligible. That’s probably also the reason why Durarara!! didn’t make it.

      As for Psycho-Pass, it was an interesting show, but yet again, the second season was so appalling it did not deserve a spot anywhere near this top 10.

      From the New World… Yeah, no. When it was good, that show was amazing, but in the end it just sorta got lost in cheap thrills and iffy politics. Zigg and I covered the entire show, so you can check out our opinion on it if you want to, but it was never really a contender for me.

  4. Needs more cute depressing trans middle schoolers, incompetent gay flower girls, that show about a fourteen year old girl who becomes god (the other one), Undertale the Dubstep Opera, and also more SPACE BROS.

    I laughed a ton though when I saw Nichijou not only make the list, but make it all the way up to the third spot! I guess I got the sense Glorio had more ordinary life haters on it than was actually true! I still look forward to the second season it deserves (and will hope for more Seki-kun to bridge the gap in the meantime).

  5. I think I dropped JoJo after the 2nd episode because I found the melodrama annoying. I haven’t watched Yamato, Space Dandy, or Hunter x Hunter, so I will keep those in mind during the upcoming Light Novel wish-fulfilment onslaught.

    • Yamato 2199 is everything a remake should be. It retain the timeless quality of the original while dialing back a lot of the unnecessary nationalism and unfortunate implications. It was my #1.

      Space Dandy is real hit-or-miss depending on the episode. The first time I watched the premiere, I turned it off halfway because I was incredibly uninterested. This was a mistake, as it’s not a very good indicator of the show as a whole, and it honestly does go some places that aren’t just Boobies. I also recommend watching Funimation’s English Dub, which is some of their best work to date.

    • As far as I’m concerned, Yamato 2199 is the only anime on this list that’s not only just good enough to be considered on a best of decade list, but could easily be a contender in a best anime of all time list.

      • Just started on Yamato 2199. I wouldn’t say it is the best anime on the list, but I still appreciate it as a sci-fi fan. The only hard sci-fi television program set in space in recent memory I know of is The Expanse, since the untimely end of Stargate: Universe.

        Objectively speaking, my favourite shows of the half-decade are the ones I am driven to re-watch from beginning to end. On the list here, that would be Madoka, Nichijou, Fate/Zero and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun.

        Sket Dance, Barakamon, Love Lab, Psycho Pass (season 1 only), Usagi Drop, and Hibike Euphonium are my other picks not found on the list here.

        • I think with Yamato it depends on how much value you put on something being timeless, like it could have been released 30 years ago or 30 years from now and still hold up. Also not sure how far you are but there are some pretty poignant moments later in the series.

  6. I’m terrible with yearly lists, let alone decade long lists. I will say this though, i really enjoyed many of your selections. I thought Madoka was a truly epic anime that really got your heart pumping and reeling.

    Ill have to watch Penguindrum and Nichijou…..But I refuse to finish off Space Dandy. I think i dropped it at the 5th episode and have never had an inkling to pick it up again. The rest are great great great shows.

    • Everyone seems to either totally love or totally hate both Penguindrum and Nichijou so your mileage may vary, but as the only one of us that totally loves both I recommend them.

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