Welcome back, tourists. Today I will be finishing off the list of the best anime of the last decade. Who knows, maybe I am giving up the good stuff a little too soon, but I might as well get it out there before the 2010s slowly fade away from our collective memory. After all, the death of beloved athlete Kobe Bryant, the huge wildfires that are destroying Australia and the outbreak of the Coronavirus, 2020 seems to have enough to keep people occupied.
“March Comes in Like a Lion” - Fall 2016 - Studio: Shaft
Nowhere in the universe is there a show nearer and dearer to my heart than Studio Shaft’s masterpiece, “March Comes in Like a Lion.”
It tells the story of Rei Kiriyama, middle school shogi prodigy turned high school depression case. While still involved in the world of shogi as one of its better players, Rei faces some of his most traumatic, emotional scars, including the death of his birth family and the relationship with his adopted parents and sister. Despite only ever playing shogi because of his dad, Rei’s relationship with the game becomes fundamentally altered as he works out his problems.
It is rare that a singular show ever spans such a wide range on the emotional spectrum as “March Comes in Like a Lion” — even with its seemingly odd subject matter or seemingly because of it. The show manages to cover a wide range of topics outside of shogi, such as depression, abuse and bullying.
Each of these topics is explored in-depth and through the perspective of multiple characters, all while resolving the main plot in a way that makes sense narratively. In a lot of ways, the series reflects much of what is going on in society today — actively bringing awareness to mental health that was not there before.
“A Silent Voice” - Fall 2016 - Studio: Kyoto Animation
I said series and movies at the beginning of this list for a reason, because not recognizing one of the most impactful films of the decade would be incredibly irresponsible, to say the least.
“A Silent Voice” focuses on the topic of bullying from the perspective of Shouya Ishida, the resident bully of a girl who transferred to his school, Shouko Nishimiya. Shouko, as is revealed fairly early, is deaf and because of this is targeted by almost everyone in the school. However, Shouya gets sold out as the main culprit by his classmates. Years later, after almost attempting suicide, Shouya attempts to make amends with Shouko.
Bullying has been and remains a popular topic of conversation, especially as it affects specific communities. “A Silent Voice,” however, portrays a specific aspect of bullying that is not often explored — what happens when a person attempts to befriend the person they bullied. From that perspective, it can be quite a jarring film.
Still, its emotional resonance and message can not be overstated, and it’s easily one of the best animated films to be released this decade.
“Made in Abyss” - Summer 2017 - Studio: Kinema Citrus
If Game of Thrones has shown anything, it is that there is still a large appetite for good fantasy stories among the general population. Luckily, I have got a show that delivers just that.
“Made in Abyss” is truly something special. It is set in a world where what is below the earth’s surface is arguably much more interesting than anything above. “The Abyss,” as it is dubbed, is a giant chasm that leads to an entire ecosystem below ground. Riko, a young orphan girl who grows up in the town surrounding the abyss, hopes to find out its secrets, including what happened to her mother.
Joined by Reg, a mysterious humanoid robot that has no memories of his past, Riko journeys into “The Abyss” despite the dangers present. What sets “Made in Abyss” apart from other fantasy stories is just how unique its story really is. The universe that is constructed both around and within “The Abyss” is both original and interesting, from its creatures and plant life to the abyss explorers’ societal structure.
“A Place Further Than the Universe” - Winter 2018 - Madhouse
Between “Wandering Son” and “A Silent Voice,” there are already a number of emotionally powerful works on this list. Still, I think there is room for at least one more. Trust me, “A Place Further Than the Universe” deserves it. It is the high school drama adventure of the decade.
“A Place Further Than the Universe” follows Mari Tamaki and her quest to fulfill her goal of going on an adventure before she leaves high school. Right before giving up on her goal, she finds a million yen lying on the floor of a train station. After finding the girl it belongs to, Shirase Kobuchizawa, Mari decides to join Shirase on her journey to reach Antarctica.
Mari and Shirase’s trip ends up becoming much more than just a journey to Antarctica. Along the way the two meet up with Hinata Miyake and Yuzuki Shiraishi, who help them acquire the means to get there in the first place. Early on in the series, it is also revealed that the reason Shirase wants to go on this journey is because of her mom, who was a researcher in Antarctica but lost her life while on an expedition.
“A Place Further Than the Universe” is a phenomenal anime and one that hits home for many. At its core, the show is about looking inward, finding oneself and seeing that identity through to the end.
“Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai” - Fall 2018 - Cloverworks
In case anyone is wondering, no the title for this anime is not wrong. “Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai” is, in fact, the real English name. Despite that, it is still a phenomenal work that should be talked about.
The series makes sure that, despite the incredibly strange title, it is a serious show. The first episode features Sakuta Azusagawa running into fellow classmate and acclaimed actress Mai Sakurajima, except, as he finds out, she has been affected by a disease that he himself has dealt with in the past, Puberty Syndrome. Puberty Syndrome changes people’s realities by materializing their insecurities.
Deciding to help Mai through her problem of people suddenly not knowing who she is despite being famous across Japan leads him to meet with others who also have the disease. This includes one of his close friends Rio Futaba. Sakuta’s world becomes even more confusing than his mundane high school life already was. All of it forces him to realize that there are a lot of things that are more important than one’s own comfort.
That, my lovely tourists, is the list. It is by no means a complete list of everything worth watching from the last decade, but it is what I consider to be the best. After watching a few of the things from this list, it would certainly be worthwhile to venture out further into the world of anime.
Jack Scheibelein is a sophomore majoring in English. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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