Kuze's Best Anime of 2017

Several of our most prominent members look back at the year and the anime that made it into what it was for them. Taking the stage now: Kuze
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  1. Uchouten Kazoku Season 2

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    That's because of my fool's blood!

    Genre
    : Slice of Life, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
    Source: Novel
    Studio: P.A. Works
    Number of Episodes: 12
    MAL: Click me

    I’m surprised that, before 2017, I had never heard of Uchouten Kazoku and, to be honest, I’m disappointed in myself. Uchouten Kazoku (or “The Eccentric Family” as it’s popularly known as) indulges in every form of the human emotion. Ranging from love, friendship, family and everything else in between, The Eccentric Family has a very artful way of uncovering proceedings. The plot revolves around magical creatures residing among unsuspecting humans in Kyoto. We follow the daily exploits of a tanuki (creatures who can shape-shift) named Yasaburou and how his meddling leads to all sorts of problems in the tanuki and tengu (creatures who are more gifted in their abilities) community. I know it doesn’t sound much but trust me there’s a lot going on throughout the course of the series. The anime is an adaptation of the novel “Uchōten Kazoku” by Tomihiko Morimi (who has also penned The Tatami Galaxy). His work is lauded for its vibrant humor and imaginativeness and “The Eccentric Family” is no exception.

    The animation by P.A. Works is gorgeous. There’s this traditional side of Kyoto highlighted by its shrines and antiquated izakayas juxtaposed with modern day high-rises and malls that paint a colorful cultural coexistence of two different times. This contrast is underlined in the characters also, where the young are slowly taking over from the old. The backdrop of Kyoto reproduced in this show is an accurate representation of the city, thus giving it a more authentic feel and conveys its commitment of staying true to its identity.


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    If you're frustrated, grow stronger
    Japanese folklore meets anime in the bustling heart of Kyoto in this incredible chronicle. It’s a well balanced fantasy-drama with a healthy dose of humor. A story that is original and refreshing in its simplicity coupled with a set of dynamic individuals molded with great dedication, if you were ever in doubt that anime is currently lacking individuality then “The Eccentric Family” will surprise you to no end.



    Made in Abyss

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    Goodbye My Friend.



    Genre
    : Sci-Fi, Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy
    Source: Web Manga
    Studio: Kinema Citrus
    Number of Episodes: 13
    MAL: Click me


    What is it about Made in Abyss that has captivated the hearts of many a viewer this year? A narrative strikingly reminiscent of the brooding fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm collection, Made in Abyss starts off as a really hopeful, happy-go-lucky adventure. However, all the sunshine quickly disappears once our protagonists descend deeper into the Abyss. The Abyss is an unchartered environment, home to mystical creatures and ancient sorcery. The further one goes down the Abyss, the chances of returning lessens. But Riko has to make this journey in order to rescue her mother. The charm of the show is its lead roles, Regu and Riko, and how their mission shapes their tender experience in dealing with the forces of the Abyss. What impressed me even more were the secondary characters who all played their part to ensure that Riko manages to stay alive and somehow does reach her mother.

    Art and music mix beautifully to portray key moments at its emotional best. The background art is evocative of the natural beauty we have come to expect of Ghibli fantasy films. The setting is as original as it gets and with an experienced director in Masayuki Kojima at the helm (whose notable work includes directing “Monster”), the pacing reels you in completely. The entire music production team and the artists involved (Kevin Penkin, Takeshi Saito and Raj Ramayya among others) deserve special praise. Raj Ramayya reminded me of his Wolf’s Rain days, when I couldn’t stop gushing about how beautiful his voice was. The music was well and truly, breathtakingly enchanting. Here’s a little slice of the tunage:






    The thing is, the 2nd season of Made in Abyss holds greater promise than the first. This season barely touches on the secrets of the Abyss and lays all sorts of questions before us. So it’s safe to say that the journey has barely begun. Plus, there is no silver lining in sight as to our heroes’ return from the very innards of this domain, whence only a few have managed to find their way home.

    What seemed like a kiddy piece with a silly plot at a casual glance has proved to be an experience like any other this year.




    Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Season 2

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    SOMETHING THIS GOOD COULD NEVER GO AWAY.


    Genre
    : Drama, Josei
    Source: Manga
    Studio: Studio Deen
    Number of Episodes: 12
    MAL: Click me


    What a finale it turned out to be!! For those who’ve been following this gem from season 1 must’ve enjoyed every bit of the second. This show is truly deserving of the title “Classic”. A drama-piece about the Rakugo industry and the people involved in it, Showa Rakugo follows a master-apprentice tale and how their relationship will shape the future of Rakugo. Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese entertainment where a lone storyteller sits on stage and acts out a story, often playing the part of multiple personas through a change in pitch/tone. The characters are an absolute treat; well-rounded, highly nuanced and developed with so much care that they’ll instantly warm you up. The depth and sophistication of their personality is a delicacy that’s rare even for anime.

    I could go on and on about them but the rakugo performances deserve high praise as well. It’s hard to ignore the stories being acted out by the narrators. Their tone and mannerisms are impeccably captivating and manage to paint a vivid picture of the person and setting they perform. Akira Ishida’s voice acting as Yakumo Yurakutei is exquisite. Never before have I been impressed by a seiyuu so much. Long live Akira Ishida. The season ends with a surprising yet simple twist and everything comes full circle. Rakugo is reborn on the shoulders of a new generation and the cherry blossoms usher in the change.

