Thursday, January 2, 2020

Best Anime of the '10s

Time to chase off some readers with a weeb post. Sorry, guys!

The '10s were an odd decade for anime. The back haf of the '00s suffered for many reasons, chief among them being that the industry began catering to hyper-otaku at the expense of normal customers. Despite putting out some great series, it was the weakest decade for the medium I had been around for. Many of the bad trends made their way over to the beginning of the '10s, and it began to see that they had giving up telling stories outside of certain tropes that their old audience simply had no interest in.

2010, for instance, carried on trends that were best left behind in the '00s. This is the year of showing that moe had completely overtaken the medium.

On the other hand, it wasn't barren. One of the best magical girls series in Heartcatch Precure ran this year, as did Space Adventure Cobra's newest series. There is also Panty & Stocking if you're into Gainax, which I'm not. But aside from them? Nothing but moe, Oreimo, and bad adaptions of mediocre manga. 2010 was a pretty terrible year for anime.

But things slowly started to improve throughout the decade and peaked with 2015 and 2016, some of the best years for anime since 1998. The years after that had some great material, too, but those two years are when anime got its groove back.

Even if you preferred the more moe or slice of life or Oreimo-style trash, that still existed in the latter years. The difference is the rest of us began to get series for us outside of a throwaway every now and then.

So I'm going to make a small list of series I enjoyed a lot this past decade. It's purely a taste thing, so you won't see shows like Madoka here. Yes, I tried it, and yes, I hated it. Sorry, but my tastes are what they are. And those who read this blog are certainly aware of that by now.

I'm going to start from 2010 and work my way to 2019, listing series as I go. That means this is probably going to be a long list. Take note if you hven't seen something here: it is worth your time.

Note also, that just because I haven't listed it here, it doesn't mean it's trash. I haven't seen everything, and not everything is to my taste.

Now, let us get into it.


Heartcatch Precure!

I don't really watch magical girl series. They're not for me, I'm not the audience, so I have no qualm with that. That said, since I do write in the action genre, it is my duty to catch some of them when possible. This was easily the best one I have seen. The characters are all distinct, their motivations are clear, and the action is really well-directed. It was the first magical girl series to have me engaged the whole way through. If you are looking for a single magical girl series to see if it's for you, I would say this is the one to go with.

Cobra: The Animation (2010)

Cobra was a bit ahead of its time with the whole "retro manga getting a new anime" trend that really kicked off with JoJo a few years later. I'm not sure how else to say anything aside from, it's Cobra. If you enjoy space adventure pulp with a '70s twist then this is for you. If not? then I'm not sure why you're even here.



This is a wacky comedy that is very much an acquired taste. Thankfully, I enjoy really goofy and dumb humor, so I can appreciate what is going on here. It's a slice of life series about school, except unlike in moe the humor here is actually funny. This is one that still manages to get mention today, and it's deserved. But it's not for everyone. Still, funny is funny, and few anime from this decade hit that mark for me.

Tiger & Bunny

The first big action success of the decade, so successful that we're still waiting for a second season, Tiger & Bunny is a superhero series about a pair of heroes teamed up to save the day. They get embroiled in something deeper, which turns out to be a conspiracy above both of their heads. This was the best series Sunrise had put out in quite some time, and had some fantastic design and art. The 3D costumes, despite being clunky, actually match the mood very well, which is a hard thing to do. Action fans really should check this one out.

Hunter X Hunter

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this one. A series started in 1998 that still has yet to end, this is a hyper violent shonen that borders on seinen most of the time. From the creator of Yu Yu Hakusho, this is about a boy named Gon who goes on an adventure to find his missing father. He soon gets tied up in death battles, shady organizations, and grotesque monsters. It's not the easiest series to watch, but you won't see much else like it.


