Happy last day of 2019 (or happy 2020 depending on when you’re reading this)! With the decade winding down, we here at Backlog Bebop thought that the best way to celebrate the ringing in of a new decade would be to recap the old one! So, in the spirit of the holidays, here is a list that I put together of my personal favorite series from each season from the last decade (Note: Though this is my personal list some of the picks reflect the preferences of the whole so don’t worry, we’re all in this together!)
Winter: Hanamaru Kindergarten
Despite it's cute exterior, Hanamaru Kindergarten contains some genuinely funny and adult comedy with some great nods at previous Gainax works. Don't let it's look fool you, this show appeals to older audiences almost more than any other.
As the springboard to a longer series, this first season of the franchise packs some great comedy and side romances that can easily get someone looking for a slice-of-life series hooked. Payoffs come in later seasons but alone this does a great job.
Summer: Occult Academy
A great opening theme, a strong final scene, and some interesting mysteries to go alongside quality animation make this short series an easy watch despite its shortcomings in pacing and focus.
Fall: Star Driver - Kagayaki no Takuto
As a fun mech-of-the-day series, this show delivers on the action and music even if its story is a bit confusing at times.The last episode in particular is breathtaking even to this day.
Winter: Is This a Zombie?
With some running gags that never get old and a diverse array of characters, this series keeps the laughs coming despite showing its age with its style and fanservice.
All of us here are in agreement: Steins;Gate is an all time-classic. Despite a very dense and somewhat slow first half, as long as you can keep track of the characters and concept the payoff is almost unmatched.
Summer: Sacred Seven
Sacred Seven being the pick here is indicative of a weaker season. That being said, it has some interesting character dynamics, pretty cool character designs, and a familiar-feeling story progression.
Fall: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Another all-time classic, Hunter x Hunter seamlessly weaves different characters and their individual motivations into a cohesive story full of flashy fights, smart characters, and tense threat-filled moments.
Winter: Daily Lives of High School Boys
This slapstick slice-of-life didn't quite hit me as hard as it's highschool girl equivalent Nichijou did, but it still contains some moments that are easily to relate to and laugh at the same time.
Both goofy and gorgeous, this "fishing" series contains aspect of the sport itself, a nice dose of mythology, and a zany secret organization that all blend together to make a series that really surprised me. Plus its just pleasant to look at.
Summer: Kokoro Connect
This series hit me with how well it balanced comedy and drama while also addressing the issues that viewers typically wonder about when body-swapping is involved. Not to mention, this show's interpersonal relationships genuinely had me interested in the plot.
Taking place in the same universe as Steins;Gate, this series takes the group-focus of the aforementioned series to the high school stage without compromising the mystery. Keep an eye out for some nods to Steins;Gate Easter eggs!
Two Words: Jojo References. In all seriousness, despite the cliche harem setting, the references, comedic timing, and cast of characters made this an enjoyable and quick watch.
Spring: Attack on Titan
As much as I've personally fallen out of love with the series, this is the season that started it all and it was a game changer. The music is impactful, the animation is top-notch, and the universe that is laid out here continues to be revered.
Summer: Gatchaman Crowds
The most unique reimagining of a series that I've ever seen, Gatchaman Crowds takes the original premise and just barely keeps it around in the best kind of way. An amazing opening sets the tone for a colorful and action-packed new world that shouldn't be missed.
Fall: Kill la Kill
Kill la Kill was a breath of fresh air. Unafraid to lean into fanservice, switch animation styles, and blow the budget when necessary, Kill la Kill blew me away with how serious it ended up and how natural it all felt despite an OK middle third.
Indicative of another season that wasn't the strongest in my eyes, D-Frag is nevertheless a good slapstick series that is able to execute a good straightman act between some of the cast members.
Spring: Initial D Final Stage
I had to include this on my list because Initial D is my favorite series and this marked the end of an era. With an iconic soundtrack and the best animation the series has seen outside of the legend movies, this was a great sendoff to a series that started in the 90's.
Both bittersweet and uplifting, this series' emphasis on finding ones' self through reflection was earnest in every sense of the word. Characters were likable, the lessons were clear, and the comedy was spot on.
Fall: Your Lie in April
Like Barakamon, this series' lessons about self discovery coupled with its emotional tone and heart-wrenching moments make it a must watch and made it a surprise hit for me.
