Anime is a truly beautiful form of art, no less so because we the viewer actually see very little of the process. Original storyboards, voice actors, manga no one reads, so much goes on behind the scenes to bring us the cartoons we so cherish. So, as the decade comes to a close, let us take a look back at some of the best anime of the years which has made this medium so fantastic.
#10: Death Note
Let’s face it, the original Death Note manga was pretty unrealistic. A school child playing mind games of that level? Absurd. Which is why Netflix, the most beloved animation studio in the business, took over and made him the character he was always meant to be. Of course a student would shriek and run at the sight of a literal death god! Of course he’d read all 95+ rules out loud to himself while sitting alone in the bleachers during basketball practice! And of course he’d tell his secret to literally the first person who asked, even after responding with “I can’t tell you” worked! He may not be the same character as in the manga, but I think we can all agree that it’s an improvement.
#9: Full Metal Alchemist
Full Metal Alchemist may not have been the perfect anime, but it did give us all exactly what we wanted: a chance to watch Maes Hughes swagger into that phone booth again.
#8: Black Butler
Black Butler is a beautiful love story between a girl named Kiyoharu and her butler, who happens to be a demon. The original manga actually showed the main character as a boy, but who ever heard of a love story between two boys? And similarly, what the hell kind of name is Ciel Phantomhive for a British noble?
#7: Attack on Titan: Parts One And Two
When people talk about Attack on Titan, do they talk about the complex characters, the themes of class warfare and morality, and the atmosphere that never fails to terrify even when things seem to be going well? Fuck no! They talk about giant monsters eating people. That’s why Attack on Titan: Parts One And Two are the perfect adaptation of a modern kaiju film. By reducing the characters to the whiny teens from every B horror movie ever made, the anime delivers on that beautiful catharsis not felt since the old days of watching Saw 6 on VHS.
#6: Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell is a testament to the fact that adaptations should never change literally anything from their source material. Despite its spectacular animation, the anime caught quite a bit of flak in the earlier episodes because of a decision to change the name of the main character. But oh, how wrong the anime community was and usually is. The anime threw everyone for a loop by revealing that her name was the one from the original manga after all, a brilliant twist which immediately silenced all critics.
The story of Nisekoi takes an original twist to the romantic comedy genre by featuring a high school student who suddenly finds himself surrounded by an array of beautiful girls. Main protagonist Raku soon finds himself having to pretend to be in a relationship with a foreign blond Japanese girl. It’s hard to find another anime that has kept the community of fans as engaged as Nisekoi has. From its constant twists and turns to its fulfilling plot progression, this is some of the best the genre has seen in years.
#4: Tokyo Ghoul
There’s a time for all of us in middle school when we have done something we thought was cool. Maybe it was wearing only dark hoodies all the time. Maybe it was borrowing an M-rated video game from your friend but not telling your mom about it. Maybe it was that unhealthy phase of being obsessed with all things vampires. Tokyo Ghoul takes that edge and puts it into animated form. In a sense, there’s a little bit of Tokyo Ghoul in all of us. It would have scored higher on the list if it hadn’t unfortunately missed the opportunity to include My Chemical Romance on the soundtrack.
Bleach came out of nowhere in 2018 and quickly became one of the biggest things to ever happen to shounen anime. With a diverse cast and interesting story arcs, it has secured itself as a staple of anime for years to come. We can’t wait to see where Bleach will take us next. Perhaps it will join the ranks of Naruto and One Piece one day.
Starring industry veteran Samual L. Jackson, you know this has to feature near the top of our list. It was great to finally see a show that didn’t use flashy scenes and mindless action as a substitute for sub-par writing. A bit of an underground classic, for sure, but this movie was definitely necessary to make and we’re glad that it exists.
#1: Pingu in the City
From Studio NatGeo, Pingu in the City was one of the biggest surprises of the decade. On the surface it appears to be just another slice of life moeblob show. But after giving the show a chance, it becomes clear that Pingu in the City is deep character-driven narrative about the inner workings of modern day life. The show constantly keeps the viewer on edge with the lurking threat of global warming looming over in the background, gradually dismantling the environment Pingu has lived in and grown familiar with all his life. Each character encounters relatable struggles such as spending all afternoon tirelessly catching fish only to get back home and find that your parents have been devoured by a seal. Pingu in the City isn’t just a fictional representation of life, it reminds us of what truly is important in life itself.