Well, what a year that was for all of us! Really, this feels like the first year where I can have confidence in saying that we are in touch with what’s happening in the anime landscape, and with that in mind, what else is there to do in December than review the anime this calendar year?
Not only that, we will also look ahead to the biggest series coming up in 2018!
First though, I would like to welcome you to our inaugural Culture Cove Anime Awards!
Since we’ve now watched too many shows to realistically compare all of them together like we did previously, we’ve decided to instead reminisce over the incredible series we’ve been gifted with over the last 12 months, and lavish certain series with praise along the way.
For the record, we are counting ‘2017 series’ as shows that were both reviewed this year AND aired at some point during 2017. So, any series currently airing that do not finish until 2018 will not be counted (Food Wars S3, The Ancient Magus’ Bride), whereas any series that started in 2016 but concluded and were reviewed in 2017 will count.
With that in mind, here is the list of the twenty 2017 series that we watched this year:
Acca-13 | Aho-Girl | Anime Gataris | Attack on Titan Season 2 | Berserk S2 | Bojack Horseman S4 | Castlevania | Fuuka! | Juni Taisen: Zodiac War | Kakegurui | Konosuba S2 | My Hero Academia S2 | Nanbaka S2 | New Game!! S2 | Recovery of an MMO Junkie | The Royal Tutor | RWBY Volume 4 | Saiyuki Reload BLAST | ‘Is It Wrong…?’ Sword Oratoria | Tsuredure Children
Now, there’s plenty of awards and commendations to give out here, so here’s some simple prizes to get the ball rolling:
The Tanaka Award – Funniest Series
There has been plenty of funny series this year, but the real comedic gems of 2017 have been in the smaller indie titles. At only twelve episodes long, and a twelve-minute runtime making this one of the smallest series of the year, Aho-Girl was a stripped-back series with simple characters and an almost sketch-show story. This pocket-rocket was a frenzy of laughs from beginning to end, with some relatively risqué jokes keeping us on our toes. Aho-Girl was a definite guilty-pleasure series that we couldn’t help but enjoy to the max!
Another small series that deserves a mention is Tsuredure Children, for similar reasons. Meanwhile, American anime Bojack Horseman had plenty of funny moments while delivering a higher brow of comedy compared to many Japanese series.
The Fate Award – Best Fight Scenes in a Series
My Hero Academia Season Two
The fight scene is the staple of the anime industry, and this year has seen many fantastic fighting sequences. That being said, My Hero Academia is a clear and deserved winner here. Helped by high-quality animation and bright, hugely varied characters, MHA consistently delivered exciting and developing sequences, particularly in their Sports Festival arc!
Another series that deserves a mention here is Sword Oratoria, which delivered similarly bright and ranging action scenes with the series’ great mixture of fairytale and bloody action.
The BL Award – Darkest Series
Almost setting a new standard for the mature anime, Kakegurui took the anime world by storm during the Summer ’17 cycle. Set in a dark and twisted high-school, the blend of normality – in essence the series is a simple gambling tournament – and outrageously dark characters made this one of the shows of the year despite having very little anticipation going into it. This is a series that has already been purchased by Netflix, and I for one will be very interested to see the response of the wider Western audience to this piece!
The Lamperouge Award – Best Male Character
Izuku Midoriya – My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia has undoubtedly been one of the biggest blockbuster series of 2017. Not only that, it has also been incredibly well-received, and a large part of that is down to its minute lead character. With a strong moral compass but with a vital ability for uncertainty, Midoriya is a very human character in a somewhat fantasy world, who does a fantastic job of carrying the incredibly weight name of MHA on his slender shoulders!
Other best men that deserve mentions this year include the lead in Acca-13, Jean, while Bojack Horseman continues to light up his American series with an enticingly corrupt mindset.
The Tohsaka Award – Best Female Character
Moriko Morioka – Recovery of an MMO Junkie
While she stars in a series that doesn’t have anywhere near the weight of expectation as Midoriya above, Moriko brings a small, simple series to life with a beautifully human energy. As bright in comedic moments as she is in more honest romantic scenes, Moriko is a very real character that is never betrayed for the sake of story, making her one of the most relatable characters you will ever see!
Yumeko Jabami, the lead character in Kakegurui, is another woman who deserves a huge mention this year for her role in the twisted tale. On the other side of the light/dark scale, Minoa from Anime Gataris does a similar job to Morioka, bringing her small, cheerful series to life with great comedy and a human touch.
The Akame Award – Best Character Set
My Hero Academia Season Two
There are some fantastic character sets in 2017, but My Hero Academia could easily be one of the best of all time. This bright, sharp action series is awash with superheroes, and there is such a sense of fun and power about each of them. Not only that, but the simple idea of giving each character a five-second introduction to their abilities gives so many of them a much bigger sense of character compared to its competitors, making MHA one of the most expansive series there is!
While it’s not an action series like the majority of winners of this award, Acca-13, with its many varying sections, quickly and effectively introduces us to a world with a very wide range of personalities. Kakegurui, as mentioned before, introduces us to an incredible collection of evil characters, while Sword Oratoria, predominantly shadowed by its ancestral series before it, does a good job of continuing to grow ‘Is It Wrong To Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?’s world.
The Nana Award – Best Relationship
Ymir and Christa – Attack on Titan Season Two
While, in our opinion, the second season of Attack on Titan was slightly disappointing, what it did do well was its telling of a quite touching tale between Ymir and Christa. Initially developing quietly in the background, these two quickly became the centre of the show, with a complex relationship featuring the mysterious Ymir, causing the innocent Christa to make and force upon others decisions that made the series much more exciting.
