Dennis "The Kidd"s Top 20 Anime of the Decade
Editors Note: This list is based completely off of my personal preferences including the ranking. If a show doesn’t appear on this list I probably never saw it or didn’t like it.
20. Gatchaman Crowds 2013
Directed by the often overlooked and underappreciated auteur of the anime scene Kenji Nakamura who has helmed shows like Tsuritama, C for Control and Mononoke. Nakamura has a heavy emphasis on style but unlike his style heavy contemporaries he does not skimp on the substance, in fact one would argue he is the best at balancing both which are often given to the audience in extremely heavy doses all at once.
Gatchaman Crowds is a show about how macro level politics can affect the daily lives of everyday people and vice versa. Putting it this way however sells the show and the themes of the show very short. It is heavy thematically but presented with such style, quick pacing, action, excess and panache that one would be forgiven for thinking it a shallow monster of the week show.
Hajime, the protagonist of the show, can easily be one of the decades best characters as her existence is a chaotic influence of the plot of the show.
I strongly recommend Gatchaman Crowds and its sequel for anyone who wants a colourful, action packed and thoughtful look at the world of socio economic politics of the modern world.
It has a Killer OST!
19. Oreimo 2010
The adaptation of Light Novel author Tsukasa Fushimi’s work Oreimo unleashed a storm of derivative works this decade. Oreimo is………… complicated to talk about because its premise is quite contrary to what the bulk of the text (the show) is actually about.
Oreimo is really about a bunch of high school aged girls coming to terms with their hobbies in real life and learning to make friends along the way.
The spiritual sequel to the show Eromanga Sensei is arguably just as good and just as controversial, however fans of the show will be quick to tell you its themes about friendship and learning to come out of ones shell to achieve their lofty dreams are what truly make it remarkable.
For the impact that this show had on the decade alone, it deserves a pot on this list.
18. Non Non Biyori 2013
Beginning from the iconic sounds of nano.RIPE’s Opening theme to the last frame of the endings iconic chibi animation Non Non Biyori’s aesthetic as a soothing, slice of life comedy show are present. Arguably one of the decades best iyashikei & moe shows, Non Non Biyori, its sequel and the film are one of the best options for a family viewing.
The show is carried by its ensemble cast who are all delightful in their own special ways. Getting to know each character is the main draw of the show and the way in which they bounce off of each other is what kept me glued to my screen
17. Garupan 2012
Another entry in the moe genre but this one comes with a twist. Squad Based Tank Fighting taken as a legitimate sport which only girls can participate in, taken with absolutely zero hints of irony in this universe.
Girls Und Panzer is both education believe it or not and loads of fun! The animation in some key episodes is fantastic and the action and comedy comes at a breakneck pace. The juxtaposition of these cute little girls in these dangerous behemoth vehicles walloping each other is what really gives the show its humorous edge. Especially because everyone in universe is taking the sport so seriously.
16. Princess Jellyfish 2010
One of noitaminA’s best shows, Princess Jellyfish stands as a benchmark for Josei anime in the past decade. Everytime I watch the show I derive a new meaning from it and see it from a different point of view. This is because its main cast of characters are so relatable. I find Princess Jellyfish so relatable because it covers the themes of unrequited love and body image issues so well. Not many shows cover these themes from the point of a view of a shy nerd with such brutal honesty.
Kuragehime is one of the decades best anime Romance/Drama’s and it comes highly recommended.
15. Bunny Drop 2011
Bunny Drop is a slow paced, intimate drama about a young man who isn’t ready to be a single Dad adopting a young girl and the dynamics that come with taking such a huge step. The show is wholesome, sad, joyful, cute and as dramatic as the premise suggests.
In the now common sub-genre of single Dad raises young child now pervading media, Bunny Drop comes out as one of the best.
14. Sound Euphonium 2015
Sound Euphonium and its accompanying film Liz and the Blue Bird have amassed something of a cult following in the anisphere and for good reason too, this show is probably one of Kyoto Animations best work. Sound Euphonium distills the best aspects of a sports anime, the intense pacing, the suspense and the action with the volatile trademarks of a high school romance anime.
