Intro: I know, but can you, I mean, geez. Yeah, ok, I get it. Let’s just, let’s just get through this together.
*This is a semi-objective list. The candidates were chosen based on a mix of quality and cultural impact. This list is not in any particular order.
Attack on Titan (2013)
The first anime I thought about as the “Best of the 2010’s” was Attack on Titan. Do I necessary thing it was the actual best, no. But it was certainty the most impactful for a while. I think people forget exactly how HUGE AoT was when it debuted in 2013. It had spin-offs, plays, bad live-action movies. It was referenced on the Simpsons, Marvel made a cross-over comic, and you could not walk into an anime convention without seeing a group of Scouts keeping our walls safe. Had the franchise kept up by releasing follow up seasons sooner, it’d probably still be talked about as the biggest anime of all time.
My Hero Academia (2016)
The 2010’s was the decade of the Superhero. A new golden age, only instead of comics, we got movies. Japan was not immune, and in 2016, an anime adaptation of the popular My Hero Academia was released to the world. My Hero helped revitalize the Shoen genre during an age of transition by infusing it with traditionally western ideal of the superhero. By mixing comic book idealism with manga action and emotion, we got one of the hottest anime of the decade.
One-Punch Man/Mob Psycho 100 (2015/2016)
I included these both in the same slot because the story of One-Punch Man and Mob Pyscho is really the story of ONE the artist. A little known web-comic creator, ONE’s Cinderella story help elevate his already great creations. Through support from industry veterans and fans, ONE’s crude artwork was transformed into some of the most artistically brilliant works the medium has ever seen. But ONE’s own commentaries on the nature of talent and effort are what truly tie the his stories together.
Kill la Kill (2014)
In 2011, Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ōtsuka left the legendary Studio Gainax to forge their own destiny. The 2010’s was the first decade where Trigger came into existence. In 2013, the studio made it’s statement to the world through Kill La Kill, a bombastic, over the top, kick-ass story about family, rebellion, legacy, and identity. It represented what the next decade would be: a remix of the old through the lenses of the new.
Steins; Gate (2011)
What more can be said about Steins;Gate what hasn’t already been said. It’s a story of a time traveler trying to save his first love. It’s the story of family trying to survive an uncertain future. It’s a story of regret and redemption. It’s a story of freedom in the face of fascism. It’s a story of fighting against the inevitable. It’s a story about growing up. It’s a love story. It’s all these and more. It’s not just a good anime story, it’s a good story period.
Madoka Magica (2011)
Subverting expectations. Deconstructing a genre. People love dark takes on classic troupes because it makes the things they loved as children feel more adult. So it makes it OK to like them again. This sentiment often makes people forget that the things they loved as children had some pretty bleak things occur, but dealt with them in through a brighter perspective. Because children need to learn that the future struggles and tragedies they will face can be dealt with through their own inner strength and support of others. Friendship may not save the world, but it can save a person in their lowest hour. That being said, this anime is a great dark fairy tale that depicts what happens when friendship goes too far.
Devilman Crybaby (2018)
The rise of the intent age gave way to the rise of streaming. This new form of consuming entertainment gave way to a plethora of platforms for media consumption. With it, came a search for attractive content, hence the creation of Devilman Crybaby for Netflix. A modern adaptation of the classic tale by Go Nagai, this anime blew everyone’s mind in 2018 with it’s portrayal of sex and violence. But once you look beyond the surface, you get a story of nihilism vs. idealism, and what it means to love someone in a world that seems to increasingly reject its better angels for its base desires. A story that tries to answer the question, what happens when even a Devil needs to cry for humanity?
Isekai. Everyone’s favorite and least favorite genre. Through the popularity of Sword Art Online, the “trapped in another world” genre saw a plethora of imitators and competition. Each with their own take on the wish fulling fantasy of an average Japanese man being taken to another world. But a genre doesn’t truly gain prominence until someone cares about it enough to make fun of it. Enter KonoSuba, a story that revels in the absurdity of the Isekai genre. Not only does the show make fun of the stereotypical troupes of the every man protagonist, RPG party/harem, and heroic quests, but it does so through beautiful animation and stellar acting. A decade defining comedy if there ever was one.
Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure (2012)
The 2010’s was a decade where the old was new again. No where was that more true that in David Production’s take on Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure. Adapted from the long-running manga series with the same name, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure finally let the world experience one the longest, most intricately created, and downright weird series Japan had to offer. A multi-generational story, each entry can be watched independently, with each part making the whole stronger, instead of the other way around. Everyone had a favorite part. Everyone has a favorite character. Everyone had their favorite adventure.
Little Witch Academia (2017)
When trying to decide what makes a great anime, several questions pop into your head. Does it have a good story? Is the animation above average? Is there good action? Are the jokes funny? Do you are about the characters? Did people care about it? Can everyone enjoy it? Little Witch Academia fulfills all these requirements and then some. Very rarely do you get to encounter a series that everyone could unequivocally enjoy, while also standing out as an exemplary model of the medium. People shouldn’t just watch Little Witch Acadmia. People should study Little Witch Academia. Artists and writers should take note of the show’s pacing and presentation. It’s studio Trigger’s best work, hands down, and one of anime’s most stellar offerings.
P.s. Honorable Mentions (a.k.a Anime I have not seen)
HunterXHunter (New Series)
Made in Abyss
P.s.s Honorable Mentions pt.2 (Anime I personally recommend)
Panty and Stoking
Yuri on Ice
No Game No Life
P.s.s.s. Other Best Stuff of the 2010’s
The Obama Presidency
Hamilton the Musical/This is America by Childish Gambino
Gay Marriage being Legalized in the United States
Game of Thrones Seasons 1-4
Stranger Things/Glow/Breaking Bad/Downton Abbey
The PS4 and Nintendo Switch
And finally, being able to write about anime for you. Thank you.