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Sunday, December 3, 2017

2017 in Review:

Every year's most important aspect should be what anime came out that year, because anime is the best part of life.  So the start of every year in review is to look at the anime scene:

2017 Year in Anime Reviewed:

How did 2017's great franchises stack up against each other and what were they?

1.  Eromanga Sensei 
2.  Suka Suka  
3.  Youjo Senki 
4.  Princess Principal
5.  Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha s2 
6.  Dragon Ball Super - Greater Universe Tournament arc
7.  Love Live! Sunshine! s2
8.  Naruto - Sasuke Shinden + Shikamaru Hiden + Konoha Hiden + Scarlet Spring
9.  New Game ova + New Game s2
10.  Kizumonogatari movie 3 + Owarimonogatari ge
11.  Kemono Friends s1
12.  Shingeki no Kyojin s2 + Ova
13.  Imouto Sae Ireba ii
14.  BanG Dream!  + Ova
15.  Fate/Kaleid Liner 3rei Specials + Snowflake Oath movie
16.  SAO: Ordinal Scale
17.  Berserk 2  
18.  Mahoutsukai Precure (end) and movie  + Dream Stars movie
19.  Akatsuki no Yona Zeno ovas (finally translated)  
20.  Yama no Susume ova
21.  Granblue Fantasy the Animation s1
22.  One Piece - Zou arc (end) + Big Mam arc (beginning)  
23.  Kyoukai no Rinne s3 
24.  Planetarian - Hoshi no Hito (finally translated)  
25.  Card Captor Sakura ova
26.  Tales of Zestiria the X (2nd cour)  
27.  Kin-iro Mosaic Pretty Days (finally translated)
28.  Brave Witches ova
29.  Rewrite (2nd cour) 
30.  UQ Holder + ova
31.  Fairy Tail ova 9 (finally translated) + Dragon Cry movie
32.  High School Fleet ovas
33.  Nanoha Vivid Strike ovas
34.  Wake Up, Girls! Shin Sho
35.  Idolm@ster Million Live 4th Anniversary special + Side M
36.  To Love ru Darkness ova 10
37.  Dimension W ova (finally translated)

This is the worst year in anime since 1998.  Only the top ten entries are even worth mentioning, and even they have flaws.  There were only 8 new franchises, compared to last year's 12.  37 supported franchises is the smallest total since 2011.  Some of the best stuff that came out in 2017 was never translated, like the Fate/Heaven's Feel movie, the Nanoha Reflection movie, and the No Game No Life Zero movie, so whatever quality this year actually had will count towards 2018 instead.  The sooner we can forget all about this year the better.

As compensation for the desultory number of greats, we had a larger than normal number of series that at least qualified as good:

Kimi no na wa 
Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu
Urara Meirochou  
Koe no Katachi
Sakura Quest
Hinako Note
Clockwork Planet
Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Kinki Kyouten
Action Heroine Cheer Fruits
Tenshi no 3p!
Knight's & Magic
Made in Abyss

And as a supplement to that, there were the massive number of series that came out in blu-ray and I ended up rewatching (plus some I just rewatched regardless of their blu-ray status):

Yuru Yuri S3
Durarara Ketsu
Sailor Moon Crystal Seasons 1 + 2
SDF Macross, Macross 7 and Macross Delta
Working! S3 + www.Working!
Dimension W
Fate Kaleid Liner 3rei
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri S1
Utawarerumono S2
Hibike! Euphonium S2
Girlish Number
Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls
All of Higurashi
All of Nanoha
Ranma 1/2's oavs and movies
Shuumatsu no Izetta
All manga-based Hayate no Gotoku
Brave Witches
Youjo Senki

I got to rewatch a lot of top class series, so I probably enjoyed what I rewatched more than 2017's new offerings, sad as that may seem.

Next up, we have to look at sports.  The Clemson vs. Alabama college football championship game was thrilling, but Clemson won via a cheap pick play to get their receiver open, so the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  The Super Bowl was a lot better.  The Patriots did the greatest comeback in NFL history to win against all odds.  It doesn't get any better than that, and the fact that the Patriots were the only team in the NFL that supported Trump made it all the better.

The 2017 college football regular season had some fun surprises, like Iowa and Iowa State's upset wins.  Still, overall the usual suspects are hogging all the top spots in the rankings.

North Carolina winning March Madness is nothing new, so it wasn't very memorable.

The Astros gave Texas their very first MLB crown, a cumulative drought between the Astros and Rangers longer than the Cubs, which was a real bright spot.

There were no Olympics or World Cup this year, so overall I'd say we made par.

What about tv?  Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow were okay, but Supergirl and Flash were positively bad.  Defenders and Punisher were okay, but Luke Cage and Iron Fist were positively bad.  Game of Thrones season 7 was surprisingly good, what with it being entirely filler, and ended up being the highlight of the tv year.