Sound Euphonium is a technical masterpiece, it is probably the most consistently animated show I’ve ever seen. KyoAni pulled out all the stops for this one, this is Naoko Yamada’s Masterpiece!
13. Bakemonogatari 2009
I am admittedly a fanboy of this franchise and its almost compulsory at this point for this show and its sequels to appear on any of my lists. That said, Akiyuki Shinbo really did objectively direct one of the decades most unique and iconic anime with the very first adaptation of Nisio Isin’s Light Novel.
Shinbo’s breakneck style and Isin’s overbearing dialogue were a match made in anime heaven and this is evident from the very first episode of the now iconic franchise Monogatari.
I have previously shortlisted this franchise as a modern anime classic and I still firmly hold that belief to this day. There is simply nothing like it out there and it still holds up a 10 years later.
12. Fate/Zero 2011
What’s the best way to get into the Fate franchise? I always say Fate/Zero. In an age when the battle royale genre has become a huge cultural phenomenon it’s hard not to see anyone who tries this show not getting sucked into the anime version of the sub-genre.
Fate is an iconic franchise and there are at this point a multitude of very excellent adaptations and spin offs available. However, Gen Urobuchi’s Novel adaptation stands in my eyes as the best that the franchise has to offer, for both those familiar and new.
11. Kids on the Slope 2012
Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) got to flex the melodramatic side of his directorial bones with this amazing musical drama set in the 60’s. With original music composed by the legendary Yoko Kanno this coming of age story is one of the decades best. The musical segments of the show were so well animated they do an excellent job of immersing you emotionally into the show.
Kids on the Slope is one of the decades best drama shows and it comes highly recommended.
10. Chihayafuru 2012
Chihayafuru is one of the most stressful anime I have ever seen. A sports anime at heart, the show is centered around an obscure traditional Japanese Card game called Karuta. Like all good sports anime the drama and suspense surrounding the characters and their lofty pursuits are what the show is really about (I still don’t understand the rules of Karuta lol).
Chihayafuru is about ambition and what hard headed ambition can cost you as a person. The sacrifices made to achieve your goals and if the goals one sets for themselves are indeed worth all the pain and endurance needed. It’s also about love and friendship and how all of these play a huge role in everyone’s life.
9. Wandering Son 2011
This was my very first inoffensive introduction to Transgender representation in anime. Wandering Son is a coming of age drama about two teenage kids coming to terms with their gender and sexuality. It’s a short and sweet show that can sometimes be heavy. The colour palette and art style is used as a way to cushion the heavy topics being covered by the show.
I’ve found that this show is almost always overlooked by the community and is never brought up, it’s in my opinion one of the decades best drama shows and deserves to be seen and talked about more.
8. Madoka Magica 2011
An instant classic, the existential magical girl show Madoka Magica somehow managed to exceed its expected audience and become a mainstream hit. The cultural impact of the show can still be felt reverberating today. It is not an exaggeration to say that Madoka Magica was this decades Evangelion.
7. A Place Further Than The Universe 2017
What is friendship? Is the core theme of this modern classic. 2017’s best anime also known as Yorimoi for short does its best to unpack that question in a comedy adventure genre. At first glance its hard to see what makes Yorimoi so special, but the more that you watch you get to see stereotypical anime tropes in characters get subverted and scrutinized. We also get to see the tough parts of friendship and how misunderstandings can lead to huge setbacks.
Yorimoi is in the moe subgenre yes but it is a drama at heart with one of the best ensemble casts of the decade.
6. K-on! 2009
Naoko Yamada announced herself to the world with her serial directorial debut and smash hit K-on! A comedy moe show about cute girls (eating cake and drinking tea) playing pop rock in their high school band. The influence that this show has had on not only the anime industry but culturally cannot be measured. K-on! Goes down as the most influential anime of the decade, sky rocketing and cementing its studio Kyoto Animation as the juggernaut of anime that it is today.
