Well, another year has just about arrived. It always surprises me when I’m suddenly looking back at what my favourite shows were from a given year. I will say that this year more than most really had me struggling. There were enough shows that I felt were close to each other in terms of enjoyment to make selecting only 10 a trial. But I’m happy with the shows that I ended up picking for this. It’s one last chance to hype these shows up before waiting for sequels or buying the blurays!
As always this is just a list of the shows that I enjoyed the most this year. I’m sure a few of the series here won’t be anywhere near the top 10 for others and that’s fine. An objective list is possible to try and make. But I just want to acknowledge the shows I thought were the best and that I enjoyed the most. In the end we just have a good time watching shows. I wouldn’t mind hearing what others had in their own top 10 lists if anyone wants to drop a few shows that didn’t make it here. And if there are a few shows that did resonate then it’d be nice to celebrate those as well.
10. EDENS ZERO 2nd Season (Spring)
It was a pleasant surprise to go through the past year and end up with this show in my top 10. I did keep up much better with the second season than I did with the first. And oh boy, the second season was a pretty crazy ride. Honestly just the developments around Rebecca and her abilities made the season a contender for my top 10. Throwing in some good emotional scenes for the rest of the cast made sure it was going to make it.
I’m glad the season even had some good moments for Hermit and Weisz. I honestly didn’t expect some of the traumas from their pasts to become part of this season’s plot. The season overall had good moments along with some really traumatic ones. I’m curious to see how things will play out in the next season. It wasn’t the best show of the year for me, but definitely good enough to be in this conversation.
9. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (2023) (Summer)
I’ll make a horrible statement here. I still haven’t actually seen the original series. So this really was my first exposure to Rurouni Kenshin. And honestly I had a great time with it. The action landed with some nice choreography, sound effects, and music. Souma Saitou did a good job with Kenshin. Managed to walk the line between his lighter personality and when he taps into his inner killer. He lives up to the weight that being the title character demands.
I like that he is the kind of badass character that has been doing his best to hamper himself. He uses a sword that makes his quick draw style more difficult and just uses a sword that has a harder time killing people. But as the season goes on…that becomes an issue with opponents that he doesn’t vastly outclass. I do hope this gets another season since this one does set up the story nicely. It’s nice to get a show set in this time period that’s all about letting swordsmen be downright awesome.
8. Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack (Winter)
This season is much easier to include in my top 10 compared to even the last one. There was no difficult first episode to work through before things got much better. This season just had Nagatoro be really enjoyable and allowed the relationship between her and Naoto to steadily build up. They still aren’t there even by the end of this season, but they are much closer than they were.
There was nice progress for Nagatoro herself in this season. Beyond just introducing her sister, we got a better idea of what has gone on in her past. It was nice seeing her fail in the past and basically run away from judo. It was even nice to give her a legit rival in that sense, but not have it turn into a classic love rival situation. This season just did a good job establishing where the main characters are now and where they could go in the future. In terms of the “teasing girl” shows out there, Nagatoro is just the show I’ve found myself enjoying the most. Here’s hoping for more in the future from her.
I almost forgot that this show was part of 2023. For the reason that the bluray is now available outside of Japan. This show was a great way to start the year though. I loved how they took a different tactic with the isekai concept. Just having the main cast projecting their voices and presence into that world, but (mostly) not visiting it. There was a fun element to seeing Endo and Kobayashi using their limited presence to try and turn events into a positive direction. And sure their approach was turning it into sports commentary. But fair enough considering the whole situation was pretty crazy.
It allowed for us to enjoy ships in two worlds. The relationship between Endo and Kobayashi was good. But it also did a great job with Liselotte, Sieg, Fiene, and Baldur. And for the whole “let’s make a villainess into a good person” angle some shows are taking, it actually avoided making the original protagonist a villain. Fiene was still powerful and a good natured person. It’s just that they helped avoid Liselotte into a pure villain. And I’ll agree with the commentary that she was an incredibly cute tsundere. Absolutely a top 10 show for me and I have no problem including it here.
6. GRIDMAN UNIVERSE (Fall)
It’s always a bit questionable what season I want to count a movie as being from. Obviously this movie aired in March, but there was no way I was seeing it before October. Regardless though, I definitely saw it this year and it’s well worth being in my top 10! This movie did a fantastic job of giving enough focus to the Gridman and Dynazenon casts. It couldn’t possibly give everyone a big moment, but it did the best it could. There was legit fun in seeing all these characters interacting and all the giant robots/people fighting giant monsters.
We even got some nice resolution for the emotional ending of Dynazenon. Allowing the stories to end for these characters in a more satisfying place than they did in either show. This movie was always bound to have great visuals, music, and action. And it delivered on all of that. It isn’t a movie necessarily worth seeing if a person hasn’t seen at least one of the previous shows. But it offers wonderful payoff if you’ve seen both of them. Glad I got the chance to see it.
Now this is a show that I didn’t expect to place this high. I’ll admit there’s possible late season bias involved here too. But this show has been ridiculously fun! Honestly, this might be the best harem anime I’ve ever seen. It handles the concept of one guy with multiple girlfriends as well as possible. And honestly Rentarou is the Harem King. This guy isn’t just blissfully unaware of having a harem or is unwilling to just commit to an obvious main girl. This guy has been made soulmates…with 100 girls. And he’s tackling these relationships with his entire being! This guy is committed to these girls on a level that is amazing to behold.
So it’s no surprise when he’s got all these girls swooning, because he’s actually awesome. And for any sort of romance series there is a lot of emotional and physical connections at play here. I’ve seen more kissing scenes in this show than almost any other romance series. It does have some strange moments to be sure. But it’s actually an intensely fun show and I look forward to every episode of it. Absolutely top 5 worthy!
