The best anime of the decade
Pierre Brown breaks down some of his favorite anime.
In the last ten years, many anime series have been released and we even had a few reboots like Sailor Moon Crystal and Berserk. Though the vast majority were some, (often lazy), reworking/rewriting of something that already existed, there were a few titles made in the last ten years that changed the way people watched and connected to anime. Of course, there are many titles dating back far beyond 2009 that will stay in my heart forever, but I had to think hard for titles of the decade that were both popular in the anime geek world and remarkable enough to desire to experience the story once more. Here is my list of the top ten anime of the decade.
10 : Akame Ga Kill
Akame Ga Kill was easily one of my favorite anime of the decade for its mashup of pretty much all of my favorite genres. There’s horror, plenty of bloody action, humor, and tragedy served in abundance. It was introduced to me with the disclaimer of, “Try not to get attached to anyone” and if you’ve seen this title, you know precisely why that is and you won’t be able to help it. The series was written extremely well with a villainess who is frequently cosplayed and loved far more than she is hated. The anime and manga became so popular that there’s even a prequel spin-off manga series.
9 : Demon Slayer
I rank this series pretty low on the list simply because it’s fairly new but has made serious growth in the time it was released. Demon Slayer stands out from most Shonen anime with its extremely dark tone and gruesome bloody violence though you’ll still hear the loud, annoying screaming and grunting of male characters the genre seems to be attached to. Demon Slayer was remarkable to me in a time when anime was throwing out too much of the same formula of either an unattractive dude was suddenly thrown into a fantasy world with extremely beautiful women or were just too Shonen for me. The first season ends on a perfect note since, after the events of the season finale, the tone of the content gets even darker and depressing. Demon Slayer has had many anime fans discussing it, cosplaying it, and making memes within a short amount of time since its release so I think it’s pretty safe to put this title in the top ten of the decade.
8 : Tokyo Ghoul
I remember when Tokyo Ghoul was a niche and I felt like I stumbled upon an anime that deserved more attention. I remember being so pissed that it was censored, wanting to see the uncut version, and it was the first anime that broke me down to creating an anime streaming subscription because I HAD to know what happened next. Though I don’t know what the fuck is going on in the Tokyo Ghoul: re anime, the first two seasons of this title were impressive and gathered quite a bit of hype to the point that you can’t go to a convention without seeing Kaneki Ken cosplay. Dark, thought-provoking, and full of despair, Tokyo Ghoul and its second season are remarkable horror titles in the last ten years.
7 : Another
If you’re into horror anime like me, Another was a feast for the eyes and is one of the first recommendations to give any person eager to get into horror anime. Another had such great storytelling that leads you in one direction only to throw you in a different direction and had the audacity to do it again before the series ends. Another is easily one of my favorites and I remember it being introduced to me with the statement, “You’ll never look at umbrellas the same way again.” Another came out in 2012 and is loudly one of the most recommended horror titles even now.
6: Kill La Kill
Kill La Kill, in short, is for the person that wanted Sailor Moon but also wanted the writers and character designers to be on a hardcore drug daily but will never admit it out loud. If you didn’t want that, you likely hated it very quickly with its foul language and scantily clad cast. If you thought it was weird at first like I did but couldn’t stop watching and ended up uncovering the plot and thought-provoking story, you came out on the other side loving and treasuring it. Kill la Kill rose to popularity so much that if there’s an anime convention without a single woman cosplaying as Ryuko or a gender-bent Ryuko with a nice ass, ask yourself; Was it really a convention with folks that loved anime or were you just spending time amongst a potentially smelly congregation of folks that will try to convince you that Goku is strongest…I can’t even finish that sentence. I am beginning to smell them now. Did I summon them here? Go back to the realm from which you came, you foul bastards and take my spare Old Spice with you.
