The anime industry has seen significant shifts in the volume and frequency at which shows are produced. In the age of seasonal anime dumps, many still hold nostalgia for the big series of the 90s and early 2000s, like Cowboy Bebop or Death Note.
While it can seem sometimes that the classics are still the best that anime has to offer, the 2010s saw a huge boom in anime’s popularity and brought with it a host of shows deserving of legendary status. Here are just some of the highlights from what might be anime’s biggest decade.
10/10 Carole And Tuesday (2019)
Thanks to the likes of K-ON, musical anime hold a decently popular spot in the larger anime landscape. However, few anime are as truly in love with music as Carole and Tuesday.
From the creator of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, C&T is a sci-fi series in which humans have colonized Mars, and AI-produced music has taken over the industry. Carole and Tuesday are dedicated to making their own original music despite this, leading to a beautiful journey to prove the value of the human touch in the arts. The series is full of amazing songs, and eccentric characters, with plentiful homages to real-life musical acts and songs.
9/10 Beastars (2019)
3D anime is still a hot-button topic for many in the anime community. Disasters like Berserk (2016) have soured the general opinion on 3D, and for understandable reasons. Beastars however, is one of the best examples of what heights 3D anime can reach.
It explores a world of animals, divided between carnivores and herbivores, through the eyes of a young gray wolf. Exploration is the important word here, as Beastars goes to places with its premise that are endlessly fascinating, and rich in compelling character drama, from love triangles to personal battles and straight-up punchouts.
8/10 Parasyte: The Maxim (2014)
At first, Parasyte seems like a fairly standard anime. The main character receives power in the form of a sentient creature that bonds with him, and must now use it to protect himself and those he loves.
What sets it apart though, is how beautifully it tells the unfolding story. The invading aliens are given deep and thorough characterization, and protagonist Shinichi grows in ways that are not only heartbreaking but realistic as well. And beyond all that, the series can also be credited with one of the few good portrayals of sex in anime.
7/10 Dororo (2019)
The original Dororo manga was released in 1967 by legendary mangaka Osamu Tezuka. It began in a completely different entertainment landscape, so managing to adapt it into a not just coherent, but masterful and emotional anime, is no small feat.
Dororo’s protagonist Hyakkimaru had his limbs and organs stolen from him as a baby and now uses a prosthetic body to hunt down the demons to whom his father sold his body. His adventure with the young Dororo leads to a friendship that must survive not only a daily deluge of demons but the complex and often heartbreaking family drama the series portrays.
6/10 The Tatami Galaxy (2010)
From legendary anime director Masaki Yuasa, Tatami Galaxy is a short series that deserves merit for how thoroughly it uses the strengths of animation for its story.
The series follows an unnamed college student through repeated attempts to make the right decisions and achieve the life of his dreams. Each episode covers a different series of decisions and relationships.
As Yuasa is known to do, the show stretches proportions and perspectives to wild extremes, prioritizing feeling over staying on model. It is a visual delight that tells a relatable, inspirational story about self-discovery and self-acceptance.
5/10 One Punch Man (2015)
One of the defining features of anime in the 2010s was the steady and deliberate popularization of the medium. By 2020, anime was no longer the niche eastern import it once was, and One Punch Man is one of the series that helped make this happen.
Despite humble beginnings as a poorly drawn webcomic, OPM’s anime burst onto the scene and instantly cemented itself as a legend. Its comedy and characters retain the quality that made the webcomic popular to begin with, while the visuals absolutely explode with some of the best animation the decade had to offer.
4/10 Mob Psycho 100 (2016)
Mob Psycho 100 is arguably quite a bit better than its brother OPM. While the latter’s popularity was insane when it debuted, MP100 is just an overall better series.
It takes the same overpowered protagonist premise, but uses it in a more grounded fashion, characterizing Mob as a young boy who despite his great power, is more concerned with developing social skills and athletic prowess.
As a result, its story and characters are a lot more relatable, while also being able to bust out climactic psychic battles at the drop of a hat.
3/10 Hunter x Hunter (2011)
Hunter x Hunter already had an anime adaptation in the early 2000s, but many fans are far more familiar with the 2011 adaptation, and for good reason. While the older series isn’t bad by any means, HxH (2011) gave the series a modern aesthetic that continues to define it to this day.
Its intro ‘Departure’ is one of those anime OPs that will spark a chorus of joy in only a few notes, and that level of quality permeates the rest of the series. Not to mention, that this version of the anime adapts far more of the original story, and will likely continue once more chapters are available, or the series concludes.
2/10 Attack On Titan (2013)
Just like OPM, Attack on Titan was an unexpected hit that took the anime world by storm and brought a huge injection of new anime fans to the community. Eren and friends’ quest to free themselves of the monstrous titans went missing for four years after the original season, but the fact that fans were willing to wait shows just how big the series already was.
WIT, the original studio behind AOT pumped out some legendary animation that still gets praised today, and a soundtrack from Hiroyuki Sawano elevates the action even higher. Add to that the already compelling drama from the manga, and it’s no wonder fans still show up for AOT whenever a new season drops.
1/10 Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)
For too long, one of the manga world’s most influential series lacked a solid anime adaptation. Several attempts were made, but not until David Productions did any studio finally put Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure in motion to the standards it deserved.
Unlike other adaptations, David Prod. committed itself to adapt Jojo from beginning to end, and their mission is still ongoing. What they’ve created is an anime that genuinely enhances its source material. The music, voice acting, and animation are all top-notch, all without losing the spark that made Jojo popular to begin with.
Even though Stone Ocean, the latest season, might be struggling with its release schedule, the JJBA anime is still an amazing adaptation, and still has another few years before it reaches its conclusion.
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