2017 was like most years in anime: a lot of crap, some amusing but forgettable shows, some pretty good shows and a small number that seem like real classics. The surprising thing is that in retrospect the number of “classics” seems unusually high. Less surprising is that most of the remaining good ones are sequels.
Outstanding Anime of 2017
The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Crunchyroll) is a near-perfect series with beautiful artwork, a meticulously constructed fantasy world, interesting characters and masterful writing.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Season 2 (Crunchyroll). The first season was good but felt incomplete. The second season hit the ball out of the park with a perfect conclusion.
Made in Abyss (Amazon). A remarkable series. Clever, original, beautifully drawn, compelling, cute and terrifying. Definitely not for small children but recommended for everyone else. I only hope we will see more seasons.
March Comes In Like a Lion (Crunchyroll). The first season (Fall 2016–Winter 2017) turned out to be quite good after a shaky start. (Maybe it just grows on you.) The second season (started Fall 2017) has been even better. It’s probably best if you don’t think of this as a sports anime. It’s more of an extended family drama that happens to be centered around a Shogi prodigy.
The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Crunchyroll) brings Tomihiko Morimi’s comic fantasy novel to a hilarious conclusion. Be sure to watch the first season (Crunchyroll) before the second.
Notable Anime of 2017
I’m tempted to include Little Witch Academia (Netflix) in the “Outstanding” category but…maybe it’s just a wee bit too predictable. It’s a children’s story, but of the sort that really is fun for the whole family, with outstanding animation and a lovable misfit of a main character.
Tsuki ga Kirei is an utterly charming middle school romance.
Do we really need a sixth season of Natsume Yuujinchou ? (Crunchyroll) Yes, of course we do.
Rin-ne Season 3 (HiDive) is probably the last season we are going to get of Rumiko Takahashi’s supernatural farce. The most notable thing about it is that it remained funny through six cours. Most anime comedies seem to run out of steam after one or two.
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness Season 2 (HiDive) Hell’s chief of staff is back and he’s as funny as ever.
My Hero Academia Season 2 (Crunchyroll) is by far the best shounen fighting anime currently airing.
Worth a Look
Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Youkai Apaato no Yuuga na Nichijou) (Crunchyroll) is a new twist on that tired old trope about a hapless student living in a boarding house full of colorful characters. This show adds a strong supernatural fantasy element while dispensing with the usual ecchi slapstick in favor of earnest wholesomeness. Perhaps it is too wholesome. Practically every episode ends with the hero learning some sort of Important Lesson.
Welcome to the Ballroom (Ballroom e Youkoso) (Amazon) is a pretty conventional but well-done sports anime. In this case the sport is competitive ballroom dancing. As with most such shows your enjoyment will depend a lot on how interested you are in the sport.
Konohana Kitan (Crunchyroll) is about some cute foxgirls who run a traditional hot spring inn that is located somewhere in the borderlands between this world and the next. It is frequented by various gods, spirits and the occasional human. Before you get your hopes up I should warn you that this is mainly about cute foxgirls being cute and the characters are mostly off-the-shelf tropes. But some of the stories are actually pretty good.