5: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood
Sigh. I already know folks may wonder why it’s so low on this list considering its devoted fandom than spanned many years but honestly, I couldn’t finish it. Call me the basic bitch I might be, but I couldn’t get past where homeboy dies, (Some of already y’all know who homeboy is but to those that don’t its homeboy that loved his kids and wife). It is definitely much prettier than the original and every fan of anime I’ve ever known tells me to finish it but I was still traumatized for the first go-around when he died and I had to see him die with updated, more appealing animation?! I couldn’t do it. This title made the list anyway because eventually, I will finish it because I’ve been told the story is much better and there’s plenty of engaging characters and new villains and it’s faithful to the manga. Given its cult following, I don’t see how anyone could have a list of the decade without Brotherhood on it. It’s just not higher here because of my own trauma.
4: Future Diary
I really could just put Yuno Gasai here and just let that be that. She is the most dominant face of Yandere, (also my problematic idol), set a very disturbing, (awesome), example of Yandere for the next ten years that nearly rivals her predecessor, Kotonoha Katsura of School Days. Yuno is the most fascinating character besides an otherwise bland ass protagonist in a sea of characters that are either as fascinating as she is or at least more interesting than the protagonist. Her actions, story, and violent nature in the series earned so much popularity that almost eight years after its final episode premiere you can’t go to a worthwhile anime convention without seeing at least six different versions of Yuno Gasai.
3: My Hero Academia
I don’t know if there’s a fan of anime that doesn’t watch My Hero Academia and if they don’t like to watch it, they definitely read the manga. My Hero Academia similarly took the world by storm much like Attack on Titan and I think this largely has to do with America’s newly public love for the superhero. Yes, superheroes have always had its place in pop culture but for a long time, it was considered weird to be an adult eager for the next Captain America or X-Men issue though the box office numbers for comic book films would say the opposite. My Hero Academia came out around a time where you would have to purchase tickets in advance for a Marvel film several months away if you’re desiring to see it on opening night. The story is consistently engaging with compelling heroes and villains alike and manages not to be in a typical Shonen flow, yet not quite as removed from it as Demon Slayer. Volumes of the My Hero Academia manga stay on bestseller lists of practically every bookseller, there’s a video game and another on the way, a movie and another on the way, and several seasons which is very impressive for a show that premiered in 2016.
2 : Attack On Titan
When Attack on Titan came out, it was like suddenly every-fucking-body liked anime all of a sudden. Even now, people that typically don’t like or watch anime find something compelling enough in the first episode of Attack on Titan to keep watching. The box set of Season One was one of the first titles I bought in my adulthood because I had to know what was going on in this series people couldn’t stop talking about and three seasons, spin-off manga volumes later, Attack on Titan has become one of the most popular anime ever. It has more than earned its place as one of the top anime of the decade and there’s nothing else quite like it even now. Maybe Tokyo Ghoul?
1: Puella Magi Madoka Magica
There are popular anime, there’s anime that are copy and pastes of some other poorly written anime, and then there’s anime that shakes the table so nicely that imitations and inspirations come forth. Puella Magi Madoka Magica is one of the best titles of the last ten years and most original that I can think of. It starts off like any title of its magical girl genre; cute and pretty but had some violence that made it a bit more mature than the typical magical girl show. My first viewing was with no context so I just figured I was watching something Sailor Moon-esque, until the moment happens. I remember sitting in my college dorm room replaying the scene over and over saying, “What the fuck? What THE fuck?! WHAT THE FUCK?!” and if you know like I do, the show only goes forward in a dark tone. I believe this anime is to blame for my later gravitation towards darker anime so I lovingly think of it as a gateway drug. Madoka Magica grew in popularity to the point that many tried to imitate its formula with tragic and violent magical girls, (Magical Girl Spec. Ops Asuka, Magical Girl Raising Project, Magical Girl Site, etc.), and without magical girls but the only one that came close with a coherent storyline and building up an attachment to characters rather than reckless disposal is Yuki Yuna Is A Hero. I chose Madoka Magica as my number one because though other titles here are popular, not a lot of these titles made such a profound impact and change on an entire genre. Demon Slayer comes close, but that potential impact will have to be seen in 2020 considering it is relatively new.
Honorable mentions: Fairy Tail, One Punch Man, Psycho-Pass