Obviously, Moriko and Yuuta deserve a mention here for their relationship, the centrepiece in Recovery of an MMO Junkie. Also, while not a relationship in the sense of the other series, the developing ‘interest’ between Yumeko and student council president Kirari in Kakegurui also deserves recognition.
Now it’s time for the main event. Here are our biggest prizes, exclusively for the best series of 2017:
The Ghibli Award – Best Animation
Attack on Titan
There were many strong competitors for this series, but at the end of the day money talks, and the best animation in a television series this year goes to Attack on Titan. It was clear for the moment the second season begun that a lot of time and effort went into AoT, with incredible light and colour giving the series a real blockbuster pop that nobody else could match!
As I mentioned, this was a tough award to decide, because my heart wanted to give this to Anime Gataris, with a simplistic but very heartfelt animation style. Sword Oratoria also delivers a bright and colourful world, while Acca-13 also deserves recognition for its uniquely stylish, almost Franco-Belgian style of animation.
The April Award – Best Storyline
This is a bit of an awkward one, because despite the excellent overall quality of series this year, we haven’t really seen a series with a particularly engrossing storyline. A lot of the major series this year followed the action-manga ‘arc’ style of storytelling, so we have lacked those branching narratives. However, Acca-13 delivered a very sophisticated story about backhand politics and double-faces. Unlike many of the louder series this year, Acca-13’s story developed from simple beginning into a world-changing plot, and then delivered a satisfying conclusion to wrap it all together!
Many of the best series this year failed to deliver satisfying finishes, so while Sword Oratoria and Attack on Titan deserve mentions for the development of their character-led stories, they also deserve criticism for their conclusions. Bojack Horseman S4 deserves a mention for its deeply plotted, time-bending storyline, while Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a noticeably well executed romance tale.
The Psycho Award – Best Alternative Series
Part ode, part parody of the entire anime medium that it is born from, Anime Gataris has lit up the end of 2017 with a comedy that, to say it is heartfelt would be an understatement. A sequel to what used to be a five-minute short between anime film screenings at particular Japanese cinemas, this story of high schoolers and their love of the world of anime is everything you could possibly want from a simple comedy series and more. While the amount of enjoyment you get out of this series is likely to be dictated by how much anime you have watched, this series is still cheerful enough to please anime fans new and old alike, and is a worthy winner of our first annual Psycho Award!
The Underdog Award – Most Unexpected Success
New Game!! Season Two
In a year with some high-profile disappointments, there has been plenty of room for relatively unanticipated series to take the anime world by storm. However, for us there is one clear winner here, and that’s the turnaround of the New Game series. After a solid but unremarkable first season, New Game’s second season this year blew our expectations out of the water, turning a series that we thought was too cute to become anything meaningful into what was probably our Slice-of-Life series of 2017!
As mentioned above, Anime Gataris also deserves a mention here, becoming a series with such a sense of self despite its relatively simple front. Meanwhile Kakegurui is another series that has blown everyone’s standards this year.
The Durarara!! Award – ANIME OF THE YEAR 2017
Chances are for many this has been a love-it-or-hate-it series. Some will have been very uncomfortable with the sexual element of a high-school story, while some may even have despised the slightly sickening animation style and skewed moral compass. I don’t know what it means for me as a person (I prefer not to think about it), but I was captivated by the twisted nature of this series.
Kakegurui transformed the anime landscape with its pure evil disposition, not only offering something different but also making a series that ticked many of the necessary boxes: great characters, a deep-rooted story and engrossing ‘action’ sequences make Kakegurui an absolute must-watch, and a worthy winner of Anime of the Year 2017.
Out of the 20 series we saw from 2017, five, including Kakegurui, particularly stood out. My Hero Academia was a close second, delivering a classically Japanese, classically anime tale with a fantastically wide-ranging world full of stories. Acca-13 started the year beautifully, delivering a gorgeous series with a sophisticated storyline. New Game’s second season deserves huge praise this year, as does the letter of love that is Anime Gataris, which is the perfect way to wrap up an amazing year of anime.
We really have been spoiled this year, haven’t we?
There’s so many good shows that we’ve been lucky enough to see this year! Not only that, but there’s also a plethora of shows out there that we haven’t been able to see that could easily win this award in other people’s eyes – shows like Made in Abyss and Scum’s Wish from this year have gained so much praise and I can’t wait to get my hands on them sometime!
What are your favourite series of the year? Let us know in the comments!
Looking forward into next year, obvious interest goes into the continuation of current major series, but there are plenty of other stories bubbling under the surface already.
The Ancient Magus Bride, currently airing, would be a deserved frontrunner in the Anime of the Year category if it counted for 2017, while the battle between Black Clover and My Hero Academia looks set to be one of 2018’s headlines. Also, Attack on Titan season three has been set up perfectly by this year’s second season, as it looks to try to catch up to the incredible standard of season one!
However, it’s not all about continuations from 2017 next year. Our most anticipated 2018 series as of right now is Steins;Gate 0, a dark deviation from one of the first anime series we ever watched, and a big personal favourite of ours even now. Running a close second behind that, though, is Tokyo Goul:re – one of our favourite series from the very beginning, Tokyo Ghoul dropped off the face of our anime world after the abject RootA, but will hopefully make its way back to the top of our rankings with this new series. Also, One Punch Man, the acclaimed 2015 series, returns next year!
The wonderful thing about all this is that the anime cycles are seemingly perpetually spinning! Already people are getting hyped up for series such as Citrus, Darling in the Franxx and Cardcaptor Sakura, all of which begin within the first few weeks of January. That, alongside currently running series such as The Ancient Magus Bride, Black Clover and even western titles such as RWBY mean that there’s no let up, and there will certainly be no slacking from us!
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