Winter: Death Parade
Couple a unique premise with an episodic nature and sprinkle in an overarching mystery and what you get is a great series. Shoutout to BRADIO for providing an amazing opening theme as well (even if it isn't spot on with the tone of the show).
Spring: Blood Blockade Battlefront
Set in an interesting reimagining of New York City and filled with monsters, mystery, and super powers, this X-Files style anime provides the best of episodic and overarching plots to the table.
Summer: Ushio and Tora
Full of action with an old school flair, Ushio and Tora dips into Asian mythology in general (not just Japanese lore) to present a dark, dangerous, and interesting world.
Fall: Mobile Suit Gundam - Iron Blooded Orphans
My favorite Gundam series in years, this iteration decided to forgo traditional designs, weaponry, and militaristic factions in favor of a grittier, brutal, and more realistic vision that returns to the series' core premise that no one is safe.
In a world full of various Isekai series, Konosuba stands tall as the one that makes it a point to parody others. Worthless powers, oddly realistic issues, and non-stop comedy make this one of the funniest series I've ever watched.
Spring: My Hero Academia
Like Attack on Titan, this first series sprigboarded a goliath (though, unlike AoT, I still follow this one closely). For a season focused on set up, the sakuga moment were breathtaking and the music adds to the emotional charges that the animation gives.
Summer: Mob Psycho 100
Gorgeous and uniquely animated, Mob Psycho 100 manages to balance comedy, action, and intensity in a way that one might not think from the art style. Come for the trippy visuals, stay for the quality in storytelling and production
Fall: The Great Passage
Our first review on this sight, this show is able to make dictionary production interesting with realistic characters, conflict, and development. Enough said.
Winter: Little Witch Academia
Another Trigger hit, Little witch channels the magic of Harry Potter with the crazy antics of the studio's prior works. Somehow, though, it manages to capture the intense emotions and action when it needs to.
Although it gets heavy handed towards the end with its meta take on consumer culture, this action-packed series is still an interesting look at how the fans behind games, anime, and manga drive creations and how that affects how a creator views what he makes.
Summer: Made in Abyss
This series was a clear winner for anime of the year for me, let alone anime of the season. It's cute exterior masks a show full of dark concepts and even darker imagery that, like the abyss calling our protagonists down into it, pulls the viewer deeper and deeper in.
Fall: Recovery of an MMO Junkie
A solid but subtle romance story backed by real-world issues like workplace health, anxiety, and expectations make this an easy recommendation. The framing of the series in a videogame setting with some well placed comedy only bolsters this.
Winter: Violet Evergarden
Gorgeous visuals, a heartfelt story, and an appropriate and elevating soundtrack make this Netflix exclusive the gem of the platform's library.
Another realistic take on romance (though more rooted in comedy) this series addresses the issues experienced by otaku out in the world as they try to balance their own subculture-focused interests with their relationships in the face of a judging public.
Summer: Asobi Asobase
Talk about subverted expectations! What appears at face value to be a show about the prim and proper lifestyle of a group of girls quickly turns into a show focused on vulgar humor and incredible comedic timing. I never stopped laughing, be it out of comedy or be it out of sheer disbelief.
Fall: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure - Golden Wind
It wouldn't be one of my lists without a JoJo part, and Part 5 fits the bill. It masters the presentation of stand combat and of group dynamics while telling a more cohesive and focused story than any other part in the stand-era thus far.
Winter: Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
When the two smartest people realize their feelings for each other but also want to get the other to confess in the name of maintaining power what you get is one of the most unique rom-coms I've seen in a while.
Spring: Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba
With intense action, animation so good that it brings people to tears, and a simple plot, Demon Slayer is a series that really anyone can watch (as long as they aren't too queasy with blood) and enjoy. It's a hit for a reason.
Summer: Vinland Saga
From the moment the opening hits to the end of every episode, this intriguing look into viking culture never lets up. A great score and an intense cast of characters/motivations proves that this series deserves to stand with the greatest seinen series out there.
A surprise to me, this spin on the harem formula uses a blend of drama and comedy to keep the viewer invested in the yo-yo of what our protagonist is going to get into in each episode.
AND THERE IT IS! Are there some hot takes here? Oh for sure, but that's what being a member of this fandom is all about (and hey, this is a little peek into my own preferences)! The fact that so many shows during so many seasons could be slotted into this list just goes to show how diverse of a decade this has been! Here's hoping that 2020-2029 is just as great for us anime fans and, for everyone reading this before the stroke of midnight, HAPPY NEW YEAR!