K-on! Is fun, it is cute, it is fluffy and it is somehow nostalgic for a moment in time that I would wager most of us never experienced. That is the magic of K-on! And why it remains timeless.
5. AnoHana 2011
I have never managed to go past episode 5 of AnoHana on rewatches because of how heavily it affects me emotionally. I love this show, I think it has one of the best portrayals of depression in teenagers. It’s not a sad show for the most part it’s an exhilarating rollercoaster of a drama in the signature style of Mari Okada. Mari Okada’s works can be exemplary melodramatic but if you allow yourself to be swept up by the emotions she presents, you are bound for an unforgettable experience.
I still believe AnoHana is the only romance anime that has come close to replicating Toradora!’s brilliance. Which means that this show is the best romance anime of the decade.
4. FMA: Brotherhood 2009
I have fallen off of shounen these past few years but that’s most likely because I got to see the apex of what the genre can provide in the faithful manga adaptation of Full Metal Alchemist, subtitled Brotherhood. FMA is an anime classic, that most anime fans and those curious about anime have probably already seen. It’s a show that I can easily recommend to newcomers because it covers all the bases that a great, no the perfect shounen can cover.
FMA: Brotherhood and the movies that came with it have some amazing animation and fight sequences, the supporting cast is all memorable and lessons learnt from that show are still being implemented in modern shounen shows today.
3. Steins;Gate 2011
What if I told you there was a piece of media whose main plotline rested on multiple instances of time travel but got its writing so thoroughly right that it had no inconsistencies or plot holes because of the time travel? That show is Steins;Gate, that alone should place it on the pantheon as one of the greatest achievements in not only anime but media but that’s not the only thing the show has to offer. Steins;Gate is a love letter to otaku fandom as a whole, cosplay, gaming, anime, manga the lot! The characters while at first coded as stereotypical anime clichés are more than that once the series goes into full gear and the veneer of light and fluffy fun is swept from under our eyes to reveal the dark psychological thriller that the show is truly meant to be.
Steins;Gate is a must see for any fan of science fiction, it is a modern anime classic because of that and many more reasons.
2. Shirobako 2014
2015’s Anime of the Year Shirobako is a workplace drama that highlights the struggles that young millennials go through in today’s work force. Its main cast is a group of women who made a pledge to work in the anime industry and their goal is to achieve this dream no matter the cost. The show is so good at expressing the different layers of difficulty that young women have in the workplace, from over bearing managers to lazy colleagues and many more.
The entire cast is likeable and they are all given adequate screen time, enough for the viewer to get attached to atleast one them. It’s also a really good peek behind the curtain at how anime is actually made, sprinkled in with a few cameos from real life anime professionals.
Shirobako is not only one of the best anime of the decade, it is also one of the best anime ever made!
1.Made in Abyss 2017
I’ve been an avid anime fan for just over a decade now and I have gone through all stages of fandom possible, including but not exclusive to multiple burnouts. I still recall what I felt like the first time I saw Naruto (the first anime that made me become a full blown weeb) the sense of wonder it gave me, the excitement, the fact that I had come across something so incredible I couldn’t believe it existed and the fact that there was more where that came from. I was excited for anime as a medium.
Made in Abyss, gave me that exact same feeling to this jaded otaku just a couple of years ago. It reminded me why I am such a fan, why I spend so much time on it that yes anime is wonderful!
Made in Abyss is an adventure show that follows a young girl and her mechanical but sentient companion as the travel deeper into an abyss in search of the girls’ mother. The abyss is a magical, mystical place of legend that gets more dangerous the more one furthers into its depths. The show feels like a Zelda game come to life but seasoned with a sharp tinge of horror and action.
Made in Abyss is anime at its very best, in terms of animation style, music composed by the wonderful Kevin Penkin, the background art that is reminiscent of studio Ghiblis best work and a top tier narrative that is filled with suspense and wonderful lovable characters that feel like they were ripped from the fairy tales of yore.
Made in Abyss is this decades’ best anime, it also one of the best TV shows ever made!