Kids on the Slope

A drama from the director of Cowboy Bebop about a group of kids from 1960s Japan. This is a coming of age story pared down to its essence in a 12 episode run. I can't say much else without ruining the surprise, but it is the quality you would expect from the director of one of the best anime of the '90s. Definitely seek this out. It was a good year for this types of series along with Space Brothers. I would have listed the latter, but I haven't seen it, so you'll just have to make due with this on the list instead!

Psycho Pass

Gen Urobuchi came up with the concept of Psycho Pass because he missed how anime in the old days would do more with concepts and ideas in a futuristic setting. This was his attempt at a Patlabor series. While it's rather controversial, with a second season he wasn't even involved in, this first one is still considered one of the best in modern takes on cyberpunk.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

The series that unleashed JoJo-mania on the weebs, this is a title that lives up to its name. Jonathan Joestar is a young gentleman who meets his opposite in a man named Dio. Their meeting will cause an ongoing generational war that will span several series. David Productions took good care to animate this series without catering it to modern tastes, which makes it look a bit out of its time, even now. The first few episodes are tough for some to get through, but it lasted this long for a reason. The first season covers the first two (of 8, currently) parts and is the perfect introduction to the franchise.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

I'm also including the sequel series here since it's one long whole. This was an Arabian Nights flavored adventure series filled with magic, political intrigue, and tons of action. While the anime never unfortunately covered the end of the manga what it did cover was top notch stuff. They hadn't made adventures like this since the '90s, and it was more than welcome at the time.


Hajime no Ippo: Rising

Sorry, but 2013 wasn't really to my taste. This sequel to the long-running boxing series is about all that really interested me this year aside from the next entry. You mileage might vary, but this was about the time I began wondering if anime was for me anymore. But this series, made by MAPPA (and therefore, ex-Madhouse staff) was still great stuff.

Gundam Build Fighters

By this point the tank had begun to run dry on the Gundam franchise. It was either endless rehashes of the original series or attempts to "modernize" the brand which fell flat every time. For the first time since G Gundam, Sunrise decided to try something new with the idea and made it work. Ostensibly a Yu-Gi-Oh! style approach with Gunpla (Gundam figures), they tell quite a unique story with this concept and breathed some new life into the Gundam franchise. I wouldn't start with this series, but it is a good one to watch when you know something about it.



Sports anime are a dime a dozen, but in recent years most of them have gotten so flat and dull that they have become a chore to watch. Production IG takes what is a solid sports manga and throws in top notch production to really push it over the edge to become an invigorating watch. It's nothing you haven't seen before in the genre. A small town volleyball team is trying to reclaim their school's former glory. But its the presentation that lifts this one up.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

I'm not listing any sequel seasons here, but JoJo is the exception. The reason is that while it is an ongoing story, you can drop in and out at anytime and not miss the overall story. They can also be watched standalone. In this one, an adaption of Part 3 of the manga, Jotaro Kujo's mother is afflicted with an ailment and he must travel across the globe in order to save her. This is the most well known and popular part, as well, as to date the longest anime entry at 48 episodes. You can watch it alone, or part of a bigger whole. Either way, it is a great watch.

Baby Steps

This was quite the time for sports anime. Baby Steps is the story of a teenage boy trying to learn tennis. It's about the importance of practice and how hard work will eventually pay off, but not overnight. The presentation of the anime adds a lot to the story and does much to get you invested in the story of someone who just won't give up and constantly learns from his mistakes. It isn't really a typical shonen sports series, but is one more interested in showing how important doing your best actually is.


Another new anime of an old manga, this is the story of alien parasite that arrive on Earth and wish to take it over. It is up to one teenager and his parasite, Migi, to stop them. This condenses a longer manga into 24 episodes, but it's Madhouse so they do it about as well as you would expect. That said, this is more horror oriented, so be warned if that is not your cup of tea.