I may be the only person that has this show in my top 5, but that’s why the lists are made! This show honestly is one of my favourites of the year. It just falls outside of what I consider a definite top 3. The show starts off with a great emotional punch of seeing Mia be executed. This show went full French Revolution on her. That alone made for a compelling start to the show, but then Mia is basically sent back in time to her younger self with a chance to change everything.
There’s a nice balance between pure comedy and the truly emotional journey of a girl trying to save her own life. She does end up being treated like this genius who turns the fortunes of her country around, but it is all sourced from an understandable desire to live. There aren’t many series that make me want to read the source material afterwards, but this is one of them. Mia is a fun main character and I’m usually left rooting for her to stumble towards a happier future without a guillotine. The OP/ED combo alone makes this show top 10 worthy for me. The rest of it just helped decide where it would end up.
3. [Oshi no Ko] (Spring)
Now we are in the heavy hitters. Any of these shows could have been my #1 for the year. Oshi no Ko just blew me away during spring. It had a perfect opening episode that sets the tone for the entire show to follow. Ai was a truly huge draw as a character and it’s no shock her impact on the cast and the viewers endured for the whole show and beyond. It’s a show that is heavy on emotional drama in the entertainment industry with a murder mystery mixed in. Aqua, Ruby, Kana, Akane, etc are all great characters that are worthy of the fans that each of them have.
The opening and ending is a solid contender for the best of the year. It’s a great looking show that left me invested every week. Even if I questioned how Aqua was using the people around him, that took nothing away from how much I cared about what was happening. The idol scenes were good, but obviously the core of this show is the story and the characters. Doga Kobo knocked this one out of the park. I wouldn’t blame a soul for considering this to be the best anime of 2023.
2. BLEACH: Sennen Kessen-hen – Ketsubetsu-tan (Summer)
The return of Bleach has been everything I could have asked for. This second cour didn’t disappoint in the slightest. The war between the Quincy and Soul Reapers just got taken to another level and was as messy as that would imply. It also gave Ichigo’s backstory as much filling out as I could possibly have expected to see. The aftermath of the first round against the Quincy had to play out, but they really didn’t wait before getting round 2 underway. There were legitimately some great fights in this season. Some characters like Rukia and Renji got their best moments in the entire series here. And it’s not even done yet. The next part is still coming in 2024.
Each week I enjoyed writing about this show. It was a blast and makes me happy that Bleach both came back and that they waited until now to bring it back. It may take a good while for this story to play out, but that is allowing them to let each episode have the quality needed. An absolute given for me to have on this list.
1. Sousou no Frieren (Fall)
And so we arrive at #1! Honestly it was a tough call between all of the top 3, but in the end I have to give it to Frieren. This show just established a very solid and enjoyable fantasy setting. It’s as classic a fantasy anime as we’ve gotten in years.
Frieren is a true elf and that perspective is what makes the show so interesting. We see within just the first episode how she has to grapple with the passage of time and how devastating loss can be. She doesn’t lose people as much to external threats like demons as she does…to time itself. Frieren has the stoicism you’d expect from someone that’s lived for over a thousand years, but she’s still a person. And it’s fun to see her bounce off different personalities as she gains this new group of companions and goes off into the world. The cast itself is strong with Fern and Stark adding nicely to it. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Stark when he was introduced, but his interactions with Fern have become some of my favourite moments in the show.
This show has been a great emotional ride and it’s not even over. It’ll continue nicely into 2024. This is a show that manages to have a somber tone to it, but it can also sprinkle in some fantastic action when it is required. It’s not a pure action show to be sure, but it has that element there. The cast are on a journey and the world truly makes sense. It’s a show worth seeing. No surprise this ended up my top show of 2023. A show that treats the source material with respect and allows even characters that are no longer alive to shine via timely flashbacks. I hope anyone that skipped it for whatever reason (fall this year was packed) at least gives it a shot. Everyone has their tastes, but I’ll say this one definitely suited mine.
Will just add a few extra categories here:
My Best Male Lead: Kenshin Himura (Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (2023))
My Best Female Lead: Mia Luna Tearmoon (Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari: Dantoudai kara Hajimaru, Hime no Tensei Gyakuten Story)
My Best Couple: Rentarou x Karane, Hakari, Shizuka, Nanao, and Kusuri (Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo)
My Biggest Surprise Success: Tearmoon Teikoku Monogatari
My Biggest Disappointment: Boukensha ni Naritai to Miyako ni Deteitta Musume ga S Rank ni Natteta
This was a good year. Honestly I think it was as good a year as we’ve had in a while. The top end was fantastic and my biggest issue with selecting my top shows was deciding who to include. There were great shows that I just couldn’t fit in the top 10. There was the usual effort not to let recency bias influence me. But I’m not sure how well that went considering half the shows in the top 10 are from the fall season! But that’s not unfair considering Spring and Fall are usually extremely stacked seasons. This year in particular fall was absolutely crazy. I’ve had a tough time just keeping up with watching all the shows I found good and enjoyable. And I think that’s reflected in the top 10 in general.
Every year makes me feel this way, but I can’t see myself getting tired of anime anytime soon. There’s always a good show just around the corner. Just about every season has a show that will contend for my top 10 by the end of it. And I’m certain for that to be the case in 2024. Bleach will be back in this coming year and I’d be shocked if it doesn’t at least stay in my top 10. Konosuba, [Oshi no Ko], Tsuki ga Michibiku Isekai Douchuu, Yuru Camp△, and even Spice and Wolf are coming back! 2024 shouldn’t be a step down in the slightest and for that reason I’m going to keep talking about it. Or at least I will for as long as anyone cares what I have to say. Either way I’m going to be watching!
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