    It’s the first of its kind and I believe there never will be another show quite like this. The premise might sound dry but trust me, if you’re looking for a mature drama with an intricate bunch of…ahem…dramatis personae then Showa Rakugo is a must-watch.




    Welcome to the Ballroom

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    Look at me!!!


    Genre
    : Comedy, Sports, Drama, Romance
    Source: Manga
    Studio: Production I.G
    Number of Episodes: 24
    MAL: Click me


    The celebration of the fiery passion for dance; welcome to ballroom dancing where sass, sweat and million dollar smiles are in abundance. Meet Tatara Fujita, a middle school student who’s undecided about his career choices. Enter Ballroom Dancing, an unexpected storm that blows him away with its appeal. Soon, Tatara starts to develop a love for dancing, spurred on by his desire to replicate his teacher Kaname Sengoku, a ballroom dancing champion who oozes charisma and confidence from every inch of his body. Throughout the series, we see Tatara stumble, pick himself up and give it his all to stand toe to toe with the best performers of Japan.

    The show will take you for a waltz and leave you gasping for breath on the quickstep. The focus smoothly shifts from the high-octane competitions to building chemistry between dance partners as Tatara tries to adjust with the demands of his newfound passion and match the mindset and skill of his better half. We get to witness lively interactions, sizzling routines and the journey of self-discovery that the protagonist undergoes as he blossoms on the dance floor.



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    Lights out



    For a 24 episode anime, it doesn’t suffer in terms of intensity and pacing. The dances lose a bit of variety towards the middle as panels and movements are re-used but the character drama holds your interest. The music is upbeat which fits perfectly with the mood of the show. If you’re looking for a competitive dance-centric show with endearing and high-spirited personalities or simply, a show that is dipped in fun, Yuri on Ic…..I mean Welcome to the Ballroom is the perfect choice.



    Honorable Mentions**




    Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World - The Animated Series

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    Kino, what do you think is beautiful?


    Genre
    : Action, Adventure, Slice of Life
    Source: Light Novel
    Studio: Lerche
    Number of Episodes: 12
    MAL: Click me


    Who’d have thought that Kino’s Journey would get a reboot! It’s a tantalizing prospect to indulge in a reminiscence or two about the “good old days”. But how did it fare on its own merit? To begin with, all the episodes were a result of a poll that was conducted among fans of the light novel. So for someone who hasn’t read a drop, it was quite exciting to witness the crème de la crème of the novel in animated form.

    Popular stories from the 2003 series made a resounding return while the show split its focus between Kino and Shizu for much of its runtime. There were also a few standalone acts about other travelers, including Kino’s master/teacher, which was quite refreshing to see. The only issue with this reboot was its conflicting tonality towards the latter stages where the mood would shift from serious to light in the space of one single episode (especially when two or more shorts were glued together in one episode). However, the newer stories were fascinating, to say the least. “Country of Liars” was a definite standout.

    It’s the same Kino and the same Hermes (still fumbling his quotes up) we’ve all come to admire, in all its newly animated glory, eating up the miles one country at a time.




    Shoukoku no Altair

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    The greatest weapon in international politics is information


    Genre
    : Adventure, Historical, Drama, Fantasy
    Source: Manga
    Studio: MAPPA
    Number of Episodes: 24
    MAL: Click me

    Shoukoku no Altair has won me over completely with its intricately woven plot and a steadfast protagonist. What's even more impressive is how it hardly strays from its central theme and builds up an intense climax with calculated actions and outcomes. Against a war-hungry Baltic-Rhein Empire bent on asserting its dominance across the continent and improving its wealth of resources, Greater Turkiye (a re-imagining of the Ottoman Empire) forms the Anti-Imperial Alliance with nations wary of the Empire's looming threat to counter their advance. In the middle of all this is our protagonist Mahmut Pasha, a powerful official of the Turkiye Stratocracy who strives to prevent wars and the loss of life that comes with it.

    The manga is written by historian Kato Kotono, and the setup surprisingly reflects a very practical scenario of two super powers, signifying different ideologies in all aspects, trying their best to gain the upper hand in a rather newly-hatched geopolitical structure. The events that transpire often keep you on the edge of your seat and you start to feel sympathy for Mahmut as he leads a conflictual existence in order to achieve his goal. To ensure peace, Mahmut must wage battles and spill the blood of the Empire and its defenders. This contradiction really serves for some meaty character drama. The different cultures and countries showcased in this series illustrates a colorful vibrancy and diversity that enriches the overall experience of the show.



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    I saw an ocean of stars from the land


    Even though Shoukoku No Altair faltered at the start with its incongruous pacing, it radically transforms into a solid historical war drama piece that proves to be a thrilling watch every step of the way. If you're a fan of the genre I highly recommend checking Altair out. You'll be amazed as this game of chess unfolds onscreen.

    About Author

    Kuze
    Just....writing...stuff..up.
    Tonto-banchou and tripplej like this.

Comments

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  1. JoJo
    Made in Abyss:love:

    Great read bro! Dropped Ballroom and missed a couple, but I get your point.
      Kuze likes this.
    1. Kuze
      Thanks fam. You should give Uchouten Kazoku a shot, if you're feeling like watching a slice of life fantasy anytime.
      JoJo likes this.
  2. Tonto-banchou
    Solid list, man. Made in Abyss and Ballroom are already on my watchlist, so this one has me a little excited for them.
      Kuze likes this.
    1. Kuze
      Big up on Made in Abyss. Coolest fairytale ever.