Blood Blockade Battlefront

From the man who created Trigun comes this series about an organization who fights supernatural threats in a city filled with aliens, monsters, and deadly creatures from spaces beyond our own. This is a weird series, and as such might actually be easier to watch the dub just to keep your attention focused, but you will catch much underneath the surface just as in Trigun. This was the series that finally proved to me that anime was back.

My Love Story!

One of the best romcoms to come around in some time, about a manly man and a girly girl who manage to get into a relationship together. This might sound normal, but in a climate that prefers weak male characters and pushy tsunderes as main characters, this is a reminder at why the normal approach is better. This was also done by Madhouse, which is not the sort of thing you would expect from them. That said, this is one of the best shoujo romances I have seen in a good while.

Ushio & Tora

What a surprise, coming from me. But this was my favorite anime of the decade, an excellent adaption by MAPPA with direction from the director of Trigun and written by one of the most overlooked artists in Japan back from before the shonen genre got codified. Based on a story that ran from 1990-1996, this anime takes you backwards with storytelling Japan had forgotten, and forwards with some incredible direction and animation that could almost be mistaken for a series from the '90s. As far as shonen go, this is one of the best. Join Ushio and his tiger youkai pal named Tora as they battle monsters and demons in modern day Japan. It's a classic story for a reason.

One Punch Man

The knockout surprise hit of the year, this is the one that really hit the mainstream hard. A story of a man who can beat anyone with a single punch, it turns out to be something much more very quickly. This is about the importance of heroes, and standing up to evil, even when you can't. What makes a true hero? Check this one out and find out. I would be remiss to not mention the first season is made by (again) Madhouse, and is phenomenal looking. The sequel series is done by JC Staff and s far less impressive as a result, but it is still worth watching.



I'm not much for Isekai. In case you didn't notice, I haven't listed any so far. I preferred the genre better without the video game roots, and have little use to the .Hack inspired series that have come out since. Konosuba is an exception because it's a comedy, and a funny one at that. What could very easily be a pile of cliches get turned on their head simply by having a cast of characters that have a surprising amount to them despite starting off as obvious archetypes. It's difficult for anime comedy to really hit it out of the park, but this one manages it.


A drama about a young man who travels back in time to the past to solve a murder, this one took me by surprise. Satoru is a disillusioned young man who hates the world and by both being reminded of his past and what he didn't see back then ends up changing him and his journey to an ending he couldn't possibly have imagined when starting out. For 12 episodes it packs a lot in, and while some aspects might be predictable, the journey is what sells it.

My Hero Academia

Still ongoing, this is the tale of Izuku Midoriya, a powerless kid in a world where everyone has superpowers. When he is given the chance to be a hero it will take every part of him to learn what it takes to be one. I don't think I need to explain the most popular anime currently running, but I would say that the hype is deserved. The anime has the writer of the Trigun anime behind it, so you know it is in good hands. Expect great things as the series passes 100 episodes next year.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable

My favorite part of the JoJo saga, Part 4 is more or less an epilogue to the first three parts and for me feels like an ending for the series. Though many disagree. Diamond is Unbreakable is a series of Weird Tales centered in a small town where bizarre happenings occur around Josuke and it is up to him and his group of friends to prevent disaster from befalling on their hometown. There are a few changes to the manga to make this part flow better, and it ends up helping it even more. This is one of the best parts of the entire franchise.

Mob Psycho 100

From the creator of One Punch Man comes this very '80s inspired series about psychics attempting to rule the world. Mob is just a simple teenager trying to understand where he fits in, despite having overwhelming power. This has some of the best animation you're likely to see in anime, along with a story of growth that anyone can relate to. It might not be as accessible as One Punch Man, but it s every bit its storytelling equal, and one of the best anime of 2016.


Garo: Vanishing Line 

2017 was a let down from the previous two years where most of the good stuff in this year consisted of sequels of previous season series. I wonder if this was a breather after a couple of really strong years in a row. The one real exception to 2017's originals slump was Garo: Vanishing Line, an original story based on a long running tokusatsu franchise in Japan. This one features a manly male protagonist with a love of the ladies and his battle with the forces of evil in a modern fantastical cyberpunk world. He transforms into a hero of gold armor who can slay any villain that wishes to harm the innocents. This one has a bit of a horror bent to it at times, but this is a pure hero story. It is a shame most overlooked it.


