Banjo’s Top 7 Winter 2017 Anime

by BanjoTheBear

Demi-chan wa Kataritai / Episode 12 / Hikari attempting to reminisce her way out of trouble

A stacked Winter 2017, but which ones overtake the others?

As everyone contemplates their favorite anime of the year and looks forward to what the next one will bring, I’m over here still in Winter 2017!

Mind you, I’m not complaining, for this season was strong. Perhaps the strongest I’ve ever reviewed in my three-year writing career.

Sequels brought their A-game. Adaptations could not be quelled. Even a semi-original managed to make the mix. From dragon maids to reincarnated classical geniuses, this season had a lot to offer.

Best of all, out of the thirteen anime I watched and completed, I handed out not one but two — yes, two — perfect scores. That has never happened for me before in a single season and may never happen again. Hopefully this rarity should be evidence enough for its strength

At this point, I normally provide a relevant anecdote that gives me a nice segue into the crux of this post. But, this season is so good, that we’re just going to get right into it. After all, I know you are really here to see which anime I found to be the winners — and the one among them that earned the coveted title of Best Anime of Winter 2017.

The Rules

First, I am an advocate of an anime counting in the season in which it completed. Meaning, whether it is fantastic or not, an anime like Little Witch Academia has no place in this list. However, it does have a shot for next season’s list. On the opposite end, an anime that ended in Winter 2017 does have a shot since it concluded in this season despite starting the season (or seasons) prior. Something like Sousei no Onmyouji counts since, despite starting in Spring 2016, it concluded in this season.

Second, the selection process is pretty straightforward, using only three factors. I start by comparing the baseline scores I initially handed out. If a tie occurs, I take into account the more specific scoring I do behind-the-scenes. If another tie occurs, it then comes down to the total level of enjoyment I got out of the anime themselves. Nothing fancy, but the result is a list that fully and accurately represents my feelings on the season as a whole.

Third, each anime has a personalized review that demonstrates why it deserves to be here in the first place. Simply click on an anime’s name to be linked to its review to read my complete thoughts on it. For every review that I wrote for this season, follow this link to my Winter 2017 Reviews page!

With all of the introductions, formalities, and rules out of the way, it is time to get to my Top 7 Winter 2017 Anime!

7. Kuzu no Honkai

Kuzu no Honkai / Episode 1 / Mugi and Hanabi about to kiss

Whispers of sweet nothings. Gentle hand holding. Bashful flirting. One will find none of that here in Kuzu no Honkai, an anime that trades in its heart for the darker, nastier side of romance. Featuring more monologues than one of Shakespeare’s plays and enough titillating bedroom bonanzas to rival even the raunchiest of Sears catalogs, the format can feel quite stale at times. Yet the thoughts on love, the paneled artistry, and the poignant music engage the audience without hassle. Moreover, the characters are mean and downright manipulative, but their messy desires give their uncouth, fictitious advances a lot of extra juice in this drama. Scum they may be, but scum it is not.

6. Gabriel DropOut

Gabriel DropOut / Episode 4 / Raphi, Satania, Gab, and Vigne napping on the subway ride home after a fun summer vacation together

In Gabriel DropOut, Gab descends from heaven to bring peace and prosperity to Earth — until she discovers the joy in online gaming and salty snacks. Alongside Vigne, Satania, and Raphi, the girls channel their incongruous selves to create enough comedy to fill the underworld twice over. The wide range of reactions and strong level of animation in general keep the visuals lively, and the nice voice acting performances do a lot of work in seeping the jokes and their delivery in nothing else but fun. Truth be told, the whole package isn’t anything outstanding when it comes to the premise and the presentation. But everything is so solid here that one wouldn’t dare to drop it out anywhere anytime soon.

5. Kemono Friends

Kemono Friends / Episode 1 / Kaban and Serval meeting for the very first time

On the outside, Kemono Friends doesn’t seem like much and may even put people off from its looks alone. On the inside, this story about a girl named Kaban, her newfound best buddy named Serval, and their quest across Japari Park delivers a downright wholesome adventure that anyone can appreciate. As the two aid the other anthropomorphic animals throughout their journey, a likable cast, a noticeable subtext, and a whole host of charming traits (which I investigated in my essay “Kemono Friends and Nostalgic Charm”) support this project indefinitely. It has some action and the occasional conflict. But, most importantly, it serves as a friendly reminder that, sometimes, what one sees isn’t necessarily what one gets.

4. KonoSuba Season 2

KonoSuba Season 2 / Episode 10 / Megumin, Kazuma, Aqua, and Darkness in disbelief

Kazuma, Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness return in KonoSuba Season 2, bringing with them their insults, crying, explosions, and masochism once more. While the content can sometimes rely a bit too much on its predecessor’s setups, it still manages to make a raucous comedy thanks to the extra exaggeration in the artistry, the awesome voice acting performances, and the newer angles supplied for a couple of the characters. It’s essentially “more of the same.” That’s by no means a bad thing. In fact, one may say that that’s actually quite wonderful.

3. Demi-chan wa Kataritai

Demi-chan wa Kataritai / Episode 11 / Takahashi-sensei smiling at the demis and the humans having fun together

Be it skin color or cultural influences, people the world over come in all shapes and sizes. Hikari, Kyouko, Yuki, and Satou-sensei of Demi-chan wa Kataritai are the same, for their unique characteristics derive from the mythological creatures of yore. This slice-of-life story focuses on the societal differences that stem from their situations, using visual storytelling elements and slick animation to form a story both clever and thoughtful in its approach. Mature comedy, pleasant music, a lovable cast, and a message about trying hard elevate everything higher still. All in all, this is one interview that cannot be missed.

2. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen / Episode 12 / A picture of both Sukeroku and Bon in their younger days way back when

A finale that needs no introduction, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen concludes this stunning series in equally stunning fashion. Nearly every episode contains a significant scene to reflect on. It explores themes on time and the human condition with purpose and care. The music and artistry maintain their impressive technical ability. The characters’ arcs reach satisfying, cathartic ends. And the drama, maturity, writing, and execution do not falter. In conjunction with its first season, a modern classic is born, ascending to the top of this medium with a standing ovation.

1. 3-gatsu no Lion

3-gatsu no Lion / Episode 22 / The final still from the first season

Eking out the win for this season, 3-gatsu no Lion crafts a spectacular start to a heartfelt tale. Following a troubled boy named Rei and the three Kawamoto sisters that support him with open arms, almost everything offered within finds excellence. The narrative takes on a thematically rich look at life’s emotional duality. Creative, metaphorical artistry invites impressive visuals. The characters embody their roles with expert ease. Audio design focuses on bittersweet yet optimistic atmospheres that align with the overall mood. And the shogi premise, the hilarious comedy, and the personally relatable moments round out this amazing experience. It’s nowhere close to finished, but, for at least this season, it earns the highest of honors possible and the title of Best Anime of Winter 2017.

And that’s it! As always, I want to thank each and every person who supported me throughout my reviews for this season. I receive so many nice messages and encouraging words from people all across the Internet, and I cannot thank ya’ll enough. If nothing else, I will do what I can to continue earning such kindness.

Spring 2017 is about to be conquered! :3