This is probably the big one for us. Whilst I struggled to come up with top 10s of everything else we very obviously watch a heck ton of anime all year long.
So here it is.
The best of what we’ve watched.
10. No Guns Life
I made Luc watch this because I knew he would immediately get annoyed at the main character, just reading the description made me laugh but you know what?
No Guns Life actually ended up having some of the best character driven stories this year. Sure the main character looks silly from the outset but when you learn WHY he looked that way and what state the world is in then you kind of just get used to the weirdness and realise that underneath that initial funny thing is a really dark and yet sweet story.
Each character has their own unique story to tell and as you can guess none are happy ones.
It is continuing into the Winter season which will be super exciting as the final episode I saw and Luc reviewed looked like the series was going to focus on something very different or at least going to focus on Juzo and his job instead of him having to hide Tetsuro from the bad guys.
There is a whole bunch going on underneath the craziness and it packs each episode with pretty decent action as well as some great moments between characters.
Honestly such a huge highlight of the year.
9. After School Dice Club
With everything we’ve seen this year why is a series about girls playing table top games so important to us?
It is the message the series tried to give that made it so well loved.
After School Dice Club had a bunch of different stories to tell whether it be character based or just some lesson that people probably needed to learn. From not judging books by their cover to overcoming your fear to share what you create with others and knowing that you need to take criticism to move forward, the show threw all these lessons at us in such a sweet way with such beautiful characters that you couldn’t help to fall in love.
My favourite message is the one I continue to go on about which is that just because you can’t find value in something it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.
As someone who faces negative comments about my hobbies, specially gaming, it was nice to have that message put out there in such a concise and sweet way. Board games made these characters happy, they brought people together and helped them get over many fears and challenges in their lives.
It was such a positive show that you couldn’t help but love it.
8. Bungou Stray Dogs
This show continues to amaze me.
I am so in love with all the characters at this point that I really don’t care what it is that is happening I just want to live my life with them.
Specially Rampo, always Rampo.
This series was actually a tad more over the top and scary if I’m honest with the introduction of Dostoevsky who had the ability to… Well I can’t really remember but I do remember that he managed to have someone kill themselves.
It also saw both the leader of the Agency and the Mafia need to take each other out, Rampo taking charge and a whole host of other terrifying things.
They are in a constant state of war at the moment and it gets scarier and scarier the longer it goes on but at the same time it becomes more and more interesting with new and unique characters with skills named after their namesakes best loved work. Plus Fitzgerald being bad ass.
Dororo did a lot of good things with its series.
It saw Hyakkimaru, a character whose entire body was sacrificed to the Demons before he was born, fight to regain what was truly his.
A story with only one side to stand on you’d think.
It wasn’t though, it was complex and whilst you can hate his father for what he did the point was the old question of do you save one life over the many or the many over one?
Diago was a easy to hate character and there was a hint of him being power hungry on the side but in general his decision was purely there to save the people under his command in the midst of a warring state.
That in itself was one of the biggest stories in the series.
Everywhere you turned there were victims of these wars, it reminded you that whilst you see the soldiers going off to war and think of it as a far off thing for someone it is their home, for someone the enemy invades and takes their life away whether literally or by destroying their homes and meanings to survive. Not only that but the consequences of war and what you or someone else does in a war lingers on, whether it is guilt of your job or the loss of children’s family.
Each episode had something sad and very real happening and that was why it was so good. It wasn’t just the story of one man and his attempt to kill Demons to regain his body and the toll that has on ones soul but it was about the people he interacted with and the devastation that the world had on them as well.
6. Fire Force
Fire Force isn’t over yet but it went from being a show that I was slowly losing my patience with to the thing I looked forward to most every week.
There is still a whole bunch of things this show hasn’t done that it could have, you learn about the world through snippets usually before the main episode starts which means up until now you still didn’t really know much about what had happened and why the world is the way it is. Even now you don’t really know and the motivations of the bad guys are muddled a little bit.
That being said there is so much to love.
There are 8 different Companies with crazy as hell characters in there, from the religious 1st, Hibana dominating the 5th, Beni in the 7th to our home with the rejects in the 8th.
Whilst the story is about Shinra and the 8th investigating the cause for human combustion and people turning into Infernals, the world wide problem ending up circling around to Shinra’s personal story in a beautiful way, it also gave us plenty to love and care about all the other characters in the story.
Whether it was other members of the 8th and how they came to be in the 8th, relationship between different characters or even just Beni being amazing after the half way point this show ramped up and became one of the best things every week.
BEFORE that it was a bit of a mess though which is why it is so low down unfortunately.
5. Rising of the Shield Hero
From its very first episode to its last Rising of the Shield Hero did everything it could to ring out the last bit of emotion from you.
In a year full of series where people end up in different worlds Shield Hero stood out for being a little different. There were some where the main character didn’t want to be there, some where it didn’t go to plan but not any that made the main character the bad guy and saw him become the antagonist in a weird way for big chunks of it.