Megalo Box

Thankfully, 2018 was a step forward again, starting with Megalo Box. A story of a cyberpunk world where humans have lost sight of humanity, this is the story of a young boxer who climbs his way out of the pit to become a superstar. But in a world where death is just around the corner how much longer will he have? This was a surprise hit from the season, with a grainy look that gave it that old school style, and a plot and characters that made you keep coming back for more. Even more surprising is that it has a sequel season coming in the near future. It is a shame most overlooked this one for not being modern enough. It has a fantastic style well worth seeing.

Golden Kamuy

Not the best adaption due to some pacing issues and horrifying use of CG bears, the second season nevertheless ironed most of those out. But what counts is the story, and the story is fantastic. Sugimoto, a veteran of the Russo-Japanese war ends up with an Ainu girl on a search for gold. This is a weird adventure with some bizarre comedy that nevertheless features intense action and quite a lot of exploration. It's not the sort of thing you see a lot of.

Banana Fish

A violent crime drama with an adaption by MAPPA. I wasn't happy with the change in setting from the '80s to modern day as it ends up altering some of the events of the original, but it is otherwise up to their usual standards. This is the story of rot and ugliness in a world of death, and if there is any escape from it. One of many manga classics being re-adapted today, it is well worth seeking out. But don't expect a pleasant ride.


A modern day tokusatsu adaption by Trigger, this is based on the Tsuburaya Production series Gridman. You might know them better for Ultraman, but Gridman was a story about a cyber/digital hero as opposed to Ultraman's more alien approach. You might also know it from Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad over in North America, which is what the SSSS. stands for. Nonetheless, this is an interesting and enjoyable take on the property, and not quite what you might expect.

Karakuri Circus

This series suffers from pacing a 43 volume manga into 36 episodes, but aside from the rushed paced that can lead to confusion what is there is quite great. The story of living puppets that goes back centuries, this is a tale of breaking the chains of fate for a brighter tomorrow. If you can get past how much whips by, it is quite a great time. I only hope that artist (who also did Ushio & Tora) can have more of his series adapted in the future. No one comes up with weirder ideas than he does.


The Promised Neverland

The new material rolled over into 2019 with this adaption of a recent Shonen Jump series. But it's not your typical shonen, angled more on the Death Note side of things. In this one a group of orphans realize the orphanage they live in has a disturbing secret. They then have to find out what they can do about it. to say more would be spoilers, but there is a second season on the way this year, and the manga is nearing its end so you can rest assured there is much more to this concept.


A new adaption of an Osamu Tezuka story that he never properly finished, this is about a wandering samurai who needs to kill demons to reclaim his stolen body parts. However, there is a reason he lost his body to begin with, and he must also deal with the harshness of the world around him at the same time. Expect much action and drama out of this 24 episode series animated, again, by MAPPA.

Kaguya-sama: Love is War

A romcom with a good twist. This one stars two geniuses in a prestigious school as they try to get the other to confess their love to them. That would be enough to be good, but the writing and characters really carry this to a whole other level. It was also the surprise success of the year, already getting a second season for 2020. If you're tired of the moe "comedy" of modern anime then be sure to check this one out. It deserves its hype.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

My favorite currently running manga, Demon Slayer is about a boy named Tanjiro out for revenge against demons. On the way he meets a cast of characters that have their own reasons for hunting demons, and he begins to learn there may be more to these demons than he first thought. This is a very violent series with a lot of heart and energy, but the anime does a very good job taking the manga's rougher style and smooths it out for some fantastic animation. Despite that, the best material is to come and it is thankfully getting a movie this year to cover the next arc. It will be worth the wait.

