The decade that was…

“Anime of the decade” posts seem to be all the rage these days, as we count down to the 2020s, but I was honestly debating whether I wanted to do this or not. After all, I’ve all but dropped off the scene over the last two years, and given the increased workload I have at my new job, I doubt I’ll ever be able to return to a regular blogging schedule.

But the last 10 years have been, in many ways, formulative for the kinds of stories and shows I like now. So more than anything else, this is going to be a record for myself, a record of the 10 or so shows of the last decade that have contributed to making me the fan I am today. I am not going to restrict myself to one title a year, because there was no way I was going to leave a certain figure skating anime off this list!

Love-that!

It’s always difficult to figure out how to organize lists like this…so aside from the very last one, I’m going to take it chronologically. Also, I debated putting Monogatari on this list, as most of this franchise has come out in this decade. However, nothing has ever beaten the 12th episode of that first season for me, and that was first on TV in September 2009. But still, I do wonder if anyone can guess which title has actually had the biggest impact on my life trajectory. Care to have a gander?

Makishima

It isn’t just because of recency bias that this title makes the list. I did enjoy the SS side stories, and I quite like where directors Shiotani Naoyoshi and Motohiro Katsuyuki seem to be taking the series with this third season. But the first season of Psycho-Pass is the show that changed the way I thought about the world. It was the show that helped me truly recognise, for the first time, the invisible structures that hold up our societies. The problem is, even if you know that these structures exist, it can be difficult to identify what they are, and thus where different societies might overlap, mingle, or clash. And so, although I still do not know entirely how to deal with such issues, which are always around me these days, I will forever be grateful to Psycho-Pass for making me able to recognise them in the media I consume.

Eccentric-Christmas

Back in 2013, I found it difficult to pinpoint just why The Eccentric Family took my “favourite anime” crown. And the same holds through today: I can’t quite tell you why the tale of Yasaburo and his three brothers has captured a corner of my heart. Perhaps the closest that I can come to an explanation is that it is a story about family. My own family has become a much more important part of my life over these last ten years, what with the multiple additions to it. And now that I think about it, it may have been The Eccentric Family that helped me realise just how fortunate I am to have them.

Aldnoah

We return to the family theme again with this next entry to the list, as Yuki and Inaho’s brother-sister relationship will always be my favourite thing about Aldonoah.Zero. But the other reason that AZ is here is that this was the first real robot show I saw after I really started understanding what international relations was all about. In fact, it was by diving into AZ and what Aoki Ei and Urobuchi Gen said about it that I learned that real robot shows — beginning with Gundam — were all about war and what causes it. Just like international relations. And that’s why I am probably the only person in the English-speaking fandom naming AZ to their list. ^^

Donuts

Of all the entries on this list, SHIROBAKO is the one that I’ve returned to the least. I’ve not rewatched it, nor have I actually completed watching all of the “this is how we make anime” extras that came with the home video releases. But you could also say that SHIROBAKO underwrites everything I have been doing every since it was released. It’s the namesake for the website I created to compile the collection of interviews that I’d started to amass, and it something I do still want to maintain, even as I increasingly struggle to find the time to do so. Perhaps it is a resource that is no longer necessary, except for my own interests, and that is as important a reason as any.

Umaku-naritai!

It’s tempting, in some ways, to rehash the frustrations that I have felt with the Western fan reaction to Sound! Euphonium, because it really pains me that so few people understand the core themes behind it. I’ve already written at length about why this franchise speaks to me to deeply, and there’s no way that I can briefly summarise it. All I can hope is that more people will one day come to understand why I, too, wish I could just jump on a train one day, with a ticket that can take me anywhere but without a set destination in mind.

Rakugo-Jiji

Few stories of a life lived are as compelling as this one. A lost young boy found in rakugo a place to belong, and through it met and lost his two soulmates. This first act sees two love triangles painfully interacting with tragic results, setting us up for a magnificent second act that I will not spoil for those who have yet to see it. Simply put, Rakugo Shinju is a show-don’t-tell masterpiece, though you will need to become a rakugo fan in order to pick up on all the nuances hidden within the storytelling. But believe me, it is well worth the effort.

Ishida

As I noted back in 2016, that was a tour-de-force year in anime for me — four different shows from those twelve months alone have made it onto this list! But A Silent Voice is still the one that I place on a pedestal. Given the subject matter, it is a difficult watch at times — content warnings for bullying and suicide are a must. But if you watch only one piece of animation that has come out of Japan in this decade, this is the one I’d recommend.

Yuri!!!

I’ve already waxed on lyrically about this figure skating anime several times over the years, and I’m sure you’re all sick of that by now. But I just have to say it: there is one thing about Yuri!!! on ICE that I think will continue to astound me forever, and that is how reality and art continue to overlap with each other. Fans of figure skating will know what I’m referring to — it is news that’s damned hard to miss, and to be honest, I am still not sure what kind of face I should put on when I get to see this newly formalised partnership in person in February!

BF

Almost one year ago, I made the futile wish that I would one day be able to tell you why the anime based on Yoshida Akimi’s classic shojo manga resonates so strongly with me. I regret to say that I still cannot find the words for this. Or rather, I have not been able wrestle the hours I’ve spent talking about Ash with friends down into a single blog post. This is an even harder watch than A Silent Voice — I’m not sure I could recommend it to people who have been victims of CSA, even though I have heard of fans who say that it has helped them. What I can promise you is that, if BANANA FISH grabs hold of you, it will never let you go.

Shout Outs

Before I get to my final entry, let’s look at a few of the titles I had to squeeze out. The unfortunate thing about restricting myself to 10 series is that there are many, many other titles that I enjoyed greatly over these last 10 years. Besides the above, March Comes in Like a Lion, Chihayafuru, Princess Jellyfish, Ace of the Diamond and Given have all given me a great deal of joy. But most of all, I also want to mention Hyouka, Free! and Tamako Love Story, three vastly different Kyoto Animation shows that captured their own little places in my heart. These shows were the reason I fell in love with KyoAni, and especially with the stories that Yamada Naoko and Takemoto Yasuhiro were weaving for young women and young men respectively. That we will never again experience the visions of Takemoto, Ikeda Shoko, Nishiya Futoshi and the many others we lost on July 18 is something that I still have not truly come to terms with. But I am thankful for the wonderful pieces of art that you left behind. We will remember you, always.

And without further ado…

SnT

If you know me well, you should have had no doubt that Macross Frontier would have ended up in this spot on the list. Even though Shoji Kawamori brought us another entry into this franchise in the middle part of this decade, there was no topping Wings of Farewell as a cinematic experience. I’ve had the pleasure now of seeing it twice in theaters, and I would definitely pay to do so again, especially if they bring back the Macross Explosive Sound (bakuon) screenings that I kept missing. With its last major entry landing in 2011, Frontier has given me so many amazing memories that you could say it defined the decade for me. Indeed, as the post I am planning for tomorrow will illustrate, almost everything I’ve done since was arguably born from the time I spent on this series. And I am sure that it will be part of my life for many more years to come.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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