Naofumi was a fantastic character, I honestly loved him so much, and one reason was because from the very first moments he was in this world he didn’t have a good time of it.
He was the Shield which is the “weak” Hero of the four. He had no idea about the world because unlike the other three he wasn’t a gamer. Then the Princess herself accused him of rape and clung to another Hero making him a outcast that couldn’t find any help and ended up needing to buy a slave.
We see his story, feel sorry for him and watch as he overcomes all the shit that is thrown at him.
In the end he is vindicated and gets to punish those who have wronged him and we see the perfect end to everything honestly. I mean it isn’t the end to the story or anything like that but it was the perfect way for him to get his revenge and everyone moved on.
I liked it.
4. Vinland Saga
What isn’t there to love about Vikings guys?
This show is awesome. Again like Fire Force it isn’t finished (well it will be by the time the blog comes out but not when it was written) but the quality of the show means anything can happen in its finale and it won’t do anything to change its place.
Following Thorfinn on his journey for revenge after witnessing the death of his father Thors at the hands of Askeladd the Pirate/Viking/Welsh dude it doesn’t ever hold back on just about anything. We lived not just with Thorfinn but the entire crew of Askeladd’s and later as the entourage of the Prince himself.
Whether it be running away from foes, pillaging villages or political games of chess the series covered just about everything it could and did it really well.
Not least because of the strength of the characters involved.
Thorfinn might be a bit of a whiny teenager but you understand his frustration and his relationship with the crew he grew up with was a interesting one to see blossom. I think they haven’t done enough to really hit home how he feels about Askeladd really but I like where it has gone so far. As for Askeladd having a Welsh/Danish Bastard running around outwitting everyone because of his hate for Vikings but knowing his skill as a warrior suits him better in their army is amazing, as you all know he was one of THE characters of this entire year for me. Thorkell is my spirit animal and even characters like Leif and Ragnar were perfect for what they needed to be.
There is barely a dark spot on this series.
We haven’t even seen how it ends yet.
3. The Promised Neverland
I like my horror and more often then not I’m disappointed with horror anime shows.
Not so with The Promised Neverland.
More of a thriller then anything else it saw us living on a human farm with three fantastic kids who found out the terrifying truth of the place they were living and the woman they called Mother and had to find a way not only to outrun her, the Sister she brought in to help keep them under control but to escape the Demons themselves that were eating them.
This show DID have some black marks on it which was unfortunate but not enough to stop the positives outweighing nearly everything else.
Its use of animation, specially on faces, added to the terror and the cliffhangers each episode really worked. Usually it used the silence perfectly, sometimes it unfortunately put in backing tracks where they weren’t needed but it actually put big money horror movies to shame in how well it made you scared yet unable to tell anyone WHY you were scared.
Add on top of that one of the best villains I’ve ever seen and it was the perfect combination of everything a horror show should have.
2. Demon Slayer
Most people would probably put Demon Slayer at number one, it was a show that if you stayed through all of it you probably rank it super high in any list that you make.
That is because after it hit its stride Demon Slayer was one of the best shows of the year.
Honestly the number one spot also had a slow start so that isn’t why it ended up in second, I feel like the pacing of the first half was pretty bad too and some stories made me scratch my head. The second half of the series was nearly perfect and what made the series such a big thing was the care it took in making you fall in love with the characters.
Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko were lovely as a duo. Instantly you felt for this girl who had been turned into a blood thirsty Demon and the boy who refuses to believe he’s lost his entire family. Their journey itself was enough to make you want to join them on their quest but they were constantly joined by more and more interesting characters as well as permanently being joined by other Demon hunters who have very different stories themselves.
I think like most series I really like the strength in Demon Hunter wasn’t its story telling but its characters.
Demon Slayer had some fantastic characters and that is why I love it.
1. Dr. Stone
There was not a doubt in my mind when making this list that Dr. Stone would probably be my number one.
Maybe it is just because it was the one that ended just before writing this or maybe it is because the show is just that good but after the slow beginning it really became something that I loved.
Senku was a great character, he was a smart ass but he never looked down on anyone else. He knew that his smarts couldn’t get anywhere without someone who could do the running around, someone who was strong, someone who could do the things that he couldn’t. He knew he was a cog in a machine but he also wasn’t nasty about it.
Which after things like the Big Bang Theory that portrays most smart people as being up their own ass was actually pretty nice.
He was also surrounded by many interesting, unique and fun characters whether it be the Villagers or indeed those that he brought back to life. There was always a interesting story to be told and characters to tell them and then in the second half we had the greatest gift of all.
It even ended with a giant cliffhanger leading into a second series which I can not wait for.
These are our top anime of the year, lots of things missed out like Mob Psycho season 2 and Average Abilities but there literally were just loads of really great shows out there right now.
We only scratched the surface of shows that came out this year so let us know what we missed out on in the comments. We already have a bunch of shows to watch come Winter Season and hopefully we’ll be more on time now.