What about movies?  Logan was great.  Spider Man: Homecoming, Suicide Squad, Doctor Strange, The Last Jedi and Wonder Woman were decent.  Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League may have been good, but I won't know until 2018 when they come out in blu-ray.  I also watched a lot of great Disney movies this year for the first time, including Moana, Tangled, The Incredibles, Zootopia and Wreck-It Ralph.

What about visual novels?  Little Busters! was great, but most of it was already covered by the anime so the benefit is rather tempered.  Of more benefit, because never animated, were Da Capo III, Majikoi S, Majikoi A-1 and Majikoi A-2.  Of lesser significance but still good was the Osananajimi wa Daitouryou fandisk, Really? Really!, Grisaia: Phantom Trigger/Afterglow/Melody and Dal Segno.  This may have been the strongest year for English translated visual novels ever, you could even say that visual novels were the best aspect of the year as a whole.

Video Games also did well.  Though you could classify Utawarerumono 3 as a visual novel, I consider it a video game, and a very good one at that.  If it is a visual novel though, it just makes the case even stronger for how great VN's were this year.  Aside from Uta 3, FF XV finally came out, which was a lot of fun and very beautiful, despite the obvious flaws.  Tales of Berseria was the 3rd best Tales game of all time, so I have no complaints there.  Mega Man 9 + 10 were cheap and charming as well.  I didn't play any WoW all year long, which is to be expected when they don't have an expansion on offer.  But video games did just fine even without WoW.

What about manga?  We got the extremely satisfying endings to Hayate no Gotoku, Akame ga Kill! and Fairy Tail all in the same year.  There were also some unsatisfying endings, like with Mujaki no Rakuen, To Love ru Darkness, Gokukoku no Brynhildr and Shinryaku! Ika Musume.  Many other series ended in Japan, but it's not like we got to read any of them.  This was definitely the 'year of manga' based on how many famous titles ended, but manga itself is such a backwater compared to these other entertainments that it still just elicits a yawn.  It will be much more impressive when the Fairy Tail anime comes to its proper conclusion, at which point the manga will become superfluous.

Of course, there were plenty of manga series I followed that didn't reach their endings, like One Piece and Akatsuki no Yona, that also had lots of new good content this year.  But everything in the middle just blurs together, only the beginning and ending of series stick out at the end of the year, and this year famously didn't feature the beginning to any new good manga series.

So how about books?  I read lots of Baccano, lots of George Eliot, SAO, Ero Manga Sensei, Hataraku Maou-sama!, Index NT, lots of Dune, Xanth, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Zero no Tsukaima, lots of Suka Suka, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, Amagi Brilliant Park and Hyouka.  I had a lot of music to listen to, so I actually got an impressive amount of reading in to correspond to that.  Books are convenient because they lack sound, but they aren't nearly as impactful as even manga, much less visual novels, video games or anime.  It would be pretty difficult for any year to stand out on the basis of its books alone.

Like usual, I got in thousands of games of Magic: the Gathering, trying out lots of all new decks as well as many modified ones.  They didn't fare too well.  >.<.

More than anything, this was the year of music.  Not only did I finally organize my sprawling music lists into a concentrated thing of beauty, my music hall of fame, but I retrieved long lost music from cd's buried decades ago and downloaded hundreds of new great songs I'd never heard before.  Final Fantasy 15, FF 13-3, FF Tactics Advanced 2, Da Capo III, Granblue Fantasy, Heroes of Might and Magic 1, 4, 6 and 7, The Last Story, Lost Odyssey, Mega Man 9 + 10, Soul Calibur 3-5, Tales of Berseria, Terra Battle 1 + 2, Valkyrie Profile 1 + 2, and Xenoblade 2 I straight out had never heard before.

Just cleansing the world of remixes and getting to listen to only unique melodies at all times was a feat in and of itself.  My ears have never been so blessed, and that blessing will continue to reverberate for many years to come as I get to actually listen to my hall of fame instead of constantly having to work on it.  I'll always remember this year not for its excellent visual novels, its anime, nor even the many manga endings, but solely and only for my wonderful musical quest that spanned the entire year.  I sunk all my labor into this goal and reaped all the best results thereby.

Perhaps the best aspect of 2017 is this is the first year I had actually read all my ranked authors' best books, played all my ranked top ten visual novel franchises that have been translated into English, played all my ranked video game franchises, and watched all my ranked movies.  I caught up with my own hype machine and completed every project myself that I was advertising to others, thus showing my own sincerity and that I hadn't oversold the quality of the products I was touting.

I am in a post-promise-kept world now.  After finishing off Really? Really! and Dal Segno, there's nothing in my halls of fame I've suggested to others that I haven't first completed myself.  I know the quality of these entries and I can vouch for them.

Of course, as franchises expand, keeping my promise requires I keep expanding my efforts as well, so my work is never done, but so far I've been able to keep up with the new releases.  Hopefully I'll never fall behind again.

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