Dr. Stone

A Shonen Jump series about the human race getting turned to stone and then beginning to awaken after several millennia. Our main character, the genius Senku, must teach those around him how to rebuild what they lost via the lost art of science. This is an interesting adventure series with a nice twist, and even some surprising bits of action. It has a bit more of a lighthearted feel than you might expect, but considering how dark it could have gone, it works just fine. It's also getting a second season, so apparently others think so as well.

Fire Force

I didn't like Soul Eater, at all. Despite some good art, the story was non-existent and barely coherent. Fire Force, by the same creator, manages to reign in his worst traits to make an exciting story about a firefighting team who fights flaming monsters. It's not quite perfect, the pacing in the adaption could be tighter and some characters hang on their gimmicks a bit much, but you can do worse with an action shonen. It's definitely a good one.

Vinland Saga

I had been waiting for this adaption for a long time. From the creator of Planetes, comes this historical adventure about Thorfinn, a young viking warrior and his dream of seeing the legendary Vinland. Of course the story goes far beyond that premise, but the anime covers the prologue arc of the series, ending at just the point that has me waiting for season 2. There is much Christian symbolism in this story as the world is changing around Thorfinn and a new age is beginning to dawn. It is one of the best anime of the year, and well worth seeing.

No Guns Life

Easily the most overlooked series of the year, Madhouse takes you on a cyberpunk journey following a private investigator with a gun for a head. Things aren't what they seem in this world of flesh and steel, and our protagonist is about to find there is more underneath the surface than he bargained for. This series is not as fast-paced as you would expect, being more of a slow burner, but that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of action and intrigue to be had. The second half of this season should be out this year, too. So there is plenty to catch up on.

I suppose I could keep going, but I think this post is way too long as it is. Suffice to say, if you like anime you aren't hurting for options, and while the decade might have started out off kilter, the industry regained its footing by the end.

Despite tragedies like the Kyoto Animation fire, the anime industry is still trucking, and 2020 has some good stuff just ahead. You just can't keep them down.

So keep watching, you never know what they'll come up with next.

In the meantime, my book Gemini Warrior has just the amount of craziness you can ask for. no it isn't an anime, but that doesn't mean it isn't just as awesome.

Find it Here!


  1. Good list. A lot I haven't seen, mostly agree with the stuff you have except that I really didn't like Fire Force.

    (I was also incredibly disappointed at how weak the animation and choreography was in the last episode of MHA, as that is my 2nd favorite scene in the entire series. It was the first time I would say Bones dropped the ball but what a bad time for it.)

    Soooooo happy you included "Magi", which has decent production values and in its best moments some of the best writing in shonen period, particularly the Balbadd arc and the Kingdom of Magic arc. Alibaba is an all-time great character.

    I'm also glad to see somebody besides my sister and me appreciating No Guns Life, which is awesome.

    Lastly: I would have included Kill La Kill too.

    1. There's a lot I could have included, but the list was long enough as it was.

  2. We owe you one for hooking us up with MHA and Trigun. So right back atcha with Dr. Stone and Steins Gate. Detective Conan is still fun!

    Meanwhile - could you parse your recommendations for brain bleach-wanted evil and perversion? We tried JoJo and couldn't get past the satanic evil.

    You have similar tastes to us but we don't want to fill our heads with the ick.

    1. JoJo is very much an acquired taste, written in the late 80s when violence was a lot more extreme.

      But if you want material closer to Trigun, I can recommend a few from the above. Tiger & Bunny, Magi, Blood Blockade Battlefront (written by the writer of Trigun), Ushio & Tora, Erased, Megalo Box, and Mob Psycho 100, are much more in that vein without going too out there with the violence.

      I hope that helps!

  3. I should also say I've tried but I just can't get into Tiger and Bunny. Maybe it's because I'm the wrong generation and watched it later but every time I see it I think "This is fine. MHA is better though."